Thursday, November 19, 2009

Forward looks bring hope

Somehow it just doesn't feel right.

It's a week before Thanksgiving and the buzz of excitement around the upcoming holiday season just isn't there. It seems easy enough to get excited over golden roasted turkey, rich pumpkin pie, Aunt Sally's incessant chatter and the overpopulated, unsupervised kids' table. Not to mention, too, the thrill of Detroit Lions football broadcast nationally.

The regional mood is as sober and listless as the overcast weather. It's been a tough year for the old mitten state. Well, actually a tough half-decade. I thought things would look up after 2005. Instead, they've remained flatter than milk on a platter.

What to do? Get outside, do something, spend some time with a friend, enjoy a glass of syrah, walk in the fresh air and look ahead at what's possible instead of dwelling on what might have been. It's better to smile standing vertically than frowning down on the sofa.

In short, I've seen this movie before. And, in time, it has a happy ending!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guilty pleasures provide living entertainment

Guilty pleasures are fun, entertaining and way out of character and comfort zone. Within that parameter I freely and wholly admit that mine glow out of a TV screen.

The two shows are polar opposites in taste, personality and depth of character and characters.

"Real Housewives of Orange County," broadcast on Bravo, is a disgusting, revealing peek at women who have too much time, too much money, and too much cosmetic surgery combined with cougar instincts, gold digging histories and narcissistic needs -- after all, they had to sign up for duty on this reality show.

Heaving bosoms, dye jobs and BMWs aside, the show reflects over-the-top consumption of material goods that reflect the worst of what a growth economy, great jobs, inherited wealth, and dysfunctional families can bring out in people. But, just like a car wreck, I can't turn away from this show.

On the other side of the spectrum is "Operation Repo," a TruTv offering. It features members of a family business that repossesses cars, trucks and boats. The show demonstrates that deadbeats come from all levels of the economic spectrum. And it also shows that some people can't seem to accept that you gotta pay the note if you expect to keep your ride.

Clearly, the family's business is challenging, dangerous and no duty for a nervous person. They face screamers, punchers, the occasional biter and all the obligatory profanity. But I love this family -- tattooed, ear-ringed, unpolished, and genuine. They do a job no one would want with dignity and professionalism.

Maybe they should be sent to repo The Housewives.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wine glut opens opportunities for new tastes

Vintners are unloading excess wine onto the market at an exponential rate, providing great prices and great quality to wine consumers. The result is better wine, more choices and exceptional values.

Caught in a perfect storm of global recession, cash-strapped consumers and industry overproduction, the wine industry is liquidating a world-wide glut of juice.

Marketers are inventing new label names for brand-name clients who find few customers willing to pay extreme mark-ups for their signature bottlings. They are maintaining brand integrity but are more than willing to siphon off their excess capacity to labels they'd probably never admit to producing.

For a consumer willing to venture away from their usual favorites, the rewards can be substantial. The promotion aisle at your local store is ripe with bottlings from lesser-known regions and areas, as well as blends of complimentary grapes that yield exceptional drinking. And the prices are right!

Wine has everything to do with individual taste and preference, not high price or media ratings. Be curious, be confident, be bold, ask questions and be happy you're drinking in the golden age of wine!