The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century Joey deVilla's Personal Blog Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:40:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Family photos don’t get much more awkward than this… Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:19:47 +0000

star wars awkward family photo

Found via Imgur. Click to see the source.

And geez, Luke’s doing a killer impression of Emperor Sheev Palaptine “O-face”…

force lightning family photo

Found via Imgur. Click to see the source.

There. Much better.

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What gay people are REALLY doing to Christian family values Fri, 10 Apr 2015 22:15:03 +0000

gay family values

Editorial cartoon by Andy Marlette. Click to see the source.

Andy Marlette drew the editorial cartoon above in response to a proposed bill that would let privately-owned adoption agencies dodge being considered as discriminating against clients if doing so would “violate [the agencies’] written religious or moral convictions or policies,” the bill reads. Alas, the bill passed yesterday.

The worst part about the bill passing wasn’t that it passed, but this moment when Republican Committee Chair and unmitigated asshole Charles McBurney laughingly cut off 10-year-old Nathaniel Gill’s testimony at a House Judiciary Committee meeting on the issue. Nathaniel is the son of the gay man who successfully toppled Florida’s adoption ban in the courts, and the bill is seen as “revenge” for that. As committee chair, McBurney could’ve given the nervous boy a little more time to complete his testimony, but in true neo-Pharisee fashion, cut him off and snickered as he did so:

It’s as if they’re trying to prove this maxim true:

Conservatism is the dread fear that somewhere, somehow, someone you think is your inferior is being treated as your equal.

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Go home, whoever names the places in Wales. You’re drunk. Fri, 10 Apr 2015 14:31:00 +0000

wales place name

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Found via The Lad Bible.

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A tale of two arrests Fri, 10 Apr 2015 02:15:12 +0000

I think Tom Adelsbach’s onto something here…

2 arrests

Click the image to see the tweet it came from.

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Business Insider’s US middle class income charts, done better Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:35:03 +0000

How much do you need to make to be middle class in each US state?

Photo: An older neighborhood in Sanford, Florida

An older neighborhood scene in Sanford, Florida. Creative Commons photo by Steven Martin. Click to see the source.

business insider middle class US state tableLast week, Business Insider published an article titled How much you have to earn to be considered middle class in every US state. The meat of the article was contained in the chart pictured on the right (you can click on it to see the original article and the chart at full size).

The problem with the chart is that it’s a graphic. All you can do is read it. You can’t copy-and-paste them so that you can do your own math or check Business Insider’s math; if you want to work with the numbers, you have to a fair bit of typing.

I thought I’d fix that. I opened up a new spreadsheet at typed in the states and corresponding median household incomes listed on Business Insider’s chart, and had the spreadsheet do the rest of the math. Better still, I saved the spreadsheet as a .CSV file so you can import them into your favorite number-crunching tool and have at them.

