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Tell a friend best coffee ice cream

Some people find their favorite flavor of ice cream early in life and stick with it. Me, I go through phases. For years my favorite was strawberry, then it was praline, then pistachio, and then, for a while, vanilla bean. (Not regular vanilla, or French vanilla, or cherry vanilla or vanilla fudge, but vanilla bean. I wanted to see dark specks of what looked like dirt throughout the white cloud of cream.)

Now my flavor of choice is coffee. I’ve sampled coffee ice cream from a variety of manufacturers, including Ben & Jerry’s (mediocre at best), Häagen Dazs (passable but too subtle for my taste), Double Rainbow (sadly, Coffee Blast is more eh than a blast), and Starbucks (which, since it’s in the business of selling masstige coffee, should really produce more piquant coffee ice cream than it does). Sadly, none of these brands truly satisfies the discerning coffee ice cream palate. What disappointment.

Mitchell’s Ice Cream does produce a delectably smooth Kahlúa Mocha Cream — (Kahlúa being a well-known Mexican brand of coffee-flavored liqueur) — but unfortunately Mitchell’s is only available in the San Francisco Bay Area. (This is a great loss to everyone outside this region, and we hope that one day Mitchell’s expands its local empire without sacrificing the superlative quality of its many unusual flavors.)

Posted August 23, 2008 by Mariva in edibles

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Tell a friend cute kittens

kitten photo by Dereck Bradley

Sometimes animal lovers are in the mood to see kittens — lots and lots of kittens. Still photos of kittens may offer only partial satisfaction for your desire for cuteness. Fortunately, there’s plenty of video footage available, showing all the wobbling, bouncing, chasing, batting, squealing, head-tilting, cat-napping silliness you can stand.

For your viewing pleasure, I compiled this kittens YouTube playlist:

The videos play in this general order:

  • newborn kittens
  • wobbly, vulnerable first steps and mewing of early kittenhood
  • kittens playing with toys, boxes, a roll of toilet paper, and each other
  • white kittens (I’m partial to white cats, especially fluffy ones)
  • drinking milk, mostly from bottles — but, in one video, from a dog!
  • nodding off and falling asleep

If you find a kitten video that you think belongs in this YouTube playlist, please let me know. You can also find myriad kitten videos and slideshows on Kyte TV, and chat (text, audio, or video) live about them.

Posted August 17, 2008 by Mariva in animals, fun, games

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Tell a friend Making ‘Milk’: being an extra in the crowd scenes

Making Milk: crowd of extras in the Castro
photo: Eric Nielson (TroublePup, Observd)

[previous: Making ‘Milk’]

When a big crowd amasses on the street in the Castro District of San Francisco, it’s often to protest something. But last night, instead of actually protesting, a big crowd pretended to protest. And, let me tell you, there’s nothing more fun than pretending, especially when a professional film crew is there to capture the make believe.

Because it’s so difficult to assemble and manage a large crowd of enthusiastic, costumed extras, directors and crew will often reuse the same crowd, albeit with a few position and prop changes, to create and film different scenes. Last night’s crowd was used to film a rally, a march, and a riot for the Harvey Milk biopic, currently in production.

The Castro Theatre, perhaps in gratitude for refurbishing its decrepit sign and marquee, loaned "Milk Productions" (the working name for filmmaker Gus Van Sant’s production company) the use of its space for the day. In the afternoon, the production company hosted a free screening of The Times of Harvey Milk, which was introduced by documentary filmmaker Rob Epstein and attended by local gay politicos and key members of Milk cast and crew.

Posted February 5, 2008 by Mariva in city, community, fashion, movies, social

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Tell a friend Making ‘Milk’: Sean Penn as Harvey Milk

Milk movie, Sean Penn addressing crowd, photo by Eric Nielson
Sean Penn (as Harvey Milk) addresses the crowd during the making of Milk
photo: Eric Nielson (TroublePup, Observd)

[previous: being an extra in the crowd scenes]

Sean Penn — now clean-shaven and dapper compared to his earlier incarnation of Harvey Milk during Milk’s scruffier, hippie years — jumped onto the platform, and we all cheered and hooted. Facing the crowd, Penn/Milk yelled through a vintage bullhorn, "Are you angry?!"

Well, in reality, we weren’t angry at all. We were thrilled and giddy, but what the heck? We furrowed our brows, punched our fists into the air, and yelled, "Yeah!"

