Thursday, November 21, 2013

Foreword by Hugh Johnson

In the past five years, by my count, only two new wine books did not feature a foreword by Hugh Johnson. One of the two books was written by him, and the other was by Natalie MacLean. The two books are a little hard to tell apart, though MacLean’s book has a foreword by Jayson Blair.

Actually, Johnson’s ubiquitous forewords read eerily the same, no matter what the wine book and who the author. I began to get suspicious. And then I remembered. I’d seen his forewords before, in an old copy of Mad Libs, originally published in the mid-1980’s. It took some digging, but I finally found the Mad Lib I was looking for. If you’re ever asked to write the foreword to a wine book, and what are the (tasteless adjective) chances you will, (slang for someone very stupid), here is your template. It works for Hugh!



Just when (second person pronoun) think there is nothing new to 

say about wine, along comes (author’s name). You’re holding in 

your (anatomical part) a wine book that manages to (bodily noise) 

about wine to novices in a way that is both provocative and (oh, 

just pick a goddam adjective). I found myself (verb) aloud how 

(author’s name) has managed such a remarkable piece of 


When I first began (gerund) about wine, I never dreamed that I’d 

be so (adjective). Or that wine would become so much a part of 

every day (activity). Now it seems that everyone (verb) a glass of 

wine with every (noun). Never in the history of man has wine been 

more (adjective). And, for that, we have a new generation of 

writers to thank, most notably (author’s name). I tip my 

(appendage) to him/her, and hope he/she grabs it and (verb) it all 

night long.

Human history and wine go together like love and (sexual position)

If you try to separate the two, someone’s (noun) gets hurt. 

(Author’s name) understands this, and is able to explain (plural 

noun) and wine in a manner that even a (animal) would be able to 

understand. He/she’s a (title) of wine, and there are only (number) 

of those in the world. It would be wise of you to (verb) him/her, and 

the (beast of burden) he/she rode in on.

In this (adjective) book, one that I wish that I’d (verb—past tense)

you’ll find the answers to many questions you may have about wine 

and (noun). What is the proper way to (verb) wine? (Author’s 

name) does a (adjective) job of explaining why putting wine in your 

(orifice) is just the beginning, remembering that your (orifice) is 

more than likely quite different than his/her (orifice). Vive le 

(French word)! This is just one of the many (plural noun) that 

(author’s name) provides in this (adjective) book.

My favorite wines have always been from (obscure French 

appellation). I want to savor a glass on my death (furniture). And 

when I do, you can be sure that this will be the book folded calmly 

across my (body part)


Daniel said...

So tempted to have my kids help me choose the words to fill this out... but, of course, not read it to them.


Happy Thursday!

Thomas said...

Two (plural noun) up!

Holly said...

Two days in a row! I am printing this out and we'll do a forward for YOUR book using it.

Steve Lay said...

james Conaway has written 2 good books on Wine Country and Vivienne Sosnowski wrote a book within the past 2 years that is good. I have never read a foreward. And I care even less, assuming that is possible, about short celebrity reviews (usually one sentence in length)of books. All these do is perpetuate a nasty virus amongst the elites from open mouth slobbering on each other.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Mad Libs was a huge deal when I was a kid. Which is a great reminder of how stupid kids are. The guys who came up with it, a couple of comedy writers for Steve Allen, made a fortune.

My original idea was to write a parody of a Hugh Johnson phoned-in foreword, but then Mad Libs jumped into my weird mind. I just wish Blogger would have let me use a format closer to the original Mad Libs format. As it is now, it's like I don't just write for the mentally impaired, now I'm writing for the visually impaired too.

(platitude) Welcome back. Thought I'd lost you in the divorce.

Where have you been all my life?
If I write a book, I'm hoping I can get STEVE! to write the intro. Or Alderpated. But I'd settle for Hugh.

I like blurbs. I love a stupid blurb, like the one from Talia Baiocchi that I quoted about Bonne's new book. Still can't wait for Jon's cheesy blurb about Talia's forthcoming Sherry book. It's great comedy. Forewords are only necessary when you're nobody. They give you some credibility, depending on who wrote the foreword. Hugh Johnson writes more than anyone in wine history--probably a nice source of income in his golden years. But, really, they are all the same. said...

We're going to play this game for dinner tonight wIth Loire, Jura and method-not-Champagne.

Of course, you have also given Natalie new options. Are parentheses fair use in the copyright world?

Holly, this is his book.

voice of reason said...

I laughed so hard that I (verb, past tense) my (article of clothing)!

Marcia Macomber said...

(Gerund) amazing! I loved MadLibs. What a (adjective) service you've done for the wine writers of the world. I raise my (noun) to your (adjective) solution to an age-old problem: creating a (adjective) foreward! said...

Ron, would you ask Jeff Bezos if people read forewords on tablets? Amazon or WP should know. If not, Snowden, Feinstein or Hugh will know.

Thomas said...


I have (gerund) work to do, you know.

What (gerund) divorce?

I like this (gerund) format; it makes me sound less (gerund) vulgar.

Thank you, Marcia, for the (gerund) idea.

Samantha Dugan said...

Dang, I was hoping it was just a trial separation. Oh well, seeing as I get half, I'll take the bottom one.

Unknown said...

