Sean M Puckett

Portrait and fine-art photographer. Radical programmer. Culture activist. Passionate & opinionated, yet kindly. Mind the froth.

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It should be obvious that when an enormous weight is lifted from your shoulders, your natural reaction is to want to sleep for a long time. The body, so used to having that extra hit of cortisol and adrenaline, now doing with less, realizes that shit comes with a cost.

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1/20
 

Making goodies for a local friends holiday treat swap; my choice is usually fudge. (Real fudge, the boiled sugar kind.) The ingredients are cheap, it doesn't require making a lot of dirty dishes or heating up the oven. There's almost infinite variety of flavours. You can scale the recipe up and down trivially. And people frigging love it. 

What's new this time is that we don't have a cooktop. (I may have mentioned this before.) Not even a hot plate. What we do have is an Instant Pot. Turns out the IP's sauté function turns the thing into a versatile stovetop pot simulant. There are three temperature settings more or less corresponding to low, medium and high heat on a modest burner. The pot insert is heavy so even with the bang-bang thermostatic control, there's good thermal inertia for the ingredients. Anyway, so, yeah, making fudge with an IP. It's a thing.

First batch was a buttercream. 3c sugar, 1 cup 10% cream, 1/2c butterscotch ice cream, 1tbs butter, pinch of salt. 

Second batch was a lactose-free maple. 3c sugar, 1/4c dark-ass maple syrup, 1c almond milk, 1tbs butter, tsp corn syrup, 1/2tsp maple flavour, pinch of salt.

Tonight I'll be making chocolate, which will probably be something like 2c sugar, 1c semisweet chocolate chips, 1/4 cocoa, 1c cream, and a pinch of salt, toss in some vanilla once it's cooled.

And tomorrow it'll be Saskatoonberry cream, most likely 2.5c sugar, 1c Saskberry jam blended with 1c cream, and a pinch of salt.

How I fudge with an Instant Pot:

  • Put the stuff that needs cooked in the insert, stir it up, and set sauté program on low until it starts to bubble, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir a bit, scrape down the sides, then set sauté program to medium.
  • Get your candy thermometer out and watch it like a hawk until you reach 234F then immediately turn off the IP.
  • Remove the insert and put it on a trivet to cool, somewhere it will absolutely not be fucked with in any way.
  • Wait about an hour, during which time you prepare your fudge receiving tray. I use a large springform pan with the removable bottom wrapped in clingfilm, strapped in tight. A little oil on the sides to help.
  • Get your rubber spatula, toss in any adjuncts that don't want boiled or melted, then pick up the insert and tilt it and start beating the crap out of the fudge mixture.
  • After about 2-3 minutes (may be more, may be less) it will get harder to stir and that's not just your arm, because you can see the shiny surface of the sugar is starting to look a little bit dull here and there.
  • Immediately pour it all into the tray, scraping out everything.
  • Let the tray cool for a couple hours until it fully sets, then if you are me you can pop open the springform and gently peel the plastic off a pizza-sized circle of fudge. Divide and place into a reasonably airtight container.
  • Fudge tastes better the next day.

Scraping out the bits from the instant pot is cook's privilege, though of course you can assign the chore to anyone you'd like to have a sugar rush.

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12/15 '20 2 Comments
You are really impressive. We have an Instant Pot, but not a candy thermometer. This might be a fun science project for January when Ted needs activities that count as job skills training.
The really great thing about fudge is that you can always use the result even if it’s not fudge!
Sean M Puckett 12/15 '20
 

We get a farm food box every Saturday. It's a good price for what's in it, and also supports a non-profit that gives food to folks who can't pay for it. So that's cool. Anyway, sometimes we get a bunch of cilantro, so I make pesto. Here's the recipe!

