2015 in a Long Glance

A year of cats, food, and friends both new and old

As promised, my review of 2015, at least in terms of what was documented on my phone. After selecting what I liked from that collection, there’s definitely no room for the stuff I legitimately documented on my camera.

Even without the official camera pictures, I sure did a LOT of stuff this year. I almost feel accomplished with how much fun I had.

Initial impressions, I took a lot of animal pictures. IMG_20150626_005414

Like, a lot of animal pictures.IMG_20150710_103615

There was also a very brief yet intense Alphabears period. Barbecue was very much in evidence, along with the surprisingly popular #farmjokes on instagram. Also I went to a lot of food trucks for lunch, and I really wish I wrote down more of what I thought of them.

I also reconnected with many old friends, and made many new ones. 2015 was a good year, and not without its challenges of course.

Here’s a selection of pictures, 2015 at a glance.

Dinner at night in the park. Spooky.

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Popsons: A Burger review to kick the year off right.

Popsons’ burger is so good it brought me out of blogger hibernation

I actually thought my first blog post of 2016 would be a review of 2015 (soon to come). But after serendipitously stumbling upon Popsons, and trying out one of their amazing burgers, I knew I had to change my plans.

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I mean, just look at how glorious that is. If you read nothing else, know this burger has my seal of approval. Popsons will be in great shape going forward so long as they can keep this quality up. Continue reading

Drinking with Painters: An Preview of Nemo’s Bad Words and Worse Feelings

Tasty beverages and Eccentric Alien Art at F8: December 9th-10th, 1192 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

(Warning, some somewhat adult language and themes below. Primarily swearing and an illustrated penis)

I had originally interviewed Nemo of Unstoppable Creative Forces back in September for an installation at the Skylark, and was greatly impressed by his work there, so when he asked if I would like to have a few drinks with him and preview his latest collection Bad Words and Worse Feelings at F8, I jumped at the chance. Full disclosure, he offered me some drinks for my time, so I may have jumped a bit faster.

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I arrived at F8 before Nemo and hung out for a bit, enjoying the sights and taking the time to look around the club. The bartender was very nice, and gave me a water without any of my prompting when I said I was waiting for Nemo. Once he arrived, I ordered a F8 Paloma, which was quite nice, and we got to talking a bit before diving into the conversation in earnest.

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We talked about his many jobs: a handyman for a building, party organizer, and of course art. In spite of this rigorous schedule he still defends his time to pursue art, working a regular 6-8 hours a day, and adding in 4 hours on art on top of that. As he so elegantly put it, “that’s how I’ll get ahead. Or die.”

I told him I hoped it would be the former.

He went on to describe his bigger goal after that, “I really believe in really pushing myself so right now I’m saving up about $30,000 so I can take a year and a half a year to work on art to work on a strong series I really believe in that takes it to the next level.”

I asked him how this opportunity came about.

“Well because of the events I throw, I’m familiar with a lot of the people who work here. One of the bartenders here actually works for me from time to time, he’s become someone I’m closer to, and this opportunity popped up. There was an opening and they asked me if I wanted to do a show.

I actually had four day’s notice so… yeah, and one of those days was Thanksgiving, so I did the show in three days. It was definitely a push but I really like doing stuff like that. I think there were 31 paintings, done in three days, so it’s not too bad. I’m not too upset with myself. So they gave me an opportunity and I hope that they appreciate it.”

He summed up the collection quite succinctly. “Basically a small collection of affordable and offensive paintings.” $40 a painting to be precise. I remarked that was pretty affordable artwork.

“It’s what I consider the ‘get drunk and buy a painting only slight regret it in the morning and give it to a friend for Christmas and tell them you were thinking about them the whole time’ price level.” It’s hard to argue with that kind of sales pitch.

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There were 30 on the walls when we were speaking, apparently he had 32, but two sold immediately as he was hanging them on the walls to set up, and their happy new owners took them home right away.. There had to be some art on the walls however, so the rest of the paintings will be purchased on a reservation basis instead, with bartenders collecting and tagging ones that customers are interested in. Basically if you want one, the bartenders will take money, and they’ll write your name on the back of the painting and it’s yours. Quite a few had been claimed in this way, but I didn’t catch how many that was in total.

Based on this initial response, Nemo assured me that this series will probably continue.

I mentioned to him the slightly image macro/meme quality I felt when looking at the paintings. Kind of like a picture of a cat or perhaps a skeptical Gene Wilder, but with aliens instead. Sometimes not even the alien’s face.

