SUI GENERIS punk rock bike shop home-brew art/craft love

Apples to Appletown

This weekend we're off to Wisconsin to visit college friends & dress up for Halloween & celebrate the occasion by drinking my most expensive bottle of free wine, the Saint-Joseph Offerus. It's been a while since we made the trek over to the East Side (of Wisconsin) so we're waiting until after the driving is all over to evaluate whether we want to do it all over again next weekend for Art vs. Craft. Mark your calendars, Milwaukeans! We might be there or we might not be, but you have no excuse to miss the best alt craft event in the Midwest!

Joshua Ploeg--vegan cookery!

UPDATED! The 720 Space was fairly packed at 6:50, so Jenna and I grabbed the last two chairs and sat at a table with our new friend, Maryann. We paid $6 each, which is incredible. There didn't seem to be much in the way of kitchen space, so plates of food were doled out one at a time while we watched the 'talkies.' Unfortunately, we skipped the one about Risk, but I enjoyed the other three. By the time those were done, we had eaten a few courses of vegan food. My favorite was the first course, which we decided was some kind of tempeh... it reminded me strongly of the dinner I had at La Victoire Suprême du Coeur (in the good ways). A variety of beers were produced from somewhere, and I regretted leaving my flask at home. Total course count was 5 or 6, I think. After eating, The Dad in Common rocked the house (they are better than their MySpace page would have you believe). We had to leave after a couple of songs because of Jenna's ear condition, but I would have stayed all night! I'd tell you to go, but if you missed it, you just missed out...

--old news---posted 10/25--
I just found out via Faythe Levine that there's a "seven course vegan extravaganza" tour going on. I checked the website of Traveling Chef Joshua "Ploog?" Ploeg (formerly of BTPNLSL), and apparently he will be throwing down at the 720 Space in Minneapolis tonight (October 25).

Joe Biel
is reported to be screening documentaries about bikes, trains, dogs, patches, and the board game RISK! It's at 6 or 7pm (depending on who you ask) and probably ultra cheap (only $6 in Milwaukee, for homemade dinner and movies, holy crap).

If you can go, you should go, and I'll see you there. If you can't make it then check back here for a writeup when it's over.

I've got a 20-sided die

So there I was in Savers scoping out the aisle of forgotten toys when I spotted this purple beauty for $2.99 and I knew that I had to have it. So I put aside the sticky copy of Work is Hell and walked home with my very own boxed 1980 edition Dungeons & Dragons (plus Pipe Dream for the NES (awesome)).

I'm not allowed to play D&D... you know... because of the demons? But I always felt a fondness for the game since it's part of my shared geek heritage. Cracking open that box was like opening a time capsule to the year before I was born: everything is in mint condition, and there are even some hand-written character sheets on lined notebook paper for extra entertainment value! I actually threw those away because I was too embarassed to read the personal notes about the paladin or whatever of the person who owned this game before me, and who might be old enough to be my dad.

I'm keeping the rest, though. Maybe one day I'll try to sell it on eBay, but for now I guess I'll put it on display next to my other nerd ephemera. It would fit nicely in between my copies of Supercade and Dinotopia.

Don't sit, Lola!

Our Lola is a sweet little dog and generally well-behaved, but certainly not trained. So when she started sitting down all over the place yesterday, we began to get concerned. In this photo, you can see her not sitting--like she normally does. We don't know why, but she has begun to sit calmly when she'd normally be snuffling around or jumping up on our chairs to get our attention. She has some documented rear leg problems, and I just hope she doesn't need any surgery to fix this sudden sitting thing. With any luck, it's just the cold.

Mak Clare Valley 2002 Shiraz

Despite what I wrote in my tasting notes, this is probably not the best Shiraz ever, but it is the best shiraz I've ever purchased for twelve bucks. If you're a shiraz fan, you would be a fool not to try a bottle of this stuff. AARON I AM TALKING TO YOU

The bouquet bowled me over with rich plums, and it follows up with a great strong flavor and steady finish. The light endnotes were a welcome alternative to the alcoholic punch of cheap shiraz. At four years old, this wine is awesome. Dark, delicious, and so smooth. Attractive label art and story about Ned Kelly for teh win! You probably won't be able to drink it with my wife's homemade potato soup and cheesy biscuits, but you should still drink it.

Minnesotans can find this wine at Surdyk's.

Flu shot: the shot to wake the dark heart? A public health announcement from Sui Generis

I got my influenza vaccination shot at Cub Foods on Saturday. With my insurance card, it cost zero dollars and a little bit of soreness in my arm, and that's a price I am willing to pay if it helps me avoid getting the flu!

I work peripherally in the healthcare industry, and I learned a lot about influenza this year. It is a lot scarier than I thought. I hated it enough when I was just trying to avoid feeling gross, but then I read some statistics, and now I'm really not going to miss a flu shot. I couldn't believe this stuff. I was like, "people die from influenza?" and the CDC was like, "about 36,000 people in the U.S. every year," and I was like, "whoa."

