Archive for the ‘Health and Wellness’ Category


Notes of a Chronic Negress: Spring Training

February 28, 2014

By the way, much of this is based on truth.

“I love you.”

Oh shit. If the Negress hadn’t been perched on those stairs with that guy right in front of me,  she could have gotten away clean.  The railing had her pinned on one side; the wall on the other. As it stood, she was going to have to respond to this tequila-fueled declaration. The truth was not an option. She can’t say to someone who is furry drunk that she only slept with them because she was out of batteries for the vibrator. Or that, every once in a while, she needed to feel someone else’s skin to remind you that you’re alive. He was still there, nut brown and swaying, hair sweaty with some other bad trouble who made him think a trip to the clinic might be in order.  She doesn’t know the other one,  but she worked at Centerfolds. This guy wasn’t the brightest in the world — read Dean Koontz, had van seats as permanent furniture — but who was she to talk since the Negress woke up bare-assed on a waterbed in his house on Mother’s  Day? The mother of his kid came by to drop off Junior and, at first opportunity, the Negress bailed.

The Negress’ wasn’t always like this or else there would be not story to tell. You wouldn’t always find her perched on the stairs of this bar listening to some coke fiend talk about interstate trucking. She does come here a lot, but she’s run out of reasons why. It was good trouble once, a place where a girl could go when she needed to be kissed but didn’t want to make breakfast for some jerk. Lately everyone was getting married, going to rehab or smoking so much dope that the mere thought of sex makes them tired and cranky. Why did marijuana have to make a comeback right at the time when sleazing around has been deemed fatal? What happened to the seller’s market she was used to?

Crueler friends might say 30 pounds happened, but her arms don’t keep moving when the Negress stops. Also, this baggy grunge rap fashion thing was a godsend to us women of substance. Real women eat and that’s all there is to it.

Which may also explain why she gave that restaurant  goof so much of her valuable time. In case you’re wondering, this isn’t the guy the Negress was looking at when this story started, although this joint played a  role in her running into him repeatedly. The Negress was bored, he kissed well and knew a thing or two about what she considered the finest of dining. When he came over, she would end up with rug burns and odd marks on the couch. His good trouble turned to bad when the Negress found out about the woman with the gun and the toddlers. And half the teachers at this one elementary school. And five other women she knew, one of whom confided that she was relieved when her clinic run turned out to be just a non-specific infection.

At this point, high mileage was not a good thing even though it did seem to improve technique. The Negress usually put latex where it belonged, but not always. You gave blood and lost some sleep watching the mail for a week or two.

 Oh yeah. Back to the guy in front of her. He was still swaying there, expecting The Negress to say something like, “Honey, I love you so much I’d go your bail before I’d pay my rent” or some other declaration that indicated permanent brain damage on her part. She thought she’d gotten away clean. We kissed one night after the Mother’s Day thing, but it felt like a Pekingese was trying to pick her nose. The Negress had seen him up here a couple of times since then, but he had been cool. No excessive mooning, no pining. He hung with this coke dealer who was a a total bore. The Negress finally shut him up with a reasonably coherent discussion of the economics of the baseball strike. One of the bartenders bought her a drinkfor her  trouble, saying that was the longest ol ‘Dillweed had gone without speaking. The Negress considered it a public service.

All right. The Negress has hatched an escape strategy. “Uh, Dick, can we talk about this some other time?”

“No,” he bleated. Dammit.

“Well, will you excuse me for sec? I’ll be right back.”

Thank God there was a side door out of there. She was down the steps and in her truck in no time. He wasn’t there the next time she came back so the Negress hoped he got the message.

Although it may be hard to believe from what the Negress is telling you here,  she can do celibacy with panache. She’s talking years, kids. Some 21-year old goober tried to pick her up with that tired old line about how she needed to relax. The Negress replied that she wasn’t going to end a two-year string of doing without for him. He looked ashen. “How could you go two years without having sex?”

