Over the Easter break I dropped into Raw Sugar on Somerset, a little cafe with a consistently awesome lineup of bands cycling through their calendar. The band I was there to see were awesome (more about them later), but I was also very happy to discover a new band I really like – Tindervox. Kara Askwith’s dark guitar magic and moody vocals were really exciting, and Justin Black backed her up with fluid accompaniment.
Their set was a stripped down acoustic version of their usually very distorted power-chordy sound, which was good because at the tiny cafe we were sitting pretty much right on top of them. When I got home I looked them up right away, and I really dig their electrified sound too – I almost hope they release an acoustic album soon because their stuff sounds really amazing both ways.
Semi-related story – I met another Jason after the show who’d just purchased an album, and offered him a sharpie from my pocket to get it signed (because I once couldn’t find a pen anywhere at a Yamantaka concert and vowed it would never happen to me again). He looked at me like I was some kind of concert MacGuyver (I also had earplugs, just in case) and told me “You’re the kind of Jason I wish I was!“. I think maybe he was drunk.
New inside joke – the touch screen at the bowling alley wouldn’t let me enter “Dark Prince” as my bowler name, so the Dark Prinf was born, prepared to deliver righteous vengeance in the form of multiple strike combos.
Assuming the mantle of the pin-punisher comes with consequences. If you’re going to be the Dark Prinf of Late Night Glow Bowling, the standard uniform includes one pair of obnoxiously neon bowling shoes. The curse also includes a propensity for singing along to Bon Jovi choruses and a craving for popcorn.
“WoooooOOOOOAH! LIVIN’ ON A PRAYER!”
It’s about time I started reading some of the work by Cory Doctorow, the prolific near-future prognosticator who famously co-started Boing Boing. He’s written a heap of books written about the future just-around-the-corner, and he backs it up with insights gleaned from his deep connections to internet and nerd culture.
Makers moves between connected characters: Suzanne the tech journalist; Perry and Lester, mad inventors squatting in a junkyard in Florida; Landon and Tjan, business-people trying to spin Perry and Lester’s ideas into profitable enterprise. Along the way they struggle with the law, find love, and transform the world economy.
It sounds like it’s written for me, but I didn’t feel much chemistry here. While there were aspects to Makers that I really enjoyed, on the whole I found the book took a lot of effort to pick up – particularly during the second half, which is mired in legal battles that even the characters themselves find boring. There’s some small-world issues that make the story feel a little implausible – this single pair of inventors’ creations keep meeting enormous success, yet they’re universally unrecognized despite being worshipped as the faces of the New Work economy on the most popular blog in the world. Weirdly – although he spells out radical changes in the short term, the more he spins out into the future the more difficulty he seems to have getting away from the present.
Things I liked? Doctorow’s mining a rich vein of influences in his descriptions of the imminent future. Network clustered Tickle-me-elmo swarms. Goth Disneyworld. The radical metabolic Fatkins diet. There’s a lot of gold nuggets strewn throughout the text, but you’ve got to work for them. I particularly dig some of the notions he puts forward about squatter communities, hacking hardware and emergent storytelling. Maybe worth a read – but if you ask me about it I can just summarize all the good bits for you.
I won the coveted “Birthday Girl’s Favourite” award at a foodie birthday party over the weekend by turning the “cute” knob up to 11 – I made two dozen tiny spicy southwest-style quinoa burgers with tiny from-scratch miniature buns, cocktail tomato slices, a smidge of baby arugula and a generous dollop of a zingy garlic guacamole sauce. At home I make these regular burger-sized, but we had a three-bite limit to our contest entry, so I hit it all with the SHRINK-O-MATIC ray.
You can find the original recipe here, although after making them a few times I kindof winged it this time and went pretty far off-recipe. I recommend cooking the quinoa with veggie stock, put a little extra bread-crumb in (to keep the burgers from falling apart), and we change up the spices every time so it stays fresh. This is definitely not one for the bbq, when they go into the pan they’re pretty messy, it takes a while for the paddies to firm up. Good luck!
I feel very flattered that she picked my dish as a winner! It took a ton of work – something like five hours of bun-making and garlic grating.
(Photo credit to Britta! Thanks for thinking to take a picture before we ate them!)
It’s the day after Easter Sunday, so I’m being a responsible adult and eating chocolate cupcakes for breakfast. Many thanks to the Easter Bunny who dropped these off!
I wanted to share a neat observation from my planting this weekend. When I soaked my basil seeds they developed a sticky, gelatinous goop ball around them. The goop is mucilage – you might remember it from your primary school craft project glue. The seed surface is covered in polysaccharides, long sugary molecular hairs that tangle up water molecules and become a sticky mucus (similar to the way long chains of lactose make yogourt firm and polyglycerides make body wash slimy).
Why would a seed want to surround itself in gross plant snot? A lot of desert and Mediterranean plants, like Basil, or Chia, don’t want to be spread far and wide on the landscape – because they grow in really inhospitable areas. Better to stay close to home, where your parent plant originated, because at least you’re guaranteed a shot at growing up in its place. This sticky reluctance to travelling is called Myxodiaspory, or “mucus spreading”.
It also greatly increases the water available to the seed during germination – in areas where water may be scarce, capturing rain water and holding it close gives the seed a chance to survive short-term droughts while it’s getting a foothold into the soil.
There’s a neat paper about basil seeds here!