Friday, October 31, 2008

Yippy Yipoween

Yip, yip, yip,yip... uh huh, uh huh...

Cue drum roll. Here it is, folks. Most. Annoying. Costume. Ever.

Nope, nope, nope, nope... not Mars.

This is perverse.

Possibly the heaviest costume ever, as well...

*Okay - for some clarification. This is a Yip Yip. Here is some footage of them at large. You love it.

London Calling: The Challenges of International Novel Writing

Wow. We live in amazing times, don't we? We sure have managed to create an environment/world where we have too many options to overstimulate our feeble minds. So...

I may be crazy for deciding to go through with this, but NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and I leave for London in week. I had the realization that, "Oh shit! They have different outlets over there!" The last thing I want is to blow up my MacBook. That would really suck. 

Thankfully those brilliant folk over at Apple have this to offer. Now, this also got me thinking about the long flight across the pond. I need to be able to crank out words on that flight without the fear of my battery dying. Extra batteries cost $129, and when you're faced with an exchange rate, you don't really want to spend $200 on computer accessories, $100, sure, but not any more. 

After speaking with a rep from Continental Airlines, who was very helpful -- yay for good customer service -- I decided to purchase this as well. I don't see myself doing a ton of flying, but two 11 hour flights may justify its purchase. 

I am crazy, aren't I? Trying to write a 'novel' in thirty days is hard. Doing so while being in another country for nine of those days, with a full itinerary, is, well, mad. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting Crafty in the AM

Just put the finishing touches on my costume for tomorrow... Yip. It's gonna rule. I'll post some pictures later, after work. 

Allergies have been kicking me in the head all week. I feel a million times better today, despite all the dander that this costume produces... 

Am I being vague enough for those of you who don't know what I'm going as? Good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Gran

My Pops came by work today and brought me some snook that Uncle Fuji brought him. He also brought me a rather dense looking book, The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall. I was having lunch when he came, which was good timing on his part, and he told me that his Mother was in ICU up at the Seton Northwest. 

Grandma is ninety-five, and her health is not what it used to be. This woman is a true matriarch. She is from Columbia, has seven kids, two of which she has outlived, and has been on her own since Tolland Olland died in the late seventies. 

Growing up, we visited her in Houston a few times a year, mainly over the summer and the usual holidays of Thanksgiving, and Christmas. As she got farther along in age, she sold her house in Houston, and bought one next to my Aunt out by Lake Travis. 

After Pops got out of Con College back in '02, he moved in with her, and has been taking care of her over the years. She's always been pretty a hardcore, no-nonsense, tell-you-what-she-thinks kind of gal. She also used to like play people against each other, as in, when so-and-so leaves the room, she tells you something she doesn't like about them, and you better expect the same when you leave the room. 

I do love her dearly. She was the only family member that was there for me after Pops went to the klink. She lived just around the corner, and I used to go over and cook her dinner -- which was always too hot, even if I just used black pepper -- do my laundry, laugh, and watch her 'shows'. I tried to get her to watch Dogma once, which was a bad idea, being that she is a Roman Catholic (Vatican I, even). 

So. Flash forward to today. Most of you readers out there in the blogosphere don't know this, but now you will. I'm not very good with family. My Father is the person who matters most to me in my family, and the only person who I regularly communicate with. I haven't spoken to my Bahamian family in a few years, and I like them. Dad's family... well. I like a few of them, but I abstain from family functions, and politics, because, honestly, they're nasty. I won't go into this now, but let it be known that I do not approve of many of these peoples actions, and they would probably say the same thing about mine. So. Be. It.

Anyway, he was telling me that she was passing lots of blood, and that things didn't look good for her. I wanted to make sure that he was okay with this. He has lost a lot of good people in his day, so I know he is at peace with death, and its reality. She is cool lady, and I would have liked to ask her more questions about some of her thoughts, but I haven't spent much time with her lately. In fact the last time I think I saw her was in December, and she doesn't live far away, but isn't quite mobile. 