“It’s easy. You get up one morning, brush your teeth, get dressed, do your hair,  go to work, go out clubbing, come home and what do you know? You didn’t have sex. A day becomes a week, weeks months, you get the picture.”

He asked her to leave his apartment  (The Negress was stuck there after some ill-advised drinking).  She thinks he thought it was some elaborate con. Sometimes the truth does work very well.

One of these days the Negress will find a man (or woman, but we’re getting to that) who will last from spring training to the World Series. She’s not lonely exactly, but sometimes an arm around you at night would be great. Or a phone call when Frank Thomas jacked one past the Russian space station (she’s waiting on this feeling from Adam Dunn). Or someone who would get the picture when you said something about sticking around for winter ball and hockey season. She was tired of explaining her jokes to people who were supposed to care about her (her tribe is out there and she will find it later).

Or maybe she’ll just settle for a good kisser who didn’t piss on her bedroom floor during an alcoholic blackout. That was bad trouble. She kissed so much during that day and a half, the Negress felt like the lower half of her face was smeared and runny. If  she could have attached those lips to someone who knew where the bathroom was, half the battle would have been won. He knew baseball but often forgot which league the Astros are in. He lost his scholarship on that basis alone (though, now that might not be a deal breaker. The pissing, yes.).

The problem is there’s a fine line between good and bad trouble. If you hang with someone and it gets too boring, it may be good for you. But it won’t make you drive across town with a raincoat thrown over your nightgown because your phone rang at 2 a.m. with a highly improper (not to mention potentially painful) suggestion. Good trouble can talk you into it because of some deep mystical connection or just plain madness. Bad trouble makes you get a restraining order and change your number.

Most people the Negress  talks to think the distinction is a massive rationalization. “You shouldn’t try to justify this trashing around you by palming it off on something nearly mystical in its incoherence,” said one 12-step veteran pal of mine. The Negress drank another bourbon and told her to shut up.

The Negress has had jobs and everything (though lately not so much), but that’s of minimal consequence. The hours were flexible enough back in the day that arriving in the office at noon wearing sunglasses made little difference in my performance reviews. Most of the Negress’  co-workers at the time had settled for something calm. She sometimes got the sense they viewed her as a mascot of some kind;  still weird enough to drive a pickup trick and not have day-care problems. Their lives make the Negress cringe so back to the bars she went.

Frankly, the baseball strike nearly made the Negress into a nun. She had found most of her trouble by arguing about ball in a variety of joints. The restaurant guy was a Tigers fan. Mr. I Love You went to the Dome with the coke dealer, but had a hard time following the game. He thought it was too slow and there was nothing to watch, which almost matched her assessment of him for a long-term contract.

One night, another friend told the Negress her standards were too high. She had brought the restaurant guy into the picture, and had sampled Mr. I Love You back before she fell hard for a good friend of hers. The Negress was at the point in the bourbon here belligerent muttering was about the best she could do. The Negress couldn’t explain the good trouble-bad trouble distinction because all distinctions were pretty blurry. So was the road driving home(please note, this is stupid and don’t do it).

That was during a brief period where everyone the Negress knew was giving her advice even though she hadn’t asked for any. Did she look that troubled? At one point, the Negress decided it was a weird mix of envy and concern and just decided to smile a lot and forget every word.

Anyway, the Negress had to hit the road. Minor-league ball was calling. There was a prospect in Tucson that might have made it to the majors if he kept his sense of humor and continued to remember my phone number. Like most minor leaguers, he wasn’t a prospect.


In which the Negress rises from hibernation

December 20, 2013

The Negress  tries to be more regular about her musings about this, that, and the other. She’s vowing to make 2014 a better year for such things.  Much of 2013 was taken up by a job search and trying to keep her head in the game with various pharmaceutical adjustments. Things are still a little bit weird in terms of health insurance, rent etc., but soldiering on is really the only response. Since starting work three weeks ago, some of that has receded into the background.