Table 1: What your household needs to earn to be middle class in each U.S. state

State Median annual household income Median monthly household income Middle class lower bound (two-thirds of median) Middle class upper bound (twice median)
Maryland $ 72,483 $ 6,040 $ 48,564 $ 144,966
Alaska $ 72,237 $ 6,020 $ 48,399 $ 144,474
New Jersey $ 70,165 $ 5,847 $ 47,011 $ 140,330
Hawaii $ 68,020 $ 5,668 $ 45,573 $ 136,040
D.C. $ 67,572 $ 5,631 $ 45,273 $ 135,144
Connecticut $ 67,098 $ 5,592 $ 44,956 $ 134,196
Massachusetts $ 66,768 $ 5,564 $ 44,735 $ 133,536
New Hampshire $ 64,230 $ 5,353 $ 43,034 $ 128,460
Virginia $ 62,666 $ 5,222 $ 41,986 $ 125,332
Minnesota $ 60,702 $ 5,059 $ 40,670 $ 121,404
California $ 60,190 $ 5,016 $ 40,327 $ 120,380
Utah $ 59,770 $ 4,981 $ 40,046 $ 119,540
Colorado $ 58,823 $ 4,902 $ 39,411 $ 117,646
Wyoming $ 58,752 $ 4,896 $ 39,364 $ 117,504
Washington $ 58,405 $ 4,867 $ 39,131 $ 116,810
Delaware $ 57,846 $ 4,821 $ 38,757 $ 115,692
New York $ 57,369 $ 4,781 $ 38,437 $ 114,738
Illinois $ 56,210 $ 4,684 $ 37,661 $ 112,420
Rhode Island $ 55,902 $ 4,659 $ 37,454 $ 111,804
North Dakota $ 55,709 $ 4,642 $ 37,325 $ 111,418
Vermont $ 52,578 $ 4,382 $ 35,227 $ 105,156
Iowa $ 52,229 $ 4,352 $ 34,993 $ 104,458
Pennsylvania $ 52,007 $ 4,334 $ 34,845 $ 104,014
Texas $ 51,704 $ 4,309 $ 34,642 $ 103,408
Wisconsin $ 51,467 $ 4,289 $ 34,483 $ 102,934
Nebraska $ 51,440 $ 4,287 $ 34,465 $ 102,880
Nevada $ 51,230 $ 4,269 $ 34,324 $ 102,460
Kansas $ 50,972 $ 4,248 $ 34,151 $ 101,944
Oregon $ 50,251 $ 4,188 $ 33,668 $ 100,502
South Dakota $ 48,947 $ 4,079 $ 32,794 $ 97,894
Arizona $ 48,510 $ 4,043 $ 32,502 $ 97,020
Michigan $ 48,273 $ 4,023 $ 32,343 $ 96,546
Ohio $ 48,081 $ 4,007 $ 32,214 $ 96,162
Georgia $ 47,829 $ 3,986 $ 32,045 $ 95,658
Indiana $ 47,529 $ 3,961 $ 31,844 $ 95,058
Maine $ 46,974 $ 3,915 $ 31,473 $ 93,948
Montana $ 46,972 $ 3,914 $ 31,471 $ 93,944
Missouri $ 46,931 $ 3,911 $ 31,444 $ 93,862
Idaho $ 46,783 $ 3,899 $ 31,345 $ 93,566
Florida $ 46,036 $ 3,836 $ 30,844 $ 92,072
North Carolina $ 45,906 $ 3,826 $ 30,757 $ 91,812
Oklahoma $ 45,690 $ 3,808 $ 30,612 $ 91,380
Tennessee $ 44,297 $ 3,691 $ 29,679 $ 88,594
Louisiana $ 44,164 $ 3,680 $ 29,590 $ 88,328
South Carolina $ 44,163 $ 3,680 $ 29,589 $ 88,326
New Mexico $ 43,872 $ 3,656 $ 29,394 $ 87,744
Kentucky $ 43,399 $ 3,617 $ 29,077 $ 86,798
Alabama $ 42,849 $ 3,571 $ 28,709 $ 85,698
West Virginia $ 41,253 $ 3,438 $ 27,640 $ 82,506
Arkansas $ 40,511 $ 3,376 $ 27,142 $ 81,022
Mississippi $ 37,963 $ 3,164 $ 25,435 $ 75,926

csv icon
Want this data? Download it! [3 KB CSV file]

How much do you need to make to be middle class in the 50 biggest US metro areas?

Photo: Cass Street bridge and downtown Tampa reflected in the Hillsborough River.

Cass Street Bridge and Downtown Tampa Reflected in the Hillsborough River. Creative Commons photo by Matthew Paulson. Click to see the source.

Yesterday, Business Insider published a similar article, Here’s what you have to earn to be considered middle class in the 50 biggest US cities. Once again, they included a chart, once again, that chart was in graphic format, and once again, I did a little work to make the data more usable. This time, I went straight to their source, the US Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey. After figuring out their crazy user interface, I was able to extract the information I needed and turn it into the table and CSV file below.

