Tuesday, May 27, 2014


It's very difficult to avoid burnout writing satire and comedy. Especially for free, and no promiscuous groupies either. It can be a tough viewpoint to carry around all the time, and being funny is far more difficult than most think. Hell, it's hard being not funny, but I manage. I think about quitting every single day. Back in 2010 I did quit. I stopped writing HoseMaster of Wine™ for 16 months, not that anyone noticed. Then the Jay Miller scandal hit. My personal email was bombarded with people asking me to write about it. And then inspiration, as it usually does when you don't want it to, struck. Parker as Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jay Miller as the Monster. Everything worked, and I wrote the piece very quickly. It was published in three posts, which I've assembled here (the original chapters are separated by the ******). I've been at this crap ever since.

So here, from January of 2012, is the chilling saga of "PARKENSTEIN!" It's long, but I think it's worth your time. Frankly, your attention span is fucking shameful.

Monkton, MD, 20 October, 20__

My Dearest Sister,

And so it was that I made the acquaintance of Robert Parkenstein on my stop in Maryland. He was washed up on shore, but, then, I was later to learn that he had been washed up for a very long time, a victim of his nefarious scheme to defy Creation and play God himself. And as we were marooned in the God-forsaken shithole that is Monkton, my ship awaiting better weather, the storm blowing harder than a Michelle Bachman speech, I heard the horrifying and sad story that is Parkenstein’s. We had long hours to talk, and I came to feel sorry for him, though it was simple hubris that destroyed him. That and his mortuarial creation. I will tell his story in his words as I remember them, though his breath was most foul, smelling of hedonism and Gruner Veltliner, and it was hard to be in a small room with him as he had the figure and charm of a beanbag chair.

I became fascinated with power, Parkenstein told me, and the more power I accumulated, the more I felt this feverish desire to transfer it to another being, to give power to a cipher of my own creation. The thought obsessed me. Yes, I had created monsters before, horrible monsters—Turleystein and Rollandstein and that hideous Kranklstein—but they had life before I gave them power. I wanted to start from scratch. I wanted to give life and power. And I believed I could do it. There was nothing I couldn’t do, aside from duplicate my scores in a blind setting.

I set about obtaining parts for my creation. I thought it would be difficult, this assembling a windbag, this scavenging for a bag for my douche, but it wasn’t. There was Craigslist. “Man seeking body parts,” read my ad, “won’t pay an arm and a leg.” In less than a day I was overwhelmed with offers. A man in Napa Valley offered me the head of his late father, but he wanted 100 points in exchange, and I don’t trade points for money, I trade them for integrity. But I had mountains of body parts to choose from, and I selected carefully and, I believed, wisely.

I worked day and night, removing the parts from my freezer as I needed them, at one point mistaking a fish stick for a penis. I was so crazed I forgot to change it. It was only later, when it was alive, that I noticed him sticking packets of tartar sauce from H. Salt down his pants hoping to attract someone horny and hungry, and let the chips fall where they may. Time was of the essence, for as the parts thawed, my house began to smell like corruption. Little did I know…
Parkenstein toasts his Creation--the HORROR!!

Finally, he was assembled. I beheld my creation. To me, he was beautiful. Perfect for the life and power I intended to bestow upon him. He was bulky, I confess, a nod to my own physique, a visual clue that the good life is about overindulgence, and, more importantly, the unquenchable need to talk about it, to rub it in the faces of my followers, to write endlessly of gluttony and debauchery with the eloquence to make it seem desirable and admirable in a world of starving people, and people who would sell body parts to a madman for a pittance just to buy a bottle of one of my Best Buys Under $20. I’d used the arms and hands of a maitre-d’ to give him the natural gift of taking handouts and bribes. I’d found the brain, only slightly used, of a fellow hedonist who’d gone insane, and I took it, leaving him still functioning, yet no one could tell his skull was empty because it had always appeared that way, and never more so than recently. So with my creation’s head full of Suckling, I had to find the right nose. The nose, the most important part of my monster, the part that would define him. I had to carefully pick my nose. Hell, I thought, I know how to do that, I was once an attorney.

