Jon Snow attends dinner party. Hilarity ensues.

by Joey deVilla on April 7, 2015

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

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

This shirt was originally priced at $20 at TeeFury.com, 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

by Joey deVilla on April 6, 2015

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.

Appetizers

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.

Mains

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.

Dessert

dessert

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.

Verdict

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 (edison-tampa.com), 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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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

by Joey deVilla on April 3, 2015

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, Time.com, 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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