The Most Insignificant Office

I have mentioned before my interest in US Presidential politics. I adored the Aaron Sorkin created “West WIng”, which I am in the process of re-watching on my iPad when I travel. I was excited, therefore, to see a new HBO comedy show called Veep. It is written by ???, and focuses, as the title suggests, on the Vice President.

The first episode on Sunday was clearly influenced by the aforementioned West Wing. People talked rapidly, whilst walking briskly around the building. That is where the resemblence ended; the level of smart never approached Sorkin level. For a comedy it was short on wit, unless you take utterances of F*** as the epitome of humour, in which case this was comedic gold. I finished the first episode with no interest in any of the characters; a failing in what is written as a character centred show.

Given the pedigree of the creator and cast, I shall watch one or two more before giving up, but expectations are badly dented. My hope is now focused on another forthcoming HBO show; the Sorkin penned Newsroom.

Published in: on 26 April, 2012 at 14:58  Comments (1)  

Wine and Sunshine

This weekend has seen unseasonably warm weather; summer temperatures in April. I have taken full advantage of the sunshine in a busy couple of days.

On Saturday, a group of a dozen from work rented a mini-bus and attended April in Carneros; which is an annual event. Vineyards across the Carneros region (which spans Napa and Sonoma valley) participate in a open weekend. For the price of one ticket you can visit as many vineyards as you wish and taste their wines. The region is famous for their Pinot Noir, but there was a wide range of options, including sparkling wines, and full bodied Zinfandel. My favourite was from Cline, made with a grape of which hitherto I had not heard. The wine was an Ancient Vine Carignane. 

We left Fairfield at 9:30, arriving at the first vineyard a little after 10. We left the last vineyard a little after 3:30 and got home around 4pm. The warm sunshine, the friendly group, and some excellent wine, food, and live music made for a thoroughly enjoyable day.

We visited the following vineyards


Gloria Ferrer (The best Pinot of the day)

Cline (The best wine and delicous duck sausages) 



Robledo Family Winery (Great homemade Mexican food and a delightful history)

Lasren Family Vineyards

Sunday morning was a an early start, leaving the house at 7:30. We stopped for breakfast in a family run diner whose view is of an oil refinery in Martinez. We then drove onto Redwood Park, and walked for 6 miles through Redwoods and Sequoia trees. The shade and gentle breeze was ideal for a day, which while cooler than Saturday, was still over 30C. 

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The drive up to the trail start offered great views down onto Oakland, and a bank of fog which hid San Francisco. Once we started walking, the lack of sound behind birds, the occasional babbling brook, and other walkers made it nigh impossible that we so close to Oakland.

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Published in: on 22 April, 2012 at 13:14  Comments (1)  

In Joss We Trust

There are people who go to films based on the stars who appear in them. I am more likely to pick a film based on the director or script writer. Anything by Aaron Sorkin, the creator of the West Wing, will attract my attention. In recent years that has lead me to see Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball: all three excellent films.

This weekend I shall go to the cinema to see Cabin in the Woods. I do not normally watch horror movies at the cinema, but this one shares script credit with Joss Whedon; the creative force behind such modern TV classics as Buffy, Dollhouse, and the incomparable Firefly.

This film is not Whedon’s main movie outing of the year. Next month he is writer and director of a summer blockbuster; The Avengers. However, superheroes in 3D may offer less chance for Whedon characters than a small horror film. I shall see both films.

Published in: on 14 April, 2012 at 7:54  Leave a Comment  

Breaks Your Heart

“It [baseball] breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”/blockquote>

The largest crowd I have seen at Oakland watched the first home game of the season. Optimism bled away as the A’s most consistent pitcher last year struggled, and gave up four runs on a single inning. A 7-3 defeat, with just one bright spot.

The newly acquired Cuban emigre, Cesepedes, drove a monster two run homer and made a stunning throw from centre field to home plate.


Published in: on 7 April, 2012 at 13:46  Leave a Comment  

Opening Day

Tomorrow, is the start of the baseball season; unless you count the games played last week in Japan by the A’s and Mariners. Every one starts level, including the aforementioned teams who split the games 1-1. So they have two less games to complete, leaving them just 160 to play Every fan can dream of the post season, that this will be the year.

For the third year on the trot, I have tickets for the A’s first home game: tomorrow against the Mariners. I am hoping for a different result than in the last two years when the A’s have lost that opening game against Seattle.

Published in: on 5 April, 2012 at 5:32  Leave a Comment  

Nouvelle Cuisine … Not

Another blog entry about the strange perception held by non-Americans that the US serves excessively large portions of food.

The baseball season is about to start in earnest on Friday. Food at ballparks is not usually associated with healthy options, but the Washington Nationals are introducing a new snack this year; the 8lb StrasBurger. Yes, you did read that correctly, a burger weighing 8 pounds – granted some of that weight is in the trimmings, so you don’t get thirty-two times the meat of a quarter-pounder. It is named in honour of the Nationals pitcher Stepehn Strasburg.

It has between 8,000 and 10,000 calories, with about 600-700 grams of fat and nearly 3,000 grams of sodium. Even split between four people, it contains more calories and fat than is needed for a day. The burger also comes with a cone of fries and a pitcher of soft drink – you could order diet coke if you are concerned about your calorie intake.

Published in: on 4 April, 2012 at 5:35  Leave a Comment  

Big Empty Spaces

Last week I received a small box of cleaning fluid from Amazon. It was shipped in a far larger box. This cavernous container had no other contents except for a receipt and some crumbled up packing paper. The latter doing an ineffective job of keeping the contents moving around in the vast hinterlands of the shipping box.


Published in: on 1 April, 2012 at 18:08  Comments (1)