Sunday, January 15, 2017

The upside of technology...failures to connect

I'll think about it...
Photo by Kenneth Freeman via Flickr

Emanuela has been desperately trying to get in touch with me. I get emails from her all the time, or at least, Wayward Cat Publishing does. I haven't got a clue what she wants because her emails are always blank. Nothing but an attachment that I suppose she wants me to open. Well, I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, Emanuela, so you can just forget that.

I'm not really all that easy to get in touch with, considering I'm all over the place. Three websites, all the social media, books, etc. We still get calls to our landline phone (It feels weird writing that. Back in the day, it was just the phone.) They all go to the machine, just so you know. This one guy keeps calling and saying, "Hello? Hello? Hello?" Then he hangs up and tries again the next day. I'm not sure I get the perseverance, but I suppose I have to give him some credit.

Other people call and start talking. Some of them can go on for quite some time without requiring a response. Once there's that opening, they pause, and then say, "Hello? Hello? Hello?" One message I get repeatedly is a tick noise. Just one tick. The problem with that one is that by the time I realize it's the tick call when I'm deleting messages, it's often too late and it ends up in my stored messages. Then I have to go into the stored messages and be sure to press delete as soon as I hear the tick. It's rather bothersome, but there is a certain amount of satisfaction in standing in the kitchen listening to all of these people trying to make contact, and waiting a few weeks to finally delete forty-two messages.

Sometimes I'll run across a message I didn't know I had and then I feel bad. Apparently, for instance, my last bone scan wasn't all it should've been cracked up to be and now I have to take more calcium and Vitamin D. I could have started a week or so ago, but now I'm behind on that. Damn bones.

Anyway, the point is that I'd like to tell Emanuela that she should just say something. Anything would be nicer than an attachment. And I wonder if it's the same attachment over and over again or if she's sending me new stuff and doesn't realize that in America, we don't open unasked-for attachments. I say, America, because I looked Emanuela up by her email address and found out she's from someplace called Eurocamp. You can see her picture there with all the other people who run the place. Eurocamp is apparently some kind of sports camp, probably for kids, but I'm not sure. And I suppose I won't ever be sure because Emanuela is as afraid to talk to me as I am to open her attachment.

Sometimes, over the past year or so, I've wondered if maybe something more sinister is going on. I mean, think about it... What if Emanuela thinks I'm someone I'm not? Like, her spy contact. Or worse, her crime syndicate contact. What if she's stuck over there at Eurocamp, undercover, and just really wants to tell the boss that there's nothing going on there to do with espionage or meth and she wants to come home now. But no one will answer her emails, as they've been sent as attachments, as she was instructed to do. But nobody is answering her because she's sending these encrypted attachment pleas to "contact" at Wayward Cat Publishing instead of "contact" at Forward Fats Flushing or something.

Or worse! What if Emanuela is being held captive at Eurocamp and she's trying to find someone to help her get away from her captors and she can get to an email program but can only send attachments! And she found, somehow, the Wayward Cat Publishing website and the translator told her that it was a Wayward Kidnappees Helpsite and she's been trying for over a year now to get help and no one will respond!

It makes you feel sad. In a way.

So, I would like to tell Emanuela that I can't respond because it's just not a good idea from where I sit. And she should probably just tell me what she wants, if she can. But then again, I can't say I'll respond even then.

Lots of people do actually contact me and tell me what they want and I still don't answer them. Sometimes it's because I don't know what to say. Sometimes it's because I don't get the message for a month and then I feel stupid and think it's best to just leave it alone. Sometimes I plan to respond, but I set it aside for just a moment or two and completely forget about it.

It's an introverted bubble that's not easy to pop. If I had any advice to give, it'd be this: state your business and if you don't hear from me, I'm sorry, but I just don't want to respond.

If you like, you can try again, but I think after a year or so you should probably give it up.



Sunday, January 8, 2017

Dear God, not the Facebook bubble!

Photo by Beatnik Photos via Flickr


I can’t be the only one who’s heard this argument: If you only have Facebook friends who always agree with you (like that’s even possible) and don’t expose yourself to different worldviews, you’ve created a bubble. And bubbles are bad!

Of course, this is said lately after you say you unfriend people for supporting the Great Orange Buffoon.