However, this seems like the best time discuss certain rituals she does not miss from her old career. The Negress did not have to make a list of 10 or so records she liked better than thousands of other records. In short, she’s aware that Jay-Z and Beyonce did some stuff, but she doesn’t have to care. She remains slightly curious about Kanye West, mostly because she likes overblown beats and self-aggrandizement. Some of us forget that was the basis for a lot of early hip-hop. The Negress also suspects that West is just funnin’ with some of this. She has also avoided paying attention to his non-musical life, so that may make more for easier listening.

For the most part, her tastes in hip-hop are old school, but occasionally she does feel a compulsion tugging at her to find out about the new stuff (Chicago is home to some interesting rappers, and she knows she needs to catch up). This same feeling holds for Americana and other genres. Since she is now doing a review or two for one of the local daily newspapers, more mainstream country and various iterations of pop are on her radar. The Negress doesn’t mind Miley Cyrus since she can actually sing (Taylor Swift actually can’t but, that’s another post for another day). However, she’s a little weary of the producing hotshots who can level every performer’s idiosyncrasies into a muck of overly familiar beats. This is wearying stuff even if you’re not listening all the time.

What’s kind of annoying her out is how some of her contemporaries just get livid about the new stuff.  Granted, Facebook is not a medium of measured reason, but really, guys (and almost 90 percent of these people are guys). The Negress has said this before, but do you really want to come down on the side of your parents in this? Did anybody think  Dylan and Elvis would be touchstones of the musical conversation some 40 years on? As the Negress can attest based on recent developments in her own life: no one knows what the future holds.


In which the Negress goes medieval on a bitch

October 22, 2013

Before you think the Negress has lost her cotton picking mind, she’s about to ask some hard questions of Samantha Irby, author of the blog Bitches Gotta Eat. Irby is not the only rotund Negress with Crohn’s on the North Side of Chicago, so as one Crohnie to another, the Negress has to say some things. Irby’s blog generated a book deal for a tome called “Meaty.” According to the Chicago Tribune, her publisher, Curbside wants her to tour, starting with the East Coast. She doesn’t want to do that. The same publisher is hinting that they want a second book, which Irby has said she doesn’t want to do.

Her concern?

“I don’t want every story about me to be how I am hobbling into every reading,” Irby told the Tribune. “The truth is, I have no aspirations for my writing! And I still don’t. I like that people can read this book but I have a job and I can’t leave for two weeks to tour. Plus, health issues. I would never have written a book if I knew I would have to take a box of books and sell them to people! “

cover of Samantha Irby's book

Samantha Irby’s book


Miss Thing, the Negress has one question: Are you flat out of your mind? Getting a book published by an actual publisher who wants the author to support said book with a tour and is already talking about a follow up almost sounds like an Internet scam. You’ve worn diapers and you can’t walk so well? Have you ever had an ostomy bag blow off in a theater? Didn’t think so.

You have slain people at Paper Machete and other spots in Chicago where writers dazzle live audiences. So why are you so afraid of a book tour? Don’t say you can’t get time off work unless you’ve used up all your sick days with Crohn’s. Surely, the same skills that have made you a sought-after writer can be applied to negotiating with your day gig. Also, most book companies give you money against royalties, aka an advance. You don’t sell books, you owe them cash. Perhaps that happy fact will give you some incentive.

The Negress wants to root for you, Miss Irby. But you are making it damn hard.


In which the Negress arises from dormancy

August 20, 2013

The Negress has been in survival mode so the blog has been napping. She’s done some writing about music for the local paper, and she’s working on a longer piece for a magazine she  can’t name  right now. One thing she is very sure of is that she is no longer writing about wine. There are hundreds, nay, thousands of wine blogs out there, and she really doesn’t have anything to add to the discussion. Plus, due to some medication changes, wine is not front and center for her now.

So what is front and center? Good question. Working more would be nice. The Negress discovered she had no aptitude for the financial services business and spent way too much money trying to keep the failure afloat. She knew she missed writing and has even found her way back to the world of pop music, which isn’t the world she left except that the difference between good bands and bad bands is still obvious.