For all I know this could just be a bump in the road for her, and she'll out live us all, yet if not, I will celebrate her life, and its impact on mine. I'll remember all the sleep soup she's made, and san cocho. How she would get up really early in the morning at her house in Houston and sit at the table drinking Mocha. Or how she would take long distance phone calls from her sister in New York, speaking passionately in spanish in the chair in the little hallway. I especially will always remember the word carajo, which means several things, like hell, fuck, or dammit. 

She's a trip. Regardless of what's happening in that ICU room -- for the record, I'm not a fan of ICU (or CCU) after seeing my Mom basically live there for months with that damned snorkel thing down her throat -- she will live on in my mind and in my heart. I felt compelled to write about this here. There are no pictures of steaks, or bands, or anything like that, just some thoughts on this situation. 

Death is something I've come to terms with a long time ago. I understand mortality, and the fact that none of us can cheat it. This lesson came from the loss of my own Mother when I was twelve. This understanding has been a cornerstone in shaping my beliefs around life itself. A reason to truly love, and enjoy my life, with all its fleeting insignificance, joy, sorrow, tangible significance, impact, pain, bliss, highs, lows, and in-betweens. 

My Father once told me that, "the secret to life is, there is no secret." I believe this. It's sort of all laid out in front of you like a game of Solitaire. You know all the cards, just not when they'll be revealed. I like that. It gives me strength, strength I want to share with others through loving life, and knowing that we can overcome all adversities thrown our way. Of course, he also told me, "keep your peter in your pants." Which is also good advice in several situations....

Life is beautiful, and so are you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Eco-Friendly Gastro-Tourism in London

Today in the New York Times style section there's an article on some new hot spots in London for Eco-Friendly Gastro-Tourism restaurants.  We are definitely going to Fergus Henderson's St. John while I'm there, but a few of these places seem interesting, and delicious. 

As a peddler of local, organic produce, I'm compelled to visit places that serve up this kind of fare. I find it interesting that in a place like Austin, pretty much only the swanky jernts focus on this kind of fare. Places like Mother's, which in my opinion, could benefit from a menu that offers local seasonal produce, or even a change in menu entirely, don't seem to focus on this.

Asti does. They seem to source some nice local meats and veg. Hudson's, and a variety of finer dining establishments seem to desire to sell the local goodies. This makes me think that maybe that's the market for local food in a restaurant setting. I don't know of any -- and I may be totally wrong here -- places that feature local goods that don't serve upscale food. Not that I have a problem with that. 

Anyway. I'm going to go to at least one of the places featured in that article, and I'll let you know if it's as good as gold and what not.

NaNoWriMo Approacheth

Saturday, the first of November, is creeping up like the ivy that covers the North face of my home.
Time for some really fast and furious typing. NaNoWriMo is gonna be the shit this year.  As I've said before, last year's piece was a bit toooooo personal to want to revisit, this year, this year, dear reader, we're going to the heart of it. Food. Food industry tales. Foodies. Food industry people. Still staying in the vein of Gonzo non-fiction based, slightly embellished realistic fiction. You'll have to get your critical reading on to find where those lines are blurred.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Ba-raise the Vote

For the record, I want you to know, dear reader, that you will not see discussions of politics here at The Life and Times of a Bearded Weirdo. I leave that up to other people, at other blogs

That being said, I will say that Monday after I got off work, I went to Fiesta and cast an early vote. Before doing so, I got to work on braising some lamb and beef using a recipe from the Austin Gastronome. I didn't make my own pasta, for I do not own the proper devices, yet... 

I thought about this all day. What pasta would I use? I love the pappardelle, but I haven't seen it in a store -- not even Mandolas has it -- but thought that a nice braised ragout would go well with a toothy, hollow pasta. I decided to use some chiocciole. This looks like a curled rigatone, with one end pinched. It ended up serving its purpose just fine.

