Monday, April 23, 2018

Sea World's Food Festival has nothing on Epcot's...

Well, apparently Sea World saw how fabulous the Epcot Food & Wine Festival is and had to have one of their own. 2018 is the second year for Sea World's Seven Seas Food Festival. They've got a long way to go to be Epcot.

Sure, Epcot has twenty-two years on Sea World, but it seems to me if you start out this bad, your chances aren't good in the long run.

On the plus side, the portions were huge. But so are the prices. We purchased a supposedly money-saving badge that gave us fifteen items for $60. I didn't keep track of the prices, but they were all at least $5 and most were more like $6.50. So, I guess the badge did save us money.

But the booths were really unorganized and poorly run. And the food wasn't great, either. Here's a rundown on what we had (so you don't have to):

1. Caribbean Market
Crab cake with jicama* slaw and Key lime mustard.

We really liked this one. Lots of crab (well, it looked like crab). But very spicy. We were told that the serving is usually one crab cake, but they were small today so we got two. Jiminy.

*That's pronounced HI-cuh-muh isn't it? Because I keep thinking je-CA-muh.

2. Florida Market
Conch Fritters with pineapple and jalapeno salsa
Shrimp mac-n-cheese
Key lime martini

The conch dish was sort of confusing. The conch had absolutely no flavor, of course. But the pineapple salsa, if that is what it was, was delicious. There was something else on the plate, however, that looked like pink tartar sauce. Very spicy. We liked it, overall, considering it had little flavor.

The shrimp mac-n-cheese had so little flavor it could have just been creamy macaroni. There was a shrimp in it. One shrimp.

The Key lime martini was, basically, key lime pie in a plastic martini glass. Very nice. We ate all of that.

3. Mediterranean Market
Sea scallops provencal with wild mushroom risotto
Dark chocolate Guinness mousse parfait topped with Bailey's infused whipped cream

Okay, first of all, the description is sea scallops...plural. But what we got was one huge scallop. (Hubs is certain it's a fake scallop. You know, circular plugs of stingray. And why not; they've got a tank full of sting ray right there in the park.) That said, it was cooked perfectly, but had no flavor--except for salt. But it's a scallop, so how much flavor was it going to have? Chef Ramsay would have been so pissed about the risotto! It was icky mush with a weird flavor. I can hear him cursing now.

The mousse was excellent! (You knew that, didn't you?) I should have spent a few credits on more of that.

4. North Atlantic Market
Bacon and cheddar hush puppies 
Bananas Foster cheesecake cones

The hush puppies were supposed to be served with honey butter, but we got something like a BBQ salsa instead. It was rather tasty, if barbecue is what you want with your hush puppies--and it's not. The puppies themselves were okay. Very mild with a hint of sweet corn.

The Bananas Foster cheesecake cones were pretty much just banana pudding in a cone. But not really good banana pudding. Banana pudding that tastes just a tad...odd.

5. Pacific Coast Market
Fried calamari with yuzu dipping sauce and pickled vegetable
Warm pear maple cobbler served in a waffle cone

Okay, well...I think it was calamari. But it had no flavor. Not even a decent "fried" flavor. The yuzu was clearly canned tomato sauce. And the pickled vegetable was a piece of cauliflower.

The pear cobbler was served in a waffle cone. The cone seemed to be a theme. It was wrapped in a paper napkin and dripping caramel, or whatever that was. Hard to handle and hard to eat. Large pieces of pear don't make for eating without a fork, after all. But when you put your fork in, all the whipped topping and caramel just fall out. Whoever put this together wasn't thinking of the diner. Form over function, am I right? So, anyway, this was basically pears in apple pie spices. It was very sweet.

6. Asian Market
Peking duck lo mein

Undercooked lo mein noodles with some juicy, but tasteless, duck on top. I don't recall what that white thing is, there in the middle of the lo mein. Probably a vegetable of some sort. The lo mein was inedible, so we didn't find out.

7. Brazilian Market
Brazilian churrasco: grilled skirt steak with chimichurri and garbanzo frito

Well, the skirt steak was very nicely cooked, with a rather nice, if not extremely mild, flavor. The chimichurri was excellent--tasted like garlic butter. Just a bowl of that, please. The "garbanzo frito" was just some garbanzo beans.

