Monday, February 28, 2022

I Heard This On NPR Today

 It was a sound bite in a brief feature on All Things Considered this afternoon: "What are the Russian People Thinking About the War in Ukraine?"

The interviewer had a statement from a "retired Russian cop in Moscow".

He was pretty much clear and to the point.

"There is no war with Ukraine; it is the Americans; they need an enemy; they have made us their enemy.

"Why can't they leave us alone?

"Why can't we just join the EU and NATO and have normal lives?"

I'm not making this up.

I am re-creating it to the best of my memory.

I am almost eighty, so my memory may be fleeting.

But, if it is even close to accurate, I have to say, "amen, brother.

"But I can't give you the answer to that question; you need to ask Vlad the Puter".

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The World Endorses The Wolverines

 With the exception of India and China, two hollow, heartless and pointless massive masses of human protoplasm, most of the rest of the world is uniting behind the Wolverines.

The European Union is even putting money where its mouth is.

Could Puty have made a fatal mistake?


Or maybe he will need to nuke the rest of us to cover his error

How sad, for the rest of us.

But for now, go wolverines!

I Think The Tapestry Is A Clue

 But I have no idea where I might have shot this image.

At first, I thought la Louvre, but no.

I went to Honfleur once, for the day, but I spent most of the day on the bus there and the bus back to La Havre, and I don't remember anything but an hour or so walk around one of the most charming manifestations of human habitation that I have ever experienced; I don't remember leaving the streets to go inside anything like a museum.

Other than that, I spent the day in a fabulous waterfront creperie having a leisurely lunch of buckwheat crepes - galettes - and glasses of wine.

I may have had a crepe flambeau for dessert.

Then I got back on the bus.

But I have this image.

I think it is quite beguiling.

I think it is a wood carving.

Just A Flower

 But it made me feel good.

How about you?

How Do You Measure How Nuts Somebody Is?

 Putin has put Russia's nuclear forces on high alert.

His reason: "Western Nations have made aggressive statement of disapproval" of Putin's Ukrainian aggression.

Sounds exactly like the worst-case playground bully scenario.

Or Freddy Kruger is in charge in Moscow?

Saturday, February 26, 2022

What Nuclear War Looks Like From Afar


But it moves your way and boils the water.

I Hope Y'all Are Aware Of This

 Triggers are how bullets are launched.

They have some kind of restraining mechanism that needs to be overcome: the most traditional being the application of the pressure of an index finger to the physical trigger.

That pressure moves the spring restrained trigger forward until the restraint of the spring is over-ruled and the sharp central piece of the hammer of the trigger - the firing pin - flies forward, unrestrained.

The pin hits a small casque of extremely volatile material that is mounted in a metal container in the center of what is called a bullet.

A bullet is a metal projectile designed to fly through space, and if properly pointed - aimed - hit something.

The tiny explosion of the casque ignites a much larger store of explosive power and the bullet flies out of the thing in which it has been mounted - its casing, or shell - and the bullet goes somewhere as accurately as it has been aimed.


Putin's move into Ukraine may be a trigger situation.

Based on world history since Louis XIV of France it probably is.

A trigger situation.

The trigger in 1914 was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria.

Within days the world was in a war that was gridlocked by treaties and alliances that, if honored, would produce exactly what it produced, because they were slavishly honored: mass death and loss of empire.

The loss of empire was probably a good thing but, at the cost of millions and millions of young men, one needs to question whether anything was accomplished.

Putin MUST take Ukraine; no cost will be too much; if he fails he is FINISHED.

But if he is able to take Ukraine he needs to move on.

Ukraine is in his opinion a piece of Russian territory that has been taken over by drug addicts and Nazis.

He hasn't explained how that all happened, but when one is a dictator assertion is fact.

So the trigger is Ukraine.

The casque is Poland and the Baltic democracies.

Which is where Vlad MUST MOVE NEXT.

For Ukraine to make any sense he must re-establish the buffer states.

Buffer states is such a 19th century concept that I am consistently amazed at its Twenty First Century durability, but it is still there.

Especially in Russia.

Which never left the Sixteenth Century.

Also, he has a troublesome little piece of Russia - Kaliningrad - on the Baltic Sea, surrounded by EU States, that he needs to get neatly consolidated into his Vlad the Puter Empire.

Anyway, back to the analogy: the larger store of explosive material in the analogous bullet is Article Five of the Nato Charter.

That explosive material in this analogy - they all limp - is more, though, that just Article Five.

