Monday, August 30, 2010

Eating Out A Birthday Menu

So this Tuesday is dear friend of the of the blog, Chuck Leonard’s birthday. And happily that falls on the day of the Cooking With Pook segment. So naturally I’ve got to come up with some sort of fabulously awesome birthday mealness to kick down to the dude who lets us run wild on local TV. Nevermind the awesome cake and hangover congrats that I got from the Central Valley Buzz family this year.

And so this is my dilemma! My tools are what I can backpack in and I’m limited to about an hour and a half of time to prep and cook. Lacking a man-portable oven, a cake is pretty out of the question and I already did frosting (ganache) last week. There really isn’t time to chill anything (no blast chiller/freezer) so a pudding is out. An ice cream party would rule, but that would just be buying a lot of ice cream and making a couple quick topping sauces. Not to mention, most of the better fruits are out of season.

There’s always savory options though. I immediately thought of the good ole standard flat iron steak with some fried potatoes. Give a brother a decent base to party upon, for what is sure to be a whirlwind birthday fiesta. Mrs. EOF suggesting doing Dan’s famous Philly cheese steak. Which I must say is quite good. Maybe something fancy and French like halibut with a beurre blanc and sautéed haricot verts with a bacon jus. But somehow fish just doesn’t say “Birthday!”, no matter how fancy you dress it.

I think I’m leaning strongest toward one of the steak options. Steak and taters is yawnfully simple, but at the same time it’s really tasty. On the other hand, the cheese steak is a little complicated since you make your own cheese sauce. A little heavy on prep too. But it’s colorful, messy and insanely filling. Plus I sneak a little beer into the recipe, so that’ll keep it festive. How better to celebrate a birthday than with gobs of cheese and meat and beer? So it is written! So shall it be bumblingly executed for your edification!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Eating Out the Ensuing Disaster

So I did promise to blog if it all turned into a messy disaster.  So I guess I gotta go forth with the sad truth.  Although it would have been much more entertaining if I had actually gotten so trashed during grilling that I wound up with some super cool looking scars.  But sadly they're all on the inside.

This whole night owl number has a real knack for causing issues when one's orbit is coinciding with "normal" peoples who go to bed when it's dark.  So at 4 in the morning prior to the event, as I've sat up fretting that I'm gonna get jack for sleep and never get anything finished in time before we have to get up there.  By 5 a.m. I've come to the conclusion that the only solution lies in a well-past-midnight run.

So off to the Food Maxx for chicken legs, peppers, herbs and soy sauce.  And I still say that I enjoy shopping when they restock the shelves.  It's you and 3 other shoppers.  You can nose through everything, agonize over purchases and reconsider items in the closest thing that passes for privacy in public.  I must have been quite funny to watch as I agonize whether to mango or not to mango.  It was too hard to pass up on them when they're that ripe.  So mango salsa is back on the menu.

Scurrying home, I figure on two marinades.  One asian and one carribean style.  The first one was some veg oil, soy sauce, mirin, diced shallot, crushed garlic, lime zest and juice, diced red bell pepper, a dash of rice vinegar and a good hearty pour of sambal oelek.  The other, I cheated and pre-made my mango salsa, then poured about a cup in with and added habanero pepper, diced shallot and diced red bell pepper, veg oil and soy sauce.  The salsa was just mango, shallot, red bell pepper, a dash of rice vinegar, honey, minced habanero, lime zest and juice and a dash of salt and pepper.

At last, it's all together and bagged and in the fridge.  A hopefully 4 hour nap and they should be nice and flavorful, I'll be near human and we shall be off to the party.  Maybe an hour or two past my goal of "early", but soon enough to take some of the weight of grilling off of the happy Poppa.

Not taking into account that I had just probably put in more physical labor in 2 hours than I normally do in a week, and topping that off, over the past week I have averaged about 4-5 hours a night as well.  So whose body decides to take the ample opportunity to induce a near Jedi-level coma state?  This guy's!

I wake up and glance at the clock and OHCRAPCRACKERSOFASSDOOM!!  It's 2 p.m.!  Nononono...this didn't happen.  I did not just blow all that stress and effort just to pull a Spicoli and over....sleep.  Well, shit.

After a brief and poorly executed attempt at grooming I've come to grips with the fact that I've totally assed out on the pot luck.  We still made it in time for the shredding of gift paper.  I was quite pleased that the axe and shield combo we got for her was well received.  And the nerf mace for Dad (he's gotta be able to defend himself, right?) was the hit of the party amongst the males, both young and old. 

