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Out with the Old (Shit), In with the New (Awesome Shit)

I used to love Weezer … they were my favorite band from about 1995 up until 2002 … after that point, I was just deluding myself into thinking that they were still great, and would return to the brilliance of the Blue Album and Pinkerton … I thought that maybe Rivers just had to get some more generic shit out of his system before going back to honest, strong songwriting. He seemed genuinely hurt by the initial critical and commercial reception of Pinkerton, and from that point forward decided to go the “Eff you” route of songcrafting … generic lyrics, uninspired composition (using the song’s melody for every guitar solo??? in the eternal words of GOB Bluth, “C’mon!!!”), safe 4 chord power pop … it’s as if he was saying,

“I am way better than this, and I showed it on the first two records, but you bitches didn’t appreciate it … I poured myself into Pinkerton, and you hated it! and because that record had so much of me in it, by hating it and rejecting it, you have hated and rejected me. Don’t expect to see that Rivers again. I’m gonna write watered down lyrics that make no sense, I’m gonna make sure I flash some of my former brilliance, but that’s just to tease you mofos … sure the amps are still gonna go to 11, but don’t expect anything new and original to come forth.”

It is sad as shit … the last album I actually purchased was “Make Believe” … I can’t say that I’ve listened to the whole CD. I guess Weezer has released two albums since … The Red Album and Raditude … haven’t heard them … couldn’t bring myself to listen to see how far they’ve fallen … so what was it that compelled me to listen to a stream of their newest (and as of now, unreleased) record? Curiosity, I suppose. I don’t know … like a car accident you can’t seem to look away from, I found myself rubbernecking … looking back to see what has become of these four gentlemen from Weezer. Maybe I am just waiting for them to return to form … holding out hope that an album to rival Pinkerton’s rawness and beauty will be made again … After listening to all 10 tracks off the new album “Hurley” on their myspace, it is now safe to call off the search and rescue party, not because we’ve found survivors in the wreckage, but because there are no survivors. Weezer is officially dead to me. In case you want to hear for yourself: go here

But if you’re looking for something way more awesome [and this is the New (Awesome Shit)] …

Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino, is the shit. If you’ve been around, you know that we here at Roused feel this way about him. Whether he’s doing stand-up, acting on “Community”, writing for “30 Rock”, or being a supremely talented MC, he is awesome. He self-released an album earlier this year, “Culdesac”, and he’s been playing a few shows, and filming the new season of “Community”, and he came to Bumbershoot to perform stand-up … but even with all of this, he’s still finding time to make amazing hip hop … See?

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Bogle Phantom

Bogle Phantom is the shit.

I mean, this shit is good. Seriously good.

A blend of Petite Sirah and Old Vine Zinfandel, with a bit of Mourvèdre to round things out, it is inky and dark, intense and complex. On the Bogle website and on each cork extracted from Phantom, you will find some variation of this:

bogle \bõ’g?l\ n. [Scots, perhaps from Welsh] A goblin; a specter; a phantom; a bogy, boggart or bugbear.


This wine lives up to its name, as when it is released it disappears so quickly from the shelves … as if it were never there. An apparition. The same can be said of it when a bottle is opened in our house. We have a bottle on the wine rack now that we are trying to save until 2012 … every time I remember we have it, I am tempted …

Why do we love this wine so much? Well, let’s get right to it, Steinberg …

My experience with the Petite Sirah varietal is very limited … it makes up 53% of Phantom according to the label. Petite Sirah is typically marked by its dark color and intense acidity. It has a high skin-to-juice ratio which lends itself to highly tannic wines, but also lends itself to aging. It brings dark berries (blueberries, blackberries) and black pepper to the party … it has a full and round mouthfeel, but tends to lack a solid profile through the finish. So, basically it comes on strong, pushes through a bit, and then it’s gone. This is why it pairs so perfectly with our next varietal in this blend …

Zinfandel has been hit or miss with me. I’ve had some really terrible red zins that were like drinking liquified, candied fig newtons … just horribly jammy, overly sweet, and flat. But then I’ve had really amazing red zins where the sweetness was balanced by oak, pepper, and clove … where the fruitiness didn’t remind me of jamming 6 whole boxes of Sunmaid raisins in my mouth at once. The heat on the end lingered with the spice and oak. Bogle’s Old Vine Zin is one of the good ones … and here we find it in Phantom to the tune of 44% of the blend.