The rest of it is what Putin does after a half million Nato forces enter Poland and the Baltics to sweep the Russians out of The European Union and NATO.

Once that happens Putin has a decision.

If he decides on nuclear war, which he has already said was for sure, WE/NATO/EUROPEAN UNION will retaliate - the difference between attack and retaliation, after all, only being milliseconds, but milliseconds being what they are, we will all be dead. 

The Wolverines Are Hanging In

 Their leader at a press briefing.

Another Dandelion

 There are lots of images demanding to be captured on the river level quais on the Seine.

This one would have been a pariah in a lawn; on the quais it's beautiful.

I think that that plant at the bottom of the image is arugula.

The Wolverines Are Making It Difficult

From Business Insider:

Leaked document shows Russia is preparing for 'a massive medical emergency' of Ukraine war casualties.

 It requests that medical institutions send a list of medical specialists and their details to the Russian health ministry to deploy them when needed. Medics that it is looking for include trauma, heart, maxillofacial and pediatric surgeons, anesthetists, radiologists, nurses (including for operating rooms), and infectious disease specialists.

The document states that these people will be paid by the "Federal Center of Medical Disasters."

A Ukrainian military official told ITV news that this document shows that the Russians "did not expect to face such a level of resistance and losses" and that they are "far from achieving their goals" of a quick, surprise attack. 

They also added that this leaked document could show that Putin intends to "go until the end, despite huge losses of personnel." 

According to the official Ukrainian Parliamentary Telegram channel, the Ukrainian military has killed over 3,000 Russian troops and captured 200. Mykhailo Podoliak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is quoted in Ukrainian media saying, "this shows that Ukraine has not just survived, Ukraine is winning!"

Ukraine: It’s Somebody’s Move???

 I first posted this Monday, October 27, 2014.

The question at the end of this post should be modified: So is it September 1, 1939 all over again, or is it August 1914?  

Whatever the answer, things don't look good.


When I heard the results of the Ukrainian Parliamentary elections I immediately thought: “OK Putti, your move next”.

But then I thought for a minute.

It’s really our “move” next.

“Move” as I am using the word implies choices and reactions to changing circumstances.

Puti is the lucky practitioner of a no surprise, no change environment.

That doesn’t mean that reality is not constantly shifting underneath his feet that bestride the world like some surreal Russian-sized hobbit.

It just means that he is oblivious to the shift.

So he has no “move”.

He is on auto pilot.

He is going to resurrect as much of the USSR as possible.

So he has never not been going to send the tanks into Kiev for some trumped up reason or other.

I am, in fact, really surprised that he has waited so long.

I thought it would happen as soon as his Fête d’Hiver had concluded.

But then I hadn’t thought about the Soviets taking back Crimea.

That made some delay in the tanks prudent.

But now – the election is plenty of the necessary anti-Russian premise, and Puti’s psychotic Russian domination need makes such a premise necessary (the term Sudetendeutch pops to mind)  – the tanks will come.

So the question is: “do WE have the guts to make the obvious move?”

Or is it 1 September 1939 all over again?

Friday, February 25, 2022

Support Team Wolverine: Red Dawn Comes Home To Roost

 There is not much that all of us in America can do to support Ukraine.

Maybe taking a pass on pulling down our own democracy might be a step, but that's a lot to ask of "The Base".

But we can all watch Red Dawn - the Partick Swayze version, not the embarrassing re-boot.

From the unscripted videos I have seen and the unrehearsed audios I have heard, all the Ukranian people deserve to be named "The Wolverines".

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Shadow Of The Artist In Bordeaux

 I was walking along the Gironde and saw this on the ground.

Peter Pan briefly crossed my mind.

A moment intervened. 

Having been brought stock still by the image on the flint gravel, I pondered.

"Why not take a picture of that; it might be cosmically significant".

I did.

But it wasn't.


Nevertheless, it's fun to see it again.

That was a long time ago, in human years.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Two Maps Make A Grim Prediction

 One of the myriad oddities of Europe is that a tiny chunk of Russia lies on the Baltic Sea surrounded by decent countries.

Russia got it from Postsdam.

Yesterday Vlad the Puter declared a major European nation to be not a legitimate nation but also recognized two treasonous enclaves of some kind of rebellion in that legitimate nation to be the world's two newest republics.

Puty is clearly lost in time and space if not completely unhinged.

But Russia has always seen world domination just over the next snow covered pile of dung, so, rather than just passing off Puty's outburst as some echo of the past, it might be better to see it as what it probably is: a blueprint.