So, what to do now? Keep the journey afloat, listen to too much Blitzen Trapper, and wait for the next encounter.


2012 year in review: In which Canada distracts the Negress from depression, bloody mayhem and bad wine

December 31, 2012

The Negress is quite ready to be done with 2012. This is a year that deserves to be tossed away with both hands. She had friends blown sideways by a crazy, globally heated storm with boat and homes going every which way. She continued her fierce love of Chicago, but now found it mixed up the strain of building a business on communicating when she never felt less like speaking, making phone calls or getting out of bed. So, 2012, please get the hell out of here so she can get on with it. She will keep listening to 54.40, Dan Mangan, the Tragically Hip and other Canadians she hopes will return to Chicago when she has the cash to go see them.

What The Negress wants to get on with is knitting, reading, cooking and keeping herself healthy. That has actually gone pretty well with weight and the shedding of at least three diabetes medications. Crohn’s seems to know its place but she’s somewhat afraid to even think that. If you’re interested in the year in wine, nose around the rest of the blog and read. She briefly worked for an e-magazine called Uncorked before it went under; settling the $1,125 it owed her for a mere $225. There’s a plum assignment looming that has been looming for a few weeks. Once the secret is out, things will be good but just looking at the books (including one she wrote a chapter in) she needs to skim has her nervous

As for the other books she’s read, she adored “Gone Girl,” is still on p. 200 of “1Q84” and hopes Robert Caro doesn’t die before he finishes the LBJ biography (she’s read through “Master of the Senate,” but wants to finish all of it). She’s seen friends retire (buen suerte Juan), fade (you’re not reading this if you were one of those), sober up, and graduate (way to go nephew JT). There was some good news amongst all the bloodshed.

The Negress still loves music, wine, hockey (she misses it, wants it back and will settle for the college game and the Wolves until further notice) and men and women. She and golf are seeing other sports, but will get back together once her broken foot heals.

The Negress went on a road trip or two, spending time in Ohio, DC, NJ, PA (crossing the Poconos could not have been achieved without all those Canadian bands on The Verge), Ohio again, Michigan and then home. Baseball is still in the picture but the late-season collapse of the White Sox and the Nationals’ early playoff exit were hard to take. She’s officially done with Astros, leaving them before they make their shameful transition to the American League. The Negress isn’t sure she knows who they are anymore. She also feels that way about SABR, so she’s pondering an exit strategy there too..

The Mazda and her home are good, but she needs to get back to work in a stupendous way. May 2013 be your lucky number too (Lene Lovich, sorry about that).


The Negress denounces the passage of time: 1999 Patrick LeSec Rasteau Vieilles Vignes,Toad Hollow Apropos and 2011 Mission Point Pinot Noir

August 27, 2012

The Negress has had death on her mind a lot lately so the 1999 LeSec Rasteau Vieilles Vignes and Toad Hollow Apropos  roared out of memory like the morning after a cheap, greasy meal. A friend’s Mom died, leaving a central Illinois basement and house awash in mysterious liquor and wine caches. The basement was humid and filled with cases of indeterminate Scotch, several cases of a French white with moldy labels and rotted corks, plus multiple bottles of creme de menthe with just enough gone to suggest sequential outbreaks of  excessive grasshopper consumption and complete amnesia of the  previous purchases. This is the sort of drinking that adults in university towns could get away with before drunk driving, interventions and 30-day “leaves of absence” conducted on the down low if tenured; followed by contract cancellation if not. Of course, so many are adjuncts now nothing might happen for different reasons. Welcome to the age of disposable academia.

2011 Mission Point Pinot Noir and 1999 Patrick LeSec Rasteau Vieilles Vignes

New. Old. Indifferent.

Back to the wine. Most bottles you and the Negress buy are designed to be quaffed quickly. All the vinification techniques in fashion now suggest that more wine makers should put a “drink by” recommendation on the label. As in “as soon as you can.” The Rasteau and the Toad Hollow deserved to be drunk young. They were faded beyond recognition and tasted feeble and forgettable.  Cote du Rhones Villages wines are not usually feeble, but this senile Rasteau was (according to a bit of research, this one was about seven years too old). The Negress suspects improper storage may have been part of the problem. She also knows that Toad Hollow makes impeccable value wines, but the Apropos was truly nothing special.

