Friday, September 26, 2014

Espelt Garnacha Review - Spanish Wine

Photographic evidence that I am indeed watching a baseball game.
Lazy Friday night here at the house, catching some baseball (Pirates/Reds) and enjoying a bottle of Spanish Garnacha from the folks at Espelt.

A fairly potent red, this particular variety comes from the Northeast section of Spain. A place I've never been but wouldn't mind visiting. I love the fact that their website loads in Castilian.

Image courtesy: Espeltviticultors.com
I'm not a wine snob but I do enjoy a good glass of red wine. I'm going to try to do a better job of articulating what I like and don't like about various wines. I think it'll help me get out of my comfort zone and routine of drinking Chilean Carmenere nearly every weekend.

I thought about taking this review nice and slow and letting my intellect evaporate as the bottle slowly disappears. Rather, I'll stick to just a pair of glasses while I'm in the cockpit here, keyboard in hand.

Garnacha or Grenache (they're the same thing) are some of the most popular red wine grapes planted in the world. Popular among U.S., French, and Spanish growers these grapes are notorious for coming from awful soil. Take slate and then somehow remove any hint of moisture and that's the type of environment these grapes come from. That strength is evident when you start sipping.

This particular Garnacha is aged for four-months in French Oak and you can taste a bit of that smoky flavor. I'm not a big fan of the smokiness but it definitely helps give a softer, fuller flavor with each sip, which I can appreciate.

The label claims that there are some black fruit aromas and I think I can taste a bit of that. It's fairly smooth without a ton of bite. With some cabernet sauvignon I definitely get a sharpness to the taste that I'm not a big fan of.

Somebody dripped right down the front of the label.
This isn't the best wine I've ever tasted but it's certainly not the worst. Worth jumping out of my comfort zone and a good wine for fall. If pairing with food, I'd suggest holding off for when you first start to feel a little bit of bite in the air and the start of fall.

This wine would pair well with a pork roast and either beef or pork stew. Given the alcohol content (14%), you definitely need a food pairing that can hold it's own against the mighty Garnacha.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Globe Life Park in Arlington - A Review

I had the chance to check out the Texas Rangers relatively new ballpark over the weekend on a rainy Friday night in Arlington, Texas.

Globe Life Park in Arlington

In the shadows of Jerryworld, the new football stadium, Globe Life Park is a huge structure in and of itself.

Really, it was a great place to watch a ballgame despite the weather and despite a lackluster hometown crowd that came out in support of a team more than dozen games out of a playoff spot with less than a month to play in the season. In other words, a beautiful place to watch what was a bad baseball team play in horrible weather.

With seating for a few more than 48,000 fans, the stadium itself is gorgeous with arches along the outside facade and a very clean interior. Our seats, positioned in the second deck of the stadium were great and allowed us to catch every pitch as well as see the entire field.

Oh, and our tickets were $6/seat thanks to a good find on StubHub.com (face value ~$70).

The view from our second row seats in the "Lexus Club" section of Globe Life Park.

We started out the night with a quick walk into the stadium. The area around the ballpark is beautiful with a nice youth diamond as well as a ton of green space with a little waterway that sets you up for what you'll find inside.

It would have been ideal for a day game or planned tailgate. As out-of-towners who flew into Dallas with no grill, we'd have to settle for whatever food we could find inside.

Credit: Some visitor's bureau I bet. I'm not sure who deserves the credit here.

As we entered the stadium, our first stop was the Rangers Hall of Fame. I grew up a Nolan Ryan fan and hoped to see a lot from him. There were some cool items that The Pony Express had worn at one point but overall, the Hall of Fame was really lacking. With a group of baseball fans, we tried to identify what players deserved to be included and quickly came to realize why the Hall of Fame was so poor.

There simply aren't many good players to have worn the Rangers 'T' ball-cap.

Nolan Ryan
Ivan Rodriguez
and....
?

