Attempts Made To Enjoy Sake

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Vol 37 Issue 09

Mockingbird Imitates Car Alarm Perfectly

HOUSTON–In an unsettling development for the natural world, a mockingbird was heard perfectly mimicking a car alarm Monday. "I heard this strange song coming from a mockingbird in a big spruce across the street from St. Luke's Hospital," bird watcher Bob Ausmus said. "After a minute or two, I realized it was one of those multi-sound car alarms–he did the staccato one, the slowly rising one, the buzzing one. He must have picked it up from one of the BMWs in the parking lot." Ornithologists predict that the alarm song will spread to millions of birds and be handed down for centuries to come.

Dubious Inclusions Damage Credibility Of Entire Record Collection

HAMMOND, IN–The credibility of 26-year-old Jeff Gaskill's record collection is badly damaged by the inclusion of several albums of dubious artistic merit, friend Rob Appel reported Monday. "He's got tons of awesome stuff, everything from [X-Ray Spex's] Germ Free Adolescents to [Al Green's] Call Me," Appel said of the 750-plus CD library. "But then, smack-dab in between The Pogues' Rum, Sodomy & The Lash and Portishead's Dummy is Poison's Greatest Hits." Continued Appel: "Before I could ask him what the hell it was doing there, I spot Hell Freezes Over by The Eagles. That record alone negates the coolness of Brian Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets and The Flying Burrito Brothers' The Gilded Palace Of Sin."

Insufferable Prick Distinctly Said No Cilantro

NEW YORK–Dan Carswell, a 31-year-old Fidelity Investments commodities trader and unbelievable asshole, distinctly told his Aquavit server Tuesday that he did not want cilantro on his avocado salad. "I have to be downtown for a meeting in 30 minutes," the fucking cockbiter told waitress Natalie Elson while handing back the salad. "Could we please get it right this time?" The colossal shit went on to exhibit his displeasure by leaving a four percent tip.

No Jennifer Lopez News Today

NEW YORK—Despite Hurculean efforts to find any scraps of J. Lo information, reporters conceded that there is no Jennifer Lopez news today.

Women's Prison Riot Feels Gratuitous

DECATUR, GA–Monday's full-scale riot at the Georgia Women's Correctional Facility is being derided by witnesses as "contrived" and "blatantly designed to pander to prurient interests." "It's obvious that this was just a thinly veiled excuse to have women claw at each other and tear each other's shirts off," Decatur resident Charles Fenig said of the inmate uprising, during which one guard was fatally stabbed and six others held hostage for more than three hours. "I expect more from our women's prisons than this sort of cheap, exploitative 'caged heat.'" Critics also panned prison warden Barb Hofstadt, calling her "a textbook sadistic, bull-dyke warden straight out of central casting."

Dick Cheney's Heart

Last week, vice-president Dick Cheney, a four-time heart-attack victim, underwent angioplasty surgery. What do you think about his heart problems?

The Meat-Substitute Boom

With vegetarianism on the rise and beef scares in Europe, soy-based meat substitutes are a booming industry. What are some of the most popular items amount meat-shunning Americans?
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Attempts Made To Enjoy Sake

ST. PAUL, MN–Determined to gain an appreciation for the fermented Japanese rice drink, Chris Gibson and girlfriend Valerie Estes made a fourth attempt to enjoy sake Saturday.

Chris Gibson and Valerie Estes, whose recent, fourth attempt to enjoy sake (below) was unsuccessful.

"Sake is really good stuff," said Gibson, 29, following the couple's most recent failed sake-appreciation attempt. "And it's a cool thing to be able to say you're into. I just don't think our palates are refined enough to get everything out of it just yet."

Gibson and Estes reached that conclusion after sipping a small amount of namakaze, or cold unpasteurized sake, at a dinner party thrown by mutual friend Roger Deroia, a self-professed "Japanophile" who spent 10 days in Tokyo last year.

"Chris and Valerie took a small drink, then sort of grimaced," Deroia said. "Maybe they should just stick to white Zinfandel."

The couple's interest in the Japanese wine began five months ago, shortly after they received a porcelain sake set as a housewarming gift from Deroia. The Arita ceremonial sake kit Deroia gave them contained a tokkuri, a porcelain decanter used to heat and present the sake, and four porcelain sakazukis, or bowls.

"Chris and Valerie seemed interested in Asian culture," Deroia said. "They've got a Japanese screen in their bedroom, and Chris loved the animé tapes I once lent him, so I thought the sake set would be a perfect gift."

Sake set.

According to Estes, the couple's first-ever sips of sake were poorly received.

"I wanted the first time we used the sake set to be special, so we made a whole night of it," Estes said. "Chris ordered sushi and rented [Akira] Kurosawa's Ran. We planned to drink a bottle of sake with dinner and another during the movie, but after about half a bowl each, it was obvious that neither of us really cared for it."

A few weeks later, while perusing the sake kit's instructions, Gibson discovered that sake is supposed be heated somewhere between lukewarm and body temperature before drinking.

"It said you're supposed to heat the tokkuri in a pan of hot water," Gibson said. "When I told Valerie, we were like, 'Oh, that's why it wasn't that great.' So we heated up the sake and gave it another go. It was a little better, but we still couldn't finish a whole bowl between us."

The couple's third and most successful sake-appreciation attempt occurred in January while eating with Deroia at Origami, a Minneapolis Japanese restaurant.

"We were eating vegetable tempura when Roger suggested we order some sake," Gibson said. "Valerie and I just sort of looked at each other. She said she just wanted to get some plum wine, which we've both had before and enjoyed, but Roger insisted. And you can't really argue with Roger when it comes to things Japanese or, as he might say, 'Nipponese.'"

"Chris and I enjoyed the sake a little more with Roger there," Estes said. "Like, he taught us that you toast the server by saying 'bonzai' or 'kampai' after they pour your bowl. Learning about those sorts of traditions must have distracted me from the taste, because I actually drank my whole cup that time. But, in all honesty, it still wasn't that good."

Deroia is sympathetic to his friends' sake-enjoyment struggles.

"I remember the first time I tried sake, I thought the cork was left off for too long, because it tasted like spoiled wine," said Deroia, who noted that since sake is made from rice, which is a grain, it should technically be considered more a beer than a wine. "But as with any acquired taste, it takes time. And once you start actually enjoying the taste, it's wonderful. It's just that the taste-acquisition phase can be rather long and painful."

Unbowed by their lack of success, Gibson and Estes are preparing to take a fifth stab at sake enjoyment.

"Roger suggested that Valerie and I try yakoman sake," Gibson said. "He says it's not really sake, but has the qualities of sake. Real sake is just water, rice, and a mold called koji. He said that once we got used to drinking yakoman, we could work our way up to trying 'the good stuff,' this dai-ginjo he special-ordered. I think that might have been the problem the last four times–not having the right kind of sake."

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