Max Koch Uncorked

Wine-soaked adventures through a twisted life…

Merry Christmas!

Christmas again already??  Holy crap!

Well, there it was.  Another year gone by.  Anyone who’s getting old (including myself) will tell you: Life is SHORT.  Seems like just yesterday I was posting a pic of my two dogs with a MALL SANTA.  

Ah, well.  The good news is, it’s been a busy and productive year.  I haven’t spoken much about it on social media, but I spent most of my time working on a new project I hope to put out into the world in 2019. Just know it involves scares, creeps, shocks, and a LOT of my talented actor friends.

I’m tired.  Hell, I always am this time of year.  But I’m also grateful for my loved ones, my voice-acting gigs, my L.A. Zoo membership (I basically go watch gorillas eat breakfast) and Narcos: Mexico.  Have you seen it yet??  Well, if not, TREAT YOURSELF this holiday season.  I’m going through it for my second time, showing it to the wife.

As for you, I wish you and yours the very best for now, the new year, and beyond. My buddy Joe once asked me what I thought the meaning of life was.  All I could say was, “have as much fun as possible.” Trite, I know, but…it still rings true for me.

So go have FUN, damn it!  Life’s too short, remember? Why are you wasting time reading this blog entry??

WINE PAIRING:  Tomorrow morning, we will be opening presents while drinking the Secco Strawberry and Raspberry Rossini.  Cheers and merriment will no doubt abound…


Update and Quick “Ghost” Story…

My most favorite time of year is just around the bend!

Oh, who’m I kidding, it is DEFINITELY already here.  With the Halloween season comes ghosts, goblins, witches, falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns, horror movies, pumpkin-spice-everything and fortune tellings. Speaking of which!  Check out this fun, spooky, new campaign I got to work on.  


Your favorite snack brand also launched a new pop-up restaurant in Hollywood this week called The Flamin’ Hot Spot.  My wife and I were invited to enjoy all of the amazing foodie goods put together by Chef Roy Choi, who I even got to meet personally.  He was SO cool.  And the place was put together fabulously.  It was like a Chester ART MUSEUM in there…and we kinda never wanted to leave.  




So are you ready for a quick ghost story…?  I posted this on my Facebook last week:

I could barely face the one-year deathiversary of Mickey the pug yesterday but something REALLY strange happened very early Sunday morning.

We have this digital frame in our living room filled with Mick pics and it hadn’t been turned on in a good long while. We keep it atop the little polished, wooden box they sent his ashes it. So I woke up around 3am and came out into the living room for a security check and wouldn’t you know it, the darn thing was ON…flashing the pics. You need a remote to turn it on. Like…it takes a WHILE to get going.

I got really freaked out. This had NEVER happened with the frame. Nic says it was Mick saying hello but the logic part of me couldn’t understand how it happened. So I clicked it off with the remote and sat there in the dark for about an hour.

Listen, it’s not like this sorta thing hasn’t happened to me before. I try so hard to be very open to small miracles. But this one has taken me a few days to process. It’s OK if you think I’m fulla crap. But I just wanted to share.

WINE PAIRING: I forgot to mention, ’tis the season when we start to see more BLACK CATS about…
Happy Almost October!

I’m on Netflix!

Hey, kids, how’s it goin’?!  Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.  I just wanted to let you know that I have a really cool, fun, guest-starring role on the all-new DreamWorks/Netflix animated series, The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants.  The show is Executive Produced by the endlessly-brilliant Peter Hastings and I play a dude named Hank.  You can catch him in the 13th episode, currently streaming now.  I had SO much fun with Hank and I’m simply certain that you will, too.

So click the pic of Hank below and GO!


In other news, I have a new Cheetos commercial running.  I gotta tell ya, I am just blown away by this one. It looks just like a Steven Spielberg movie!  Check it out.

More to come…!

WINE PAIRING:  Listen, I’m no fan of summer, but I do tend to drink a heckuva lot more Rosé this time of year.  So why not peruse the 25 Best Rosé Wines of 2018, courtesy of VinePair.  I’m particularly drawn to the 2017 Fullerton Three Otters Pinot Noir Rosé from Oregon.  I mean, who doesn’t love otters??  Especially the ones I’ve seen in Morro Bay

It’s Almost APRIL Already…??


Do you mean to tell me I’ve been neglecting my poor blog since last December??  ALL apologies, kids.