Ultimately the chicken was quite good though.  We baked it last night, alongside some rice.  And today shredded the leftovers and made some of the best enchiladas that have ever come out of our oven.  I blame the king of the green chicken enchilada for teaching my lady and I some proper technique on how to make them perfectly.  Thanks homeboy!


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Eating Out Gardening Shenanigans

It hurts. Oh my god it hurts! 3 months ago, one of my pepper plants was putting out sweet, non-Fresno chile chumps…until, this morning, when I staggered my ass out for a bit of early morning gardening. Brimming with both piss and vinegar, I figure that I’ll have a snacky chuckle at my Fresno pepper plant’s sweet little pods while I jam out to some Zepplin.

Pride doth go before the fall does it not? SNAP! That first bite into, what is supposed to be a fairly warm pepper but have been nothing but sweet so far.

Great galloping asscrackers!! I ate a habanero sauce with pepper extract the day before on Chuckle’s show and I’d have kissed a festering baboon ass just to get this pain down to that level. Picture this…you have just woken up. You know you have drunk ogre stalking the house for the evening. But you wake up to dishes freshly done, an unwrecked house and said ogre, hacking and howling on the other side of the screen door, clutching half of a fresh green pepper and somehow trying to use 3 languages he doesn’t know to communicate that the pain is mind melting, yet the comedy of the situation is too funny not to laugh at one’s self.

In other interesting culinariosity, back on the Central Valley Buzz, beyond having some extremely hot hot sauce, there was naturally some cooking of my own going on. Having wrestled with some ideas during the weekend, in my usual fashion I decide to totally switch dishes the night before. Since I’ve been burning poor Chuck and the crew for almost a month straight, I figured it was time for something a little more soothing and cool.

And what’s cooler than cucumber sandwiches? I have no idea, being that I’ve never had them before. So that’s a perfect starter. But if it’s going to be canapés, then we’ll need a companion to round out the group. What to do? Let’s see, I do have this cookbook from the early 1900’s that has some incredibly odd dishes. And what do I find? But an anchovy and egg spread! And I sagely asked for a tin of the salty buggers just the other day.

The cucumber sandwiches are pretty straightforward. Take a packet of cream cheese that’s softened a bit. Toss in some minced garlic, some chopped fresh basil leaves, a little garlic some and some cracked black pepper. Make some toast point by cutting the crusts off some bread and slice into a triangular shape, then frying in a little butter until golden and toasty. Cut your cucumber in half and scoop out all of the seeds with a spoon, the slice thinly. Now you just assemble! Slap a layer of cream cheese on your toast points and then place a small fan of cucumber slices on top. And voila! English teatime is on.

The anchovy spread is easy peasy as well. Take about half a stick of softened butter, add garlic, paprika, anchovies and 2 egg yolks. Mash together until well combined and creamy. Assemble by smearing some on your toast points. And if you’re adventurous (or in my case careless) you can add some basil to this for another layer of flavor. They’re really quite nice and mild. You get a nice creamy mouth feel from the eggs as well as hints of salt and the sea from the anchovies, without it tasting like you’re eating bait. If you fear the tiny wee fishies, I’d say this is one of the least threatening ways to get introduced.

Both worked out quite tastily and were lovingly received. Especially, by the Ukulele King of the San Joaquin and South African ex-pat, Pieter Moerdyk. Who also stepped up to try the After Death hot sauce and was able to not only maintain his composure, but also sing a tune while I still felt like I was gargling the Sun. What a pimp!

So after the show we stopped in at the City Arts Galley for Boozestorming with Travis Sheridan. It’s a pretty interesting concept. First, everyone writes down a problem that they would like help solving. Then you grab and drink and wait for the fun to start. Then you sit down and are guided through a brainstorming session with absolute strangers while everyone enjoys cocktails and picks their brains for worthwhile solutions. It was a really great time and anyways, I’m a sucker for anything that lets me hang in a gallery with such beautiful art all around.

