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Best of the Holiday Spirits to You!

GPOY, as the kids say

GPOY, as the kids say

This really is a gift: the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages. I should start a Tumblr dedicated to this rarefied art form: the inspirational fitness quote, overlaid on a photograph of someone determinedly working their way through a bender.

Originally stolen from TheChive.

Great Moments in Cinema: Vincent Price vs Peter Lorre

Peter Lorre was in so many great films that I sometimes forget he did a lot of B work too. This is some of his most fun, playing a No Fucks Left to Give drunkard against Vincent Price as a prissy, ostentatious wine snob in a Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror. I don’t know about the wine, but the performances are delicious.

Cheers!

Similkameen BBQ King Competition

Chris and Kyla from the Grist Mill in Keremeos

Chris and Kyla were taken aback by my presence. They weren’t the first, they won’t be the last.

Today is Flashback Thursday: flashing back to July (gawd, has it been that long?) and the special event was the Similkameen BBQ King competition. For non-Canadians, the Similkameen Valley is a gorgeous part of Southern BC. The river is perfect. The mountains are perfect. The grassy plains are perfect. And, as you can see from the above picture, they are all over the Hipster fashion trend.

I was once on a Greyhound going through the valley; also on the bus was a French Canadian fruit picker and his girlfriend. The girlfriend was from BC and had talked him into coming with her to Keremeos, “the” town in the valley, to pick fruit in the summertime. He was deeply skeptical about this decision, but deeply in love, so he had said yes and there he was on the bus, the scent of Montreal still wafting off of him (it smells like cigarettes and beer), trundling through the Similkameen valley as the sun rose. The mountain caught the light, the huge K (the legacy of a landslide) glowed pink, the valley glimmered green and silver with mist, and the bus stopped, let them off, and he fell to his knees and kissed her hand for inviting him to a place as beautiful as that valley.

So that’s the Similkameen.

Similkameen

Similkameen River

Forgive my crappy iPhone pictures, but I did what I could without my trusty photographer Cathy Browne.

The setting? The Grist Mill and Gardens in Keremeos, an historic grist mill, ie where the farmers brought their wheat to be ground into flour. It’s in the hands of my old friend Chris Mathieson, the only person I know with both a degree in Philosophy and skills as a blacksmith, so he’s perfect for this gig. That’s him, along with his wife Kyla, in the top picture. His first words when he saw me there, hundreds of miles from my normal dank cavern in Vancouver? “What are YOU doing here?” A warm welcome indeed, if not heated.

The challenge itself was Chopped-style: in other words, the competitors were given a set basket of ingredients from particular suppliers, and told to do what they could with them on the barbeque.

Similkameen BBQ King Ingredients

Similkameen BBQ King Ingredients

The ingredients were all local; the valley, along with the nearby Okanagan valley, is famous for its produce, and is now beginning to wrap its head around the very un-Canadian action of tooting its own horn. This event was an exercise in horn-tooting, and featured local wines along side the BBQ creations. Full disclosure: I got a media pass for the event, but only after contacting the organizers and asking if I could pay by Paypal, because I would have come up just for the day, all five hours each way on the 80-seat limousine. And lemme tell ya, it would have been worth it.

 

Similkameen BBQ King plates

Similkameen BBQ King plates

There were some very professional plates and some outstanding tastes. I’d come primed for ribs (BBQ, right?) but the chicken as a black box ingredient meant that chefs had to think outside that very box, and some of the solutions were very creative indeed. Chicken sliders, sure, but chicken sliders with a skewer of chicken bacon to garnish? That’s a different level, a level not generally found down gravel roads.

I don’t even like risotto, but the risotto was so good I went back for thirds. People were whispering, “Have you had the risotto? Have the risotto! They may run out. Psst, have you had the risotto?…”. And the basil ice cream was velvety, perfectly sweetened, and paired perfectly with the pound cake. Some of the wine pairings were more successful than others, but the main discovery for me was Forbidden Fruit Winery, whose fruit wines are sophisticated, layered, and miles away from Boone’s Farm.