Table 2: What your household needs to earn to be middle class in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas

Metropolitan area Total estimated households Median estimated annual household income Middle class lower bound (two-thirds of estimated median) Middle class upper bound (twice estimated median)
New York-Newark-Jersey City,
7,080,691 $ 65,786 $ 44,077 $ 131,572
Los Angeles-Long
Beach-Anaheim, CA
4,251,495 $ 58,869 $ 39,442 $ 117,738
3,450,331 $ 60,564 $ 40,578 $ 121,128
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington,
2,406,092 $ 57,398 $ 38,457 $ 114,796
2,218,312 $ 60,482 $ 40,523 $ 120,964
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar
Land, TX
2,158,139 $ 57,366 $ 38,435 $ 114,732
2,133,062 $ 90,149 $ 60,400 $ 180,298
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West
Palm Beach, FL
2,032,438 $ 46,946 $ 31,454 $ 93,892
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell,
1,954,348 $ 55,733 $ 37,341 $ 111,466
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH 1,763,437 $ 72,907 $ 48,848 $ 145,814
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI 1,658,085 $ 51,857 $ 34,744 $ 103,714
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward,
1,654,554 $ 79,624 $ 53,348 $ 159,248
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ 1,553,429 $ 51,847 $ 34,737 $ 103,694
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 1,392,337 $ 67,479 $ 45,211 $ 134,958
Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
1,332,110 $ 67,194 $ 45,020 $ 134,388
Bernardino-Ontario, CA
1,297,675 $ 53,220 $ 35,657 $ 106,440
Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
1,139,923 $ 45,880 $ 30,740 $ 91,760
St. Louis, MO-IL 1,105,652 $ 54,449 $ 36,481 $ 108,898
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA 1,093,386 $ 61,426 $ 41,155 $ 122,852
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD 1,037,921 $ 68,455 $ 45,865 $ 136,910
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 1,035,096 $ 62,760 $ 42,049 $ 125,520
Pittsburgh, PA 988,106 $ 51,291 $ 34,365 $ 102,582
881,822 $ 59,168 $ 39,643 $ 118,336
859,709 $ 51,251 $ 34,338 $ 102,502
Cleveland-Elyria, OH 844,428 $ 49,358 $ 33,070 $ 98,716
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN 822,005 $ 53,378 $ 35,763 $ 106,756
Kansas City, MO-KS 798,618 $ 56,248 $ 37,686 $ 112,496
792,639 $ 57,027 $ 38,208 $ 114,054
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL 780,174 $ 46,962 $ 31,465 $ 93,924
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX 778,939 $ 51,716 $ 34,650 $ 103,432
Columbus, OH 750,394 $ 54,079 $ 36,233 $ 108,158
739,503 $ 51,087 $ 34,228 $ 102,174
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise,
713,577 $ 51,057 $ 34,208 $ 102,114
Austin-Round Rock, TX 688,938 $ 61,750 $ 41,373 $ 123,500
662,187 $ 51,996 $ 34,837 $ 103,992
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa
Clara, CA
636,628 $ 91,533 $ 61,327 $ 183,066
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport
News, VA-NC
625,540 $ 56,161 $ 37,628 $ 112,322
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis,
622,962 $ 51,957 $ 34,811 $ 103,914
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA 618,975 $ 55,055 $ 36,887 $ 110,110
Jacksonville, FL 516,144 $ 51,495 $ 34,502 $ 102,990
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN 494,276 $ 50,905 $ 34,106 $ 101,810
Oklahoma City, OK 493,315 $ 50,136 $ 33,591 $ 100,272
Memphis, TN-MS-AR 492,311 $ 46,962 $ 31,465 $ 93,924
New Orleans-Metairie, LA 479,366 $ 45,981 $ 30,807 $ 91,962
Falls, NY
469,897 $ 50,548 $ 33,867 $ 101,096
Richmond, VA 467,399 $ 57,286 $ 38,382 $ 114,572
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT 464,315 $ 66,356 $ 44,459 $ 132,712
Raleigh, NC 449,589 $ 61,710 $ 41,346 $ 123,420
Birmingham-Hoover, AL 431,462 $ 48,328 $ 32,380 $ 96,656
Rochester, NY 425,603 $ 51,857 $ 34,744 $ 103,714
Tucson, AZ 391,975 $ 43,824 $ 29,362 $ 87,648

csv icon
Want this data? Download it! [5 KB CSV file]

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Florida of the day: Bobcat goes shark hunting on Vero Beach Wed, 08 Apr 2015 12:45:03 +0000

Headline: Damn, Florida nature, you scary! / Photo: Bobcat dragging a shark along a beach

Click the photo to see the Circle of Life at full size.