I got to work, prepping up the veg, and meats. I used a nice local Loncito's lamb shoulder steak, and some Niman Ranch sirloin. These two cuts were meant for each other. I love my Dutch Oven, the General of my Cast Iron army, so I jump at the chance to whip it out. 

Silence of the Lamb...

I got everything together, went and pulled the lever, and came home to a house that smelled amazing. I was in the garden when the Butcher showed up. We had a beer, and I kicked him down some veggies for his own dinner. 

A few hours, and glasses of Becker Vineyards Texas Iconoclast Cabernet Sauvignon later, the meat was falling apart, so I started some pasta, cut up some ciabatta, and poured some olive oil. I waited until the pasta was done to sauté my organic king trumpet mushrooms. I tossed it all together, plated it, fancied it up, and ate. 

Inside out Wheatsville T to the rescue...

This is nice. I need a date for one of these dinners. 

Kudos to Mr. Wilson for posting this recipe over at the Gastronome. Braising is one of my favorite techniques, and, well, shit, I like lamb, and beef, have a great source for both at work, so this was a no-brainer. I will be cooking this again over the next few months of the Texas cool-to-cold season. Thank you!

So. Vote so you don't feel like an asshole when someone asks you if you voted, even if you think this system is broken (you can write me in, even though, technically, I'm not legally eligible). Eat good food, hug your neighbor, and love your life. 

Austin Co-op Festival

Nice signage!

Last night, Austin co-opers made their way to the East Side to celebrate the virtues of Co-operation at the French Legation. Some non-co-ops were there, and a few start ups -- Black Star Co-op, and the South Austin Coop. I asked them if  whether they would be getting that hyphen when they incorporated, and quite being a coop. I don't think they got my joke. 

My three favorite Austin bands played this event, and Real Ale was on hand to let the imbibers imbibe. The turn out was great, and the energy on the dance grass was was off the hook. There were a good amount of do-nothing-twenty-somethings, a plethora of should-be-doing-something-thirty-somethings, and a fair amount of families.

Tammy and Nate.

Dad, this is called a corset. That's a lot of piercing.

Annie and Lulan. Lulan is very afraid of me...

Mark and Lulan. Too many Soutters here...

Charlize havin' a pint.

Flip n' Soutter

First up was my new favorite Austin band, Clyde and Clem's Whiskey Business. My friend and former co-worker, Phil 'Flip' Patterson, aka Clem, is in this debaucherous band whose repertoire centers around songs about -- you guessed it... -- whiskey. Oh, and cocaine. Lots of cocaine. They have a heavy shtick in this group. Hillbilly extreme. Cut off sleeveless shirts, trucker hats, hee haw'n and dang ole'n. They do a bi-weekly at the Hole the Wall. You go!

"I've been around fuckin' for the Lord."

"That woman poured my whiskey down the drain... that woman dumped out all my cocaine."

"It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again..."

They played spirited versions of Deep Ellum Blues, Fuckin' for the Lord, The Ballad of Ed Gein, and even a great Jesus was Pissed. There weren't as many kids in attendance at first, and they ran with their nasty lyrics, even as the kiddos filed in. Shit. I grew up in that environment, and I turned out fine!

Next came a longtime favorite band of mine, PONG, featuring my friend, and trusted beer buyer, $hane $helton on keys and vocals. These guys had everyone dancing. I may have accidently cut their power when I went for a piss, but hey, no one's pointing fingers here... 

White hot.


They played a few new tunes, including Suicide Cat, and Dog, both of which are spacey and groove heavy. They played some of my favorites as well, like Secret Meat, Pong, Super Wrong, and the closer Finally. They seemed be having a really great time, and I would say that this was the best PONG show I have seen in about a year.

"Grab your super eight again, feel my future fate again, it's great again, it's great again..."

$hane is mystified.

