DC and Back

I promise I haven’t moved to a fortnightly posting frequency. I’ve spent the week at Activate without my personal laptop, so no posting last week. It’s catch-up time again!

  • DC is very warm in September.
  • No, really, sweating heavily after walking from the WMATA station to the hotel.
  • I might be the only person on the Internet that finds HOXPOX boring.
  • I went to Jack Rose and I’ve now had ‘pre-fire’ Heaven Hill bourbon. It’s…alright! Probably not something I would actually spend secondary prices on, but worthwhile to actually try.
  • Conferences are fun, but by 19:00, I really just want to go to my hotel room and hide.
  • YES, FATHER, I WILL BECOME A GOOSE
  • On the quiet, Cincinnati has a varied selection of interesting concert venues. Take the Riverbend for example. An outside arena with a fancy roof and surprisingly few mosquitos for the time of year…
  • Flying to DC at 6am and getting a notice at 4:30am that instead of flying direct as planned, you’ll be flying to Chicago instead is not a fun way to start the week.
  • A thought: is it likely that despite everything, Oasis’s lyrics have aged better than Blur or Pulp’s? Granted, this is mostly because Noel is a member of the ‘make it rhyme and we’re done’ school, but there’s nothing as problematic as ‘I-Spy’, is there?
  • It turns out that I don’t remember a lot of Ronin past the Sean Bean scenes.
  • The electronic version of the Dishoom bookhas arrived and I now have the secret of the fabled bacon naan rolls. Coming to a larger audience this Thanksgiving!
  • 2point4 Children is a series that has been mostly forgotten but has aged better than you think for a mainstream BBC1 comedy series (see also: Waiting For God).
  • For my sins, I’m getting an iPhone 11 Pro. So many cameras.
  • No more planes for…three weeks. Hurrah!

Catchup Cavalcade!

  • One of the great things about flying with me is that, yes, I may have my eyes closed and my hands wrapped around the arm rest like I’m trying to break it off, but I will say afterwards that ‘it was an okay flight’, because even though there were a lot of bumps, at no point did I get out of breath or feel like my heart was going to explode. Hurrah!
  • I’m setting myself up for a fall, but I’m definitely getting better at macarons. And I managed to make ice-cream sandwich versions that didn’t cut your mouth to ribbons, which is more than can be said for some James Beard Award winners…
  • The problem with Trump Tower Chicago is not just that it’s a boring, uninspired lump of glass that confuses height with architectural grandeur, it’s that it blocks off the view of these two absolute units.

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  • The cat did warm up to the family after spending the first day hiding, which was nice. We’ve also discovered that when I leave the house, she spends a good deal of that time wrapped around any of my shoes looking at the door. You’re a bit odd, Helvetica Black.
  • Taking a non-standard charger that supports USB-C and USB-A sounds like a great idea, until you discover that the charger cannot keep up with a large MacBook Pro’s power demands. Bonus points if you discover this after seeing your laptop go from 95% to 15% simply by running a local Kubernetes cluster.
  • I may, finally, finally, be finished with the book. The good copy-editors over at O’Reilly have spent the past week carefully removing every ‘u’ from ‘colour’ and making me cry.
  • It’s more fun on a trip when you have a friend with you! Even if she does, as mentioned, have to put up with your mortal terror in a teeny-tiny plane.
  • Willing the Tory Rebels to go on and bring the house down makes me feel a lot like this:
  • I think there’s probably diminishing returns with The Aviary (especially since they’ve switched out many of their drinks that appear in The Aviary Cookbook), but the L.A.M.B. cocktail (using a Porthole with lemongrass, citrus, Thai chilli and shōchū) turning from clear to spicy red over thirty minutes was a highlight and makes me want to break out my Porthole for some winter experiments. I think if I go back to The Aviary again, I’ll probably visit The Office instead of the main lounge. Of course, I’ve got Jack Rose to visit next week…
  • It’s probably best for everybody that I don’t divulge the psi rating of my back left tyre. I promise I’m planning on getting new tyres this week!
  • I have plans for SHUX sweets! Come find us in Vancouver!
  • Oh, and I might have plantar fasciitis. Which is fun! Such fun!

All The Airports Again

So, when I said I wasn’t travelling for ages? Well, it turns out that I’m going to Chicago and DC in the next two fortnights, so never mind. I will instead always be travelling. I’m even at the airport right now, although that’s to pick up my family rather than heading out.

Other than surprise travel, not a lot to report this week; very quiet except for a cat complaining that she still isn’t getting enough treats and the sound of a robot vacuum cleaner trying to clean the carpets before my family gets here.