Where the Petite Sirah struggles, the old vine zin picks it up by offering depth and complexity. Oak and spice mingle with dark berries, adding some much needed punch in the finish.

I don’t know if Bogle decided to throw in the Mourvèdre only because they needed to fill the remaining 3% of Phantom, and I have no idea how much effect the Mourvèdre has on this blend, but let’s talk about what it can do for the blend … especially before we start saying 3% is too small to do much of anything. Mourvèdre is most commonly used in Rhone blends, which feature Grenache, another grape that yields wine with high alcohol content. So, theoretically, Mourvèdre would do the same for the high alcohol content of the Old Vine Zin, softening it a bit and adding body.

So, here we are … 53% Petite Sirah, 44% Old Vine Zinfandel, and 3% Mourvèdre … and what we get is a delicious red blend that is loaded with complexity … blackberries, raspberries, clove, toasted oak, leather, black pepper, a little anise … the longer it breathes, the better it gets. Once the bottle’s gone, you’ll be very sad … I feel like I’ve been going through withdraw symptoms … let’s hope I can hold out for the next bottle rather than opening the one waiting for 2012 … I can’t wait to see what a bit of in-bottle aging does for this already amazing wine.

Go. Buy some. Now. I’m pretty sure the new vintage will be released at the end of this month, so be on the look out for it. I will be.

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The Rap Map

Ever wondered about all those places, people, and events that are referenced in that new Cam’ron joint? Well, don’t bust your dome thinking too hard because there is The Rap Map to solve all those hard to figure references.

The, uh … geniuses over at Rap Geniuses, a site which “explains rap lyrics”, have devised the Rap Map to further help the listener find out exactly what/where the fuck Lil Wayne (et al) are talking about. The map includes the cities of New York, LA, The Chi, New Orleans, Detroit, and a handful of others … each place or event is marked by a handgun (how sad) … 2pac’s elementary school? That’s there … Lil Wayne’s boyhood home? That’s there too … as well as a shitload of other useless information, but holy shit, is this site addicting! It’s like a thug nasty version of googlemaps.

"Mapping the Gangsta Terrain of the Planet"

I might have to start listening to terrible hip hop just so I can use the resources available to me at Rap Geniuses … but then again, maybe I should just stick to, you know, awesome shit. And there’s always Girl Talk.

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Yeasayer & Kristen Bell

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What happens when you cross the awesome musical stylings of Yeasayer with the talent and beauty of Kristen Bell? Well, throw in a creepy-looking pet type thing, and you’ve got the oddly awesome music video for ODD BLOOD’s “Madder Red”.

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You’ll have to follow this link to see it, however …

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Lost in the Story [ Nerd Virgins ]

I suppose what’s kept me away from Lost for so long was ignorance … ignorance mixed with the daunting task of overcoming seasons and seasons of ignorance when I finally caved to start watching. Once the first couple of seasons passed, and more and more people close to me were getting dragged in by J.J. Abrams’ brilliant mind, it was hard to not hear bits and pieces of plot/story. This made me even more reluctant to begin … I dealt with something very similar after M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense came out in 1999 … I was very slow to the theater for that one (I actually never made it to the theater for it), but in my less-than-speedy ways, I had the ending, or the famous “M. Night twist” ruined before I had a chance to see the film. Aside from this really pissing me off, it kept me from seeing the picture for years … yes, that’s right, YEARS.

"I see ... the ending before it happens ..."

I was thinking about this recently as I was watching the first couple of episodes of Lost. As things were happening early on in the story, I had these things that I had heard about in the back of my mind keeping me from really being engaged in the story. Hearing about “the others” and the “Smoke Monster” … my mind, at first, was unable to expel these thoughts from its forefront while I watched. I was experiencing the same thing when I finally watched The Sixth Sense … the ending had been ruined for me, and sure, that movie seems to rely on the twist, as all the movie leads up to it, but there is important and riveting story regardless if you know the ending. Why else do we watch movies we’ve already seen, again and again?

