Saturday, June 11, 2022

Underwater Wine Making a Big Splash with Sommeliers

There's been a buzz going around among oenologists (scientists who study wine and winemaking) since 2017.

Word is the winemaking industry is looking at a new way of aging wine... underwater.

That's right. Oak barrels stored in special temperature-controlled cellars and warehouses are now competing with a new aging process that is slowly gaining respectability.

The genius who came up with the idea is Gergo Borbly who came from a Hungarian wine-making family. He had a passion for diving and winemaking and combined his two hobbies into a venture that is now being explored by winemakers around the world.

To be sure, Gergo didn't just have a simple epiphany or a vision. He read about divers in the cold Baltic Sea in 1998 who discovered thousands of bottles of Champagne that had sunk deep in a Swedish schooner, which was wrecked by a German U-Boat in 1916.

The story unfolded in Sweden and London where the bottles were sent for analysis. After popping a few corks, wine experts discovered that not only was the Champagne unspoiled, but it was also surprisingly delicious.

In 2017 Gergo and his wife Mariona Alabau set up ElixSea, an underwater winery" in Priorat, Spain, and began aging wines in the Mediterranean Sea.

Amazingly the underwater wine aged 3 to 4 times faster than their control samples, which is the same wine but kept in a wine fridge. The results, according to Gergo is "a more mature character, much smoother, lower levels of tannins, and more balanced acidity."

You can visit ElixSea at one of the winery's tasting events, where guests taste underwater wine alongside their land-aged counterparts. The land-aged wines have been aging for 3-4 years, while the underwater wines have been submerged in the sea, a careful blend of Grenache, Cabinet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carignan.

The concept of underwater wine has taken off in the last five years. Edivo, was the first winemaker to produce underwater wine in Croatia. Since then, underwater wines have popped up in Argentina, Portugal, Greece, South Africa, Australia, Italy, Chili, and Brazil.

The epicenter of underwater wines is still in Spain where there are now five underwater wineries. Because underwater wine requires a shorter aging time, but brings results of equal quality to land aging, it means increased production is possible.

What do you think? Sound good?

Related: Underwater wine aging: Why are wineries doing it?

Also: Buy Underwater Wine at Chinchin Wine Trading

Friday, June 10, 2022

Who Are You Going to Call? UFO/UAP BUSTERS!

As you read this post there's a special team being assembled by NASA that plans on hunting UFOs.

It's about time...oh, wait! That ship sailed in March of 1952 until December of 1969 when Project Blue Book was shared with the public.

The results were inconclusive. Nothing more than a stack of theories. American taxpayers' money was funneled to a group of pinheads who for 17 years' gathered tons of photos and stories about strange sightings in the sky and came up with squat!

Since then, there's been some feeble attempts by other government agencies to look into UFOs, with no results. Just more observations and guesses.

So, who are you going to call to find out if alien spacecraft has been buzzing earth?


Featuring a really old Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Bill Murray 

UFOs or UAPs Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - as extra-terrestrial sightings are referred to now in this more enlightened age.

NASA has set up a team (UFO UAP BUSTERS) to start early in the fall to examine UAPs from a scientific perspective according to their press release.

That troubles me. Does it mean Project Blue Book was the work of fiction writers and conspiracy loons? That science wasn't even an afterthought?

Worse yet. There's two existing UAP groups under the umbrella of the Department of the Defense; the Unidentified Phenomena Task Force and its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group.

These two taxpayer-funded departments are already looking for little green men in spacecrafts that might pose a national security risk.

So why have this new team of UAP BUSTERS? I've thought long and hard about an answer to this question and have come to the logical conclusion... because they can.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Are You Ready for the Big Show Today?

Primetime TV may have a record audience tonight when Congress begins a series of public hearings on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election.

Then again, the viewership may be disappointing because there's more pressing issues on Americans minds than holding Trump accountable right now.

To be blunt, we've been hearing bits and pieces about the insurrection for over a year now and are almost burned out on the subject.

It's not like it's going to be BREAKING NEWS.

Sure, I expect some new revelations will unfold showing how intricate the whole plot was to subvert our democracy. But this is just a show-and-tell event. No one will be indicted. That's up to the Department of Justice and from all implication's accountability is years away... if ever.

