Wednesday, September 30, 2009

19 Days to Disney: I'm Siiiiiiingin' in the Rain

In keeping with the theme from yesterday of "getting wet", I'd like to talk today about one of the great marketing ploys ever...

Ponchos at Disney World.

Well... It's not really a marketing ploy exactly. In fact, many less capitalism-minded people out there will say that it's basically extortion, and they're probably right sort of. I'm just of the opinion that Disney is providing people the luxury of choice...

Wait... I should go back a bit...

Disney allows you to bring Umbrellas into the parks. The thing is... the weather in Florida is so unpredictable that often in the morning when you're heading for the park, there's no way to tell if it will rain or not, and let's be you really want to be carrying that umbrella all day in the sunshine of a cloudless Lake Buena Vista day? No. So you venture out without your rain gear.

Have no fear, however... Disney is generous enough to sell re-usable rain ponchos at every corner of every park. They must make millions of them.

So why is this extortion? Well... for one, these bad boys are expensive for glorified garbage bags, that's true. I believe they were 8 to 10 dollars last time I was there. Of course, the choice they give you is simple. Pay 10 bucks to stay dry, or get wet. You know...or bring that umbrella that you so inconveniently left in your hotel room. Mwah ha ha.

I, personally, think the argument against Disney here is slim. You can buy them and re-use them. They're not flimsy. You can always bring your own. Disney is simply capitalizing from the predictable laziness of the masses (including me more than once).

The best part of this though, and the reason I am blogging about it at all, is that it's a beautiful sight to behold when it rains at Disney World, because there appears a sea of yellow. It's one of those weird miracles of synergy when all of the different colors everyone wore to the park that day get overwhelmed by a veritable ocean of yellow Mickey Mouse ponchos.

It's like a school of fish. It has an odd, moist beauty about it. Also, as a completely unapologetic Disney fan, and a fan of Disney making money and staying flush with cash to provide us more entertainment in the future... I am okay with them taking advantage of a little unpredictable Florida rain on occasion. I may buy one when I'm down there just to ride Kali River Rapids. I'm serious.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: What Magic Kingdom attraction was the first to be run by computer?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

20 Days to Disney: You Will Get Wet on this Ride.

First, a moment of "Site Business"...

From the very start of this countdown, I've apparently been a day off, so I'm posting 2 today. (Sad...I know.)

As the countdown gets closer and closer to the end, the more tangible the items will become... case in point... An actual RIDE here at 20 days and counting. I know I already talked about a bunch of them, but more as jumping off points for bigger points I wanted to make.

Not this time. This time I just want to talk about a fun ride that for much of my life I was too chicken to ride.

Splash Mountain.

I'm a notorious wuss when it comes to falls or plummets or whatever. I don't like them. I don't like the idea of splatting on anything. It just makes me feel icky. Of all of the iconic rides at Disney, the one that made me feel the most icky was Splash Mountain. I'd stand there, and I'd watch boat after boat of people plummet over the edge of "Slippin' Falls" and disappear into an abyss, and just as I'd have talked myself into riding it, I'd talk myself out.

Then, during my November 2006 trip, I stated at the start of the trip that if the line was less than 20 minutes when we went past, I'd suck it up and ride. Of course, this was total bullshit, because never in my life had the line been that short.

The Disney Gods called my bluff. We went on a chilly, overcast day and it was November... I should have known. The wait time? 15 minutes.

So I got in line, and started to hyperventilate (mentally).

By the time I got on the ride, I was really jittery, and I barely could pay any attention to the fun details of the ride. I was too worked up waiting for the interminable fall. Then the fall came and... it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was kinda fun.

I also didn't get soaked at all, which is the other reason I'd always avoided it. I hate walking around with wet shoes or socks. It's the only reason I've still never ridden Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom.

I had such a good time, actually, that I rode again later that day and was actually able to enjoy the incredibly elaborate storyline of the ride. Man...that ride is CRAZY detailed. And the drop? No sweat.

Though, I will admit that I was totally drenched the second time. Not just from the drop, but from the water canons that had all missed me the first time, but totally nailed me the second.