That would explain why players like Ruben Sierrra (a lifetime .268 hitter) are a part of this hall of fame. Other brain-busters included Darryl Hamilton (career .291 hitter who only spent one season with Texas) and Johnny Oates (.515 winning percentage in 7 seasons in Texas).

As for the game itself, there were a number of things that were unique which caught our eye. My personal favorite was what may be the cheesiest strike out animation it was charming that you can see below.



Ballpark races have become all too common in the big leagues as well. If you don't have something interesting to race around the field, don't do it.

In the case of the Rangers, they simply shouldn't have done it. I could see some sort of cattle-themed race if they were bound and determined to have a race. Heck, a bunch of people with lassos that had to chase a steer would have been perfect.

Instead, sponsored by bottled water company Ozarka, this was the best that the brain trust in Arlington could come up with:

Yep, they're just dots. Green. Blue. And Red. Because dots and Rangers go together like... umm...

In terms of food, a number of the concession areas were closed on this particular dark and rainy night. I assume that was because of the lackluster attendance of the game. Still, there was I'd say an "average" diversity of choices available when it came to actual food to eat.

At Globe Life Park, the signature item is "The Boomstick", a two-foot long hotdog that Prince Fielder refuses to eat. (He's vegan... or vegetarian... no wonder he's hurt).



Beer, on the other hand, was a bit lacking. Sure, there is a "Beers of Texas" stand in right field but aside from that, there really was no craft beer haven that ballparks are now becoming famous for. At about $10 per beer, you definitely won't want to come in sober if that's your thing...

While I'm critical Texas Rangers tradition and game day marketing initiatives, the ballpark itself is a beauty and worth checking out. Even if you get caught there on a night like we did with considerable mist falling from the sky and a night that dipped below 60-degrees in Dallas, which is pretty unusual in September.

Overall Rank: 4 Nolan Ryan Beef Hot Dogs Out of 5.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Apple, Celebrity Nude Leak, and This Boring Life

You knew it wouldn't take long.

Just a day or so after celebrity nude photos leaked, it's time to attack!

Apple's security is being questioned, perhaps rightfully so but it does sound as if the user passwords were hacked rather than some sort of fundamental flaw in Apple's security infrastructure.

I guess Jennifer Lawrence shouldn't have used "HungerGames" as her iCloud password after all....

But while Apple takes heat; Guess what, there are a lot more perverts out there checking out the leaked photos that should be writing to thank Apple. In fact, most of them are my buddies.

But I know it's not just the scum of the Earth that I surround myself with.

Have you been over to the cesspool that is Tumblr lately? Here's one of the less risque photos available to you.

Because. Internet!
Perhaps the better question is - just how common are nude photos among the population as a whole?

I was young once (and still kind of am) but I don't have any nude shots on the cloud, on my phone, or on an on Betacam recorder in my attic (or do I?).

Am I just living a boring life? Shall I start insisting that my sexual conquests be better documented with photos and video?

Tumblr tells me this is Ariana Grande in some "Bang Bang" video.
In the past 24-hours I've had friends send me naked shots of Kate Upton with Justin Verlander, somebody named Kristina Grande (is that the "fancy" song singer?), and somebody else I didn't recognize and didn't care to ask the name of.

I mean, if Kate Upton and Justin Verlander are taking nude shots with each other, surely I have enough free time that it's time to bring a camera into the bedroom, right?

On a personal note, since I took him with a pretty high draft pick in fantasy baseball, are the nude shots of Kate Upton just Justin Verlander's way of attempting to make up for the fact that his E.R.A ballooned to 4.64 this season from 3.63 last year?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Are Those Your Drums?

This is pretty spectacular.

I can't tell if it's Letterman being hilarious or shows just how lacking his interpersonal skills are.

If it's on purpose, it's an amazing 20-year bit...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Giver - A Movie Review

The Ms. and I went to see The Giver over the weekend.

I remember reading the book, by Lois Lowry when I was a kid in elementary school. I think I enjoyed it then so I was pretty amped to check out the film.

