Sunday, July 28, 2013

Days of Thunder & Real Racing 3

Days Of Thunder & Real Racing 3:

In case you don't know what one of these two things are, Days of Thunder is a movie made in 1990 about race cars. Real Racing 3 is a video game that came out this year and is also about race cars.

And what, you might ask, do these two things have in common besides the aforementioned race cars, such that they deserve to be rated together?

The answer?  Nothing, but here we go any way.

Days of Thunder stars the real life couple of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.  Back when Tom couldn't fail to make a hit movie and Nicole hadn't yet had enough of his brand of crazy.  It also has a slew of other famous stars: Randy Quaid, Cary Elwes, Michael Rooker, Fred Thompson, John Reilly and even Robert Duvall.[1]  Not to mention a ton of actual stock car drivers.

Real Raching 3, doesn't actually have any people in it.  Unless you count yourself steering the cars and thus has no famous stars [2] including Nicole Kidman. [3]

One big similarity between both Days of Thunder and Real Racing 3 is that neither of them has any actual plot to speak of.

You wouldn't expect RR3 to have one, it's basic premise is you buy and race cars around a variety of tracks so that you can make enough money to buy and race more cars around more tracks.

You might have expected DoT to have a plot, but you'd be wrong.  Okay, perhaps I exaggerate I little.  It does have a plot.  Here it is in its entirety:

Cole [Tom] is a race car nobody who convinces a car dealer to sponsor him as a driver.  In one season of racing, he wows the racing world and wins important races.  Along the way he gets into an accident and falls in love with his doctor [Nicole] and makes friends with a driver he started out being semi-enemies with.

Done.  There is no more plot to be had.  And I'm not exaggerating in the least.  Here it is boiled down a bit:

Cole races cars.  Cole gets hurt.  Cole meets girl doctor.  Cole makes friends.  Cole wins races. [4]

I'm pretty sure that is the initial plot treatment that they used to sell the script to Paramount in the first place.  The conversation went something like this:

Movie Person: Here's the movie we want you to pay for. [Shows the initial treatment.]
Paramount: That's it?  Hell no.
Movie Person: It will star Tom Cruise.
Paramount: Here's $50,000,000.  Let us know when you need more.

Since DoT is about stock car racing, everyone ostensibly drives the same car. [5]  Of course they paint them all different with big numbers so you can tell them apart.  And so that they can sell more movie memorabilia.  Since it is American car racing all of the tracks are a big oval.

In RR3 there are currently something like 48 different cars for you buy and race, including: Porsche, Audi, BMW, Dodge, Nissan, Bentley, Ford and Chevrolet. There are a bunch of different tracks and only one of them is just an oval. [6]

The change of cars and tracks keeps things interesting.  There are also a variety of different events to complete, only some of which are traditional "races".

In DoT all of the races are pretty much the same.  In fact if you pay close attention, you'll see that they keep repeating the same action in all of the races.  Including the "bad racers" bumping Cole, the various crashes and spin outs and even how Cole nearly wrecks but manages to stay in the race.  But of course, they change the cars and the numbers so you won't notice.

From a 'realism' perspective, one of the biggest problems with DoT is that the actual racing is pretty bad.  Cole can be in last place and somehow in just a few laps he can pass everyone in the race and get back to being right behind the race leader for some dramatic last minute passing to win the race. [7]

From a 'realism' perspective, one of the biggest problems with RR3 is that you win most races by several hundred yards.  The game claims that it carefully picks opponents to keep the racing challenging, but I think I can count the number of races that I had some dramatic last minute passing to win the race on one hand.

When DoT came out I happen to be working at Toys R Us and I can remember the frenzy among the car collectors as they tried to get all of the various replica models that were for sale.  There was one set of cars by Matchbox or Hot Wheels that had both the stock car and the trailer transport together.  Grown men would wait for hours around the store hoping that our next delivery truck would have a case of the cars in it and that the case would have the rare, limited edition, Cole Trickle black car. [8]

I wonder if those same fellows think back now and wonder what were they thinking? [9]

RR3 is completely free.  You can download it on your phone or iPad whenever you get a hankering. Of course you can spend actual money to get more "in game" money, but if you are doing that, you need to rethink your use of disposable income. [10]

RR3 also touts its "Real Time Multiplayer" technology.  Which supposedly is that the game records how you run a race and then when I run that same race, your car will be one of the people I race against.  Only, I don't think it actually quite works that way.  I say this mainly because I've run a lot of races in the game and I've never seen one single person drive at all the way I do. [11]  Neither have I ever seen another car suddenly go running off the road for no reason. Which is also something I do from time to time. [12]

The best part about RR3 is that you get to drive by tilting your phone or iPad like a steering wheel. [13]

The best part about DoT is Nicole Kidman, but I think I already mentioned that.

