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Archive for the ‘California’ Category

If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. ~ Margaret Atwood

I finished an assignment this morning. The writing went slowly, but at least, I knew what I was going to say. Earlier in my writing career, I used to get bad cases of writer’s block. Often, fear and anxiety fueled it. I learned that taking a walk, baking cookies, doing some mindless chore, reading a book chapter or embarking on some other activity relaxed me. With my mind distracted, brain cells would start firing and the words would begin to flow. (Now there’s a wine called Writer’s Block. More later.)

Sometimes, the writer’s block stemmed from taking on an assignment about something I had zero interest in. I’ve since learned never to accept such assignments. They ruin the reason I became a writer by turning writing into some soulless enterprise.

Hundreds of web pages are devoted to this bete noir of writers everywhere. I imagine new writers googling and googling in search of something to overcome it. But famous authors also have suffered from writer’s block–F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Mitchell, Fran Lebowitz. And of course, numerous fictional characters have suffered from it. Below is the movie trailer for “Wonder Boys,” which is based on the book of the same title by Michael Chabon:

When I saw this bottle of wine, I recalled all those memorable funny scenes in “Wonder Boys.” Steele Wines, based outside of San Francisco, makes Writer’s Block. I tried the Syrah, a tasty full-bodied red. They also produce a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Grenache and a few other whites and reds. Naturally, I wouldn’t recommend this wine as a cure for writer’s block, though I would bring it to a book party or other literary gathering. I’ve written about a few  others suitable for book-ish types in an earlier post.

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View of Fenway Park from The Bleacher Bar (copyright Delia Cabe June 2009)

View of Fenway Park from The Bleacher Bar (copyright Delia Cabe June 2009)

These wines would be gimmicky if it weren’t for the fact that a portion of the sales goes to a Red Sox player’s favorite charity: Pitching in for Kids, Curt’s Pitch for ALS, David Ortiz Children’s Fund and Youk’s Kids. The names are a bit of a stretch, but the wine tastes fine–though more of double than a home run.

Charity Wines raised more than $350,000 for three Red Sox charities in the first three months after the wine debuted in 2007. Last year, two more wines were introduced. The company offered five wines in all, but no longer produces them. But you can still find them at some New England retailers. (Check Charity Wines for a retailer.)

Here’s the lineup:

VARITEK FRONT smallORTIZ FRONT smalltSchilling SchardonnayWakefield Front LabelthumbYOUK FRONT small

Charity Wines also sells wines that feature MLB players from Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and, er, New York, as well as ones with football and hockey players.

pMLB2-5901295dtOf course, no post about the Red Sox would be complete without a trip down memory lane for the Fenway Faithful:

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Project Happiness Syrah

Project Happiness Syrah

This wine label leaped out at me because of the kitsch value. How retro, eh? I’d tell you more about the winemakers but whoever designed the web site chose a difficult-to-read font against a black background. Bad design! I didn’t get past the line that said one of the winemakers graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1996. He earned a communications degree, but it seems he could use a little more know-how on the visual communications front.

Project Happiness Syrah is vinted and bottled by Oreana Winery, in Creston, Calif. From the label:

Finally, somebody put it in a bottle. Happiness. Sure took awhile, though. Seeking happiness? What makes happiness? We winemakers pondered this one afternoon in the Cellar. Marriage? Kids? Satellite TV? . . . Remember the 1950s, try to forget the 1980s. Wear searsucker at least once. Adopt a dog? Maybe a cat.

As bold supporters of the mischief that ensues upon opening a bottle, we pose the question to you. . .What makes you happy?

At that, you’re invited to tell them at the the “What Makes You Happy?” blog. To call it a blog is a stretch. Started in 2007, the blog features no posts and 42 comments, nearly all left by anonymous. Everything about this wine says, “no effort.”

What else can I add? The smiley face itself has its own history. The Happy Face was created in 1966 by David Stern, who owned a small ad agency. The idea came to him after seeing “Bye, Bye Birdie.” He thought a smiley face would be just the thing for a bank’s ad campaign. The headline: “Open a Savings Account at University Federal Savings and Put on a Happy Face.” Because he didn’t trademark it, Stern did not make anything from a symbol that became ubiquitous through the Seventies and resurfaces occasionally, including on this wine. You can read Stern’s account here.

Here’s the song, “Put on a Happy Face,” that served as the spark for Stern’s smiley face. This clip is from the 1995 TV version with Jason Alexander, whom most people know from “Seinfeld.” I’ve not seen this version, but hear that it paled in comparison to the original and the Broadway musical, which debuted in 1960.  The original movie came out in 1963 and starred Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margret, Janet Leigh and Maureen Stapleton. The movie tells the story of a rock-and-roll star (think “Elvis”) who is drafted into the military. The winner of a contest gets to kiss him goodbye on the Ed Sullivan Show.

You can hear a short clip from the 1963 movie at Amazon.

As for this syrah, it too was not memorable.

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