All those troops in Belarus (30,000); in Russia on the border of Ukraine (100,000); and in Crimea (20,000); and all those ships in the Black Sea test firing missiles gayly and aimlessly into the stratosphere must be there for a monster pincer maneuver against the "non legitimate nation of Ukraine".  

But what if it's a feint?

What if most of the troops are just drones deployed as a distraction?

What if 30,000 is enough, in a lightning, unexpected blitzkrieg strike to take Latvia and Estonia and create a "corridor of comfort" for the brave Russian patriots heinously trapped in Western Europe?

Look at this annotated map.

The pincer is what everybody expects.

Puty wants something substantially beyond what he can get for this little temper tantrum.

He wants to BREAK NATO and the European Union in one fell swoop.

This map tells that tale: he needs a "corridor" to join the brave Russians in Kaliningrad with the newly incorporated Russian Republic of Belarus, and, by continuity, Mother Russia.

Looks like Latvia and Lithuania are that "corridor".

So let's look at another map.

Look north of Poland.

Article Five of the NATO charter says that when Puty creates his "corridor" the world goes up in flames.

Kinda like 1914 all over again.

Putin Has Taken Paris??


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Why Are We Putting Up With Puty's Little Stupid "War"?

 This is a picture from Paris.

But what if it were from Kiev?

Would it be any less beautiful?

Would it be any less sacred to its members?

In three or four days will it be still intact?

The mass of Red Eastern Slavic might that is about to grind Kiev to dust says it won't.

And who will have gained what from that pile of rubble?

The world wonders.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Is There Anybody Out There? Have You Noticed?


When I was a lot younger, I was introduced to artichokes.

As years went by what I craved each artichoke season and craved with ardency was the Castro Valley artichoke.

Somewhere back twenty years or so all sorts of big impressive looking real artichoke replacements began to appear at all times of the year.

For a variety of reasons, none of them were, or are, fit to eat.

I posted this previously about that sad state of affairs.


"When I was a little kid my little sister and I were having dinner with our mother.

My father, as was frequently the case, was in the land of the missing for that particular meal.

I must have been five and my sister must have been three.

Her name was Annie.

Since she has been dead for 63 years that must have been a long time ago.

So it is odd that I would remember it.

And I probably wouldn’t have remembered it except for a peculiarity of the menu that evening.

Our mother was eating something that looked as if it had come out of science fiction.

It was sort of cone shaped and was made up of an apparently endless number of funny shaped things.

She would – interspersed with the rest of the food she was eating – take one of the things and dip it in something and then bite off a miniscule part of the thing and then put the rest of the thing in a big bowl put on the table especially for the deposit of the things after they had been bitten.

We had seen her indulge in this odd practice on other occasions but the thought of asking to try whatever it was had never occurred to us.

And our mother never offered to let us try.

Then came the evening I am remembering.

For some reason one or the other or both of us asked to try to dip one of the things and bite it and see what they were all about.

It turned out that this was what our mother had always planned.

In later life when this story came up she would just say that she knew we would never have liked artichokes if we had been given one to try ourselves, so she just indulged frequently in her love of the thistles and let us watch and draw our own conclusions.

On that particular occasion the conclusion we drew was that we loved the things and our mother was left without any artichoke to eat – except the heart; she didn’t tell us about that until she had removed the residual leaves, cut out the thistle stuff and wolfed down the butter dripping sections of the base of the flower all herself.

From then on we were a three artichoke table.

Now to the point.

For years artichokes were a seasonal thing, like pomegranates; they would suddenly appear in large volume, would quickly go to three for a dollar and would stay around for a few weeks and then would be gone until the next “season” arrived.

They were always from Castroville and they had thorns on each leaf; and the base of each leaf had a large fleshy place that when dipped in melted butter or mayonnaise was just the right amount for a bite.  One knew it was time to take the rest of the leaves off and cut the thistle stuff off and cut the heart up into dipping sized pieces when that fleshy base  of the inner leaves became too small to eat.  And, if one knew one’s range well enough, those artichokes could always be cooked to the exact degree of tender doneness in some known number of minutes – pour in the water; pour in the vinegar; put the range on high; set the timer for fifteen minutes; turn the heat to simmer after fifteen minutes; and after another twenty five minutes the artichoke was perfect, including the heart.

And the flavor of the things was always life enhancing.

Somebody sometime back decided to change all of that.

The first sign was that artichokes seemed to always be in the markets; they had lost their seasonality.