And so that brings us up to speed. The next personal culinary challenge is going to be coming up with an extra special dish for my baby niece’s first birthday party as well as sharing grill duty with the proud Papa. What oh what shall we come up with? Whatever it is, if it turns out well, you can be certain that I’ll be bragging about it here. Of course if it devolves into a messy disaster…that too shall be blogged about.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Eating Out Green Jello, The Naughty Way

That’s right! There’s my damn food premise! One of the most awesome rocking bands to ever get within swinging distance of Oderus Urungus' flapping cuttlefish of Cthulu! That’s right Green Jello! Fuck you Kraft fucking Corporation and your stupidly sad, yet successful, lawsuit against the band. No matter what you make them put on their albums, we’ll always know who is hard when they know that, counter to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, you pronounce an umlaut over a “y” with an “o” sound, because it’s fucking metal!!

So shit, there I was. Lost and alone in the Starline Bar and Grill. Well, technically, I was neither. I was bookended by the infamous Scurvy and the jizz rocket known to the unlucky as Chuck Leonard. Seriously, this guy comes by the gallon. But nevermind the volume capacity of his vas deferens. While I’m politely attempting to avoid the booze devil who is ever chanting on my shoulder to drain any given bar which has the mistaken happenstance of hoving into my view, the Phyllis Diller of punk rock happened to toddle in with her rocking Pabst blue ribbons and brings to my attention that the infamous Green Jello was prepping to go onstage next door at virtually any moment.

Here’s the fucker of it all. I had the chance to see Wesley Willis before he died brillaint, fat, black and schizophrenic and totally blew it off and have always regretted it. Yet I was somehow lucky enough to see Brad and the Sublime before he O.D.’d and I mostly hate ska. Back on the plus I got to see Joey with The Ramones before he took the dirt-nap as well. So as I wrestle with the inevitability of my needs to see a band that learned their SFX chops from the greatest fucking band in the goddamn galaxy…we get to make the call home. “Yes honey, love you honey. No…don’t really need that ride. I think I’m going to check out the Green Jello concert so I don’t kill myself after the obvious eventuality that they’ll drive screaming off of a cliff just to spite me, because they’re 20 feet from me and if I miss this show, I’m just a freaking poser.” And bless her for being the best human being with tits on the planet. “Sure babe, be safe, have fun!” Who could not love her?

Well you fuckers better not! But I sure as hell do. Because not 10 minutes after I pay the bouncer my cash and grab a tall Red Stripe, Bill Manspeaker, the tower of vocal power is asking for volunteers from the crowd! Holy shit! Do we get fed to Shitman or something? But no matter how I howl and spill my beer, he’s locked in on a 15 degree wedge of the crowd that is filled with screaming tits. Can’t hate. Just gotta drink more beer to make my beard-tits more alluring to the talent. But wait! What’s this? He needs two more! And so I bellow my loudest “You can fuck me after the show and I won’t sue!” shout; and what do you know? I get the nod!

So off into the back of the Starline I trudge and find myself back into the parking lot. A sweetie tells us to grab a mask, suit up and when asked to, kneel before THE COW GOD! HOLY SHIT! I’M GONNA GET TO WORSHIP THE COW GOD?!? ON STAGE!?! This is it! I’m done! All I have ever hoped and dreamed for is now in my lap! I’m in a stinky and moistly stored latex mask of Gee Dubyah, that I have mashed my cowboy hat down over and am three quarters blind in, as I stumble onto the stage and do my sexy ape dance for Manspeaker in my best parody of a properly underfed and oversexed GWAR slave, while he parades around in his bovine Technicolor savior costume and wails out my third favorite song in their repertoire (Obey the Cow God for you who have yet to be saved. Shitman and The Bear Song just barely edging it out).

And so there I was. Half suffocaded, blinder than a fucking bat and just buzzed enough to consider this the height of my current, self indulgent, male life. Seriously, being on stage tonight with one of my musical comedy icons was far more awesome and way more braggable than being hella stoned directly in front of one of Fresno’s most respected crime fighters and getting a smile and a shake of the hand (priceless, btw). If you had asked me whether I would have like to burn down all of the credit companies computers a la Fight Club, or gotten to get knocked around by the Cow God as he blindly whipped the Fresnans into what passes for a froth in this town, I’d have told you to fuck Tyler Durden in his stupid multiple personality ass. It’s fucking Jello time!

Here’s the shittiest thing about a band that meets your highest expectations…they play just as good as the fucking album! I dunno how you’re supposed to find magical words to kiss the ass of a band that honestly knows their shit so damn well that they can play it, nigh note-perfect, each time and every time. I only know of 2. Jello and Gwar. Fuck Metallica with their reimagining of their songs, or riffing or whatever it’s called when you have absolute contempt for your own music. These fuckers play it the way you want to hear it and shove it right into your ear hole, take it out half way, diddle it around your ear-rim and then slam that shit home until you’ve lost the knack for math.

