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2 Days of Poetry & Music & a Quandary

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 26, 2018

Good Poetry

I crossed the Rio Grande this past Saturday, not the river, but the street (Rio Grande Blvd, in Albuquerque, NM). There is a bookstore located in a small shopping center here, near my rental house. It’s a great local independent bookstore, featuring book signings by authors I like, music, poetry, and activities for kids, and even visits by comic strip artists like Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine fame. By Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine

Saturday’s event included poetry by a new poetry slam group, Burque Revolt. “Burque” is local slang for Albuquerque. The group performed hard-hitting poetry stories about race and sexism, and actually represented people of color in their lineup. They see themselves as activists and poets. Now, perhaps you’re thinking that poetry should make you feel good. Sometimes it does, sometimes it makes you listen, and think. That was the case. All of the poets, Mercedez Holtry, Dnessa McDonald, Reina Davis and Sophia Nuanez blasted us with heartfelt stories in slam poetry style. They had memorized every bit, since slam poetry is really a performance art. The poems were designed to shock, to challenge and to educate. And I think they succeeded. One of the poets, Sophia Nuanez, included references to the double helix of DNA, so I really liked that. Science and poetry should go together. I spoke with Dnessa about one of her poems. She is fairly new to this slam poetry thing, but has managed to have a poem published.

poetry slam

Despite the fact that some of the poetry slammed men in general and (a category I find myself in) white people, white men in particular, for a pattern of racism and sexism that continues to this day, I was smitten with one of the poets. Even the other poets were impressed by her beauty. As soon as I walked into the store and looked at the people waiting for the event to start, my eyes riveted on her. At my age, I’m not all that impressed by beauty of itself. I really need to know a woman to find myself interested. But once in a while I see a woman that pops the eyeballs out of my head. It’s a quandary. I guess it’s a reflex action borne of a society that prizes physical appearance more than intellectual accomplishment, and a sexist society to boot. I found a photo of her, but a two-dimensional photo doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of this woman in person, and her voice, her poetry and smile.

Reina Davis

I had a chance to meet her, confused a poem of one of the other poets with hers, and couldn’t remember what I had meant to say to her if I ever spoke to her. At one point, I had come up with a line of poetry to describe her effect on my eyeballs, but I forgot it completely when she was standing directly in front of me and listening. I couldn’t even remember her poems at that moment. Women still do that to me sometimes.

There was music then. D. B. Gomez & Felix Peralta a.k.a. Gato Malo, of Dos Gatos, performed some ranchera-inspired new music, and I felt like dancing. Years of dancing to salsa and merengue, cha-cha and rancheras inspires me to dance as soon as I hear it, Unfortunately, Reina, the queen was gone.

Well, Sunday morning came around and I went to Chatter Sunday, a regular Sunday morning venue for music of a more classical nature, and poetry, including slam poets sometimes, and Sophia Nuanez Sophia Nuanez has performed there before. It takes place at Las Puertas, meaning doors, because there are lots of them there from when the space was used to sell antique doors. There is also an espresso bar, which is such a fine way to start a Sunday (not to mention the home-made treats). The program began with the entire ensemble performing a 1986 piece: Airs from Another Planet – wind quintet and piano – reels, airs and jigs, by Judith Weir. One of the numbers from the four-part piece was called Strathspey and reel, so I had to look up strathspey: Strathspey is the area around the strath of the River Spey in Scotland. Uhh, OK. It also has some connection to shields and coats-of-arms, but that wasn’t very helpful either. What it is, is a type of dance tune, a reel played at a slightly slower tempo, with more emphasis on certain beats. Glad I cleared that up.

In the space between music sets, Rowie Shaundlin Shebala, (Diné), told the story of her Arizona grandfather seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, among other poems that gave us insight into her life as the youngest daughter of a Navajo family. She has a wonderful voice and her poetry is well represented in print and at slam competitions. Rowie

Then we went back to the music, this time from 1796, by Ludwig van Beethoven: Ludwig von Beethoven a quintet for piano and winds (op. 16). This was a much more spirited piece than the earlier airs, and the musicians really threw themselves into it this time, even standing throughout, probably to give themselves room to move about, because the energy was frenetic.

