Sunday, July 1, 2012

More HoseMaster Exploration Of One Of My Slippery Muscles

In a few days they’ll announce the nominees for Wine Blog Awards in all three hundred categories. Maybe this is a good time to talk about wine blogs. Not that anyone has any interest in what we have to say, but isn’t that the point of blogging? Say it anyway? Let’s leave HoseMaster out of this, always a wise move, and talk about just how often you read blogs and what you look for if you do read them?
It is that time of year again isn’t it? I remember when I was first made aware of those and my sweet friend Ben over at Benito’s Wine Reviews nominated this blog for best writing. I was so stinking excited, wanted to win so badly and constantly checked the website, which I believe was still over at Fermentation at the time, to see if the finalist had been announced. I think I was crushed that first year and might have been a bit wounded the second year but…well finally it felt kind of like when you found out the Easter Bunny wasn’t real, reduced it to a stupid day when you are forced to eat salty ham and are surrounded by egg farts.

So you’re sayin’ the Easter Bunny isn’t real? Controversial!! I’m guessing next you’ll tell me that Alderpated is inflatable. I don’t come here to have my dreams crushed.
There are a few blogs I check every day, STEVE!, Fermentation and Connoisseurs’ Guide but the rest I let my blogroll alert me to new postings about. I know you post twice a week, (and just to show what a fine stalker of yours I am, I know that they post at 8:00 AM, so if my blogroll is slow in updating I skedaddle over to your place after 8:00) so I have an idea when to come check you out but I read far fewer than I used to. Just seems like wine bloggers are talking the same shit, like all the time or frankly, writing about the sample of wine they were sent and when you taste as much as I do…like for a living, well there isn’t much for me to learn there. I have been reading a few non-wine blogs and I go there for the sheer joy of voyeurism and being let into someone’s life. Think that is the way this here lame ass blog has started leaning as well.
What I have always found is that there just isn’t much talent out there. It doesn’t take any talent to taste a wine and have an opinion about it, even if it is an uninformed opinion, but it does take talent to make it interesting. It takes a “voice,” it takes command of the language, it takes some thought. Hey, if you want to blog just to have a place to store your notes, that’s cool. But don’t expect many visitors, and don’t pretend what you’re doing has any sort of value to anyone else. I pretend I’m a famous blogger and always wear a tutu.  

The trajectory of my wine blogging has been strange, or maybe not. I began HoseMaster because I was bored, and I decided I wanted to get my comedy writing muscles back into shape. Most would say I’m still a 90-lb. weakling when it comes to satire. When my blog got some recognition (I still bow to Wark in prayer twice a day, at least that’s what he calls my getting on my knees in front of him) I got immersed in the ego trip of blogs—wondering how many people read it every day, who was reading it, what my stats were, and what other people were saying about the HoseMaster on their blogs. It was ugly, so I walked away. I came back six months ago, I’ve had more farewell performances than Cher and my penis combined, promising myself I’d only do it for the joy of the work. It’s almost working. What about you? How has your approach to your blog changed over the years?
Trying to shake the image of you on your knees in front of Tom Wark…or maybe not.
I don’t think I’ve had an approach per se. I started this blog to reach customers and share my wine “discoveries” with them, (and yes, I said that to make your face scrunch) but after a while it became a living journal, often sharing wine, but more about how people and wine affect me. Just the kind of stuff that drives those retentive folks insane. It’s just, well wine has never been a thing to me, it has always been a feeling, a moment, a lover, a companion…just can’t strip it down and make it tasting notes, least not here. I too got sucked into the checking stats and wondering if I was even relevant but now, now it seems as if a lot of those blogger people have bailed and a ton more of our customers are reading. The people whose lives I can actually impact and that right there, that feels pretty cool. So yeah, no approach, I just write to free myself and hope others, whoever they are, enjoy the ride.

There was an expectation in the beginning, and you began blogging before I did, that wine blogs would become influential, that somehow they would transcend and surpass the “traditional” wine media, that wine consumers would turn to blogs for information and recommendations. I don’t think that’s come close to happening. You look at the wines bloggers are recommending, and I mean amateur bloggers, not the traditional wine pros who have infested wine blogging like so many tapeworms, and 90% of it is crap. And it gets scores like A-, or 90, or three kissy faces. I think that if you haven’t tasted the great wines of the world, you simply don’t have the capacity to assign any sort of score. You don’t know where the bar is set. Taking wine advice from most bloggers is like taking dating advice from a 13-year-old. Which I’ve done, and it didn’t really work out--turns out women don’t like bedwetters. 