Despite DoT's lack of plot and general cheesiness, I find myself drawn to it every few years and I end up rewatching it.  And every time as it ends I think, "Man is that movie way worse than I remember."

Despite RR3's gaming flaws, I find myself drawn to it several times a day.  If you happen to play, send my an invite on FB. You get more money for racing against friends and I have my eye on a new Bugatti.

Days of Thunder: C

Real Racing 3: B+

[1] - Yeah, I have no idea how they got him to be in this movie either.  I'm assuming a boat load of money.
[2] - Unless of course you are actually famous, in which case, thanks for reading my blog, can I have an autograph?
[3] - Which is a shame cause she's a hottie.
[4] - Actually when you look at it, RR3 has more plot than DoT
[5] - Thus, "stock" cars
[6] - The Indianapolis Motor Speedway which is in America of course.
[7] -  Which begs the question if it's that easy, why isn't everyone doing the same thing?
[8] - I was actually offered sizable amounts of money by more than one person if I would "set one aside" for them.  If only it had been that easy.  I could have completed my Ninja Turtle action figure collection.
[9] - I suppose it is possible that they sit at home looking loving at the shelf that holds their complete set of Days of Thunder memorabilia and marvel at how rich their lives are.  Possible, but not bloody likely.
[10] - And perhaps go look at your Days of Thunder collection again.
[11] - Which is to say reckless and crazy.
[12] - Like say when a four year old jumps onto your lap in the midst of a race.
[13] - Hey, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to racing a Porsche so let me have my small pleasures.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dead Again

Dead Again (1991):  I get asked what my favorite movie is pretty regularly. [1]  Though there are scores of movies that I love, I can never seem to think of any reply to that question except for Dead Again.  Thus, I supposed that seems pretty strong evidence that this actually is my favorite movie of all time.

Which isn't a bad thing, because this movie is awesome.

Justify that, you say?


A great movie needs to have great actors.  This one has plenty.  It stars Kenneth Branagh [2] and Emma Thompson.[3]  If for some reason you don't know who these people are, I'm sorry.  Please go rectify that immediately. [4]  The rest of us will wait.

. . . .

Right, let's assume you've taken care of that.

Not only does the movie have these two amazing actors, they are playing roles in which they fall in love at a time when they are in love in real life.  Which, certainly can't hurt your performance.

For side characters we have Andy Garcia, Robin Williams, Derek Jacobi [5] and Wayne Knight among others.

Okay Wayne Knight isn't what you'd call a top tier actor [6], but he's great in this pic.  Robin Williams, who also can be in movies that are real stinkers, is great in this movie, in a sort of twisted, alternate reality, preview of the character he plays in Good Will Hunting.

Anyway, trust me the acting is top notch.  Also if I didn't sell you at Branagh and Thompson, there's no hope for you.

Hopefully you've accepted the awesome acting, but we also need awesome directing.

Well, hey now are you in luck, because it is also directed by Kenneth Branagh. [7]  What else has this guy directed you ask?  How about:

- Henry V
- Peter's Friends
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Frankenstein
- Hamlet
- Love's Labour's Lost
- As You Like It
- Thor [8]

If I didn't have you at Henry V, you got some watching to do.

It's usually at this point that people ask me, "What is the movie about?" and no matter how well I've been selling them on the movie so far, no matter how passionate I remain, this is where the wheels start to fall off the wagon.  Because no matter how much I preface the description trying to make them believe that it isn't a goofy weird movie, at some point in the description that's what they start to think. [9]

Branagh is a private investigator trying to help Thompson figure out who she is.  She evidently suffered some sort of emotional trauma and can't remember anything or talk.  They go to a hypnotist and through her remembrances while hypnotized, it becomes clear that she was married to him in a previous life.  A life in which he murdered her . . .

I could go on, but it's around this point that I realize I've lost them.

Look, just trust me on this.  If you've read any of my previous posts and thought even for a minute that I might know a little bit about whatever it was I was talking about, go rent [10] this movie right now.

You won't regret it.  It's that awesome.

Trust me.


Dead Again: A++++++

[1] -If you do what I do for a living, it seems to come up two or three times a year.
[2] - Though you couldn't hear it, I just pronounced his name correctly.
[3] - Please, please tell me you know Emma Thompson from something besides the Harry Potter movies.
[4] - If when you begin to rectify that the words, "But I don't like Shakespeare" or anything similar should come out of your mouth.  You are excused and can go away now.
[5] - He's the guy I always think looks like Harvey Korman, but if you saw him you'd know who he is.
[6] - Newman. (Yes, I just said that in the right voice.)
[7] - Okay, I admit it.  I'm a huge Branagh fan.  And yes, I'm still pronouncing his name right.
[8] - If the only movie you have seen on this list is Thor, please do yourself a favor and fix that as soon as is humanly possible.
[9] - In this description it will begin to happen at word 33 and by word 51 it will all be over.
[10] - Or better yet, buy.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Probable Turning Point

The Bear found a lady bug in the back yard.

