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Essay On Crossbow



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The magazine was in distress. You might find only a dozen pages of advertising in an issue, and most of them were pitching hair-replacement schemes and promises to resurrect lost sex drive. The new editor called upon a group of writers whom he'd assembled over the years to join him. He was on a mission to resurrect a great American magazine, and he wanted good ideas. One of mine was to become the Perfect Man. The concept was to identify the subjects every man should know, and then have experts in each field show me how to master them.

I was certainly up for the task. The only reason I call myself the Perfect Man, I used to joke, is that I have so many flaws to correct. The idea turned into a monthly column, and what a blast it was. The legendary Jack LaLanne showed me how to get in shape and eat right. I learned how to project my voice from boxing announcer Michael Buffer; how to smoke ribs at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue; how to walk with grace from a Victoria's Secret model; how to prolong my orgasms from specialists in tantric sex.

My wife is eternally grateful. The last area I poked my nose into was wine. Wine makes a lot of men uncomfortable. It's not as if sweat would bubble above my upper lip every time a waiter handed me a wine list. But I always felt uncertain and small in those moments, especially if I was taking out a woman or hosting a group. It was much easier to crack open a beer and mock snooty wine drinkers for their full-bodied aromatic claptrap than it was to admit I didn't have a clue.

But in wine, you pay for your ignorance. A haughty waiter can roll his eyes and make you feel smaller than a raisin. A fast-talking one can chump you into ordering a bottle that will launch the check into the stratosphere. Anyway, the editor generously sent me off to wine school to finalize my education in self-improvement. In return, I agreed to showcase what I learned by becoming the guy who recommends wine to diners at an upscale restaurant.

The sommelier. Then I'd write a story that would show how, with a little effort, any man could feel comfortable around wine. The Windows on the World Wine School, the best in the city, was down the corridor from the famous restaurant by that name, at the top of the World Trade Center. The elevator took fifty-eight seconds to reach the th floor, and you could always tell who was taking the ride for the first time. Halfway up, everybody's stomach did the same sudden somersault, and the rookies would grasp in panic for support The classroom was a ballroom filled with tables topped with columns of empty wineglasses.

Everyone who entered wandered first to the long stretch of floor-to-ceiling windows. Just thinking about the acrobat who once walked a three-quarter-inch steel cable between the tops of the Twin Towers made you wonder what wasn't possible. You had to hand it to the architect who envisioned that millions of people would travel millions of miles to dine some 1, feet above sea level. For a time, no restaurant in the United States took in more money, and no restaurant on the planet sold more wine. The guy who ran the wine school was, and still is, sort of a cross between a stand-up comic and Monty Hall from Let's Make a Deal. His name is Kevin Zraly. I could never describe all that Zraly passed on during this eight-week course in Time and a storm has eroded most of the memories.

But a writer who prided himself on never keeping a diary once told me that "the good shit sticks. So here's a story that gets to Zraly's core: As a young man, Kevin was interviewed by the legendary restaurateur Joe Baum for the position of cellar master at Windows. Baum's first question was "So, Kevin, what can you tell me about wine? Now, that may appear to be a casual way to start an interview, but it's a terrifying question for an applicant who's depending on the answer to get a job. The question's too big. What possible answer is there?

He knew how to shrink the complex to the simple—a good quality to have if you're going to introduce people to wine. For example, he'd point to the three major varieties of white wine—Riesling, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay—and ask you to visualize them as skim milk, whole milk, and cream. Before you'd even tasted the wines, you had an idea of where they stood from light to heavy. Then he did the same for reds. Pinot noir: skim milk.

Merlot: whole milk. Cabernet sauvignon: cream. With that information alone, you could go into a restaurant, order a thick sirloin, and know that it was wiser to muscle up to the steak with a hearty cabernet than a willowy Riesling. Classes passed quickly, and the wines that Zraly exposed us to began to work their magic. They encouraged us to go out and seek, to lose ourselves in a world that no one person could ever fully explore. The first day I got lost was a memorable one.

April 20, When people who loved wine heard that I was attempting to become a sommelier, they immediately took me in as a long-lost brother. I had been invited to a wine-tasting lunch at the great restaurant Daniel, where eleven wines from Chateau Lagrange, in the French region of Bordeaux, were to be poured. One of the first things you need to know in order to function at a tasting is how to roll the wine around your mouth, spit it into a bucket, and define the flavors left behind. This allows you to discern the different styles and tastes without getting drunk. Unfortunately, novice that I was, I hadn't quite figured out how to spit and taste by the time of that lunch. So I drank all eleven glasses.

Then, in a warm fog, I walked downtown to class at Windows on the World, where another dozen wines were poured, then drifted off to dinner with a winemaker, during which several more bottles were opened. It was like the best day of school you could imagine, when you also discover you have an enormous family that you never knew about. The Brotherhood of the Grape, someone called it.