What is it about humans that makes them feel some kind of need to blog? There must be thousands of wine blogs, and nothing new to say about wine, so what’s the motivation?
If you’re asking why others do it, couldn’t really say. There has to be a myriad of reasons; wanting to land a gig in the wine business, being the authority on wine for their friends and family, boredom or insanity. Can’t imagine why the majority of people do it, and most of them bail after a year or two. For me it has become something much bigger, a place to come and be me, off and away from the shop, where I can still talk wine but also bare by heart….feel people caring for me and interested in knowing more. Pretty powerful stuff that. Oh wait, so it is the same! The answer is megalomania. 

It’s interesting. I love baseball, but I wouldn’t dream of starting a blog about baseball. I wouldn’t be able to stand the fact that I actually don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Yet food and wine blogs proliferate like fleas in a crack house. Wine has this strange aura of importance and prestige, though it comes down to being just another way to alter your state of consciousness. And with my consciousness, you can see why I love it. People want to be thought of as wine experts, more than they want to be known as a computer expert or a Star Trek expert or a proctologist (sounds like the beginning of a joke...”Steve Jobs, a Trekkie and a proctologist walk into a bar”...maybe ends with the proctologist examining them and saying, “Someone’s gone where no man has gone before.”) I never found my wine knowledge in any way important, or thought it prestigious. I guess a lot of other people think wine is important, and so they start a wine blog. Though I would say it’s more about loneliness than megalomania.

Um, might wanna check your facts there Mr. Smart E. Pants

We dorks are nothing of not prolific 
Have you ever written a post trying to get comments? Pandered to the crowd, written about a topic that is sure to bring the lurkers out into the light?
Well sure, I wrote about buying undies and I knew that would get everyone all a Twitter.
You know, I can honestly say no. Not on purpose anyway. I’ve gotten spun out reading other blogs and ranted on mine but not in an attempt to garner comments, more to just get it off my chest without being a yanker on someone else’s site. But now I’m curious…do you think that I have?
No, not you. I do it all the time. Write about the 100 point scale, natural wines, Parker, and, of course, wine blogging. I suspect, if they were to be honest, most of the “top” wine bloggers do. 1WineDoody, STEVE!, Vornography, Sermontation... At the very least, it feels like they do.  

How often do you think about quitting your blog? What keeps you from quitting?
At least once a month. No lie. As you know, this takes a lot of work, just the spam erasing is an effort, and I admit to becoming that asshole that assumes when I haven’t written in a week that someone out there gives a shit…so it weighs on me but, I am now getting to the point where I know that I need this place to stretch my voice and push myself, both in forcing myself to do something when I might not feel like it and to see if I really do have any talent at this writing business. A perfect example is the Tootsie Roll post I did a while back. I began that post knowing that I was going to segue into the gross fossil I found in my belly hole. So I had to start the post one way, write something I had hoped would capture people’s interest, and then take it in a totally different direction. That was really hard and I have to say, I was damn proud of that one despite the subject matter. This is where I can say that I was not at all pandering. That was just nasty. So I pose this question to you Love, King of Blog Quitting….what keeps bringing you back?
The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. Under your shirt. 

Go easy on the niblets, they're filling.... 

Are there blogs that you hope will win a Wine Blog Award? (Leave me out of this.) And, honestly, (well, that’s stupid, you’re nothing if not honest), how would you feel if you were nominated for Samantha Sans Dosage?
Don’t tell me what to do. I will not leave you out of this and I don’t think anyone would be shocked to hear that I have always thought you should win the Best Writing award. Period. The fact that you have not only makes me all the more suspicious about the selection process. Has anyone yet checked to see if there have ever been any winners that didn’t sell ad space on their blogs? I will not go so far as say rigged but I just can’t help but notice that a lot of the judges this year, (and this is the first year we got to see who they were) are marketing/PR folks. Just sayin. Not hating on it, just curious….
I’m less suspicious now that they actually revealed who the judges are. I’ve always said that if I won a Poodle, I’d quit for good. After all, it’s the Pinnacle of Achievement. One should quit at the top of one’s game. Man, if only last year’s winners would... Who the hell were they?

