Today I went to Disneyland and it was terrifying! First, I went on a boat ride through the jungle. The elephants were really cool, but it got a little weird towards the end. Some native had used a magic powder to shrink a guy's head and then he chopped it off and was trying to convince me to buy it.
Next, and slightly unnerved by the post-decapitation that I had just witnessed, I headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean.... and I thought that unruly Native was scary. These pirates are nuts. Two pirates hung a man by his neck and were dangling him in a wishing well. Even when the Pirates were themselves reduced to skeletons (de-fleshed mammals are very popular here), they still wanted to get drunk and kill one another. And another thing about pirates... They love rape.
After that it was the haunted house and while I understand that it is supposed to be scary, I was shaken up by the skeleton hanging from the ceiling in the entry way. Sadder still were all the lost souls and they aimlessly tried to get to heaven but couldn't. Someone should pray for them.
More skeletons were buried in walls in the Indiana Jones ride. Some of them were people (sad that their families will never know what happened to their bodies) and some were animals. At Big Thunder Mountain, the skeletal remains of perhaps a dinosaur are prominently featured on the wall of the hillside.
After my terrifying run through Adventure and Frontier Land, I sought refuge from so much death. I bought a piece of a dismembered turkey and made my way towards Fantasyland. Surely that wouldn't be as terrifying, but it was. There were more pirates, one of whom wanted to murder small children. Thankfully one of the children could fly. Shortly after that, I was forced to contemplate the fate of the turkey I had just consumed as I was eaten by a giant whale and the theme of decapitation was revisited as some crazy witch shouted "Off with their heads..."
Finally I made it to Tomorrowland and was happy to learn that in the future, Michael Jackson comes back to life, only he is black again and lives in space where he works as a ship captain. It got a little weird when in Buzz Lightyear, I became a murderer myself, killing several critters and people alike. Despite the popular song lyric, "the future is so bright, I gotta wear shades," according to disney, that isn't true. The future is very dark because you are in space. There is no grass or trees. That is for sure. Just space ships. Earth was nice while it lasted.
Exhausted from all of this death, it was time to leave. On my way out where a giant rodent tried to give me a huge hug. I got home to find that mouse snapped in two by a mousetrap. Apparently the Disney Mouse went on the Jungle Ride where he was shrunk and decapitated. Glad I got out of there alive.
I can't wait to get a season pass!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The dining room was expansive but comfortable. I was not.
Entering from the hotel lobby into the elegant restaurant overlooking Atlanta's Olympic park, I was greeted by a three man wait staff with a warm hello and handshake. In route to my table at this steakhouse, I exchanged nods with the chef and his team as they participated in a well choreographed culinary dance around a spit and a grill in an open kitchen, nervously watching my every step.
Three months ago, my average day was writing screenplays at my office in Studio City. Three WEEKS ago, my average day was about the same, but here I was, in Georgia, escorted to my beautifully sat table of one. Job title? Food and Restaurant critic.
I had just spent four days in the wilderness and upon my return to civilization, for lunch ate voraciously at a drive-thru called Bojangles which specialized in fried chicken and biscuits. So good was my cajun chicken in a biscuit sandwich that I had hoped that somewhere on this elegant menu in front of me that I could find it again, but to no avail.
Dressed in my old blue beater sport coat and a pair of jeans, I sat down. Perfectly-lined silverware, a crispy folded napkin, and several glasses sat before me. The bow-tied waiter, with a thick and unfamiliar accent, approached me like a a man in front of a parole board and took my wine order.
"Would you like an appetizer, sir?" he asked.
"Sure, how about the scallops" I said.
"That is a good choice," he affirmed and then said "Can I also bring you the crab cake?"
"If it's free," I thought, but instead I furrowed my brow. If this man thought I was a food critic, I should act like one. "I don't know," I synthetically pondered.... "It's served with a chutney..."
He looked nervous. If he only knew that I wasn't even sure what chutney was, and I was hoping he'd explain it to me. "I assure you it is a magnificent chutney." He says.
"Well... if it's magnificent..."
