Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blue, blue, blue, Blue Moon. Dit di dit dit...

   Out of the blue and into the Blue I received a phone call from a company back East,  Denver to be precise. I know Denver is not in the East but to Californians it might as well be. Anything beyond the Rockies is east to us. Heck, anything beyond Watt Avenue in Sacramento is east. An advertising agency for Blue Moon Handcrafted Beers called me after looking at my portfolio of murals listed with Findamuralist.com. My first reaction was to say, "No thank you, I don't need to be listed in the top 10 search engines around the world at a great savings that will only cost me an arm and a foot instead of an arm and a leg." I, however, will drive up to 50 miles to paint a mural, and unless the pay day is really worth it, I will drive further. Driving to Dubai or Indonesia just seems like a hassle even with a GPS. Instead, I listened to what the caller had to say. Part way through, I asked her what she was selling. "Oh no, we're not selling anything here," she said, "but we are interested in your services." As my brain is trying to switch gears, I hear, "painting murals in a bar" and "Blue Moon Beer," something about getting the bar patrons involved and when I interrupted again to declare that, "You are looking for volunteers!' "Oh no," she says, "we are interested in paying for your services." OK, now I'm ready to listen. I was selected for a variety of reasons: they like my art work, use of color, technique, variety of styles etc. They asked if I would be interested in working with Blue Moon Handcrafted Beer in their advertising campaign involving bar patrons in painting a  3' x 3' canvas with the Blue Moon image. Sounds simple enough. I just have to engage the patrons during Happy Hour and get them excited to pick up a brush with paint on it, apply it to the correct portion of the canvas and not get freaked out when they dip the brush in the nacho cheese dip and salsa then drag that onto the canvas. Heck, The Three Stooges used to do something like that, I seem to recall.
   So after a half hour conference call with this lady and her boss explaining to me what the campaign is all about, if and where I will get any training, what the compensation will be and a few details like that I am feeling very at ease with them. I like the sound of Blue Moon Artfully Crafted Beer. As a matter of fact, I was thinking about naming my next dog Blue Moon Artfully Crafted Beer. Too bad the name is already taken. 
   It appears that they will fly me to either Denver or Chicago for a brief training in February, 2012 all expenses paid, and guide us through the motions of involving and dealing with the patrons.  I suppose they will probably put us in an improbable situation like a disorderly and out-of-control 7th grade classroom or a Republican Presidential Debate to condition us for real life. Either way, it sounds like fun. I hope it really happens.

   It seems to fit perfectly with my personality: engaging people, having fun, beer, painting, laughing, a little traveling to the East and maybe even the Far East (Chicago). I wonder if they speak English there? If so, would I get the chance to venture out of the hotel and find one of Chicago's famous deep dish pizza establishments? In a hypothetical situation, would it be OK to order from a pizza place while on Blue Moon's expense and buy a beer that wasn't Blue Moon to go with my pizza? Maybe I should call the pizza establishment first and check to see if they carry Blue Moon Handcrafted Beer before I order a pizza? What is the policy with big companies? If you owned a McDonald's would you have to eat every meal there? If you sold Chevrolets would you get fired for driving a Toyota? How far does loyalty and respect have to go? What if there were no hypothetical questions? There is so much my parents never taught me. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dead Al Davis meets Barney Fife