I think I’m a typical Facebook user. When I started out all those years ago, I gleefully accepted every friend request I got, and sent out plenty more. I had friends all over the country and the world. Most of my friends came to me because I’m an atheist. Facebook was becoming one big atheist convention.  And then everyone I went to high school with, and everyone who ever went to that school, and everyone in my home town joined my friends list. I was a veritable socialite, which is nothing to snort at for an introvert.

Remember when we watched the count of how many friends we had and imagined the day we’d reach that upper limit? What would we do? Oh, dear, what on earth would we do? I never had to find out.

Turns out, that guy I “friended” in California was a vegan or fruitarian or some such, and posted diatribes against what I like to eat, namely hamburgers. And that woman up north was a member of PETA and kept posting pictures of animals being tortured. Even typically normal, as in not fanatical, “friends” posted pictures of suffering animals, wanting me to spread the word and stop the abuse! (Look, I eat some of them, but I don’t want them to suffer. And I can’t get through the day without crying if I have to look at your most-likely photo-shopped pictures and quite often disingenuous claims. What I’d like to know is, how do you get through the day constantly spreading that stuff? No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to talk to you anymore.) Anyway, then that anti-Muslim guy liked to post pictures of beheadings and gays being tossed off buildings. There was at least one guy who couldn’t seem to go a single day without calling Ayn Rand a cunt. Another guy who had a seriously deranged issue with Sarah Jessica Parker’s face. And then Trayvon Martin was killed and about fifty of my so-called “friends” clearly couldn’t think rationally.

At some point I decided that I wanted to enjoy Facebook. You know...be social on it. Have fun. I didn’t, and still don’t, require a place on the Internet in which I engaged in battle on a daily basis, and if I did, it wouldn’t be the same place I shared pictures of my cats and kids. Like hell.

So, the “unfriending” began. Call a woman a cunt? Good-bye. Show me pictures of dead or tortured people or animals. Gone. Idiots? No more. Can’t stop ranting about your pet brand of crazy—astrology, homeopathy, and the insanity that claims vaccines cause autism? Booted from my list of people with whom I’d like to interact.

Once the unfriending began, it got easier. You know how, when you go out shopping, but you’re loath to spend money. It just takes that first purchase...that first silly little thing that costs twenty bucks and the next thing you know you’ve got a $500 mixer in your cart. It’s the same with so-called friends on Facebook. You might think maybe this guy isn’t so bad. So you check his wall, scroll down, just to be sure. By the time you’ve unfriended fifty whackos it’s nothing. You just posted a diatribe against Black Lives Matter and you want me to “share” it to show that I agree that “Cops Lives Matter?” What are you? Some kind of idiot? Gone. Gone. Just gone.

And then came Trump.

With Trump, I learned that nearly every person I went to school with, every person who lived in my hometown, was dumb as toast. And I “unfriended” them without a tear.  No hesitation.

“But...but,” people were saying. “Just because we support Trump, or like Trump, or post pictures of Hillary Clinton with a target on her face doesn’t mean we’re racists, or misogynists, or stupid.”

Yes it does. I don’t want to interact with you. Ever. Again.

“But...but,” too many people have been saying, “if you live in a bubble...”

Give me a break.

Actual “conversation” I had on Facebook:

Guy who thinks you’re doing it wrong if you aren’t being confronted on a daily basis about something: If you unfriend people, you’re creating a bubble and that’s not healthy. (paraphrased, of course)
 Me: So you’re saying your entire life revolves around Facebook?
 Stupid guy: No. But if you create a bubble in any part of your life, that’s still a bubble.
 Me: OMG, you’re stupid. (paraphrasing still, of course).  Turn off your computer and go outside.

What kind of people are getting their sole information about the world, their only socializing, their only education and food for thought...from Facebook? They’re not. And they should stop pretending they are. Stop pretending that Facebook is your plug-in to the world. If it is, you have serious problems that I’m not qualified to go into here.

What is Facebook, anyway? It’s a social network. So, when you chastise me for unfriending people who say Donald Trump is a great man, you’re telling me that if I meet this troglodyte at a party, I should stand there and listen to him and his friends go on about Trump’s plans to build a wall, and make Mexico pay [us back] for it. Of course, I could tell him he’s out of his mind and that’s never going to happen. Then we argue. And the party is ruined. But I’m still supposed to go back to that party sometime in the future and stand with that guy and let him say the same, or equally, stupid nonsense, and engage him again.

No.

Other people will say I don’t have to talk to him. If I don’t like what he says, just move along. But here’s where the entire idea starts to break apart. Because this isn’t someone else’s party—it’s not someplace I go and play by someone else’s rules. It’s my party. My Facebook wall. And it’s in my house.