Thanos Gets All The Four Roses Recipes

The oddest thing about this weekend was having nothing to do. It may have been the first weekend since…April?, where I wasn’t either writing or not at home. It was rather strange to find myself sitting down at 14:00 and thinking well, what now?. And like any 40-year-old, I went to Target and bought command hooks to re-hang frames. But I held them down for forty seconds instead of thirty, so I’m rebelling in my own way.

I did complete one 2019 milestone this week!

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Yes, that’s all ten Four Roses recipes in barrel-strength Private Selections. The last three were a pain to obtain, I’m telling you. But all complete now and just waiting for Thea to make a return visit to the area for an in-depth taste-test. 2020’s bourbon goal? Try not to drink it all during the upcoming election season for a start, I guess.

Anyway, the house is slowly getting in shape for more inhabitants next weekend. Can’t do too much about the carpet and concrete carnage downstairs at the moment, but it’s presentable at least. Helvetica is looking forward to having The Treat Family visit as well.

I’m now going to go outside to pull up weeds. WEEKEND REBELLION STARTS HERE!

SURPRISE SKUNK!

Top surprise of this week goes out to the Surprise Skunk that apparently hangs outside my house late at night. Not something I’ve normally noticed, but when you walk dogs in the evening, it might show up! Incredibly bushy-tailed, though I’ll confess that we ran inside rather than getting a closer look or a decent photo. The dogs…the dogs ignored it, like they’ve also done with every fox sighting so far. Terrible protectors!

(with Tammy’s family away in Sweden at the moment, I’m looking after her dogs on days when she has to work late or drive around Cincinnati searching for things for Top Secret Project. Helvetica is not amused)

Otherwise, a different but not hugely eventful week, mostly containing fighting classpaths, JWT permissions, finishing off final edits to the book, and generally just being around the house. Nothing too exciting but not bad, either. I do have to start preparing for the family visit, though! Two weeks today and then Helvetica will be stuffed full of cat treats!

I wrote all the above before waking up on Sunday and finding out that there had been another mass shooting while I had slept, this time under an hour away from Cincinnati. And I’m going to be honest: I almost didn’t go to the Pride event a few weeks ago because it was on my mind. Crowds and celebrations make me nervous in this country in a way that they just don’t back home. Especially when it’s a group of people that white supremacists would enjoy shooting up. But apparently the Second Amendment is a straitjacket that must be protected above all costs.

(in the end, my Sunday turned out quite well, with adventures over town and Yorkshire puddings made with Nuvola flour, but it’s a bleak cloud that hangs over everybody every day…)

On The Town

First things first! My book is now up on early access on Safari! Right now you can see my original diagrams before they’re replaced with ones that don’t look like they were drawn by a five-year-old. I’m in the last push on final edits, but it looks like it’ll be on its way to the printers in August.

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Celebrating the book release!

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To celebrate, I had my second visit to the Newberry Bros. Coffee & Prohibition Bar, and, I think the first ever time I’ve gone to a bar by myself. One of those times where a British accent comes in handy; admittedly it was a quiet night, but i got introduced to everybody, had to explain the idiosyncrasies of Yorkshire and Black pudding, and how everybody laughed when I just put my head in my hands when I was asked about Boris. And the selection there is still amazing. I don’t know anywhere else in the area where you can go in an order a pour of 90s-era Wild Turkey. Or anywhere outside of maybe The Office or Jack Rose. All this in a small neighbourhood bar!

With it being in Kentucky, they also have bottles of hard-to-find and rare bourbons for sale. If you get lucky, you can walk out with something that’s almost impossible to obtain. Which is how I ended up with a bottle of O.K.I. that I’ve been trying to find for almost two years now. Apparently their distributor found a case in the back of a warehouse and knew they’d find a home at the bar. Almost everybody at the bar walked out with a bottle.

Anyway, a fun Friday night! I will now return to cursing at Kubernetes and Docker.

PIKACHU! PLEASE DON'T SUE!

A few things.

  • That Smith continues to stand by and support Mewes is wonderful.
  • When the best bit in the trailer is a less-funny swipe from your earlier work, you’ve probably got problems.
  • I stand by my belief that working with the restrictions of broadcast television on Clerks: TAS produced the best material Smith has ever done or will do.

I also have some thoughts on Alan Moore retiring, but they’re mostly ‘at least now we won’t have to suffer a list of references somewhat attached to a fairly mediocre story’ or ‘honest, this HP Lovecraft/hentai crossover is worthy!’ any further. Along with ‘in a post-Savile era, Lost Girls raises more than a few eyebrows’.

And ‘The Invisibles was always better than anything he did anyhow’

Actually, having spent Friday night re-reading Zenith, I think there’s a good case for it being better than Marvelman/Miracleman. Let me count the ways!