And so it was that I gave him the nose of a Bassett Hound. It just made sense. His nose would be sensitive, powerful, and forever in my butt, where there’s plenty of room for everyone. I was ready to give him life.
Parkenstein had been the most powerful critic in his field, feared as a man fears his God, his every proclamation a Judgment Day on a 100 Point Scale, his commandments followed assiduously if not asininely. Thou shalt not filter, nor fine, nor covet thy neighbor’s bunghole. Thou shalt not worship false Gods, Tanzers and BurgHounds of Hell, for their palates are the spawn of Satan, and that spawn is slightly salty, with a creamy texture, and tastes of asparagus and hedonistic DNA. Thou shalt not question my scores, for they are the Word and are Blessed, and are not subject to your mortal and weaker tastes. Parkenstein, now washed up on the shores of Monkton, found his commandments no longer relevant or obeyed, his power vanished, his name, once spoken in reverent whispers, now spoken with contempt and the insertion of noises that emulate the flatulence of a Shanken, which is Almighty Flatulence. But I shall let Parkenstein tell his own story.

My Creation, my monster, if you will [Parkenstein said to me], for he was at once beautiful and horrible to behold, like Nancy Grace only less manly, lay on the table awaiting life. He was a blob, a meaningless mound of fat and muscle and more fat, and he would be worthless until I bestowed upon him life and power. And when I gave him life, everyone would have to concede my infinite power and infallibility. Even blobbers, who are scum, the living excrement of Poodles.

I gave him life as a mother gives life. I suckled him at my own breast. My man-tits were fully developed, often admired and jealously envied, and when I placed one on the monster’s lips, he awoke! He had tasted the milk of my genius and it had given him life. It had been wise to give him a Suckling brain, for he took to it instantly. The monster arose, stared at me with the mouth-breathing gaze of an imbecile I would come to know well, and said his first words, “What’s it worth to you?”

Yet most of the monster’s speech was made up of grunts and snorts and slurping sounds. I had succeeded beyond my wildest dreams—he already spoke like a critic. Now my job would be to give the monster the tools it would take for him to function as my surrogate so that I could transfer my power unto him. One day I would unleash him on the world and his bequeathed power would make him a man, make him a god, and I would be the god-maker! I was crazy with lust, with a lust for omnipotence and power. I felt indomitable, I felt indestructible, I felt immortal. Parkenstein! I destroyed and created at will. My words, my numbers, were as if written in stone and carried down from the mountaintop by brave knights and their blithering idiot Squires (and his bulletin board). I was at the pinnacle of my profession, and yet I needed more. I needed immortality, and I knew it was not just one, but a procession of monsters I needed to create, a roving band of nonhuman Parkenstein robots who would not be me, but would carry my authority, would be my army of ventriloquist dummies, their opinions voiced as if they were their own. My first monster was just the beginning, I understood in that instant of creation, and one day I would have a retinue of monsters with borrowed brains who were mere impersonations of real humans, and the better for it. Real humans would never follow me.

Parkenstein Losing Face
I see now that my hubris blinded me, and was my downfall. I thought I could pass along my own success and power to creatures of my own making, as one might pass along goobers at a baseball game and in return pass back the money for them, for my monsters were clearly nuts and I certainly ended up with all the money. It was a horrible blunder, and one that has left me in the pathetic state you see me in now. I had created this monster and one day he would destroy me, just as modern man has declared God is dead and destroyed Him. But that was in the future then, as were the other horrible monsters I would create, and that moment I gave birth to the monster and decided to ship him to Spain I remember as a glorious and wondrous achievement. I wonder now how I could have been so stupid.

Could I have foreseen that my own creation, my monster, would want to ruin me? It was the ancient story of Oedipus, only I was both Mother and Father to the monster. He wanted to sleep with me and kill me both, which is how I felt about Alice Feiring. I’d created the script for my own snuff film where I was the star and the victim. Yet I believed I was doing good unleashing the monster on Spain, allowing him to roam the Spanish countryside dispensing my wisdom and my authority and my points. Perhaps my first clue to his hatred of me should have been how profligate he was with my points, how he handed them out like pedophiles hand out promises of puppies. Everything was a 96 to this Sucklingized zombie, the stupidest Mencia and the most insipid Albarino. At first I found it cute, as gods find the behavior of mere mortals entertaining, but then my points, my scale that I had spent decades perfecting, became a laughingstock in the monster’s hands. People saw the monster’s byline, his byline validated by my power and authority, and they began to laugh! To laugh! At me. At Parkenstein! Those meaningless numbers had actually become meaningless in the monster’s hands—something so many had tried to achieve with their own overblown scores and hollow, pathetic defenses of them, yet somehow only my loathsome Spanish dummy had succeeded in making an actual mockery of what had always been mockery. The monster had exposed my scale for what it was--yet another joke God has played on Man. I confess, now I find that joke mordantly funny.

