I am not drinking any f*cking merlot!

I started to appreciate the life of wine, that it’s a living thing, that it connects you more to life. I like to think about what was going on the year the grapes were growing. I like the think about how the sun was shining that summer and what the weather was like. I think about all those people who tended and picked the grapes. And if it’s an old wine, how many of them must be dead by now. I love how wine continues to evolve, how every time I open a bottle the wine will taste different than if I had uncorked it on any other day, or at any other moment. A bottle of wine is like life itself—it grows up, evolves and gains complexity. Then it tastes so f*cking good.

Maya (Virginia Madsen), Sideways

Perhaps falling victim to all its hype and buzz, we ended up seeing the latest hot indie flick Sideways yesterday afternoon with a couple of our good friends. (The first movie we’ve seen in a theater since The Incredibles, mind you. Yes, we have no life.) But perhaps just a little to my surprise, it turned out to be a great little movie—very sharp and downright hilarious in spots. Since the movie is set in the California wine country, it also brought back some pleasant memories of our recent vacation in that area—of course, it also made us want to go back there that much more… oh well.

My only complaint about the movie: We got to (read: had to) see Thomas Haden Church’s bare ass, but not a single scene of Virginia Madsen nekkid to be found. It just doesn’t seem fair, if you ask me.

Follow-up (Feb 20, 2005): I guess it was only a matter of time: The Santa Barbara Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking advantage of the popularity of the movie and is now offering a self-guided tour of various locations shown in the movie. A pretty good idea, if you ask me. If I could get out to California right now, I’d be so on this.

Basketball at A&M?

No, really, Texas A&M really does have a basketball program! Two of ’em even—men’s and women’s!

Now granted, both programs are a far cry from their respective hey-days (the late ’70s to early ’80s for the men, the early- to mid-’90s for the women), but both programs are slowly but steadily climbing out of their doldrums under the guidance of gung-ho coaches Billy Gillespie (men) and Gary Blair (women).

Though in the men’s case, maybe not so slowly, as Gillespie—in his first year as coach of the Aggies and just one season removed from last year’s 7-21 disaster—and the Aggies upset #10 Texas last night in College Station, 74-63. The win ended an 18-game Big 12 conference losing streak for A&M and was only the fourth win in A&M’s history over a top 10 team.

I was actually a bit surprised by the last bit, but the truth is the only other wins over top 10 foes were:

  • 1978–79 (at #3 Arkansas)
  • 1979–80 (at #10 Indiana)
  • 1982–83 (at #5 Texas)

In fact, it was only the 10th win over a top 15 opponent in history; the others:

  • 1978–79 (#15 UNLV, at #11 Kentucky, #11 Arkansas)
  • 1979–80 (#15 North Carolina)
  • 1986–87 (#15 TCU)
  • 1999–2000 (#12 Oklahoma State)

(Like I said, those teams from the late ’70s were studs.)

The Aggies are now 12-1 for the season (1-1 in Big XII play), the best start for A&M in 45 years. Coupled with A&M’s narrow loss on the road to #2-ranked Kansas, not too shabby for what Sports Illustrated, at the time, called “the worst 11-0 team in history”. (Which only reinforces what’s already known: SI doesn’t know what the hell it’s talking about anymore. Think of it as the Entertainment Tonight—minus John Tesh—of sports.)

Style points

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m way behind on what’s going on in pop music these days, having long since abandoned the wasteland that is the Clear Channel empire. (And besides, it would be perfectly reasonable to assume that I wouldn’t know what’s going on even if I knew what was going on—see, for example, the ABBA and Carpenters CDs I have at home.)

However, after catching wind of a few groups via blogs and the goodness that is the iTunes Music Store, I think I’ll take the plunge and see what’s out there just off the beaten path. First up on my plate:

Plus one that remains to be seen:

  • Bond—Four classically trained women playing pop-ified classical-influenced music. OK, four very leggy, classically trained women with a propensity for short skirts and stiletto heels playing pop-ified classical-influenced music. (I’ve heard their detractors describe their music as Yanni-on-steroids, but to me, it’s less New Age and more like a turbocharged quartet of Vannesa-Mae-types.) Visuals aside, bits of what I’ve heard have at least caught my attention, so I still may end up looking into them.

Admittedly, all the cool kids are probably saying “like, those are so yesterday”, but (a) I am not cool, and (b) so what. Next up: finding me some decent alt-country…

Game 12: Tennessee (’05 Cotton Bowl)

The Good: Seeing a sea of maroon once again at the Cotton Bowl as Texas A&M faced off against Tennessee.

The Bad: Having seats situated near the Tennessee band and being subjected to way too many playings of “Rocky Top” (now at #1 on my personal list of Most Annoying Songs Played By Opposing Teams).

The Ugly: Committing five turnovers en route to a humbling 38-7 loss to the Vols in the 2005 Cotton Bowl, giving up almost 500 yards of offense to Tennesee (including over 240 yards rushing).

Even with the terrible game by the Aggies (and it was a truly terrible game), it sure was good to see them play in Fair Park once again. All sorts of nostalgia, I tells ya (right down to losing—A&M has now lost their last five Cotton Bowl appearances). It was both fun and painful to watch the Bowl highlights as they flashed across the JumboTron—fun to see highlights from the Aggies of the mid-’80s, painful to see just how fast those past Aggie squads were and just how slow our current team is compared to them.

Still, the Aggies finished their turnaround 2004 season at 7-5 (5-3 in Big XII play), a three-game improvement from last season’s 4-8 debacle.