Sunset Magazine Forgets Napa, Sonoma Wine Country – Beer to Blame

Most periodicals, whether they’re online or in print, annually produce what’s called an “editorial calendar.” This isn’t for the benefit of those who produce the editorial content of a given newspaper, magazine or blog so much as it’s a reference for prospective advertisers and their marketing notions.

Holiday gift guides come to mind as a perennial feature of such a calendar. Ditto the dads-n-grads coverage that comes every spring. According to Sunset magazine’s editorial calendar for this year’s October issue, readers could expect coverage of “Napa and Sonoma Wine Country.” Instead, however, we got something about an “Ale Trail” and no Napa and Sonoma write-ups as such. This means that some other trailing and ailing sap will have to write up Napa and Sonoma for those whose need for wine country ink is tantamount to their need of wine. Don’t worry, I got this: Continue reading “Sunset Magazine Forgets Napa, Sonoma Wine Country – Beer to Blame”

How to Name Your Movie: The Lawless Land of Movie Titles

The titles of films often result from hours of deliberation in which highly-paid professionals toil in studio marketing departments. After pulling a name from the magic marketing hat, they attempt to gauge the appeal, potential brand equity and even longevity of title before christening a multimillion dollar proposition with it. In the world of independent filmmaking, the process is a tad less cynical but often no less grueling.

The Odyssey of Lawless

Consider the titular odyssey of the name ?Lawless,? which is now successfully appended to the Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy Depression-era bootlegging flick. Originally, the film took the name of its source material, a novel titled ?The Wettest County in the World? before briefly flirting with ?The Promised Land? and then finally a distillation of its original title, ?The Wettest County.?

None of these titles sat right with the producers, however, who preferred the less descript but more broadly marketable ?Lawless,? which works better internationally where the stateside booze slang ?wet? means little more in translation than being moist. Continue reading “How to Name Your Movie: The Lawless Land of Movie Titles”

Lobby Live Blog: Healdsburg Edition

I’ve got a few minutes before my Next Big Thing, so I thought I’d experiment with some live-blogging from the hotel espresso bar of H2 in Healdsburg, CA.


Today, it seems the baby boom all discovered bicycles ? simultaneously. I?ve never seen so many people in their 60s clad in cycling gear.


Now they?re discussing yoga moves. A woman is trying to describe a position to another but she is at a loss for words. The other keeps throwing animal names at her: preying mantis, eel, newt, snake, cobra. Cobra! That?s it. She ?knew it was something slimy.?


The self-appointed ?cool guy? is wearing a cap printed with a chili pepper pattern. Continue reading “Lobby Live Blog: Healdsburg Edition”

Banned Books Week: Three Ways to Get Your Book Banned

Banned BooksBooks have been banned, censored or otherwise burned atop self-righteous refutations of free speech since their invention. The first book banned in freedom-of-speech-loving ?Merica was The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption, a Puritanical screed published in 1650 by William Pynchon (no relation to Thomas, I presume, whose own The Crying of Lot 49 was also banned a couple centuries later). Pynchon?s book was condemned as heretical in a Bostonian court and, predictably, a book burning followed.

Since then, books as lauded as Harper Lee?s To Kill a Mockingbird, Joyce?s Ulysses and ironically both Bradbury?s Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell?s 1984, have been banned, burned and sanitized by New Speak to conform to the evanescent norms of ?Community Standards.?

Turns out, getting one?s book banned is comparatively easy, say to getting it published, let alone written. Likewise, to the chagrin of censors, there are ways to turn being banned into a boon. Sure, it?s a tad crass and cynical but sometimes it?s all you?ve got.

Continue reading “Banned Books Week: Three Ways to Get Your Book Banned”

Is Climate Change a Preview of Hell?

Traditional depictions of hell are generally heat related ? fire, brimstone, swigging cups of hot lava. In his play, No Exit, Frenchistentialist scribe Jean-Paul Sartre famously opined, ?Hell is other people.? Given the recent heatwave that?s left most of Northern California a pile of angst and ash, I?m inclined to believe that hell is actually being hot with other people.

The weather is torture enough and having to share the earth with anything other than the cone of shaved ice I traded my immortal soul for is unbearable. Not only do other people sweat and pant and bemoan the heat as much as I do, they also produce body heat, which only adds to the problem. If you look at a crowd of people through an infrared camera, they look like a forest fire. Spread out, people! Remember, this is how the ?Matrix? started ? the machines put us in pods and used our body heat as a natural resource. So, unless we?re standing in a walk-in freezer together, stay away from me and not only will we prevent the machine uprising, I also won?t have to spray you with liquid nitrogen to keep you from being a human heat-sicle. Continue reading “Is Climate Change a Preview of Hell?”