The Whisky Mystery

I arrived home on a snowy, blustery Northern Indiana evening to discover a parcel on my front porch. I love a mystery, and absolutely adore a puzzle. Knowing what was probably inside the large box, I whisked it inside, threw some crap off my dining room table, cut open the cardboard, and dug out what appeared to be a huge, fairly weighty tome. The thing was 14” by 14” and about 4.5” thick. Woof! And emblazoned upon the ‘cover’ was the seal of ‘The Aultmore Distilling Co.’ I took that to be a really good sign.

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Like a Guggenheim Bible…dedicated to BOOZE!

Upon closer inspection, of course, it was obvious that this object was not a real book. I opened the apparently magnetic flap on the cover and saw the mysterious (downright spooky) interior artwork and cover page. And behind that…the real good stuff.

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See, usually I prefer to pee myself AFTER I drink, thank you very much.

There was a neat little mini-book, really not much more than a pamphlet. The cover was sharp, and the paper thick, with that sort of rough, pulpy feel. Good stock. ‘The Mystery of the Buckie Road’ was the title, printed in gold leaf.

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That door either leads to whisky or grandpa’s old killin’ cellar.

Along with that was a fun-looking little cylinder with numbers etched into revolving tumblers. It was sturdy, made out of some sort of brass alloy. I’d read enough Dan Brown to recognize it as a cryptex.

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Or the oldest bike lock ever discovered.

I also found what at first glance seemed like a simple laser pointer. And it was, in part. There were two little buttons. The first activated a standard red laser. Okay. The second one…a single click produced a clear LED mini-flashlight beam. But when I pressed that one a second time, it switched to a dimmer blue glow. Curioser and curioser. I had a hunch why, but that would have to wait, because by now I figured I knew for sure what the real goodies were going to look like. And I wasn’t wrong.

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My cats were substantially less excited about the ghastly blue setting.

Behind the faux-wooden door flap, I discovered a bottle of 12-Year-Old single-malt scotch the color of honey and wheat: The Aultmore. NOW we were getting somewhere. And behind the booklet, a wee snifter-shaped glass (technically, a Glencairn Glass). How convenient!

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Hello, gorgeous…

Full disclosure time. Those that know me well enough are aware that I love a good Scotch Whisky. I get bottles of the stuff for Christmas, and it’s always fun to try a new label. Usually, I prefer the single-malts, but they can be a crapshoot, quite frankly. I know I’m pissing off some scotch purists, but there it is. With bottles as expensive as they tend to be, most folks don’t have the luxury of trying everything on the shelf. That being the case, we all have our favorites. And I have no problem admitting that I’ve always fancied a glass of Dewar’s White Label over some of the fancy, higher-end single-malts.

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Pictured: a ‘glass’ of Dewar’s.

“WAIT!” you cry. “DEWAR’S IS A BLEND!” It certainly is, and a wonderful one. There are other bottles in the same price range, and I’ve tried many…The Famous Grouse and Grant’s standing out alongside dark-horse favorites like Old Smuggler (seriously, not too shabby. You almost forget it can be had from a plastic bottle.) But Dewar’s is on my go-to list every time.

Sorry. Getting distracted thinking about all this booze. I’ll get back to that in the next blog entry. I’ll simply say that I was expecting a sample from the Dewar’s folks…but nothing quite as elaborate as this.

So, this mystery tome. It seemed obvious what my next steps were. The booklet held the key to the cryptex…and the cryptex itself held some additional mystery. It was really fairly exciting, a lot more adventurous than I’d anticipated for a simple whisky tasting.

I read the booklet in its entirety. Didn’t take long. It’s a tale about a mysterious old fisherman/smuggler/bootlegger leading the unnamed protagonist to discover the secrets of the distillery and whatnot. Nicely written, but not really groundbreaking.

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A story I’ll read to my grandchildren one day.

I returned to the front page, and shone my laser-pointer at the page, nearly tearing a hole in space-time. Crap. Forgot. Wrong button. Crimson light blazed through the dining room, boring cleanly through a cat (one down, one to go!) and nearly blinding me as it shone off the white paper. I clicked the other button until the faint blue light bled forth onto the page. And there I saw it.