I don’t have to sit down for some social time on my Facebook wall, only to have to work to ignore people who idolize a man I find so repugnant that it angers me just thinking about him. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who thinks Donald Trump is a good man, a great man, a successful man is an idiot. And anyone who supported Donald Trump’s campaign for president is either racist, misogynistic, or a bully. And if not, they cheered one on, so what’s the difference?

And now people are trying to tell me that if I “unfriend” these people, I’m living in a bubble. An echo chamber. Walling myself off from the world.

"Engage!" they insist.

Dude. The world is still there. The Great Oompa Loompa is soon to be President of the United States. There is racism out there, and misogyny, hate, suffering, fascism, corruption, nuclear weapons, and dying children and pets! It’s all there for everyone to see. Facebook is not my world. It’s not the world.

And frankly, it’s bad enough trying to find the pictures of my “friends’” cats while wading through the articles and rants about Heir Drumpf posted by people with whom I tend to agree. Why must I suffer idiots, racists, and bullies, too? No. It’s not a bubble. It’s my party and I’ll enjoy it the way that I want to.

Granted, it’s really sad about my hometown. But it does do a lot to explain my sad and lonely childhood.





Sunday, January 1, 2017

Another year...bother.

Squeakers will miss the box.

I tore down Christmas early and with rather more enthusiasm than was necessary this time around, starting the week leading up to the grand new year. I pulled ornaments off the tree, letting them remind me of places we'd been, from Yellowstone to Jamestown, and boxed them up. Somehow I ended up with a small box left over, empty. Perhaps in my zeal I packed the balls and state-sponsored baubles and artsy cultural memorabilia a tad too tightly. They'll jostle against one another more roughly than usual in the dark of the closet awaiting next year's light. Hmph.

I got down to the bare essentials well before New Year's Eve, taking down the advent calendar with its wooden twinkle-light that had been tucked into the Dec 24th pocket for too long and the hanging decoration of Santa Claus rising out of, or being sucked into, a chimney that I made in TOPS so long ago. Taking down from around the house all the greens and reds and joy of the season. Left with nothing but the tree and its lights and the paper angel atop it that one of the boys crafted in preschool. How many years ago must that have happened?

Then I realized that the fancy Christmas kitchen towels would have to be washed before they could be packed away and laundry day, as it happens, is today. And so the lit tree remained for the remainder of the year, ever so much lighter without all the baggage, begging me to remove the angel off its head. But I can't reach the angel. And so it remained.

Today, I pulled the lights. Unwound them again and again and the final string that tangled at the very tip top, when yanked good and hard, sent the paper angel floating to the floor. Fitting.

Once the box, long ago torn in two and taped up separately to make for tree hauling into the attic an easier experience (we're getting older these days), is brought down and dropped dully onto the carpet, I'll say, "Boys, tear down that tree." And they'll do it. And we'll put it all away wondering who will be here with us next year. We started at five and are now at four, the oldest having flown the nest. One day there may only be two--all the parenting done. And another day long, long after that, perhaps only one. And the tree may not go up at all then. The angel may be taken out either way and cried over.

All this ritual is meant to make our lives richer, to give them meaning, but the whispered message is the passage of time and the droning, on and on, of change that never changes. Not really. And as I stand in the open doorway, looking out into the neighborhood of tightly packed homes, our sad attempts at greenness, feel the warmth of a Florida January on my cheek, the last whiffs of pine flit past me, reminding me I still must take the nearly dead wreath off the wall, twist the evergreen branches out of the wire and dump them into the mulch bin. Crows caw from the trees, shadows of ibis dart across the lawn. A slimy frog snuggles deeper into its dark refuge under a bench.

A new year has begun for those of us who track the ceaseless turning and circling of the earth. But I know the truth--that I am small and insufficient to the task of holding the universe together.




Saturday, December 10, 2016

Navigating this new reality...

What's the use?
photo by Mary-Lynn via Flickr


Here's the thing: I don't know how to exist anymore.

I haven't felt like blogging lately. Nothing has really struck me as necessary. I think I heard that coconuts are heading for scarcity. My Magic Cookie Bars could suffer, but beyond that, who cares? This is existential depression, folks.

I made a nice top that I actually wore once and might wear again. But who wants to see pictures of my sewing projects? Writing has been a pain in the ass lately; I could whine about that. But nobody wants to hear losers talk about losing.

