My two little Sunshine Princesses, ages five and seven, regaled me in the car last week with tales of the Zombie Apocalypse. Being a Certified Geek myself, I figured this new obsession with the undead was my doing; that somehow they’d heard me talking about it in the context of my first novel, or while geeking out with friends. Knowing that it takes very little to inspire a child’s nightmare, I try to be cognizant of the things that would freak out my kids, and the consumption of human flesh to the point of the world ending is at the top of that list.
Regardless, the kids took turns telling stories about the Zombie Apocalypse as we cruised along the 30-minute journey to grammy and papa’s house. This culminated with an epic, ten-minute tale about a girl who was actually named “Zombie Apocalypse” who farted a lot and had a brother who owned twenty-seven unicorns. Look, I want to be Imagination-Inspiring Dad Guy as much as anyone, but this stream-of-conscious acid trip zombie stuff can only be consumed in small doses. Now, I was going to have the nightmares.
“Great story, Lily!” I exclaimed. “Hey, how about this? Let’s play ‘Two-Minute Pony Story Time!’ I’ll set the timer on my phone, and you get two minutes to tell the best story ever about a pony. And we’ll take turns. Ok, are we ready? Ella, you’re first. Aaaaand Go!”
(An indispensable tool of parenting is to lay down the ground rules so fast and fluidly that no one has time to interrupt you and mess everything up).
“Ok ok ok!” Ella said breathlessly. “So there’s this pony and her name was Middie and she had this orange fur all over her and she had friends and they would all play with chocolate Easter eggs like la la la and she had a sister but the sister didn’t like chocolate Easter eggs she liked Drumsticks you know Drumsticks like those Drumsticks we had that have ice cream and the nuts and stuff and the sister’s name was Maydee no it was Miffie and they played Connect Four the end!”
“Wow!” I said. I felt like I had just drunk six cups of coffee. “That was incredible. And only twenty seconds! Ok Lily, it’s your turn. Ready? Go!”
“There once was a pony, and her name was Zilastra,” my five-year-old said.
“Zilastra!” I exclaimed. “Awesome pony name!”
“Her mom and dad got dead,” Lily continued. “And Zilastra liked popcorn. The end.”
Ok, so let me explain something here. My Scrumptious Baby Girl Unicorn Goddess is as lovey dovey as a child can be. Random hugs, helpful at dinner time, loves reading Dr. Seuss…and then boom! Zombies and dead parents. So, yeah. Apparently, there is a gene for being Goth. I don’t know where she got it, but she’s got it. She’s five. I’m just rolling with it.
“Alright!” I said, hoping my tone did not bely my concern over raising the next Dexter. “My turn. Setting the timer…and…here we go!”
“Once upon a time there were two ponies, Bob and Sam,” I said. “They were best friends, but Bob was having a spiritual crisis, and – “
“What’s a Spurshal Crisis?” Ella asked.
“A spiritual crisis. It’s when your faith in the universe is challenged by terrible and unfair hardships you deal with on a daily basis,” I said. “So, Bob the pony has this in spades, right? So he decides to – “
“You tell bad stories, dad,” Lily said.
“No!” I implored her. “You’ve got to understand. The personal crisis of the protagonist is instrumental in the classic Hero’s Journey. This is the crisis he’ll have to overcome to defeat the antagonist and – “
“Your story needs candy,” Ella said. “If it doesn’t have candy then no one wants to hear about it.”
“It has candy!” I exclaimed. “It has emotional candy. Now, I’m just getting to the good part, where Bob is forced into horse racing by the mob and he – “
The timer went off.
“You lose, daddy!” Lily shouted.
I’ve been trying to hack thirty thousand words out of the first draft of my novel – which is why I’ve been MIA from this blog for so long – and apparently this task taking its toll. But, message received. I promise the final draft will have just the right balance of candy and death to appeal to all audiences. Including my own.
Stories About Zombies, Ponies, Candy & Spiritual Crises Pairs With: 2014 Stags Leap Wine Cellars “Artemis” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley. What do all these elements have in common? Youth. Actually, when taken on their own, each element is kind of heavy – even candy, which can be sweet to the point of heaviness. But grouped together, the common denominator is the developing-brain signature of youth.
And that is what I have been getting out the 2014 Napa vintage in general. Since I my first barrel sample of the ‘14s at Premiere Napa Valley in 2016, there was something different about the flavor profile of the fruit that was hard to place. One hears the term “jammy” used to describe both a powerful sweetness and a heavy/weighty quality of the fruit of a wine, and though that was my first thought, What I was tasting was something more than that. As I tasted more offerings from the ’14 vintage, I found a common element of toasty bubble gum; something lighter than jammy fruit, but distinct. And it was strange to me, because the ‘14s were supposed to be an amazing follow-up to the ‘13s, which were bold, powerful, tannic and potentially one of the greatest vintages to ever come out of Napa Valley.
My suspicions were confirmed upon tasting the Artemis, one of the premiere Cabernet offerings from Stags Leap Wine Cellars. That distinct flavor profile of the fruit was there, and if it’s in the Artemis, my feeling is it’s in the vintage. I want to say that it’s youth, and that with five years in the bottle this flavor profile will evolve and balance out. But my concern is that the ‘14s actually don’t have the structure of the ‘13s and are not going to age all that well.
My suspicion was confirmed at this year’s Premiere Napa Valley barrel tasting, where the 2015s were on display in force. The fruit profile there was totally different from the ‘14s (and extremely evolved for such a young wine). And though I may be biased, the wines of the Coombsville AVA, with their volcanic minerality and bracing acid, were the best of the bunch. Even at this immature stage, I found myself preferring them entirely.
Kind of like my kids.
Zombies will eat your brain. Or mine. Or even those of small, adorable Sunshine Godesses. The question is: what wine pairs best with brains? And I don’t mean the smart people we call “brains”; rather that goopy grey chemical computer that truly enterprising zombies suck out through their victim’s eye sockets. My wine pairing vote is for the dark and sumptuous Port from Foris Vineyards in Oregon’s Illinois Valley. Granted, it is traditionally an after dinner drink, but its densely fruit laden taste seems, at least to me, to work in horrific harmony with the traumatic enactment of either losing one’s mind (literally) or mindlessy munching the last vestiges of humanity sucked from a dear friend’s skull. Foris’ Pinot Noir is pretty damn good, too, although no match for the cerebral dining of zombies. BTW– I love love love your stories of your two delightful daughters. Should be some humdingers when they become teenagers. What wine will pair with attitude? Can’t wait to find out!
Hahahaha!! You should be writing this blog 😉 And I think attitude pairs more with Scotch… Thanks, buddy!!
Where is the love button?! 😀 Surely you blog too?!
Josh is an excellent writer and needs to do more of it!
“Your story needs candy.” From the mouth of babes. I love it.
Maybe we should burn all our craft books and listen to them. They truly know the heart of storytelling. I love your post. Your writing is truly addictive.
Best of luck on your WIP.
all the best,
Thanks so much, Jo-Ann! I could probably just listen to my kids, write it all down, and have a bestseller 😉