To close out the festivities, The White Ghost Shivers brought just enough kitsch, and Vaudeville to get everyone's jazz hands thrusting. These guys are great, and just so much fun to see. Dressed in suits, and with the ever present flapper, these cats will get you all nostalgic, reminiscing your past lives spent in speakeasies and flop houses. Oh, and cocaine. They sing lots of songs about the cocaine. Seemed to be a theme? They didn't call'em the roaring twenties for nothing.

Weston is 7'1", the bassist is 5'1".

"Everybody's got those White Ghost Shivers, everybody's got them now!"

It was a great time all round. I got to spend some time with folks that I hadn't seen out in a while, and get my dance on. I love the jazz hands, they're not just for meetings anymore. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

London Calling: Two Weeks to Go

Two weeks from today, I will be on my way to London. Three weeks from today I'll be seeing Leonard Cohen. 

There are words to describe my feelings, but I'll let him tell you.

The Stranger Song - Leonard Cohen

It's true that all the men you knew were dealers
who said they were through with dealing
Every time you gave them shelter
I know that kind of man
It's hard to hold the hand of anyone
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender
who is reaching for the sky just to surrender.

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
you find he did not leave you very much not even laughter
Like any dealer he was watching for the card
that is so high and wild
he'll never need to deal another
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.

And then leaning on your window sill
he'll say one day you caused his will
to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
And then taking from his wallet
an old schedule of trains, he'll say
I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger.

But now another stranger seems
to want you to ignore his dreams
as though they were the burden of some other
O you've seen that man before
his golden arm dispatching cards
but now it's rusted from the elbows to the finger
And he wants to trade the game he plays for shelter
Yes he wants to trade the game he knows for shelter.

Ah you hate to see another tired man
lay down his hand
like he was giving up the holy game of poker
And while he talks his dreams to sleep
you notice there's a highway
that is curling up like smoke above his shoulder
It is curling just like smoke above his shoulder.

You tell him to come in sit down
but something makes you turn around
The door is open you can't close your shelter
You try the handle of the road
It opens do not be afraid
It's you my love, you who are the stranger
It's you my love, you who are the stranger.

Well, I've been waiting, I was sure
we'd meet between the trains we're waiting for
I think it's time to board another
Please understand, I never had a secret chart
to get me to the heart of this
or any other matter
When he talks like this
you don't know what he's after
When he speaks like this,
you don't know what he's after.

Let's meet tomorrow if you choose
upon the shore, beneath the bridge
that they are building on some endless river
Then he leaves the platform
for the sleeping car that's warm
You realize, he's only advertising one more shelter
And it comes to you, he never was a stranger
And you say ok the bridge or someplace later.

And then sweeping up the jokers that he left behind
you find he did not leave you very much not even laughter
Like any dealer he was watching for the card
that is so high and wild
he'll never need to deal another
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger
He was just some Joseph looking for a manger.

And then leaning on your window sill
he'll say one day you caused his will
to weaken with your love and warmth and shelter
And then taking from his wallet
an old schedule of trains, he'll say
I told you when I came I was a stranger
I told you when I came I was a stranger.

I told you when I came I was a stranger.

Musings of the Future Self

I was told once by a co-worker that I would be okay when I'm forty. What she meant was easy enough to understand: my personality would have gelled by then, and I wouldn't be such an ass. 

This, along with another comment he she made to me on my twenty-fifth birthday -- "Everything you used to do that was cute, is going to be creepy now." -- have stuck with me over the years. We aren't really friends anymore, which is a shame, but those thoughts echo in my mind. 

I do wonder, however, what the future holds sometimes. I know that these thoughts are fiction, yet find some merit in pursuing the path of actualizing 'who you want to be'. This person, to me anyways is very fluid. If I'm doing it right, who I want to be now, shouldn't be who I want to be five years from now. I enjoy living a life cognizant that my personal growth is essential, and that stagnation of self is the enemy. 

So. Who do I want to be? Forty is thirteen years from now. In the continuum that is my life -- which could end today -- thirteen years isn't that long. Thirteen years ago I was fourteen. Is this where I thought I'd be at fourteen? No. I was in a bad place thirteen years ago, and the future was wholly uncertain. 