I learned, I laughed, I embraced. It was one of those days that end with you peeling off your clothes, lying down, and drifting off to sleep happy to be alive. And I did just that, completely oblivious to the fact that early that same day, twelve students and a teacher were gunned down at Columbine High School. There's only one way to know which bottle of wine to order at a restaurant or buy for a friend: taste it. Problem is, how do you taste them all? Something like sixty-five hundred French wines alone can be purchased in the United States. Wine is produced in all fifty states. Where would you start? There are good answers to this question. I was most impressed with the shortest: Vinexpo.

Every other year in Bordeaux, winemakers from around the world pour their juice for more than fifty thousand buyers to sample. By brazenly promising to taste nearly every wine on the planet over a few short days, I wrangled some expense money from the editor and jetted off. My bravado evaporated the moment I stepped into the convention center and felt the bottom of my jaw dangling beneath my balls. I faced a hall that was—no exaggeration—a mile long and two football fields wide. I'm usually the type of guy who never says no unless you ask me if I've had enough. But this I tasted, spit, and scribbled in a notepad as if I were one of the chosen few, the Jedi who could taste a wine blindfolded and tell you everything about it.

But it wasn't long before I was lost in the maze. My first day would've ended without a memory of a single wine if I hadn't stumbled upon a man named Anthony Dias Blue. The pourers treated him as if he were a celebrity, because when Blue highlights a wine in the press, that label is elevated above tens of thousands of competitors. As I followed him around, I noticed that when certain pourers saw Blue, they reached under the table and pulled out bottles the rest of us weren't getting.

I glued myself to his side and the pourers had no choice but to show good etiquette and fill my glass beside his. But for me, this wine was bigger than that. La Turque opened my ears. It made me hear music. As I drank, Edith Piaf was singing "No Regrets" right out of that glass, and believe me, she was in her prime. That might sound a little loopy. But people have found crazier ways to describe the taste of wine. I've heard praise for the "barnyard odors" in a glass of burgundy. A sommelier once asked me if I had picked up "brussels sprouts" in the bouquet of a red wine from Chile. And a wine magazine editor once assured me that there was "a hint of Tasmanian black pepper" my italics in a glass of Shiraz.

I could never get excited talking up brussels sprouts, and describing wine with adjectives like metallic , nutty , tart , floral , and woody just wasn't me. So I began to correlate wine with music, and to this day the melodies have stayed with me. As the months passed, I scribbled comparisons between wines and songs on scraps of paper constantly. I tossed these notes in a box along with pictures of some of the many wineries I visited when the opportunities arose and I could coax more expense money out of the editor. I once observed a woman in a supermarket checkout line buying a couple of bottles of mass-market California merlot and asked her if, by chance, she happened to like the music of Barry Manilow.

I once brought my wine-to-music theory to the home of Monte Lipman, chairman of Universal Republic Records, and it wasn't long before everyone was discovering Joe Jackson's voice in a glass of fine California chardonnay. Edith Piaf was singing "No Regrets" right out of that glass, and believe me, she was in her prime. The beauty of learning wine by music is that you're never ignorant. You have an opinion that's as good as anyone else's. If a sommelier brings you a wine list and you have no idea what to order, you can always say, "We'd like a bottle of Louie Armstrong singing 'What a Wonderful World. He's right on track if he brings you a bottle of Lalou Bize-Leroy burgundy.

Stick to the music and you'll never get bogged down in a conversation with some wine geek that includes the phrase malolactic fermentation. But there is some technique involved in tasting. You can help your ears tune in to the music by getting the most out of your nose and tongue. What you want to do is pick up your wineglass by the stem not the bowl and swirl. The air will turn up the volume on the aroma. There are chemical reasons for this, but maybe it's easier to understand by imagining yourself on a hot, listless day. In the distance there's a guy barbecuing, but he's too far away for you to see or smell a thing. If, however, a strong wind were to blow in your direction, your nostrils might twitch at the airborne molecules of 'cue.

So stick your nose in that glass and inhale. But equally crucial are the taste buds aligning the insides of your mouth. Don't gulp the juice straight down—the flavors will zoom by. Let the wine coat the inside of your mouth before you swallow, and you'll soon be tuned in to the music. Whether you like a certain song is up to you. But if the bass in a song were so overpowering that it ran roughshod over the melody or the lyrics, everybody would know something was wrong. It's no different with wine. The winemaker is like a record producer looking for harmony and balance in flavor.

The acidity in a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc should not squash the fruit. Nor should the tannins that come off red grape skins, the ones that bring a dry sensation to your palate, block out the fruit in a cabernet sauvignon. There are critics who score wines numerically, as if each bottle were a math test. But just as a song becomes magical when it coincides with a moment that has meaning in your life, a wine doesn't need ninety-seven points to be fantastic. When she accepted and they embraced, there was applause all around.

