For the first time that I can remember, the FC picnic fell on the same weekend as my birthday, which hasn't happened to date. Usually the FC picnic is earlier in August, so this made things kinda tricky. Because of the proximity to Marrok and Redstorm's wedding (just the week before) I couldn't do a whole lot with the picnic/campout, but I did make a spandex-clad cameo appearance at the picnic.
The Further Confusion 2005 picnic definitely lived up to its name, as there was lots of further confusion.
After six years of fursuit gigs and eleven years of grilling, I can offer the following advice:
Super Jayhawk's Top Two Rules of Fursuit Gigs:
1 . Always have water for your fursuiters, and always have enough. Running out of water for your fursuiters, or not having any at all, is BAD.
2 . Always have a covered and protected changing area where fursuiters can change into costume without forcing them to suit up in front of spectators and kids.
Super Jayhawk's Top Three Rules of Barbeque Parties:
1 . NEVER run out of food. Buy lots of extra, get people to get more, or shoot a passing cow, but ALWAYS have enough grillables to feed your guests.
2 . NEVER run out of charcoal, or wood. No more fuel means you can't cook any more, and people aren't going to eat raw hamburgers.
3 . When you grill, grill with a will and don't stop until it's all done. Don't leave the fire unattended, especialy at a campsite.
We had to bail at 7 PM for my birthday dinner, and even that was pretty tight, really. We brought a scary amount of food and drinks, but we didn't have to haul nearly as much of it out of there.
We got on the road as fast as we could from Lake Chabot County Park, and hightailed it down to Cupertino. I had to stop off at home to quickly change out of my blue spandex and into my Clark Kent costume for the dinner, but being a spandex-clad hero, I'm used to doing quick costume changes. Snagging my brother, we headed out for the steakhouse.
Alexander's Steakhouse is a true dining exeperience, and probably the best steakhouse I've found out here in California since leaving the Midwest eight years ago. Walking in the door, they have aged chops of beef that are a sight to behold; cuts the likes of which I can't get my hands on, although I'd love to. It's pricey, very much so (a typical dish is $40) but they have steak the likes of which I can't do. Very impressive.
Joining us for my birthday soiree were Terraluna, Kyreeth, Croc and Yippee, Marrok and Lex, Brad and Monika, Tessacat, Helvetica, my brother, Ultra-Gor, and FJ McCloud. Dinner was truly a magical experience, from the Duckhorn Merlot to the two bottles of Chateau d'Armailhac '98 Bordeaux that we had with the meal for everyone, and the steak. Ohhh, the steak. (drool). I might be pretty good at making a decent steak, but these guys had cuts of meat the likes of which I've never found. I ordered the 20-oz NY Strip Steak, and it was solid steak all the way through, without a trace of fat anywhere. When I grill it at parties, I usually have to tear it out with a knife and leave all kinds of gaps, this was solid and exquisite beef from end to end. FJ got the filet and my brother got the ribeye, and we traded pieces of our cuts with each other to compare. Their ribeye is amazing, I'm going to have to try it next time, it had a ton of flavor and none of the fat you find all over a ribeye usually. The filet was spectacular, and the aged beef had a complexity to it that blew me away. I almost wanted to cry, it was like listening to a musical piece that moves you to tears.
So after years of being underwhelmed with the Outbacks and the Cattlemens' restaurants, I looked for a steak place that would take me to school, and I got it. The beef was exquisite, the service was golden-glove, and the bill came out to about $80 a person. Damn expensive, but worth it. And just like taking on a grandmaster of martial arts that kicks your ass and takes you to school, you learn new things, and you get better. I would love to find where they're getting cuts of steak like that, they were just amazing.
And check out the card that the incomparable Jimmy Chin drew for me on my Birthday! I've always wanted to get a Super Jayhawk drawing done, the last one that I had comissioned was in 1991 (fourteen years ago!), other than a few badge art portraits. This one not only has me in my full Super Jayhawk regalia, but with my grilling implements, including the Spatula of Justice! (TM). Thanks so much yippee! You totally rock!
Also I want to thank Kyreeth for buying my dinner (even though he wouldn't let me pay and was wise to my sneaking in the cash towards the total), Ultra-Gor for baking me an awesome cake with my Super Jayhawk logo on the top draw in frosting for everyone (and the cool present), FJ for the card and the awesome present, my brother for driving me home after several glasses of red wine, and to everyone that joined us in the revelry. I had been pretty bummed after spending most of this month sick and dragging my tail feathers to parties and grilling until I passed out, but this was an awesome night that left me just completely blown away. I haven't had a birthday that amazing in years, and I had such a good time that I totally forgot that I'm pushing forty. (Gah!)