Entrants:

And the winner was Karl Schorb from the Branding Iron. From the remarkable number of “Congratulations, Karl” blog and Facebook posts from his competitors, it’s clear that he’s a key figure in the tight-knit  Okanagan and Similkameen gourmet community. Here’s the winning plate:

Delicious winning plate from the Branding Iron

Delicious winning plate from the Branding Iron

My notes (after perhaps six tasting-size pours of local wine) “Truly yummy.” Yes, I am a master of subtlety when it comes to reviews. Now take a look at the competition (and forgive my iPhone shots through the window of the shuttle bus from Penticton, because what choice do you have, really?).


Created with flickr slideshow.

Happy Birthday To Me (which I am saying for the third time)

What can I say, I have a lot of different blogs, okay?

Lulzsec carafe and wineglasses

Lulzsec carafe and wineglasses

In any case, I ran across this on Etsy and given my well-known weakness for a man in a mask, had to put it on the Birthday Registry. You can ship it to “raincoaster, c/o Legion, Vancouver, BC.”

Wednesday Night Reservation

Tinhorn Creek by Megs Pics on Flickr

Tinhorn Creek by Megs Pics on Flickr

Well, you could say I always have some reservations about what I’m doing at any point in the future, but what YOU might want to be doing next Wednesday, July 10th between 8-9pm Pacific time (eg LA or Seattle), is hanging out on Twitter looking at the #BCWineChat hashtag. Full disclosure: Sandra Oldfield of Tinhorn Creek, who moderates, is a client of mine and I helped her with part of the website. But next Wednesday I’ll be on a bus headed to the glorious Okanagan valley, and so will be unable to be checking Twitter, what with passing through remote Canadian mountains and suchlike.

The topic next week is “Great Patio Wines” and believe me, BC has a lot of them. Well, technically the title is “Patio Pounders. Easy drinking BC Wines” but whatever. Chat participants include winemakers, restaurateurs, bloggers, retailers, wine reps, and even some enthusiastic civilians, and the chat is accessible, easy to understand, open, and often pretty heavy on the double entendres, especially if the incorrigible Black Cloud is on the hashtag.

You can see the archives on the site and get a sense of what the professional wine world is chatting about. And yes, it’s a BC wine chat, but that doesn’t mean that other wines are not discussed. As for patio wines, well, anything from Tinhorn Creek calling itself 2Bench works for me; or the bubblies from Sumac Ridge, for lo, I am very fond of the middle of the day patio bubbly.

At least, as far as I can remember…

Whine Journalism and how to bring the splashback

You Are What You Drink

You Are What You Drink

“I assumed they were already in the public domain on other wine review sites and liquor store sites.”

So says Canada’s #1 wine writer, Natalie MacLean, in a statement as disturbing as it is wrong-headed. It seems that, despite seeking legal advice (where, in a bar after closing time?), MacLean is under the bizarre notion that just because copyrighted work is posted to the internet, it is thereby stripped of copyright.

Allow me to disabuse her, and everyone, of this notion once and for all.

All original work published online, whether paid for or not, from CNN.com to the humblest Tumblr, is copyright the creator, as of the moment of publication, automatically and by law.

MacLean, as you can see here, has been copiously copy/pasting reviews written by other writers into her blog and website. Previous to this going nuclear in the media towards the end of last month, the posts said “By Natalie MacLean” with only the initials of the original writer, and no link to where the reviews had first appeared. And, apparently, no permission requests whatsoever.

As PalatePress says:

Ms. MacLean’s use of others’ work clearly fails the Fair Use test because she publishes entire reviews, they are appropriated for commercial purposes and her use is not for any of the legally permitted reasons.

There is a difference between an attributed quote, which you can see here or right above this sentence, and is protected by fair use law, and an outright theft. In her defence MacLean claims that she always included the initials of the original writer…which is a bit “other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln” of her.

I’m a writer. I write for a living. That still leaves me time for several hobbies, one of which is seeking out people who have stolen my writing and posted it elsewhere without permission, attributed or not, and having their websites taken offline with no warning. And now, in case any of you also write and value your own talent and original expressions (paid or unpaid), I am going to teach you how to do it too. I wish we didn’t live in a world where you had to have these skills, but selah, we do.