So, as I sat down and watched episodes 7 & 8 of Lost, I found myself so ensconced in good, captivating story that after the episodes had ended, I realized that the entire time while watching I hadn’t once found myself trying to piece together things that I had heard, with what was happening on screen. I guess that is what good story is capable of … taking us out of our own minds for a bit, and placing us in its lap as the words and action wash over us.

So, with all of this said, Lost has captured me. I am on the island now. Sawyer’s back story was the one that really got me. I am sure there may be times along the way where these thoughts in the back of my mind will once again come to the forefront, but I am extremely confident in the abilities of J.J. Abrams et al, as they reveal more and create more questions that pull me out of my mind for a bit.

I’m ready to settle down in the lap of the story, as it slowly wraps its arms around me, and just hope he doesn’t turn out to be a dirty old man.

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The Songs of My Father [ 88 mph ]

Growing up, before I ever really got into music on my own, my ears were held captive by whatever record (and later on CD) my Dad happened to be into at the time. I was a child of the MTV generation. Not the reality show MTV garbage that kids these days know and, in some cases love, but the “let’s actually be true to our name and show music videos” MTV. I didn’t know what was or wasn’t cool, and what was or wasn’t considered quality music for a chap of my age at the time. Maybe the fact that it was Dad’s music made me uncool for liking it, but I’m talking about as far back as age 6, where my Dad was the coolest guy I knew … to quote “The Wedding Singer”, “You’re eight years old, you only know your parents.” It’s funny how you grow up thinking your Dad is the coolest guy in the world, and then you hit a certain age, and all of the sudden you want nothing to do with him … but i digress …

At one of my places of work, thanks to satellite radio, I am brought back into this world of my dad’s music. I had intentions of trying to include a song from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, but as it turns out, most of what I grew up with was 80s, either that, or the artist/band repeated … anyway, let’s see what I can come up with …

1960s:

1967, The Moody Blues, “Nights in White Satin” (or as I thought at the time “Knights in White Satin”, HA!)

1967, The Moody Blues, “Tuesday Afternoon” (pretty epic, especially in the context of the entire album)

1970s:

1975, Led Zeppelin, “Kashmir” (why, oh why Jimmy Page, did you let that no talent ass clown Sean “Puff Daddy ‘P. Diddy’ ‘Diddy'” Combs use the amazing riff from this song on one of his bland, unimpassioned “songs”?!?! AND, you played with him! Why?!)

1980s:

Here we go …

1986, Paul Simon, “Graceland” (Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, FTW!)

1986, Pink Floyd (sans Roger Waters), “Learning to Fly”

1986, The Moody Blues, “Your Wildest Dreams” (yeah, i know, more Moody Blues, he always referred to their music as “hippie music”, heh.)

1987, George Harrison, “Got My Mind Set on You”

1988, The Traveling Wilburys, “Handle with Care” (how awesome is Roy Orbison??? also, you gotta love supergroups)

Embedding is disabled, but go here to watch …

1990s:

1990, Paul Simon, “The Obvious Child” (oh, Paul Simon and your Vampire Weekend inspiring Afro-pop)

1990, Eric Johnson, “Cliffs of Dover”

and because this is just way too fucking awesome to not include:

Anytime I hear any one of these songs, I am transported back to my childhood … a simpler time, where liking something your Dad liked was just fine … and I am glad that I am back to a place in life where I can say the same thing now. So, thanks, Dad, for liking good music (and for being completely oversensitive about the AC in the house, and for thinking “Predator” is the best movie ever made) … “HILARIOUS!”

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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, penned by Carson McCullers in 1940, is a book I just happened to cherry pick off of The Modern Library’s 100 Best novel list. I had no previous knowledge of the book aside from the title. I had no clue who Carson McCullers was. If you had mentioned the name, I would think she were a man. I found her to be a brilliant writer.