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He agreed with the impression. “The concept of a meme is LCD, or least common denominator enough, to be understood by everyone at some basic level, and that’s what makes memes funny.  And I think everyone has had these emotions for the most part, I mean, you know (he proceeded to imitate an annoyed and sarcastic person) ‘I’m sure you’re soooo fucking cool’ I mean we’ve all been there. (Nemo took time to point at some of the paintings). All of these have some kind of emotion you can connect to. Or at least something somewhere in the collection.”

I mentioned that I noticed there’s a bit of a negative theme that kind of trends through these paintings.

“Yeah… there’s a lot of exploration of negative emotion or surprise for sure, but I think the goal of the series…. As you can see, they’re very cartoony, they’re very brightly colored, they bring this jovialness to the emotions themselves. So maybe they’re saying ‘Well fuck you Frank!’ but at the same time it’s a fucking bright green alien…. It’s bizarre, it’s just funny at that point. Even the darkest paintings… even though they’re dark, they don’t go too far down that road. It’s really kind of exploring the divine comedy of life.”

I wondered to him how these images came about, in form and in feature. It wasn’t at all what he thought he would go for, but he knew a few things. He said that the style of painting was required, because he could crank out paintings a lot faster than the physically manipulated art he thought of first (or “manual Photoshop” as he called it) and that he wasn’t sure how much wall space was available, hence the small size. Additionally, he didn’t think someone would buy a huge painting at F8 either, so that informed the smaller framing.

As for the theme, apparently family inspired it, but not in the way you might suspect. He described his parents a bit and the gist of it was that it was interesting, and his stepmother had attempted to take him to task for swearing on Facebook. He was slightly understanding of her views, but at the same time he also had this in his head:

“Goddammit, I’m 31 years old mother fucker, I get to say whatever the fuck I want!

“So this was kind of like a cathartic thing for me, just kind of… you know what? All these paintings were about curse words, about being crude,  nothing cut, just like fucking go for the jugular, have fun with it, make it fun for people, but just like…. I don’t really want to restrain myself. And people have really responded well to it, they fucking love it! That’s a direct quote, they fucking love it.”

I have to marvel at how inspiring family can be at times.

He also added “Hi Mom” after this.

I asked if he had any favorites.

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“Well sure, I think, ‘Go fuck yerself’ is one of my all time favorites. There’s something about fluffy clouds, there’s this guy with his hands folded together, in a business meeting the lets pause for a second, and like, go fuck yerself.”

I told him that it seemed “very un-Namaste.”

He replied, “Oh that’s actually the title. Namaste. It’s one of the few that is titled something different than the phrase itself on the painting.”

“Oh shit oh shit oh shit,” was another well loved piece in the collection.

We talked at length a bit more, how he dislikes holidays in general but was very grateful to spend Thanksgiving with friends (“I really thank you guys for having me out there.”) He complained about the materialism of holidays, and we got into a conversation about materialism, minimalism, and how that differed from utilitarianism.

Finally, I asked him if he was looking forward to anything in the new year.

“A lot to look forward to for 2016, I’ll have most of everything saved up for my year long hiatus, and be able to come onto the scene in a big way, and I’ve been trying to do the art thing and the work thing at the same time, but I really know that I do best focusing on one task. I’m very simple minded so it will be nice to build up the resources to focus on the task that I really love. Saving ideas for the last five years for these amazing pieces that I just haven’t had the time to invest in, so it will be good to get them all out, create an amazing body of work that people look at and don’t even understand how I made it. That’s my end goal for the year. It’s going to be a lot of work.”

“Aiming for the hiatus,” I quipped, trying to sum it up neatly. I was foiled.

“Yeah, aiming for the hiatus. Sounds kind of dirty.”

Once he hits his benchmark for savings, he’ll take that year off and try taking over a few cities at a time, starting with San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, and then who knows.

I for one hope he saves that money as planned, because if this collection is anything to go by, he’ll have a lot to show us if he can give art his undivided attention.

And if he makes it big and forgets all about me, well, at least I’ll have this picture.

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Again, the official showing of Nemo’s Bad Words and Worse Feelings is December 9th through 10th at F8, 1192 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

If life (and your bread) are feeling a bit stale, make Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding!

Want a different way to get your pumpkin spice fill? Try this bread pudding recipe.

Tis the season to pumpkin spice just about everything. And you know what? I’m ok with that. I’m not too extreme about it, but I’m definitely more on the side of “pumpkin spice all sorts of things” side compared to that raging “I hate pumpkin spice” movement that seems to surface at the same time.

In case you want to move beyond the Pumpkin Spice Latte options at the coffee shops, I present a more “solid” dessert option, Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding.

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Big Bad Recap 2015: My Time at Big Bad Con!