So, get a flu shot, okay? It's safe and it is effective. It might not prevent you from getting the flu, but it will certainly do a better job than if you don't get the vaccination. You might even get a sticker or a button!


Mark Z. Danielewski's first novel House of Leaves did lots of weird stuff with text and formatting, but it never felt gimmicky because it was so effective at creating a mood. With his new book, Only Revolutions, I don't know. Reading the book from both sides is clever, and it has its own definite rhythm, but I just don't get anything out of it. Danielewski was in town on Saturday and I thought about going to hear him read from Only Revolutions and get my copy of House of Leaves signed, but I was so underwhelmed with his new offering that I skipped it.

I haven't been reading much lately. Now it's winter again, I want to start another knitting project! Jenna picked her needles back up and got to felting some thrift store sweaters for a blanket or something. I need to find a project that would let me use the lovely yarn I got from Aisha Celia at the Craftstravaganza! Or I could knit a match for the solo sock I crafted in January--that is, if I hadn't forgotten the pattern alterations that I made.

Our Daughter is an Octopus

I've been having some weirdo dreams lately. This bodes well for my levels of creativity w/r/t NaNoWriMo in purt near two weeks now. Yeah, I'm gonna do it again, I guess... even though I don't know what makes me think I can write 50,000 words in a month if I can't even keep up with posting a blog entry at least once a week. Of course it's much easier to crank out a piece of crap first draft that nobody else is ever going to see.

As I did the previous two years, I will try to share here about the experience of participating in this weird exercise. Novel Writing Month is, for me, an essentially solo event in which my primary goal is to sit down at a computer keyboard and actually bang out fifty thousand words that tell a more or less sensical fictional story. Some participants, conversely, prefer to pepper the month with activities, furious forum posting, and communal writing parties.

I have a theory that these people tend more towards not finishing a novel by the end of November. But they may have a lot more fun failing than I do sweating out my last 10,000 words on the 31st.

A delicious return to the world of wine blogging!

I'll cut to the punchline: I won some wine!

Thanks to Dr. Vino for providing this prize for his wine knowledge quiz. I answered ten questions correctly and won the grand reward drawing for a half-case of wine selected at Crush Wine Co. in NYC.

This is the first time I've had wine shipped, and it worked like a charm. I had to be home to sign for the delivery, but luckily it arrived on my day off work. Everything's coming up Andy. These are some decent selections of vino, a cut above what I'd generally buy, and I can't wait to pop them open. To celebrate their arrival, I did sample the bottle of Burgundy. It was like getting punched in the mouth... with flavor!! I'm beginning to think I may just not care for the French style of Pinot Noir? Anyway, I drank it happily and just need an excuse to try the next five. Who is ready to party?

Minnesota Hanafuda!

Throughout my entire Hanafuda adventure it never occured to me that I might be able to find a real deck of cards around here. My fellow blogger and bike shop volunteer beat me to it. He's got the location of the market linked in his post, but doesn't mention that the cards are hidden behind a shelf of candy, so you'll probably have to ask for them. And it's a Korean mart, so they're not hanafuda; they're hwa-tu.

Anyway it's all the same thing. These decks are missing the extra 6 cards that are supposedly included in most hwa-tu decks, but they do have the usual 12 suits and a joker. What might surprise many people is how tiny the cards are. They're also plasticized, with a textured back side, so shuffling is a more tedious affair than with western-style cards. This is why many people will buy two hanafuda decks, with different colored backs, and shuffle one while the other is in play.

If you go here you will see an awesome video of a special-edition hanafuda deck that uses Nintendo characters on the brights and animal cards. Apparently they are a prize from Club Nintendo Japan. Photos are here!

More Hanafuda

I have mentioned a few hanafuda resources in passing while I built my deck, but I know that the words are the boringest parts of my posts. So here's a more straightforward selection of links if you would like to know more about the cards or the games.

The most comprehensive site I found was Andy's Playing Cards (no relation). Click on "other pages in this gallery" to see cards from different eras and special editions. The other most useful resource for me was Tom Sloper's Hanafuda-rama. I enjoyed this page for the beautiful cards on display that may have inspired the design of the first hanafuda decks around 1820. You can also follow their links to order cards online.

Probably the best rules page I found for Hanafuda games is here. You can find all sorts of rules and variations if you look around, but I've tried a few others and this makes the most sense. Plus, it's the most fun variation that I've played. It's almost the same way that Koi-Koi works in this Japanese flash game! That's a great way to learn the game, since you can even see how the deal is done. Playing this version first would probably be really useful to understanding what is supposed to happen. Be careful not to get your plums and sakura mixed up!