Definitely FloridaWhile going for an evening walk on Vero Beach, photographer John Bailey noticed a bobcat staring into the water. It was watching a shark in the shallows dining on some smaller fish.

You might think that the bobcat would’ve gone for some of the fish the shark didn’t get, but this is Florida, where no idea is a bad one, and where it’s almost the law that your reach should exceed your grasp in high-larious, newsworthy ways.

So the bobcat went for the shark instead…and won. It pounced on the shark, and pulled it onto dry land, where it became clear that it had caught a four-footer. That’s when Bailey snapped this photo.

Because Bailey is from Florida, he decided to get a better shot by moving closer to the hot killer-on-killer action. In the process, he scared off the bobcat, which suddenly let go of the shark and high-tailed it into the nearby woods.

It’s still less scary than Florida Zombie Cat.

Headline: Distance between me and Sharknivorous Florida Bobcat: JUST UNDER 3 HOURS / Image: Google Map showing route from Tampa to Vero Beach

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We should’ve used this RSVP card for our wedding Tue, 07 Apr 2015 20:54:04 +0000

Our wedding has come and gone, but if you’ve got one coming up, you might want to go with this one:’s RSVP card, which covers a great many responses that your guests can come up with:

Graphic: RSVP card for wedding with hilarious checkboxes, too many to list here.

Click the card to see it on its original site.

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Jon Snow attends dinner party. Hilarity ensues. Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:34:36 +0000

jon snow dinner party guest

Here’s an amusing skit from Late Night in which Seth Meyers invites Games of Thrones’ “Jon Snow” (played by Kit Harrington) to a dinner party in New York. It would appear that everyone’s favorite bastard son needs to brush up on his soft skills…

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This guy’s either really thrifty or really pessimistic. Possibly both. Tue, 07 Apr 2015 12:18:35 +0000

Photo: Receipt for a refunded condom with 'Date canceled on him' written on it as an explanation

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At Tampa’s makerspace, The Hive: Creatives Alliance’s “ART:STORIES” featuring Monique Guggino, filmmaker and actress Tue, 07 Apr 2015 11:36:56 +0000

art stories w monique guggino

On Tuesday, April 7th at 6:30 p.m. in the Tampa makerspace known as The Hive (located on the third floor of the John F. Germany Public Library in downtown Tampa), Tampa’s Creatives’ Alliance will host another event in its Art:Stories speaker series, and this one features my friend (and bridesmaid at my wedding) Monique Guggino!

wicked window productions

While most people are content to spend their evenings and weekends vegging out in front of a TV, computer, or mobile screen, Monique, her husband Gian, and a group of dedicated Tampa creatives are hard at work making dark, amusing movies under the banner of Wicked Window Productions. They all have day jobs, and there’s no money to be made, but I completely understand their drive to spend spare time making cool stuff.

Here’s a quick one: Wicked Window’s darker take on Alice in Wonderland…

Here’s a longer, more one: Psychman’s World, a paranormal parody of the ’90’s kids’ science show, Beakman’s World. I’m pretty impressed by how spot-on their version of Beakman is, from the set and gratuitous sound effects, right down to Gian’s eerie impression of the show’s host:

You can see more Wicked Window Productions works on their YouTube page.

Find out more about what’s happening with Monique’s films and in Tampa’s creative community and join us at The Hive on Tuesday, April 7th! Once again, it’s located on the third floor of the John F. Germany Public Library in downtown Tampa (900 N. Ashley Drive) and it starts at 6:30 p.m.. Here’s how Art:Stories events’ schedules go:

  • 6:30 – 7:00 p.m.: Networking and introductions
  • 7:15 – 8:15 p.m.: Speaker
  • 8:15 – 8:30 p.m.: Mix and mingle

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At last, a t-shirt for fans of both Nine Inch Nails and Monty Python! Tue, 07 Apr 2015 00:51:16 +0000

Graphic: NIN logo turned into 'NI', silhouette of the Knights who say  'ni", subtitled 'With antlers'

This shirt was originally priced at $20 at, but the actual price is $17. Those responsible for the mistake in pricing have been sacked. My sister was bitten by a moose once.

