Monday, November 2, 2009

Dia de Los Sugar Skulls!: Saturday October 24th 2009

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” I believe this would have been the case had procrastination not played a part in this past Saturday. However, since we scrounged things up at essentially the last minute, the day couldn’t have gone any better! In your face Robert Burns!

Dia de Los Sugar Skulls was planned almost 45 days in advance, but we waited until Wednesday, October 21st to buy the supplies necessary to fashion the skulls. A lot of sugar, a little bit of water and meringue powder, and about 2 hours, resulted in the creation of 24 sugar skulls total. Margaret and Drew made medium skulls, I made large ones and they were all dried and ready to go by Saturday morning.

Justine and I spent the early hours of the morning scrounging up some Halloween themed viewing options, the last of the supplies for Painkillers, and enjoying another delicious breakfast at JD’s. Before setting off for Casa de Lina, we stopped at Buffalo Bills Brewery to fill our growlers with their delicious Pumpkin Ale. I called earlier to ensure it was on draught and we were assured it was. But it wasn’t…BUNK. Perhaps, this is what Mr. Burns was referring to, but he probably didn’t count on us just getting Johnny Midnight Oatmeal stout instead. Again, in your face Robert Burns!

12:45pm saw our arrival at Casa de Lina, we set up the table for our artistic venture, and promptly began drinking and awaiting the arrival of the rest of our merry crew. Drew and Margaret arrived soon after, laden with sugar skulls, decoration supplies, and brownies. We vowed to wait for Michelle’s arrival before beginning, but she took too long buying the makings for Cheeseburger Lasagna, so we began with some minor sugar skull decorating.

Upon Michelle’s arrival the decorating and drinking went into full throttle.

Universal's 1931 monster classic Dracula was the first movie to play as we feverishly decorated skulls. Thanks to Margaret and Drew, we had sequins, ribbon, red pipe cleaners, beads, necklaces, paint, glue, and the all important Royal Frosting (sugar glue) to aid in the decoration. We also fashioned paints out of white cake frosting, food coloring, and water, creating some unique colors and consistencies. Paint brushes in one hand, Painkillers in the other, we all worked hard to share our artistic vision in the form of molded skull shaped sugar.

We were even fortunate enough to have Richard’s daughter, Solei, join us briefly, but with enough time to decorate a skull of her own. Movies were changed periodically, dinner was prepared and cooked by Lina, and decorating went on well into the evening. The Cheeseburger Lasagna was the meat-cheesiest and we all ate too much. We capped the evening off with a group viewing of Michael Jackson’s Thriller and an attempt at viewing Creepshow 2. An attempt only because we had some early retirees, but that’s to be expected, despite Robert Burns’ presumptions we had exhausted our artistic creativity, two Cheeseburger Lasagnas, a growler of Oatmeal Stout, and some Painkillers. IN YOUR FACE!

The aftermath...

I will dedicate the rest of this week’s blog to pictures of our efforts, and brief descriptions where appropriate.
At one point Drew had an insaciable craving for brai...err, pure sugar, so he decided to take a bite out of the head of a skull.  Where the rest of us saw a bite out of a sugar skull, Margaret saw a creative opportunity.  Zombie Skull:

When the day was concieved I had only an artistic knowledge of Sugar Skulls, and was unaware of their purpose. I had fully anticipated the opportunity to eat the completed skulls, but you're really not supposed to (DREW!). The purpose of a Sugar Skull is to honor a loved one who passed away. It becomes a vessel for that loved one to return on Dia de Los Muertos, November 1st & 2nd.  I decided to make two sugar skulls for loved ones that passed away. The first was one for my Mom:

I also made one for my cat Cheeto, who passed away earlier this year. It was less traditional and more "on model":

Last, I did one just for fun, not a representation of anybody, just a chance to paint with sugar, onto sugar.  A skull made and left undesignated becomes a vessle for somebody who didn't have a skull made for them perhaps?

Justine decided to honor the King of Pop with her sugar skull, and she went deep too. Half represents who he wanted to be, the other represents what the public saw.