"And for your salad?" He asked.
I paused. Was I expected to eat two appetizers and a salad and then move onto a giant entree followed by a desert that I had already been assured that was to die for?
"Arugala with walnuts, please."
"Would you like extra bacon and the bacon vinaigrette?"
"That would be fine," as I contemplated the sudden and unexpected influx of pork into my meal.
I sat at the table by myself as the staff watched me. I would occasionally glance around at the decor, pucker my lips as though comparing it to some other magical restaurant and then nod to myself. I'd pick up a roll and stare at it, then butter it slowly, watching them watch me from out of the corner of my eye. Then I'd take a bit and give a satisfactory smile. Catching the bread boy's eye, I gave a thumbs up. He seemed happy.
The appetizers were great. I ate all of them. And my salad. Now they watched me curiously as a small crew cleared my plates. "I see you liked the appetizers," said my waiter.
I responded with something like "how robust that salad was," hoping it carried some sophistication.
"You must be a big eater," he replied. "Of course I am...." I chuckled. "I'm a food critic."
Not sure what to do, as I sat there while Yo Yo Ma played away on his cello through the sound system, I began to fiddle with my phone and as I did, got nervous. I had ordered a sixteen ounce rib eye (The only thing on the menu that I knew I would like). They insisted upon sides, so served with my massive slab of cow were eight thick asparagus spears an a potato. And let us not
forget, desert was just around the corner.
At first, the steak was mind-blowing. This could be because it was well prepared but I remember having a similar affection for steaks cooked over charcoal and marinated in every spice and alcoholic beverage in the kitchen back in my college days.
While the meat was good, my stomach hurt. I tried a small bite of the asparagus and a small bite of the potato and that was it. The waiter came over, concerned and asked if I was unsatisfied. SHIT. No, I told him. Just taking a breath. I patted my stomach and went back to work.
Finally, it was gone. All the food and I felt like I was going to die, but still, by myself at the candle lit table, the whole place watching, had to keep my composure. Sweat beads formed on my forehead and my stomach turned. I accepted a cup of coffee, hoping it would settle my full belly.
Along with the coffee, came the desert. A sampling of every single desert on the menu. There were seven, one of which was key lime pie. I hate key lime pie. The waiter smiled... again.... and told me watching people try the deserts was his favorite part. I swallowed and picked up a spoon and tried the chocolate mousse.... Yummmm.... I said.
The waiter walked away and I frantically scooped bites from two of the less appealing deserts, including the keylime pie and put them in my napkin, hoping that the restaurant didn't have cameras. The waiter returned, satisfied that I had tried them all but noticed that I hadn't finished the key lime. "I'm good," I said.
"No please..." He said, still smiling.
I picked up my spoon, hand shaking, and put it into my mouth. A tidal wave of pre-vomit saliva washed through teeth like a tidal wave.
"Aren't you glad you did that?" he asked.
"Can I use your restroom?" I asked, voice trembling.
"It's across the hotel lobby. I will have someone walk with you," and with that, as I waited to expel five pounds and two hundred dollars of free food, I made the two hundred yard walk, with the manager to the bathroom.
"So you're from Los Angeles and you're a writer," he said.
"How do you like Atlanta? Have you been to any other restaurants?"
"Bojangles," I said. He laughed uncomfortably as I tried not to vomit.
"How was it?"
As we rounded the corner I could see the bathroom and as it appeared, my stomach lost it's last stand against my massive meal. I broke away into a sprint and made it into the bathroom where a minor apocalypse occurred. When it ended, I sat there, feeling empty. Cool, on the tile of the bathroom floor. I took several deep breaths and the world returned to normal.
As we walked back, we chatted more. I told him that the food had been delightful. I sat back down at the table where the desert still sat. I picked up my spoon and took one last bite of the chocolate mousse, and I must say, it was delicious.
I made my way up to my room, pleased that I was now officially a food critic. I wrote about how wonderful the meal had been and how nice the service was and then, just before bed, set out to look for another Bojangles as I figured it would be hard to sleep on an empty stomach.