8. Bacalaitos

This was in the special Latin Inspired Cuisine section that didn't run during the entire festival. We got the bacalaitos, a crispy, salted, codfish pancake. Funny though, there was also a sign at the booth that said "funnel cake." And that's what it felt like. Unfortunately, we were right there when they pulled this huge, flat, cake out of the grease and put it on a plate for us. It was so greasy, and so salty, it was nearly inedible. Hubs had one bite and that was it. I took two.

9. Gulf Coast Market
Cheese grits and shrimp casserole

This was so disappointing I can't tell you... One piece of tasteless shrimp on top of another martini glass filled with bland, mushy grits. It's like they didn't even try.

10. Polynesian Market
Hawaiian pineapple dream cake

OMG! This was fabulous! It was delicious pineapple cake, with creamy whipped topping and a slice of pineapple. We at the whole thing, even though we were stuffed.

So we ended on a good note, eh?

This creepy statue got up and sprayed people with water while were eating.

Anyway, the festival also includes concerts and that day it was somebody called Nicky Jam. I thought it was a girl. But I looked him up and he's some reggaeton (like...Latin hip hop) guy from Massachusetts. (Massachusetts?!?!) I don't like the look of him, I'm afraid. Big face, beady little eyes. I could see him on the evening news, if you know what I mean.

He was supposed to go on at five but people were already there claiming seats at noon. And when we left at three, the place was packed. And still, people were streaming through the entrance. They were going to have to watch from the other side of the pond. Apparently this guy has fans.

We did all the usual stuff, saw some dolphins, pet and fed stingrays, fed the sea lions, saw manatees, etc. It was a fun day. But despite what some people say about Epcot's food festival going downhill, it's still ten times better than Sea World's.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Instagram is making crazy people crazier...


I recently read an article (not this one, but this was the only one I could find in the time I was willing to spend looking) about Instagram filters and the way they are probably contributing to mass insanity...or something along those lines. It seems that people taking pictures of themselves using these filters (like, mirror image...?) look really good and then they see themselves without filters and feel like crap. Basically. That was the gist.

And there was a quote about people who "document themselves" several times a day.

And my thought was, what the hell?

People are taking pictures of themselves, several times a day. And we're supposed to worry about filters making them crazy? I wondered what people so desperately in love with themselves did back in the day, when they couldn't get the instant gratification of a selfie posted on social media. I can't recall...although, there was one girl who spent an inordinate amount of time looking into her compact mirror during class in high school.

Wonder what she's doing now.

Anyway, I guess I don't get Instagram at all. Much less the selfie thing. The article did also state that when these selfie people took pictures with their iPhones, they looked really awful. I can attest to that. I have tried to take selfies with my iPhone. Maybe this is what has put me off selfies in general. Who knows.

As an aside, I heard on that show Food: Fact or Fiction, that photogs back in the early days had people say "prunes" instead of "cheese" because back in the day, a lot of people had really bad teeth, if they had teeth at all. Nobody wanted cheese pics back then! That made me think about all the prune-y selfies people take now. I'm just going to assume from now on that people who pout in selfies have missing teeth.

But the thing that gets me most is that people are spending so much time taking pictures with their phones and posting them to Instagram. And they're outside a lot. When I'm outside, I take pictures with a real camera. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to get those pictures onto my phone or iPad so that I can post them to Instagram? (Instagram doesn't want people posting from their computers. That's  not cool, I guess.) It's stupidly complex. Something just isn't right with my Apple connections, I guess.

So, I'm left with taking pictures around the house and yard to post on Instagram. Stuff like this:

That's Squeakers sleeping on some fabric that I'm making a long coat out of. It was once my king sized comforter. (Shhh. Don't tell.) Instagram likes cats, but the pictures I usually see are a tad more professional than mine.

Books on my bookshelf. That's a good picture. I think I'll actually post this one. I have a lot of bookshelves, so I might get a few months worth of posts just with that.

Toilet tissue. It's artistic, see? I might post this one, just to throw people off. Make them wonder if I'm sane.

Bird poster. This could be a violation of copyright. But when you're something of a recluse, your options are severely limited.