I guess the good news is, I’ve been a little busy.  Here are just a few quick updates:

  • I can’t express enough how grateful I am that I get to voice everyone’s favorite cheetah.  Here was an awesome music video celebrating the USA Curling team that was posted back in January.  Then there was this fun new app.  And then this cool little spot that was just tweeted out today.  Plus I’m told regular commercials are airing on TV.  Wahoo!
  • My buddy Brett and I wrote a little horror web series-type deal that we’ve already starting shooting.  No idea how long it will take or when it will be finished.  All I know is I’m learning a lot about directing and when we gave out the scripts to the actors we wanted, only ONE of them turned us down!  Oh, I was hardly offended by the decline, it’s just that the actress wasn’t really up for going to such a “scary place” in her head.
  • I’m READING more than ever these days.  I can’t recommend Richard Blade’s memoir World In My Eyes enough.  If you grew up in Southern California in the eighties, you will know EXACTLY who I am talking about.  
  • Barney Fife the chug and Malcolm are doing GREAT.  And while they don’t necessarily see eye to eye on a lotta stuff, at least they find other ways now and again to be brotherly.  We still miss our dear Mickey each and every day but the boys continue to supply us countless laughs and bouts of joy.
  • Nic and I continue to explore new wines and even newer television shows.  I’m telling you, it may sound lazy and counterproductive, but nothing in my life makes me happier than just chilling on the couch, lighting some candles, and disappearing into, say, the ever-stunning The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.  2017 was a surprisingly strong year for cinema, boy, but TV these days really is where it’s at.

More to come, news-wise, but for now I’ll let you get back to what you were doing.  Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!  And don’t forget to “re-envision” yourself with that app I posted above like I just did. You can find it right here.

Cheetos Vision Max

WINE PAIRING: Nic and I are huge fans of The Untitled Action Bronson Show on Viceland and we noticed they always have wine experts on there who serve Action varying orange wines.  And since orange is an appropriate theme for today’s entry, stop at nothing to try out the 2016 Paleokerisio Traditional Semi-sparkling wine.  You’ve never tasted anything quite like it, I assure!  Really delicious and unique.  



The Brrr Months

Well, here we are.  November’s arrived and things are starting to wind down.  I’m pretty grateful for that right now because it has been one HECKUVA year.  In many ways, good: Lots of fun jobs (wish I could rap about the voice-matching gigs I get, but I can’t cuz that’s not fair to the producers), huge spurts of personal growth, a few new friendship bonds…even saw one of my Top 3 Favorite bands (Depeche Mode) live at the Hollywood Bowl (Box seats! Yes, I have to boast about that.  Bucket List item, you see.  It was glorious).  Oh, and I also managed to complete the Inktober initiative, 31 drawings in 31 days over the course of October.  I posted the first 5 here but you can see the other 26 on my Instagram.  

Yet in other ways, the year has been quite TERRIBLE  – The Death of Mickey the Pug firstly comes to mind – along with other disheartening news concerning certain relatives getting older and sicker.  And other deeply-felt losses and changes amongst loved ones.  The good news is, family-wise, we rescued/adopted a NEW little guy whom we’ve named Barney Fife!  He’s a “chug” (half chihuahua/half pug) and I have to say, he has already brought us so much joy.  He’s quite hilarious.  And jittery.  Just like Don Knotts.  He also loves to play fetch and run on the beach.  Look how cute he is here in the pumpkin patch at Jack Creek Farms in Paso Robles, where we just visited…

Pumpkin Fife

I always like to call October through December “the Brrr months” as it usually starts to get chillier, what with late-fall/early winter setting in.  Unfortunately, it’s still pretty mild here in L.A., so, I may have to switch it to the ‘ber months as we are now living in the months that end in “ber.”  No matter the case, the old ber…er…bear in me is starting to nestle in for some much-needed hibernation.  There are projects to complete, receipts to be filed, and catch-up work to be done.

Usually at the end of a year, I like to post a little wrap up of my 365 days here on the blog.  Not sure if I’m gonna do that for 2017 because I think as I get older, I get a little less enthusiastic and a little more weary of the years changing over.  It just seems to all be moving SO fast that I can’t keep up anymore.  Life is hurling by.  One minute your soulmate of a pug drops dead from cancer, the next you’re bringing a new pup into your life, scared as hell and whizzing on wee-wee pads.  It’s exhausting.  I mean, never before have I more admired my friends who are parents to human children.  How?  How do they DO it???

Things also seem to be getting more unpredictable each and every day.  You can’t wake up anymore without receiving “breaking news” alerts on your phone regarding some horrible, senseless tragedy, or some spurt of outrageous controversy blasting out of Washington, like some mythical giant farting.  And don’t get me started on the rapid-fire news of who groped/molested/sexually assaulted who, where and when…it all gets so grim that I just want to grow a weird beard and live in the woods, feeding squirrels for the rest of my days.  But then I remember that – as someone who sincerely enjoys entertaining people – I still have a “job” to do.  I think?