Didn't Wark away with all 300 last year?

As for people besides you I would like to see win….well I should have consulted the nominations sheet but the fucker was so long and so full of people I had never heard of that I merely skimmed it and only once, and even for you Love, I’m not scrolling through all that drivel…unless you were on your knees in front of me. I think the fact that STEVE! hasn’t won is a serious joke. It is clearly one of the best and most viewed wine blogs out there and he is dedicated as hell….five times a week? Are you shitting me?! He should have won the first year.
STEVE! clearly has the most dedication and tremendous talent. Don’t tell him I said that, it will go to his tattoo. I suspect he’ll win this year. And never let us forget it. 
How would I feel if this blog was nominated? Cannot even fathom. Why would they? And I mean that genuinely. To shine some kind of light on this silly place, in the sphere of “wine blogging” just doesn’t make sense. I’m a blogger for sure but a wine blogger? Not so sure anymore. I write a blog about my life as a wine slinger on the retail end of things, some people come to read about the wines I’ve tried, some don’t and key into the more personal or intimate, and the truth is…I’m unwilling to give up on either. I won’t skew my thoughts or stories to wine only and I won’t leave wine out of the posts that are about my family, my rage, my annoying customers and how wine is part of just about everything I do. I don’t fit. Never have….the older I get, the more comfortable with my own voice and the my true joy comes from snuggling into the nuzzles from those of you that don’t fucking care if I’m talking about Robert Parker or my beloved son. Those awards are for other people….I just want to write and am grateful every damn day that there are a handful of you that log on to see what I have to say. That, me amigo is winning.


Joe said...

I'm about to write the post that will catapult me to the top of the awards. Except not at all.

Thomas said...

I started vinofictions out of a truly stupid altruistic motive: I thought that I could de-mythify and educate people.

Soon enough, I learned that most blog readers wanted me to pontificate over my wine likes and dislikes, which has never been my thing, what with my aversion to aesthetic criticism and all that.

I tried to stick with it anyway, but something else happened: I realized that as a writer who does it for pay, I was wasting my time, writing for free and int he process using brain power that I should have put into writing for pay.

It occurred to me that i didn't need to express myself for the sheer pleasure of expressing myself, and I certainly didn't need to blog to deal with boredom.

The fact that I never won an award only solidified my decision to quit--not!

Samantha Dugan said...

I'm assuming that much like me, you have no idea who is even nominated. Funny how having a job where you are working with and selling wine all day makes it somehow less compelling to sit and yank about it on your time off right? I do miss your posts though..

So you're saying I should have maybe saved my brilliant belly hole story for the book?

Tom Wark said...

OK OK...

Just some clarification here.

1. The Judges for the Wine Blog Awards were revealed both in 2007 and 2008.

2. I only walked away with 2 awards last year

3. Of the 17 judges this year, 3 are in PR.

4. It's not called "prayer". It's called "delightful".

OK...back to work for me.

Thomas said...

"I only walked away with 2 awards last year"

Shows why you are not a writer, Tom.

Read the sentence a couple of times and see if it is exactly what you meant to say.

Hint: "only" is the most misplaced word in American English... ;)

webb said...

Sam, i don't give a damn (oops -mom just rolled over in her grave - why you write ... just do not stop. Even if i do feel like i am reading a pingpong match when you and Hosemaster go at it,, finding a new post from you is always a highlite of my day. And,occasionally i learn a little something about wine ...purely by accident!

Samantha Dugan said...

You walked away with only 2 last year? Out of 200?! I'd demand a recount. Thanks for the clarification on the judges, I confess that much like the list of nominations, I skimmed. So maybe you can put that nagging feeling in my head to rest, have any of the winners ever been blogs that do not sell ad space, or do not accept samples for review? And I was serious when I said I wasn't hatin' on the awards or the process, just honestly curious.

Wow, wonder what your mom would think of me if damn is enough to roll her over? Ron and I are a bit like a ping pong match and trust me, even worse when we are face to be thankful you've been spared that!

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Thanks for the corrections--I had no idea you revealed the judges the first few years of the Wine Blog Awards. As for this year's judges, I know quite a few of them. Even worse, they know me, so I've got about as much chance of winning as the Seattle Mariners.