I like textures and patterns. They have hashtags for those things so other people post pictures of this nature also. And while I do try to get in a lot of pictures when I travel to hotels (great places for textures), I don't travel often enough to keep my Instagram page interesting. So, I'm left with taking pictures of our keyboard and spots on the carpet.

Blinds are always a good topic because they look different at different times of the day.

The problem with hanging out at home and posting pictures from around the house, though, is that, well, I'm a slob. People who post pictures and videos of themselves at home...those people are clean. I can't take a video of my cat doing something funny because my filthy house is in the background.

What I'm saying is that my options are limited.

I'm not doing life right.

I'm not with the cool kids.

Ok. You want a selfie? I'll give you a selfie.

No filters. No make up. Just a big ole' eyeball. I think it's my best eye, too.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The problem with men...and women

You people are creepy.
Photo by the_quick_nick via flickr

There is a high-pitched whine emanating from a machine in the corner of the room and it's probably going to drive me insane. I don't know how long that sort of thing takes, maybe weeks or months, but you should definitely be on the lookout for strange tics and rantings of lunacy from me in the near future.

So, with that in mind, hear me out about men, and the women who enable them.

Look. Men are perverted little turds. We all know it. They're driven by sexual mania. It starts early and literally consumes them until the age of twenty-one, when most of them manage to suppress it because society tells them they have to "adult" now.

The reality is that a lot of men, dare I say, most men (and yes, I know, NOT ALL MEN, I get it) think of women as sexual objects. There's definitely a scale:

Normal dude, not creepy: Likes breasts and butts, and women as people, and is polite enough to keep his appreciation of their physical attributes focused on his wife or girlfriend. Looks other women in the eye. Only makes sexually demeaning jokes about women with his buds. Cries when he wears the wrong shirt to work and upsets the matriarchy.

A little bit creepy: Guy likes to look, when he can get away with it. Fantasizes about sex with beautiful women. (Wait, they all do that. But this guy actually thinks it could happen.) Appreciates the female form. Winks and whistles at strange women--believes he's paying them a compliment.

Creepy: Guy leers at breasts and butts. Raises his brows in what he thinks is an appreciative gesture. Winks. Suggests a little sexual play. With any woman who will look at him for more than a few seconds. Touches women on the arm, knee, hair, back for a few seconds hoping to get away with it. Calls women honey and sweetie.

Very Creepy: Guy touches women on the arm, knee, hair, back for prolonged periods and if not rebuffed, starts rubbing. Offers neck massages. Maybe a pinch on the ass if he gets the go-ahead. (The go-ahead being not having been slapped yet.) Thinks sticking his tongue out and wagging it is flirting. Watches too long and even follows to keep looking. If not told not to, will pretend to hump a woman in line in front of him and think it's funny. Calls women bitches.

Super Creepy: Guy likes to get women alone so he can show them his penis, because he seriously thinks women like to see penises. Asks women to watch him pee or masturbate. Will grab a breast or butt if the woman hasn't run screaming from the room yet. Better yet, grabs strangers' various parts  knowing it's her word against his. Calls women cunts.

Oh, My God! Criminally Creepy: Guy thinks women want to have sex with him and nothing they can say will change his mind. He forces himself on women, but not violently. He doesn't think this is rape because she didn't scream. Of course, most women don't scream when they've been drugged or plied with enough alcohol to toast an elephant.

Anything above that is just plain criminal and the creepiness factor doesn't come into play because the guy is just a rapist.

Men are creepy. The problem is that, for some reason, a lot of men have it in their heads that:

1. Women want to have sex with them, but they pretend not to because society tells them they shouldn't. And to be honest, it's these same men who call women who do have a lot of sex "sluts" and "whores." So, basically, men are crazy, too.


2. Women hate men and use flirting and sex to emasculate and control them.

And both of these sorts of women, according to these men, should be put in their places via the methods listed above. You can tell this is true because at some point, most creepy guys will say something along the lines of "She wants it, bad" or "You know you want it."

Uh. No. We don't.

Except that, we do. And here we come to the problem with women.

The problem with women [NOT ALL WOMEN, yeah, yeah] is that there actually are women who:

1. Say no, when they really want to say yes. They want to have sex, but society (both men and women) tells them that if they have a lot of sex, they are "sluts" and "whores." So they say no, no, no. But they eventually give in. Which tells men that women want to have sex with them, but it takes a lot of persuading. The more you persuade, and the various methods you incorporate in your persuasion, the better your chances of getting sex, which is what men are almost constantly hoping for. [Yeah, yeah, NOT ALL MEN.]