"Well, I’m angry!" Penn/Milk responded, drawing another round of punched fists, punctuated by a collective Yeah!.

Penn continued, "Let’s march to City Hall and share that anger with San Francisco!" We cheered and applauded, and the extras with signs shook them. We then chanted, "Gay rights now!"

Webb yelled, "Cut!" We buzzed and congratulated ourselves on a realistic performance.

Posted February 5, 2008 by Mariva in city, community, fashion, movies, social

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Tell a friend Making ‘Milk’: Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones

Making Milk: Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones
photo: Eric Nielson (TroublePup, Observd)

[previous: Sean Penn as Harvey Milk]

After Sean Penn’s big crowd-rousing scene, principle actor Emile Hirsch, playing a young activist Cleve Jones, took his turn performing on the platform. I couldn’t take my eyes off little Emile, so petite that he could be stashed in a coat pocket, mouthing his lines into the vintage bullhorn before his first take. He angled the bullhorn to his right side and practiced smoothly turning his head as he spoke. For those of us who have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, this seemed vaguely impressive.

"Do you want me to be in the frame?" he quietly asked the director. I thought, Why wouldn’t you be in the frame? Why are you up on the platform if you’re not going to be in the frame? But what do I know, I’m not a filmmaker.

Posted February 5, 2008 by Mariva in city, community, fashion, movies, social

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Tell a friend Making ‘Milk’: laughing while acting

Making Milk: view of Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro
photo: Eric Nielson (TroublePup, Observd)

[previous: Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones]

During one take, I marched past two extras dressed as macho riot cops in vintage police uniforms and white helmets. (Tangentially, as a sign of how times have changed, the actual San Francisco police officers guarding the set were two women with butch hairstyles.) One of the extras was perfect as an obnoxious cop, raising one eyebrow and sneering at us — as if he were thinking, Look at all these queers. What are these criminals planning? We need some law and order to protect decent society from these freaks! (Many of the protestor extras were convinced that these were actual police officers — probably because of their realistic portrayals.) Another cop, however, was smiling and looked as though he was about to burst out laughing.

At the end of the take, on the way back to ‘One,’ I said to the obnoxious cop, "You’re perfect! I’m scared of you!" He smiled at me, demonstrating that he was indeed an actor and not a homophobic cop.

Posted February 5, 2008 by Mariva in city, community, fashion, movies, social

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Tell a friend Making ‘Milk’: friends, Anita Bryant, Carrie Fisher

Making Milk: prop flyers on backdrop
photo: Steve Rhodes

[previous: laughing while acting]

Actors and extras took breaks while waiting for cameras and equipment to be repositioned. Production assistants wandered through the crowd, instructing us to put away our cell phones and digital cameras before upcoming scenes. Steve Rhodes remarked that this was a thankless and never-ending task. The extras couldn’t resist capturing the once-in-a-lifetime experience of making a movie in the Castro with Hollywood celebrities — but even just one single digital device spotted in the crowd would have betrayed the period on film. (The citizens of the ’70s might have felt ripped off if they had known that thirty years into the future would only bring handheld gadgets instead of, say, ubiquitous flying cars.)

The community of LGBTs and allies is a small world: during the many breaks, I caught up with old friends and acquaintances who were participating as extras in the crowd scenes. I ran into Joey Cain, former president of the board of San Francisco Pride, as well as a member of the Glide Memorial Church choir carrying a giant Gay Teachers stand up! sign. John Lewis of Marriage Equality USA carried a big white sign with Committee for Homosexual Law Reform in blue letters. His partner Stuart Gaffney recounted the romantic story of their first drinks over two decades ago at the bar formerly known as The Elephant Walk, a block away at 18th and Castro Streets, now appropriately named Harvey’s.

Posted February 5, 2008 by Mariva in city, community, fashion, movies, social

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Tell a friend Making ‘Milk’: make-believe riot, talking shop with actors

Making Milk: retro storefronts
photo: Steve Rhodes

[previous: friends, Anita Bryant, Carrie Fisher]

During another shot of the Wichita protest march, I walked past the giant cameras set on a rig in the middle of the street — and tried desperately not to look at it, which is notoriously challenging for non-actors. I walked right past, within inches of, the boom operator — and, again, tried not to look at his microphone overhead.

When the crew had turned around the camera, the assistant director announced that they’d be lighting a flare for the riot scene (to mimic the unique look of raw electricity). "Don’t look at the flare," he instructed. I was getting used the challenge of not looking at something that most humans, under ordinary circumstances, would find themselves staring at.