My (non)favorite example of a Hugh Johnson foreword is from Stephen Brook's otherwise excellent "The Finest Wines of California," published in 2011 by Fine Wine Editions. In that foreword Mr. Johnson posed the question, "Does the principle of terroir really apply to California?" and responded, "The answer is, rarely." His background for this opinion is supported by citing Andre Tchelistcheff, Robert Mondavi and Bob Thompson...

Wink Lorch said...

Heartfelt thanks, Ron. As a self-publisher one of my myriad worries is that the VIP (not Huge) who has agreed to write the foreward to my book may not deliver on time... Now I can help him/her by giving him this template. Super-helpful stuff.

Ron Washam, HMW said...
Hose.Master here. I do think this might make a good party game, that is, if people still played party games. Do they? I'm going to the wrong parties, apparently.

I filled in your quote with "laminated" and "buttplug." So, great job!

Marcia Love,
OK, everyone keeps spelling (adjective) "foreword" wrong. That said, writing forewords has to be a thankless task. Like writing a wine blog. I just hope that one day I'm famous enough that someone asks me to write a foreword for them. Though it would probably be for a phone book.

Oh, I saw you mouthing off everywhere from Samantha's to Wark's to every other place without security settings while disappearing here. So, since Samantha and I had been on hiatus, I assumed she had custody of you. I got Charlie. Hard to decide which end of that stick is shorter...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
It's left half or right half, so ask which side it hangs.

Dave Ramey!
I'm amazed you read my nonsense. Thanks for chiming in. That's a pretty great example of Johnsonian bluster. Not only, he seems to say, does terroir not apply to California, not even the damn principle of terroir applies. That's like saying, "In space, there is no gravity, nor does the law of gravity apply there."

And we all know there's terroir in California. We just don't know where it is yet.

Yet another celeb enters the HoseMaster peanut gallery. Forget the foreword (note spelling), Wink. Only losers have forewords. Asimov doesn't need one, Gerald Asher doesn't need one, Robert Parker doesn't need one, and, of course, Hugh Johnson doesn't need on. Bonne doesn't have one--but maybe Alice Feiring was busy. Heimoff had Bill Harlan write his. Aargh. Now blurbs, that's a whole different story. I can write some Mad Libs blurbs for you, if you want.

Jim Caudill said...

Love the Jayson Blair reference, not sure how many will get it, but as a former guild member and journalist, I winced...again.

Charlie Olken said...

To misquote Cher, (.... ... .., ...)

And, if (second person singular) do (verb meaning to conjure up or something like that) write that (noun--four letters that you refuse to consider), I will be (adjective--use your imagination) to (verb--kind of like the first one) the foreword.

I once wrote an afterword for a book. Not sure why they put the quote on the back cover. I guess they thought no one would notice.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Big Jim,
I get a lot of wince. Glad some is yours.

If I write a book, don't hold your cellar breath, I'll write the foreword, too. And then I'll review it blind. Now that's quite a trick.

Though I'm still holding out hope Robert Lawrence Balzer will write the foreword. From Hell.

Charlie Olken said...

Ron, I spoke with Balzer yesterday. He said he was eager to write your foreward. In fact, he had several forewards for you.

They were (gerund) (gerund) (noun), and he didn't even spell your name right.

Holly said...

I'm a little excited about David Ramey weighing in too. I hate the part where I am looking for the little hand so I can give everyone a "like" (go on, Ron, try to resist that). Cuz, I do "like" (gerund - what?) all of this too much and it's keeping me off my freakin' Cotie that I need about now.

Joe Roberts said...

[Religious adjective] [ expletive ] [ bodily function ] , that was [ expletive ] [ adjective ]!!!

Fabio said...

Ron, (adjective) (noun)! (personal pronoun) (auxiliary verb) (past participle) (preposition) Mad Libs, (conjunction) (personal pronoun) (verb) (pronoun) (modal verb) (verb) (indefinite article) (adjective) (noun). (Adverb), (impersonal pronoun) (verb) (adjective) (adjective) (noun) ha! ha! ha! (Salutation). Fabio

Thomas said...

Let's get one (gerund) thing straight: a blurb and a foreword are not the same (noun).

The former is (animal excrement) that goes on the cover; the latter is (animal excrement) that goes inside the cover at the front.

An afterword is a sigh of (noun).

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Common Taters,
I fear I've created a (adjective) pile of (noun) with this piece. And I thought the piece really (past tense verb). Shows what a (birth defect) I am.

Thomas said...


Dean Tudor said...

Leaving aside the floating gerunds ... I am sure that this is merely a course called Advanced Log Rolling II as taught in the Master of Wine Writng (MWW) course at Pandemic University in the UK, online somewhere.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Yeah, log rolling--an expression I'd forgotten, but perfect.

And, hey, where the hell have YOU been? Lost in the Canadian wilderness, which may be redundant? No matter, welcome back.

Dean Tudor said...

Sorry to be absent with some fecund thoughts, but I`ve been exhausted tracking down and following the Rob Ford story. In case you have not heard, he`s the crack-smoking, vodka drinking, foul-mouthed pussyfooting Mayor of Toronto who was just stripped of his powers. He is also 350 pounds of joy.

Too bad he is not a wine drinker -- I could have lots of fun about that...