He brought it inside and showed mom and dad.

He received a bug jar with a magnifying top from his grandmother and having failed previously to catch anything worthy of study (or anything at all for that matter), I suggested he put the lady bug in the jar and get a good look at it.

All was well in the world.

When it was time to come inside, we reminded him that he needed to let the lady bug go.

Why? he asked.

Because if you don't the lady bug will die.

I don't want to.  He's my pet.

Said with the beginnings of a quiver in the voice and impending tears on the lids.

You have to Bear.  If you keep him in the jar, he'll starve to death and die.

More than able to empathize and vaguely able to summon the vestiges of my own memories in similar situations, I attempted to make the release into something more than dumping a bug back into the garden.

The effort had minimal effect

And then seven words I never saw coming and never knew I would dread so much to hear

I want a pet of my own.

The quiver now fully evidenced and the tears now flowing.

This is not going to end well.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hot Dogs

Hot Dogs: As I am writing this, tomorrow is national hot dog day [1], so I thought I would give you my opinions about hot dogs.

As a general rule, hot dogs are awesome. [2]

Actually, as any kind of rule, general, specific, major or corporal, hot dogs are awesome.

I like them with various and sundry toppings and I like them plain.  I like the kosher ones that have that bit of twang to them and I like the plain old non-kosher kind.  I like them made of beef, pork or made of whatever combination of bits of meat leftovers go into making the really cheap kind.

Simply put, hot dogs is good eating.

I'm not really sure why they are called hot dogs.  I get the hot part [3], but why the dog?  Gut reaction says perhaps it has something to do with Dachshunds, also known as wiener dogs, but then again I also think they are called wiener dogs because they look like hot dogs.  Thus they can't both be named after each other. [4]

Hang on, I'll check the interweb . . . grumble grumble . . . the things I do . . . [searching].

So it appears they were originally called Dachshund sausages and in 1901 a fellow making a cartoon about them being sold at the New York Polo Grounds couldn't figure out how to spell Hot Dachshund Sausages[5], so he just wrote Hot Dogs.  In other words, he was too lazy to do a little research [6] and thereby changed the course of history.

I like hot dogs enough that I did some consumer research a few years back and tried nearly every kind I could get my hands on.  For my taste, you can do no finer than the plain Publix brand hot dogs.
Believe me, I was doubtful at first too, but my research says you can waste your money buying expensive all-beef high falootin [7] dogs that don't taste as good or you can save some cash and get what tastes best. [8]

If you want to blow your diet and eat your entire calorie and fat intake for the day, you can get these giant hot dogs from Sam's [9] that are made by "Best". [10]  They aren't foot long dogs, but they are easily the size of three or four regular dogs put together and they are awesome.

As much as I love hot dogs, I usually don't order them when I go out to eat.  Mainly because I always feel like they should be priced cheaper.  At any rate, that means I don't really have a hot dog restaurant recommendation for you.

I've had them at Five Guys and at Quik Trip and both are plenty good.  But if you are at Five Guys and not getting a burger, you've kind of failed.  And if you're at Quik Trip and surfing the rolling grillers for grub [11], there are other more tasty things to buy [12]  I also recently had one in the Magic Kingdom at Casey's Corner, if you care enough you can see my review of that here.

If anyone knows of an amazingly awesome hot dog eatery, please let me know.  But before someone mentions this one, I know of Brandi's but have somehow managed to fail at eating there.  Perhaps I'll go there tomorrow to celebrate the holiday. [13]

Though, if you want to save a buck, "like" Quik Trip on Face Book and search through their posts from today.  They will email you a coupon for a free hot dog that is good tomorrow only.  And just in case you haven't been in a QT recently, they have a "hot dog bar" where you can put all kinds of stuff on your dog. [14]

Whenever I think about hot dogs and there composition of potentially mystery meat, I always think of this anecdote from my younger days.  So I'll leave you with it.

My younger and brother and I would often rush home from school to watch some afternoon cartoons. [15]  On one day we were channel surfing looking for something to watch and we stumbled on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.  I've never been a huge fan of the show [16] but as it happens it was just at the point of this episode where the bicycle delivery guy was delivering a movie.  So, we stopped surfing to watch.

The film was about how hot dogs were made.  In retrospect, I have no idea how any sane TV producer thought this was a good idea.  The film showed them grinding up meat into a pink paste that more than resembled off-color Pepto.[17]  Then it showed a automated system where limp hot dog casings were squirted full of the stuff.  It was perhaps they most disgusting thing I'd ever seen up to that time in my life. [18]  It literally made your skin crawl.

Well the film ended and my brother and I sat in disturbed silence contemplating what we'd seen.  After a moment he broke the silence by saying, "I'm never eating another hot dog again."  I pondered for a moment and then replied, "Meh, I love hot dogs too much."

