Good Bye, Tar Paper Town…

…I recently learned that one of my most favourite comics, Tar Paper Town, has been officially retired.

The genius behind Tar Paper Town was the one and only, Rod Filbrandt. I sent him an e-mail found on his website asking what had happened with the publication of the comic. While I had no expectation for him to reply, he actually did, advising the comic had been retired and was ready to move on to something else.

But in my head…”Why?” I absolutely loved his comics. I did my very best to catch each week’s new comic published in The Georgia Straight. In fact, the underlying reason why I followed his comics was because Rod was able to portray a satirical piece to the public without offending anybody. The comics were witty and the characters were fun. He made fun of Vancouver, its inhabitants and the surrounding social issues and politics of our everyday lives – in a quirky, nonchalant way. How could you *not* like it?

Not only that, Rod single-handedly shaped and changed my views of reality in the world we live in, especially of Vancouver. For many years, he published comics with provocative and witty content, challenging the status quo. His comics spoke on behalf of those who were too afraid to say what was on their minds. As cliche as it may sound, Rod was a revolutionary who was not afraid to poke the angry bear. You simply could not get upset at the man for speaking the truth, whether intentional or not. The comics were just too awesome. And if you ever were offended, you seriously would have had to pull that probe out of your rear-end.

And what sparked my love for his comics? Not only was it Tar Paper Town, a friend of mine had bought me one of his books, Dry Shave as a birthday gift. At first, I thought it was a strange, quirky book which reflected my personality. Fact of the reality is, I was offended because the gift felt like a slap to the face so out of anger and spite, I put the book away in a shelf, hoping I’d never find it. Fortunately, one exciting weekend, I was bored and had to clean my closet out. I found the book, covered in a thick layer of dust and finally decided to give it a read. Low and behold. After countless numbers of laughs, I absolutely loved it and began following Rod’s comics in The Straight. It was only then I had realized some of the characters found in Dry Shave were used interchangeably in Tar Paper Town. Stupid me. Any way, I have to thank Jane for buying me a copy of Dry Shave which sparked my unconditional love for Rod’s comics. Life would have been extremely dull and boring.

While I am saddened to learn the news of the retirement of Tar Paper Town, I look forward to Rod’s future projects. For a guy in his 80s, he’s definitely one heck of a cool cat and deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. As for the characters of Tar Paper Town, I bid you adieu and thank you for the years of solid laughs.

(Stolen from The Georgia Straight’s Archives. Of course, comic by the one and only, Rod Filbrandt.)

P.S. – Please buy his books. You’ll regret not doing so.

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Seattle’s Coffee Scene: Espresso Vivace

Yes. I know. I’ve neglected my espresso adventures as of late. I hope you can forgive me as I have been occupied with work and school. That and I haven’t exactly tried anything new and exciting as of late. Since my last espresso review, I went back to some old favourites such as Herkimer’s blend and Casa Del Caffe’s Espresso Gran Bar. On the other hand, I did end up trying a few others however, I’ll save those for a later date for discussion.

Fast forward to yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking a day trip down to Seattle to meet with a few of the NW BMW Club members. I took the opportunity to buy some motor oil on sale and take advantage of picking up some fresh beans from the no other, Espresso Vivace Roasteria. Vivace, from what little I know, has been a key player in the Seattle coffee scene. Amongst coffee geeks and forum members, Vivace has earned itself a reputation of being “controversial.” I won’t get into details but Google is your friend. =)

I stopped by to try their espresso and to pick up a few bags of coffee. The store I went to is just off the I-5 southbound, Exit 166 (Denny Way/Stewart Way) on 227 Yale St. Located in a new’ish condo/strata type of building, the shop boasts a large seating area for guests and two beautiful Synesso Hydra machines paired with several Anfim grinders. The baristas behind the bar reflect the local scenester type. Grungey, punk rock style with piercings, tattoos, and aren’t afraid of calling their female co-workers “dawg.” They were friendly, helpful, but not very social unless you were one of them.

The lineups went out the door. Here, they take their time. Not that I have a problem with that but if you’re busy chatting with your coworker about last night’s show and which band sucked, while your customers are waiting patiently for you to serve them, come on. That’s a tell-tale sign their their customer service just isn’t really up to snuff. That or it’s just how laid back the folks in Seattle are. You can decide for yourself.

Anyway, I finally managed to order an espresso. The shot itself is served as a ristretto however, there was no crema when I received it. Not to mention, the shot in itself was cold, almost a 35c to 40c temperature if even (and I’m being very nice here.) Taste wise – I think it was spoiled. There was a trace of sugar in my cup, or spoon, or whatever. I don’t know if it was intentional but the shot could not be enjoyed nor properly tasted. As per the taste profile on Vivace’s site, I could not taste anything as to what’s described except for the sugar. I wanted to ask for another one but feeling bad for the people who are waiting patiently behind me, I decided to keep my mouth shut and ordered two bags of coffee. Which brings me to my next point.

When I order a bag of coffee, it is usually implied that I want a 1 pound bag. Unfortunately, not at Vivace. You get a 1/2 pound bag, somewhere along the lines of 500g. I did not realize this until after I left the store and was long gone into south Seattle. The price didn’t occur to me. $15 and change seemed cheap but at the same time, didn’t make me think of it much. Again, because of all the people behind me and the anti-social demeanor of the baristas, I didn’t do nor say anything. Shame on me.

So there you have it. Unfortunately, this is my piss-poor attempt of reviewing Vivace. I hope to send a bag to The CoffeeStork so he can play around with their Espresso Dolce blend. I hope to be able to at least discuss with him about their blend, and to have a well-rounded opinion of what he thinks of their beans. I was shocked to learn from him that Vivace does not ship to Canada. Lame.

Until next time!

P.S. – My apologies for not taking a photo of the espresso.

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Took the car on a day trip to Seattle to pick up a few goodies.

1. Vivace’s Espresso Dolce beans (see post above)
2. Castrol Syntec 0W30 (Made in Germany) – 5 quarts for $27.99 (*As opposed to $9.99/L @ Canadian Tire and taxes, fees/levies.)
3. BMW Roof Rack, snowboard rack, and Thule bike racks

So much win.

But so much fail at the same time. I wasted an entire day thanks to this crap:

Not pictured: Havoc on HWY 99 & 91. Some stupid accident which resulted in a 1.5 hour detour home, excess carbon monoxide, global warming and other ideas you can conjure up on the fly.

But two cool pix during my trip:

(Some kids’ store)

The Lunchbox Laboratory – Appaerntly they’ve got some amazing burgers! I didn’t try it out because I wasn’t hungry yet. I regret my decision 2 hours later and settled for a Sirloin Burger @ Jack In The Box. *Sigh*

Good day? Sort of. Could’ve been better. Gas mileage on the M3 is awesome. But C’est la vie.

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