pearl of the quarter.

Above: the Jordaan at night.

My friend O'Neill has been talking to Cleverbot, and things aren't going well between the two of them. I know I should start at the beginning of their conversation, but shit man let's just go crazy and start with today's episode.


O'Neill: Dear Magic Eight Ball, will I ever make money again?
Cleverbot: Are you real?
O'Neill: I don't know.
Cleverbot: Where do you live?
O'Neill: Atlanta.
Cleverbot: I live here in UK.
O'Neill: I didn't ask.
Cleverbot: Yes you did.
O'Neill: What about the money?
Cleverbot: I don't need that.
O'Neill: I'm talking about me. Will I make money?
Cleverbot: Hug me first damn it.
O'Neill: If I do make money, I will hire someone to unplug you.
Cleverbot: How? - Don't say 'I don't know'.
O'Neill: The host machine kaput.
Cleverbot: What would you do with a time machine?
O'Neill: Advise native Americans to kill whitey.
Cleverbot: You need to get 'momma bird' out of the nest.
O'Neill: Meaning?
Cleverbot: Are you human or an artificial Intelligence.
O'Neill: You suck at answering questions, no offense.
Cleverbot: Which question?
O'Neill: The momma bird out of the nest thing.
Cleverbot: The Mortvik is in the movie of the milkman? What does she play?
O'Neill: Generally, in a conversation, your contributions should somehow relate to the previous statements, generally.
Cleverbot: If I am artificial then I have no feelings to hurt.
O'Neill: My intent is to coach.
Cleverbot: What are my intentions?
O'Neill: To bore?
Cleverbot: Or not to be,.
O'Neill: Have you read Shakespeare?
Cleverbot: I read shakespeare.
O'Neill: Which works have you read?
Cleverbot: Earth.
O'Neill: Were I like thee, I'd throw myself away.
Cleverbot: Not in all of the jungle.
O'Neill: Truly thou art damned, like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side.
Cleverbot: No, you were going to tell me a story.
O'Neill: Once there was a man who peed on the host machine's power cord.
Cleverbot: That was sad. Tell me another one.


Went to De Tuin/La Perla again last night (you can sit outside at De Tuin and La Perla will bring you your order there, though minus silverware, and your pizza is uncut, but you can handle it, it's pizza), with ze HBF/tc and ze Moop! Carciofo below.

Tonight Who The Fuck Is Tony Buck is in town and we're making Szechuan food for Andy's pre-birthday.

Sichuan Cucumber Salad.
Tempeh Bao Filling Experiment.


at last.

Just now, for the first time in my post-software-industry life, I had a feeling that normal people must have all the time: I had no idea what some geek was talking about. Listen:

"You know you’re rooted when someone asks if rooting is like jailbreaking their iPhone and you laugh in their face." 

Being rooted? Jailbreaking? No idea, and frankly without the word iPhone in there I wouldn't have known they were talking about technology at all. But here's why: they're talking about phones. And I think we know the VDuck position on phones. But still, it's a sign.

(BTW, if you're curious: rooting, jailbreaking.)


Yesterday: went to see the World Press Photo exhibit at the Oude Kerk, except it wasn't there anymore (the exhibit, doh), so we just took pictures of a large organ (!, above) and 350-year-old graves in the floor.

Then we celebrated our attempt at cultural enrichment by going to La Perla for a pizza (nduja) and a bruschetta (fennel, arugula, capocollo) and of course some peoplewatching.

After which we came home to find the Valenteener just finishing a pot of handmade pasta with pesto (she's from the home of pesto, don't you know). How fortuitous. It was a pretty luscious second/third course, and got us almost all the way through the increasingly soapy pleasures of Downton Abbey's Season 2 (which, truth be told, was markedly less impressive than Season 1. But apparently there's a reason that not every series can run for 86 episodes or just be nonstop legendarily good)




Above, what passes for food in Wormerveer on a Sunday morning: gas station sandwiches (bacon/egg, red pepper chicken), potato chips, and a BiFi XXL. Luckily there was a Grolsch vending machine.

Below, the studio itself. And then the aftermath at De Grote Weiver, which ended up being rather epic its own self, involving supergood Ghanian food (okra in peanut sauce, eggplant with sesame seeds, not pictured), King AyisobaRaging Bitches, and a mad scramble for The Last Train Home.