Still... totally fun. I'm looking forward to riding it again. I have a feeling that it's one of those rides that grows on you with repeated ridings. There are so many details and Easter eggs and whatnot. It would take you 50 turns to find all of them. I'm looking forward to that.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: How tall is the Summit Plummet Water Slide at Blizzard Beach?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

21 Days to Disney: American Idol

(An actual picture of me on the show!)

One of the coolest experiences I had when I went in February for my birthday was that I was there when the newest attraction opened at Hollywood Studios; The American Idol Experience.

In a nut shell, it gives about 20 people a day a chance to sing and compete on a giant stage that's made to look exactly like the actual American Idol stage in Hollywood.

All kinds of celebrities were there while I was there. All of the American Idol winners. All of the judges. It was a big, big thing.

Then, on the day I planned to spend at Hollywood Studios, (the second day the attraction was open) I thought to myself... "I should try out! What else do I have to do?"

So I did.

I auditioned for 2 different producers, and then interviewed for a 3rd. some sort of miracle, I made it on to the show. The first performance of the day.

It was one of the most interesting performing experiences I'd ever had. They did a whole make-up thing. They had a vocal coach. They walked us through the show, telling us where to stand and giving us these GPS packs that told the automated lighting instruments where we were at all times so that we'd be properly lit. I sang "Go the Distance" from Hercules. There were 2 other people on the show too, and the general premise is that after all 3 of us singing, the judges ,fashioned after the judges on the show (A "hip" black dude, a friendly punny lady, and a sort of mean spirited foreign guy. ) would critique the performers, and then after all was done the audience would vote on these little pads.

It went by pretty quickly. They did little interviews from which they made video packages with. They did some really fancy editing jobs on us. The whole thing is really slick and amazing. I loved it.

I came in second to a guy who sang "Sweet Home Alabama", and could have been in a Skynard cover band. Dude was good, and deserved to win.

The coolest thing about it was that, because I was the first show of the day (and there were almost 2000 people there watching) that I was recognized and high-fived and given random applause everywhere I went in the park for the rest of the day. It was really fun. I was even recognized the next day (on my birthday) at a whole different park. It could have been really bad if I'd been bad, but I did pretty well, simply losing to a guy who was really good, so being recognized was a positive experience.

I thought hard about this being in my top 5, but it's still too new to make it up there. I'm considering trying out again this trip. If I do, and I get on... you can bet it'll climb in the rankings.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: Fantasmic Theater at Hollywood Studios seats how many guests?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Monday, September 28, 2009

22 Days to Disney: In Character

I've already talked about how much I love tapping in to my inner child at Disney...

There are so many ways to do that, but the best... One of my favorites is to watch, interact with, and get my pictures taken with the legendary Disney characters.

I can't tell you how excited I get when I run into Captain Hook strolling through Adventureland. It's like seeing a mega celebrity. I think I can honestly say that I get more exciting shaking hands with a giant, furry Baloo than I would meeting Brad Pitt.

It's not just me, though. One of the coolest things to see is the look on a kid's face when the first see Mickey Mouse, or Donald. Or hell...even the fucking Power Rangers. Their eyes just light up, and suddenly the magic is real.

In the book "Disney War", one of the conditions the Disney company made with the author, in order for him to get the access he'd been requesting, they wanted him to spend a shift as Goofy in one of the parks. This is apparently something the company has every executive do. Even Michael Eisner and Steve Jobs did it once. The guy found the experience so integral to his book that he used it as the introduction. He talks about how much work they put in to training these people to play these characters, because Disney knows how important it is for Mickey Mouse to be the Mickey Mouse everyone wants and expects. They expect Goofy to walk like Goofy.

It's a tough job, and I'm sure posing with nerds like me isn't the highlight of their day, but I can definitely tell you that it's always a highlight of mine.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: What is the name of the singing, animated parrot over the entrance of Pirates of the Caribbean?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

23 Days to Disney: Customer Service

I'm convinced that I owe my employment to Walt Disney World.

I'm sure you're wondering how my obvious obsession with something 800 miles away... something that dominates much of my non-Tofu Muchacha related thought... something that I spend more money on than I should... How could it possibly have helped me, in any way, find gainful employment.

Well... let me tell you a story...