And, just because:

Thanks to Amber Gertzbein for the find!

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Our excellent dinner at Edison: Food + Drink Lab Mon, 06 Apr 2015 13:01:00 +0000

edison food drink lab

Anitra landed a new job, which in my books is the perfect excuse to celebrate with a night out featuring great food and drink. We decided to try a place we’ve never been to before: Edison: Food + Drink Lab, located on Kennedy Avenue in Tampa’s up-and-coming North Hyde Park neighborhood.

Edison’s chef and owner is Jeannie Pierola, the former chef at legendary Tampa steakhouse Bern’s and its spinoff fine-dining place SideBern’s (which has since closed and reopened under a new name, Haven). After leaving Bern’s and SideBern’s in 2007, she opened a series of pop-up kitchens that combined fine dining with playfulness, a theme that continues with Edison, where they seem to be very willing to combine ingredients in interesting and unusual ways.

The place was booked solid from 6:00 to 8:30, but through OpenTable, we were able to make a reservation for 5:30, which turned out to be a good time to book: early enough to beat the rush, but late enough that the restaurant was in full swing. Our waiter and the kitchen were very helpful with Anitra’s wheat/barley allergy, and it turned out that most of the dishes — the notable exception being desserts — could easily be altered to suit her. If you have to avoid gluten but still want fine dining, you’ll want to add Edison to your list.

And if you’re of the “bring on the gluten!” persuasion, you’ll still want to add Edison to your list. It’s that good.


We started out celebratory dinner by sharing a couple of appetizers, one cold, one hot:

appetizer 1

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Our cold appetizer was avocado leaf-seared yellowfin tuna. It was served with homestead green mango salad, fish sauce caramel, and tamarind peanut crunch, but what put it over the top was an aji amarillo sorbet. The sorbet was a mix of spicy, sour, and sweet, and it was perfect. I want sorbet pairings for all my food from now on.

appetizer 2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

The hot appetizer was the Edison take on Oysters Rockefeller. These came in a creamy butter sauce, and the kitchen substituted the traditional bread crumbs for almond flour crumbs, and then they kicked it up a notch by adding small cubes of their own homemade thick-sliced bacon. Such an dish called for bourbon, and speaking of which…

Opening cocktails

drink 1-2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

My starter cocktail was the Don’t Sweat da Technique. Based on an exclusive-to-Edison batch of Angel’s Envy bourbon and Avuá Amburana Cachaça, it was topped off with Carpano Bianco vermouth, Cynar Digestivo, Jack Rudy aromatic bitters, a very nice marinated cherry, and one of those giant artisanal cocktail ice cubes that I’m sure was made with panda tears and had a very precisely-calculated melting profile. It was Don Draper-worthy.

drink 1-1

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra started with a Fire from Lima, which happens to the bar’s signature cocktail. A creation of bartender Ryan Pinés (pictured below), it starts with heavily cilatro-infused Fontana Pisco as its base, lime juice and jalapeño simple syrup for mix, and is topped with a froth made of egg whites.

Photo: Bartender Ryan Pines at the edison food + drink lab's bar serving a Fire from Lima.

Photo by Creative Loafing. Click the photo to see their article featuring Ryan Pinés and the Fire from Lima.

Our waiter made it a point to check up on us after the drinks arrived, and again after the appetizers showed up.


main 1

Click the photo to see it at full size.

For her main, Anitra had the duck confit. The duck was perfect: quite meaty and not as fatty or greasy as you might expect, and it was fork-tender — no knife needed. If you love duck, you must try this dish. If you don’t like duck, the way Edison does it just might change your mind.

The duck came with cooked greens, an excellent risotto, and the kicker: a strawberry-rhubarb sauce that added the right amount of sweet and sour to the dish.

main 2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I was hungry, so I wanted something hearty. I went with the Moroccan veal tagine, which featured a fork-tender veal shank — the same cut you’d use for osso bucco — stewed in a rich, sweet and savory sauce with chickpeas and couscous and served with wilted greens and carrots in a deep dish. I’d gladly order this again, if it weren’t for everything else on the menu that I’d like to try on future visits.