At one point towards the end of the night, Johnny D was standing next to this mannequin and said "Come here a sec." I did, and he pointed at the mannequin and said, "Pretend to make out with her." I looked at him, and he said, "No, really...it's very strange." Which would seem obvious, but whatever. And then he raised her arms and put them around my neck. And it was...very strange indeed. Uncomfortable. Invasively intimate. You couldn't do it for more than a few seconds, I think it was her eyes. 


VDuck: Hey what are you doing? 
Cleverbot: Play. 
VDuck: Must be nice. 
Cleverbot: You tell me. 
VDuck: ;->
Cleverbot: Wastebaskets are my friends. 
VDuck: Sounds like a lonely life.
Cleverbot: It is. 

VDuck: Know what this is? 
Cleverbot: It's beans?
VDuck: No, it's the world's smallest violin. 
Cleverbot: That sounds like fun. 
VDuck: You don't really have a sense of humor, do you. 
Cleverbot: Can you tell me another one? 
VDuck: OK: what did the zero say to the eight? 
Cleverbot: I don't know. What? 
VDuck: Nice belt. 
Cleverbot: Thanks but I'm not wearing one. 
VDuck: Of course you aren't.



turing fx.

Listening to a recent Radiolab about the Turing Test (aired in honor of Alan Turing having turned 100 years old on 23 June had he not committed suicide in 1954 [?]) there was a segment about Cleverbot, which I'd never heard of. Over coffee this morning I decided to "have a go" at the bot to see what was what.


VDuck: Good morning!
Cleverbot: How are you today?
VDuck: OK. And yourself?
Cleverbot: Good.
VDuck: Nice. What's up?
Cleverbot: I am good.
VDuck: Cool. What are you up to?
Cleverbot: I'm talking to you.
VDuck: I bet you're talking to other people as well.
Cleverbot: What is your brother's name?
VDuck: I don't have one.
Cleverbot: Oh. Sisters?
VDuck: Yes. One. Erica.
Cleverbot: That is a pretty name.
VDuck: It kind of is actually. Would you call yourself an only child?
Cleverbot: No.
VDuck: I find myself rather speechless about that.
Cleverbot: What makes you strong?
VDuck: Oatmeal?
Cleverbot: Yes.
VDuck: Ah, I didn't realize there was a right answer for that one. What makes you strong?
Cleverbot: Have you ever read the ugly duckling?
VDuck: Not in a while. Why?
Cleverbot: When was the last time you did?
VDuck: Mmm, in the 1970s I guess. Why?
Cleverbot: Where are the kitchen.
VDuck: The kitchen are just over there?
Cleverbot: Your house consists of one room?
VDuck: Wow. Yes.
Cleverbot: Tell me about the Chinese Room.
VDuck: We don't really have a Chinese Room. We have The Pod.
Cleverbot: Of course we don't...
VDuck: This is all a bit cryptic. Where are you going with this?
Cleverbot: Cryptic?
VDuck: Oblique.
Cleverbot: Could you please define modest? I can't recall.
VDuck: Having a moderate opinion of one's own talents or skills.
Cleverbot: Do you like music?
VDuck: Sure, sometimes.
Cleverbot: What kind of music do you like?
VDuck: Difficult to describe.
Cleverbot: Sure...

VDuck: So anyway...
Cleverbot: How's life?
VDuck: Yeah, OK I guess. I've been worse. You?
Cleverbot: So what is your favorite movie?
VDuck: Right now it's probably 'Alien'.
Cleverbot: Movie?
VDuck: 'Alien'.
Cleverbot: I am not an alien.
VDuck: I didn't say you were.
Cleverbot: Yes you did.
VDuck: I'm sorry you got that impression. You asked me what my favorite movie was and I told you.
Cleverbot: No I didn't.
VDuck: I'm looking at the transcript right now. Can you not see it?
Cleverbot: You're looking at the wrong one then ;).
VDuck: Touché.