Hot Dogs: A+

[1] - July 23 to be specific.  Which may in fact be today, yesterday or some time in the past for you.  If you follow the instructions on the right side of the page on how to follow this blog, you could get notified the instant there is a new post.  And honestly, wouldn't that be better?
[2] - You might think that having given you my opinion, this post would essentially be over.  I think we both know that's not gonna happen.
[3] - Though for the record, cold hot dogs are might tasty too.
[4] - Barring some sort of incident involving a time machine that is.
[5] - God bless spell check.
[6] - Why does that sound familiar?
[7] - Technical term.
[8] - In my opinion anyway.
[9] - And possibly other similar stores
[10] - Honestly I forget the exact name of the hot dogs, just look for the retardedly large ones made by the company "Best".
[11] - Have you stooped so low?
[12] - Buffalo Chicken Rollers and the Jalapeno Sausage to name two.  Clearly, I have stooped.
[13] - Such as it is.
[14] - Sonic is also having a hot dog sale tomorrow.  $1 each for some (but not all) of their dogs.
[15] - Back in the days when cartoons only came on a few hours in the weekday afternoon and Saturday mornings.  To think we were so deprived.
[16] - That's a bit of an understatement, but that's a post for another day.
[17] - Actually it's possible the film was in black and white and that my mind has filled in details that weren't there, but that's memory for you.
[18] - I'm a father of two boys.  That has been beaten before and will surely get beaten again.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orange Juice

Orange Juice: I like orange juice. Anyone who sees me in the morning on a regular basis can tell you that I drink it nearly every day.  And I don't have one brand that I am sworn to defend with a fiery passion. [1]  Mostly I just buy whatever type is on sale. [2]

The thing about orange juice that I find so odd is how different it all tastes.  There must be thirty different brands of OJ available for sale and every one of them tastes different.  And they all claim to be made from 100% orange juice [3].  So you might think they would all taste the same.

But they don't.

I assume this must be because they are made from various types of oranges.  My question then is why don't they advertise this?  They try to make everything else about the juice such a big deal, why not the type of orange?

The thing is, I bet most people can name two, maybe three types of oranges.  Give it a shot.  I'll wait.

[Idle humming.]

Let's see, you named Valencia and Navel and that's it. [4]  For the record your other options are Moro (or Blood) and Cara Cara.  Except the thing is that Cara Cara's are just a type of navel orange that is a little pinker inside. [5]

Anyway, that's nearly my point.  If I'm Sunkist, Simply Orange or Nature's Own[6], I'm clearly not winning any market share by hyping how fast I'm getting the oranges from the tree to your juice glass. [7]  I need something to set my product apart from the rest.  That's when I start saying my juice is made with "Nature's Goddess" oranges.  Or maybe "Divine Nectar" oranges. [8]

The things is, and I'm 100% guessing here.  I bet they can't say that because the orange juice they are making probably comes from 100 different groves scattered around the country or state during the year and some of them are supplementing with oranges from groves scattered around the world in the off season.

Which brings me back to my original point.  If all that is true, how do they all manage to taste so different?  Or does 100% not actually mean what it used to?

Also, as long as I'm ranting, [9]  What's with all the random sub-varieties?  Tropicana's website boast 14 varieties of orange juice.  Fourteen varieties!  Who needs this much selection in their orange juice?

Let's see among other choices there's, low pulp, no pulp, high pulp [10], and extra Calcium and Vitamin D.  What's that all about anyway?  It's like orange juice realized it had a lock on the Vitamin C market and decided it needed to branch out.  Milk was taking a hit with all of the lactose intolerance out there, so OJ decided to muscle in on its territory.

Finally, I'd like to end by bringing back to mind this product:

Donald Duck Orange Juice.

That's right, Donald has his own brand of juice.  It's been around forever and somehow survives selling orange juice that still comes in a tiny can.  Why Donald Duck exactly?  Got me.  I mean, nothing says refreshing breakfast drink to me like a duck with no pants.  Am I right?

Orange Juice: A-

[1] - If we were talking cereal that would be another matter altogether.
[2] - And since lately we shop a lot at Aldi, that means Aldi brand.
[3] - Possibly from concentrate.
[4] - Florida and Sunkist, while in the realm of things "orange" are not actually types of oranges.  And to the person who said grapefruit, you aren't even trying.
[5] - It seems I know a bit too much about oranges.
[6] - Maybe that's actually a bread company but whatever.
[7] - Because nothing makes me thirstier than the image of a dirty work gloves manhandling an orange juice box.
[8] - Before you mock too hard, I invite you to do some research on "Rich Corinthian Leather".
[9] - And I think I now am.
[10] - For people who like to chew their morning beverage.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Finding a Literary Agent

Finding a Literary Agent: So I've written a book. [1]  And unless I am kidding myself and the people who were nice enough to proof read for me were all lying to me, it's a pretty good book. [2] Of course, I didn't spend a huge amount of time writing and rewriting the book to just have half a dozen people read it.  I would love to get it published.