 

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

 

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is equal parts bright and dim, uplifting and wrenching, healing and wounding. The story follows five characters living in a small city in Georgia in the 1930s. It explores human relationships. Friendships, marriages, parent/child relationships, racial and social tensions of the time. How people interact with each other. It is a jarring narrative full of very real people and real conversations. Richard Wright, black author whose works include Black Boy and Native Son, reviewed Ms. McCullers book, and had this to say in the August 1940 issue of the New Republic,

To me the most impressive aspect of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is the astonishing humanity that enables a white writer, for the first time in Southern fiction, to handle Negro characters with as much ease and justice as those of her own race.  This cannot be accounted for stylistically or politcally; it seems to stem from an attitude toward life which enables Miss McCullers to rise above the pressures of her environment and embrace white and black humanity in one sweep of apprehension and tenderness.”

At first, most of the attention is given to the first character we are introduced to, a deaf-mute named John Singer. Soon thereafter, we are introduced to Mr. Singer’s best friend, another deaf-mute by the name of Spiros Antonapoulos. Slowly, we are introduced to a small cast of main characters, all from different walks of life, that all feel drawn to Mr. Singer for one reason or another.

The plot takes a few turns that I did not necessarily see coming, and that if mentioned here, would ruin the story, so I will keep this short and sweet. The themes in the story resonated intensely with me. The lonely heart will always be hungry for understanding … for companionship. We all long to be understood. We all yearn for people to listen to our heart’s concerns and love us. But not everyone can understand us. This is sad, but the truth. We can just try our best to live with one another, and love one another. Because when it really comes down to it, we are all on the same boat.

Alan Arkin starred in the big screen adaptation in 1968, which garnered a handful of nominations, including one for Arkin (Best Actor in a Leading Role). I would certainly give the movie a try after reading the book … and I certainly recommend the book.

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Red Sangria

Question: “Hey, wasn’t there at least one other contributor to this blog?”

Answer: Well, yes. The answer is yes. And my defense is this: I have just found myself up to my eyeballs in sangria. That’s not exactly true. But I have found myself, as the weather improves, experimenting with a couple different sangria recipes.

Sangria is a drink that I (and all of Spain) believe is the quintessential summer cocktail. Icy cold, fruity, and refreshing, Sangria should be in everyone’s summer cocktail arsenal. As a wine lover, and lover of most things Spanish, I thought it was high time to make some of my own. I had some ideas in mind, but wanted to cross check my ideas against a “traditional” Spanish sangria recipe. Whether or not my search on the internets, this vast series of tubes we find ourselves tangled in, led to an actual traditional recipe, I do not know. But it did yield a few guiding points. My initial instincts were not way off. Here is what I was thinking …

Take a bottle or two of a youngish Spanish wine … why youngish? Well, I wanted a wine that was more fruit forward and possessed less oak. My two favorite Spanish varietals are Tempranillo (grown in the north of Spain) and Garnacha (the “workhorse” grown all over Spain, pretty much). I selected one of my favorite, inexpensive garnachas, Monte Oton from Aragón. Once my wine was selected, I consulted a good friend of mine in the wine department about an ingredient, besides brandy, that would make my sangria really pop. I told her I was anti bubbles, so that ruled club soda out. She suggested gin. Gin is probably my favorite spirit, so, I was all over this suggestion. She also suggested that I leave any citrus juice out, as that can cloud the finished product. She instead, suggested I use the zest of any citrus I was thinking of using.

So, I had my wine picked out, I was armed with a few new pointers, and I was on my way to making a (hopefully) delicious and refreshing sangria. I picked up two bags of frozen mixed berries, a couple of gala apples, an orange, lime, and lemon. Once I was home, I began preparing the fruit. I chopped the apple into pieces that were of similar size to the average sized strawberry from the bags of mixed berries. I zested some of the orange and lemon. I added 3oz. each of gin (had Tanqueray on hand), brandy (Cognac to be exact), a splash of Cointreau, Chambord, and Navan (a vanilla infused cognac). I had wanted to let the fruit set with the alcohol for several hours, but I was so anxious to try this concoction, that I doubt it set for more than 20 minutes. I added the wine and into the fridge it went … for minutes, not hours.

The June sun was out, the deck, drenched in warm light. I anxiously pulled the pitcher from the fridge. I grabbed a pint glass and a spoon. I poured the deeply colored libation into my glass and spooned in some of the delicious fruit. Since the berries were frozen, they acted as ice (who needs ice in wine, anyway???).