So, even though I lost my ability for the numbers learnin, I’ve got to say that Green Jello did a great job of jabbing it into my face, smearing it around and making me like it. And ignoring my overt fandom, they really bring what I love to a rock show. They know why their fans are there and they give it to us as hard as they possibly fucking can. That’s my type of band. Play every show as hard and as fun as you can.

But as they all must do, mostly due to the bastards at the ABC, the show came to a close. But yet the band did wander and rage on. Mike Odd was earfucking the stragglers with his pitch to sell the limited, almost totally unfindable and ultimately unique Green Jello video compilation. And he worked and he tried and he strived. And ole Pook could see a dog in need of a bone, so we played the (unpaid) rube that stepped up for the first copy. Eventually I think Art’s Mom with her Rockin Tits decided to pick up a copy, which made me feel better so I at least halved my odds of getting jumped by fans who drank all of their pocket money during the costumed pit sessions. Which, by the way, Fresno, Tower and the Starline deserve some serious love for an old school style pit without all the dumbshit fucktardidness that drove me out of metal shows during the Pantera era. One love pit fiends! I even got to help up a guy who was in absolutely no danger of being stepped on. He just straight flew out of the pit and onto his ass. That guy, you rule! It was small, but it was mighty and it took me back to the Caddy club circa 92. Bad. Ass.

So after taking my DVD over to Odd for one of the most literal autographs I’ve ever gotten, he mentions that I should run up to Manspeaker since he wasn’t busy and get him to do a cartoon. A fucking cartoon? How fucking awesome is that? Not only did I get quick sketches of all the major characters on the DVD jacket (that I was also so drunk I had to ask one of the bouncers how to put the fucker back into the plastic) but he even threw down the logo on the actual plastic DVD cover and said that if I grew my tits out a little bigger next year I could be their bearded butter dumpster groupie! Oh joy! I finally have a long term goal in life!

That’s all the awesome, but there are a couple good follow-ups. The bartender mentioned to me when I ordered a tall Newcastle that she had just tossed them into the fridge. Pimp move on her part. I opted for a currently cold Red Stripe and waited out the English nectar’s coolings. Bouncers! On top top helping my drunk ass get the jacket back into the DVD cover, the guys were really on top of things and excellently polite. During the run for costuming, I found I couldn’t take my beer because I was going to be in the back parking lot. The rear bouncer let me stash it on the side of the stage as I gleefully ran out to play dress up. And there wasn’t even that much urine or spit in it when I finally got back to it! There was a little bit of herpes on it, but what the hell, country boys are mostly immune to that shit.

What the hell else is there to say after that sort of completely random accomplishment of bizarrely meaningless (to some) goals? If I would have had the spare time to think about what I was doing I probably would have ruined that pair of shorts I was in….which might have made the show more awesome…but hell who has the time to lose control of their sphincters when you get to rock the fuck out on stage with the band and not get a heavy ass bass upside the head before you’re thrown back into a rapidly parting pit? Nobody, that’s who. If you’re ever at a Green Jello show and get to be GWB II on stage and remember to shit yourself, you just send me the Youtube link and you’ll be my super best friend forever!


P.S. There was a super pimp couple of humans that perchance were before me to bask in Manspeaker’s glory. So being a pernicious snot, I asked if I could take their pitcher and put it up on the interboobs. And contrary to most of my forays in speaking to people and asking to involve them in my typey madness, they most happily agreed! And so I give you, Manspeaker and humans, a study in band love:
(Eat your heart out Joey O!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eating Out Nocturnal Soil Emissions

I love to garden at night. I know it’s an odd habit. But in my own bass akwards way, I’m staying up until when the old farmer would get up to do his work and passing out when he’d be coming in for that first cup of coffee from the Mrs.. The benefit being, that the plants get their water when it’s coolest so they’ve got their best shot at holding the water. With temps over 100 degrees, my poor garden has a hard time staying alive in their containers, much less putting out fruit. Except for the okra of course, they’ve thrown out some giant umbrella leaves and are just starting to hit their stride on pod production now that we’re back down to the 90’s.