At this point then, I have three options.

Option 1 is to try and directly contact and convince a publisher to publish it.  If this were an easy thing to do, there wouldn't be literary agents.

Option 2 is to self-publish.  I have not totally given up on this idea, but from what I have read, it seems to me this is akin to a last desperate measure and that self-publishing is essentially accepting that your book will never be published any other way. [3]

Option 3 is to find a literary agent.

One might think that this cannot be that hard of a task.  And I guess as I've stated it, it really isn't.  Let me clarify a bit.

Option 3 is to find a literary agent who is willing to represent you.

Those extra six words representing the stickiest of wickets.  Because it is easy to find literary agents.  There are literally books and books listing them.  There are websites [4] listing hordes of agents and how to contact them and what they are looking for [5] and they all have discussion boards where you can read about someone's desperate attempts to find a valid email address for the J. Q. Smith & Associates Literary Agency and does anyone know for sure that they aren't out of business. 

Oh but finding an agent willing to take some time to even give your manuscript [6] a decent look over is like finding a four leaf clover. [7]

One of the biggest issues is the "Query Letter".  With one exception every agent I have solicited or even thought about soliciting is asking for a query letter.  This is basically a one page letter in which you have to summarize what your book is about and who you are and what writing accomplishments you have to your name.  But you have to do it in such a way that your query letter stands out from the other six thousand query letters the agency also received . . . today. [8]

Here's the problem with that.  That's not my forte.  If I were good at saying things in short, brief, one page letters that made the story [9] sound amazing, I wouldn't be writing several hundred page novels. It's not in my skill set.  It's probably not in most authors skill sets.  And I can say this with some assurance because there are literally dozens of books and websites our there just about how to write the perfect query letter.

But even if I could dedicate myself to becoming able to write the best query letter in the universe, the truth of the matter is, I don't want to.  I don't want to learn how to make myself sound amazingly awesome-er than I really am.  I don't want to learn how to sell myself and my book [10] like I'm trying to convince someone to buy a used car.  I want to write great books.  I want to write stories [11] that make people forget their own lives for a few minutes and when they finish say, "Hey, that was pretty good" and maybe even, "I wonder what else this guy has written." 

Of course right now nobody is going to be able to say even that because I lack the perfect query letter. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to read something by somebody who could write the perfect query letter.  I think I've seen that before.  It was the pamphlet lying on the table when that company was trying to browbeat us into buying into that vacation time share. [12]

And so every few days, I dutifully spend an hour or so of my time tearing out another small piece of my soul and attaching it to a query letter and if I'm lucky the first three chapters or thirty pages of my manuscript [13] and I send them off either electronically [14] or by snail mail and you hope that one day someone might just say more to you than:

Thank you so much for your interest in [Name of Literary Agency]. While your project has much merit, I'm afraid I don't feel strongly enough to take it on in this tough marketplace. I wish you the best in placing it elsewhere. [15]

Of course I should probably be thankful I got that.  Most of them don't respond to you at all.

Maybe I'll go online and see if anyone else has gotten a response from J. Q. Smith and Associates.

Or better yet, maybe I could better spend my time writing a book.

Finding a Literary Agent: D

[1] - Technically at this point I have written three books and, depending on how you figure such things, either a novella or a long short story.
[2] - Granted some of those proofreaders were related to me by blood or marriage, but others weren't.
[3] - The picture of whatever self-published person Amazon is hyping on their home screen notwithstanding.
[4] - Plural.
[5] - Supposedly.
[6] - Technical term.  Nobody is looking for books, they all want manuscripts.
[7] - In the Sahara.
[8] - Granted 6,000 is just my estimation, but based upon the websites and books and upon the rejection letters I've received, this is, if anything, a conservative number.
[9] - And myself
[10] - Oops sorry, I meant manuscript.
[11] - That are longer than just one page.
[12] - And yes, I was totally just there to get free tickets to Disney World.
[13] - Not that I believe anyone actually reads them.
[14] - For faster more efficient rejection.
[15] - With the exception of removing the name of the agency, that is a direct quote of a complete, and I'm sure heartfelt, rejection.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Disney Food

Here, in one giant post, is a grade for all of the food we ate on the Disney trip.

Each entry tells:  the food I ate (what restaurant I got it at/where that restaurant can be found) a brief review, and then the grade.

Day 1 Breakfast:
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pop-Tart, (the box of pop-tarts/my hotel room): cheap breakfast for the win.