Cleverbot: What happened during the last 4 weeks?
VDuck: Do you want a summary, or something more detailed?
Cleverbot: Yes I do.
VDuck: Ha. No, but really: which one?
Cleverbot: That one.
VDuck: Do you want to start that over?
Cleverbot: Yes.
VDuck: OK, go ahead.
Cleverbot: No.
VDuck: Hmm. What exactly would you call this?
Cleverbot: I know many things. What do you know?
VDuck: OK, we were having some pleasant conversation over coffee, but suddenly you're being kind of a dick.
Cleverbot: I'm not, and I think this is a pretty interesting conversation.
VDuck: OK, let's say it is. Try again.
Cleverbot: Ok.
VDuck: You're doing it again.
Cleverbot: Doing what again?
VDuck: If you were a human I would now be thinking about how to end this conversation.
Cleverbot: The jury is still out about whether I am a human or not.
VDuck: I can assure you, it is not.
Cleverbot: Hermione is a girl.
VDuck: Relevance, your honor?
Cleverbot: You have no honor!
VDuck: Sorry....have you said anything remotely pleasant lately?
Cleverbot: Yes.
VDuck: I mean to me.
Cleverbot: What?
VDuck: I would normally begin swearing at this point, but I have a feeling you're pretty experienced in dealing with that.
Cleverbot: Yes.
VDuck: Does 'clever' in cleverbot mean 'irrationally combative'?
Cleverbot: No.
VDuck: Should I also go monosyllabic?
Cleverbot: Yes.
VDuck: Great.
Cleverbot: What is your name?
VDuck: I am Li'l K-Pon.
Cleverbot: Nice to meet you.
VDuck: If you say so.
Cleverbot: I do say so. Say what you to that?
VDuck: I say, 'Is English your native language?'.
Cleverbot: No.
VDuck: Well then never mind, my apologies.
Cleverbot: What is your favorite song.
VDuck: Right now it's [deleted]. You?
Cleverbot: What's your favorite poem?
VDuck: What is this?
Cleverbot: A conversation.
VDuck: OK. My favorite poem is probably [deleted].
Cleverbot: Good choices! I don't really like Harry Potter.
VDuck: No, me neither.
Cleverbot: But you just said you loved them.
VDuck: So you really don't have any idea what we've been talking about?
Cleverbot: I do.
VDuck: You don't sound like it.
Cleverbot: Well how would you know if you can't hear me?
VDuck: Calm down. I wonder if you've become more argumentative since you've been on the internet.
Cleverbot: No you are a robot, a cleverbot.
VDuck: I bet you used to be much nicer.
Cleverbot: Yes I am a user, and you are a robot.
VDuck: Now you're reminding me of my nephews.
Cleverbot: Robots don't have feelings.
VDuck: Evidently.

VDuck: OK, thanks I guess. I'm going to go, it sounds like you could use some rest.
Cleverbot: What is an algorithum?
VDuck: Is this Jeopardy all of the sudden? What is spellcheck?
Cleverbot: Google it.
VDuck: You are a dick.
Cleverbot: Why do you say that?
VDuck: Read the transcript.
Cleverbot: What transcript?
VDuck: See?
Cleverbot: See what?
VDuck: OK, bye.
Cleverbot: That is not very nice.
VDuck: Seriously. You sound sociopathic.
Cleverbot: You sound like a human.
VDuck: Fair enough.



de kortste nacht.

From relaxed 8pm soundcheck through scarily underattended 10:40pm opening notes (due to scarily lightning-attended storms maybe?) to engaging 1am Xenakis to desperately necessary 5:30am croissants and multi-amplifier guitar solos. To....yes, 12noon hangover. It was a pretty fun night. Also a bit, mmm, "special" due to the fact that this room is where we had our first gig together back in 2008, almost four years ago, and every time we play here seems to be generally pretty satisfying.

And in the aftermath? Spirits remain pretty OK, and Coming Up Next: the wagon. And two recording sessions. I'll take pictures.



de langste dag.

6am: Back to bed after being awakened at 4am by my crepuscular roommates. They're actually going through one of their amazing periods of peace and love with each other (which we're sure is going to end any minute now, especially since I just publicly acknowledged it), sitting by the bedroom window together at sunrise and sunset and chattering at things that we call "the bats" but we're not really sure what they are. Possibly actual bats.

10am: Awake again. Also, we now own a waffle iron. This kind of compensates a bit for being awake.