This was definitely a "Battle of the Books" book.
Plus, it had The Dude from The Big Lebowski in it, so how could it not be worth my $9.50 for the evening showing? (Thanks Regal... I'll bring my own popcorn).

The Dude. (Courtesy: Weinstein film company)
First - the backstory:

Jeff Bridges, A.K.A. "THE DUDE" wanted to make this movie bad. As in, he's been trying for several decades to get it done. In fact, he even used family members to create his own version of the film in what was basically a pilot.

He wanted his father (Beau?) to originally play the role of The Giver but his father unfortunately passed away before the film was given the green light.

This interview with Time Magazine gives some great insight if you're curious into what went on to get this film made.

The film itself:

Inside the unnamed utopian society, you follow the story of Jonas, a child that is essentially entering society's version of adulthood. In this society, children are genetically created and chosen to survive based on science, there is no crime, and most everything in society is manufactured for efficiency and effectiveness.

Once reaching this point in life, all members of society (including Jonas) graduate into adulthood and are assigned jobs that they will take care of before growing old and being "sent to elsewhere".

Jonas, an ambitious and high-potential child is selected to be "The Receiver" - one of just two members of society that will hold memories of what society was before the utopian society was created. Through communication with "The Giver", Jonas receives memories of snow, music, grief, depression, and love.

I couldn't help but see some similarities between the film and some of Ayn Rand's work when viewing this as an adult. As a child, I don't think it had the same depth seeing the idea of what is essentially a socialistic society where everyone's destiny is essentially charted out for them by the powers that be.

Bridges was solid as "The Giver" and the main character, Jonas, was played admirably by Brenton Thwaites. The film also features Katie Holmes, Meryl Streep and Peter Skaarsgard. Oh, and Taylor Swift  is in it too, so there is that. (haha)

While I enjoyed the film, most online review sites are tearing into the film. I attribute that to a somewhat ambiguous ending and a lot that is left to the viewer. In fact, I definitely felt a sense of unease as I left the theater when thinking about life and things of that nature.

Check out the trailer and if you get the chance, I recommend it:


Trusty Trustee

It's been interesting keeping an eye on the courtroom this week with a big Trustee's office investigation going on here in Knox Co.

Basically, it sounds like there were at least half a dozen people who broke the law, of which at least 3 don't current face charges but probably should.

Among the things they were doing with our tax money:

1.) Paying employees who didn't actually do any work.
2.) Handing out bonuses and comp-time to salaried employees entitled to neither benefit.
3.) Possibly dealing prescription pills

Delbert Morgan in Knox Co. Court. (Photo courtesy: KNS)

I remember when local media broke all of this a few years ago. The guy currently on trial, Delbert Morgan is the first of three major cases expected in court.

Back in 2009 or so, I remember hearing not only did they give the raises, they also spent county coin on stuff like The Sopranos on Blu-Ray. You know, essentials for the taxpayers!

Friday, August 8, 2014

So, How'd We Do? (Better than Stacey Campfield)

Let's take a journey back to a more innocent time.

A time when Stacey Campfield was still talking to the media.

A time when I spelled Stacy Campfield's first name incorrectly, without the 'e'.

Remember those predictions? How did we do? (This post best accompanied by the music of Frank Sinatra, "My Way")

Stacey Campfield likes to point at people and things.
And so I face the final curtain...

1.) United States Senate (GOP): Lamar Alexander vs. Joe Carr

Prediction: Alexander wins easily with 63% of the vote.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Alexander takes 51% of the vote to Carr's 42%.

My excuse for being so far off: The third and fourth candidate on the ballot gobbled up 7% of the total amount of votes in this primary. That's not fair. In a two-party system you can't expect me to account for random people that get enough signatures to be on a primary ballot. 

campfield points
I'll see you in D.C. Senator Alexander!