Lina made a sugar skull to honor her mother as well. A sharp wit, an unforgettable sense of humor, and of course, super fancy!

Lina made some other skulls as well:

Margaret's skulls were an artistic and creative inspiration for all of us. All of them traditional and modern all at the same time. We desperately wanted to copy her, but we wouldn't have come close:

Drew's skulls were simple and sweet (no pun intended). He accidentally created the fantastic Sno-Cone skull, and his Wizard/Pilgrim skull took shape over hours, until he perfected it.

Michelle took the reigns of a full colored skull tecnique that really wowed us. She was happily in her own place making her decorations with a big smile on her face the whole time. She also discovered that the purple sparkly (non-sugar base) paint ate sugar...

Richard couldn't spend the day making skulls with us, but his late entry is inspired!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Libation Hydration Saturday: October 17, 2009

How often do you get to plan an entire day around beer? While the idea is always sound, the execution is an exact science, a science I am proud to say I’ve perfected, and I stress “I’ve.” With plans to have Lina and Sunni join us, we stayed in Fremont at Casa de Lina. We had an appointment with Dr. Leviathan at 11:30, and I most certainly did not want to be late. Justine, Lina and I woke up at 8:30, got ready to go and waited for Sunni til 11:00. No worries however, a quick BART ride to Oakland would get us to our destination only slightly later than anticipated! Dammit, we forgot breakfast. A quick stop at Raley’s for a gourmet breakfast quickly sets us on the right track!

Our destination for this morning (well, it was supposed to be morning, now it was afternoon) was Pacific Coast Brewing Co. in Oakland. It's just a short 3 block walk from the 12th Street station: PCB was celebrating their 21st birthday, and in honor of the occasion they rolled back their beer prices to those of 1988! $2.50 for a pint of delicious micro-brew beer! We could’ve stayed all day; instead we stayed for just under 3 hours, got served by a Kirsten Dunst doppelganger (Cat Rocks!), and got a $37.50 bill for 15 beers. DIG IT!

As I said previously, our entire day was planned around beer, so we gracefully sauntered out of PCB, and made our way toNorth Beach’s La Trappe It would take me entirely too long to explain the allure of La Trappe, suffice it to say they have a “beer bible” and a dark secluded European underground atmosphere. Drew was already there, saving our favorite section and awaiting our arrival. We wouldn’t have scored “our” section without him, I’m quite sure. A sultry strut up to the bar secured more brew for our parched palettes. That 30 minute BART/cab ride from Oakland to San Francisco sure was dehydrating. We enjoyed suds and each others company, awaiting the arrival of the rest of our party. Before we knew it Michelle had arrived fresh from the daily grind, and Frank, Casey, Chris and Shawn were hot on her heels. With 10 of us boisterously occupying “our” section, nobody else dared stay for long, partly due to Justine’s death stare which only heightened their feeling of unwelcome-ness. It wasn’t until Shawn engaged another group in conversation that anyone stuck around, however they had to squish themselves into the small and open front section, allowing us our well earned space. Laughter, story exchanging, discussions of the future, philosophy, overuse of the restrooms (particularly the women’s) is what a beer day is all about!

Beer breeds hunger, and our gourmet breakfast was well on its way out by this time. Michelle, Lina, Sunni, Drew and I decided to head to Burgermiester, while Justine stayed behind for more beer and to enjoy the company of the rest of the group. Halfway through our somewhat expensive and drunkenly delicious meals, the rest of the group joined us, Justine stayed this time, and everyone else left quite happy with only half a day of beer.

 I decided coffee would be appropriate, so we walked up Columbus in search of a café that suited us. Volaré!!!!!????? There’s a café called Volaré!!!!!????? With a hostess that barks out the door at us, it was perfect! What completes perfection? Beginning to sing the Gypsy Kings song of the same name, and have an Italian gentleman outside complete the lyrics for us. The coffee was good, the sangria was bad, the day was over. You gotta be crackin’ me!