The unreal part to me is how the coup attempt is still ongoing. Outright traitors to the constitution are running for political offices and embedding themselves into state electoral systems in order to assure they'll be the winners - despite what the voters may say.

I feel like people are just watching our democracy die with a fatal resignation that the midterms are going to bring more chaos when the Republicans take the House, and or the Senate, in the midterms.

Political pollsters are predicting a red wall and a blue puddle this November. Nothing short of a miracle is going to change that unless the Democrats flip the tables and have a record turnout. 

If that doesn't happen, we're on a slippery slope to a fascist minority ruling the nation. 

Can telling the story about how close we came to losing our democracy still get anyone's attention? And how close are we to losing it this time around? I guess we'll find out in the days and months ahead.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Part III: Superheroes and Why We Need Them

My first experience with a superhero came in 1959 when I bought my first comic book, Superman #124 "The Super Sword."

No. I don't have that issue anymore (pictured left). I wish I did (it's probably worth a lot now). 

Someone could argue the first superheroes surfaced in the late 1930s in America with the creation of Superman. But history shows we were familiar with superheroes since ancient times. 

Take Hercules (although he didn't wear a tight bright outfit) for example. Being a hero - standing up for others - is a common theme in civilizations throughout history. The typical hero promotes a positive image about standing up to peers and protecting others.

The classic definition of a superhero is a type of heroic stock character possessing supernatural or superhuman powers to fight evil in the world.
Artwork from the DC Extended Universe | DC Comics & Warner Bros. Pictures
                  Superheroes Today

Two comic book giants - Marvel and DC - have led the way to transitioning their characters onto the Big Screen, establishing themselves as leaders in the superhero genre.

In their purest form superheroes are meant to inspire. They represent someone we are not, or someone that can do things that we can't. They can provide escape into a world where someone is there for us even when or our protectors or our medical and social institutions have let us down.

Clinical psychologist, Robin Rosenberg once wrote, "Superhero stories help us in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose."

While superheroes may have initially attracted mostly kids their now popular with adults too. Movies like "Avengers: Endgame" became the highest-grossing solo superhero film of all time last year. There's been a multitude of superhero films winning Academy Awards for both their performances and their technical aspects. 

Clearly superheroes aren't just for kids in the 21st century. They've become a modern-day mythology that tackles issues, from the struggles of high school to mental illnesses. They bring justice to a world where's there's very little today.

Is there a hero you identify with? Which superhero inspired you the most? Growing up I identified with Spider Man, but the mysterious Dr. Strange inspired me more than any of the other superheroes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Part II: Unsung Heroes

Editor's Note: This is the second installation of a three-part series on Heroes.

The following story is my favorite example of an unsung hero.

In October 1962, the world teetered on the brink of a nuclear war. The Cuban Missile crisis between the USSR and the USA could have led to World War III.

Store shelves were being emptied by panic-buying Americans looking to store up on food and other necessary items in the event there was an attack.

Thanks to one man - and we all should know his name - Vasili Arkhipov, a nuclear holocaust was narrowly avoided.

Arkhipov was a Soviet Naval Officer in charge of one of the four submarines secretly tasked by a handful of Communist party officials with launching nukes if necessary.

Each commander had permission to act without direct orders from Moscow if they believed they were under threat. As commander of the entire submarine fleet only Arkhipov could veto a launch command.

Fortunately for the world he defied orders and rejected firing the powerful missiles when he had the opportunity to do it.

Find out why he didn't fire in this great PBS Series - The Man Who Saved the World |

Unlikely Heroes

What makes an unlikely hero? It's the compulsion to do "something" in the face of danger. 

Reacting instantly can be as much of a moral reaction as a chemical one. It's our fight - as in "fight, flight, or freeze" - response in action, a counter to stressful and dangerous stimuli that has been key to the survival of the species since the beginning.

You don't have to risk your life to be an unsung hero. Your actions can also result in saving lives of others or exposing government corruption.

Folks in Lawrenceville, Georgia couldn't believe their eyes as Angela Cavallo lifted a '64 Chevy Impala off of her teenage son!

