Saturday, December 16, 2017

We Walk into a Bar Far, Far Away

Opening night of Star Wars week at HoP, Clovis, CA
House of Pendragon Brewing Company, Clovis, California
We were really hoping for Qui Gon Gin, but no. Instead, they offered Qui Gon Jinn and Juice with Pineapple, which is an IPA. As we’ve mentioned more than once, Mindy and I do not like beers or ales (or stouts, for that matter). HoP is a brewery, so beer is what they do.

On the other hand, it was the first night of Star Wars week, and we like science fiction fantasy, so it was a good night to be there. That same night was the theater debut of The Last Jedi -- but in this brewery, it was the debut for a Star Wars-themed beverage.

Outside the House of Pendragon, there was quite a collection of scum and villainy, with bad guys from a galaxy a long time ago and far, far away: Storm Troopers, a (tall) Jawa, a Tusken Raider, and a Tie Fighter Pilot. Inside, the taproom was packed, and we had some difficulty making our way to the bar.

Obviously, considering the name of the brewery, Star Wars isn’t the brewery’s usual geek theme. Usually medieval knights rather than Jedi knights provide the ambiance, but it was a reasonable transition. When we got to the bar to order, we heard that the Qui Gon Jinn had run out (more was expected in about fifteen minutes), so we ordered different IPAs, Excalibur and Lancelot.

It was a “Steal the Glass” Night, and the glasses were Star Wars themed. We paid a little extra to take them home.

While we were in line, Mindy had struck up a conversation with a man at one of the tables, and once we got our glasses, we asked if we could set them down on his table while we were sipping. John and his son, Austin, kindly gave their permission.

We asked John our two questions, “What makes for a good bar?” and “What makes for a good church?” 

John said, “I’m old, so what I think makes for a good bar is different.” (For the record, he seemed younger than us.) “I like a more relaxed and less crowded place than this.” (This was probably a busier than usual night at House of Pendragon.) “I like sports on TV, something to watch. And I like good bourbon.” (I nodded; I got that.) 

For a good church, he said he likes a preacher who interacts with the congregation.

We asked Austin whether he wanted to answer the questions and he said he’d pretty much agree with his dad’s answers.

I asked John whether he’d be going to see The Last Jedi the upcoming weekend, and he said he’d be going hunting, bow hunting. Which led to a conversation that ranged from what’s involved in getting a hunting license to the Olympic career of Geena Davis.

Mindy looked up a couple of facts ("Did Geena Davis compete as an archer in the Olympics?) on her phone, and I said, “Smartphones have really killed bar arguments.”

John said, “No they haven’t.” Which I guess proved his point.

We headed out, chatting with some of the Empire’s finest (worst?) on the way. We’ll probably visit the new adventures of Luke and Leia and the galaxy newbies soon, but for now, it was fun to experience a real life Star Wars bar scene.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

We Walk All the Way to a Bar

Pizza Pit, Fresno, CA

In seminary I had a prof who was a teetotaler; he taught that Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol. I found most of his arguments absurd (especially the suggestion that Jesus turned the water into grape juice), but his strongest argument was that drinking brought dangers in the modern world that didn’t exist centuries ago, especially drunk driving. Thousands of lives are lost every year because people drink too much and gets behind the wheel.

definitely not home for us
Drinking at home is the most obvious solution -- perhaps in bed to avoid any drunk walking accidents -- but what if you just want to go to a bar?

There are many simple solutions to this challenge, designating an alcohol free driver being one of the many. Another is walking to the bar instead of driving -- though not everyone has a bar within walking distance of home.

Fortunately, we do. We walked to the bar at the Pizza Pit.

Our son, Bret, came with us -- which turned out to be quite appropriate. Our neighborhood bar is inside a family restaurant. The sign on the door makes it clear: “Welcome to the Pizza Pit! This is a family restaurant . We ask that you be respectful of others. No foul language, please. We’ll give you ONE warning. The second warning and we will shut the TVs off. Please don’t ruin it for everyone. Thank you for your business.” So we went as a family. And we watched our language.

Bret put some money in the jukebox and we listened to Florence and the Machine. We sat at the bar where Josh quickly took our order. We’d had pizza at the place shortly after moving to Fresno, but since we’d already had dinner at home that night, we just had some Cheetos to go with our drinks.

Pizza Pit, Fresno, California
Mindy and Bret had Redd’s Apple Ale, and I had some fairly local hard root beer. It was a slow night, and we talked with Josh about why that might be. It was cold; perhaps people were staying in. Perhaps people were doing their Christmas shopping.

Josh said he  works only occasionally at this Pizza Pit. Usually he works at the other location in the Tower District. In addition to tending bar, he’s an artist and has displayed his work at the other Pizza Pit location, which participates in the downtown ArtHop.

Joey, one of the owners, came in. He told us that Pizza Pit has been around for twenty years, but the current family ownership has been running the place for the last seven years.

We asked Joey if he’d answer our questions about what makes for a good bar and what makes for a good church and he said, “Good people”.

Josh said, “I was going to say the same thing.”  

Joey said the Pizza Pit was a neighborhood place, and neighbors made the place. He made sure we knew that they’re primarily a pizza place that happens to have a bar so people can have a beer with their pizza if they want. But the place is kid friendly, with video and prize-dispensing games. Joey said they often have events for Little League Teams and birthday parties.  

As for what makes for a good church, Joey said he’s not religious. He said he’s known a lot of hypocritical people in church. “If you’re in a religion, you have to be loyal to it, not two faced.”

We enjoyed our drinks and then walked home. No drunk driving risk at all after we each had our one drink. So even the best argument that seminary teacher offered doesn’t hold water (let alone hard cider), and in the world of Uber and robot cars, even less so.