Roast Beef Dunwich, our horrifying new Twitterbot

Have you ever wondered what items would be on the menu in a cosmic-horror-themed diner? Me too! Well not at first, but I had a fun Twitter handle (@eatroastbeef) that I wanted to do something neat with, so I thought it would be fun combine a bunch of unspeakable descriptions from Lovecraft novels along with tasty menu descriptions from various local restaurants and fast food chains. Ideally, the bot would then send tweets with a name, short description, price, and calorie count.  Like this:

Christine had written her own Markov Chain script for a similar project earlier this year, so we thought that would be perfect for this project. While Christine worked on the code, I collected as many descriptions as possible to feed to the bot. This was the most tedious part for me as I had to scour the web hunting down good sources, then usually needing to click copy and paste multiple times on each item on their menu and add them to our list. Many sites didn’t even have this info on one page, so I had to load a new page for every single item. This was hours of work, but it was so much fun to see the bots descriptions improve and change with each new menu we feed it. For the Lovecraft text, I started off by just feeding in all of his novels, but that often yielded some boring tweets. I was lucky to find Yog-Blogsoth, which collected every single Lovecraft creature (no matter how obscure) and listed it along with the specific block of text that describes it. This meant all of our Lovecraft text was just the gruesome descriptions, with none of that plot stuff to get in the way. It was still a ton of copying/pasting/checking for duplicates, but it saved a ton of time. 

We had some decent names to choose from, but ended up calling our “diner” Roast Beef Dunwich. I banged out a mascot and logo and the end result is online now. We don’t curate the feed, so there’s bound to be some gibberish, but so far we’ve seen some great tweets. Be sure to give @eatroastbeef a follow for a small dose of absurd tweets throughout the day. 

My favorite food title so far.
No wait, this is my favorite item title! “NYARLATHOTEP MASHED POTATOES THAT ENDED ARBYS”?! How did it even come up with that title? 
Gluten free!

Fun fact, we have yet to see a single Shoggoth or Cthulhu callout since our bot went live. I think I’ll freak out when it happens. 

For more information, check out Christine’s post about Roast Beef Dunwich… and be sure to follow and share our ghastly creation


Really Simple Style: How I RSS’d My Wardrobe

When a friend asked where I bought my shoes I told them it was the result of an RSS search on eBay. Looking closer, I realized my entire outfit (from head to toe) was the result of RSS searches.

Like many of you, I buy most of my clothes online. The only difference is that I used RSS feeds to find most of the clothes I bought in the last 5 years. Typically this means I’ll do a search for something on eBay or craigslist, and if they don’t have what I want, I add that search to my RSS reader so I’ll get notified whenever that item appears. Then I just forget about it and start watching cute animal videos on youtube.

From time to time an item appears in my RSS feed and I check to see if the Buy It Now is within my price range. If not, I come up with a low (but reasonable price) and use Auction Sniper to place my auction bid in the final seconds of a listing. Typically, I lose, but that’s a good thing because the item sold for more than I was willing to pay. The whole system is set up for me not to constantly check eBay for an item, then get into a bidding war on that item (that I don’t really NEED, but kind of want). As much as I love getting clothes for cheap, I also get competitive with other buyers and used to spend way too much, so this set-it and forget-it mentality really works for people like me that may be willing to have a search going for years before they score the perfect item for an insanely low price.

My RSS Outfit

Like I mentioned before, my entire outfit (except for the underwear) was found via RSS feeds. So we decided to do a fashion shoot documenting the hat, jacket, shirt, shoes, pants, and even socks. Huge thanks to my Emma Zwirko for taking these photos (and not making me feel super silly while doing it). You can see more of her fashion photos on Instagram.
An outfit comprised of RSS searches


A Portrait Through a 100 Year Old Camera At ORDcamp in Chicago

Last month I flew up to Chicago for a 3 day un-conference called ORDcamp. I had a fantastic time and really appreciated all the extra touches they put into it. For instance, each attendee had their portrait taken by Pete Tsai, a Chicago based photographer. Pete had a 95yo Deardorff 8×10 camera set up, with a DSLR behind it. He’d have us pose in front of the Deardorff camera (with the shutter wide open, so you could see right through it), then he’d use the DSLR to take a photo of the camera with you behind it. Here’s the result:

OrdCamp Portrait

Despite being invited in 2008 and 2009, this was the first year I was ever actually able to afford the airfare and lodging for ORDcamp. Disposable income FTW! I’m so glad they invited me again, because it was an amazing experience. You know those people who go to Burning Man for the first time, then spend the next few months talking about it? That’s how my friends must have felt when I came back from ORDcamp this year.