People. This is just mother nature at work. Have you seen the lengths male birds and mammals will go to to get laid? I'm telling you, men are like peacocks, waving their ridiculously silly genitalia at whatever looks at them twice just hoping for some recognition.

You kind of feel sorry for them. [NOT ALL MEN. heh, heh.]

2. Say yes only to get really pissed off afterward because they said yes and the guy is so confused he realizes that if he just leaves right after sex, he can avoid drama.

3. Actually do use their bodies, flirting, and sex to emasculate and control men. It's so easy to do, after all.

4. See their bodies as sexual playthings, enjoy sexuality, but then balk when men go for it.

So, what I'm saying is that for all of the feminists railing against the creeps in Hollywood and corporations all over the country, for those insisting that men stop looking at women as objects--a walking set of orifices, if you will--and for those demanding women be treated with respect and dignity, there are women out there wearing Hooters uniforms, posting selfies of their cleavage (and more), and wiggling harder when they hear a cat call. Do I have to say it? Twerking!

Women, we are fighting a losing battle. Men [NOT ALL MEN] will always be sexually motivated and women [NOT ALL WOMEN] will appreciate the attention, or worse use their sexuality to demean men.

This society does not respect women. At all. Seriously, we've got a chain of restaurants called HOOTERS. [Owls, my ass.] And you want men to not be creeps about our bodies? We've got music blasting on the radio about Porn Star Dancing and women who may be crazy but fuck so good he's...whatever the creep is willing to do for the sex. On the radio. Have you not seen The Big Bang Theory's glorification of men like Howard Wolowitz? The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? These are literally women dancing around in skimpy uniforms, cheering on the big he-men playing sports.

It's not going to get better because too many women don't care. Too many women equate flaunting their bodies sexually with sexual autonomy. [They are not the same thing.] And too many women aren't smart enough to equate the two and just like flaunting their bodies. And yes, too many women let men grab them by the pussy. [What a stupid euphemism.] Some of them no doubt like it. [Stop freaking out. NOT ALL WOMEN are like you.]

There is no redeeming creeps and the women who love them. Not in my lifetime or yours. Not ever. Because just as it is with all good things, there will always be more of them than of us.

The best we can do, if you ask me, is work toward getting the creeps to stop forcing themselves on us. But, getting them to stop trying to touch us? To stop with the creepy "compliments" and sexual innuendo? To stop the whistling and tongue wagging? I don't see it happening. Men [NOT ALL MEN] are just too creepy. And too many women love it.

Rant over. And curiously, the high-pitched whine has been silenced by all that typing.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dear 2017: I regret nothing

Photo by Ari Helminen via Flickr

I regret nothing! 

Well, almost nothing.

I am ready to wipe the filth of 2017 off the bottom of my shoes, sweep it up, and put it out with the trash. This has been the worst year I’ve ever experienced. I’ve lost so much that seems essential to a good life. First, my optimistic respect for my fellow Americans. Granted, millions have had a change of heart. But it’s too late for them to be trusted, for my part. I’ve also lost my pride and love for my country. Despite millions of Americans fighting against it, we are falling into fascism. I’ve lost any and all appreciation and understanding I once had for Republicans, conservatives, and evangelical Christians.

It’s difficult to live with all of this. The small amount of comfort I once had--the little voice that used to console me--that people, in general, were good and kind and would choose freedom over despotism...well, that's shattered. It's time to wake up to the fact that people are, in fact, as I always suspected: racist, bigoted, controlling, fearful, greedy, vile, ignorant creatures. 

Rational people are far outnumbered by the wilfully stupid. Fairness is a minority view. The understanding of freedom, the love of it, is hard to find.

Welcome to the real world.

But I have no (mostly) regrets. I don’t miss the so-called friends I’ve lost on social media. It was rather a shock to find out that I went to high school with so many people walking on the edge of fascism just waiting for a push to the dark side. (And the number of racists! Holy shit, I live in a cesspool of bigotry here in Florida.) I don’t for a second regret calling my father out on his despicable allegiance to Trump. (This, too, was something of a confusing, frustrating, bizarro-world revelation.) I have no qualms with my labeling of Trump supporters dumber than rocks.They are. And I'll continue to say it to their faces. 

