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Siphon Coffee Pin and Balconi Coffee

At Comic-Con in San Diego, people purchased the siphon coffee pin, but strangely no one knew where to get a cup. I get mine at Balconi Coffee Company in West LA and in it's short history, it's become part of the fine coffee culture in Los Angeles. The owner Ray Sato is a tinkerer, fixer, and modifier of electronics and hardware. He also taught me about the intricacies of coffee. I went from a "wake up" drinker to savoring the delicate flavors.  Unlike some shops which could be intimidating or snobby, Balconi is the opposite. They'll gladly show you their gear and how it works. In my opinion, siphon is the star. I often use the exact same batch of roasted...

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Designing the Giant Robot Pin Collection

Today, someone asked if I did art. My answer is "no" every time. I've curated art, written plenty of articles, and designed numerous Giant Robot shirts, but art? I don't do it. Lately, I've designed the Giant Robot pins and even then it's not art to me. It's "just" pins - designs that live at one inch wide. One our podcast, The Jew and The Lotus, Daniel Rolnik mentions that if you scattered a bunch of pins, you'd see a similar style to them all. Maybe I'm in that category. Either way, I'm grateful to be able to get nearly instant gratification in designing something and seeing it to the end of production. Here's a look at the all.  

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The D20 and Dungeons & Dragons

The D20 is as iconic as the game itself. Dungeons & Dragons or D&D, was hot and subversive role playing game that appeared when I was in elementary school. It had no board, no game pieces, or fake money. The bulk of the game consisted of a set of dice unlike any other, a map or module, and your imagination. Although it was completely innocuous, a small wave of hysteria hit the media and all of a sudden Dungeons & Dragons turned into something occult.  It went far enough for Hollywood to get involved by producing a film called Mazes and Monsters starring Tom Hanks that explored the world of gaming and mental illness. Recently everyone was captivated by the...

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Milk Tea, Green Tea, and Taro Boba Pins

I remember the first shop serving boba was Relaxstation on Sawtelle Blvd. It must have been in the later 90s. By that time, there were some shops in Monterey Park and boba soon became a craze. Years later it became available at too many places and restaurants began to serve it as well. Here's an article in 2000 from the NY Daily News. I'm quoted in it saying, "I don't think it's going to be huge," I said that?! However, I do include it in my list of "50 Pop Culture Influentials." Sawtelle Blvd was inundated in the early 2000s and I even helped NPR's Laura Sydell cover it for NPR. I took her to Volcano Tea, which was on of five...

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