Here are a few more of Pete’s portraits:

Taken with a 95 year old camera! #ordcamp

A post shared by Tanner Woodford (@tannerwoodford) on


Best of 2017

2017 is dead. Long live 2017! I wanted to take a moment to spotlight some of my favorite new things. So here’s my “Best of 2017” list… in sets of twos!

Music (albums):

Shredder’s “Dangerous Jumps”- Fantastic new hip hop project the Doomtree collective. If you dig Run The Jewels and midwestern hip-hop, you’ll love this. The album is good, but I might like the ep even better.

Dirty Projector’s “Dirty Projectors”- The best breakup record of all time?

Board Games:

Best of 2017
Five Minute Dungeon- A fantastic collaborative card game for 2-4 players. The mechanic is really simple and each level only takes 5 minutes to play.

One Deck Dungeon- While each dungeon takes considerably longer than 5 minutes (1-2 hours) this game is really replayable. We got hooked on the original last year, and this year the Forest of Shadows expansion came out. Can’t wait to play all the new levels, but we already love the new characters.


The Big Sick– A strong debut from Kumail Nanjiani. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

Get Out– Another strong film debut. Jordan Peele knocked it out of the park with this psychological thriller/horror thing.


The New Radicals- How has this not been released on a big scale yet?! We saw this documentary at Sundance and loved it. The movie focuses on techno-anarachists, Cody Wilson, and the 3D printed gun. Really interesting topics well told. Time will tell how this subjects will age, but I’m glad the crew was there to document this interesting period.

Icarus- How did this even happen?! The movie starts off with a bicyclist who wants to prove how easy and common doping is in sports by using himself as an example. Things quickly derail, and the real story emerges. It’s so bizarre and intriguing that it feels like a one in a million odds that something like this will ever get captured on film again.


Fencing– Christine and I have been taking fencing classes at Halbertstadt Fencing Club and loving it. If you live in SF, I highly recommend their month long intro to fencing class.

PC Gaming– I wrote a while back about how Christine and I finally set up a Windows machine to work our way through my huge collection of Steam (and Humble Bundle) games. We’ve been playing Superhot, Ronin, Untold Stories, and many more great games.


Best of 2017
Kaijumax (season one and season two)- This comic series is inspired by Kaiju shows (live action Japanese shows like Godzilla and Ultraman) and classic prison films. It’s easy to see strong political statements about race and the problems with the prison-industrial complex, but this book is really just about telling a strong story with unusual characters.

Tetris: The Games People Play– This documentary-style comic explores the creation of Tetris as well as the rise of gaming in the 80s. Rather than a straight-forward approach, it really takes advantage of the visual medium to create something unique. Another similar docu-comic is Rise of the Dungeon Master which tells the story of Dungeons & Dragons. Both of those books are must haves.

Best Shows/Events:

The Jesus Lizard– It only took 25 years, but I finally got to see The Jesus Lizard live at the Independent. It was every bit as good as I heard it would be.

You’ve Got My Eyes- A dork-punk science fair organized by my friend Mark Krawczuk.


Best of 2017

The Notus by YoYoEmpire- A fun delrin yo-yo with a classic feel. It’s got that nice rounded shape that makes it feel good in the hand, plus modern features like fingerspin areas.

The Master Galaxy by C3 Yo-Yo Design– I hate big yo-yos. Or at least I thought I hated big yo-yos, then I played with the Master Galaxy and realized what I’ve been missing. It may not be the yo-yo I carry in my pocket, but anytime I’m working on a hard new trick, I usually pull this thing out.


Making yo-yo string- I finally learned how to make my own yo-yo string. It’s terribly addicting.

Cooking nuts- Honestly, I just wanted to have two things for each section. Yeah, I’m taking walnuts and pecans, covering them in honey and butter, then roasting them for delicious snacks, but is that really a skill?

New discoveries of older things

Superhot: Hi [friend_name_here], you have to check out this game. It’s the most innovative shooter I’ve played in years.

Avatar: I always assumed this show was pretty lame, but after hearing this Imaginary Worlds episode, I felt compelled to check it out. My jaw dropped as I discovered each episode was better than the other. It’s incredible! In every way, how did they ever make this on Nickelodeon? And the sequel, featuring Kora, is just as good!