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Archive for September, 2011

Dom Perignon, Please

Winners: Coffee Bill & Pluto

On a night when we welcomed back Mistress Daphne and the Driver from their wedding celebration on the Mexican coast, there was a smaller, more intimate crowd playing, and for a change, one of Kelly’s friends or family did not win. (BTW, to clarify, the wedding was of son Brian and the lovely Chau).

Coffee Bill had tonight’s game in his pocket. All he had to do was make the short putt on the 18th to finish a winner. But it turns out he wasn’t wise to Minerva and fell into a tie with Pluto. Rosebud, who had just returned from Charleston, SC with Pluto, finished close behind in third place. As we nibbled on a few luscious pralines, hand delivered from that gracious Southern city, even the losers were winners.

There was a bit of controversy over renaming the Big O as Roy Orbison. Anyone knows there is only one “Big O’ – that would be the incomparable Hall of Famer, Oscar Robertson, who played point guard for the Cincinnati Royals. He is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season. As Casey would say, “Amazin!”

Good Question: What was the name of the Benedictine monk who legend has it invented Champagne?

Answer: Dom Perignon

Dom Pierre Pérignon,O.S.B., (c. 1638–14 September 1715) was a French Benedictine monk who made important contributions to the production and quality of Champagne wine in an era when the region’s wines were predominantly still and red. Popular myths frequently, but erroneously, credit him with the invention of sparkling Champagne, which didn’t become the dominant style of Champagne until mid-19th century.

The famous champagne Dom Pérignon, the préstige cuvée of Moet & Chandon, is named after him.

While the Dom did work tirelessly and successfully to improve the quality and renown of the still wines of Champagne, he did not invent sparkling wine, nor was he the first to make champagne. Indeed, he worked hard to prevent a secondary fermentation which was seen as a fault and most likely to break the wine bottles.

In his era the in-bottle refermentation that gives sparkling wine its sparkle was an enormous problem for winemakers. When the weather cooled off in the autumn, refermentation would sometimes keep fermentable sugars from being converted to alcohol. If the wine was bottled in this state, it became a literal time bomb. When the weather warmed in the spring, dormant yeast roused themselves and began generating carbon dioxide that would at best push the cork out of the bottle, and at worst explode, starting a chain reaction. Nearby bottles, also under pressure, would break from the shock of the first breakage, and so on, which was a hazard to employees and to that year’s production. Dom Pérignon thus tried to avoid refermentation.

The quote attributed to him—”Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!”—is supposedly what he said when tasting the first sparkling champagne. However, the first appearance of that quote appears to have been in a print advertisement in the late 19th century.

A major proponent of the misconceptions surrounding Dom Pérignon came from one of his successors at the Abbey of Hautvillers, Dom Groussard, who in 1821 gave an account of Dom Pérignon “inventing” Champagne among other exaggerated tales about the Abbey in order to garner historical importance and prestige for the church.The myths about Pérignon being the first to use corks and being able to name the precise vineyard by tasting a single grape likely originated from Groussard’s account.

A good vintage DomP, say 1980, goes for about $1,600, but if that’s a bit rich for you, go for the 2002 vintage, only $160. Of course, you could always try Martini & Rossi’s Prosecco, which is a lovely, gently sparkling wine, and at $10, way cheaper. If you wonder about alcohol content, a general rule of thumb is that a bottle of champagne has a bit less alcohol than either a bottle of red wine, or about 6 bottles of beer.