Stopped for breakfast on the way home, wecks and had a bowl of hash browns, covered with bits of sausage, bacon, one egg, and lots of green chile as well as red chile sauce, along with two corn tortillas. I was not hungry again for nine hours, which was fortunate, because I went to another rare evening Chatter performance, this time, the Cabaret at the Albuquerque Museum, and a lot of pricy food is available. I did buy a glass of a California wine, a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Joel Gott Wines, which was very tasty (“clean, complex, and elegant”, according to their web page).

The music at the museum started off with a piece from 1720, by Johann Sebastian Bach: JS Bach facial reconstruction Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Viola de Gamba and Keyboard. Fascinating, and so well-played.

That was followed by music of Philip Glass, Glass so I cringed mentally when I saw that in the program. A fifth is the interval from the first to the last of five consecutive notes in a diatonic scale. As it was explained, fifths are never played consecutively, ever, not even two or three at a time. Well, that is, that used to be the case, but Philip Glass did whatever he wanted to do, so he composed a piece built entirely of nothing but fifths. Very unusual and interesting. Ten minutes of it. I sipped my wine throughout.

After intermission we were treated to the 1921 music of Erich Wolfgang KorngoldErich_Wolfgang_Korngold, a composer of operas, and a contemporary of Richard Strauss. He is one of the founders of film music, and you’ve all heard his music. Some of the sixteen films he scored were The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, Deception, Kings Row, and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. (As a purely irrelevant aside, my sister Mary Elizabeth is married to Sara Essex.)

Anyway, the Piano Quintet (op. 15), was delightful, and played with intense passion by the seven Chatter musicians, some local, some visiting: James Shields on clarinet, Nathan Ukens on horn, David Felberg & Ruxandra Marquardt on violins, Keith Hamm on viola, Dana Winograd on cello, and Judith Gordon on piano.

Two days of fun and music. Much to think about, much to research, and music to seek out. And fresh-roasted green chile to eat. Green chile

 

Posted in coffee, comics, food, music, My Life, poetry, race, rambling, wine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Blind Red Wine Tasting and Maya

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 21, 2018

I had so much fun tonight I just had to write about it. For eight years my stepdaughter Maya Maya Masters Degree (2) and I used to work together selling wine, and also picking fruit for it, and bottling it, and labeling it. I also irrigated the orchard, weeded, pruned, planted, plugged gopher holes, hauled sugar (dextrose) and added it in increments to the fruit fermantation tanks, cleaned tanks, filtered the wines when necessary, and helped keep the inventory up to date. We both got to learn a lot about how to make fruit wines, and how to pair them with food, which is really the best way to appreciate it. So tonight we went to a (grape) wine tasting, and not just any wine tasting, but a blind wine tasting. I’ve been to these before, and it’s always fun. It might have a lot to do with the size of the tastings, and incredible food, but it’s a real joy for me to have my stepdaughter join me. We were in the wine loft at Slate Street Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Slate Street    wine-slate-loft

There are usually five wines to try to identify the varietal, and they gave us eight choices to pick from. After we loaded up on hors d’oeuvres like short ribs, and cheeses, and bread, crackers, vegetables, and such, we settled into tasting the wines. I usually try them with different foods to see how they pair.  The 2015 Reserve Merlot from Waterbrook in Walla Walla, Washington was good with the ribs, but fantastic with the cheeses there. It was so good I thought it might be a cab, but no, I missed my guess. My stepdaughter got this one correct. Next up was a similar wine, a 2015 Tempranillo from Manon (Aviva) in Castilla, Spain. We both got that wrong, but it’s a good wine, excellent with the short ribs.