I’m ready to move on, though, into 2018. But just because I’m ready to put 2017 in the sewer where it belongs doesn’t mean I’m not taking some things with me.

I plan to continue to call out fascism. The conservative, racist, authoritarian, white nationalists won’t go away quietly and we need to stay vigilant. The way in which the oligarchs have stacked their hand against democracy does not fill me with optimism. I don't see this ending well. But, if we must go down, we must do so enraged.

I’ll no doubt continue to be disappointed in those who remain on the sidelines, who don't see what all the hoopla is about, and who wish I would just shut up about it. I’m having trouble understanding the blinders these people wear. Is it my studies of history? Is it my depressing amount of empathy? Am I just smarter? Older? Whatever it is, there are others like me out there. I’m glad that I’m not alone and have found allies to stand with against what is to come.

This past year was truly awful. I feel as if I fell into a boggy mire of horror. I struggled for a full year to convince myself that this has really happened to my country--this is not a nightmare. I let this year stall me, batter me, and pull me under.

That's my one regret--that I let it get to me, stymie me, and hold me back from accomplishing what I should have.

I feel strong enough, finally, to stand up and stop letting what’s happening to us weaken me. I’ve been in a very dark place since November 2016, and I know I’m not alone in that. I’ve stuffed myself with food in search of some comfort. I’ve lost sleep. I stopped exercising. And I failed to write the books I needed to write. I've walked around with a nagging sense of hopelessness and disgust.

No more. I will not let the despicable slime that is Trumpism, fascism, and white nationalism hang over me like a suffocating blanket for one more day. I am so done with 2017.

Happy New Year, bitches.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Great Holiday Movie Countdown (with notes)

Pic by BrianFagan via Flickr

I haven't blogged in a while. It's not that I haven't had anything to's just that all of the things I wanted to say had a lot of swearing involved and I didn't feel like it. You know how they say, don't go to bed angry? Well, I think "Don't blog angry" is probably good advice as well. So, I waited, and waited, and waited until I wasn't mad anymore and I'm still mad. But, there is something going on that I'm not mad about and here it is:

The Great Holiday Movie Countdown (with notes)

I lay out all of the Christmas movies on the coffee table (I don't drink coffee but I don't have a better word for that table that sits in front of the couch that mostly exists for the cats to slide across after a nice run/jump). And I put them in order of when they'll be watched. They can be in any order, except for the last three movies. Two absolutely must be watched on Christmas Eve (yes, I'm an atheist, but that's another blog entirely) and one must be watched on Christmas Day.

So, here's this year's list.

Dec. 15
It's a Wonderful Life

I haven't watched this film for a couple of years, so tonight, I will sit down and do it some justice. This is a classic holiday film, filled with all the feels and nonsense one expects from an "uplifting" story. But I love it. Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight. Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight aaaaaaaannnnnnndd dance by the light of the mooooon.

Dec. 16
Die Hard

Die Hard is a great Christmas movie. It has all the feels. Hans Gruber thinks he's just so smart. And John McClane walks on glass! And a dead guy rides up the elevator. The jerk gets shot and you don't know how you feel about that, but the other jerk gets punched in the face and you're so glad. Christmas!

Dec. 17
Die Hard 2

Die Hard 2 is not as good as the first one, but it's still good and you've just watched the first one so you might as well do it. It's not like you'll get a chance again until next year. And frankly, it's not like you'll ever say to yourself, "I think I'd like to watch Die Hard 2." Of course not. If you want Die Hard, you'll go to the original. But you've watched them both every Christmas for so many years now, you just do it and don't really feel like you have to explain yourself.

Dec. 18
Home Alone

One of the best Christmas movies ever made, am I right?! This is a must-see every year. (Technically, these are all "must-sees." That's why they're on the list. Well, okay, not the first one. It's true that I skipped the first one for a while.)

Home Alone is so wonderful, with the old man and all, and the little kids singing, and the fabulous opening song! It's not Christmas without it.