  • About a quarter cup of almonds. Maybe third cup? Into the food processor.
  • About a tablespoon of sea salt. That's too much. But it's pesto so who cares.
  • A teaspoon-ish of assorted dried "italian" herbs because I'm lazy.
  • Okay chop that up for a bit until it looks like breadcrumbs?
  • Now put in the cilantro. As much as will fit.
  • Chop that up until it packs down.
  • The rest of the cilantro now. Yes, all of it.
  • Chop chop chop chop.
  • Add like a quarter cup of olive oil?
  • And a tablespoon of lemon juice, or lime if you got it.
  • Whir it up for a while until it holds together.
  • OH YEAH don't forget a tablespoon or so of minced garlic or like 4-6 cloves.
  • Pulse and scrape down and pulse until it looks like pesto.

Remember don't lick the sharp thing.

Everyone's got their own recipe I guess.

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10/25 '20 5 Comments
This is a charming recipe.
Thomas Boutell 10/25 '20
It never occurred to me to make pesto out of cilantro. (I loooooove cilantro!) Regular basil pesto is... fine, but I have the feeling I would put your cilantro pesto (especially if it's made with lime! *gasp!*) on evvvveryyythiiiiiing.

Thank you for this recipe! It sounds glorious!
This is the kind of pesto where your partner sniffs your skin much later and says "you smell funny" and you say "i bet it was the pesto" and they sniff you again and say, "yeah!"
Sean M Puckett 10/27 '20
This made me audibly chuckle.

Also: "I bet it was the pesto" has such a fun cadence! I just said it out loud a bunch of times. :-)
I love cilantro but I'm not sure I'd like it as pesto.
Anne Mollo 10/28 '20
 

There are barely two months left before the American election is stolen. The only way for the people to keep the republic from descending into fascism is a mass general strike. And don't bloody wait. Do it now. There's no more time to sit on the sidelines. You have to do it, and hold it, until they crack, and impeach the fucker before the election. Not after.

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8/31 '20
 

Every day I make some art. Sometimes I hate it, or just don't care about it. Sometimes it's really good.  I find it somewhat disturbing how much I get out of other people liking my art. And also disturbing that I find it disturbing. Why shouldn't I feel good when my efforts are validated by others? We are social animals; acceptance by the tribe is an essential brain nutrient.

I really like acting. I haven't been doing it since I moved to Toronto. But I am reminded because acting on stage gives that kind of instant acceptance/validation. I've done a little work on camera but since I honestly can't stand to see video of myself (or hear recordings of my voice) it doesn't mean much to the wee little narcissist in me. If I was to take up acting again I'd have to find those few shows where the director isn't too particular about having every line delivered every time with the exact same words.

Choir is really nice but like any kind of live performance, extremely not recommended until there's a vaccine for the pandemic. 

I'm specifically not freaking out about how it's basically September.

I guess that's it for now.

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8/27 '20 6 Comments
I felt similarly when I started podcasting. I got sick of the best I could hope for, as a playwright, being a staged reading. The kind of plays I could write and get read were really limited. With audio drama, I can do a lot more, but I can’t hear the audience.
>I find it somewhat disturbing how much I get out of other people liking my art. And also disturbing that I find it disturbing.

So very much this.
Real question: what is the process by which the three of you connect the drive to produce art that is satisfying to you and pleasing to others to acceptance/validation? And what/who is it you feel is accepted or validated?

I'm just sitting here trying to dig into why I enjoy the art and craft of storytelling, either (or both) as a writer and a performer. I'm not tracking whatever connection is happening for you between ... okay, I don't even know how to articulate it, because I don't think I understand it. Ugh.

So, you feel ... guilty? or? when someone enjoying your art makes you happy? Or guilty that you feel guilty? And then annoyed for feeling either way? There seem to be a lot of loops back and forth, and they don't seem inherently connected to me. Help!