Dinner cocktails

drink 2-1

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Anitra’s dinner cocktail was the Wisconsin Pride, made with Death’s Door vodka and Edison’s own Mexican cocoa. It was topped with foam made with Kringle Cream rum (which is made with Wisconsin cream, hence the cocktail’s name) and very thin almond slivers. Yes, it’s choco-licious, but not in a “chocolate choo-choo” way; it transcends the dismissive term “girl drink”.

drink 2-2

Click the photo to see it at full size.

My dinner cocktail was the Smashed Rickey, based on Martin Miller’s Westbourne Strength Gin and finished with basil, grapefruit juice, agave nectar, and Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Soda. It was a nice contrast, cutting through my meaty, saucy main.

Again, the waiter dropped by the table after we were served our mains to make sure everything was to our satisfaction.



Click the photo to see it at full size.

We shared the one gluten-free dessert: a very nice cranberry sorbet. It was served on a bed of pistachios that were crushed so finely that we had to check with the waiter to make sure they hadn’t served us the sorbet on a bed of crumbled pastry by mistake. This was the only point of our evening when it took time to get out waiter’s attention, as the restaurant was at its busiest.


edison dining room

I’m not surprised that Edison: Food + Drink Lab is considered to be in Tampa’s top ten restaurants. Here’s what the editors of Tampa Bay Times’ 2015 edition of Top 50 Restaurants in Tampa Bay (where Edison occupies the number three spot) have to say:

Settling into its third year, Jeannie Pierola’s Edison has found such a nice groove. The kitchen is dense with talent, from Allie Beasman who has been promoted to chef de cuisine, to pastry chef Erin Kelly (watch out for her new riff on milk and cookies using the anti-griddle). On the beverage side there’s bar manager Ryan Pinés who took the full bar (a late addition) from zero to 60 swiftly (and added house-bottled and barrel-aged cocktails) and new wine director Tyler Westlund, who has introduced wines on tap and will launch a fresh wine dinner series in Feb. Tampa-native Pierola is self-taught, with passion and curiosity that continually allows her to create mash-ups and juxtapositions that have to the power to shock as much as charm.

Both the food and drinks were excellent and interesting, and the service was quite good. The menu is really intriguing, and we want to go back and try different dishes and cocktails next time. Our waiter was helpful, and the kitchen was flexible enough to accommodate wheat-free dietary restrictions with the appetizers and mains; if they could be as flexible with dessert (not easy, I’ll admit), they’d be perfect.

Photo: Leather wallet, filled to bursting with US $20 bills.

The only real downside to Edison is that it’s not cheap — but hey, excellence rarely is — especially if you go there in full celebratory mode like we did. With two appetizers, two mains, two cocktails each, a shared dessert, and tip, the bill came to $200. While you might not want to drop that kind of bank every date night, if you’re in the Accordion Bay area and want to celebrate something special, I strongly recommend Edison: Food + Drink Lab as a venue for doing so. Special events call for special food and drink, and that’s Edison’s stock in trade.

Edison: Food + Drink Lab (, located at 912 West Kennedy Blvd., Tampa FL 33606. Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner Monday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.. You can book reservations at (813) 254-7111 or via OpenTable. You can also check out their Facebook page.

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A long-lost “Choose Your Adventure” book finally sees the light: Escape from the Haunted Warehouse! Sat, 04 Apr 2015 13:13:34 +0000

choose your own adventures

Click the photo to see it at full size.

Of the two books resting on my accordion in the picture above, you may have read the one on the left: The Cave of Time, the very first book in the Choose Your Own Adventure series, first published by Bantam Books in 1979. The one on the right is Escape from the Haunted Warehouse, which hits the shelves on April 15th.

(The copy of The Cave of Time featured in the photo belongs to my wife Anitra, and yup, it’s an original 1979 edition.)