I should mention that in past blind tastings, I’ve gotten three out of five correct. In tonight’s tasting I got all five wrong! I actually thought the Malbec might have been a Syrah, and guessed Tempranillo for the Pinot Noir. The 2016 Malbec was from Bodini in Argentina, and the 2014 Pinot Noir from Brancott Estates in New Zealand. Both good wines, but I’m out of practice with grape wines.

Finally, we got to the best wine: a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Vigilance in Lake County, California. O yeah! this was good. I didn’t like cabs when I was younger: too astringent in my mouth. But, even though I’ve come to appreciate Cabernet Sauvignon much more, this one really wowed me. Complex, and tasty, and much smoother than I would have expected from a cab. We got to re-taste two of the wines after the big reveal, so we got to sample a previously untasted, but excellent Garnacha, (or Grenache), and of course had a bit more of the Shannon Ridge (Vigilance) Cabernet Sauvignon.

There were more foods brought out, like a delightful melted cheese/bread combo, and some coconut shrimp, but I didn’t see where the shrimp paired at all with any of the wines. Tasty though.

Maya had a good time, even though she had initially been tired from work, but she livened up as the evening went on. We talked about wine, and the closure of the winery we had worked at, Anasazi Fields*, and our sadness at the loss of the vintner, the winery itself, and the fantastic wines. We don’t see each other as often since the winery closure, so it was a good chance to catch each other up on things in our lives. She is done with school, she says, after getting her Master’s degree, but is now taking a class on beer: history, varietals, and tastings. Her homeowner association is taking action against the shoddy workmanship in the little complex she is in. Cracks in many of the walls, leaky roofs, and some substandard materials, but Maya’s place is in pretty good shape. I built her a concrete patio last year, and she’s enjoying it.

I continue my education in acting, and told her about a strange table read yesterday that turned into a movie trailer shoot. I hadn’t memorized my lines at all, since I had thirty pages of dialogue and little time to memorize it, and because I thought it was simply a read-through. Nope, the director/writer/producer wanted it on video as his class project, so we got it done by cutting and restarting almost line by line. Terrible miscommunication there. We only shot 6 or 7 pages out of the 111 total in the script, but that’s all he wanted. I wish I’d known that because I’d have nailed that part of the script in the time I had. Oh, well, that’s the movie culture around here. Some things happen, some don’t.

All in all, I had really been looking forward to my time with Maya, and this was a wonderful evening. I really love spending time with her.

 

        Sour Grapes

And, alas, the winery is nearly empty. 6000+ gallons of bulk wine had to be destroyed due to alcohol regulations. We had a huge 50%-off sale to dispose of the bottled wine, and in the end there were still a lot of the unusual wines like blueberry, and fig, and also some blackberry and old peach and prickly pear, and some small-batch varieties. The remaining bottles were given to the partners to haul away. The cellar is empty. The bottle room is empty. Most of the artworks have been removed from the walls. By tomorrow, the big workspace and community event room will be cleaned out of all items no one wanted. The dozens of stainless-steel storage tanks (from 6oo gallon, incremented by halves down to 37.5 gallon) will have been taken away for scrap. The new owners (who publish a local newspaper) will not be making wine. However, they will continue to allow the large space to be used for community events, like the November Holiday Show, in which artists and craftspeople throughout the Placitas area showcase their work. The show also includes the grade school’s gym & auditorium space, and a huge white tent set up by the local church.

On the weekend of Mother’s Day every year, the winery hosted a few booths for the artists and craftspeople of the Placitas Studio Tour, a two-day experience which is barely enough time to visit all the artists in their homes and studios throughout Placitas. The new owners say they want to continue to have the winery space used for this purpose. Other meetings and events that usually took place at the winery will likely continue, but without the generous tastings of dry fruit wines.

Posted in family, food, In front of the camera, Life, love, My Life, wine | 2 Comments »

Another Month Begins; Not Bored Yet!