To regain some palate perspective, the Negress picked up a bottle of 2011 Mission Point Pinot Noir at Trader Joe’s on a co-worker’s recommendation. She will not extend the recommendation, but will pose one of her favorite questions, “Why do California vintners try to turn Pinot Noir into Cabernet Sauvignon?” If you’re looking for more candid assessments of Various Buck Chucks and the rest of the Trader Joe’s ilk, try my pal Tim Lemke’s site Cheap Wine Ratings.

Speaking of pals,  please raise a glass to the Negress’ old one, Brent Grulke of SXSW, who died unexpectedly Aug. 13. Grulke worked for the gargantuan festival back when it was a puppy. He was the stage manager when there were only tens of venues. He later rose to be the guy who picked the bands that played and was immune to persuasion by anything other than the submitted demo. Brent, a lot of us who miss the old festival (and know we are too old for the reboot), will miss you and hope your family has what they need in this troubled time.


10 Things I will never do again

May 6, 2012

The Negress likes lists and is going to post one every week so stay tuned. Sometimes it”s nice to know when you are done. These are not ranked but listed as the Negress thought of them.

1. Go see the Grateful Dead. Once in DC at RFK Stadium with Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in the deadly DC summer was quite enough. No Dead spinoffs either.

2. Throw up at length in the bathroom at Fitzgerald’s in Houston. Take multiple shots of Weller, add swigs of Jack Daniels from the stage during a Dash Riprock show and you have a recipe for being tore up and sorry. Many thanks to the person who drove that night. You know who you are.

Dash Rip Rock

Members of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame dadgum

3. Go to SXSW. The Negress acquired her last badge in 1999 and doesn’t miss it one bit. Except for the night she was onstage with the late Molly Ivins banging a tambourine. Austin is a fine place to visit but she will never go during South by or the ACL Music Festival. She wants to see her friends when they aren’t frenzied.

4. Stagger with two suitcases when your bus to the Melbourne airport breaks down a quarter mile from said airport. The Aussies’ friendliness and generosity of spirit does not always extend to customer service. The Negress flew to Brisbane and spent three hours in the airport between flights and drank diet Coke until she nearly exploded.

5. Pick up a full ostomy bag off the floor of a Manhattan theater. You want to know more about that, you just have to wait until the Negress writes her memoir, tentatively titled “Notes of a Chronic Negress” or “Another Black Room with a Pole in the Middle.”

6. Deal with a member of the clergy (identifying denomination will not be divulged) who began almost every sentence with, “I’m the adult child of an alcoholic.” The Negress just wanted her to pass the salt.

7. Take NJ Transit from Newark airport to the Newark train station to get on the PATH to Jersey City. One arthritic shoulder and two titanium knees scream out for another way to do this journey.

8. Be nervous about being in a room with Miami Steve Van Zant, Lenny Kaye, Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun. The Negress is actually sorry about this one since Jerry and Ahmet are gone.

9. Go see Gary Stewart in some wide spot in the road in Texas. This one makes her sorry too. Find the music and you’ll see what she means.

10. Sit on a tour bus in Belleville, TX while Brooks and Dunn blast their new single, “Rock My World (Little Country Girl).” This duo retired before the Negress and others could reach the “Oh them again” stage. She wishes some other musicians could take the hint, but that’s another list for another week.


The Negress pickles her brain with Top 40 and enjoys it immensely

March 11, 2012

The Negress has been flitting through several realms of late. Alcohol was banished for Lent so not much to report there. Music comes and goes. Work is front and center, and is going well as far as she can tell. Hockey is good with the Devils surging and one of her future ex-husbands, Johnny Oduya, now a member of the Blackhawks. Right now, the Blackhawks can use all the help they can get.