Unpredictability came full-bore yesterday morning when the wife and dogs and I were on the freeway, heading back home from the Central Coast after a little 3-day Halloween/Wedding Anniversary getaway. The trip, while brief, was much-needed, and so while we were sitting in traffic on the 101 freeway at a relative standstill, not exactly elated to be driving back to L.A., I glanced up towards my rear-view mirror and saw a black car hurling towards us from behind.  The driver rammed us pretty hard and I felt a jolt of shock and pain shoot up my back.  Everyone was okay – my car was merely scratched and dented – and the guy who hit us appeared convincingly apologetic.  But it was all just another example of how fleeting it all is and how life can throw you a serious curveball at any damn second.  Car accidents are ESPECIALLY unnerving and inconvenient.  I should know.  I’ve been in about 8 of them.  Including two cars TOTALED. (Okay, one little one back in the 90’s mighta been MY fault.)

So now I deal with insurance companies and chiropractors.  Par for the course, I suppose.  Accidents are always good wake-up calls, anyway.  But I’d always rather be in a studio, working.  Or creating stuff on my own.  Using my pain and angst for comedy, not X-rays!

It’s funny.  I once told a friend, “I think my purpose, my higher calling, is to be the best companion I can be to those I love and care about.”  Yeah, that may be true.  But I’m starting to think that’s not enough. I’m starting to feel like there might be a little more to ol’ Max Koch and what he’s about.  Maybe I can ponder that, too, while I hibernate and open some books and stretch my IT band and finish up Netflix’s Mindhunter and enact a plan for 2018.  Until then…I hope to be going “brrr” through the ‘ber months because I LOVE when, baby, it’s cooollld ooouuutsssiiide. 

WINE PAIRING: The first winery we hit on this last trip up north was Penman Springs Vineyard in Paso Robles.  CANNOT recommend their 2014 Merlot enough.  And Sabine in the tasting room took great care of us.  Not only did we purchase 3 bottles of their stuff, but also brought home a jar of their delicious, homemade WINE JAM.  Yum!

All told, not a bad way to celebrate 18 years of marriage.  Even as we ice our backs from the accident and laugh at how stupid-crazy life is…



Inktober: Days 1 – 5

For the first time since its inception in 2009, I am participating in the Inktober Initiative, created by illustrator Jake Palmer.  31 Drawings, 31 Days.  And let me tell you: I am having a blast!  I’ve never worked with prompt words before to inspire a drawing, so…this is bitchin’ new terrain for me.  It’s gotten me back on a consistent creative schedule – which I have considerably neglected since I’ve been mourning the death of my beloved pug, Mickey – AND, best of all, it has re-ignited a fire inside me to put my ideas to paper, no matter how shitty or strange. And the rules are VERY simple:

Inktober rules:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil under-drawing if you want).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2017

4) Repeat

Note: you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or just do the 5K and post once a week. What ever you decide, just be consistent with it. Inktober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better.

Well, that sounded perfectly reasonable to me.  So off I went.  Here are my first five submissions, with the accompanying prompt words.

Day 1.  Prompt word: Swift.  I went with the late, legendary Hollywood super agent, Irving “Swifty” Lazar.

Swift Day 1-2

Day 2.  Prompt word: Divided.  I’ve never been more worried about the future.


Day 3.  Prompt word: Poison.  The Las Vegas Massacre AND the death of Tom Petty all happened at once.


Day 4.  Prompt word: Underwater.  This one was inspired by the notorious Sourtoe Cocktail.


Day 5.  Prompt word: Long.  In honor of NBC’s hit show Cheers, I call this one “Skelley Long.”



More to come…

WINE PAIRING: I’ve never been to Wine & Canvas, which is more about painting while drinking wine…but if anything makes me happy anymore, it’s bound to be drawing with a glass of wine next to me on my desk.

Rest in Peace, Mickey the Pug

Mickey the Pug passed away last night. It was Sunday, September 10th, at 6:05 PM and I’ll never be the same.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know what a big deal Mick was. Not just to me and my wife and his brother, Malcolm…but to pretty much anyone who saw his picture or read a post about him or held him in their lap or stopped to say hello to him in his stroller.

Oh, and ALL the ladies. ALL of them. They. LOVED him. Especially his Aunt Kari and neighbor, Bekka, who deemed him her “boyfriend.” He had the ‘X’ factor. And, oh, those BIG, BEAUTIFUL BROWNS. So soulful, it was eerie.


We’d had Mickey for almost six years. That’s nothing. But he was such a Velcro Pug to me that you may as well double my time with him to 12 years. He followed me everywhere. He was always by my side.

Mickey was the most loyal friend I’ve ever had. Even my wife would jokingly say, “Jesus, I love you but I don’t think I love you like HE loves you.” It was true, though.

We adopted “The Mick” from Nikki Dogfather, the same wonderful, hilarious British woman who let us take Malcolm off her hands. The price for Mick? Two big bags of dog food to help feed her other rescues. That was it. SOLD.

