Our wine region prettier than Napa Valley

Come Heller high water …

∫ I spent the last week in Napa Valley, Calif., and I am here to report that they have this thing out there they call “the sun.” It’s this big, orange ball that hangs in the sky where the clouds should be, and it radiates this stuff called “heat.” I asked the locals and they said it’s a common occurrence, if you can believe it. Californians appear to enjoy it. Maybe Michigan should give it a try.

∫ Napa Valley was lovely, of course. But it wasn’t any lovelier than Michigan’s wine region in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties. In fact, I would contend that ours are prettier because of the lakes.

∫ Oddest thing I saw in Napa: a winery with a full-size Italian castle (Castello di Amorosa, in Calistoga), complete with turrets, a drawbridge, a moat and a torture chamber. The owner always wanted to build a castle and own a winery. So, he did. I always think it’s cool when someone actually pursues and reaches a dream. So few of us do.

∫ Every time I fly, I wonder why airlines don’t board the back of the plane first. Wouldn’t that make more sense? I know the first-class people like to board first, but is it any fun for them to wait longer for the plane to take off because of the stupidly inefficient boarding process? Or do they enjoy watching the coach people file glumly back to the no-knee-room zone while they sip on Chardonnay? And is coach the new steerage?

∫ Every year, I wonder what the rest of the world thinks of our Easter Bunny. Do they think, as they should, “What the heck does a giant rabbit have to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and, in any event, why would a rabbit deliver eggs?” It’s no wonder half the world thinks we’re nuts.

∫ I’m not Catholic, but I think the criticism of the money flowing in to restore Notre Dame is unfair. Yes, it’d be nice if people cared that much for their fellow man, too. But places like Notre Dame matter. Giving isn’t a zero-sum game.

∫ I can’t take Time Magazine’s 100 most-influential list seriously when it includes so many actors and sports stars (The Rock? Really? Since when is the ability to flex your pecs “influence”? Jealousy? Perhaps. Why do you ask?). Also, shouldn’t they split it into good and bad influences? I saw more than a few people who are terrible human beings.

∫ Why am I sort of ashamed that I ponied up for HBO so I could watch the conclusion of “Game of Thrones”? I can’t help it. I want to know who wins. My bet is on Arya Stark because she’s tough and smart. My other bet is the White Walkers win. A non-happy ending would be very much in keeping with George R.R. Martin’s style.

∫ Bob Dylan stopped a concert recently and scolded the audience for using cell phones, saying “Take pictures or don’t take pictures, we can either play or we can pose, OK?” I wish more performers would take that stand.

∫ Whenever I watch a Tigers game on TV and they show people sitting inside Comerica Park’s bars, I think, “What are you doing in there? The game’s outside!” Why bother going if you’re going to drink and watch the game inside on TV. I will never understand human beings.

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius