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Monday, December 15, 2014

"Making The Best Of A Really Trying Day!"

A flyable gas power model...
Two weeks ago, I had to replace my tires. It was hard to believe I actually put fifty thousand miles on my 2012 Honda, but catching two nails driving in a construction zone in downtown New Orleans, was the deciding factor in buying a new set.

A few days ago, while stopping for gas, I noticed one of my brand new tires was almost flat. I searched around the gas station for the water/ air pump, to add some air to what I thought was a defective tire. As I was pumping air into the tire, I was hearing air, somehow, escaping. My first thought was that I was being ripped off with a leaky air hose, but it was a nail puncture that was allowing the air to escape as fast as I pumping air into the tire.

I won't go into the difficulty of explaining the extraction process of the spare tire from behind the main console and under the floor board. It would be interesting to learn who thought this design concept was a good one.

I postponed my doctor's appointment and called the dealership. They assured me that there's was no problem in caring for the damaged tire. In the back of my mind,  I felt this care was gonna cost me more money.

Arriving at the dealership, and discussing the damage and the warranty, I asked how long it would take to replace the damaged tire with the "free"and warranted tire. About one hour past the half hour the agent told me it would take to complete the exchange, I'm informed that my rear brakes need to be replaced.

"Okay, well, I guess it needs to be done, but if it is gonna be any longer, I'm gonna need a courtesy drive to a coffee shop or diner," I said, rather with a heavy sigh.

The dealership complied after they realized it was gonna take another two hours. I suggested a restaurant near the dealership, so they took me to the Southside Cafe in Slidell, LA... http://www.southsidecafe.net

Even though, I had eaten two bags of complimentary buttered popcorn and a couple of cups of coffee at the dealership, I broke my gluten free diet and ordered this wonderful looking reuben sandwich with some Cajun coleslaw.

The cafe has a nice mural in the outdoor patio, created by local artist, Phil Galatas. The dining area has a military theme with aviation posters, soldier memorabilia and model aircraft. I walked around the dining room checking out the patriotic decor while awaiting my late lunch. Hanging amongst the rafters and air conditioners vents were banners, tee shirts, weapons and two rather large radio controlled aircraft.

This sketch is the result of another phone call, "Mid-Reuben" from the dealership. Apparently, the front end had a "shimmy" to it and needed adjustment. Never mind that I have been complaining about that problem way before I totally replaced the old set of tires.

So, I decided to just enjoy the afternoon, and my lunch, by sketching one of the hanging models, a beautiful North American T-28 "Trojan."

Somehow, I just knew this "free" tire was gonna cost me something...

... About $349 bucks!

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"Hey Mister, You Wanna Buy Some Popcorn?"

It's for a good cause!

This is a sketch I drew while waiting for my wife to finish shopping at a local thrift store. Therese is always looking for bargains for her class, either for projects, gifts or supplies. So a few weeks ago we drove up to Franklinton, LA, which is only about ten or twelve miles north from "downtown" Folsom to checkout the deals going down. A friend, at Gus's restaurant, suggested she go there if she was looking for some inexpensive spiral bound notebooks for the class.

With our crazy schedule, if I want to spend some quality time with my teacher/wife, I have to occasionally go hunting for bargains with her, but I can only "circle" the tasty tidbits so long and then I get really bored... especially if I'm not buying, but looking.

I, begrudgingly, moseyed from the parking lot to the thrift store where I was intercepted by the young, cute as a button, but rather scruffy nine or ten year old Cub scout. He was being chaperoned by his grandmother, who looked very thin, weather beaten and world weary with a few missing teeth, wearing a rather worn and disheveled "hoodie." With a "ciggie" in her hand, she guided the rather elf like Cubbie in my direction.

"Go ahead, go ahead, ask the man if he'd like some popcorn." Tell him, it is for a very good cause!" she said, encouraging the boy to put his best salesman act on.

It was a very cold Saturday morning, dark, damp and cold, and therefore,  the little guy was so wrapped up that I really couldn't tell if indeed he was a true Cub scout. Therese, who was on a mission, continued towards the door since the budding salesman had singled me out.

"Hey Mister, you wanna buy some popcorn for free?"

"Free?" I inquired. "Now, how much is the free popcorn?"

He stopped in his tracks, looked back at his managing partner, and mumbled something to himself, as I smiled and waited for an answer.

"Well son, said his grandmother, That's not exactly how we practiced it, is it?"

Now, grandmother, every now and then, taking a toke on her cigarette, explained to me in a rather raspy voice about how we are letting down our younger generation and losing them to the devil.

Oh boy, I thought to myself, as the little lost soul was trying his best to remember his sales pitch amongst his chaperone's preaching. I decided to intercept her oncoming Bible recitation by asking the little guy, how much are you selling that big can of candied popcorn... with the nuts!

"Uh, um... twenty dollars, sir," he said, looking for approval from "management."

As the grandmother backed away from her "hell in a hand basket" sermon, I turned to the Cubby and told him, that I'd give him another try when I come out from shopping at the thrift store. Thirty minutes that seemed to go on forever, I decided to go the car to snooze and listen to sports talk radio,  since my wife was still on her mission, but before I got past the exit door, the little guy hit me again.

"Hey Mister, you wanna buy some holiday popcorn... for free?

I spent the next hour, in my car, sketching and chowing down on a tin canister full of candied popcorn with nuts as I observed the little capitalist raking in the dough...  and, all for a good cause, ya know?

And, it's free!

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III

Monday, December 1, 2014

" My Veteran's Day Finale... A Sketch!"

My Veteran's Day sketch...
On Veteran's Day, November 11th, I decided to paint a static display of a Vietnam era aircraft, the McDonnell/ Douglas F-4N Phantom. The aircraft is a two-place, twin engine, all-weather jet, with top speeds more than twice the speed of sound, It was one of the most versatile, multi-role fighters ever built and served those roles in the Marines, Navy and Air Force. It also served in the first line of more Western air forces than any other jet. Just thirty-one months after its debut flight, the F-4 was the U.S. Navy's fastest, highest-flying and longest-range fighter. It first flew May 27, 1958, and entered service in 1961.

This particular Phantom is situated off I-12 just east of a Louisiana town called Walker, which is about ten miles from the state capitol of Louisiana, Baton Rouge. In an attempt to paint the plane, one of the three days I visited the site, it was cold, dreary and wet. It was supposed to eventually clear up, but it never happened. This sketch is the opposite side of painted aircraft I was rendering En Plein Air.

I stayed long enough to sketch this piece and then went to a local Mexican restaurant for some warmth... and some margaritas, chips, guacamole and salsa. 

I eventually completed the on-site painting about one week later. You can see the finished piece and read about all the visitors that came by while I was painting this beautifully restored monument to all those who flew and all those vets who served in Vietnam as well as everywhere else to preserve our freedom at: http://graphicgumbo3.blogspot.com/2014/11/painting-some-veterans-day-conversations.html

Copyright 2014/ Ben Bensen III