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‘Saw what? Just looks like a regular ol’ page to me…’

Like some Scooby-Doo cartoon, or even better, some deleted scene from a Harry Potter film, faint, glowing numbers materialized. It was awesome. I figured I’d find something like that, but it was so cool to have my suspicions confirmed.

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‘So what am I looking for, some sort–OH! Oh, that’s pretty bad-ass!’

I swept carefully through the booklet, making sure not to miss any clues. I finished with the necessary digits (all numbers, no letters or symbols.) Nervously, I picked up the heavier-than-expected cryptex, spinning the tumblers into place until I felt (rather than heard) a ‘click’. Carefully I pulled the end cap, extracting a central cylinder which…was actually a USB stick!!

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Crap. Should’ve said ‘SPOILER ALERT!’

Haha! Of course! The whole thing was basically an electronic press kit. I found a video that ran a nice two-and-a-half minutes, descriptions of the varieties of whisky available, the different ages and such, and some information on the distillery and its history. It was all so wonderful.

So, quickly, I’ll tell you this. Dewar’s, knowing of my love for their blended scotch, reached out to me on Twitter. They informed me that they were about to launch a few varieties of single-malt scotch. The neat part? These featured single-malts are essentially the whiskies that get blended to make Dewar’s White Label. And now, for the first time, the greater public would be able to enjoy them one at a time. I was asked if I’d be interested in trying some. “Abso-freakin’-LUTELY” was my paraphrased response.

But the fun manner in which this was all presented, the mystery, the charm, the enigma…that’s good stuff. It’s great marketing, quite frankly, and excellent showmanship. Not sure who handles their promotions and advertising, but they’re a top-notch firm, make no mistake. And reaching out to select Twitter followers? Brilliant use of social media. Much more effective than some stupid YouTube video or “repost this for a chance to win” Facebook contest.

Ah, and as for the scotch itself?

 

To be continued…

 

 

 

21 Hours in Vegas.

As some of you that read this blog know, my “real” job is as a midday jock (Disc Jockey) for 98.9 The Bear in the tropical paradise of Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  So a quick bit of backstory for the tale you’re about to hear:  the radio station had an on-air contest, the grand prize for which was a trip to Las Vegas with yours truly.  The winner would be taking a guest, and so would I.  Since my lovely Sweet Baby could not take the necessary time off, I chose my friend and beer-league goalie Nick Farkas.  Farkas is a seasoned traveler, making trips all over North America in his role as a union representative and adventurer.  The trip was to take place between Saturday, February 1st and Monday, February 3rd.  A quick trip.  Essentially two night in Vegas.  Sounded wonderful.

Saturday, 2/1/14.

12:20pm I text our winner, Eric, to tell him we’re on the way to the Ft. Wayne International Airport.  He responds that he’s actually flying out of Detroit, since it’s closer for him.  I wish him well and tell him we’ll hook up out in Las Vegas.  For some reason, he and his buddy are staying at a different hotel: the Hard Rock Casino.  Farkas and I are at the Embassy Suites.  Hmmm.  Okay, that’s cool.  I didn’t anticipate spending much time in the room anyway.

1:06pm – I receive a call from an unknown 800 number.  The caller leaves a voicemail.  I check it.  Uh-oh…bad news: our flight has been pushed back.  We arrive at the airport, my lovely wife drops us off.  Nick and I go in.  Looks like there’s been a problem with the plane getting here from Atlanta.  Fucking Atlanta.  (This is a bad bit of foreshadowing.)  I inquire as to any other flights to Detroit (for our connection to Vegas) as I’m concerned that we’re really going to be pushing it, time-wise.  Our Detroit-to-Vegas flight leaves at 3:30.  We originally were scheduled to leave Ft. Wayne at 1:45.  As the clock creeps towards 2:30, I know it’s going to be close.  I am told that there are seats on a flight to Atlanta that evening, then to Vegas.  However, another airline employee says that no, that isn’t the case.  I tell the airline guys that we’ll soldier on, and worst-case, we catch a later flight out of Detroit. I call and leave voicemails to my bosses advising them what’s up and promise to keep them posted.