I DO understand how medium can be everything. Live storytelling and audio-only storytelling are both really good, but video storytelling completely loses me. And I definitely think it's an audience response awareness issue. If it's live, I'm in the audience, I can see the teller the whole time, hear everything; it's very immersive. And if it's audio-only, I can be completely sound-focused, so again I'm an immersed listener, able to perceive all of the available sensory input from both teller and audience the whole time. Video on the other hand, is a lot of cutting back and forth, peekaboo style. Sometimes you see the teller, sometimes the audience, sometimes you can hear one or the other better. And it's distracting and "flattening" for me. So I end up feeling bored and disconnected. So it always amazes me when people watch video of me doing storytelling and like it. Not because I don't like how I look or sound (it's fine; it's me), but because they're able to process the art in a way I can't.

Interestingly, I *don't* feel that way about cinematic experiences. I LOVE watching movies (and TV, etc.), but that's a very highly planned and orchestrated and edited kind of storytelling. I can not only enjoy the end product but simultaneously nerd out on the all of the craft employed to create it.

Anyway, rambling now.
Anne Mollo 8/28 '20

Thank you for the food for thought.
>what is the process by which the three of you connect the drive to produce art that is satisfying to you and pleasing to others to acceptance/validation? And what/who is it you feel is accepted or validated?
I was about to smoosh into the couch with a big glass of wine, my knitting, and my tablet, to watch Logan Lucky on Amazon, because it's a dumb comedy with hot people in it and that's pretty much what I need right now. Then I thought, "write your own dumb comedy with hot people in it," and now I'm at the kitchen table with my laptop. What's the drive? Some of it is "to solve the puzzle."

I have a character who wants to do X, but comes up against Y, and in order to surmount obstacle Y and get to X, she has to do Z. I have a puzzle I need to solve. I have to solve that puzzle with the rules of a particular craft. It's not a painting, it's not a pen, it's a drama, and that's how I'm going to solve it, just like how you use a corkscrew to open wine or chopsticks to eat sushi.

One of the dearest pictures in my phone is something that won't make any sense to anyone but me. It's the audience, viewed from the back, waiting to watch the play I had showcased at the end of my MFA experience (rant redacted, but available upon request). You can't tell who anyone in the picture is except Jill (white spiky hair sticking up).

The feeling that was important to me in that moment is, "I'm about to get confirmation that my theory about human behavior is correct."

The play had a lot of overlapping dialogue in it. If my theory was correct, the overlapping dialogue would come out like a chaotic sound collage, punctuated by moments of meaning, aurally showing the protagonist's dilemma (chaos) but a situation worth saving (meaningful punctuations).
I got a whole steaming pile of "this will never work and it's not clear enough, therefore it's not worth rehearsing" from various academic sources (along with "your work hasn't merited production," rant redacted). If everyone else's theory was correct, the overlapping dialogue was garbage that didn't move the plot forward.
My advisor didn't want to do a Q&A after the show. I presented him with the idea that I wanted to ask the audience three questions, and that was it. The first question was, "what did the overlapping dialogue do for or against your experience?"
This little tiny hand reaches out of the darkness into the light.
My advisor shaded his eyes and pointed to the hand.

Shelle's son, Archer, who was, like, I don't know, 12-14 at the time, started to talk. My advisor asked him to speak up.
Archer leaned out into the light, so it was now obvious to my advisor and everyone else, that this was *a * *kid* (and fuck, a university is going to let a kid speak, if no one else, because what if he's a potential full-tuition applicant?) and Archer said, "I thought it created a fullness- a fulfilling sense of chaos." And he sat back into the darkness.

I felt SAVED.

My attempt to solve a puzzle was validated as correct.

My advisor held his frigging tongue after that.

An audience is like the wall that sound bounces off of. It's the wall a vine climbs. It's the mirror that reflects light and the prism that breaks down colors. It's what gives work structure. It's where a sound finds resonance. Artists are trying to solve the puzzles of human experience and audiences provide confirmation of our experiments. if I draw a bunch of Xs on a piece of paper and post it here and say, "does this look like a horse?" and people say, "yes," then maybe I've figured something out.