Thirteen years before that, I was one, and had no concept of self. The next thirteen years will be some of the most interesting that our species has ever seen. I am eager to see what happens in the world, and beyond, in that time. 

What I do know, or at least think I know, is that I want to be a positive force in the lives of others. Period. This is a huge challenge, for you, despite your efforts, do not decide how others perceive your actions. 

Hmmn. Life is beautiful, and so are you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Goo Goo for Niman Ranch

About a month ago, Wheatsville began carrying Niman Ranch products in the meat case. So far, we have the beef and the pork, and since we have a great source for local, natural lamb, we probably won't carry their lamb until after the expansion.

Niman Ranch is a high end meat that can be found on some of the most distinguished menus in the country. In Austin, establishments like Hudson's on the Bend, and Trio serve it up proudly.
So, for Joe the Gourmand to be able to go on down to his local Co-op and buy some for a reasonable price, it's pretty decadent.

Niman prides themselves on the treatment of their animals. The cows spend most of their lives on a grass diet, and are grain finished, like most other cattle. This is a widely disputed practice, but the proof is in the flavor for this product. Unlike most grain finished cattle, these spend less of their life on a grain diet and are relatively 'stress free'. So, we could debate the merits of these practices, but for now, I'll just gush over how great this meat is.

The Butcher, my good friend and confidant, let me know that the ribeyes that he has been sent were USDA Prime, and everything else is Choice (still looks like prime). He has been experimenting with some thicker restaurant style cuts, like the Strip Loin Filet. This bad boy is reasonably priced and amazing. See for your self.


Sunday after the ASL Championship, I went home and got to work on my late night steak dinner. I picked out some great veg from my produce department that day, choosing some beautiful little organic white potatoes, a small organic kabocha squash, some organic white beech mushrooms, and some adorable organic collards -- the small, tender, sweet jobs.

I blanched the potatoes and pan roasted them in a manner similar to homefries, sauted the collards and beech mushrooms in some Remember When Dairy butter, and deglazed the pan with some ponzu, and simmered the kabocha in some chicken stock, and mirin. Usually, for the kabocha you'd use dashi, but the dashi I had on hand I made when I broke my fast back in September, and it wasn't up to snuff.

Kabocha ya betch'ya.

I decided to forgo making a sauce for the steak, and instead, I spooned a generous amount of local Pure Luck Del Cielo goat brie on its perfect crust. Arteries be damned. In the end it was a delicious meal, washed down with an organic Sammy Smith ale.

I heart goat brie, and crusty steaks...

It's all pink in the middle.

The New York Times ran a great article on what Bill Niman, the founder of Niman Ranch, is up to these days. Check it out if you like. If you are a meat eater, or better yet, a meat lover, this is possibly some of the best quality product available in the city. Walk, run, bike, bus, or drive over to Wheatsville, and pick some up. Your cardiologist will thank you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Handsome boy.

Cow is a beast, whose exploits have been heralded on the internet for quite some time. He is an insufferable ass, and a ham; proof that animals take after their human companions.

He once put me in the hospital. Fifteen puncture wounds on my hand (scars to prove it). Which swelled up to be the size of a grapefruit. 

He was found in the Wheatsville parking lot by my then co-worker Dexter. Dexter and crew dubbed him Kong/Cow. I stuck with Cow when I adopted him. 

A wee shit.

I took him into my home, shortly after my three year old cat, Piper, ran away after I moved into an apartment. Cow seemed to fill the gap Piper left behind. Piper was a good cat, very large, playful, and vicious. 

Cow is cool now. He has been in three apartments with me over the past twenty eight months. He is an attention whore, and is currently into the in-out-in-out game. He is turning into a mouser and an alley cat (I do have an alley on one side of my garage apartment, which he frequents). 

Hammin'  it up for the cam.