It was love at first sip. Maybe not sweet enough for some, but I found that the addition of Cointreau and Navan added enough sweetness, along with the fruit, for me. The gin added some lovely herb notes. The wine paired with the fruit very well. It acted as the perfect red canvas for this liquid artistry. I’m not gonna lie (and this is not saying that I think I make the best sangria ever), but, I could have consumed the whole pitcher in one sitting. It’s like the most dangerous fruit punch you’ll ever drink.

Sangria!

It is summer. Ice cold beers should not be the only beverage you reach for. Take some initiative and make yourself up a pitcher of sangria. The fruit you use is completely up to you. The wine is, like I said, a red canvas for liquid artistry, but in case you are not feeling as gung ho, here is my recipe …

Sangria

2 bottles of red wine (again, I used a garnacha … the only wine I would warn against using is Cabernet Sauvignon. Too oaky)

3oz. brandy

3oz. gin

1oz. Cointreau or triple sec

1/2oz. Navan

splash of Chambord (just to help the berries)

2 bags of frozen mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

2-4 apples, chopped (I used gala)

1 t. orange zest

1 t. lemon zest

Combine fruit and all alcohol, except wine in pitcher. Feel free to let this mix infuse, but beware its charm! Add wine and stir. Again, feel free to let it set for hours … but, it will be hard not to want to tear into this drink right away! Once it has set for as long as you deemed appropriate, spoon fruit into glasses, and pour. Garnish with a slice of orange or lemon, or both, and enjoy!

Salud!

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Alto Almanzora Este 2007 Red Table Wine

“Move over Las Rocas, there’s a new smash hit value in town. Outstanding ripeness and concentration, with notes of black cherry, black currants, mocha and a savory coffee note. This is a must buy by the case.” — Wine Library

Este de Bodegas Alto Almanzora

I thought that this quote from the Wine Library was an appropriate way to begin this post on Alto Almanzora Este. If you’ve read this blog, you know that we here at Roused love our wine … more specifically, we love our red wine … even more specifically, we love Las Rocas. I’ve always been a sucker for Spanish reds, so I am constantly on the lookout for the next amazing and cheap Spanish wine … not to replace Las Rocas by any means, for that cannot be done, but to broaden the scope of delicious Spanish reds our house enjoys. I recently ventured outside of my home Whole Foods to the Roosevelt Square location … so glad I did. Their wine department is much larger than my store. I immediately found two wines that caught my eye. One of these wines was one called Monan, another Spanish garnacha that will most likely make an appearance here at some point, the other wine was Alto Almanzora Este.

Andalucia

I’ve since been back for another bottle (already gone, so I’ll be headed back again soon), but from the first sip, I knew that Las Rocas had a new brother to play with. Este is pretty great. The winery is located in Andalucia, a region in the southeast of Spain. The label of Este depicts a pregnant Andalusian mare, which is a tip of the cap to the unique and beautiful horse native to the region (and some of the most beautiful horses in the world), the rich history of the region, and the fertility of the land. A blend of 45% Monastrell/Mourvèdre, 25% Tempranillo, and the remainder being rounded out with Syrah, Garnacha, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, I was instantly reminded of Bogle Phantom … maybe it was the blend being somewhat similar, but it was more from the big blackberry and cherry notes along with pepper, oak, spice, smoke, and even some dark chocolate. Este gets its oaky depth from being aged a combined 6 months in both French and American barrels. Despite being a full bodied wine, it drinks easy. I feel like this is a product of each varietal that builds the blend working in perfect harmony with the next to create a depth and mellowness that is mindblowing. Monastrell, which tends to be tannic on it’s own, becomes more easy and deep when blended with Garnacha, which features spice and berry notes. Tempranillo introduces some herbaceous and tobacco qualities. Syrah brings some dark fruit and pepper to the party. What little merlot enters the blend balances the tannins of the cabernet sauvignon and offers plum and currant notes. Cab Sauv loves oak and lends more herbaceousness and peppery notes to round out this astounding blend. And oh yeah, have I mentioned that this bottle is less than $10?

Alto Almanzora Este 2007

Go find it … buy it … open it … you will love it.