The “He” Is Always Lowercase.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links | Tuesday 9 November 2010 12:30 am

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A Lesson in Cellphone Etiquette.

Posted by DmentD | Entertainment,Links | Thursday 14 October 2010 11:57 pm

Just set it to vibrate and enjoy the music, otherwise you may get served up a little public humiliation.

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Mesmerizing.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Entertainment,Links | Saturday 28 August 2010 11:49 pm

There are some obnoxiously talented people in this world.  Thank Jeebus for that.

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Curious Brew Too.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Domestica,Entertainment,Family,Homebrew,Links,Promotion | Monday 10 May 2010 11:09 am

This week continues my month-long series on homebrewing over at Curious Confections. This week I dive right in and get into the nitty-gritty of brewing some actual beer.  It’s a long post, so get a bowl of popcorn and fermented beverage of your choice and sit back and relax while reading.

Also, a few other pints… er, points of interest.  Sweets and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary this weekend.  Time has zoomed by so fast.  Love you so much, my sweet girl!

We celebrated with dinner at North by Northwest, a local restaurant and brewery here in Austin. The food was wonderful, and the beer (all brewed in-house, obviously) was outstanding… truly top notch.  Of note specifically was their Duckabish Amber (as per NXNW: “Pilsner, Caravienne, and Chocolate malts give this beer its beautiful, deep amber color.  It is soft and creamy and balanced by Horizon hops.”) and their BlackJack, which is their Okanogan Black Ale aged in oak barrels (smooth, rich, and malty with a fantastic oak finish that stayed on the tongue for minutes after each sip).  I took home a growler of the Duckabish.

We will be going back.  These people deserve support.  *grins*

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Curious Brew.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Entertainment,Homebrew,Links,Promotion | Monday 3 May 2010 12:35 pm

For those of you not following the blog over at Curious Confections on a regular basis (Sweets and I are food-blogging three times a week… OK, mostly Sweets), or not following Curious Confections, Sweets or me on Twitter (and if you follow all three of us, I’d like to say I’m sorry about you getting triple tweets about new posts on CC… but I’m not.  It’s promotion for building a business), then you may be interested to know that every Monday in May I’m posting about homebrewing.

After an introduction to the concept, I’m going to go through the basic steps involved in the subsequent weeks.  The first post is up now.

You know, just in case you’re interested.

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Food For The Eagle.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Links,Reflection | Monday 19 April 2010 12:04 pm

The Harvard Secular Society conferred lifetime achievement awards on MythBusters‘ Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman this weekend.  Adam proceeded to deliver an eloquent and inspiring speech, and I believe it is mandatory reading for anyone within sight of my voice here.

Go, read it now.

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Don’t Label Me.

Posted by DmentD | Coolness,Friends,Homebrew,Links,Pictures,Promotion | Tuesday 6 April 2010 10:00 am

As I stated before, I’m homebrewing beer (and mead… and eventually hard cider, hard lemonade, and perry).  Never being one to do anything halfway (or easy, for that matter — not when I can overdo it!), I went beyond the simple brewing process, containing the precious liquid in recycled clean beer bottles.

I have have five distinct styles of beer bottles, each style to define a single batch of beer in matching vessels.  I have not just cleaned each bottle, but eradicated any and all trace of the original labels and packaging.  I stow them in matching boxes, some with custom-cut dividers to keep the bottles from rattling together.  I keep spares of each bottle style in case I break some, or more likely, never get them back after generously sending beer home with friends.  And, I’m making custom labels for each style of beer.

The name of my brewery is “Ol’ Shambler Brewery”, and all the beers are zombie themed (or in a pinch, generally ‘horror’ themed).  I have purchased labels specifically suited to the task of labeling beer bottles, complete with a die-cut neck label.  I then proceeded to enlist my obnoxiously talented friends to help me create not just a simple beer label, but custom works of art.

Martin Whitmore, whom I’ve pimped here many times, designed and illustrated the labels themselves.  Provided with the oddball name of the brew and a few nudges in the direction I wanted to go, he then proceeded to craft the perfect — and I do mean perfect — concept and illustration.  Marty already knows from zombies as they’re his specialty, but he went beyond simply drawing a zombie and brought life (ha!), character and the perfect amount of humor into the design.

Kim Gall — an award-winning pet portraitist — is a dynamite watercolor artist with just as wicked a sense of humor and style as Marty and I.  She brought the perfect atmosphere and tone to Marty’s illustrations, a nice sense of earthy gloom, and a whole new level of depth and spark.

The frames of the neck and main label were drawn separately from the internal artwork so that we could easily and simply draw a new figure for the center of each and add them in later, along with the text.  I was in charge of stitching all the elements together and working in the text.

As promised, here is the artwork for my first two styles of homebrew.