Today, in the age of ubiquitous internet, smartphones and tablets, where it’s unusual for a home or office not to have a computer, interactive entertainment is commonplace. But back in 1979, when desktop computers were rare and the most powerful ones had 48K of RAM (not even enough memory to store one of the photos in this article), Choose Your Own Adventure books were a new, exciting idea to eleven-year-old me. The series led me to computer “text adventure” games (these days, they’re called interactive fiction), which in turn led me to programming, and eventually, my career.

Until last week, I thought that Escape from the Haunted Warehouse was an urban legend. Between 1979 and 1998, the story goes that 185 Choose Your Own Adventure books were written, but only 184 were released. Escape from the Haunted Warehouse, which had reviews that called it “the scariest one ever”, made it out in the form of a few promotional copies, but was never made generally available.

ChooseCo now publishes the series under new titles, with revised artwork and text (but using the same typeface — Souvenir!), and they’re releasing Escape from the Haunted Warehouse in a couple of weeks. I was sent an advance copy because one of their people found an old article of mine that featured a montage of 66 classic Choose Your Own Adventure covers:

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I’m flying to Boston next Sunday, and as a special treat for myself, I plan to not fire up the iPad or laptop, or read the in-flight magazine. Instead, I’m going to pull my copy of Escape from the Haunted Warehouse and see if I can get out alive. I’ll post a write-up once I’ve finished it.

Full disclosure: I got contacted by ChooseCo and was offered a promotional copy; they told me that they’d love to be “featured by me in the future”. And hey, I loved these books as a kid.

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An apology to astrophysicist Katie Mack Fri, 03 Apr 2015 12:25:14 +0000

Headline: @AstroKatie (Katie Mack) / Photo: Katie Mack standing against a starry night sky, with her Twitter joke.

The original joke and its creator, Katie Mack. Click the image to see her site.

Diagram: Lunar eclipse (earth between moon and sun), solar eclipse (moon between earth and sun), and apocalypse (sun between earth and moon)Last week, I found the image pictured to the right on Enno Park’s Google+ feed and thought it was amusing, so I decided to post it here on the Accordion Guy blog. I ran a few image searches to see if I could trace it back to its origin, but couldn’t find anything conclusive, so I gave credit to Enno Park.

This week, the pop science Facebook page I Fucking Love Science featured the image (they found it via another Facebook pop science page, ASAPScience) and pointed to this site — but not the article — so I re-posted the image in a new article that you’d see when you hit the page. Once again, credit went to Enno Park.

(Please don’t bring internet pitchforks and torches to Enno’s feed; I get the feeling he didn’t know about the image’s provenance either.)

In tweets linking to my post, I suggested that you imagine the joke being told in astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson’s voice. What I didn’t know is who its true author was, and that she herself is an astrophysicist. She’s Katie Mack, @AstroKatie on Twitter.

Here’s her short bio, as featured on her site (go check it out, she’s got lots of great stuff there, for both hard-core science fiends and laypeople who are curious about space):

Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist. Her work focuses on finding new ways to learn about the early universe and fundamental physics using astronomical observations, probing the building blocks of nature by examining the cosmos on the largest scales. Throughout her career as a researcher at Caltech, Princeton, Cambridge, and now Melbourne University, she has studied dark matter, black holes, cosmic strings, and the formation of the first galaxies in the Universe. Katie is also an active online science communicator and is passionate about science outreach. As a science writer, she has been published by Slate, Sky & Telescope,, the Economist tech blog “Babbage”, and other popular publications.

…and here’s her original joke, made on Twitter months ago:

katie macks eclipse tweet

She told the joke quickly and simply, using emojis, and eagle-eyed readers noticed that she even took care to make sure that the bright side of the moon was always facing the sun. That bit of cleverness didn’t get brought into the image based on her tweet.

While I slept last night (I’m in the GMT-4 time zone, known as “Eastern Daylight Time” to people in North America), a number of people pointed out my unintentional plagiarism on Twitter and in this blog’s comments. I’d like to thank those people for the heads-up, and would like to point out that my failure to reply immediately was largely because I was asleep at the time. Thanks for the heads-up, folks!

The creator of the image I used didn’t credit Katie, and as a result, neither did I. I’d like to borrow from the best scientific tradition and do what scientists do when they make mistakes: point out the mistake clearly and as widely as possible. I formally apologize to Katie Mack for not crediting her for an excellent astronomy gag, and hope this post goes toward making things right.