2:20pm – Halfway through security, a TSA guy comes running over saying “WHOA! WHOA!!  I can’t let you fly!”  He explains that the boarding pass that I’ve shown him…and that he has signed off on…is for Sunday the 2nd.  I think that’s got to be mad.  He read it wrong, maybe.  I look at my boarding pass to see that he’s absolutely right.  Somehow the airline has misunderstood or something, and has us flying out of Ft. Wayne the following day.  Fuck.  Farkas and I grab our crap, get out of line, and stumble sock-footed back to the ticketing desk.  One dude says “uhh…I thought you were leaving tomorrow.”  I explain that I’d JUST TOLD HIM that we were trying our luck in Detroit.  His supervisor straightens it out, prints new passes with our original flight times, and away we go.  Again.  Through security.

2:35pm – We sit on the goddam tarmac for an eternity.  Finally, we’re airborne. One last check of the flights out of Detroit shows that the departure has been pushed back to 3:40.  That’s good news, as minutes count.

Despite Nick's goofy mugging, neither of us was pleased.

Despite Nick’s goofy mugging, neither of us was pleased.

3:20pm – The plane  lands in Detroit.  Looking good.  Then we taxi.  3:30pm.  I look up exactly how far our departure gate is.  Holy shit.  Imagine a capital “H” on its side.  Got it? Our plane would be pulling into the lower-most, furthest-to-the-left gate.  Our plane to Vegas was in the upper-most farthest-right end of the “H.”  Fuck and fuck.  Okay.  We’d run.

3:30pm – Farkas and I (along with a couple of guys in Chive gear who are are also heading to Vegas) perform a “Flying-V” to get out of the gate.  Luckily, we’re all carrying our only luggage.  We run.  And run.  There’s a weird sensation that occurs as you sprint down one of those moving sidewalks and then reach the end:  it’s deceleration trauma, as your legs think the ground beneath you is still moving.  Of course, it isn’t.  My knees are already shot, so this jarring experience each time is annoying and painful. It  happens again and again and is unnerving each time.  I look back and see Nick is falling behind.  He stumbles, puts his hands on his knees.  He’s spent.  He’s done, and we’re halfway through the tunnel to the other side of the “H.”

The tunnel between concourses at DTW.  It feels about two miles long.

The tunnel between concourses at DTW. It feels about two miles long.

I ask if he wants me to run ahead.  He nods assent, then bravely tries to pick up the pace again.  I leave him, running as fast as my leopard-skin creepers will carry me.  Up the escalator, taking a hard right, moving sidewalk, floor, moving sidewalk, the gate is ahead, none of my travel companions is nearby.  Not sure what happened to the Chive guys.  Don’t care.  See the gate.  Rush to the desk. Look at the video monitor…

It’s gone.  The door is shut.

A Chive guy runs up behind me, tells me that  I must’ve been “flying” through the terminal., adding that  “I took the tram, and you beat me by thirty seconds.”  He mentions that he’d seen our plane pulling way from the gate literally as I arrived.  Wouldn’t have mattered.  Farkas was still back there somewhere.  Then I see him, and he knows from my face that we’ve failed.

3:45pm – The gate agent is a delightful, helpful lady.  She informs me that there might be a couple of seats on  the 7:55 to Los Angeles; the flight continues to Las Vegas.  I tell Nick that I’m running down to the help desk immediately, in case the seats disappear.  He elects, wisely, to stay there at the gate and rest.

3:50pm – Another long sprint, only to find a sea of humanity at the Delta help center.  I see the Chive guys talking to an agent.  I finally get one of my own, and she steers me to the bank of old-school black wall telephones.  I pick up a handset, talk for a while with the female voice on the other end.  No flights.  None at all, not even on their “partner” airlines.  She mentions that there’s a 6am flight to Atlanta, then to Las Vegas.  We’d be getting in around noon, Vegas time.

Fucking Atlanta.  Fuck.  I ask about where I’m supposed to stay, am given a number to call for a “discounted” hotel.

4:10pm – I grab a couple bags of complimentary Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Chips and two little Aquafinas.  I consider taking the whole damned basket. As I walk back to Nick, my phone rings.  Jeff Davis.  Jeff is an independent promoter.  He works with record labels and brokers deals with radio stations to “promote” artists/bands.  Often, he gets the record labels to pay for things like hotel stays as a way of saying “thanks for the support!”  Indies are the only thing standing between a radio station and payola charges.  They’re the middle-men, the brokers.  They keep things above-board and within FCC and FTC regulations.  Anyway, Jeff asks how things are going.  We chat.  There’s really nothing he can do, and I know it.  He wishes me luck.