Today I found a mouse head in the yard between the apartment and the front house. I bet it was his doing. He loathes squirrels. He even did that weird sideways running thing towards a pit bull one night. It cracked me up. The guy walking the dog said to his girlfriend, "Did you see that cat?"

Gaurdin' the garden.

He's a cute bastard, but he's still a bastard.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Talkin' Softball: ASL Championship

Sunday night, Krieg Field hosted the Alternative Softball League championships between the Austin Chronicle and Book People (otherwise known as BookWheatsPeopleVille).

It was  a great game, and the crowd was pumped. I think that the Chronicle's fans were a little more toasted, and were therefore, more rowdy and loud. Carmadillo was in attendance, suffering from conflicting loyalties. Being featured on the cover of the Chronicle with the Cola Sisters, was giving the beast a star complex that may have led to Carmadillo's violation of its owners trust, since his wife is a Book People person.

We had two Wheatsvillians representing our clan on the Book People team. Ryan Vanstone, IT Consultant extraordinaire, and Mike Crissey, Perishables buying madman. Beers were had, and people were excited to see their friends play the softball. 

Gus's dad.


Swing, batta,batta...


This thing.


At one point in the game a former member of the Book People staff streaked around the bases, sliding -- what I can, and will, assume to be painfully -- naked into home. It was great. 

That's gonna leave a mark...

In the end, it was a close game, but those champions of liberal local mediocre media took the the plastic DIY trophy, barely clinching the game 11-9. 

Next season we will have a proper WV team: the Sku's.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lettuce Rejoice

Ah. What a beautiful day. The weather was perfect, and I had a nice, full weekend. Free of obligation, I did what I wanted the last two days. I actually slept in on Friday... until like 1:30 pm...

After some bizarre, overwhelming errand running with Marisa, I got some work done out in the garden right around sunset. The lettuce that I'd been meaning to sprout indoors finally got sowed in the ground. 

There was a little outbreak of some Fuligo that wasn't there earlier in the day, but whatever, we're cool now.

I planted five varieties of lettuce: Pirat, Grandpa's Admire, Baby Butterhead, Pablo, and Forellenhof. I also planted some other seeds that needed to be in the ground. Some snow peas, and amish snaps peas, as well as some little round carrots courtesy of Deb. 

My compost pile got another dose of waste, and a new layer of brown. I let my container get too full... Must note that I need to empty it more frequently. I'm still waiting on my landlord to bring me some wood. He is often rather forgetful... 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Boss's Day

I doubt my staff even knows. 

Goin' Phishin'

Two weeks ago, Phish announced that not only would they be getting back together (again!), but that they would be celebrating doing so by playing three nights at one of their favorite venues, the Hampton Coliseum. 

It's a weird looking place, isn't it?

The way ordering Phish tickets works is still a bit of a mystery to me after all these years. Phish is allotted a certain amount of tickets to sell to their fans prior to tickets going on sale to the general public, several thousand tickets. In order to be as fair as possible, they do a lottery system of distribution.

You can enter into the lottery, and reserve up to two tickets per show. In this case, that's two tickets for three shows, a total of six tickets for roughly $350. Yeah. It's expensive to see these guys. 

I got an email from my BFF, Cory, saying that he had struck out completely in the lotto. I was sort of not having the best night, was at the pub having a pint, and piddling around on the interwebs. I checked my Gmail, and sure enough, there was an email from Phish tickets. 

"Congratulations," it read.  I had purchased two tickets to all three nights of the shows. Wow. It made my day, and turned my attitude around. So far, I'm the only person I know that has received any tickets from the lotto, let alone all six. 

So. This couldn't have happened a worse time financially. I'm not talking about the economic crisis, I'm talking about my amazing ability to hemorrhage money. I'm leaving for London in twenty-two days. Have to pay rent, bills, eat, etc. And in the middle of all of this, I'm putting up tree fidy to see some washed up prep school hippies noodle around melodies, for the nth time. 