Malcolm now had a brother. Frick and Frack. We took them everywhere with us. The few times they couldn’t come on a plane, we’d have our friend Sharon look after them. She did a fine job. The brothers slept together, snored together, traveled together, but NEVER ate together. That’s the breed for you. Pugs are VERY possessive of their food. I always had to feed them separately. Cuz THAT’S not a pain in the ass.

This was one of the last pictures I took of Mickey and Malcolm side-by-side. Can you tell which one is which? Many never could. That was always fun. (Mick’s there on the right with the giant tongue…)


Mick came with all kinds of physical problems. This we learned the hard way. For starters, he was pretty much already nearing his “senior dog” status when we took him in. His previous owners – may they ROT in DISCOURSE – never took care of his teeth. So we paid to have 14 extractions right out the gate. Oh, you shoulda seen Mickey on those pain pills. Poor baby. 

Not soon after came the pancreatitis…then the seizures…and finally, this past January…Mickey was diagnosed with Insulinoma. I was shattered. The doctor gave him 6 months.

We spent thousands of dollars on that dog. Worth every red cent. We would call upon our neighbor Erika to administer his Cerenia shots whenever he needed them to stop his terrible nausea bouts because I was so afraid to give them to him myself. But I sucked it up and forced myself to do it eventually, which royally impressed my wife. I also came to cook for him. And care for him morning, noon, and night in ways you can’t even imagine. He was a little god to me. I worshipped him. We worshipped each other. He always gave back. In love and loyalty and humor. Oh, he was the funniest pug. Pugs are known to be quite the little comedians, you know.

Mickey started losing the use of his rear hinds. He could walk. But barely. So I came up with the stroller idea and it made a world of difference. Yeah, there were times when rolling a smiling little black pug around the neighborhood got a little awkward. But I didn’t care. Mickey taught me to not give a shit about what people thought. I’m starting to cry now.

This past weekend was trouble. Mickey wasn’t sleeping and seemed very uncomfortable. I could tell he was further deteriorating. I could sense the end was near. I am in regular contact with his vet, the eternally-amazing Dr. Robert Fullington, so it wasn’t like Mick’s problems weren’t tended to on a regular basis. But he was struggling. And tired. And on a lot of medications. Prednisone by itself can be very rough on a little animal’s system. 

Then all hell broke loose. Early Sunday evening, Mickey started seizing in ways I’d never seen before. He was gasping for air. Foaming. And violently shaking. I immediately rushed him to the ER. I knew this was it. Worst of all, Nichole was not home. She was performing a show at Second City. I had to make the call without her. I did.

When we put down our dearly departed Lily the pug, who Mickey was SO much like, we had the luxury to have a doctor come to our house to do the deed. But last night there was no time. No time at all. The ER it was.


It all happened SO fast. The staff was kind and quick-moving. The ER doctor came in to give the 3 Final Shots of Freedom. She knew his fine work on this godforsaken planet was finished.  I could barely see what was going on through my tears. I looked down. The medical gauze tape they wrapped around his paw was purple. That was Mickey’s color. Purple collar. Purple towel in the stroller. How did they know?


My boy’s heart stopped. And so did mine.

VET TECH: Would you like us to take an imprint of his paw?

ME: Yes. Uh. Please.

VET TECH: Okay, well, Carmen up front should have your bill for you.

ME: Carmen? Right. The bill. Thank you. 

Oh, my God, what just happened? Where was my Mickey? He was just sitting in my lap less than 2 hours ago. Who’s going to love me like he did now? Who’s going to follow me from room to room and NEVER rest until I’m seated so he can crawl into my lap? Where is my beautiful baby boy? My sweet little old man?

I stepped out onto the street in a haze. I looked down. There was a crushed red rose on the sidewalk. 


Then I looked over and saw two random taquitos.


It’s so dumb but I thought maybe Mick was playing a little goodbye prank on me cuz he knows how often I stop to take pictures of weird crap on the street.

When I got home, I waited for the wife to call. Poor Nichole. She took it hard as I knew she would. She didn’t get to say goodbye. But honestly, I am so relieved that she didn’t see Mick go out the way I did. I needed to be strong for her. I was.

Anyway, my Mickey is gone. And now comes the shit sandwich-eating. The devastating mourn sessions. I’m supposed to go out tonight with a bunch of friends to see the new “It” movie. I was gonna bail, but I think I need to go. I’ve been immersed in Mick business for so long, it would be a good palate cleanser.

WINE PAIRING: Mickey was always happy to lie down and chill in a tasting room. So let’s go with the 2012 Fusion from Opolo. The notes declare it has “a wonderfully long finish.” Perfect for Mick has he managed to live two and a half months longer than he had been given.

I love you, Mickey. Forever and always. Thank you for being such a great dog.