2.) United States House of Representatives, District 2 - John Duncan, Jr. vs. Jason Zachary

Prediction: Zachary considers it a moral victory when he pulls 29% of the vote and the only reason he'd get that is that 30% of the voting population is over 70-years-old and won't know the difference on their ballot.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Duncan wins with 60% of the vote.

My excuse for being so far off: I may have underestimated just how much people are sick and tired of congress right now. I'm curious if that didn't play a role in some of the state-level races as well. People hear "congress" or "house of representatives" and they just assume a politician is a politician.

3.) United States House of Representatives, District 3 - Chuck Fleischmann vs. Weston Wamp

Prediction: It's closer than Fleischmann wants it to be but Chuck squeaks by with 55% of the vote.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Fleischmann wins in a true nail-biter with just 51% of the vote.

My excuse for being so far off: Weston Wamp kind of looks like quagmire from family guy to me.

weston wamp is not zach wamp

4.) Governor: Bill Haslam vs. Mark "Coonrippy" Brown

Prediction: Coonrippy Brown is about to get beat down. This one gets ugly. Haslam takes 73% of the vote, Coonrippy gets about 15% and Zach Wamp gets written in for the remainder. Basil Marceaux gets deux percent.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Haslam wins even bigger than predicted with 88% of the vote. Marceaux took just 1% of the vote, but I'm not convinced these numbers will hold up. :)

My excuse for being so far off: I'm not sure on this one. I mean, Haslam hasn't gone too far awry with anything in his first term but it's a tough case to make to say the state is considerably further ahead than other states. Maybe looking at the other high profile Republican led states (Wisconsin, South Carolina, etc.) you could say that Tennessee is faring better, creating more jobs and building something. Either way, no shock that Haslam won... just shock over the fact that 88% of the vote went his way.

There's no telling if I'll ever be able to use this photo again. So: Behold! Coonrippy!

5.) State Senate, District 7: Stacy Campfield vs. Richard Briggs

Prediction: Campfield is out but will be back on a ballot very soon. Briggs wins bigger than most think with 52% of the vote. (A third candidate, Mike Alford is also on the ballot here... pretty much a non-factor but didn't want to fail to mention him).

Result (as of 8-8-14): Well, I picked the winner but my "bigger than most think 52%" was way off. Briggs took 67% of the vote, which is a landslide by all accounts. 

My excuse for being so far off: I think, like the Steve Hall race, that the old GOP guard is dying in Knox County. It may be transplants (like myself), a drive for change from the status quo, hatred of any standing politician, or just the impression that Campfield was selfish and attention seeking. I don't know the reason. Oh well, I tried. I picked this race... and did it my way.

3.) State House, District 13: Jason Emert vs. Eddie Smith

Prediction: Emert wins in a nail-biter with 53% of the vote.

Result (as of 8-8-14): I should have listened to Steve Phillips, the old WBIR sports guy. He's a big Eddie Smith supporter and Smith took this race by about 30 votes. Yes, 30. As in, 10 fewer than the typical roster of a major league baseball team.

My excuse for being so far off: Eddie Smith was less edgy. I think I compared him to vanilla ice cream. In an election year when "statesmen" were held in high regard, I should have seen this coming.

6.) State House, District 18: Steve Hall vs. Martin Daniel

Prediction: Hall wins with 55% of the vote in a race that's closer than I would have predicted 6-months ago.

Result (as of 8-8-14): Martin Daniel takes this one, with 51% of the vote.

My excuse for being so far off: Billboard advertising is effective? Apparently so.

The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
I love elections. I love the horse-race style of media coverage. I can't help it. Handicapping these races is like the ultimate form of playing bookie to me. I wish that we had more elections that people cared about so we'd get hit with more political advertising. No joke. That's not sarcasm. I'd rather see an awkward Scottie Mayfield describe the night Weston Wamp knocked on his door than hear some "once you pop you can't stop" commercial. 

Oh, and thanks to WATE for the tool that is most easiest to use (at least that I've found) for examining election results.