The next sign – part of the first, actually – was that they became three dollar apiece items.

Coincident with that was the fact that they were never labeled simply as artichokes any more; they were jumbo artichokes.

And they were not beautiful cone shaped collections of somewhat loosely aggregated thorn tipped leaves any more; they were instead round, tightly compressed collections of thornless leaves; and the leaves were not shaped like a slightly rounded spear tip any more, they were sort of round and nondescript; and their fleshy bases were not very fleshy and not very substantial.

And trying to cook one was impossible.

No amount of time would yield a leaf that when pulled gently yielded with a little resistance; this was the time honored test of whether the artichoke was read to eat or not.

The jumbo three dollar variety would jealously hold their leaves no matter how hard the pull, leaving the cook with a never ending pot with a boiling artichoke waiting hopefully for the pull test to indicate that the thing had finally become edible.

Ultimately the never ending boiling pot would induce a hopeful state of mind in the cook that would yield a leaf that “seemed” to yield, leading one to conclude that the artichoke was ready to eat.

But that was always the gateway to disappointment: when set on the table the rest of the leaves would barely yield; the flesh that they yielded was not of a size or quality of taste any where near that of the artichokes of yore; and the heart, if one persisted through all that leafy disappointment was mush.

So why didn’t “they” just leave a perfect thing to be perfect?

Why did they have to improve it so we couldn’t afford it and didn’t want to eat it if we could?

Why did “they” make such a thing a year round staple of the produce counter?

I am in the question business; I am not in the answer business.

However I find myself asking the same questions about peaches, pears, strawberries and raspberries.

I am expecting any day to need to start asking those questions about avocados.

Recently during a three or four week span my local Safeway had artichokes just like the ones Annie and my mother and I ate on that evening so many years ago.

I didn’t think too much about it except to be exceptionally happy to be able to join Marcel Proust in quite a number of his moments as I ate an inordinate number of artichokes for those three or four weeks.

And then they were gone.

I guess they must have been seasonal.

I often take the little sticky labels off of avocados or organic apples or whatever I eat that has those little stickers.

I don’t know why I do it; it is sort of a ritual; and I always stick them on a loose piece of paper laying around in my cooking area (I organize my life on sheets of lined yellow notebook paper folded into fourths, so there are always pieces available for sticking the labels on).

It had turned out that these artichokes that I had been savoring had those little sticky labels on them, so there quickly became a quarter folded yellow sheet with several labels on it.

One day after the artichokes had made their apparently seasonal disappearance from the market I was cleaning the kitchen and decided to recycle the yellow label bearer.

Before final disposition, I took a look at what was printed.

And it gave me hope for a better future.

Pork Chops: 

When I was a little kid pork chops were my favorite thing to eat.

They had so much flavor.

And if your mother had had a mother-in-law from the South, as my mother had, your mother knew how to make a sublime pork chop gravy.

Move the clock forward: if you buy those beautiful Costco porkchops you are buying flavorless fiber.

The best use for them that I have found is carnitas: if you cube that vaguely pink fiber into cubes and cover it with Chile Colorado and cook it at a very low heat for a long time you will produce a rather blackened pot of cubes of Chile Colorado flavored fiber.

From My point of view that is a net loss of flavor and an exercise in culinary futility.

Beef Steak: 

My mother taught me early to eat steak rare.

We couldn't do it often, but when we did it we did it.

As life passed and my personal economics improved, I was able to do that rare steak thing much more often.

Ringside in Portland: Baseball Cut Top Sirloin and onion rings was the apex of existence.

A few days ago I paid $27 a pound for two USDA Prime rib eye steaks.

I ate half of the first - I continued after the first bite only because that was what I had prepared for dinner, and didn't have anything else to eat (a pale reflection of my previously voracious appetite for steak) and stopped; the rest became a beef curry a day later, in which the onions and the asparagus were the lead flavors; the wok cooked beef was fodder, not flavor, certainly not enjoyment.

Steaks have become not fit to eat.


One set of my grandparents lived in the woods north of Seattle.  

It was a magical place, 

I have written about that elsewhere.

They had chickens.

A Sunday noontime memory is of the smell of the chicken that my grandmother was cooking.

The smell started with the raw chicken, continued to the smell of the cooking and became flavor in the eating.

Today the flavor in fast food chicken is from the chemical powders - occult formulae guarded in the vaults of BIG FOOD CORP - not from the flavor the beast brought to the pot from its life in the chicken yard.