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 6, 2017

Last month wasn’t very busy. I was paid to work as a background actor on the TV series Graves, just once, and I worked a few hours on a local independent film for no pay. I only hiked three times. I took a weekend acting class. I had an audition – no word on that. There was a shareholder’s meeting, at the 21-year-old winery I have been working at for the last seven years, to try to figure out what to do next after the death of our founder. I had a CT SCAN/angiogram on my heart with a fancy new machine that looked like a giant metal donut. I left a bit woozy from the drug and the scan. I saw my new heart doctor for the results, and I had a pre-exam for my upcoming annual health checkup. The culmination of July was an acting gig for a 48-Hour Movie project, which is part of an international competition among people who make a short movie in 48 hours from start to finish, including all editing, and that led to two events in August.

Director

That’s me (in hat, sunglasses, scarf) as a fake director for the movie within the movie

So August started rolling right away on the 1st, with a day at the winery netting grapes to keep the birds from eating them. We’re keeping the winery going for now. Anyone want to buy a winery? I think that’ll happen soon. I got the see the 48-Hour movie we made on Thursday August 3rd, along with 13 other shorts, out of 41 total. I decided to celebrate with my fellow Group A participants at local brewery Sidetrack, getting a shrimp po’ boy to eat from Crazy Daves’ food truck outside (to balance the two pints of heavy beer). Since the second group of short movies (Group B) finished while we were there, a few of us wandered over to Boese Brothers Brewery nearby for their after party, and I had another beer. A late night, and it cost quite a few bucks, but it was fun.

CCG movie 2017

The Casting Coffee Group who made the movie

Saturday the 5th, there was a meeting of group I’m part of that made the 48-Hour movie. We’re certain we’ve won several awards, but we won’t know until August 18.

After that, I went to the 11th Annual Gala of the Guerrilla Photo Group, a wonderful collection of photographers, models and makeup people, who not only improved my photography skills, but introduced me to the local movie-making scene. There were lots of friends there, a dozen sexy models, lots of photos to view and to vote on as a favorite. My favorite was of a wonderfully sexy teacher/poet with a book centered firmly between her thighs, but it was already sold.

Had another beer at the Albuquerque Press Club’s bar, so I also visited the Pink Ladies’ food truck for a fantastic carne adovada burrito.

Today it was back to Sunday Chatter, the weekly Sunday morning music concert. This one was not as wildly fantastic as the last one I wrote about, but it was nice. A husband and wife duo played music for cello and guitar that they had rearranged from traditional presentations. An orchestral piece by Gabriel FaurĂ© still sounded damn good for just cello and guitar. Four of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works for harpsichord were recreated by having the guitar play the notes for one hand, and the cello play the notes for the other hand. (No. 8 in F Major, No. 10 in G Major, No. 6 in E Major, and No. 13 in A Minor). Fun!

There followed a piece from Oliver Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”, but of course, only performed on two instruments. And there was “Allegretto Comodo” by Radames Gnattali, and “Reflexoes No. 6” by Jaime Zenamon. The duo is called Boyd Meets Girl, and they’ve just released a CD of their arrangements.

Boyd-Metcalf

Laura Metcalf and Rupert Boyd

There was some great cornbread too: blue corn meal, corn, cheese, and chile, blue corn two pieces of which I scarfed down with my freshly espressed caffè americano.  americano

25 days still to go in the month of August!

Doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, and a movie audition in the afternoon. More netting of grapes at the winery on Tuesday, and another shareholder’s meeting next Sunday. Hopefully I’ll have news of our 7-minute movie being wildly successful on the 18th. But, for now, the rest of the calendar for August is empty.