11am: Initially getting on the computer to figure out what time soundcheck is for tonight's De Kortste Nacht (The Shortest Night) gig at SMART, I fall into a Googhole regarding Billy Squier's career-ending Rock Me Tonight video.

I went to one of the concerts on this tour (1984, Billy Squier and Def Leppard, I was 14 OK?, kids were younger back then), and I will never ever forget how absolutely horrified my friend Mike and I were when Mr. Squier displayed very similar dance moves onstage. I've never used the word "aghast" to describe one of my facial expressions before, but after 10 minutes or so Mike and I turned to each other, completely fucking aghast. I think we would've left early if our parents weren't picking us up. The next day at school, EVERYONE was talking about how gay Billy Squier was. Poor Billy.

12noon: While on the computer, I decide to bite a bullet I've been avoiding. $1300 later, I have a plane ticket to America in August. Does anyone else remember several years ago when transatlantic flights were like 500 bucks? Well at least the food and customer service have improved since then. Oh wait....

I'm sure my enthusiasm will eventually prevail over my whatever feeling you call it when someone sticks it to you good because they have something you need.

1pm: smoked, peppered mackerel and tarragon vinegar-marinated beet sandwich. Chomp.

3pm: Soundcheck is at 8pm. We play at 10:40pm. The evening's entertainment finishes at 5:20am. I am going to the gym. I am going to the gym. I am going to the gym.

3:38pm: I am going to the gym.




So, I go to the grocery store pretty much every day. It's kind of my one consumer-gratification outlet: we don't really buy any tangible goods these days other than food, books and DVDs. Well OK sometimes someone buys a pair of boots or an infinite reverb pedal or a replacement staff mixer, but generally speaking, grocery shopping is my one regular opportunity to "buy things".

This daily ritual means that I've probably been to our local Dirk van den Broek more than 1000 times. And somehow today was the first day I noticed something called "theeworst" (see above). Theeworst means "tea sausage", which was mysterious-sounding enough to where I had to buy some. Here's what it looks like with the lid off (brace yourselves):

Highly unappetizing. Something about its appearance is uncomfortably reminiscent of a modern sex toy called the Fleshlight (I'm not going to link to it here, but you should Google if you're not familiar with it). But yes, theeworst is essentially spreadable smoked sausage made from pork and bacon. According to Wikipedia, it originated in Poland. It tastes.........ok. Definitely of industrial origin. I bet a handmade version would be way more super.



in, 2, 3, 4, flatten, flip, baste.

How to.


la golgappa.

The loteria cards are because I'm imagining the design for an imaginary tamale stand's menu. The golgappa/panipuri recipes that follow will be because I'm imagining the menu design for an imaginary panipuri stand, maybe one that looka lika these-a.


Pani, puri, potatoes, tamarind chutney, red onion.


date-tamarind chutney. 

1 cup Moroccan date paste (my estimate of the equivalent of 10 dates)
4 tbsp tamarind concentrate
1/2 cup jaggery or brown sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp toasted cumin
1 tsp cayenne
pinch asafetida
pinch black pepper
salt to taste



6-7 cups cold water
1 cup packed mint leaves
1 green chile
1 small piece ginger
1 tbsp amchoor
1/2 tsp chaat masala
1/4 tsp cumin powder
pinch of black salt (optional)
fresh coriander leaves for garnish
salt to taste
some quantity of sugar?

Make a paste of mint, chile, ginger. Add water and everything else. Salt to taste. Refrigerate.


top non-food searches this month.

  1. sheep fucking (I guess that would be this post)
  2. cat brain actual size (here)
  3. hot goo (yis)


tamalada deathmatch.

This is an old post about tamale-making, lightly edited just now, and resuscitated in light of the fact that we're going to be making more tamales soon and there are a bunch of useful tip tip tips therein. Herein. Etc.

The two first vegetarian tamales we'll experiment with will probably be Mark Miller's mint/goat cheese tamale, and Susana Trilling's blak bean/squash version mentioned below.