Dec. 19
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

How can it be possible for the sequel to outdo the original? I'm not completely sure it does. Maybe they're tied. They're both so fantastic. This one has the pigeon lady (seriously, that's her name). And Tim Curry! "Get on your knees and tell me you love me." OMG.

Dec. 20 
Trading Places and The Year without a Santa Claus*

While I don't really understand what's happening with the buying and selling of Trading Places, I have to see Dan Akroyd, drunk, wearing a dirty Santa suit on the bus, pulling a smoked salmon out of the lapel and biting off a hunk...with all the fake beard hair mixed in. It's just not Christmas until I've seen that.

The Year without a Santa Claus is one of those old, weird, stupid tv shows. It's pretty ridiculous.'s tradition.

*All of the second mention films will actually be watched before the main feature, but I couldn't list them first, because they're not as special as the main features they accompany. (It makes sense to me.)

Dec. 21
The Santa Clause and Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever

I'm not a big Tim Allen fan, but The Santa Clause is pretty adorable. I get a bit peeved at stories that promote "belief," and cringe at the "seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing" bullshit line. But other than that, I like it. Judge Reinhold's character is worth it.

This will be my first viewing of Grumpy Cat's movie. I got it as a gift last year. I hear it's awful. But is it awful, as in, I'll be donating it? Or is it, say, Sharknado awful, gaining it a spot on my traditional Christmas movies list? We'll know on Dec. 21.

Dec. 22
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

Despite the killing of the cat, Christmas Vacation is an absolute necessity for the holidays. The reindeer mugs, Cousin Eddie's dickey, the burnt turkey, and the insulting in-laws. The whole movie screams family togetherness.

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is one of those movies I grew up watching as a kid. So, I kind of have to watch it. It's rather dark, when you think about it, what with Abominable and all.

Dec. 23
A Christmas Carol and Frosty the Snowman

I've probably seen every adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol ever made for tv or film, including the one with Henry Winkler (egad) and there are only two that I love and watch regularly. The first (not the best or my favorite) is the one with Alastair Sims. The old man is a perfect Scrooge. Tiny Tim could be tinier, but you can't have everything. And what's really cool is that Mrs. Naugatuck is Mrs. Cratchit! Was that woman always old?

Frosty the Snowman is another one from my childhood. One of those stories that doesn't really make all that much sense (I mean, how does Karen get to the North Pole and back before dinner?), but who cares, there are bunnies.

Dec. 24
The Muppet Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best and my favorite Scrooge movie! The muppets! The sets! The music! Tiny Tim is just the right amount of tiny! You can't beat this film for Christmas cheer and feels!

As for How the Grinch Stole Christmas, make no mistake. I'm talking about the original cartoon television special. I watched it every year as a child and it's still a favorite. Little Cindy Lou Who who was no more than two. Max in his antlers. Max disappearing beneath the bags of Christmas shoved out the chimbly! It's wonderful.

That other Grinch movie with Jim Carey is an abomination. No, seriously. I tried to watch it three times and it's just so bad, so horrendously awful, in every way--story, acting, costuming, directing, timing--in every possible way, Ron Howard screwed up that movie. I need to calm down. I hate that movie so much!

Dec. 25
A Christmas Story

I have this on DVD, but I won't necessarily need it. At least one channel will show it non-stop on Christmas Day. But I do like it without commercial breaks now and then.

A Christmas Story is the second best Christmas movie (after The Muppet Christmas Carol) and that's why I save it for last. (Again, this makes sense to me. Christmas Eve is actually the best night so my favorite is watched then and Christmas Day is the second best day/night, even though it comes last.)

I don't want to talk about that abomination live show they're doing. Putting my hands over my ears and shouting BLAHBLAHBLAH. That doesn't exist. It shouldn't exist. There is no way it can measure up. And why do you want to do that anyway? Why take a fabulous film and try to do it again, knowing full well that you'll ruin it? Beats the hell out of me.

So, there you have it. The great Holiday Movie Countdown. I have a lot of movies to watch in the next ten days, so I better get to it.

Happy Holidays.*

*That's right: Happy Holidays, ya filthy animals!

Monday, October 30, 2017

The weird and the wonderful: Epcot Food & Wine Festival

It's become a tradition! Every year, we trek over to Epcot and pay a huge amount of money to sample foods of dubious deliciousness. Some are supposedly authentic to a particular country. Lately, however, Epcot has added booths of less "international" flavor, probably to keep things shaken up enough to warrant return trips year after year.

