I think I have a new favorite cinema trilogy. Lush and sensual visuals, soundtracks, imagery...
Mie has been suggesting since the beginning that I make cooking a dish one of my 52 things. I pretty much never cook anymore, partly because I was never that big into cooking at home and partly because Mie is a superb cook. I figured I should do this for her as a nod toward her long standing efforts and achievements in the Yaginuma kitchen.
I had to make it special though, something of a challenge. Marie had given us a cookbook called The Artful Vegan: Fresh Flavors from the Millennium Restaurant. This is one of the best restaurants here in San Francisco, and the recipes are daunting. So much so that even Mie had never attempted any of them. I picked an appetizer, Sesame-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Calamari over Burdock Kimpira. I had to make two sauces, the burdock kimipra, and then the batter and the fried oyster mushrooms. It took two hours altogether, but I think I could cut that down almost in half whenever I try it again. As far as execution goes, the feedback indicated it tasted great and I definitely enjoyed it. I think I probably earned a D grade really though. I feel I can get that up to a C or B next time.
Here's the list of ingredients: sesame oil, burdock roots, carrots, fresh ginger, minced garlic (I skipped this as Mie can't deal anymore), unrefined sugar, tamari (we used soy sauce), sesame seeds, rice flour, corn flour, Japanese chile powder, salt, oyster mushrooms, soy milk, canola oil, dried wasabi powder, silken tofu, rice vinegar, water, dark molasses, star anise, peppercorn, rehydrated seaweed, fresh scallions, lime. That's like 25 things! It was kind of crazy.
Mie has photos and such on Kokochi.
It's been a while since I posted a new 52 things. I wouldn't say it's because I haven't been creating things, but they haven't been particularly interesting or new, and I haven't been blogging about it much.
Last weekend Mie and our friend Vicki got their make up done down at Union Square and we all went back to Vicki and RJ's place to do a photoshoot. Both RJ and Vicki know a lot about photography. I barely know how to operate my camera to be honest ...but with a warm sunset, great location and two gorgeous models even I managed to get a few decent shots. These are some of my favorites.
Chicken John, the tortured and sometimes torturing soul of San Francisco's innovative art scene, last year started the brilliant Camp Tipsy event. Camp Tipsy is a week+ long camping trip on a lake a little north of Sacramento that's all about building crazy, clever, lousy boats. In Chicken's words:
Boats are judged not only on lack of engineering but also on crummy implimentation. The coveted “last place” award for least effort is the category to watch out for. The idea of Camp Tipsy is to have fun and build boats. Build ‘em outa nothing at all. It’s an excercize in a catyclismic future that Kevin Cosner portrayed so poorly.
More details on the event: Camp Tipsy weblog.
We went to the first one last year (there were two last summer). Here's pics and video I shot:
We had a great time even though we didn't build a boat, but I started idly thinking about what I wanted to build for this year soon after. My first thought was a floating human canon, so you could do canonballs into the lake with style. I have no idea how those things actually work though, and I suspect I shouldn't actually try to build one. Then I thought how about a floating catapult? That seemed doable, but too complicated. In the end I scaled it back to a swingset mounted on pontoons, so you can jump into the water. So that's the plan.
A backyard-style swing set (with a slide and maybe two swings) mounted on two long pontoons with an additional beam or two across the middle for lateral support (also serves as a platform to help get into the swing seats). The pontoons will be wooden enclosures filled with empty containers or foam or whatever can be found.
I have an alternative concept that would make it so that if the whole thing tipped over due to swinging, it would just land on another set of floats so you could keep on swinging, but the one depicted above is probably good enough and easier to build:
On Wednesday night I went to a class on Flame Effects at Langton Labs (billed as Learn 100% of the technical skills you need to make 80% of the fire art you see at Burning Man) so now I'm thinking it should have propane flame effects as well, but that might have to wait for the next event. Besides, we're totally going to win without going that far.
My very first of the "52 things" was a comic strip I called The Straight and Narrows featuring the hill towers around San Francisco as the characters. Here's a new one that includes another one of my other favorite San Francisco icons, Frank Chu. You're not going to get this at all if you aren't a San Franciscan, and maybe not even then.
This past weekend Mie, Tesla and I took the RV up to Yosemite for the Strawberry Music Festival. It was a gorgeous weekend! I did a few little watercolors there, and I suppose this is the best one. The very last thing I did at the festival before leaving was attend a watercolor class by Steve Curl where I got to see how an actual artist analyzes and approaches an illustration. I think I learned a bit by attending, from how to think about shapes to understanding how the amount of water used will affect the painting, so hopefully my next attempt will be better.
Here's Steve teaching the class:
More photos from this trip at my Strawberry 2009 flickr set.
Our neighbors Michelle and Jeremy have this great self portrait hanging in their foyer. It was one of those accidental shots where they were setting up to pose for a holiday card photo and Michelle leaned forward to press the button mistakenly thinking the camera was on a timer. It came out well though, I always liked it. I also like that Jeremy had long hair in it (like me) even though he has always had very short hair since I've met him. So I had the idea to get Mie to help me recreate it.
I snapped a photo of it one day with my iPhone, then this weekend I displayed it on the living room TV (we have an iMac attached) so that one half of the screen showed the original and the other half of the screen was filled with PhotoBooth showing the iSight camera view. I had to set up lights to get the shadows right, but it wasn't too hard to closely match the poses with the side by side display. Mie clicked on the mouse to take our shot. I'm not really pleased with the photoshop work, but I didn't have a lot of time to perfect it.
Mie had the idea to print out our version and secretly put it in the frame in their foyer. I snuck over and gave it a shot, but unfortunately there was no easy way to replace the original in the frame so I had to resort to taping it onto the glass. They found it within 24 hours, but I think it could have gone for a week or more if I could have actually got it under the glass! Here's the two together (after they found it and we moved it):
For this year's card we felt we had to dedicate it to our renewed hope for America. At first we were considering something more directly associated with Obama, but I believe that would be the wrong message. Obama is the personification of the renewed hope, but the promise he represents is up to all of us to fulfill or not. If America is to succeed then we must be prepared to work towards that success. So I went with a more pure representation of America. Started with a CC licensed flag photo from wmc1111card and added an image of Tesla and another one of Mie and I, along with some photoshop artistic filters and the removal of an distractingly dissonant image on my shirt :)
I used two Creative Commons licensed photos from Flickr and one of my own photos of Mie. The background is from Aele and the wings are from ARTchemist*. And of course also the original of Mie. The title is a quote from Joseph Campbell.