Posted February 5, 2008 by Mariva in city, community, fashion, movies, social

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Tell a friend U2 3D

U2 3D

I accidentally invited bleeding-edge tech journalist Robert Scoble to a private Kyte party. How it unfolded is a little embarrassing, but suffice it to say that the moral of the story is, don’t be Twittering first thing in the morning when you should be busy getting some work done anyway.

After drinks and deep-fried snacks at Johnny Foley’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, the Kyte team, along with Scoble and his Fast Company podcast producer Rocky Barbanica (a disarmingly affable fellow, despite looking like someone who drives a Harley and could be menacing in a dark alley), headed over to the Metreon to see U2 3D in the IMAX movie theatre.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and, to be honest, I probably would have been more excited at the outset by a presentation of Aliens of the Deep or Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon. With a movie of a U2 concert, I assumed I’d get bored and space out, wishing I could be Twittering from my mobile phone without being rude to my fellow attendees who’d prefer to sit in pitch-darkness. (I was wrong about the movie; read on.)

It’s not that I dislike U2. In fact, in the ’80s I used to listen incessantly to War on vinyl, lifting the needle at the end of "Seconds" and setting it down at the beginning of "Sunday Bloody Sunday" over and over again, sometimes taking a break from this two-set to listen to "Drowning Man" or "40." When I lived in "Oblique House," a small temporary co-op in Oberlin, Ohio during the summer of 1989, a friend who was a studio musician tuned his guitar to The Joshua Tree and played impeccable renditions of "Where the Streets Have No Name," "I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For," and "In God’s Country." He emulated The Edge’s signature textural style (although neither of us remembers if he’d used delay taps to mimic the "shimmer" effect). Better even than listening to the album on a top-of-the-line sound system, it sounded like a private U2 concert in our house. Later, when I traveled through the southwest, I couldn’t look at any of the ubiquitous Joshua trees without thinking of the eponymous album. Tangentially, Boo owns an original Negativland’s U2 EP (rereleased under another title), purchased just before U2’s former label Island Records sued Negativland, a controversial lawsuit that the U2 members themselves thought was "very heavy."

But I stopped buying albums after Achtung Baby and years later realized that I’d quit listening to U2’s newer stuff altogether — with the possible exception of "Beautiful Day" from All That You Can’t Leave Behind (simply because it was unavoidable in the media and the public sphere). It wasn’t intentional on my part; perhaps it was because the anger and intensity of War (still my favorite U2 album) appealed to me more than the sweeter, feel-good material of later years. (It’s analogous to — though not as extreme as — my erstwhile enthrallment with Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy in the early ’90s before Michael Franti turned into a hippie peacenik; his sound mellowed out and got boring, at least compared to his previous musical incarnations. If I wanted tepid, unchallenging music, I’d listen to smooth jazz.)

Nevertheless, it’s fairly easy to get in the mood for a U2 concert, virtual or live. U2 is like The Beatles, comprising a solid, talented quartet of British Isles musicians with names memorized by millions around the globe, known for their iconic radio hits as much as for their social activism. At this point, U2 is classic — and one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t like their music.

Posted January 30, 2008 by Mariva in entertainment, innovations, media, movies, music, technology

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Tell a friend Leo Laporte’s podcasting tips

Only days after my initial careless omission of TWiT (this WEEK in TECH) in the list of the best free tech industry podcasts, I was fortunate enough to see Leo Laporte — who has a background in media, including radio and television — give an insider’s talk about podcasting at last week’s MacWorld. Here are some professional tips I picked up for current or would-be podcasters:

  • Bring passion. When developing a subject idea for a new podcast program, don’t try to game the media market — find what you love or care about and talk about it. If you focus your show on what you’re passionate and knowledgeable about, you’re much more likely to generate interest and be successful.
  • Specialize in a niche. There are thousands of audio shows available, and, for every topic you can think of, there’s at least one podcast for it. So instead of starting a new program about old cars, for example, start out by focusing on old Corvettes. Interview Corvette owners, dealers, and restorers. You can always expand your focus later. Also, don’t worry about getting a huge audience right away. If you have an audience of 1,000 dedicated listeners, you’re doing well. One thousand is a lot of people; if you were speaking to that many in person, it’d be an impressive crowd.

Posted January 24, 2008 by Mariva in audio, business, career, media, resources, technology

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