The Negress loves Ke$ha and does not feel guilty at all

The Negress loves Ke$ha and does not feel guilty at all

With the impending arrival of spring and the annual crash landing of Daylight Savings Time, the Negress needed a respite from all the hard thinking she’d been doing preparing for the toughest part of her FINRA registration. So she flipped the dial to her favorite Top 40 (these days known as CHR for Contemporary Hit Radio) station, Z100, in New York. It’s available online and on satellite radio.

One quick conclusion she came to was that there are only about eight or nine songs in deuterium rotation, most involving Katy Perry, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Pitbull, FloRida and Drake. Ke$ha(her Twitter handle is @keshasuxx, which we love) and Lady Gaga show up, but not often enough for our tastes.

Also, prolonged exposure all of this mindless Auto-Tuned robot pop can shave a few dozen points off your IQ. You may not notice immediately, but it does happen. You say “awesome” a lot. You wanna party with, like, your friends and stuff.

However, the Negress is quick to declare her enduring love for commercial radio, especially the triple-A station here in Chicago, WXRT. She especially thanks them for Mumford and Sons and even some of the Fleet Foxes. The new Springsteen single is running heavy there now, which in its own way is as irritating as the robot pop. The Negress escaped after 12 or so years in Jersey without gaining a Springsteen obsession. She likes him and the E Streeters fine, but not to the point of rearranging her life.

Sorry for the long rest periods here, but the Negress is busy. Back as soon as something worth talking about happens. In the meantime, roll down your windows and blast some tunes.  It feels like opening a can of  spring. Baseball helps with that too, so do it. Go Sox (White, not Red)!

(December 2012 update: Still love Fleet Foxes, but the arrival of the second Mumford and Sons record killed that crush dead. Enough ballistic folks with predictable dynamics. As for Ke$ha, “The Warrior” is step in her adult heels, but “Die Young” wins the Artie Fufkin award for entering the charts at No. 1 the worst time on the worst week ever.


The Negress, Whitney Houston and the dance of addiction

February 19, 2012

The Negress heard about Whitney Houston’s death when she was working the auction floor at the Equality Illinois gala. There were some murmurs of sadness, but very few expressions of surprise. The public Whitney had walked the same road a lot of addicts do, and their families no doubt now are recalling similar turns on their own roads. Think of all the family gatherings with knotted stomachs, awaiting the first slurred argument followed by the broken dishes. Review the whispered, tentative approval of a post-rehab appearance without drama. “She looks good, doesn’t she?” Yes she did, but we still checked on the jewelry drawer afterwards. Russell Brand and others momentarily safe in recovery have talked about the exhaustive lying that comes with addictions and how addicts are never fully present in whatever they’re doing. Family members know that all too well as they hear promises repeated, see contracts signed and wait for the better times to come. (courtesy of YouTube)

But those times don’t come usually. The Negress had an uncle whose heroin addiction lasted until he was near 60 when he died of an overdose. His third wife, she of the blond Afro and infantilizing nicknames, buried him in his Christian Dior pajamas because they were designer duds. My uncle used to drop by our house to pick up his disability check (addiction was a disability at that time. Not sure how that goes now.) He worked as a treatment counselor, which sounds like a macabre joke, but junkies were all over the Narcotics Treatment Administration in Marion Barry’s DC. The Negress remembers getting a lecture from said uncle about staying away from drugs, especially cocaine. His life was the best warning she could have gotten. His children split the difference. One is a successful entrepreneur; another a neurosurgeon. The third was an addict, gifted at illegal computer scams who bounced in and out of recovery like a Super Ball of unfulfilled promise. As far as the Negress knows, he is incarcerated still. There are other kids from other wives, but the Negress has lost them somehow. She hopes they are well, but doesn’t know for sure.