 

 

Posted in coffee, food, friends, In front of the camera, Life, medical, music, My Life, photography, wine | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I was wrong about wine most of my life

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 24, 2017

I decided to respond to a Quora question:”What have you assumed was exaggerated until you experienced it?” since I’ve been working in a winery for seven years, cleaning ditches, weeding, picking fruit, fermenting fruit, pumping, filtering, bottling, labeling and selling wine. I wrote:

Well, lots of things, really, throughout my whole life, but I’m going to just focus on wine. Most of us, especially when young, make fun of all that wine tasting stuff, like swirling the glass, or sniffing the “bouquet”, and can’t figure out what wine goes with what food, often resorting to anyone else’s recommendation, but always feeling like it doesn’t really make any difference: wine is wine. I thought the whole thing was made up or grossly exaggerated. Which is not to say there really aren’t posers who do not know what they are talking about, or try to impress, regardless of how much or little they actually know.

Anyway, I found out many things when I began working at a winery, and actually making wine, and not just grape wine, but wine made from cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, apples, blackberries, raspberries, and even cranberries, among many others. Only wine grapes don’t need any additions of sugar to ferment, having a high enough sugar content to make a strong alcoholic beverage. But, by adding sugar, slowly, incrementally, to fruit, any fruit, you can make damn fine wines too.

I say this because I would not have learned as much from a few grape wines as I have from fruit wines. Yes, it does make a big – a huge difference – what wine you have with your meal. If you’re just drinking wine to get drunk, or impress people, it doesn’t matter much what you drink. Fruit juice with distilled alcohol will do.

However, one of the first things I learned is that wines to be paired with food need to be dry, that is, without sugar. If all the sugar is converted to alcohol, you get a very superior wine. It can take quite a while to do that, but it’s worth it. Drinking a sweet wine coats your tongue with sugar and makes tasting anything else difficult: the fine flavors of food can be masked by sugar. And, dry doesn’t mean bland or high in alcohol content; dry table wines can be very fruity and complex with layers of flavors.

But, even drinking dry wines with food takes a little bit of consideration. A very light-tasting food needs a light-tasting wine. White wine with chicken or fish, sure, but not if the chicken is heavily spiced, or the fish is something like salmon. But, a strong grape wine, like a cabernet sauvignon, will completely overpower the taste of some milder foods. Drink them with red meats like buffalo, for sure.

Very strong-flavored foods need a strong-flavored wine. A rich-tasting wine will complement the salmon you’re eating, neither taking away the flavor of the food, nor being overpowered by it. In our winery we have an apricot wine, served by itself or blended with a white grape wine, that we use for things like salmon, blackened tuna, or aged cheeses. For really strong, pungent cheese, we recommend that or a 100% peach wine.

When it comes to spicy food, we recommend a red grape wine blended with wild cherry wine, the pure wild cherry wine itself, or plum wines. The plum is particularly great with curried foods.

For meats that same red wine/ wild cherry wine mix works great, or other all-fruit wines we blend.

Now, none of this is to convert you to fruit wines other than grapes. There are some really great grape wines. It is just to illustrate the point that you have to experiment with wines to see what foods they complement. (I used to only drink whites like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sĂ©millon or pinot grigio. Now I can finally appreciate red wines, even cabs.) I hated the intense pure apricot wine until I tried it with venison; suddenly the apricot flavor jumped out at me, and the heavy gaminess of the meat was toned down. I don’t like blue cheese, or any of the moldy-looking strong cheeses, but I tried them with this powerful peach wine, and suddenly I could appreciate the flavor of the cheeses, and the wine. This happens at some level with all wines. If you can’t taste the wine after a few bites of your food, or if you can’t taste your food after a few sips of wine, it’s not the best experience.

Another thing I learned is that the whole point of wine, from the very beginning of The Grapes of Wine viticulture, was to accompany food. It can heighten the flavors in your food, making the meal a real joy, which makes you feel pretty good, compliment the chef, and smile. As long as you don’t overindulge in the dinner wine, you will be able to enjoy your wine and your food, and not actually feel drunk. Drink some water too along with your meal. The water and the wine help your digestion. Sweet wine? – after your meal. And maybe have it with a little dessert too, yeah?

 

Posted in food, My Life, Random Thoughts, wine | Leave a Comment »

 
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