Still. I think I'm coming around. I have these moments of brightness and during those I think, maybe everything is going to be okay. And then...

Then I remember.

There's something very wrong going on but I'm not allowed to feel it, or fear it. Most people are acting like everything's okay. Nothing's changed. All the same shows are on television with all the same dumb commercials. There's still football. The radio DJs still gab about stupid stuff and play songs. They're still doing the celebrity awards shows. Everybody's going to work and eating out and doing chores. On Facebook, people are still posting their stupid platitudes about strength and positive thinking and happiness and peace--like nothing's happened. Ricky Gervais still makes silly faces. Robert Downey Jr. still makes Iron Man jokes.There are still plenty of cat pics and videos. The stores are open and it's Christmas time. Amazon looks exactly the same.

Me, too. I've got the Christmas tree up and I turn on the lights every morning. I shopped more this year and bought and wrapped presents that nobody will appreciate. I've got the cookie schedule set and plans are made for a family to-do. And I try every day to be a writer and fail.

Everything is normal.

But it's not.

I'm not stupid, but maybe I'm naive. I mean, I always knew there were people who were racist. I'm even related to some of them. And I've known that there are white nationalist militias out there. And I've always known that a lot of people were uneducated and gullible.

And I get that Hillary Clinton actually won the election, by a very large margin. I get that Donald Trump isn't all that popular with, perhaps, a majority of Americans. And yes, there are other people out there as outraged as I am.

But that doesn't help.

Because, as it turns out, the racists and the white nationalists and the stupid people aren't just a fringe element. There are a lot more of them than I thought. (It seems I went to school with a bunch of them back in the day.) And even if they're still a minority, they've been given a voice and signals to act out their racism and belligerent ignorance.

Sure, the comedians are making biting jokes at Trump's expense. There are some op-eds voicing concern. A few journalists are trying to sound alarms. But it all reeks of normalization. It's all done so casually, as if we've been here before. But we haven't.

It used to be that I could exist in this world with the idea that most people are decent and good. I used to give people the benefit of the doubt. But I can't live like that anymore. And I can't do it because most people are just going on about their lives acting like everything is okay and I'm muddling through wondering why nobody is doing something about this. This tells me that they either like what's going on, or they don't care, or they're stupid. None of those things are honorable.

I used to think Republicans were okay, they just have different views than I do, about politics, religion, finance. But now I see that they're not okay. Not at all. They're awful people--people who didn't see the horror of what they were letting happen. The people who voted for Donald Trump, or voted for a third party candidate, or didn't vote at all are shameful, careless fools at best, and at worst, despicable. People who voted their "conscience," instead of doing what was necessary to keep Trump out of the White House...well, their consciences are deplorable.

I can't go on smiling and pretending that the vast majority of people around me are good and decent, because if they were, they'd be outraged. No. If they were, we wouldn't be here right now. They'd have stopped this from happening. But as it is, we are here. And if they were good people, they'd be doing something and I'd join them. But we're doing nothing. Nobody is doing anything to stop this.

The Republicans in power are chuckling and shrugging and defending the most stunningly vile man ever elected President. Paul Ryan is giddy. And where are the Democrats? Wandering around stunned and bloodied?

I'd abandon my middle road status and join the Democratic Party if I thought they had a plan--if I thought they were worthy. But they're not.

Nobody is.

On the one side there are the sick people who like what's going on. They tell me that if I'm not happy about it, I should leave the country. Well, you know what? If I could afford to leave the country, I would. On the other side are people telling me that we have to figure out a way to get along with white nationalists. That's insanity.

It's as if most people don't see it. When they look at Donald Trump, they see something completely different than I do. They're gullible. They love celebrity and hubris. They want a savior. They looked past his misogyny, his racism, his cruelty, his pettiness and lies. I can't fathom what's wrong in their heads that lets them do it. Whatever it is, it disgusts me.

Everybody is telling me to get off Facebook. Like, if I just pretend it isn't happening, it'll all go away. I'll be able to ignore it and act like there's nothing wrong, maybe even enjoy life, like they're doing. I'm told this doesn't affect me. What goes on in Washington has no bearing on my life. I'm told there's nothing I can do, so stop worrying about it. I'm supposed to just go on as if everything is okay.

Here's the thing: This has changed me. It has seriously fucked me up.