Ol' Shambler Brewery - Belgian Devil

The Belgian Devil is a Belgian golden ale, reminiscent of Duvel (which is Flemish for “devil”).  The idea was to have a guy in a devil Halloween  costume — something akin to a red hoodie with horns — but I had absolutely no way how to make him discernibly “Belgian”.  Marty pulled that big mustache from I-don’t-know-where, but by Jeebus, it sold the Belgian look.  It caught me off guard, and I choked from laughing.  Shambler, who has become the unofficial figurehead for Ol’ Shambler Brewery, is nobly gazing out from the center of the neck label through his milky, bloodshot eyes.

Ol' Shambler Brewery - Bayou Headsucker

The Bayou Headsucker is a kolsch — a German pale ale  — and has recently been dubbed a “lawnmower” beer, an unofficial name to describe beers that are light and refreshing, yet full bodied, without much hop bitterness, that are great for easy drinking on hot days (i.e. when you’re out mowing the lawn).  It was brewed very specifically to accompany this season’s crawfish boils, and is the perfect accompaniment to hot, spicy seafood.

Again, I didn’t have much of a concept for this label other than it really needed a coonass Cajun on there, and a swampy background.  The zombified crawfish sucking on the ol’ boy’s head so hard that his face inverted is sheer genius.  I also believe that the cypress trees hinted at in the background are an inspired touch, and I can’t imagine the piece would be complete without them.

And here are some “action shots” of the labeled bottles in the wild.

Ol' Shambler Brewery - Belgian DevilOl' Shambler Brewery - Belgian Devil

Ol' Shambler Brewery - Bayou HeadsuckerOl' Shambler Brewery - Bayou Headsucker

I look forward to more collaborative labels with these two.  Who knows, we may have some other guest artists chip in on future labels.  It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

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Whassahappanin’, Hotstuff?

Posted by DmentD | Cakes,Coolness,Friends,Homebrew,Links,Promotion,Rambling,Site,Stress | Tuesday 30 March 2010 11:07 am

Much goings on… er, going on in the last few months.  Once more, and to no surprise to anyone, I have sadly not reported any of it here.

Let’s see.  First and foremost, Sweets got laid off from the bakery she was at — who took her on as an extern when she was in culinary school, then hired her to do cakes, couldn’t give her a lot of hours, then realized that they were perfectly happy using the free extern labor from the school instead, and let her go.  Tears and curses aside, it was a fantastic learning experience for her and gave us the motivation to…

… start taking the first steps to get Curious Confections off the ground.  The first serious steps.  We spruced up the site — making it more making it professional in appearance — added a menu, and lightened up some of the ambiguous language about actually making product for sale.

Sweets is going to make Curious Confections a part-time job for the interim, while maintaining a second part-time job at an established business.  I will be moonlighting after work hours and on weekends as a CC employee.  We’ve started getting a few orders in — some of them steady — and friends and co-workers have rallied to the cause by ordering stuff from us, and pressing our business cards into the palms of everyone they know.  The goal is to eventually get enough business to pay Sweets a salary, making CC her full-time job.

We need all the help we can get to make this first step successful, allowing us to grow and evolve to the next level, and then the level after that, ad infinitum.  We’re trying to maintain a fine balance between slow, steady growth so we don’t overextend our current reach, and reaching just far enough outside of our current comfort level to force us to evolve.  Just as too much water, sun and fertilizer can kill even a healthy plant — we don’t want to die on the vine from too much of a good thing burning us out too early.

Sweets is also taking the role of food blogger more seriously.  There are a few reasons behind this: foremost, she really enjoys writing about the stuff we make (out of pride and great satisfaction), it’ll help direct more traffic and attention to Curious Confections, it’ll bring her and CC to the attention of other food bloggers (many of them local), and she can be a part of a community of like-minded people (which is always a good thing).  A fresh audience and new friends can work wonders on so many levels.

All cake, baked goods, and Curious Confections related projects will henceforth be posed over there, and links to said posts will be posted here.  I may even pop in and write about the things I have my snobbery badges in: coffee, beer, homebrew, and South Louisiana food.

On the topic of homebrew, we have two batches of beer in bottles ready for consumption by this weekend: the Belgian Devil (a Duvel-like Belgian golden ale), and the Bayou Headsucker (a crisp, clean, refreshing kolsch ale).  The Headsucker was specifically brewed for the crawfish season this year, and our first boil is this Saturday.

You may have noticed the unusual beer names.  Good for you.  We’ve decided to cater to my infantile obsession with zombies and theme all the beers that way.  Our “brewery” is named Ol’ Shambler Brewery.  While making labels for beer that will eventually be drunk, then have the labels stripped right back off again may seem a bit needless, we wanted to have fun with this hobby from start to finish.  To that end we have enlisted (entrapped!) two of our talented friends, Marty and Kim, to help design and color said labels… and they’ve done a hell of a job so far.  I’ll post the artwork separately, another time – gotta’ save some stuff for other posts!