And now that we’re out of the scorching range and back into a less stressful heat index, I’m hoping that my dormant Cherokee purple will grace us with more than the 2 fruit it has kicked down and the San Marzanos will make more than the 5 small ‘maters that have gotten to grace a couple salads. But should they fail I also have some Brandywines and a few Black Krim seedlings that I hope to grow out and get a late harvest from before we hit fog season.

And oh my poor peppers. Before I got my marigolds sprouted, there was a brief hornworm invasion. I had anticipated my tomatoes getting hit, but I never thought the nasty green snot rockets would go after my poor habanero and Peter Pepper plants! Those bastards work fast too! The plants hadn’t been left alone for more than 12 hours and I go out to see a green stick with some small leaves at the bottom sticking out of my habanero’s planter. And the hornworm didn’t even have the common courtesy to be of a large size! Maybe a quarter inch thick and two inches long. Hardly impressive considering the amount of foliage he’d taken of my plant.

So at this point I’m Nanook of the North sitting at a seal hole with his spear poised to strike. Except that my seal hole is my wee cluster of pepper plants in the back yard and my spear is a stinky hippy-sandal. I think word eventually got around, or the magic of marigolds finally kicked in, because I only found 3 more over as many days. I hit the two injured plants with some weekly fish emulsion feeds to boost the nitrogen in the soil and hopefully help them regain their lost leavery. And hosanna, it pays to listen to the brilliant hydroponic guy yammer on about horticulture. It took a couple days, but then wee buds started to appear up and down the gnawed stalks and tiny leaves started to push out to get their solar arrays back online. There’s still hope that I’ll have a home grown habanero before Halloween.

The Peter Peppers have survived the heat, but were dropping blossoms within a day or so of forming them. But the recent temperature drop has one of them currently holding 6 pods and still kicking out blossoms. So here’s hoping the mid 90’s will coax the remaining three into a more fertile state of being and I can get my hands on some more of these delightfully spicy wang shaped firecrackers. The first one was so good, I made sure to save and dry the seeds from it and I’ve currently got 10 of them brewing in some warm soil and praying for germination. My ultimate goal being to make sure that all of my gardening friends have some hilariously hard to explain fun in their backyard too.

The herbs have hung in strong in the heat. The only casualty was our dill tree, which succumbed to an infestation of wee white pimply bugs. So into the trash they went before they could spread their garden herpes to more precious plants. The thyme has stood up well to judicious snipping for meals. I wouldn’t call it flourishing, but it’s tasty. The chive forest is hanging tough, basil is a little pekid, but with judicious blossom smashing, it’s still kicking out some decent leaves. The oregano plants are seeming quite happy and have been throwing out blossoms. I should probably check and see if they will bolt to seed or if they survive their reproductive efforts. And the sage is still quite small, but I crowded the hell out of it. The leaves are quite pungent for their size though and worked nice with some pork chops the other night.

Ahh, night gardening. Stumbling in the dark in the ghetto with a headlamp on. Dragging jugs of rendered fish poop and blooming solutions. Trying to repot seedlings “quietly”. That adds an interesting wrinkle to your gardening routine. Trying to sneak around your own backyard like a low rent ninja, magically moving plants from small pots to big pots before the sun breaks the horizon. But hey, it’s cooler, more serene and nicely solitudeinous. Sometimes the neighborhood toad will even stop by for a visit. Too bad he’s not one of them lickin’ toads. Now THAT would have me gardening like clockwork every night!


Friday, August 6, 2010

Eating Out A Busy Ass Month

Greetings, salutations and gratuitous apologies dear readers! I make some lovey dovey statement of pride and love and whatnot on the anniversary and proceed to disappear for nigh 10 days! Last time I pulled a number like this, my best friend’s Mom had half of California dredging the canals for my apparently rotting body and/or looking for a good place to dump it once she got her hands on me. So for the faux pas, I must heartily apologize. As a fellow reader of blogs, nothing annoys me more than not getting my content on a regular basis and I thank you all for sticking through the frustrating quiet.

But on to the good news! And believe me, the reasons for my rare silence are pretty dang awesome! And in their awesomeness have put me a bit behind the 8-ball in a few places. Like lagging on getting the rest of my okra transplanted into large enough containers, getting my new batch of Peter Pepper seeds germinating for a fall crop of hilarity and a host of other chores of fun. And if I’m behind on the fun stuff, you don’t even want to know what the cat’s litter box looks like right now. Hey, that’s not good news! That’s more excuses…lame ones too.