As for Whitney, our paths crossed when the Negress was working in New Jersey. The singer was beginning her long free fall of shoddy performances and tentative albums. It was hard to watch and, after a point, the Negress thought of her uncle and cousin and turned away. When Whitney was at her best, you could feel God in her voice even if you didn’t believe. The Negress regrets that many of her successors and emulators embraced her bag of vocal tricks and not the spiritual truth of her best performances (feel me, Miss Aguilera?). Whitney will be missed, but we hope she’s free from pain now.

Postscript: Frank Bruni wrote a column about alcohol that also has a connection to a cousin, who would go on benders, be retrieved by his fellow cousins, dry out and then do it all over again with a few drunken, spittle-flinging rants offered at family gatherings. Since the Negress loves fine wine and spirits, she also thinks she has some responsibility to show that it’s not all upside.


Four bottles (2 California Pinot Noirs), one Series 7 exam and making the writing thing more disciplined with NaNoWriMo

November 6, 2011

The Negress has been in the midst of a whirlwind of food poisoning, medication titration, power knitting, yarn shopping, concert going (which led to booty shaking) and some more career whipsawing. There’s been a little time for wine and since she wants to get these empties out of the house, she’ll start there. Ordinarily, the Negress had been avoiding California Pinot Noir for a while since, post-Sideways, many producers got into the Pinot business as though delivering a delicious version of this persnickety grape required the same skill that it takes to make Kool Aid. The Golden State was awash in oceans of indifferent Pinot. It made the Negress want to smack Paul Giamatti in the mouth even though it was not his fault at all. However, thanks to her ongoing association with the Cellars of Sonoma wine club, she was able to quaff a pair of fabulous Pinots recently. The first was 2008 TR Elliott Three Plumes Pinot Noir (abv 14.6%) from the Russian River Valley. Winemaker Teddy Elliott put together five barrels from his Hallberg Vineyard and one barrel from the O’Connell Vineyard. The best Pinot Noirs whisper and the really good ones whisper dirty little nothings to your palate. Three Plumes is one of the good ones and, at $42, is a lovely special occasion wine that doesn’t require a credit default swap.

Johnny Oduya, one of my hockey future ex-husbands, now with the Winnipeg Jets

Johnny Oduya, on the hockey part of the future ex-husband list and my NaNoWriMo inspiration

Before moving on to next Pinot, this is a good spot to announce that I failed the Series 7 securities license exam by 4 points. This ended my pre-employment journey with an excellent financial services company, but it also put me on the road to somewhere very different. More about that as it develops.

You should love the James Family Cellars 2008 Stony Point Vineyard Pinot Noir ($35 but some discounted supplies remain, 13.8% abv) as well. This is a richer Pinot that will likely be enjoyed by those who like big fruit wines. Normally, when Pinot Noir gets artificially engorged by crafty vinification, things can get ugly. The James Family, who should not be mocked for using the words “world-class” and “artisanal” on their labels, walked a tightrope here and landed gracefully.

One of the better-kept secrets among wineaux is the loveliness of Merlots from the North Fork of Long Island. Much of that region suffers a bit from economies of scale — in short, most of the wine is pricier than its quality merits. But exceptions should be made for just about all the Merlots I’ve tried. My favorite is the Bedell Cellars Reserve Merlot. The 2006 vintage (13% abv, only available in minute quantities through the wine club) benefited from it being a warm year. This wine is ripe without being overblown. Think Lena Olin, not Anna Nicole Smith.

The Negress also lucked onto a surprising wine at her local WineStyles (small national chain of wine stores; some of which do online shipping).  The 2009 Finca La Linda Bonarda (14.3% abv) was going for $10 a bottle at last count. This one hails from the Mendoza region of Argentina. Bonarda is a bit like the Petit Verdot of Argentina. It rarely shows up alone. Too bad. This one is a little figgy with some red fruit. It went well with some spicy foods and drank well without food, although the Negress avoids doing that lately.

The blog has been quite of late, and it will remain so for the rest of this month. The Negress has thrown her lot in with the folks at National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo, so she’s hoping to have a 65,000 word draft for a memoir by Thanksgiving. She and the members of the ChiWriMo region are busy when they aren’t knitting. Stay tuned.


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