Summoning up super strength Angela picked the car up 4-inches and held it until an 11-year-old neighbor got help and put the jack back up that had given away while her son was working on the vehicle.

Miraculously, despite a serious head injury, there was no brain damage.

On June 17, 1972, security guard Frank Wills was making his midnight rounds at the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C. when he noticed tape over the lock of a basement door. 

Thinking another worker had left it there accidentally, he removed it. Wills later found tape again in the same place. He called the police, and the rest is history. 

Two years later, President Nixon resigned in disgrace over his involvement in the coverup of the Watergate break-in. The Watergate scandal was one of the biggest lies that made history.

Five-year-old Zavi Achmed came to the rescue when a baby was accidently trapped in her grandmother's Volkswagen.

British police broke the back window but were too large to get inside. That's when Zavi who was nearby with his mom, volunteered to crawl in and unlock the door. For the record, Zavi was dressed up as his favorite superhero Batman, a common occurrence according to mom.

Throughout my life I've seen people who qualify as unsung heroes like the janitor that opened a school gym in off hours to let me and my buddy's play basketball instead of roaming the streets getting in trouble.

I've witnessed people literally give the shirt off their back to homeless people in need. I visited Mom & Pop restaurants in small towns that feed people too poor to buy a meal.

People who do good deeds in the community seldom get recognized for their generous help, both mentally and financially. But they don't care.

That's why we call them unsung heroes.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Part I: The Deep Disappointment of Finding Out Your Childhood Heroes Were Racists

Today's post is Part I of a Three-Part series on Heroes

We all have - or had - heroes in our lives at one time or another.

Sometimes I regret my drive to research everything in life. It's been a good, bad, and ugly relationship with reality.

In the end however, the subject of heroes is timeless and intertwined with societies since the dawn of time. My attempt at examining the subject involves looking at every aspect of being a "hero," as defined by Merrium Webster.

Like lot of boys in the 1950s and 1960s I was a big fan of John Wayne (aka The Duke). 

His westerns and war movies kept me glued to the boob tube for endless hours. I think I went to nearly every movie he ever made.

After getting out of the Army I worked as a security guard at a gated community in Newport Beach for a spell. I used to see him daily as he usually stopped long enough to briefly chat before driving his American made station wagon (No sissy Mercedes Benz for the Duke!) into the complex.

Long story short. He seemed like a regular guy to me. No outward pretense.

But time caught up to Wayne and by 2019 (long after his death) his legacy took a major hit that still hurts his legendary career today. 

The Washington Post had an article with snippets of his 1971 interview with Playboy where he expressed racist and homophobic sentiments. 

"I believe in white supremacy," he said, and spoke harshly about African Americans, saying "We can't get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks." 

I remember feeling stunned when I read that. Someone took the time to expose an American icon and more importantly to me, one of my childhood heroes.

My memories of him were forever captured on the Silver Screen and my personal conversations with the man. I never followed his politics and knew little about his personal life - other than he was going through a nasty divorce with wife Pilar at the time I met him in 1974.

To this day I'm conflicted about my feelings towards him.

As the years have gone by, I've discovered a lot of my heroes in the entertainment world of movies and music are rife with racists.

A Short List

James Steward - "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "What a Wonderful World" James (more commonly known as Jimmy) had a dark side. He was an informer for the FBI (remember the Red Scare going after actors thought to be communist sympathizers?), and a card-carrying John Birch member who believed blacks had no place in American society.     

William Fraley (I Love Lucy - he played Fred) was drunk most of the time and threw around racial slurs publicly and privately... never showing any remorse for his outward hatred of blacks and women.

Walter Brennen - Known for winning three Best Supporting Actor awards in the Oscars. "Come and Get It" (1936), Kentucky (1938), and The Westerner (1940).

I grew up watching him play the kind but grumpy grandpa on the popular TV series The Real McCoys." 

In fact, he was friends with members of the infamous John Birch Society (who hated blacks, jews, homosexuals and communists.) Off screen he wasn't shy about sharing his believes that blacks were an inferior race.