At home the flavor of cooked chicken is NOTHING.

At home we lack BIG FOOD CORP's formulae.

But chicken and its flavor were the first to go, then it was pork, and now it is beef. 

Artichokes, how sad preceded the meat by decades and are old, old, old news.

So, we have a food system that provides stuff that looks like what we used to eat, but isn't that stuff, and costs so much that we have to become homeless to keep having it in our refrigerators.

Capitalism, I think, is a good system - if modulated.

This isn't capitalism.

It certainly isn't modulated.

Monday, February 14, 2022

So What's To Talk About?

 Putin has encircled Ukraine and filled the Black Sea with Russian naval craft.

And he keeps saying that America is hysterical.

Those moves are just good training for his military.

I guess that must be true.

Because Putin has said so.

But America says that Russia is going to rush across the frozen ground - once it's frozen - and dash to Kiev and declare unity: little russia - Ukraine - and Mother Russia.

Mother Russia is a myth, but Napoleon and Hitler inadvertently reinforced the myth.

Russia is not invincible, it's just too big to be taken by a traditional land force - even of the type of the Wehrmacht - and its awful weather enhances that fact so, when Russia gathers force on its western frontier, and threatens whoever is on the other side of that frontier, a question immediately arises.

"Since we know that sending a conventional army into Russia from its western border will duplicate Napoleon's experience, what is the alternative that might work"?

There is only one answer.

Nuclear war.

What a stupid answer.

And what a stupid impasse.

A trumped-up impasse.

So why doesn't Russia just join NATO and the EU?

Because that would make sense.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

An Odd Accident

 I was walking rue St Denis on my way to my favorite Indian restaurant in Passage Brady.

It was several years ago so my memory of specifics is probably suspect.

But I guess I was trying to capture the mood of one of Paris' oldest streets, and that was best captured in black and white, so I must have made that setting as I walked.

I guess the woman in the foreground was my intended subject.

I - believe it or not - hadn't seen the woman in the left middle ground.

But her presence makes the shot: the essence of rue St-Denis.

Just seconds later she made a serious attempt to get me to pay her for the pose.

She was large, and muscular.

I vacated the locale as quickly and gracelessly as was possible.

I guess she went back to her station.

Unknown Plant

Every now and then I out gathering images is Seattle.

That can be a pretty disheartening exercise; Seattle is a fairly gritty and grim place to try to find beauty.

I usually can find a few things that swim against that current of ugliness.

Sometimes it's a bird.

Sometimes it's a fungus.

Sometimes it's a spectacular flowering bush.

I have no idea what this is, nor can I figure out what it is doing in Seattle.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Outside Of Le Départ St-Michel

 One of the many pleasures of sitting in Le Départ St-Michel is the wave of fellow humans coming out of the Metro and going to the River - probably not because they are seeking the River, but because they have no idea of where they are or where they are going.

What a wonderful state of existence.

I envy them.

Friday, February 11, 2022

The Truckers: Last Time They Were Smart People, Not donnie Dwarfs

 In, I think I remember this, 1973, the Saudis decided to let America and its people know who was in charge in this world.

They shut off our oil.

It got ugly fast.

I have written other posts about some of my firsthand experiences.

One of the results of that fiasco was that speed limits country-wide were reduced from 70 or more to 55 or less.

That pissed almost all of us off.

The trucking community was at the head of the line of those pissed off.

I was a salesman for IBM in those days and covered a territory I described as being slightly larger than the Holy Roman Empire - Charlamagne, remember?

So I was pretty pissed of about my potential sales per hour time space continuum being truncated by brief case totin' bureaucrats and their lower speed limits.

When I heard Convoy for the first time I learned, for the first time, what an anthem really is, all due respects to the Star Spangled Banner (it's all context, and the Banner at some innocuous public event like a ball game never moved me; I added Banner to my understanding of anthems after 9/11; it was all context) and the context for Convoy was compelling.

I'm going to bring C.W McCall up here imminently to perform for you, but I need to say, since I shot out vitriol in the title of this post, what I mean and why vitriol is warranted.

Bill Fries chose the stage name of C.W. McCall to cover his real identity as a disk jockey or an insurance salesman or some such.

But he wrote a hell of a song: it was clever, it was tongue in cheek, it was in your face and it got to the point - we were all tired of creeping down the Interstate at 55 mph and really wary of the implicit fact of vastly increased police control that the new speed limit created.

We were also tired of being captive to Saudi Arabia.