Cooking for a Cause, Charity, Food Truck reviews, and oh yes GAMING!

What a weekend I just had! I’m still coming down from the high that was Big Bad Con, and it just gets better and better every time I ago. Run by Sean Nittner (possibly more known for his work at Evil Hat Productions) and supported by a host of support staff, it is the event I look forward to most in the year.

First and foremost, while the focus is quite a bit on RPGs and related activities, it is important to note that Big Bad Con gives back. Proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders, there are bins for donating food to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, and Endgame donates 10% of all profits made at the con to Child’s Play.

So if you haven’t been, I recommend you go, and know that not only will you have a great time and meet great people, you will also be giving to great causes.

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Now for what my Friday through Sunday looked like. Actually my Thursday night through Sunday, as Sean had asked me to join the crew filling the Little Red Basket’s for some Kickstarter backers. I was thrilled to participate, due to the good causes mentioned above. My only complaints is my own lack of planning which led to a marathon night of cooking, which started at 10pm on account of an unexpected work emergency. Enough complaining though!

I made maple syrup roasted almonds, seasoned with cayenne pepper, Himalayan pink salt, and smoked paprika. These were a smash hit at the con.

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I also made a heap ton of bread that I slashed a “B” into (for either Big or Bad, depending on your likes).

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And a big batch of Jalapeno hummus, which I didn’t take a picture of due to it being around 5 am when I finished.

I’ll share recipes in the future!

Brian sleep count: 3 hours, and heading to Big Bad Con.

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Cocktail Hour: Steve Beets Adversity – Making the Most of Malört

A Cook and a Geek’s Custom Cocktail, featuring Malört

Steve Beets Adversity

Consider this post a sign of good faith that I’m doing my best to not let this blog lay fallow too long!

Since the posting of my second custom cocktail which was inspired by a Facebook Post of my friend Meagan, the Bacon Van Schmidt, a certain mutual friend of ours has been perhaps a tiny bit jealous and definitely nudging me to make a cocktail after him.

That friend, is Steve.

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Given that Steve is from Chicago and gave me my first taste of Malört (a distilled beverage I believe to be associated with hazing new people in Chicago), I decided the right thing to do was make a cocktail involving that rather challenging liquor. While plying his fiancée for ideas, she suggested that I make the use of beets, since even though she thought beets were icky, Steve might like them. With that, I resolved to make a cocktail involving Malört and make my own beet shrub, and hope for the best.

And I resolved to make it a triumph of beet over evil Malört, so that I could call the cocktail the Steve Beets Adversity. Steve, because Steve. Beets, because beet shrub. And adversity? It’s pretty clear what the adversity was here.

Also because puns.

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The Over Half a Year Gone By Update

Another 6 months, another update. I won’t make any promises, but I did want to share what other things have been going on. I can’t say it has been “everything is nuts” (even though it is) because about half of what’s on my plate has been thrust upon me…. by myself.

I mean, work at the startup is pretty busy, but it isn’t so insane that it’s taking up all my time.

I’ll get the two big projects which I don’t want to let interfere with my food stuff too much, and then we’ll get back to the real update.

I’ve been publishing twice a week for maybe a month now on my Chronicles of Frank Dieselwang blog, a ludicrous, satirical take on the terrible erotica that has really captured the public eye in recent years. I’d kind of like to cash in on that someday.

If you’re into that and a healthy dose of social justice undertones, this might be the blog for you.

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The other project I’ve found myself in is the blogger in residence for Hunny Bunny Burlesque (aka Hunny Bunny & her Hot Toddies). So far I’ve interviewed three burlesque dancers, as well as the Skylark’s bartender. It was pretty awesome being able to geek out over cocktails. And hanging out with gorgeous ladies is pretty nice too.

Yeah, it’s a rough life.

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Hanging Out with Sean Nittner, Founder of Big Bad Con & Project Manager at Evil Hat Productions

Hey fellow cooks and geeks. Time for one more interview, then it will be back to cooking for a stretch.

Last February I had a chat with Sean Nittner over Google Hangouts (yes this is very delayed post). Sean is the Founder of Big Bad Con and a Project Manager at Evil Hat Productions. I’ve been meaning to talk with Sean for some time now, having met him in 2012 at Big Bad Con, and I was struck by his confidence in running a convention, and his ease at joining into conversations and relating with new people.

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Sean being embarrassed by an unexpected question!

 

For the interview, we spent a lot of time talking about an array of issues, but basically the four things we focused on were:

  • Conventions
  • Gaming
  • Food
  • Evil Hat

Not so coincidentally, the videos have been separated into four parts that match up pretty neatly on those lines.