  1. periodically, take the first sentence of each of your recent posts and put them in Google, in quotation marks. In the case of this post, I’d put “So says Canada’s #1 wine writer, Natalie MacLean, in a statement as disturbing as it is wrong-headed.” in the Google box. See if it brings up any posts which you, yourself, didn’t make.
  2. if so, read the posts and see if you think it’s fair use (ie they took a snippet of your post and directed the reader to your post via a link to get the rest of the info OR they then went on to discuss the point you made. Either way, a direct link to your site is indeed necessary). If it is, fine.
  3. if, instead, they have NO original content on their post at all, but instead either pretend they wrote it themselves or link to you in the (hopefully vain) hope that you’ll think that a link from an internet thief is somehow acceptable, you have my permission and encouragement to go Full Metal Raincoaster on them. We call these people sploggers, spam bloggers, when we don’t call them something worse, and wreaking vengeance upon them is easier and more polite than you think: why, even Canadians can master this!
  4. if you’re really nice, or you think there has been a simple mistake, search the website for contact details for the blogger/admin and if you don’t find any, leave a comment on the post explaining that it is your content and you are asserting your copyright, and would like it removed. If you can’t find any contact details or leave a comment, well, that’s telling, isn’t it?
  5. determine where the website is hosted. WhoIsHostingThis is the easiest tool to use, although there are plenty of others.
  6. find contact information for the web host, which is almost always easily available online (or nobody could contact them to get hosting, now could they?). If they have an Abuse email, use that. If they have a DMCA or Copyright email, use that. Here is what you email them:
  7. send a polite email explaining the situation simply. I guarantee, they get a dozen of these a day, so don’t waste their time. Say “My post HERE (link) dated X has been copy/pasted after publication to a site hosted by you HERE (other link) dated Y and I hereby assert my copyright and request to have the infringing material taken down.” If you are as mean as me, you’ll have looked around the site and may add “I believe a great deal of their content has been similarly stolen, which I am certain is against your terms of service, FYI.” Of course it’s against their terms of service: it’s against the law!
  8. if you really want to put the cherry in the Manhattan, add an actual DMCA Takedown Notice. You don’t need a lawyer for this, nor does it take more than five minutes, but it works Every! Single! Time! Poof: instant website outage! This includes some general guidelines if you feel like writing it yourself, and this is the template I myself use because I am lazy and do these a lot. Once you do one of these, there will be no stopping you.

Web hosts are legally obliged to take offline copyright-infringing content, and they don’t really give a rat’s ass how “important” the blogger is in his/her niche. If they don’t act on a DMCA notice, they risk losing their entire business, and they are not going to take that chance. That’s why this is the heavy-handed, but more productive, way of dealing with copyright infringement. It’s rare that anyone with a blog is stupid or ignorant enough to think they’re really allowed to do this, so asking them is often a lesson in fruitlessness. When their web host removes their entire site from the internet, that teaches them a lesson they won’t forget.

Now, go forth. Go forth and Google, and I raise a toast to your splogger-hunting success!

EDITED TO ADD: if you’re super-extra nasty like I am, go to the stealing site, click on their ads, not the ad itself, but the part that says “Ads by Google” or “Federated Media” or whatever, and report them there. Every ad network has a way to report sploggers, and when they confirm what you say, they will pull all their ads and probably NEVER let that person have another ad account. Hit them where they live, people!

Hat tip to the ever-vigilant Marquis Wine Cellar on Twitter

Hurricane Sandy Preparedness Chart

Cheers, Sandy!

Cheers, Sandy!

Another in our ongoing series of really, really practical wine measurements.

Wine not?

Therapy wines

Therapy wines

I spent several months in the wine country recently, and as per standard procedure I visited my Therapist. That is: Therapy Wines. They’ve got a stunning line in smart, punning titles: Freudian Sip, Pink Freud, Freud’s Ego, SuperEgo, you get the picture. And the taste… well, listen to this thing a very wise man (Steve Latchford, the winemaker at Therapy, in fact) told me.

When you’re drinking a new wine, rate it thusly: would you buy

  1. a glass of it?
  2. a bottle of it?
  3. a case of it?

Simple. Nuanced. Easy to remember. This is my new favourite rating system for anything that is good enough that it makes it past the “oh, no, I’m on antibiotics” little white lie.

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