We’ve also started fermenting our first mead — a traditional, sweet-semi-dry variety — using raw, unpasteurized orange blossom honey from a local apiary.  It’s coming along nicely, but won’t be ready to drink for till about this time next year.  Sadly meads, hard ciders, perrys, and wines of all stripe are not “young” beverages, and require an extended conditioning period ranging from a few months, to well over a year depending on the style.  Our patience should be rewarded, and is all the more motivation to have a number of batches going at once.

The downside to home brewing is equipment and supply storage.  It takes up some space, man, and it’s a struggle to store everything so that it 1) isn’t underfoot, and B) isn’t unsightly.  I don’t want to just plonk it all down in a spare bedroom and shut the door, but I don’t want it to sit in the garage or attic gathering dust and who-knows-what-else.  I also want to have access to everything as I need it without having to go dig it out of a storage area.  We have plans to, eventually, build cabinetry into the bar — when we build the bar — to store homebrew gear and fermenting batches out of sight, but accessible.

That, my little ones, is all I have to ramble about at this time.  Be good to each other, even if it means being naughty.  Especially if it means being naughty.

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Let’s Play Catch Up!

Posted by DmentD | Cooking,Coolness,Domestica,Family,Links,Rambling | Monday 8 February 2010 4:03 pm

Ok, ok… I’ve been lazy.  I admit that, you expect that… so let’s not dwell on it, hmmmm?

What has happened in DmentiA since last I rambled on at random?

Christmas came and went, and left many wonderful things in its wake… including (but not limited to) a new art print for the wall, books, and seed money to procure the bulk of my start-up gear to begin home brewing beer.  *squee* Much intense and focused research was done and equipment was bought.

We made many delicious things as Christmas gifts this year, and Sweets has a great write-up about it all HERE.

Austin saw much rain, and very cold temperatures.  Much of the garden did the usual die-off/leaf drop gig, and the yard started looking bleak.  A few plants were protectable, and even fewer actually prospered form the cold (our garlic, to be specific).  Leaves dropped from trees and littered the yard.

The new year came and went, and left me with a kidney stone as a parting gift.  Thanks… it’s what I’ve always wanted.

Sweets’ family came to the States, and after a week in Disneyworld, they trekked into NOLA where we met them and stayed a few days, then made our collective way to Austin.  They stayed for a week — it was a lovely week at that — and I think I managed to keep from frightening them sufficiently with my crass American ways… I was on my best behavior, and didn’t disgrace my family.  Suckers!  Fooled you all.

They specifically came in to attend Sweets’ graduation from Culinary School, join us in a bleated (very belated!) wedding party, and basically make sure I wasn’t keeping Sweets in squalor (I kid!  I kid!).  The graduation was very nice, and I can’t adequately express how fiercely proud I am of her.

Sweets has written up the visit, complete with pictures, HERE.  She’s done such an elegant job of it, that I won’t shame myself by endeavoring to do it again. (see paragraph 1, i.e. “being lazy”).

And, most recently, Sweets and I finally brewed our first batch of beer.  It’s a lovely Belgian Golden Ale, similar to Duvel, and it was a blast to make.  I spent the preceding ten days doing massive research into the brewing process, basically discarding the generic process that comes along with the recipe kit.  I learned a tremendous amount about the overall process, what shortcuts can be taken, the very specific stages of mashing grains and making a wort, the hows and whys of the specific gravities of the liquid at every stage, and so much more.  I also learned that for all the minutiae that can and should be paid attention to, that you can just chill and not worry about it.  There is a popular phrase I’ve read a lot while doing my homework: “RDWHAHB Relax, Don’t Worry, Have A Homebrew.”

The hooch is in the primary fermenter where it will live until the yeasties have done most of their work converting the sugars into alcohol (about a week), then it gets moved into a secondary fermenter where it basically clarifies for two weeks, then into bottles for conditioning and natural carbonating for 3-4 weeks.  Yup, it’s a lot of time to wait, and that’s why most home brewers have multiple batches going at once.  Time, equipment, and experience will eventually allow us to do that to.  Eventually.

For now, I’m enjoying the sheer adventure and creativity of the process, and I’m learning a hell of a lot of new things as well.  When you stop learning, you may as well lie down and die.

That’s it for now, kiddies.  Expect to hear a lot more about homebrew from me.

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Breadcrumbs.

Posted by DmentD | Links,Rambling | Saturday 9 January 2010 11:14 am

Finding my way back here after the holiday absence, general laziness, a kidney stone and the chest cold I have right now.

For the time being, as a way of priming the pump again, here’s a nice little bit of fiction I just stumbled across.  It’s a story told from the Thing’s point of view from John Carpenter’s Sci-Fi/Horror flick, The Thing.  Surprisingly well thought out and written.

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