4:45pm – We wait outside in the brisk Detroit air for our shuttle to the Days Inn near the airport.  And wait.  And wait.

This.  This was our "sanctuary."

This. This was our “sanctuary.”

5:30pm – The Days Inn.  With the airline “discount” it’s sixty bucks.  The station petty cash will have to pay for it, cutting into our “fun money.”  Whatever.  We check in, throw our bags in the room, head downstairs to the bar for something to eat.  Trish the Dish (nobody calls her that) is our waitress.  She seems amiable in that hard Michigan way.  Starving, Nick and I order a basket of shrimp and some burgers.  We guzzle a couple of Labatt Blues while we wait.  Then we wait some more.  Nick playfully hints that we’re sort of hungry.  Trish points to the order window and says “See how many orders he’s got on his wheel?”

Okay then.  Wonderful.  I love Detroit.  Finally, a couple of beers further along, we see a plate of shrimp in the window.  Our hopes are dashed when a different waitress grabs it and hands it to a guy who JUST SAT DOWN at the bar.  Vegas feels so very far away.  Finally, we eat.  Nick showers.  I text Eric and tell him that we’ll be in tomorrow, good luck, holla if he needs anything. I hit the sack, knowing that we’re going to be up at 4am.  It’s about 8:30pm in Detroit, Michigan

Our room number couldn't have been more perfect.

Our room number couldn’t have been more perfect.

Continue reading “21 Hours in Vegas.”

Fun Facts And Helpful Tips!

Hey, gang!  Ready for some more of Ol’ Uncle Turner’s life hacks and observations?  Good!  Good for you!  (EDITOR’S NOTE: most of my “facts” are completely made-up, and I will not be held responsible for anything that happens as a result of you trying some of my “helpful hints” because I have no sense of control/restraint so I do dumb shit.  Don’t do dumb shit, kids.)

FUN FACT: The original draft of the screenplay for “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” ended with Cameron murdering his father with a tire iron.

HELPFUL HINT: Don’t murder anyone with a tire iron.  Instead, slip a few scorpions into their pillowcase! Scorpions are nature’s li’l ninjas!

We should have shotguns for this kind of deal.

We should have shotguns for this kind of deal.

FUN FACT:  Hitler had three elbows!

HELPFUL HINT: Fuck with Nazis every chance you get.  Seriously, fuck those racist fucks.  Remember that Editor’s Note earlier wherein I advised against doing stuff that I suggest?  Yeah, fuck that.  Let ’em have it.  Piss in their coffee, taze them and leave ’em to drown.  Whatever.  Scum.  All of ’em are scum.

Now you're wondering which one is Ferris and which one is Cameron.

Now you’re wondering which one is Ferris and which one is Cameron.

FUN FACT: Vomiting is necessary!  Every time you spit bile up and out of your esophagus, you’re basically exfoliating your tender inner skin and mucous lining.  It’s nature’s way of replenishing much-needed nutrients!

HELPFUL HINT:  Before you go out drinking, drop a bottle of Mio flavoring into your toilet.  That way, when you or your guests have to puke, you’ll be greeted with the smell and flavor of Tangerine Mango or some other delightful taste sensation!  (Until the barf hits the water, then it’ll quickly turn to Tangerine-Mango-Seven-Layer Burrito.)  When you’ve gotta puke, flush often, kids!

Also?  If your pee looks like this, see a doctor immediately.

Also? If your pee looks like this, see a doctor immediately.

FUN FACT:  Back in 1966, Waylon Jennings lost an arm-wrestling match to noted physicist Stephen Hawking in Cambridge, England.  Jennings was so furious at losing the match, he cursed the brilliant Hawking to a wheelchair for the rest of his days.  The perturbed country-western singer added “And I’ll come over every October 16th and beat on your dead legs with a tire-iron, you limey prick!”  To this day, October 16th is known as “Tire Iron Day” in England and “The Reaping” in Texas.

HELPFUL HINT:  Don’t mess with Texas.

I call this'un "Fuck you, wheelchair-boy!"

I call this’un “Fuck you, wheelchair-boy!”

FUN FACT: Kraft changed the logo for their line of  “Handi-Snacks” because, well…the old logo looked like it said “Hanoi-Snacks” and, well…Vietnam and shit.