So I guess the tippy top of my happy list would have to be making it to another year of living. As would logically be expected, I’m slightly more surprised at the cusping of each year. I believe this year warrants a mildly raised eyebrow. Still got all my fingers and toes, only made 1 or 2 more lifelong enemies by being a drunken ass. All in all, not so bad. Even got to be around to see a couple of my best friends have their first babies. Both of ‘em within shooting distance of my own birthday. Two Leo girls within a year of each other? Oh this is going to be a hoot! But enough of their future, on to my present.

The celebration started quite early this year. Normally with a midweek birthday you hit it the weekend before or after. Not ole Pook. We’re kickin off this birthday a day early and live on television with a cast of characters a billion times better than the Showbiz Pizza Party Time Band! Mr. Chuck Leonard, Mr. Brian Medina, the scandalous Scurvy and the Central Valley Buzz crew! For this past week’s cooking show, I had decided to do a “liquid lunch”. I threw down on the super secret spicy Bloody Mary recipe that I stole via osmosis from my old watering hole in Redondo Beach as well as a recently discovered gin and tonic delight gleaned from chaperoning a simulated winter formal.

I discovered the magical Bloody Mary on my first foray out of my cute little circa 1900 (said so over the door) beach cottage. How I miss that place! Except for the catfish and ass odor the crept from our roommate’s spunk-lair and rapidly took over the living room. Nasty little hobbitses! But, on to the bar story. So I’m looking for “my bar”, the walking distance spot where a long haired country boy can use words with multiple syllables while tying one on. So I wander in and have one of the worst long islands I have ever had in my life. Like, almost giving the alcohol back, bad. But then I see a guy order a Bloody Mary and she asks if he wants it “hot”. And then I see her reach into a hidden cabinet and pull out a stout jar of something white and a bit chunky. I ask what it is and she tells me that it’s pure, melt your nose, horseradish. And I reply with a grin that I’m down like Charlie Brown. So she throws down on what has become the set bar by which all other tomato-vodka products shall be judged. It’s spicy enough to elicit a bit of flop sweat on your lip, like you’re talking to cops with something naughty clutched betwixt yon buttcheeks. And that horseradish dashes through your sinuses like a flaming greyhound, if, on greyhound tracks, they used lady greyhounds that were wearing dog lingerie and holding a full steak dinner under their heaving canine mammaries, for the pups to chase. But you still get a strong taste of all the other players, the hot sauce, the pepper, the celery. All are welcome to the flavor party. And many a hangover was combated on a bleary morning with this healing tonic.

Speaking of tonics! Obviously, I’m leading into the gin and tonic. Not normally high on most people’s list of favorites. But those people have never tried Hendrick’s gin. A dear friend and nipple tippler of the highest order introduced me to this in a most unique fashion. Rather than the common lime or lemon added to the quinine soda and booze, they had instead placed slices of cucumber in their drinks. I’m shocked! Most gins have a flavor reminiscent of cleaning products, but I can clearly taste the cucumber’s essence refreshingly floating through the flavors. Even the gin has a much mellower part to play, bringing in herbal notes that meld with other flavors rather than dominate them. This is pretty much only trailing behind a fine scotch as my preferred cocktail of leisure.

But ultimately, I was on TV with two bottles of giggles and a license to mix. And conveniently forgetting that I hadn’t really eaten breakfast that morning… So, we got a little silly? The techs are chillin, the weather girl Esperanza, is either complimenting me vociferously in Spanish, or she’s explaining that I’m standing on her foot and need to move my drunken hoof and somewhere through the haze I remember quite a few shit eating grins and much guffawing at jokes and allegories that I really can’t quite recall. Needless to say, I’m positive it was my best show, despite not remembering a lick of it.

From there, the evening degenerated into a very blurry writers meeting. But I’m going to save that part for another day. Probably right around when I finally get all of the pieces back from the persons involved and properly figure out who I’m supposed to thank and who to apologize to. Overall though, I’m told I had quite a nice time.

Fast forward to 4pm the next day. Why am I beeping? What in God’s great unfair creation would make a perfectly good human beep? Cell phone. What is cell phone? Cell phone is beeping. Cell phone is Chuck. “Hello?” “Pook! Happy Birthday! You on your way to the show?” Crap! 4 o’clock! Promised to be on anniversary show which coincides with the day Mom decided not to drown me in the toilet! To the Pookmobile! Oh god…the pain. Maybe we’ll amble to the Pookmobile instead of the heroic dash.

