Friday, December 7, 2007

They Begat No One, Nor Moved They Any Furniture

Went out this evening to the event of a friend of my sister's, who has a one-man consulting freelance deal. He incorporated a while ago, for tax reasons, and is a one-man consulting firm. He has an annual company Christmas party, with eagerly awaited announcement of the employee of the year at some point along the way.

It was held in a very Wall Street equivalent part of London, at a bar where loads of folks were clearly on their way home from work, and had decided that they would get home drunk.

Also, it was fancy. Woo hoo. Nothing like showing up in convertible outdoor pants, with a t-shirt from a lobster shack in Maine on your torso when everyone around you is banking/consulting/litigating and generally earning the pants off of life.

The libations for the evening were "Methuselahs" of Veuve Clicquot champagne. Yes, I didn't know there was a name for those stonking novelty bottles in the front windows of liquor stores either, but there is apparently a very specific Old Testament system for naming bottles of champers that happen to be larger than magnums. I myself won't in the near future need to know said names for any order at the local liquor emporium, but for all of you, here they are:

Split – 187 ml (Quarter bottle)
Half Bottle – 375 ml
Bottle – 750 ml
Magnum – 1.5 litres (Two bottles)
Jereboam – 3 litres (Four bottles)
Rehoboam – 4.5 litres (Six bottles)
Methuselah – 6 litres (Eight bottles)
Salmanazar – 9 litres (Twelve bottles)
Balthazar – 12 litres (Sixteen bottles)
Nebuchadnezzar – 15 litres (Twenty bottles)

In addition to these standard sizes, bottles of other sizes and shapes are sometimes created for special occasions, special cuvées or special customers. For example, Pol Roger used to make an imperial pint exclusively for Sir Winston Churchill, who found a half bottle not quite enough, and a whole bottle a little too much, for his purposes. His manservant would bring him his pint every morning at 11 a.m. Two other sizes are occasionally made: the 18-litre, 24-bottle Solomon (Salomon in French) and the gigantic 27-litre, 36-bottle Primat, which weighs 65 kilos.

(The above text is courtesy of These lovely folks though they don't know it)

I especially love the detail about the commissioning of a special bottle size for Winston Churchill, and kudos to a man who happened to want to have 19 ounces (roughly, as memory serves) of champagne with his breakfast. Winston knew how to live, without a doubt.

Another thing that has really struck me since I've been across the ocean (pond is a stupid phrase, and deserves to be dragged out and shot while whining mightily) is the state of automotive existence for our European brethren (I'm including the UK here, though they are at most grumblingly accepting that they are a part of this whole continentalism, though for the rest of the world we can't see what a few miles of Channel water actually means in real terms... do you folks want to be part of the South Pacific confederation of conquered islands instead? I'm sure you could make some calls... for the rest of us American barbarians you are just Europeans who speak our language in a way that still lets you hate us, I suppose.)

I qualify this by saying that I love cars, and love driving. I relish the fact that I rode home from the Christening in a beautiful, brand new Maserati GT, with FOUR WAY BOOK MATCHED WOOD IN THE DASH. I know the capital letters mean that I am yelling. I meant to. It had the paddle-shifters for a real manual transmission and everything. ("Hey pantaloonfan, why do you drive a gutless Subaru at home, then??" "Shut up. I need to take stuff places, both musically and camping-wise and I like putting things in the trunk/back of the wagon*. I have my reasons.")

Europeans have an array of amazingly small cars at their fingertips that we lack over in the US, and I wanted you all to know that there are options that you never even considered:

Hey fellow citizens of the liberated colonies... are you tired of people asking you to move large piles of furniture in your massive 3 series BMW? Well, fear not! You can move on down to the 1 Series! which is described as having pretty much no rear seats at all, compared to the vast tracts of space in the 328s that we already know and love to settle into in the luxurious back seats! Does your agoraphobia happen to want German luxury with all wheel drive Audi weirdness! A4 too big? How about the much more svelte A3?

Or perhaps these massive barges are still far too commodious for you?

Have no fear...

Do you feel lost in your gigantic, echoing Honda Civic? There's always the Nissan Micra...

Still too big? Well, I have good news. The good people at FoMoCo have something that will make Focus owners drool at your sprightly acrobatic mini-ness... The Ford Ka! For times when small means you don't even have time to use all three letters of the word car!

14 inch alloy wheels? CHECK!

1.3 liter fire breathing engine? CHECK!

Swank gray colored wheel wells? CHECK PLUS!!


You're totally going to make all those Daihatsu Charade and Suzuki Swift owners go crying home to their mommies, at 5,000 rpms and 50 miles per hour. Let your aggro flag fly!

Yet, for those times when you really want to bring all the clowns in your myspace circle with you, nothing quite tops the G-Wiz that one can see roaring silently around London and perhaps some other Oh So Fortunate cities...

Hey fellas... you KNOW the ladies love a guy who plugs his car in at night, and can also fit two double amputees in the back seat!

On top of that, you can fit a bottle of milk in the trunk!

(For god's sake, please note that this almost commodious trunk is shown with the seats folded down. I think that says it all...)

You may need to carry the half dozen pack of eggs in your lap in the event that you have those amputees with you, but can you really put a price on finding a parking space? I didn't think so.

Of course, if this is still too worrisome, you can always go with the original pocketmobile, if you have a weird kink for parking sideways in spaces on sidestreets...

The SmartCar is the final answer in all of this. There is nothing more to even be contemplated.

I was going to post something meaningful on the order of advice for my growing (and consistently horking) nephew, and now godson, but I'm too bitter and flippant. It may come later, along with finally bitching about tie knotting and haircuts... just don't know when. Leave me to complain, yell and point fingers for now.

* Have you ever watched "Pimp My Ride" on MTV? I never can help but notice that no one escapes that experience with ANY capacity to put anything in the back of the car. Any hobby or interest is played out in the form of a gigantic object crammed with monitors and speakers that takes the place of storage space in their vehicle. I think if I ever was offered a chance to have a car redone by them, and they asked what I was into, I would simply tell then "My biggest hobby is... putting things in my trunk. I just love putting things in my car and moving them from place to place. That's what I care about more than anything. And I'm deaf. And blind. Leave the fucking monitors and four hundred pounds of speakers on the shop floor."

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