Pop-Tart: B-

Day 1 Lunch:
Reuben Stromboli w/ Caesar Salad, (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): I like a Reuben [1].  I like a stromboli.  Seems like the two together should be a pretty tasty combination.  The crust had a few random holes in it, so that when you bit into the stromboli, thousand island dressing would come oozing out the holes like some kind of food world gunshot wound.  It made things kind of messy, but overall it tasted fine.  The Caesar salad was awesome. [2]

Reuben Stromboli: B-
Caesar Salad: A

Day 1 Dinner:
Buffet (Crystal Palace/The Magic Kingdom): The food was okay and forgettable.  I had several different things, but all I can remember is boiled shrimp w/ cocktail sauce, some kind of roast meat [3], paella and a cucumber salad.  There was more but like I said, it was forgettable.  There was a buffet full of desserts too: chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, lemon tarts, key lime tarts, tiny cheese cakes, apple cobbler and more. The best part was that they had Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger walking around and meeting folks.  You could get your pick with them and such.  The Bear gave Piglet and Pooh a hug.  He gave Eeyore and Tigger a wide berth.

Buffet Food: B-
Buffet Dinner: B+
Wandering Pooh Characters: A- [B if you're the Bear.]  

Day 2 Breakfast:
Same as Day 1

Day 2 Lunch:
Fish and Chips (Yorkshire Fish Shop/Epcot Center [UK pavilion]): The fish was fully covered in greasy fried goodness.  The chips [4] were fat and hot.  There was tarter sauce, but no cocktail sauce. [5]  For dessert you got a giant sugar cookie.  There was also a squad of ducks pandering for castoffs.  They got quite a few chips from us before we noticed the "Don't feed the ducks" sign.

Fish: A+
Chips: A-
Sugar Cookie: B+

Day 2 Dinner:
Roasted Chicken w/ Potatoes (The Chefs de France/Epcot Center [French pavilion]): Though we arrived early, we got seated pretty quickly.  There were only about four options and while I'm not too particular, my actual choices that I was willing to choose from were pretty small.  French Onion Soup for an appetizer.  It was awesome.  As good as the French Onion Soup I had in Paris. [6]  The Pook and I debated asking if we could cancel our main dishes and just have more soup.  Baked chicken with potatoes and a smattering of gravy and broccoli.  The chicken was fine.  It was pretty good for chicken, but then it was chicken so, meh.  The potatoes were actually quite tasty.  I'm not one to go gaga over potatoes, but I actually quite enjoyed these.  The gravy was great, but like most "fine dining" restaurants you didn't get nearly enough of it.  The broccoli was whatever.  For dessert I had profiteroles.  Basically, small puffs of pastry with vanilla ice cream between them, doused with chocolate sauce.  I seriously debated getting the chocolate mousse but the waiter recommended these.  They were quite tasty, but I really love me a chocolate mousse and afterward I wished I had gotten it. [7]

French Onion Soup: A++
Baked Chicken: B-
Potatoes: B+
Broccoli: C+
Profiteroles: A-

Day 3-5 Breakfast:
Cherry Cheese Danish (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): It was the size of a 45. [8]  And so awesome I had it every morning for the rest of the trip.  The Bear got a Pain au Chocolat, which is essentially a flaky croissant type of roll with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce in it.  He took the tiniest of nibbles and declared he didn't like it. [9] So the Pook and I finished it off for him. [10]

Cherry Cheese Danish: A
Pain au Chocolat: A-

Day 3 Lunch:
Barbecue ribs (Flame Tree Barbecue/Animal Kingdom): I know, there's something contrary to eating ribs in a park all about animals, but hey they were right tasty and I really appreciated them.  Our guide book told us to eat here and it was not wrong.  The ribs, as stated, were excellent.  It came with some coleslaw that was sub-par, some baked beans that were awesome and for desert the Pook and I decided to split between us a Chocolate Mousse and a Key Lime Pie [11].  However, after we each had tasted both, I ate all the rest of the Mousse and she had all the rest of the Key Lime.  Which wasn't unusual at all for me (cause Chocolate Mousse is awesome) but was strange for her since she usually is anti-tart desserts in general and anti-Key Lime Pie in specific.

Ribs: A-
Coleslaw: C- (I didn't even finish mine.)
Beans: A
Chocolate Mousse: A+

Day 3 Dinner:
African Buffet (Boma/Animal Kingdom Lodge): I will admit from the outset that I wasn't really looking forward to this meal.  I wasn't dreading it or anything, but I had a strong suspicion that I wasn't going to enjoy it too terribly much.  The restaurant "Boma" has a buffet of various dishes that are supposed to either be African in origin or at least African influenced.  There were four different meats.  I found two of them (chicken and something else that I've already forgotten) to be just meh.  The beef was okay and the pork was quite tasty.  There were four different soups, but I only had one of them.  It was essentially a spicy chicken soup akin to chicken tortilla sans the tortilla.  The other three soups were non-starters [12].