This year, we made it a point to choose things we've never had before--things we might not otherwise want to eat. It was interesting, to say the least. And I feel like we ate more this year than last year. I don't know if that's good or bad.

So, here's the run down!

1. First stop. Coastal Eats. New this year. No country affiliation. Just seafood.

We chose "lump crab cake with Napa cabbage slaw and avocado lemongrass cream." $5

The "lump" in the crab cake must mean the lumps of breading, because as crab cakes go, this one had the typical amount of crab--as in, not all that much. The crab cake was not very tasty, rather bland, and was mushy. It was overpowered by the avocado sauce, which was pretty good. So, I guess that's a win? The slaw underneath had a soy taste, not appealing.

And we had the "seared scallops with roasted corn and butter bean succotash and chili-chipotle butter sauce." $6

The scallops were seared very nicely and the succotash was yummy! We ate all of this one.

2. Next stop, Active Eats. Also new this year.

Here we had a "sweet avocado crema with strawberries, yellow cake, and tortilla streusel." $3.75

It tasted of vanilla. We couldn't taste any avocado in it; but the strawberry was strong and sweet. The crunchies on top (is that the tortilla streusel?) were nutty, a bit bitter. Over all, it was a nice dessert.

3. The Cheese Studio

At the cheese studio, we had the "braised beef 'stroganoff' with tiny egg noodles, wild mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese sauce." $5 That's right, stroganoff was in quotes.

The beef was very tasty. There was a warm mushy pickle on top of this dish which gave it a warm, mushy pickle taste. It wasn't bad. The "tiny egg noodles" were like thick, tough bits of fried dough, completely lacking in any flavor at all. But the beef was good. Did I mention that already?

4. Ireland! 

Finally, a country! We stopped here for the "warm chocolate pudding with Irish Cream Liqueur custard." $4 We always stop for that. 

This is some good stuff. But, the more I eat it, the more I think it looks a lot more chocolate-y than it actually is. Wait...did I say this last year? It's as if they made this thing bigger, which I'm sure they did, and yet, didn't double the amount of chocolate. It looks very dark and rich, but it doesn't have nearly the chocolate punch I'm expecting. I might skip this next year. (Sacrilege!)

5. Spain

"Seafood salad with shrimp, bay scallops and mussels, extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and smoked paprika." $5.25

This was not good. At all. The seafood was tough and chewy. The vinegar overpowered the dish. We didn't eat very much of it. The green olive was really good though.

6. On to Craft Beers

Here we had a "Scotch egg wrapped in sausage with mustard sauce." $4 
This description is ridiculously redundant. A Scotch egg is a boiled egg wrapped in sausage.

I've never had a Scotch egg before and was looking forward to it. So much so that I dug in before remembering to take a picture. Sorry about that.

Unfortunately, the egg was very hard boiled (a softer boil would have been much better) and flavorless (they could have salted them before wrapping them in the sausage), and the sausage had only the very slightest hint of flavor. The mustard sauce was fabulous.

7. Hawai'i

I had to try the "teriyaki-glazed SPAM hash with potatoes, peppers and onions and spicy mayonnaise." $4

The SPAM chunks were very salty and definitely tasted of teriyaki sauce. And soy. Overall, it tasted of generic Chinese food. But hey, I tried the SPAM hash and that's all that matters.

8. Flavors from Fire. Another new booth. 

We went all out here with three items. First, "Piggy Wings: roasted pork wings [wait, what?] with Korean BBQ sauce and sesame seeds." $4.50

I didn't like the sauce but hubs said it was all right. This was the best of the three samples we had from this booth. I still have no idea what piggy wings are. I assume it was pork.

Next we had "smoked corned beef with warm crispy potatoes, pickled onions and blonde ale beer fondue." $5

Very salty and tough. The chips were okay, though surprisingly not salty at all. I guess they figured we'd get plenty of salt from the beef. It was pretty much inedible.

Then we had the "sweet pancake with spicy chipotle chicken sausage, onion jam and maple butter syrup." $4

The pancake was dry, thick, and tough. It had a sweet corn taste, but the texture was just awful. I liked the sausage well enough, and it had a spicy aftertaste.