I can't respect the people I once respected. I can't trust anybody to be decent and kind. I've lost what little faith I had in people. I'm trying to see the humor in it. I'm trying to appreciate the people who are as outraged as I am.

But I still walk around knowing that this world is truly as awful as I ever imagined it could be.

And I don't know how to live with that.










Friday, September 30, 2016

Eleven Things I Ate Around You...

Well, we did it again! We pigged out around the world. I think we went into this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival with lower expectations about our eating capabilities. We just can't eat as much as we think we can.

As usual, I printed up the list of food by booth. I highlighted eleven items in yellow. Those were our must-haves. I highlighted twelve items in blue. Those were our if-we-feel-like-its. The plan was to eat all of our yellows first and only go back for blues after we rode Frozen Ever After.

Here's how it all worked out.

Croissant aux Escargots: Escargot Croissant with Garlic and Parsley
$5.75
1.
First stop, France! Au chante, voulez vous. Le purrr.

They did snails a little differently this year, hiding them inside a buttery, garlic-y croissant. Oh. My. Heavens. Delicious! And packed with the rubbery little suckers. See one in there?


Nom nom. That's French for Yum yum.

Actually not rubbery. Just perfect. 

Hubs ate some of the croissant sans snails and declared it pretty good. I ate the whole thing! The whole friggin' thing. Which, you might think, is good. But it's not. Because we have a list with a lot of things highlighted and we've got to get through it. 

And checkout that translation. Croissant aux Escargots is French for Escargot Croissant. Thanks, Epcot. I never would have figured that one out.

We enjoyed our snails with a guest at our table.




He was a tiny little thing. I did my best to keep away. It was a long, long way to the ground and I didn't want him trying to jump.


Chocolate Baklava: Rolled Phyllo Dough with Toasted Almonds and Dark Chocolate Sauce
$3.95


2. 
Next stop. Morocco.

Chocolate Baklava!

Baklava is good, right? Honey. Nutty. Flaky. So, chocolate baklava must be heaven. Eh. Not so much. Not bad. But not Chocgasm worthy. The chocolate tasted like an afterthought, or as hubs put it: like it's not supposed to be there. His exact word: Abomination. I agree that it was...different and not something I would eat again on purpose.

This did not stop me from eating more than my share.


Garlic Shrimp: Marinated Shrimp sauteed with Garlic and Butter and served over Rice.
$6.95

3. 
Japan!

This year, at the Japan booth, we tried Garlic Shrimp. Like...duh. Just say garlic and I'm there. The shrimp was tasty. Mildly garlic-y with a hint of soy sauce. The rice was tasteless, however, and the bean...it tasted green and had a nice starchy texture.

More garlic please.


Smoked Beef Brisket and Pimento [sic] Cheese served on Griddled Garlic Toast
$5.25

4.
Hops & Barley.

I am a big fan, a YUGE fan, of pimiento cheese. (Ahem. Note the true and proper spelling, Epcot.) So, I knew I had to try this. And it was pretty gosh-darn good. Nummy, I'd say. Even hubs liked it. The brisket was mildly tasty and the salsa atop it tasted fresh and tomato-y. The toast was almost soggy underneath it all, but still held its own. Overall, it was spicy and full of flavor.

I'd eat that again.

Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce
$3.75

5. 
Germany. Okay. Let me explain.

I'd highlighted in yellow all the yummiest dessert things that I wanted to eat and I felt a tad selfish. So, I also put Germany's apple strudel in yellow. For hubs, you know. A bone.

As we approached the booth, however, I was informed that apple strudel was not a favorite. Still. Rules were rules. (Rules are one of hubs' favorite things.) Apple strudel was in yellow, therefore, it must be eaten. So we ate it.


Once deconstructed we found our strudel contained yellow raisins as well.

It was...well, it tasted...healthy. Is that normal for strudel? When you go at it, you...I mean I, as an American, expect something like apple pie. Sweet. Maybe too sweet. Strudel...this strudel anyway, was not sweet. So, I'd call it wholesome, except I also think sweet apple pie is wholesome. The dough wasn't flaky as it should be...if you ask me. But hubs said it was flaky on the top. Anyway, I'd give it a bland on the food scale.

Oh, and I could barely taste the raisins, too.


Black Pepper Shrimp with Garlic Noodles
$5.50

6. 
Next stop, China.

We grabbed some black pepper shrimp with garlic noodles and walked all the way over to Norway to find a spot to sit and enjoy. 