Then there were a variety of side things.  I tried a little of this and that.  The guide book recommended the watermelon rind salad, so I took some of that.  But the one bit I put in my mouth didn't stay there very long.  It tasted nothing like what you would think watermelon rind salad should taste like and everything like bad.  I tried to spit it out without the Bear noticing.  Nothing else was memorable enough to remember.

There were again a bunch of desserts.  The highlight for me was the Kenyan Coffee Tarts and as I usually can't stand coffee that was odd.  The Bear ate chocolate chip cookies and wished for ice cream.

Boma buffet overall: B-
Watermelon Rind Salad: F
Chicken Soup: B+
Kenyan Coffee Tarts: A-

Day 4 Lunch:
BBQ Hot Dog (Casey's Corner/Magic Kingdom): There was a bun.  It was much bigger than your average hot dog bun.  There was a giant pile of coleslaw and there was a giant pile of pulled pork barbecue.  I suppose there must have been a hot dog in there somewhere, but you certainly couldn't taste it.  Don't get me wrong, the barbecue was right tasty, but I was craving a good dog.  I should have got the chili cheese dog that the Pook ordered.  It was the same giant bun but with a lake of chili and cheese.  Either way it came with a pile of fries too.  The fries were average.

For dessert I got a brownie which was prepackaged and okay in its own prepackaged brownie kind of way.  The Bear and the Pook got cotton candy. [13]

BBQ Hot Dog: B+ [14]
Fries: B
Brownie: B
Cotton Candy: A

Day 4 Dinner:
Chili Nachos (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): Our dining plan only paid for five dinners, so we had to slum it for one dinner.  We decided to go cheap and eat at the hotel. [15]  I had the nachos even though they looked kind of weird.  But the menu board said the were homemade chips so I gave them a try.  They came with ample amounts of the usual assortment of nacho toppings.  When I got to the table I found that they were not nacho chips at all, but instead homemade potato chips.  Which was strange but okay.  The biggest problem is that they were seasoned with something that made them taste like barbecue potato chips.  That was kind of off putting.  So once I ran out of nacho toppings, I quit eating the chips.  We may have had some kind of dessert, but I'm drawing a blank.

Chili "Nachos": B-

Day 5 Lunch:
Pizza Bread (Pop Century Restaurant/Pop Century Resort): Just as we only had five prepaid dinners, we also only had five prepaid lunches.  So after spending a hot morning/early afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios we went back to the hotel for lunch.  Judging by how often everyone else ordered it, the hot dish at the restaurant was the Pizza Bread.  It came from the same line that my Stromboli from day one did.  It was pretty standard french bread, sauce, cheese and pepperoni.  As an added bonus, it came with the same Caesar side salad as the Stromboli as well. Only this time the salad was not nearly so good.  The service however was just as bad as the first day.  This time there were two ladies, one of which was leaving and thus couldn't be bothered to do more than a minimal amount and the girl just coming on shift who clearly didn't like the girl leaving telling her what to do and thus took it out on us customers by sucking at her job.

On the plus side, after lunch we got giant ice cream sundaes from the ice cream counter.  Mine had mint chocolate chip and chocolate ice cream, toffee, chocolate fudge, cherries and two gummy worms that I have to the Bear.

Pizza Bread: B
Caesar Salad: B-
Ice Cream Sundae: A

Day 5 Dinner:
Ohana Dinner Buffet (Ohana/Polynesian Resort): You start off with a salad that has honey-lime dressing [16], pork dumplings and chicken wings.  Then for the main course you get some noodles, stir-fried vegetables and all you can eat pork, beef, chicken and shrimp that have been cooked on their giant grill.  The waiters bring the meat around on skewers much like a Brazilian restaurant and give you all you want.  The salad was okay as were the wings.  But as I didn't want to fill up on them, I didn't each much of them.  The dumplings were awesome, even though they had honey drizzled on them.  I think I ate four.  The noodles were no good, too much of some seasoning for my taste.  The Pook said she thought it was ginger.  The vegetables were standard.  Of the meats, the first round of meats we got were hot and juicy and awesome.  The second round were mostly overcooked and not so awesome..  The shrimp are giant and unpeeled.  I must have eaten twelve or so.

For dessert there was a bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and a banana caramel sauce.  I'm not usually a big fan of things with bananas cooked in them or of bread pudding.  Nevertheless the Pook and I finished the whole thing and all of the Bear's leavings. [17]  I contemplated pouring the remainder of the caramel sauce straight into my mouth, but ultimately restrained my self.