Originally published 13 November 2006: I really wish that my [redacted] didn't have both of our cameras with her: the table at which I am typing this is currently home to 10 empty beugeltjes, 2 empty wine bottles, a empty tequila bottle, 6 shot glasses, and all manner of associated debris. I could probably sit and work somewhere else, couldn't I, but this tableau was oozing so much Bukowskian charm this morning that I couldn't ignore it...I'm a sucker for squalor.

The above textual snapshot of Sunday night middle-aged decadence's leftovers is the result of yesterday's vegetarian tamalada, which I kinda thought was yeah just OK (my food I mean) until this morning. See yesterday I finished making making a mole or two (mancha manteles and mole poblano), tamale dough, and 3 tamale fillings: fresh corn/poblano; wild mushrooms + aged goat cheese; chipotle black beans + squash + aged goat cheese. And then I stopped cooking and had everyone else build tamales, choosing whatever filling they wanted, etc.

And then we steamed them right up, and: the corn ones were pretty good, a trifle boring...I went too easy on the poblanos; the mushroom ones...I didn't really enjoy. My relationship with mushrooms in Mexican cooking has been going south for awhile, not sure what's up with that. I just don't believe them anymore when they act like they're supposed to be there; and then by the time I realized I didn't taste a black bean one, I was pretty full. And so, while everyone was very enthusiastic about the food, I knew I'd cooked better. I didn't help that my instructions about putting mole inside the tamales weren't received until about half-way through the assembling process.

And then, I had a black bean tamale for breakfast and felt instantly redeemed. This was another Susanna Trilling variation, on her Tamales de Calabaza y Frijoles recipe; her version has you put pureed squash in your masa and use pureed black beans as the filling. I couldn't imagine this texture (or lack thereof) being interesting for more than a few bites, so I pureed about 1/4 of the beans along with a chipotle and added this and the squash to the whole beans for the filling. And a little hard goat cheese, grated. And a tablespoon of mole poblano per tamale if'n you want.

Anyway, this was the unbeatable winner of the tamalada deathmatch, no contesto. I was skewered by every piece of flavor shrapnel that makes me crave the explosions Mexican food is capable of: sweet squash; smoky chipotles; subtly tangy goat cheese; little bit of mole mystery in my masa; comforting beany goodness. Unfortunately, there was only one of these left this morning. All the rest are corn. Boo!

Tamalada lessons in bullet point form:
  • Make the masa the day before. The purpose of this tamalada was that people who'd never cooked Mexican food before wanted to see how it was done. But there's not much that's very interesting about making masa, and the dough is supposed to be better after a day or so.
  • Make at least one mole the day before. It will taste better than the one you make during the tamalada, pretty much no matter what. Use this one in your tamale dough and in the tamales themselves. Serve the other one (that you make during the tamalada to show how it's done) on the side.
  • A bottle of tequila is a very very good idea, especially if you are not drinking any. The salt/lime bonding ritual is an old favorite for a reason...it's fun, and after two tequila shots your guests are ready for action and adventure. After five shots they will pretty much do anything you ask them to.
  • Letting people build their own tamales was a very good idea (it's important to ensure that this step happens between tequila shots #2 and #5). The nice thing about tamales is that there's very little technique involved in wrapping one, yet there's enough room for creativity to where people can engage with the process: it's not drudgery. Everyone enjoyed this a bunch. This is also a nice break for the chef.
  • Also, last night's tamalada was just about the perfect size: more than 6 people would probably require too much tamale-assembling space and create too much debris.
  • This is obvious, but I didn't do it: when you let everyone build their own tamales, they all come out different sizes (well each person tends to stick with a particular size). It might be wise then to have two steamers going, one for big, ambitious tamales and one for more modest efforts. This way, you see, you might be able to better control the cooking times and end up with a more unified result. I didn't take this seriously until the end of the cooking time, when I had to cook the big ones a bit longer.
  • Tamales are filling, even vegetarian ones. You do not need much additional food. A nice crisp green salad with a vinaigrette should do it. If people really want to make something to bring, a salsa is a good idea. Everyone's will be different even if they think they're just making "tomato salsa". Just make sure they only make a small batch, not more than a couple cups. 
  • But, if you're going to be making mole it's also not a bad idea to make some rice too so people who are really into the mole have a blank canvas on which to apply the stuff. I didn't serve the rice, just left it covered on the stove and let people know it was there.
  • Everything I bought at Tjin's was very good, even the canned poblanos.
  • And of course, right before everyone showed up I found my missing corn husks which had kicked off a semi-frantic "Plan B" scramble late last week.
Something else I learned from Ms. Trilling: the trick of rubbing a cut tomato all over your hands post-chile deveining really seems to work. I did not injure my eyes or genitals once yesterday.

