A longer story…
So I have a nice story here from just a few days ago… geeks will love it… Maybe other people will too… I’ve just processed the photos, and I will sprinkle four of them here below so you can join in the fun.
My plane arrived in the evening, and I went out immediately to start taking photos of the city. Just as I was getting into a groove, I received a text to come over to Neal Stephenson’s house to help build a unique steampunk BBQ Grill. To this, I cannot say no.
So I arrived and then spent about four hours with Neal, Chris Young (master chef who wrote Modernist Cuisine), Nels Peterson (paleontologist++), and a few other people to build a crazy BBQ setup. Neal has this crazy BBQ every year and they try to do something off-the-wall. For this one, instead of spinning the pig over the fire, it was decided that the fire should spin around the outside of the pig.
It was dark when I pulled up just as another car rolled in, fully laden with metal tubing, rails, brackets, and other alloyed oddments. I walked over, and Neal went through a recognition subroutine to figure out if I was a friend or enemy. I barely passed that one and then helped carry in a bunch of strange things. We went through his home out into the backyard where there was a staging area for this creation.
I honestly did not do very much other than carry things and assemble one of the racks to hang the pig. I felt that the two pigs should be in a less “Catholic” position and we should kama-sutra it up, but no one else agreed with me on this point.
But, many hours later, the creation was assembled, and we turned it on to watch the giant columns of metal begin to spin around the central base. It felt a little like a wormhole generator that would enable fully cooked pigs to come into our world.
Then, the next day, when the BBQ officially started… here is a photo of the festivities.
And below is the a photo of the actual creation. You can see the pigs hanging in the middle as the fire spins around the outside. To the right is Chris Young and to the left is Neal Stephenson (who you can also see looking on in the photo above).
There was something new and hypnotic while the fire spun around the pig. It spun for over five hours and many of us just stared. It was kind of a shared experience of meta-strangeness.
I think maybe it was so foreign to our pleistocene brains. We’re just not used to seeing fire spin around while the meat is still. Or something. I don’t know.. but I’ll never forget how hypnotic the experience was…
In the photo below, Neal looks on once again…
And last is my friend Chris Young getting one of the columns of fire stoked. We filled these with a special kind of obsidian coal that was very tough to light but burned like a French retreat. First, Chris would use a blow torch to get it started, and then he whipped out the old leaf-blower really get the fire going.
He did this to both columns to make sure the temperature was consistent through the vertical structure before they were set into a spinning motion. And, yes, it turns out that it was not that steampunk at all, since these were spun around by a concrete mixer.