That's what made the place special. This was a restaurant that got a thousand calls for reservations each day, had twenty-five hundred chairs and seventy cooks. Seven hundred pounds of shrimp were served each week, and three thousand forks were washed each day. And yet, despite the restaurant's size and the enormous volume of food that left the kitchen, the staff made every diner feel like the experience was not only intimate but uniquely his or her own. The woman who accepted the proposal that night glowed like a queen. It would be my job to help maintain that glow.

I had the good fortune to be assigned to one of the Jedi. Windows on the World's Andrea Immer had won a highly competitive contest in to be crowned the best sommelier in America. She was five feet two inches of pixie and pure grace, and the confidence she had on the floor reminded you of the way a great athlete owns a field. You got the sense that diners returned just to see her. When she asked if I'd brought along a waiter's corkscrew, I produced a sleek one that had been given to me as a gift and had the look of a new Jaguar driving out of the showroom.

There are many skills that a great sommelier must master. But to me, the most important is the ability to remove the fear from diners who know little or nothing about wine. People have good reason to be nervous. Maybe it's the link to royalty in the past, but wine has a way of bringing out that I'm better than you quality in people you wouldn't want to have a drink with. But mostly it's the prices that keep people on edge. It may be strange to say this now, but when it came to wine, Windows was the safest place in the world to be. You'd never be made to feel uncomfortable if you didn't pronounce a wine correctly.

You'd never be recommended a wine just because it wasn't selling and the manager wanted it out the door. You'd never be chumped into buying a pricey one to jack up the bill. Andrea had the ability to magically intuit how much you'd feel comfortable spending and then find a way to match your food with the best wine your money could buy. Her goal, it seemed, was to prove you could love wine as much as she did. As I followed Andrea around the floor, I was amazed at how her passion merged with precision. There was a certain way the wine bottle was to be carried from the cellar, the bottom grasped in the hand, the body cradled like a football inside the forearm.

There was a correct way to introduce a wine by holding the label in front of the taster and reciting its name, region, country, and vintage. A correct way to open a bottle with the waiter's corkscrew, circumnavigating the knife blade around the lower lip and then using the blade to peel the foil off over the top of the cork. Chardonnay had to be poured to exactly the fattest part of the glass, allowing room for the drinker to swirl without spilling.

It would take me pages to describe all the rules and procedures, but they contributed to something special, because diners were at the same time made to relax and feel like royalty. Andrea made it all look so easy that when she asked me if I'd like to try serving a table myself, I accepted—without bothering to tell her that I had never removed a cork with a waiter's corkscrew. My first table was a group of guys who were ordering steaks and laughing so loudly that it didn't seem possible to screw up. I circled the corkscrew's blade around the foil covering the lip, but when I went to strip the foil over the top of the cork, I fumbled and the sharp new blade sliced into my thumb and sent blood spurting. It was beyond embarrassing.

I stared in the mirror, shook my head, and tried to smile. An acrobat had once lain down on his back on a steel cable between the Twin Towers a quarter of a mile above the sidewalk. The Perfect Man couldn't even open a bottle of wine at the same height without bloodying himself. There was never a day that I entered the World Trade Center when I didn't think about Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between the towers. Even now, after watching snippets of it hundreds of times on YouTube, it still gives me thrills. The walk was not sanctioned, and there was no safety net. Petit spent six years in secretive planning, observing the towers as they came up and posing as a construction worker and a journalist to take measurements and check out the wind currents.

Early on the morning of August 7, , he and his posse hid in the World Trade Center and used a crossbow to first shoot fishing line across the gap between the towers, then pull successively thicker lengths of rope across that could support the cable. At a. The sonavabitch didn't just walk. He danced. At times, both of his feet bounded off the cable. Thus, when the call-chain reaches object , all arguments have been eaten, and object. So your code should look like this:. Stack Overflow for Teams — Collaborate and share knowledge with a private group. Create a free Team What is Teams? Collectives on Stack Overflow. Learn more. Asked 9 years, 8 months ago. Active 9 years, 8 months ago. Viewed k times. So what is the correct way to deal with this problem?

Improve this question. My preferred way is: Flat and simple inheritance hierarchies. This changed in Python 2. Wilfred: Hey, Thanks for answering the actual question! Now I know why the essay is out of date! Add a comment. Active Oldest Votes. Improve this answer. Shouldn't Base call super Base, self. For this to work, Base must come at the end of the MRO except for object. Calling object. In fact, I think it may be clearer not to include super Base, self. I don't like this method, I need to know the MRO in advance in order to use it.

The other method where I write a "root class" that inherits from object seems much cleaner. This method is useful if the functions called do not share argument-names.

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