I don't know about ping pong. It's more like Pin the Tail on the Donkey--and you know I'm the jackass.

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Always fun to have these dialogues with you. Why don't you get Thomas to do one with you? Though he hasn't any spare brain power, I hear. At least not for what you pay. What do you pay? And when do I get it?

I love everything about you.

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Beloved Brain Probing Man,
Payment? Hadn't thought of it but...well if you love everything just pick your favorite and it's yours! I love you so much and I can't thank you enough for doing these chats with me. I'm sure we are bugging the shit out of everyone but I think they are way fun and, well I like letting you in my head. Sending you a face full of kisses.

luvgrapes said...

Yes, Ms Sam, you won my attention because you don't do tasting notes w/scores. You speak about life as you know it and that life is pretty damn interesting for someone who sells wine in the midwest.

And you love rosé like no other. Please keep pimping the Hose...he's cute.

Thomas said...

Bugging the shit out of everyone? Nah. Just me.

Samantha Dugan said...

Isn't he though? And thank you for getting me and sticking around through all my nonsense.

And here I thought you were one of the four people that liked us.

Take My Nomination, Please, Daddy said...

Hose? Cute?

Have I walked into the wrong movie?

You two are the Bonny and Clyde, the Sonny and Cher, the Abbott and Costello, the Tom Cruise and (oops, he's lost another one) of the wine blogging world.

This is way better than discussing whether oak and malolactic fermentation enhance terroir in Chardonnay--although I see that you did stop by that stand as well.

No Nomination Daddy said...

Oh, wait, I forgot to nominate myself this year.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


I don't like to talk about malolactic fermentation ever since I accidentally underwent it and ended up way too soft. Damn.

I love the idea, as mentioned over at STEVE!, that oak and ML can enhance terroir. Yup, a tree from 6000 miles away, and bacteria. But let's not forget the enhancement of the cork, and the punt. Sheesh. Can winemakers even get more pretentious?

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I wish we were bugging the crap out of everybody. That's a dream come true for me. Remind me to make more grammatical errors next time so we can drive Thomas insane. Make that more insane.

As payment, I'll just take You.

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Sir Charles,
I like to think of Ron and I as some fantastically romantic and famous couple! Now who should we be? Bogart & Bacall? Hepburn & Tracy? Lucy and Desi? All good options but the truth is, we're more like Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog....

I did comment over at STEVE! the amazing thing is he actually responded to me! Couldn't believe it, I'm never washing this screen again.

Me you already got.

Tom Wark said...


I'm sure there have been winners of the Wine Blog Awards that did not have ads or take samples. I don't take samples, for example.

However, I don't understand the point about whether a blog takes samples or ads? Can you clarify. And didn't take anything as dissing the Awards.


Samantha Dugan said...

It was less about samples and more about ad space really. I was just wondering if there were some kind of marketing or sales angle to the blogs that were considered. I just cannot fathom that STEVE! hasn't won, the only plausible reason I could come up with was that he doesn't sell ads on his page. If I were really that worried/interested I could go back and do the research, so clearly it's not that big a deal. More a curiosity than anything else. I'm sure it must sound like sour grapes and while I still think I probably write better than Chronic Negress, it's not, I promise. I know lots of folks are totally into and I'm thrilled for them, honestly. And like I said, I know I don't fit in the traditional wine blog category so I probably should have never been nominated in the first place...Ron on the other hand, without question a brilliant writer and absolutely wine related and he and STEVE both deserve to be recognized in some way. Hey, maybe if that California Wine Museum ever takes off.....

Thomas said...

"Ron on the other hand, without question a brilliant writer and absolutely wine related and he and STEVE both deserve to be recognized in some way. Hey, maybe if that California Wine Museum ever takes off....."

Yeah, that's where fossils belong.

Samantha Dugan said...

So not in my belly button then?

Selyndria said...

The Tootsie Roll blog was one of my favorites. Also the meeting a stranger in a bar when you needed to find your own peace.

I guess because I can walk in and talk to you, I read your wine recommendations, but they don't stick with me. The haunting way you write about your life, including wine and spirits you pepper it with, that stays with me. The way the love for your son & husband, your work and co-workers shines through your writing without pretentiously spelling it out, that sticks with me.

That is what makes you truly an exceptional writer. That you can help me discover, taste and explore wines... that's salt on the fried chicken.