   We had gone to a Halloween party in October down in Antioch at a friend's house. Since Al Davis died recently I decided to dress as dead Al Davis with eye sockets blacked out, sun glasses and a pale deadly skin color and a couple of band aids on my forehead while Sheri was a dead zombie-like Raiderette. Having only 2 beers, (Coronas) and topped that off with a few taquitos, pepperoni sticks, a handful of stinky cheese cubes and some chips we left some 3 1/2 hours later. We stopped at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee and drove an hour back on the river road that we always take. The moment I turned off the river road onto I-5 the red lights in my mirror signaled me to pull over. After glancing at the speedometer quickly, which read 67 in a 70 mph zone,  I immediately pulled over. The CHP came up to the passenger window and asked for the registration and my license. About 5 seconds later he said he smelled alcohol. Sheri and I looked at each other in disbelief. I was asked to step out of the car and go through a series of tests to determine if I had been drinking. This was a first for me in some 41 years of driving. He asked me questions such as, "Where are you coming from, where are you headed, do you know where you are now, how many drinks I had had? What brand of beer I had drank?" etc. After each reply he wrote down my answers and mixed up the questions and asked me again to determine if my answers remained the same. I had to point out to him that he was asking me the same questions over again, and he said, he knew.
  Next came the series of drinking tests. I had to watch his finger move from left to right without moving my head. After that I was to close my eyes with my head tilted back and touch my nose with my finger as he called out right hand, left hand, etc. So far, so good! Just like Simon Says! Then the finale: with my feet together, head back, and eyes closed, I had to lift my right foot, toe pointed out and do the Hokey Pokey and shake it all about, (just kidding on the Hokey Pokey part) then hold my toe out while counting 1001, 1002, 1003 out loud. I made it to 1044 and I decided that was far enough. I put my foot down and he asked me how far I had counted. Weren't you listening? Hello? 1044. Do I win something? Is that a record?
   Having passed all the tests, he continues to repeat the same questions again and then asked about my health! Wow, a cop who cares about my health! Not really, he was trying to determine if I was on any prescription drugs. "Any diabetes, injuries, aches and pains?" he asked. "Of course I have aches and pains, I'm 58 years old and work for a living," I calmly replied. I could see right through his questioning and wasn't going to go there. Too bad he didn't know me. Let's see, over the years: broken clavicle, broken scapula, 3 crushed vertabraes, broken neck, broken wrist (twice), broken humerus, ruptured disks, a tree falling on me, broken toes, fingers etc. etc. Do I have any aches and pains? Take your best guess.
   Since his partner wasn't bringing out a shiny new toaster  for me for getting all the answers right, I had to assume there was more. There was. The dreaded breath analyzer. "Blow into this until I tell you to stop," he told me. I did willingly and he looked at it and began putting it away. "What was my score?" I wanted to know. Begrudgingly he said, "Zero." As I read the LED in the dark it wasn't just zero, it was 0.00! Barney Fife was sure he had me for at least a hundredth of a percent. Not so fast there, Barney. That's when I said, "You didn't believe me, did you?" He answered that he didn't. Poor Barney, I'm sure I wasted his time and he didn't get to haul me off.
Al Davis before he was dead!
Me with my prize for most creative costume
  The next day at work I was thinking about all the smart-ass comments I could have made to him that may have earned me a pair of chrome bracelets in the backseat of his car. "Sorry you didn't believe me. Rookie mistake." etc.          I half expected him to profile me during the questioning and ask me what I did for a living. I would've answered, "painter" and he might have replied, "Oh, alcoholic". To which I could've profiled him right back and said, "Cop huh? Oh, wife beater." Had it been some 41 years earlier I probably would have said that. Not tonight though. One o'clock in the morning, dressed like a zombie on the side of I-5 with my zombie wife in the car praying, I said all the right things and kept my mouth shut. We were good to go and home in 5 minutes. I was hungry again and decided that a piece of leftover microwaved pizza and a glass of wine out on the patio was just what I needed. I gotta tell you. Microwaved pizza never tasted so good especially when I think of where I could've ended up had I been drinking and driving.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hardtack Pizza Anyone?