My deep disappointment at discovering Brennen's personal history still haunts me today. My grandpa hero was actually a mean old man full of hateful beliefs. 

Eric Clapton was without a doubt one of my favorite male vocalists. I only recently discovered - while researching this post - that he was a racist.

His moment of infamy took place during a British concert in 1976 when he went full blown racist. In fairness he was drunk. I know that's not a good excuse. It's more like an observation.

"Stop Britain from becoming a black colony. Get the foreigners out," he said to his captive audience. "Keep Britain white! Get the coons out!" 

He still has social problems today because he's become an outspoken critic of vaccines and a conspiracy theorist.

I could go on, but I don't want to burn you out.


Part II:  Unsung Heroes in our Lives and Unlikely Heroes in History and Today.
Part IIISuperheroes

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Check it Out: I Came Up with a Winning Team for the Lakers Next Season

I'm going to assume you're a Laker fan because you're reading this post.

Welcome fellow sufferer!

Last season was the worst in Laker history! There's no candy-coating that fact. Fans are going to expect a real rebound this time around.

After intense research and combining my 60-years of following the Lakers, I've come up with a winning roster for the 2022-23 Season.

This isn't exactly a dream team. It's more like this is a team that actually could be put together based upon availability of players and the fact that the Lakers don't have a 1st or 2nd round draft choice. 

I'll start with the players the Lakers need to keep.

LaBron James (they need to extend his contract in August) He's still the King.

Anthony Davis (still under contract). When he does play, he's unstoppable. Some concern of him being injury prone, but I don't want to see him playing against the Lakers!

Carmelo Anthony (resign veteran minimum and only play him in a limited role - 10-15 minutes a game for example.)

Mac McClung (keep him on his 2-way contract. He was last year's scoring champion and MVP in the B League (big fan favorite) and only got a couple of quick appearances with the starters. He's a real upside player who could break out in the next couple of seasons.)

Kai Soto (keep him on a 2-way contract. He's 7 ft. 2 inches tall and only 20 years old. Oh yeah! He can actually dribble and shoot. Another upside player.)

Wenyen Gabrial (Keep him. Exercise option. He came up late in the season from the B League and looked really good. He's 6 ft. 9 inches and plays taller in offense and defense. High energy guy.)

Stanley Johnson (Keep him. Exercise option. His defense was decent, and he could hit a three.

Austin Reeves (keep him. Exercise option. He was a real bright spot coming off the bench last season and did well as a starter. He surprised a lot of people. I expect to see more from this playa!

Three Big Trades

Out with Russell Westbrook! If Indiana still wants to trade Malcome Brogdon and Buddy Heild for him plus $4.5 million... do it! Both bring energy on both sides of the court. Heild can light opponents up with his sure shot from the outside.)

If the Rockets agree to trade Christian Wood for Talen Horton Tucker and Kendrick Nunn then do it!) Nunn didn't even play last season.

The Lakers need a versatile big and Otto Porter Jr. will be a free agent next season. Check out his play in this season's NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. As much as I like Malik Monk, he's the only player Golden State would consider trading for the big man.)

Under Free Agents

Pick up Wesley Mathews for veterans minimum. He's played with Lakers before and more importantly has played under the Lakers new coach Darvin Hamm. Good mojo there and Mathews can play premier defense.

Pick up Javon Carter who played point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks for the veteran minimum. He's a three-and-D player who excels when given the minutes.

Pick up Bryn Forbes from the Spurs. He can be plugged in for some quick points and has a reputation of being a good team player with a positive locker room influence.

Pick up Josh Jackson for the veteran minimum. He's young and can play guard or forward. Lots of hop. He has a strong defensive game - he's 6.8 - and is a good passer. Should be effective coming off the bench.

Last but not least pick up Damian Jones. He played for the Sacramento Kings and is an unrestricted free agent. The Lakers are looking for centers who play off the lob pass, and few do it better than Jones.

So that's it.

The team I assembled here is more of a wish list than a 100% possibility. Obviously, there's a lot of factors that could come into play ruining my reckoning.

Bottom line. This would be a Laker team that could earn back some respectability in the league after last year's meltdown. 

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...