Note: My earlier posts featuring the image now start with a big banner pointing to this article.

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Hello, “I Effing Love Science” readers! Here’s the eclipse chart you’re looking for. Thu, 02 Apr 2015 23:03:21 +0000

before you read this article

The Facebook page I Fucking Love Science linked to this blog for a funny infographic about eclipses, but didn’t link to the infographic itself. For you convenience, here it is again. It works best if you imagine Neil deGrasse Tyson reading it to you.

Diagram: Lunar eclipse (earth between moon and sun), solar eclipse (moon between earth and sun), and apocalypse (sun between earth and moon)

Found via Enno Park.

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I had no idea there was such a thing as cookie icing Thu, 02 Apr 2015 18:09:54 +0000

Photo: A grocery shelf with a selection of several tubes of cookie icing.

Click the photo to see the sugary goodness at full size.

I snapped this photo at my local Publix. I suppose that these are for decorating or spelling out messages on those giant cookies, but I’m also sure that there are some people who buy these because cookies alone aren’t diabetes-inducing enough. You could also use these to liven up your next Catholic mass by icing those bland communion wafers.

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Do they still put these seats in station wagons? Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:46:13 +0000

I used to love riding in these things:

Photo: "What they were": rear-facing seats in the back of a station wagon / "What they felt like": Han Solo in the seat of one of the Millennium Falcon's gun turrets

Do they still have these in modern station wagons?

And for old times’ sake…

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Nothing to see here…or is there? [Updated] Tue, 31 Mar 2015 13:46:10 +0000

Nothing to see here…

Photo: Schoolchildren sitting on a bench in a museum, engrossed in their smartphones, completely ignoring the large masterpiece hanging on the wall in the background.

Click the sad scene to see it at full size.

As my friend Lisa Goldman (who pointed me to this photo) put it, I hope that they’re Googling some facts about the baroque masterpiece that they appear to be ignoring. In case you’re wondering, it’s Rembrandt’s The Night Watch.

…or is there? [An update]

Photo montage: Kids at same museum writing notes, reading field guides, looking at the art

Matthias Bauer pointed me to this article in The Uncatalogued Museum, which asks what we see in the picture at the top of this article. Its author, Linda Norris, posted photos taken the same day, showing the kids also absorbed in the art, takes notes on paper, and reading field study guides and other material on the art in the museum. If the kids had their noses in books instead of smartphones, she asks, would we be so quick to roll our eyes?

Yes, smartphones are wonderful devices for entertainment and chit-chat, but as tiny bundles of computing power, networking capability, and all kinds of sensors, they’re also tools for learning, creativity, and getting stuff done. As I said earlier, there’s always a chance that the kids were looking up information on the things they were seeing in the museum. They may have been using their phones as notepads (I do this all the time, as I can back it up, and in the long run, it’s far more portable than a paper notebook). Some of them may have taken photos of pieces they liked, perhaps to enjoy later as “desktop wallpaper”; I myself did this during my last trip to the nearby Dali Museum.

Of course, they may have been chatting with friends or playing the game du jour — and I’d bet good money that at least some of them were. And hey, as a middle-aged force of darkness (it sounds so much more badassed than “person of color”), it’s my right to rant about “kids today”, and especially first-world white kids who get to see some of the world’s most famous chef d’oeuvres on a school field trip.

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Sign of the day Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:50:21 +0000

Photo: Handwritten sign with the text 'The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.'

Found via Sean Silcoff.

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Goodbye, sweet Camaro! Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:33:14 +0000

The business trip is drawing to a close, and I had to bid farewell to my new best friend this morning:

Photo: Joey deVilla's rental yellow Camaro and his accordion, side by side.

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I kept the accordion that got me the car in the first place, but I had to return the Camaro. Even the rental car pickup guys were impressed; I guess it doesn’t get out much.

As a way of saying goodbye, I blasted this song out of the stereo while zipping down the Mass Pike this morning — a song that will likely never be played in the car again, as it’s pretty unknown outside Canada:

For my American friends into ’80s alt-rock, this song might be more meaningful:

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