Contrast what I have just asserted, you be the judge when you watch the video, and see if the  the whiny "I want my freedom to resist science, public health, reason, responsibility to my fellow creatures - my fellow tribesman - and just my right to be in general, a complete asshole", and see if you can see the difference between the truckers then and the truckers now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Emulating The Greatest

​RNC: “legitimate political discourse”; Ol’ Mitch: “violent insurrection”. 

Looks a lot like ropadope. 

A New Shade Of Dumb

​I just heard a great one: the president that Meryl Streep plays in Don’t Look Up is dumb as donnie. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

European Honey Bee

 Like a lot of our fellow creatures, there are nowhere as near as many of these guys as there were when I was a lot younger.

It's always good to see them, when one shows up.

This one was in Jardin des Plantes.

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Feel Of The Wind

 I don't know why.

I don't know why this has happened.

I haven't waterskied for at least 35 years.

Hell, I haven't owned a boat for at least 25 years.

But just now that old feeling hit me.

That old feeling was the one that came into my head every time, when for the first time in a given year, the weather having warmed, I came up out of the water on that O'Brien ski and slammed across the wake of the boat for the first time. 

It was a feeling of genuine ecstasy: "I'm flying again; the wind is crashing into my face again; I thought last fall was the last time; but it wasn't' I have come up for yet another season".

Those were the days.

But that was then and now is now.

Now every morning, after I manage to unfold from bed and arise to a posture somewhat like vertical, and after I stand for a moment and tell myself that the back pain will attenuate after a time of semi-vertical posture, I find myself saying, after the wind of the day has begun to fly in my face " I love the feel of the wind; there is no point in giving up, as long as the wind is in my face".

But that's probably hyper optimistic.

Sunday, February 6, 2022

A Simple Proposition To Understand

 It seems to me that once all the bipolar theatrics are stripped away from massive Russian troops being deployed in a pinscher shape around Ukraine, we will see the obvious purpose of that deployment to be manifest: The 30,000 or so in Belarus are about fifty miles from Kiev; the 100,000 or so on the eastern Ukrainian border can come across in minutes and solidify the already accomplished fact of Russian possession of eastern Ukraine and the 20,000 or so on the Crimean peninsula can  circle in from underneath like corn shot up the ass of a Christmas goose.

Looks like annexation complete.

So what will the EU, NATO and the US do about it?


And that is because the only effective counter-move is nuclear war.

And that would not turn out well for anyone, so Ukraine is toast.

Keep tuned for the same action from China on Taiwan.

Anyone who plays bridge will recognize a crafty finesse by Russia to their trump - massive nuclear capability - on the board.  

So what are the American people getting for their 780 BILLION DOLLAR annual defense budget?

Checkmate on the world chess board.

Must be a cheaper way to get nothing.

Maybe we could re-direct several hundred billion yearly to America's people?


Tuesday, February 1, 2022

What Would You Have Seen?

 A while back my wife bought a bottle of prosecco.

Last night we decided to open it.

It was an odd duck of packaging.

It had a real cork - composite, albeit - but it wasn't like a champagne cork.

It had just a small crown of cork extending vertically north of the bottom of the bottle.

It wasn't a graspable knob as one would encounter on a champagne cork.

It was inaccessible with one's hand.

"My fingernails aren't of that consequence or heft" I said to myself; no way that's going to happen".

So much for the architecture of the cork.

It was non-standard in another feature.

It didn't have the champagne cork's metal cage of restrainments.

It had a white lily-livered twine half-heartedly deployed randomly where a clearly structured metal cage would have been on a real bottle of real sparkling wine.

I was immediately suspicious.

I was ready to hit the floor as I unwrapped every flaccid wrap of string, expecting a spontaneous explosion before I could grasp the cork to remove/restrain it.

The string removed, nothing happened; the bottle just sat passively in place on the counter.

I thought of using a corkscrew, but I simultaneously conjured images of being impaled between the eyes by a wine-gas propelled corkscrew.

So we put the bottle in the refrigerator and said "let's go to Blossom where we bought it and ask for their advice".

The next day we did that.

I stayed in the car.

My wife came back with the bottle and pointed to cork end at me and said:

"they say that you should have seen the corkscrew icon burned into the top of the cork".

I looked at the icon and said "I saw that; it's a praying mantis; I thought that must be some kind of logo for the winery; and besides, if you turn it upside down, it is ET".

She wouldn't let me go in and present my case.

And when I did open it, the prosecco was flat - apparently that is the design point of that particular product.