I must say. Fabulous! Just fabulous! Peppery and garlic-y. The shrimp had a bit of crustiness to its outer layer. Oh, yummy. I wanted to eat all of it. ALL of it! But I knew I still had so much left to eat. We at least ate all of the shrimp. The noodles were heavenly, though. 

As we ate, a couple of Vikings came around the corner chatting up guests and shaking hands. They just looked like guys in old clothes. So...authentic vikings! But if you listened carefully, you'd hear them saying...nonsense: "Yar! Yarm arr yar-yarr. Narm yar, yar arrgh." Disney is epic, isn't it?


Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with a Caramel Drizzle
$3.25

7. 
Then we went to The CHEW Collective (Yeah, I don't know what that is, either) for some peanut butter and white chocolate mousse. With caramel drizzle. Oh, yeah.

It was good. But very mild. It looks bigger than it was. Here, another picture for comparison: 






I don't know. It still looks bigger than I remember it. I kept the little container. Figured I could put something in it. Paper clips, maybe.


Duck Confit with Creamy Polenta and Fire-Roasted Salsa
$5.25

8.
Then we were off to the Greenhouse Guru Hosted by Village Farms. Another booth that just seemed unrelated to anything worldly. I really like the idea of eating foods representative of countries around the world. I think Epcot might be getting off its theme.

Here's the thing with the duck. I had some duck in a Tur-Duc-ken once and loved it. But every time I try it in any other form, it's just not the same. I guess I have to have my duck marinated in a turkey and stuffed with a chicken.

Anyway, the polenta was pretty good. Like cheesy grits. The salsa was bland. I guess I thought the "fire-roasted" part meant hot. But it was just tomato-y. And the duck could have been any pulled meat. Very mild.


Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with Warm Whiskey Caramel
$4.50
Red Wine Chocolate Truffle
$2.25
9. 
Off to the Chocolate Studio!
Again. Off theme.

Here we got the liquid nitro chocolate truffle with warm whiskey caramel. And as long as we were there, I decided to get one of my blue choices: a red wine chocolate truffle. This was against the rules. But I guess hubs was pretty full by that point and just didn't care.

The liquid nitro truffle was like hard, frozen chocolate mousse. Creamy like velvet as it melted in your mouth. I liked it, even though the chocolate was very mild.

The red wine truffle? Well, I thought it was awful. I made the gross! face with each try. I thought it tasted like wine. In fact, it was as if every time my mouth closed on it, I got a spurt of strong red wine. I don't like wine.

Hubs thought it tasted nothing like wine. He said it was just really bitter chocolate.

So, what do you think? Was I just so prepared to taste wine and hate it that I did? I don't know. I really don't know. But. Blech.

Spanakopita
$4.25

10.
Greece!

I had spanakopita highlighted in yellow. Hubs was suspicious.

"I looked it up," I told him.
"So, what is it?"
"I don't remember. But it must be good."
"It's eggplant," he said.
"I wouldn't have put it in yellow if it was eggplant."
"I'm telling you, it's eggplant."

It wasn't eggplant. It was like a spinach pastry. Very delicious! Cheesy and flaky. But sort of heavy. Could be that we were just getting really full.


Warm Chocolate Pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur Custard
$3.75

11.
Ireland.

You know what that means! That chocolate pudding cake with the booze sauce all over it! It was bigger this year. I said twice as big. Hubs said more than that.

Here's a picture of last year's cake:





Yeah, it was puny last year.

Anyway, I swear it wasn't as good. It was as if in making it so much bigger, they just spread out the flavor. It didn't pack quite as much punch as I thought it was going to...as I remembered it. Seemed a bit watered down. But it was still pretty good.

And that was it. That was all we could fit in. We spent an hour after that in line at Frozen Ever After. You can read my post about that, if you like. And when we came out into the light, it was pouring rain. We made our way into a little snack place so I could get a much needed dose of Diet Coke and then...left.

I think hubs would have gone around again after the rain let up to try some more of our blue choices. But I was satisfied. And maybe a little sick. I didn't feel very well on the ride home. Many of our choices this year were very rich and buttery. And we ate more desserts than usual.

But I'm all better now. Already formulating my plan for next year... mwuhahahaha!








Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dear Disney, You could do so much better...

I would like to be entertained now...
photo by C.P. Storm via Flickr


Yesterday, we made our annual trek to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival to sample delectable treats that we assume are representative of the countries each food dispensing booth is named for.