   I've heard it over the past few months. Are you still making pizza? Have you been writing your blog? What have you been doing? The answers are, "Yes, I have been making pizza" and "No, I haven't been writing my blogs." Thirdly, I have been engaged in numerous activities but am thinking about the blog regularly.
    Where to start? I guess April of this year I unceremoniously slipped off the pizza radar. Just a brief fill in of my time: We made it back east to Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania where our dear friends, Larry & Andrea from Lancaster, PA picked us up in Baltimore and we drove on down to Culpeper and Fredericksburg, VA to attend the Sesquicentennial (That's the 150th) Anniversary of the Battle of Manassas where the Union got there tails whooped in what was later to be called the great skedaddle. Manassas was the first land battle and the politicians and the socialites with their elegantly dressed ladies came out from Washington some 25 miles away in their buggies in their Sunday best  to see this confederate band of rebels be beaten back and silenced. It didn't happen that way and these civilians who were picnicking near the battlefield were scattered and ran for their lives. We, of course dressed in period costume for the event and were naturally pro-union and were sort of looking forward to skedaddling. (For insurance purposes we weren't allowed to skedaddle).
   While in Culpeper, we ate at a quaint little restaurant called It's About Thyme where I had to ask about the pizza which they told me was cooked next door. The next question I asked was, "From where?" Not Pizza Hut I hoped! No, there sister restaurant was right next door where the pizza oven is used. Whew! I had to order it. Civil War Pizza from a real Civil War town made by real Civil War descendants! It did not disappoint. Baked on a thin crispy crust, a perfect blend of seasonings in the sauce and topped with an excellent quality pepperoni. It was a personal size so I didn't have to share it with the other 6 people at our table. Yes!
   Our friends and we stayed in Fredericksburg the next 3 days while visiting numerous other Civil War sites and even taking in a play about Elvis. Was Elvis in the Civil War? Never mind.
Sheri, myself, Larry & Andrea at the Inn of the Olde Silk Mill in Fredericksburg, VA.
   It had dawned on me prior to leaving on this trip that I should ask our friends if they have any interest in Civil War history being that they live practically in the heart of it. When their honest answer was, "a little," I was surprised and wondered how they couldn't be! My friend Larry asked me in return, "You live in California, do you surf or hang at the beach?" I suppose I should've thought of that as my answer was a somewhat embarrassing "No".  Nevertheless, we sweated in Manassas with record setting 103ยบ heat on top of miserable humidity while watching Stonewall Jackson pounce the Union Army in a lopsided victory. Larry & Andrea even put together their period costumes so we could all blend into the 19th century and root for the Union.
   Sheri and I have become Civil War Re-enactors as of last May and are actual card carrying members of the NCWA. We are civilians and I, being an artist, have assumed the role of a field artist. Sheri, not wanting to become the head of the orphanage, being that she is a teacher, became my assistant and a closet abolitionist handing out propaganda from under her items in a basket that she carries. Some people will ask why I didn't become a soldier in the Union and my answer, other than not wanting to sweat in a wool uniform in 103 degrees, march and take orders is: "I didn't want to march and take orders in the 60's and I still don't want to march and take orders".
   Although we didn't make it to New York to the Big Apple of pizzerias, I did order pizza again in Gettysburg and once again in Baltimore while on this 2 week trip. One might think pizza has been on their menu for the last 150 years as each pizza was different and never disappointing.

   As we go to the local Civil War re-enactments in California we always cook and eat as close to period food as possible. Lots of stew, potatoes, vegetables cooked over an open fire in iron pots with iron utensils, plus bread or cornbread, peach cobbler for dessert and maybe some wine or sarsparilla (spelled 3 different ways BTW) to wash it all down. Since pizza was not yet officially a staple item in the soldiers diets nor did it even exist back in 1863 I am still trying to figure out a way to make a pizza at one of our re-enactments and give it a Civil War era twist over an open fire! Maybe a hardtack crust (Hardtack was commonly supplied by the military to the troops). Side note: Hardtack was a hard flour and water cracker baked and shipped to the troops in the field without preservatives so by the time the hardtack was distributed it always was hard as nails and commonly called by the troops, teeth-dullers, sheet iron and worm castles (since it often had maggots in it). Probably one more reason not to become a soldier in the Union or Confederacy! However, I could top the hardtack with some foraged tomatoes and top that with some curdled milk and beef jerky. Sounds pretty disgusting. Maybe I will have to avoid that idea and just go AWOL to the nearest pizzeria to get my pizza fix. Huzzah for the North, and Huzzah for their pizza!