When I was out of work, back in the Winter of 2007, I started fiddling with my resume... I changed it probably 18 times. I figured there had to be some secret combination that would get my resume noticed out of the hundreds each employer received.

At the start of May, I had coffee with my friend Bridget.

Among other things, we discussed her upcoming trip to Disney World, and I even wrote out (on a Napkin) an itinerary of things she should do, and in what order.... She tells me that she and her then fiance, now husband referred more to that silly napkin than they did the park maps. Anyway, as we were leaving, she mentioned that her company was hiring for a sort of customer service position. She told me she'd pass on my resume if I gave it to her. It was the best lead I'd had since December. I was fucking pumped.

So fucking pumped, in fact, that I revamped my entire resume that afternoon. Sort of as an after thought I put something at the bottom under "interests" that I was a Disney fanatic...

I didn't think much of it.

About a week later, I had a phone interview with that company of Bridget's that could have been one of my greatest moments...

Oh...let me tell you a little tiny bit about what I do. I work for a private jet charter company. That will be important here in a minute...

First the guy tells me a little about the job. Essentially, customer service. "Okay I thought. I know customer service."
Then he asks me if I knew anything about aviation. I dd not.
He asked me if I'd ever worked in a large office environment. I had not.

It wasn't going well.

Then he asked me something I wasn't expecting. He asked me about my love of Disney. I guess everyone has talents, and I like to feel like one of mine is that I have a real sense of the moment. I knew that the phone interview, only 8 minutes old at this point, was at a pivotal junction, despite the innocuous question about Disney. He'd reached the bottom of my resume. That was it.

So I told him this... (Paraphrased):
"There are a lot of reasons I love Disney. I admire Walt Disney. I love the movies. I like going to Florida. The reason I put it on my resume, though, is because I think that as someone who deals with the public, when it comes to treating each person as though they are the most important person in the world, there's no greater role model than the Disney company."

This seemed to intrigue him, and he asked me to elaborate. So I did. I talked about Walt's own philosophies of customer comfort. I talked about my personal experiences there and how I'd noticed, even as a 13 year old that I was treated better there than I was at King's Island, and how it made me want to return. I talked about the time I lost my wallet at MGM and reported the loss to Customer Relations. Not only did they issue me a brand new Park Hopper immediatey, but two weeks later I received my wallet in the mail with a PERSONALIZED note thanking me for visiting.

I honestly think that this question opened up the conversation, and allowed me to lead him away from remembering that I knew nothing about airplanes. The phone interview went on for another 45 minutes, and he immediately scheduled a face to face interview.

The rest is history.

I know that if I wasn't so passionate about Disney customer service that I wouldn't have my job. I also know that if Disney's customer service wasn't so amazing that I wouldn't have noticed it.

That's why Disney World's Customer Service makes the list.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: On average, how many pairs of Sunglasses are turned into the Lost and Found every day at Walt Disney World?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

24 Days to Disney: The Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride was my first "favorite" ride at Disney World.

When I was a kid, I was an even bigger pussy than I am now. I was terrified of rides. Every time I'd get on an unknown ride for the first time, I'd be filled with anxiety due to the unknown of what was to come.

Disney was no exception.

We went to the then MGM Studios and got in line for the Great Movie Ride. I was effing stressed out...

When I got on the ride the music started and the guide started his spiel (shpiel?) and immediately the anxiety left me. The ride vehicle was large and slow. The banter was witty. The music was magical. I loved it.

The best thing was that of all of the rides and of all of the attractions, this was the ride that I could most see me working when I would inevitably come to Disney as an adult (yet to occur). I'd just daydream all the time of being the gangster who hijacks the ride car. It would be awesome.

I'll admit that it hasn't aged well for me. The actors are... lackluster at best. The movie scenes haven't been updated in years. At this point this ride mostly holds a nostalgic value for me. In fact, I'm not entirely sure that I even rode it the last time I was there.