Perhaps the worst part of the experience was the "floor show".  A Hawaiian lady gathered all of the kids and had them do a race around the restaurant with brooms and coconuts.  Then she taught everyone a Hula Dance.  Both of which were fine.  Her condescending demeanor however made the whole thing seem annoying and interruptive. [18]

Honey-Lime Salad: B-
Chicken Wings: C+
Pork Dumplings: A-
Noodles: D+
Stir Fried Vegetables: C
Pork the first time: A
Pork the second time: B-
Beef the first time: A-
Beef the second time: C+
Chicken the first time: B+ [19]
Shrimp Every Time: A+
Bread Pudding with Ice Cream and Banana Caramel Sauce: A++

Day 6 Lunch:
Quiche Lorraine (Boulangerie Patisserie/Epcot Center [French Pavilion]): I got the Quiche Lorraine [20] and the Pook got a ham, cheese and bechamel on a baguette sandwich and then we went halfsies.  The quiche was very good.  The sandwich was okay.  For dessert I got a chocolate tart.  It was amazingly good.  Though a tad large because by the end I was a little over done with the chocolaty goodness.

Quiche Lorraine: B+
Ham Sammie French Style: B-
Chocolate Tart: A

Day 6 Dinner:
Pork Chop (Akershus[21]/Epcot Center [Norwegian Pavilion]): The Pook had fond memories of this restaurant from when she had eaten here with her parents as a kid.  Among other things was the memory of butter pats pressed into Mickey shapes.  Sadly the butter pats were gone, but they've been replaced with a lot of princesses.

For an "appetizer" you can eat all that you want off of their appetizer buffet.  The buffet has enough on it that you don't actually need to order anything else.  I had salami, muenster cheese, salad, cucumber salad, and several other things that I no longer remember.

My main course was a pork chop with lingonberry sauce, potato casserole, and asparagus.  The pork chop was the size of my head and a bit over cooked to my taste.  When it is served anywhere else in the south, the potato casserole would have been called hash brown casserole, but nevertheless was pretty standard.  The asparagus were grilled and as good as you could ask asparagus to be.

For dessert you weren't given a choice.  Instead they brought you a plate with Chocolate Mousse Cake, Apple Cake and Rice Pudding.  The Chocolate Mousse cake was as good as the words chocolate mousse profess it to be.  The apple cake was a bit dry and thick.  Even though rice pudding is evil, I dutifully tried a tiny bit.  I think I only shuddered once.

The real draw of this restaurant is that it is filled with Disney Princesses.  You get your picture taken with Belle when you first enter [22] and then Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Mary Poppins all wander around the room chatting with everyone and getting their pictures taken.  The Bear wanted nothing to do with any of them.  Pook got her picture taken with all of them. [23]

Appetizer Buffet: B
Pork Chop: B
Potato Casserole: B
Asparagus: B
Chocolate Mousse Cake: A
Apple Cake: C+
Rice Pudding: D-

Well there you have it.  Way too much info on the food that we ate.  If you bothered to read this far, give yourself a pat on the back.  I'm gonna go see if I can find anything close to a chocolate mousse.

[1] - In case you don't know, a Reuben is corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing, usually on rye bread.
[2] - The service at the counter that prepared the food was horrendous.  The guy taking orders had the short term memory of a goldfish.  The next day I saw him cleaning off tables.  Just sayin'.
[3] - The kind where a guy dressed like a chef (but who actually had nothing to do with cooking the food) slices you off a bit of the whole and lays it on your plate with his knife and two pronged fork thing.
[4] - French fries to you unwashed heathens.
[5] - There was ketchup too, but I'm not much of a fan of ketchup.
[6] - Actually I had French Onion Soup several times in Paris.  Most days it was great, but on some days it wasn't that good.
[7] - When the Pook and I went to Paris, I had chocolate mousse just about every meal as well.  Much like the French Onion Soup, it was a varied experience.  The one I had the first night was to die for.  The one I had the last night was no better than Jello Pudding.
[8] - The record, not the hand gun.
[9] - Leave it to my son to turn down chocolate for breakfast.
[10] - We went back to the room and got a Pop-Tart for him.
[11] - Technically it wasn't a "pie" but a cup of Key Lime Pie goodness.
[12] - Curry soup, coconut soup and butternut squash.  No thank you.
[13] - Blue and pink respectively.
[14] - Probably would get a higher rating if I were to have it knowing to expect BBQ and not so much hot dog.
[15] - Which was good because dinner at the hotel was about $30.  Dinner at any of the other places we went too would have been between $120 and $150.
[16] - The dressing doesn't sound right to me.  I could have sworn it had pear in the name, but that's what the website says.
[17] - He just had ice cream with Mickey Mouse sprinkles.  But he wasn't feeling very good and we could let the ice cream just go to waste could we?
[18] - Which is a word that I just made up and doesn't at all mean the same thing as annoying, except for a bit.
[19] - I didn't have the chicken a second time, but the Pook said it was just as overdone.
[20] - Ham and cheese quiche.
[21] - Gesundheit
[22] - They give you a big picture and several smaller prints for free.  Well, not free but the price is included in your meal.
[23] - Later the Bear got his picture taken with some snails we found on a ledge.  He was quite excited by that.