Part 1: Introduction and Gaming Conventions

Highlight quote:

Brian: So When people hear the name Sean Nittner, What do you want them to think?

Sean: That is a very big vague question I’ve been looking at that and thinking about that and… my first thought was gaming evangelist but I realize that evangelist isn’t really the right word because I’m not reaching out to non gamers, at least not exclusively. [I’m not looking]to bring people into the fold, but what I want to do is make games accessible to other people.

I want more people playing more different games, and trying out new things. So I think gaming advocate is probably the best word, I don’t know if it completely captures it.

Whether … it is from writing an actual play report to recap our game and show people examples of play or whether its putting on conventions or working with Evil Hat, they all set around the idea.

…When I sit in a room of people all playing a game and having a good time, that’s like the best time of my life, that’s when I’m my happiest, I feel like I’ve reached Nirvana then, is when I’m sitting around and all of these people having a great time playing games together, and that’s great, and I want to make that happen as much as I can whether it’s through my personal interactions just gaming with people or by producing content, or putting on a con. or doing things online. Just whatever I can do to foster that in general.

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Geekonomic Stimulus: Kitsune Hoodie by Jamie Noguchi

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Model: Zehra Fazal / Photographer: Johnny Shryock

For your consideration, you should back this awesome Kitsune Hoodie on Kickstarter, which is currently a bit over $5,500 of its $6,500 goal. There’s a week left as of this writing, and it’s very much a deserving project!

One of favorite webcomics is Yellow Peril, and described by the author as “an office romance comic that follows the humorous exploits of Kane, Bodie and Julie as they struggle on the path for creative and financial freedom.”

That author is Jamie Noguchi, is a Japanese/Chinese-American artist. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him once before, and we had a great talk about what it means to be Asian-American, the state of Western Media, and just really had a great free ranging conversation.

After having delivering on two previous Kickstarters, Jamie has turned towards the world of clothing. I was glad that I could get him to take a quick break to answer some questions about this new undertaking.

Brian: How long have you wanted to make a hoodie? How does one find a hoodie making company?

Jamie: I’ve wanted to do hoodies and just other types of apparel besides the typical screen printed shirt ever since I started making shirts with my art. But regular t-shirts are still the most economical apparel/canvas to work with so I hadn’t really done much research into it until now.
There are actually quite a few places that do hoodies. Any screen printing shop or print-on-demand service will have hoodie options. But for full sublimated printing, you have to go looking a bit harder. I actually found the company I’m working with on Alibaba so they’re in China.
Brian: I know you’ve already have a shirt with the Kitsune, and now you’re working on the hoodie, why a Kitsune exactly?
Jamie: There’s something about the trickster spirit that really appeals to me. Their sinister playfulness entraps you. You know it’s a bad idea, but you just can’t help falling into a kitsune scheme.
From a visual standpoint, using large swaths of red contrasted with a stark white make designing kitsune hard to ignore. They visually draw you in and you kind of get lost.
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Brian: Is the world of clothing very different from the previous kickstarters you’ve gone through?
Jamie: The apparel space is completely different from what I’m used to. I know how to sell comics and I have a fanbase to draw from. But I’m not really known for clothing so it’s a whole new market. I think professional photography is an absolute must for fashion which is completely different than comics.
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Model: Zehra Fazal / Photographer: Johnny Shryock

Brian: If this goes through well, do you have any future plans for clothing focused kickstarters?
Jamie: I do have ideas for other hoodies or sublimated designs that I’d like to try, but I’ll have to take stock and see what might work. Since I’m not just printing funny phrases or mashups, there are many more unknowns to tackle. I’d like to do more in this space, I just have to do more research.
Brian: Last question here, any big projects or plans on the horizon that you want to boost the signal for?
Jamie: Not right now. Book 3 is in the works for later this year.
Brian: Well, you’ve certainly got a lot on your plate. Hope you get this Kickstarter banged out as successfully as the other two!
Jamie: Thanks!!
(end of interview)
And if it wasn’t clear already, in full disclosure I’m a backer.
Other links you may like:

Out on the Town: Marié Digby @ Brick & Mortar Music Hall

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Last Thursday night, I made a point to go to Marié Digby’s show at Brick & Mortar Music Hall. I’ve been a huge fan of Marié’s work since her cover of Umbrella brought her to public attention. I actually stumbled upon it accidentally when I was trying to find the Mandy Moore cover of Umbrella, and I just fell in love with Marié’s take on it. So I was incredibly excited to see she was coming to San Francisco, since she doesn’t tour up this way that much.

She had two opening acts that night, Kate Lamont and Peter Chung, and it would be my first time hearing them perform.

 

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