It’s interesting to see how the print ads for DomP have changed over the years. Even more curious is that Dom Pérignon has become the drink of choice for hip hop stars, after they felt disrespected by the producers of Cristal. That probably has our good old monk, DomP, spinning in his grave.

sources: domperignon.com, wikipedia

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Winner: Uncle Jim

Despite the absence of a number of regulars, what could be a record number of would-be millionaires (27) packed into Main Street for this week’s quiz.  Our terrific host Kelly gets all the credit for this turnout, since most of the crowd seemed to be related to her. (Daphne take note –  an occasional sister just won’t cut it anymore, no matter how charming.)  Kelly held her own with the large crowd, delivering Darin’s quiz that was a mixture of music, Greek mythology, sports, and sex.  I think Darin succeeded in embarrassing young Kelly by having her ask questions about sex in front of her extended family.  Not surprisingly, given the large crowd, there was a three way tie for first place.  Also not surprisingly, two of the winners were Kelly’s relatives – Uncle Joe and Uncle Jim, along with Droppin’ Dave.  A single tie-breaker question left Uncle Jim as the winner.  Congratulations Jim.

Good question! In  Woody Allen’s 1973 movie “Sleeper”, what was the name of the machine that replaced sex?

 Answer:   Orgasmatron.

In Sleeper, the orgasmatron looks like a large phone booth that induces orgasms in people of the future, who are otherwise impotent, except those of Italian heritage. You can probably imagine Woody’s encounter with this machine. There is also an orgasmic orb with a similar effect that gets passed around at parties like a joint.  Except of course when Allen’s character Bogarts it.

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Allen may have been parodying the idea of the orgone accumulator, a dubious device invented by a supposedly legitimate psychologist named Wilhelm Reich.  His invention also resembled a phone booth, and was never demonstrated to work at all.  It was supposed to concentrate a kind of cosmic energy in patients that sat inside of it, for supposedly healing effects.  For some reason, this idea was ridiculed.

An orgasmatron also appeared in the 1964 movie “Barbarella”, starring Jane Fonda in the title role, although here it was called the excessive machine.  It resembled a giant transparent clam with stimulating paddles on the inside that were manipulated by a keyboard operator on the outside.  In one of the final scenes of the movie, the villain tries to kill Barbarella using the machine to induce death by orgasm (this would have made Dr. Kevorkian much more likeable).  However, Barbarella overloads the machine and it breaks, leaving her feeling just fine.

Science fiction seems to return to this idea quite often.  There are the pleasure rings in Coneheads,  a sex ray in Flesh Gordon, and an unnamed device in Demolition Man.

The future is looking brighter.

Thanks to our special Guest Blogger this week – Droppin’ Dave.

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American Gothic

Winner: Droppin’ Dave

This week we were able to endure Daphne’s absence due to the terrific job of hosting the game done by Kelly.  While she may not have Daphne’s wonderfully venomous creative humor, she was more than able to maintain order with a few cracks of her verbal whip.  Let’s hope her voice recovers in time for her return as host next week.

Kelly was joined by Margaret tending bar, and although no one can replace Darin behind the bar, these two young women show that the next gen is ready to step in, when necessary.

We just missed a unique double, when first timer Barbara, the mother of last week’s winner Jeff, nearly finished first. She was edged out by Droppin’ Dave for the win.  Dave celebrated his much older brother Gary’s 70th birthday with a victory round and a hearty toast. He kept muttering: “How did Gary get that old!”

Good question!: What was the house in the background of Grant Wood’s classic painting “American Gothic”?

Answer:  A brothel in Eldon, Iowa.

Well, maybe.

The only reference this researcher could find to a brothel was on a trivia page on the internet, and a single sentence in a newspaper in the Florida Keys.  It is entirely possible that the house depicted in the painting was at one time a brothel, and that this embarrassing fact was not mentioned in any of the “official”  material put out by the local chamber of commerce in Eldon.

Or it may be an urban legend, perhaps suggested by the artist’s name, which could be a hasty prayer offered upon entering a brothel – “Please God, grant wood.”

Regardless, the house and painting have an interesting history.  Wood saw the house while traveling in the area, and made a sketch of it on paper for later use. The house, belonging to the Dibble family, caught his eye because of the upstairs window, an out-of-place gothic element in an otherwise ordinary house.

Wood gothified it some more in his painting by making it taller and narrower and making the roof of the house steeper, to resemble a church.  He got his dentist and the dentist’s sister to pose as the stern-faced farmer and his wife.