HELPFUL HINT: I don’t really have one here.  Just wanted to point out that, yes, I totally made up the reason WHY they changed logos, but damn…look at that, would ya?

I guess consistent  capitalization was too much to hope for.

I guess consistent capitalization was too much to hope for.

And not to be out-done in the vaguely racist/insensitive snack cracker department, Lance named their yellow snack crackers (I can’t make this shit up, folks) Nip-Chee.  Dafuq?

Technically, the ones on the left should be Snook-Chee.

Technically, the ones on the left should be Snook-Chee.

Until next time, kiddies!

T.

So…that happened.

It’s Friday, November 9th.  Last night, apparently, I went on a bit of a Twitter binge.  This usually happens when I watch the NHL playoffs (which may or may not happen next spring.  Don’t get me started) or U.S. Presidential Election-related stuff like debates or election-night coverage (which is thankfully over for another four years) or the Walking Dead.  Another time this phenomenon occurs is when I partake of some manner of booze.  Usually, the booze is simply a catalyst, acting in conjunction with the other events I’ve mentioned.  Sometimes, however…well, the booze just unlocks the crazy, and I take to Twitter to try to infect everyone that follows me.  Here, then, are some highlights from last evening’s Twitsplosion…

Okay, see that Tweet at the bottom? The one about the mayonnaise? Yeah, that’s how it all started. Also, there is a reference in there to me changing my avatar.  The old one looked like the offspring of The Governor and Wil Wheaton.  I changed it to the one you see now.  It’s more…me. you’ll also note some response from @WoMarty. That guy is my boss, BTW.  Good chap.

Some more responses.  Hey, great!  People are paying attention!  TO ME!! I LOVE ATTENTION!!!

The pic that I failed to expand in this screenshot is of me drinking Scotch.  Okay, we get it.  Turner likes Scotch.  Also, this marks the second time in this blog entry I’ve mentioned Wil Wheaton.  I long ago unfollowed Wil because he went on and on about the Big Bang Theory, a show he makes frequent guest-appearances on.  You may recall that I am not what you’d call a “huge fan” of that show.  Since then I’ve begun following him again, in part because he is sometimes the polar opposite of Adam Baldwin.  Adam and I used to get into spirited political discussions.  One night I gave him a royal beating in a debate we were carrying on via Twitter and the sumbitch blocked me. That’s how you know you’ve won the argument.  The other person takes their ball and goes home.

Apparently, when I drunk Tweet two things happen:  I forget how to spell and I start obsessing about body parts.  Okay, good.  Also, @jan31875 followed me, and it made me happy (I don’t know who that is, BTW.)

More interaction: @ajmotia (a lovely young lady whose last name is pronounced “mo-TEE-ya”) makes a joke about my old avatar.  Ha.  Then @RMRacing19 chimes in with concerns for my wife’s safety.  Russ is a lcoal Komet hockey fixture, NASCAR fan, and race care driver.  I will fucking END HIM if he doesn’t watch it.

I have deliberately left the conversation between myself and my old friend @brettyrocks hidden from your sight.  See, Brett is a big ol’ dirty, stinky hippie.  He’s also gay as they get.  I love Brett because he once wore his “100% Negro” shirt to work when Reverend Al Sharpton came to visit when we both worked at the alternative station 99X in New Bern, NC.  Oh, by the way…Brett is also very white. True story.  The suits were nervous about the non-PC shirt and Sharpton’s reaction to it, but to everyone’s surprise the good reverend absolutely loved it and even posed with  Brett for a picture.  Last night, however, Brett was describing sexual acts with gentlemen, and while I am all for guy-on-guy or girl-on-girl (okay, mainly girl-on-girl) action, I’m treating his Tweets as the language of Mordor and will not utter them here.  One more to wrap it up…

The guy named Sneed was a consultant when I worked in NC.  He was the mentor of my sworn enemy, so, yeah.  And that’s my foot.  I think I blacked out after that one.  I Tweeted a few pics last night, and one of them was of me eating my kitty cat, Keyser.  My good friend (and sometime drummer for the rock band Rains) @TheJoeSchultz reminded me that he, in fact, had posted a similar pic long before I did.  Giving credit where credit is due:

And finally, my boy @TikiBoundRay tried to unravel the mystery of the strange Tweets coming from my account…

Quite a detective, that guy.