Well. Despite the tone of resentment that seems to come out when I write about Phish, I'm actually quite excited. So was Cory. Someday this whole 'going to the mountain' approach to seeing good live music will seem pointless, but not today. I mean, I'm flying to London to see Leonard Cohen, and that should say it all. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fungus Among Us

The garden.

More surprises awaited me this morning in the garden. My friend Fuligo has come back, and seems to have made nice with the turnips. We'll see how nice this slime mold really is. What I found to be interesting, was that Fuligo seemed to bring some friends along to this garden party.

Fuligo is back.

All up on my turnips.

WTF are these?

I have no idea what these little red blobs are. Let's hope they're as harmless as the slime mold. My garden is starting to be like a herpes victim, suffering these unsightly, oozing outbreaks. I told it to use protection, but they never listen. 


In addition to the little, red love bumps, there were some tall, nearly translucent mushrooms growing proudly out of the same spot where Fuligo showed up. Why are the conditions so ripe for these guys to suddenly throw their little frat party in my greens  bed?


Radishes are having mixed results. Some are still sprouts, while it's clear that others are making tasty roots. I have more radishes to plant, as well. 

Beet greens.


Also, I never started my lettuce inside, so I'll be directly sowing those seeds in the fallow half of the Southern plot this week. I have like five or six varieties of lettuce to plant. I'll be poking around on the interwebs looking for some names of these shrooms and fungi.

Bananarama '08!

Oh man. Okay. Last Thursday, I interviewed Dan Koeppel, the author of the book, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, for the Breeze. The interview was great. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology it was easy for me to conduct and record an interview via iChat and Garage Band.

I spent most of Friday transcribing the thirty-five minutes of raw audio. This means that I would listen to about fifteen to twenty seconds of the audio at a time while typing, and re-listening for good measure. After about five hours, I was about three quarters of the way finished. I bet my Mac would dictate it to itself, but I haven't figured that out yet. 

I was sitting there, at my dinner table, with headphones on listening to this brilliant interview, when I thought I heard my name being called. I got up and looked around outside, but didn't see anything, so I went back to work. 

Suddenly, at my screen door, was  a dapperly dressed Richard Banana. Coincidence, maybe. Ironic, certainly. Bizarre? Most assuredly. We were going to be playing RISK later that evening with our friend Crissy, but I was so engrossed in the loss of the banana, that I'd spaced on the return of the Banana. 

For some backstory, Richard, Crissy, and I used to have an over two year long game night, every Monday. It was great fun. We had a revolving cast of auxiliary characters, including my old roommate Joseph (who almost always won at RISK, and was prone to loud outburst, as well as thirty minute turns...), Matt Korn, the socialist sweetheart, and a few other folks. 

We mostly played RISK, or RISK 2210 AD (uh, nuking the moon? yes, please). We branched out a few times and played some great games like Zombies, Carcassone, Parcheesi, and The House on Haunted Hill. 

I know, I'm exposing major nerdcore love. However, I'm also earning my Geek street cred. I'm a mean RISK player. Bring it. 

Anyway, there was Richard. Whoa. We played Starship Catan, which was fun, and something I'd like to play again in the future. When we finished, we walked over to Thai Kitchen, where I over ate, before going and purchasing a shiny new edition of RISK. 

RAB and the Starship Catan.

Get some wheat!

I had all the cash.

We went over to Crissy's house, which is right around the corner from my place near Duval and had some beers (and a few shots of Ouzo).  My co-worker Carlos and his fiancee, Katherine, came by, and we raged global domination on a very small, plastic scale. Carlos and Crissy grew up together in Albuquerque, which I had forgotten when I hired Carlos a year or so ago.

All's quiet on the Western Front.

Endgame. Red resigns. Green Dominates. I would have turned in two sets, which would have been fun...

In the end it was a good night. I won. It was a total sleeper game. Lots of build up, then some trap springing. Good times; I won't go into specifics. 

I'll be looking into doing something with the audio of the interview. I will post it here when I figure out how to do that, and may make it into a podcast. Who knows?

Stay tuned. 

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