But on Monday, we visited--duh, Duh, DUH!--The Magic Kingdom! That's right. The Happiest Place on Earth. (I guess the whole Disney World is supposed to be the Happiest, but the Magic Kingdom is still my favorite.) We'd tried to visit last April but it was so crowded we could barely make our way through the throngs of bodies to get anywhere. So we left. This visit was much better. Sure, it was still crowded, but normal crowded, not I-feel-like-a-sardine crowded.

I still remember, many years ago, attending Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Not only did they give us free (scrumptious) cookies and hot chocolate, but the streets were wide open and welcoming. I have no idea if the experience is the same these days.

But this complaint isn't about crowds, really. The park is going to be crowded because it's a great place to go. That said, Walt Disney World could do a lot better job at entertaining the crowds. A LOT better.

You know the old joke, right? You stand in line for 90 minutes waiting for a 30-second ride.

It's funny because it's true. Sort of.

The lines are sometimes only 20 minutes. Sometimes they're over 90! And the rides really do only last a few. It's so imbalanced it's silly.

But it could be better.

Look what they've started with the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, for example. The first long stretch of line abuts a playground. While one person in the group holds their place in line, others can play. There were honey pot drums, some sort of pop-up ball thingie, Eeyore's lean-to to crawl through, etc. And then the line ran around both sides of a honey bee roller coaster that everyone could play with, moving the bees up and down and through honeycombs that buzzed with excitement. It was great!

And then it became a line again.

Oh, bother.

We had a Fast Pass for Space Mountain and as we passed fastly all those poor schmucks in the stand-by line, I noticed there were some games along the wall to amuse them. What a great idea!

When we were at Epcot, we prepared to wait in line for the new Frozen Ever After ride. We started just outside the door and the line time was 45 minutes. Not bad at all, for Disney. Amiright? But before we made it to the door, it changed to 60 minutes. Still not as bad as the hour-and-a-half I was expecting. So we plunged ahead full of Happiness and bravado (and full of a LOT of delectable treats we assumed were indicative of food from various countries around the world).

The bulk of our wait time (which turned out to be about an hour and ten minutes) was spent in a snake of a line, winding back and forth against itself, inside a big room the walls of which depicted a Norwegian (we can assume) village from the movie Frozen.

This was mind-numbing, back and feet aching tedium. And as I stood there, trying not to look yet again at that guy I kept passing, or getting out of the way of people making their way backwards, having given up, or trying not to step on that poor child with more energy than can be contained, I wanted to be entertained. I could only look at Facebook on my iPhone so often, after all. I read an article about politics. Watched some cat videos. But it was all still very clear that I was cattle.

At one point, my husband and I decided what it would take for the Frozen Ever After ride to be worth all that waiting and back-aching boredom.

A water slide, a bit of spinning, real live singers and dancers, being snowed on, a snowball fight between cars or boats* or whatever we'll be riding, a Popsicle, and a Diet Coke at the end. That's our bar.

While the ride was a lot of fun, and I was glad to have been on it, of course it didn't live up to the time expended in a herd of bodies walking past one another again and again.

The sad part is that Disney could have done it so much better. Not the ride. The line! 

The line could have been fabulous.

In that room, that little village, there was a black sky above us. A sky that could have been filled with fireworks from time to time. How about Donald Duck sky-writing Disney film quotes for us to guess at? Large screen TVs could have broadcast shorts, singalongs, Disney news, behind the scenes tours, facts and trivia. There could have been a balcony in that room on which employees entertained and engaged us a la the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

That line could have been so much fun! All the lines at Disney World, especially the ones they know will be extraordinarily long (like, what's the deal with Peter Pan's Flight? We didn't even try.), could be...well, AMAZING!

You're Disney World! What the heck? Where is your innovation? Where is your commitment to your guests? 

You could make the stand-by lines so much fun people will look forward to the wait. You could really make Disney World The Happiest Place on Earth.

So, why don't you?



*Now, ahem, about those boats. You went through all that time and expense to remake Maelstrom into Frozen Ever After. Shouldn't we have ridden SLEDS? On the snow? And that warm mist we went through...shouldn't it have been...oh, I don't know...SNOW?

Come on, Disney World. You can do better.





Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Try to remember without watching the video...

Fall, is it?
Photo by Satoru via Flickr

At the end of this post I will make a yuge announcement! But everything leading up to it is very important. I can't tell you how important all of this is. But it's really, really important.