And yet I loved my monster, his jowls reminded me of my beloved bulldog, so I didn’t do anything to stop him. He was my Creation, his existence without me as worthless as Republican rhetoric, and I was blind to the damage he was doing to me. And so I headed recklessly toward my downfall.
I had a hard time believing all that Parkenstein told me. Only a madman could believe himself a God, and then believe he could pass along His Doctrine of Infallibility to monsters of his own making, thereby making each of them a sort of Pope, emissaries who speak the word of Parkenstein and have direct access to that almighty God and his insane system of Numbers—they were Parkenstein’s Howdy Deuteronomy. And, though he was clearly insane, I came to accept his story as truth. Parkenstein, his life, his career, his reputation, had been destroyed by a monster he had created with his own hands. It had the makings of a tragedy, a classic Geek tragedy. But I shall let Parkenstein finish his own tale.

The monster I had created [Parkenstein said to me] had come to hate me. He had learned my language, the language of countless adjectives, exaggeration, numbers, +’s, and disingenuousness, and he had learned it too well. His work on my behalf took on a crazed quality and I began to believe he was simply assigning numbers randomly, perhaps using a dartboard or by drawing them from a hat, which is what I do, only what the hell else can you do when you have to do it 150 times a day? I didn’t give the monster permission to do that. I was the last to recognize how ridiculous and meaningless his work was. I was just so proud of my creation, so amazed that I had given him a life, I just couldn’t believe that his numbers were that bizarre, that inflated. That was the first sign, I see now, that he wanted to destroy me.

Why did he want to destroy me? I don’t know the answer to that. But it must have been money. I had had ideas of creating a female monster to keep him company, but what female monster wants to marry a guy with a fish stick dick? And, besides, I’d already hired Karen MacNeil, so a female monster would have been redundant. No, it was the monster’s desire for money, which I assume came from that damned Suckling brain I’d used, that must have driven him to hate me. I paid him what he was worth—chump change. He was NOBODY. He was only someone because Parkenstein! said he was someone. They’d have laughed his verga de pescado out of Spain if it weren’t for me. They’d have made a blubber piñata out of him. But the monster believed in his own power, believed he had earned it. It was like I had created a twin.

The monster set out to gather money and ruin me at the same time. I admit now, the monster was a lot smarter than I’d thought. It had been a mistake to give him a brain—it’s not necessary for the job. It just seemed like the right thing to do. But it doesn’t take a brain to be a wine critic and assign numbers, it just takes balls. And I’d given him two salmon croquettes to go with the fish stick. That would have been plenty.

The monster began to accept money. This was strictly forbidden. No one I created could accept money in the line of duty. I scolded the monster, but he swore up and down he only accepted money for speaking engagements. I turned my wrath upon him and the monster broke down and cried (those John Boehner tear ducts were all I could scrounge), and swore to me the money was on the up and up. And it made sense. Who wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to sit and listen to a manufactured expert lecture and proclaim? Why wouldn’t the people who had the most to lose or gain by the monster’s numbers want to pony up big ticket prices to hear him babble? Why wouldn’t an entire Spanish region chip in to make sure that he got his facts straight?

But if it wasn’t evil, if it wasn’t corrupt, it certainly smelled of it. As his body parts had when I’d first assembled them. When the rabble got wind of the monster’s money-grubbing ways, they were incensed. I did what I always do in that situation—I ignored them. They revere me. I had nothing to fear. Sure, he was my monster, I’d loosed him on the world, but surely I wasn’t responsible for the appearance of impropriety he’d created. No one questions my integrity. NO ONE! Parkenstein is incorruptible and completely objective, like an NBA official.

And then the rabble surrounded my house. They had come for the monster. They wanted his head on a platter and his gigantic ass in a sling. I fought them off as best I could, but I knew that for the first time in my life, I was not the most powerful man in the world. And I knew that when the rabble, the scum, the ungrateful, number-munching cretins I had given my life to, for whom I had suffered endless nights of insobriety and gluttony, found out that I wasn’t the perfect, incorruptible, infallible God they’d believed me to be that I was doomed.

I should have given the ugly mob my monster. Instead, I defended him. It was foolish. But I loved him, I’d created him, I’d made him and he was Me, as surely as if I’d given birth to him, which would have hurt like a bastard. And with his actions, with his calculated acceptance of money, money he would never ever have been granted were it not for my imprimatur, he knocked me from my heavenly throne and I rejoined the rabble. My creation had ruined me.

Yes, I’m still here. I’m not the God I was, I have fewer and fewer Believers, only a sad collection of sycophantic Followers. But Parkenstein! still lives! And I have other monsters of my making roaming the Earth, assigning Numbers in my name, and I shall make my way to new worlds to conquer—the Far East!  My minions and I will one day again ascend to the Heavens, wait and see, my friend. Wait and see…

And with that, dearest Sister, Parkenstein died. He lay sprawled on the newly wet pavement. It had begun to rain, and the air, for a brief moment, the moment I like to believe that his soul left that cetacean body, had the smell of Brettanomyces, a fitting tribute to Parkenstein’s end.