We took a break here, having tried all of our "must haves." I saw this adorable dragon.

Turns out, his name is Figment, and he has a ride. I shouldn't have gone on the ride. I liked Figment so much better before I was subjected to his grating voice and annoying manner. Oh, well.

9. Next we went to the Chocolate Studio for the "liquid nitro chocolate almond truffle with warm whisky caramel." $4.75

Basically, this is hardened, barely flavored, and very creamy, ice cream. I have no idea what the white powder on top was. We decided it was a sweet shaky cheese of some kind. (We call the parmesan we put on spaghetti "shaky cheese.")

10. Earth Eats, Inspired by The Chew
Here we had the "peanut butter and white chocolate mousse with a caramel drizzle." $3.50

This was the best thing I ate all day! And it was the cheapest,  too. (Well, the strudel could have been cheaper, but I don't have the receipt for that.) Just yummy. If you go, get that. Lots of that. It was like a buckeye without the chocolate, but so good you hardly notice the chocolate isn't there.

11. India
At the India booth, we had a "pistachio cardamom bundt cake with chocolate coconut mousse." $3.50
Tied, price-wise, with the peanut butter lusciousness above, but sadly, symbolically more expensive because it sucked.

This cake had a lovely, spicy flavor, but it was so dry and heavy it was ruined. Like a dry lemon 50 pound cake.

12. Germany

Last, we had the strudel. Why do we always go for the strudel? I think I think hubs likes it. But neither of us do.

The strudel is not sweet at all. At all! If anything, it's sour. It's such a shame. I mean, I get that it's not apple pie. In fact, I'd say that apple pie is almost always too sweet. But the remedy is not to cut out sugar entirely. This was just not good. I vow to pass it by next year.

Despite what you might think, based on my food reviews, we had a great time! We rode the Gran Fiesta Tour featuring the Three Caballeros.

And we visited The Seas with Nemo and Friends. We skipped the Frozen ride, but there didn't seem to be a line (so unlike last year). All the lines were short. 

We were hoping for some drunken excitement, with maybe a famous person, an athlete perhaps, being dragged out of the park by police. But we only came across one seemingly drunk couple, dancing as they walked.

Maybe next year

P.S. The pictures are supposed to be in the center all the way down and according to Blogger...they are. I can't spend any more time messing with it. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Embrace intolerance...

Intolerance is a virtue
Photo by Dreams&Stuffs via Flickr

I'm about to lay some intellect on you. I'm giving you a heads up here: if it's too much for you, just skim it and I'll sum up briefly after the quote. Here goes:

“The so-called paradox of freedom is the argument that freedom in the sense of absence of any constraining control must lead to very great restraint, since it makes the bully free to enslave the meek. The idea is, in a slightly different form, and with very different tendency, clearly expressed in Plato.
"Less well known is the paradox of toleranceUnlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”
― Karl R. PopperThe Open Society and Its Enemies

Okay, so for the tl;dr crowd, Popper was saying this: you can't be tolerant of bigotry and hate without tolerance losing and intolerance winning. You can't truly be "tolerant." It's a paradox.

But it's really very simple when you think about it. You can't tolerate everything. The very idea is ridiculous. The key is to tolerate what ought to be tolerated in a free and just society and shun everything that seeks to undermine the ideals of freedom and justice.

So, in a free and just society, you have to tolerate women having abortions*, college students protesting things you find silly, or the winner not always winning because the system is whacked**. And, in a free and just society, you should not tolerate Nazis roaming the streets, carrying torches and swastikas, chanting derogatory things about Jews. And you should not tolerate police officers killing innocent people and getting away with it. If all of this is not clear to you, what's wrong with you?

I am a very intolerant person.

I will not tolerate (among other things):
hate for those who are different
forced patriotism
willful ignorance
Donald Trump
Donald Trump supporters
Donald Trump apologists
and, I'm sorry to say, stupidity

I'm sorry about the stupidity part, because I realize stupid people can't help it. Nonetheless, I can't tolerate it.

So, there you have it. I've embraced intolerance. And it feels good.

*This is a civil rights, personal autonomy, and privacy issue. Get over it.
**Until you change the whacked system, of course.