Some years ago, never mind how long precisely, Marie Osmond sang a song about September. Hold on a minute...let me see if I can find it...aren't the Tubes amazing? Don't we just live in the most amazing--barring Trump--time? Ah, here it is:



This song really has absolutely nothing to do with my post, except that, as I was thinking about writing it, I remembered it. This song, I think, is about getting old and dying, or falling in love with...wait that would a May/December thing...not a May/September thing. So, okay, it's about getting old and remembering when you were younger and then...following...followfollowfollow as Marie says. I don't know...is she saying to go into the light?

Whatever.

(I so wanted to write "whatevs" but that's a slippery slope.)

It has been quite a September so far, that's what I'm getting at. (Egad. I just tried to watch that video and couldn't get through it. That was a long time ago. Maybe we shouldn't look back after all.)

The first weekend of the month saw hubs and me in Atlanta for the Decatur Book Festival. What a fabulous time! Seriously. I sold so many books I started to feel...like an author! Like a real author. Don't worry, I got over it really fast. Like, the very next weekend when we hosted a table at Space Coast Comic Con.

I'm not sure where the idea to try comic cons came from, but it came, and we decided to give them a shot. We did Nerd Fest in Melbourne last spring and it was a good time so we chose a couple more. The results were less compelling. I don't think our set-up is really geared toward the comic con crowd. Not at this time, anyway.

But...to get back on track...

I made clothes specially for the occasion. I decided I would be Chai (pronounced "Kai" whether anyone likes it or not) Legend, a character from the book I'm writing next. I got a few compliments on the first one, the one with the dress. I didn't get any compliments on the second, with the pirate shirt, because I didn't get to wear that one.

Here they are:

























On the left is the dress. It looks like super thin leather. But it's not, of course. It's fabric coated with some kind of rubber, I think. In the back view, you can see that I added the buckle to cover the mistake I made in the over-yoke, which I created because the actual yoke is too wide for my chest. (An expert sewer, I am not...yet.) And on the right is the ensemble with the overcoat. The overcoat fabric also looks like animal skin. Very cool. Here are the fabrics up close:





The pouch is a story in itself. I want to make my own purses and the hardware is really expensive. So I went to Goodwill and found a bunch of super cheap bags. Then I cut them up and saved the hardware: buckles, zippers, D-rings, etc. And one purse not only had this weird front filled with grommets, but it matched the fabric of my dress perfectly. So, I made a pouch out of it. It's what Chai carries magic in.



And here is the pirate shirt. Believe it or not, I made the small and still had to take three inches off each side of the thing, just to get it to look like this.




You might be wondering if I plan to post pictures of all my sewing/craft projects on my blog. Yes. Yes, I do. Anyway, I didn't get the pirate shirt finished in time for Space Coast Comic Con and I worked my butt off getting it ready for Treasure Coast Comic Con which was the very next weekend!

But alas, that con was rather dead on Sunday and I just wasn't feeling the costume vibe, so I never changed into it. Pity. I may just have to dress up as Chai as a rule when doing these author gigs. I don't want to have spent all that time screaming at my sewing machine for nothing.

(Not to worry. I figured out what the problem was. My bad.)

Okay, so September thus far has been exhausting! So exhausting that I found myself at Cracker Barrel on Sunday evening scarfing down some Homestyle Chicken and biscuits. Nom nom. I was so emotionally worn out that I ordered some of their famous Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake to go. I get it without the ice cream so I can eat it whenever I'm ready. (I was ready surprisingly soon after eating the chicken and biscuits.)

Anyway, here is what it looks like on their menu. Beautiful, isn't it? You want to see what I got? Scroll, my friend. Scroll.




Yep. I got home and opened up my to-go container to have a look and this is what my eyes beheld:



Wtf?

Don't get me wrong. I ate it. It was goooooood. But...I can't help feeling it would have been better as the solid, fudgy, thick hunk it was supposed to be.

Which brings me to the point of this post. It's FALL! Do you know what happens every fall? No? Well, I will tell you.

The Epcot International Food & Wine (who cares about the wine part?) Festival!


That's right. This weekend I'll be printing up a list of all the countries with booths this year and highlighting the things I want to eat and new things I'm eager to try. And as usual, I will be blogging every scrumptious and awful detail shortly after, complete with pictures!

I don't care if you like it...it's one of my favorite things to blog about. So, prepare yourselves!

And Epcot! Here we come!