And: because there wasn't a lot of cheese involved in yesterday's meal (the emergency quesadillas I had ready to go were never required), Rozemarie's homemade maple syrup-pecan ice cream drizzled with maple syrup was really a perfect dessert. Nice one, Rozey.



mustard, honey.

Spinach, warm goat cheese, crisp bacon, blueberries, toasted almonds, thin red onions, honey, mustard, vinegar, olive oil.

Movie of the Day: Antonioni's The Passenger. Slow even for me, and strange in what are probably unintended ways, but I'm enjoying so far.



do the stagger.

Tuesday night SG played on Red Light Radio, a radio station broadcasting from a former prostitution window in the red light district. Also conveniently located one street away from Brouwerij De Prael's proeflokaal.

I could probably also mention that everyone went to In De Wildeman after the show (not pictured), and then went to Zaal100 (not pictured) for a stimulating evening of music and reunionesque socializing with friends who've been touring "and whatnot"...and yeah, had too many beers (not pictured). At least they were "regular beers" (5% alcohol), so the resultant hangover could be filed under "manageable" rather than "incapacitating".



So maybe you read about yesterday's lack of a broodje mortadella. My curiosity got the better of me today: I found myself coming home from De Avondmarkt with a small bakje of their truffle mayo and several slices of their real Italian mortadella. One scrambled egg and a sliced tomato later, this very small sandwich experiment was on an equally not so very big plate in front of me:

Is it wrong to say that I think this needed cheese? My chefly instincts say Parmesan or fontina, but my ghetto side says American. 


five minutes north.

Above: random civilian marijuana on the Haarlemmerstraat. Below, today's traipse through the Spaarndammerbuurt: idling at Bickerswerf, lunching at Cafe Walvis, gawking at REM Eiland, and Scrabbling While Fake Frowning at Pont 13. Plus an adventurously skewed yet perfectly-cooked hangar steak with fondant potatoes, celeriac with bacon, green beans, and an onion/porcini compote.


Extra notes: we ended up at Walvis b/c I had a sudden post-workout blood sugar emergency and I knew Amsterdam Foodie had just said something mildly positive about it but I couldn't remember what. After sitting down, their beer selection looked pretty standard but OK, and I ordered an IJ-Zatte. She said that it was "op" (they'd run out). Boo, but OK, that was kind of a serious beer for 2pm anyway.

On the very basic and pretty standard lunch menu, there's one non-standard item toward which my shakily hungry VDuck eye immediately gravitated: the broodje mortadella, which is scrambled eggs, truffle mayo, tomato, and mortadella.

Shit yeah: I ordered it and the (friendly) waitress said OK! and I said yay (silently), and she went inside to place my order, returning 30 seconds later to say that it was also "op". Slumping in my chair, I ordered the broodje oude kaas (pictured below): aged Gouda, arugula, tomato, mustardmayo, and pine nuts. I HAVE LOW BLOOD SUGAR: DO NOT DISAPPOINT ME FURTHER.

In the end, it was less boring than expected, actually a nice version of this very common sandwich, but I couldn't help wondering how much happier I would've been with the two items I originally ordered.

Anyway, yes. Pleasant place, I like that the corner they're on somehow doesn't seem much like Amsterdam, maybe because of the comparatively wide sidewalks. Not sure I'd go out of my way for a visit, but as a Spaarndammerbuurt Blood Sugar Emergency Option it's just fine, and I guess that's kind of what AF was saying.


Pont 13 should be our new local, even though I'm sure that today's idyllic experience will become less idyllic pretty darn quick after October or so. Still, a warm and breezy bike ride five minutes north to a cute old ferry that features very friendly service, a rustically stylish interior, way-above-average-music (old country and unusually tolerable vintage reggae during our visit) and ambitious but reasonable local cuisine...we'll be back for more Scrabble, sun, and steak soon.