If they like it too, awesome.
Lindsay Harris Friel 8/28 '20edited
That being said:
There is a lot to the solo experience of solving a puzzle without an audience. Before you're ready for others, the problem solving on your own often has its own rewards.

The guilt thing: Okay. Some of us, WASPs especially, are coached to not be braggarts and to accept praise modestly. So, if someone says, "wow, this work is good," you sort of feel like you have to say, "thanks, this is what I did when I was supposed to be making money, as God and the US of A intended." or, "I enjoyed making this, therefore it is masturbatory."

We need to learn to just say thank you, or I'm glad this meant something to you.

> I find it somewhat disturbing how much I get out of other people liking my art. And also disturbing that I find it disturbing.

Your art is not you. It is its own thing. Go home and make more.
A lot of the above is what I'd write if I had an easier time of putting the muddle in my head into works lately. But, yes, make some damn art. And it's okay if to want, or even need, an audience, to make you feel that your creation process is complete. This last part is hard for me because a lot of my art is embodied "complete" in a physical form. But if no one sees it, is it really art? Or just wanking. And why is wanking bad? And around we go again.
Sean M Puckett 8/29 '20edited
 

I'm still making the plotter art.  I post it elsewhere and haven't the energy to echo it here (and those of you who see it elsewhere shouldn't have to put up with that).

Also, I told Instagram to go shit on a post and slip, partly because it's incredibly artist-hostile by design, but mostly because it's part of Facebook, which is a major player in the white-supremacist internet complex.

If you'd like to get regular doses of my art, you can follow me on Twitter at @PhotoPuck, except there you also have to deal with my political rants and random garbar, or on Tumblr at plotterprints.tumblr.com, or on Mastodon at @smerp@mastodon.art. I probably should mention the online store also at plotterprints.square.site.

I'm at least a hundred prints behind on posting. I usually make like 6-10 a day but only post 2. I'm not sure what to do about that. I think it's fun to see the art evolve, but also some of my recent stuff is so much better

I mean that's all I do, pretty much. I make art, I exercise, I perform basic bodily functions, I socialize online with people here or there, and sometimes go outside to run errands. We're still under a state of emergency here. 

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6/7 '20 2 Comments
The plotter art regularly gets oohed and aahed at in this house.
I can appreciate that feeling.

Also, added you on Twitter (not sure how that hadn't happened before now).

Also also - have you described the method you used for the software behind your art robot? I'd love to read how an image is broken down / interpreted by the software.

Lastly - I'm definitely going to pick up one of your pieces, but I have to wait until I'm back at my apartment to do that. Also, I have to stew over which one to pick for a long while. :)
 

Everything is much as before, modulo brightness out of the sky. These next two months are the brightest of the year and we're not spending much time outside still. But it's getting warmer, finally, it seems like the miserable rains and sudden polar vortexes are done. 

I keep making art. I don't know how to not make art. It would be nice to sell some but that's even harder now. I post things regularly on my instagram PhotoPuck as well as on my purpose-made tumblr plotterprints.tumblr.com.  

I hate Instagram with a fiery passion. As soon as they think you want to try to sell something on their platform you get shadowbanned from all but the most dedicated feed scrollers. Because they want you to convert to a commercial account and buy advertising. And I made the mistake of mentioning selling art a couple weeks ago so pretty much no one sees my shit anymore. 

I cooked the other half of the whole beef round we bought a few weeks ago; it was in the freezer. Thawed it in the fridge overnight, sliced it 1cm thick across the grain, threw it in the IP, sprinkled Montreal steak seasoning on it and added a cup of water and pressure cooked it for 2.5 hours. Broke the meat up into chunks with tongs and stored them in the icebox, then turned the remaining liquid into beef and rice soup, which I am eating now.

Health is okay. Exercise continues lackadaisically. I probably wouldn't do shit if my Apple watch wasn't guilting me into doing 30 minutes a day. Buying it last September was clearly not a frivolity; it's keeping me much healthier. Recommended. 