The house is still standing in Eldon, having gone through a number of owners and standing empty and neglected for a while, until being donated to the state historical society to be used as tourist attraction.  The next time you are passing though Eldon, be sure to stop and have your picture taken in front of it, complete with rented pitchfork.

The painting was probably done with some humor intended, but it is unlikely that Wood anticipated that it would inspire so many parodies.  It has reached iconic status, along with the Mona Lisa and The Scream.  Parodies have appeared in an Elton John video (with Ru Paul), a Simpson’s episode,  The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Peewee’s Playhouse, just to name a few.

Some of us favor the version with Miss Piggy:

Thanks to our special Guest Blogger this week – Droppin’ Dave.

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Winner: Jeff

We returned from our August hiatus happy to see that our favorite harborside pub had weathered Hurricane Irene with nary a bit of damage. More rain today made for a dark and stormy night, and a smaller group of players. In a game that lasted 90 minutes, but seemed much longer, Jeff persevered for his first win. He dominated and had only 2 miscues all night, while Droppin’ Dave and Inappropriate Bob finished a distant second. Even so, there was some skepticism about Bob finishing second, so there may be an inquiry. In the later $game Coffee Bill needed a Brink’s truck for his two quick wins.

Good Question: Psychologist and inventor William Mouton Marston created the famous comic book heroine Wonder Woman. Which invention is he famous for?

Answer: the Polygraph

Dr. William Moulton Marston was a man who managed to combine interests in several dissimilar fields into an idea that has lasted for decades. Marston earned a law degree in 1918 and got a Ph.D in Psychology from Harvard University in 1921. Not too shabby! Long interested in finding a scientific way to prove a person’s innocence, Marston invented the systolic blood-pressure test, which is the basis for the polygraph machine, but not the whole deal.

The name polygraph comes from the fact that the machine records several different body responses simultaneously as the individual is questioned. The theory is that when a person lies, the lying causes a certain amount of stress that produces changes in several involuntary physiological reactions. A series of different sensors are attached to the body, and as the polygraph measures changes in breathing, blood pressure, pulse and perspiration, pens record the data on graph paper.

During a lie detector test, the operator asks a series of control questions that set the pattern of how an individual responds when giving true and false answers. Then the actual questions are asked, mixed in with filler questions. The examination lasts about 2 hours, after which the expert interprets the data.

While campaigning for the wider use of the lie detector in criminal cases, Marston became convinced from his studies that women were more honest and trustworthy than men. (ed. note – sounds like a different group of women than I know). Marston became an early feminist because of this belief, and championed the idea that women represented a peaceful force in society.

In 1940, Marston was invited by then DC Comics publisher Maxwell Charles Gaines to serve on an educational advisory board for DC. Marston was unhappy with the cliched male superhero, and suggested to Gaines that there was a need for a female superhero. Gaines was enthusiastic, and encouraged Marston to develop this character.

Wonder Woman, appeared in 1941, credited to Charles Molton (the name came from Gaines and Marston’s middle names). Wonder Woman was extremely popular, and soon starred in her own eponymous comic.

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Marston continued to work on his creation until his early death from cancer in 1947. Wonder Woman lives on.

erratum: John Larson, a University of California medical student, invented the modern lie detector (polygraph) in 1921. Used in police interrogation and investigation since 1924, the lie detector is still controversial among psychologists, and is not always judicially acceptable.

why? Because you can beat the lie detector.

how? Dampen your emotional responses by taking sedatives. Others suggest practicing with a biofeedback device to control your pulse and respiration. Others focus, on giving strong reactions to harmless questions as well as loaded ones, by means of biting one’s tongue, pressing on a tack in one’s shoe, or “contracting one’s anal sphincter.” In a study at the University of Utah, half an hour of training enabled 50 percent of the sophomores studied to fool the polygrapher!

So remember, the next time you are requested to take a lie detector test, place a tack in your shoe – and good luck.

special bonus video – Wonder Woman:

sources: inventors.about.com, www.salon.com/health/, bittenandbound.com

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