Two days in a row on TV? And to shake my birthday fanny on the air? I must have given Mother Theresa a nice ham sandwich in a previous life. It’s even an awesomely mellow show with the Eva Scow trio kicking out some mellow jams on the mandolin, AC Miles grooving on his slide guitar and Marcos Dorado from City Arts Gallery along with Dixie Boswell with some headache soothing art. And Chuck, that old softy, he went and got me a cake! Though I was fairly surprised to avoid being faceplanted into it by the wicked Chuckster. He has a history you know. Big love to my CVT family for a bitchin’ birthday party. Cuz after that, I grabbed a Wellness tea from Teazers and dragged these aging bones home for a quiet birthday evening with Mrs. EOF.

But oh there’s more! (See? I’m trying to make up for my absence by writing y’all a novel!) And here is the icing on a three day birthday cake. I’m roused from a much more restful sleep by the same infernal beeping. Chuck? TV!?!? Wait…no, already been through that one. This morning he asks if I can tend a simple bar. Well sure, on an entry level I suppose. I’ve certainly observed the professionals for a decade or two. Where’s the gig? Joey O’s gallery opening?? Paint me there!

What to wear, what to wear? I’ve been less nervous getting dressed before performances! I’m encouraged to bring my own style. But in most cases my “style” is Modern Scumbag with a dash of Hippy. Though some will be pleased to hear that due to popular dissonance, I have forgone my personal enjoyment of patchouli for your olfactory sanctitude. So without “comfort” as a fashion forward theme, what else do we have in the closet? Oh yeah, LOUD! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with a fashion purchase when I grabbed that terribly orange classic 50’s rayon Hawaiian shirt. That and my khaki cargos and I should be good. I even dug out some brown loafers to complete my non-scumbaggery. Topped off with my mildly shredded straw hat and I just walked out of a 90’s Red Lobster ad. Since that’s the closest I’ve ever worked with bartenders, it’s sadly what I consider a semi-pro type of barbackin’ uniform. I look like Grizzly Adams and Jimmy Buffet had a love child…

What happened next can only be called one of the most successful gallery openings in Fresno history. And for me the absolutely most interesting and fun time I’ve had at an art gallery. And shockingly, I have been to a couple. First and foremost was the art exhibit of course. It’d be nice if I could say some deeply profound and uncannily insightful things about the art and the feelings that they elicited in me. But sadly, I was a nervous nelly over my new upcoming adventure and only gave myself time to do a very brief walkthrough. But my eyes were very much dazzled by what I did get to at least glance at. Astounding drawings and highly textured paintings, a couple quite shiny with layers of lacquer, fanciful steel sculptures and of course the photography of Joe Osejo. It was a nice little infusion of external creativity to stoke my fires and get me into the spirit of the evening.

Though there was one other spirit I felt the touch of, the Great Spirit of the Benevolent Barkeep. Oddly he’s a sober spirit, which worked out well for me. One isn’t really a bartender if he scuttles onto the roof with most of the bottles and hisses balefully at anyone seeking libation. Instead I settled into smiling and getting to introduce and reacquaint myself with the Rogues Gallery of the Tower District. Lots of grinning, well known faces, agog at seeing me clear eyed and sober handing THEM a drink for once, as well as many more delightful new ones to annoy and horrify with my overly syllabic version of potty humor. Needless to say, I again had a fabulous night. A concentration of that many artists and lovers of art, create a wicket brew of interesting conversations of widely varying depths. And from the puddles to the Marianas Trenches, every one was fascinating. There was a little of everything, discussion of welding techniques, views on aspects of the human form and probably one of the smoothest pickup lines I’ve ever heard.

It was a whirlwind night and a rousing success in my estimation. Both the opening and my sprawling, unbeknownst to others, birthdaystravaganza. It just goes to show that even a completely unplanned birthday can be tons of fun and filled with new and interesting experiences. Much love to friends far and wide! I wish that more of you could have shared in the festivities, but I’d have to rent out the Grizzly’s stadium to cram so much love into one space. I’m one fat and well loved Leo. So let me bounce that loving vibe back out to all of you. May what remains of the summer be a wild and fabulous hoot for you all as well. And thank you all again for putting up with my self indulgent absence. One love!