Mostly I use resistance straps on a three day legs, core, arms cycle. Sometimes I'll jog in place for 30 minutes instead or additionally, while watching nature documentaries on Netflix with the sound off.

I guess that's about it. 


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5/20 '20 5 Comments
Can I buy your landscape "mistake"?
Anne Mollo 5/20 '20
I have created a storefront at plotterprints.square.site and I think the one you're asking about is on it. LMK if not.
Sean M Puckett 5/23 '20
Just to let you know I got your order, thanks a bunch! I am an "Internationally collected artist."
Sean M Puckett 5/24 '20
I am an unabashed collector of my friends’ art. Most of the art in our home is by us or by people we know—or have met, even if only briefly.
Anne Mollo 5/24 '20
Following you on Insta now.
 

We're continuing. Health maintains. Employment endures. We're managing the close quarters. Getting along well, being extra mindful of impacts we have on each other. The cats have adapted. There's a lot of things missing from life right now but we do recognize our good fortune and privilege to have the only things we're grumping about be the lack of a gym, in-person social encounters, and unfettered access to the amazing city that surrounds us.

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4/17 '20 5 Comments
We're shuffling along in a similar fashion.
Ganbatte!
Sean M Puckett 4/17 '20
That's a terrific word, and I'm going to use it. Thank you!
Much the same here, as well.
Anne Mollo 4/17 '20
We can do it!
Sean M Puckett 4/17 '20
 

So far due to good luck and enormous privilege, we're healthy and working hard to remain so.

Mask up, friends, wash your hands, and stop touching your face.

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3/29 '20 3 Comments
Same here. Just listening to the clock tick.
Anne Mollo 3/30 '20
Thank you for the update. I'm very, very happy to hear that. Are you and D and your fellow citizens under mandatory lockdown?

I have never been more grateful for, and uncomfortable about, my privilege. We have enough. We are OK. We are safe, and we are happy, and we are creative together. I recognize how rare this is, and my heart aches for people who are alone, sick, scared, experiencing homelessness, worried about bills, etc. I don't know how to help except help people in my neighborhood, and donate what I can... but it seems so puny.

Much love heading northward to you both.
Not yet. Yesterday the provincial premier announced $750 fines for refusing to provide accurate identification to police when accused/charged with public health violation -- including failing to maintain physical distance. The fridge is getting bare of fresh food and I think we both dread a grocery run (probably solo to conform with current advice) along with the queues and anxiety.

We used to like walking a lot. Now it's fraught, undesirable. Even the staircases and halls in our own building may contain impatient people with no evidence of protective measures. We are playing Schroedinger's infection status.

My mum continues to be confined to bed in Hamilton, week 3 or 4 I think, as the illness has been confirmed for several residents and staff on the floor of her nursing home.
Dawn Keenan 4/1 '20
 

Simple. Daffodil. March. laser cut craft foam. Cutting blue foam with a blue laser is a pain in the ass. 

It's like 20C outside. I should go for a walk. Got errands to run anyway. 

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3/9 '20 6 Comments
"Cutting blue foam with a blue laser is a pain in the ass."

I know right? Why just the other day
Blue foam doesn’t absorb blue light, see... at least not much. White foam is pretty much impossible.
This is so purty and springy!

How did you get the little "scores" in the flower? Did you just tell the laser to cut half-as deep? Or is it cut all the way through the foam?

Seeing the first little green periscope of daffodil shoot in late February/early March is one of my favorite things in the entire world. It gives me hope that whatever depressing grey crap the winter has handed us, everything continues, the world is spinning, and there are wonderful, natural processes happening beyond my control and understanding, and sweeeeet jeeeeesus, we might really, actually, truly, be getting to the end of winter.
The scores are indeed lower power passes. Or faster passes. I forget, but... mostly Same thing. Joules per second per square meter. Physics!

I’m sitting on the balcony and it’s like 20C in Toronto and this is bullshit, May weather, but I love it. Gah.
Beautiful work.
dank foo!