But, dearest Sister, his monsters still roam the Earth. For now. With his Life extinguished, how much longer can his creations live? Only so long as the foolish rabble continue to heed those most horrible of Parkenstein’s creations—the Numbers!

THE END, or is it?


Samantha Dugan said...

My Love,
No promiscuous groupies? What the hell have I been doing kicking around here for all these years?!

This is one of the Classic HoseMaster pieces. You are just so damned talented...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
Somehow I think I got the tone right in this piece, and managed to satirize the whole Jay Miller/Parker boondoggle in an interesting manner. After all those months in retirement, it brought the HoseMaster back with a vengeance. So I have a fondness for this piece, which is, for me, very unusual.

And the real joy of reruns? Very few common taters in the 'hood. Just you and me, My Luscious Groupie.

Thank you for the kind words, Love. They mean a lot more than you think. I love you.

Unknown said...

Ron - As a long time reader and admirer (introduced to your schtick by John Peters) I love this stuff. It reminds me of your S. Pasadena newsletters. Never stop because we read… You are unaware, but we are out there and we read...

Reddangel said...

Quietly your words are passed on, copied, plagiarised and if they are really funny, claimed as one's own wit (obviously not me of course). I came by you via Tim Atkin who intends to climb up a mountain to find out what Noah slurped on the boat. Never fear, we are out here, praying and hoping that your whiplash wit passes over us.

Thomas said...

Angela is an admitted plagiarist. Ah, the joy of social media!

I remember this piece well. I don't recall what RP had to say about it--he certainly has since developed a fondness for HoseMaster's digs at others.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thank you. John was a great man, and I often miss him. As for those Mission Wines newsletters, well, I knew that the trick in wine sales is to actually get the recipients to read the things, and if you make them laugh, they'll read. I think I have all of them somewhere--probably the ones my mother "corrected" with her red pen.

It's a big world out there on the Intergnats, and those of us who churn out this weekly crap never really know who reads our words, or cares about what we have to say. It's an odd feeling to hit "Publish" and have your work suddenly cast into the Void. I don't think I'll ever get used to it.

Tim Atkin has done me a great service and given the HoseMaster amazing exposure in the rarefied air of British MW's. I owe him a great debt. I'm not sure how well my sense of humor (humour) translates in England, but the HoseMaster does seem to have gone over quite well there. Thank you for your support, Angela, and for chiming in. It's gratifying when a new person comes out from behind the curtain to express admiration.

I don't think Parker commented about this piece at all, though it was all over the eBob chat room. But he has consistently praised my pieces that lampooned him, at least as often as he's praised those insulting others. And he was kind and generous when I met him, something very few of my "victims" have been capable of. I think that says a lot about his character, and of his understanding of the necessity of satire and buffoonery.

Before the Intergnats, I've had lots of jokes stolen. I learned a long time ago that it just doesn't matter. Plagiarists have their own place in Hell, and it's crawling with Poodles.

Charlie Olken said...

I have long said that the Best Of Hosemaster belongs in a book. Writing of this caliber is not easy to create, but it is easy to read--and to laugh and to sigh a bit at a world gone slightly mad.

Parker's demise was somewhat overstated by the rabble. The Wine Advocate is still the most powerful voice in the world even if it is no longer as potent as it once was.

The Wine Advocate still moves the needle, and only the Spectator can compare for overall impact.

But, I digress. You need to let your minions work with you to assemble "Quotations From Chairman Hose". Beautiful essays like this one, crafted in humor, pathos, double entendre, should not be hidden from the world.

I am sure you could sell a few books, perhaps enough to actually visit Monkton or Sucklingland. And then where would you be?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Puff Daddy,
"Writing of this caliber" is the result of inspiration more than anything. When the muse visits, it's fun to be her comedy channel.

Oh, I think I've been saying Parker is dead for six years now. But, as you say, he's still the most powerful guy in the wine business, by a lot.

As for a book, well, the problem with satire is that, for the most part, it has a short shelf life and begins to smell. But I might publish a book just so I could have Lo Hai Qu write the Foreword.

Thanks for your support, Charlie. It has always meant the world to me.

Unknown said...

After just the first 2 sentences I knew this was a gem- loved the Nancy Grace and beanbag analogies...!! classic!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thanks. And thanks for taking the time to comment. Three new common taters on one rerun? Some kind of HoseMaster record.