  • It actually has a satisfying ending (a typical Morrison one, but it does mostly tie everything together), whereas Miracleman #16 is basically ‘and then we created a Utopia, but maybe things aren’t great’.
  • Zenith feels much more of its time than Miracleman ever does. Not dated, but definitely an 80s title. Grounding Task Force UK / Cloud 9 in with the 60s counterculture makes it feel more grounded in ‘our’ world.
  • One of the villains attempts to fire nuclear missiles whilst clearly being Richard Branson in a Comic Relief t-shirt.
  • Peter St. John! Hippy to IEA-sponsored Tory! And he’s the hero!
  • Phase 3 does LoEG better than LoEG ever does, with Crisis On Infinite IPC/DC Thompson Earths thrown in for good measure. You’ll never cheer so hard for Billy Whizz to go just that little bit faster1
  • While it’s definitely not free from problematic parts (e.g. the pointless Metamaid ‘joke’, even if TNT Tom doesn’t seem too phased by the reveal), there’s nothing as bad as Evelyn Cream in here.

And finally:

MAD MENTAL CRAZY

Does Miracleman have an Acid House robot riding on a dinosaur? Case closed.


  1. I also love the meta-joke here that because it’s Crisis, a speedster has to die. Bravo. [return]

These are not Belgian

This week’s thoughts:

  • It turns out that I do not miss the humidity in the South one bit.
  • People had told me that Chuck’s had gone downhill. I was prepared for the burgers to not be quite as good as I remember, but as the plate was sat in front of me, I discovered the worst: the amazing Belgian fries have become standard fries. They’re not terrible, but really, why are you not just going to Al’s at this point? I left thinking I should have instead just got a chicken biscuit from Beasley’s next door…
  • Apparently 12:30am is the right time to go for a bunch of cheeseburgers after a long night of work bonding via bourbon.
  • I can still be surrounded by the entire staff of a Wendy’s as they listen to me give my order. It’s…quite odd.
  • It was quite odd going back to the Triangle and not leaving the downtown area of Raleigh. I will have to go back later in the year independent of work. But only when it cools down somewhat.
  • Having to actually explain a boardgame convention and what goes on there is quite amusing. “People go to these?”
  • No planes and no long travel for a little while, I think.
  • The cat has not entirely forgiven me for leaving her in the continued presence of dogs.

That's Both Information And An Excuse

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It occurred to me over the past week that I no longer have any real idea how many times I’ve seen Los Campesinos! Well into double-figures at least. This weekend saw the novelty being upped a notch; not just seeing them, but seeing them twice in 24 hours. I didn’t plan it, but when they announced that they were playing at WestFest the day before their Chicago date…well, why not?

Anyway, both concerts were good, with the welcome return of the audience invasion at The Empty Bottle during ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’ (in which we gained the admiration of the band for picking that over ‘You! Me! Dancing!’, thus proving that we’re the hardcore fans…I don’t think anybody called out for ‘Tweexcore’, either), and a good sense of energy for a band that’s currently on a short ‘our performance visas are about to expire, so why not?’ tour.

A big shout-out has to go to the couple who, being such big fans of the band, went so method that they started having a fight during ‘Miserabilia’ and continued through four more of the band’s most troubled relationship songs. That takes dedication.

And there was this weird 40-year-old right at the front of Sunday’s concert. Who was that odd person…oh right. Still, thanks to some quick work by Tammy at the end of the night, I have my first-ever setlist. And Tammy also graciously agreed to to swap places with me when the band started setting up after the support act and we realized that I’d be staring at Kim’s crotch for the entire set otherwise. At around 12 centimetres away from her, that would have been rather awkward.

(Tammy also needs a commendation for being ill all over the weekend but still being eager to go to the venues early to get good spots and staying out until 00:30 on a Sunday night. And I promise we’ll be a little more restrained on both those fronts at the Carly Rae Jepsen concert on Friday!)

Now I have to pack for Raleigh whilst ruminating on the alternate-universe Ian depicted in ‘Straight In At 101’…

And Then Courtney Love Said To Me

It occurs to me that this weekend is the 20th anniversary of my second and final visit to Glastonbury. In 1997, I dealt with Somme-like conditions, in 1999, it was mild heatstroke and a vision of Courtney Love appearing in the sky. We even brought the tent back home the second time around…

My optimism about resolving the basement was dealt something of a blow on Monday when they came back to inspect the cracks in the concrete and instead found fault with a major section of the drainage work. On the bright side, it’ll all be eventually fixed, but it does mean that I’m going to be in turmoil down there for a third of the year. Incredibly first-world concerns, I know, but it’s a touch annoying. If a little drier.

This week? Off to Chicago for Los Campesinos! On two nights, because I’m somewhat obsessed. And then off back to Raleigh for a week. And back again to Cincinnati to see Carly Rae Jepsen. A month of concerts and travel! I will then spend the rest of the month barricading myself inside the house and being a good hermit. It’s important! (though I already have plans in store for 2020. My first ever New Order concert!)