Still... I do love the ride, and I'll always love how it was my first favorite ride.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: Walt Disney World houses the World's largest sand-bottom pool at 750,000 gallons of water. Where is it, and what is it called?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quick Football Picks

Hey Folks-

Don't have much time today, so here are my football picks for the weekend:


Last Week 11 - 5
Overall: 22 - 10

25 Days to Disney: Those Views

One of the coolest things about Disney that often seems to get overlooked is how amazingly beautiful the place can be. Disney Imagineers spend a ridiculous amount of time with urban planners looking at every vista, every angle, and they really do a fantastic job. There's not an eyesore in the joint, but even with that said, they're are a few views that stand out from the rest. So... without further ado, I bring you my 5 favorite views from Disney World:

1) Everest

2) Spaceship Earth

3) Cinderella's Castle from near Crystal Palace.

4) The New York Street Scene at Hollywood Studios

5) The Tree of Life

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: How many stones and bricks were used in the Building of Cinderella's Castle?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

26 Days to Disney: Spaceship Earth

Just so everyone knows, I'm not so completely blinded by the glory of Disney at all times that I can't be critical sometimes.

Spaceship Earth was one my absolute favorite experiences at Disney World. Those of you who know me personally can attest to my general sappy tendencies, and you all know that there are some things that just make me emotional. Spaceship Earth, for whatever reason, got to me. The music, the script, the sort of outlandish gravitas of the whole thing. I dunno... it's a simple ride with a high-minded concept that just made me emotional.

There was a time when this would be easily in my Top 10 things at Disney and sometimes, depending on the day, cracking my Top 5.

Needless to say, when they put it into a 6 month long refurbishment starting in the Summer of 08, I was both excited (because as much as I love it, there were things that weren't really working anymore, and the look to the "future" was more of a look to the "last year") and terrified (because change is scary!).

I went to Disney back in February for my birthday, and one of the things I most looked forward to was checking out the updates.

I have to say that while there were some really cool new things, like the interactive ride vehicles and the ending, it just doesn't pack the same emotional impact as it once did. Maybe it was the removal of Jeremy Irons as the narrator in favor of Judi Dench. I'm told, actually, that Walter Kronkite's rendition was the best, but he was replaced in '94, so either I never did ride it in 93 during my first visit, or I don't remember it. Either way, Irons was the guy for me. I just miss it.

Don't get me wrong... It's still a really cool ride, and a great way to kill 20 minutes between fast passes, but it'll never be the same for me.

Many people feel this same way about Journey into Imagination when they'd removed Figment for a while, and I must agree, though I like the new version that includes Figment a lot more than most people do. I'm not against change altogether... These changes just don't work for me.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: The Fountain at Innoventions Plaza in Epcot can shoot water 150 ft in the air (only 30 feet lower than the top of Spaceship Earth. If all of the water cannons were fired at once, how much water would be in the air?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

27 Days to Disney: The Carousel of Progress

I'm going to let you all in on a secret...

Walt Disney is my hero.

Shocked to hear it, I'm sure. One of the reasons I admire Walt so much is that he was always ahead of his time. His vision was never focused on the present, but rather on moving forward. In fact, my favorite quote of his goes like this:

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. "

It's inspirational, hopeful. Exactly the traits I most attribute to Walt. That childlike curiosity that allows new doors to be opened. New paths to explore. It's what led Walt to create Snow White. To create the Mickey Mouse Club. To create Disneyland (and Walt Disney World). New terrain with which to try new things.

Of all of Walt's visions of the future; Tomorrowland, E.P.C.O.T., Etc... the one closest to my heart is The Carousel of Progress.

It was originally featured at the 1964 World's Fair (where It's a Small World also started it's unholy reign of terror), and it shows a "typical" American family learning about new technologies throughout the decades, with vignettes in 1900, 1920, 1940, and the FUTURE! It has been updated several times, but the general idea remains the same. It featured advanced audioanimatronics and a song by the Sherman Brothers, who also brought us the music for The Tiki Room, It's a Small World (!), Journey into Imagination, and others (not to mention about a million movie scores, including Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book.) The song they wrote for The Carousel of Progress speaks of that same look toward the future, and the promise it brings:

"There's a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day."

The movie "Meet the Robinsons" featured both that quote by Walt and an awesome recording of the song done by They Might Be Giants. Check it out. It's awesome.

But anyway, sometimes I get chills thinking about walking down the same streets that Walt imagined in his head. I want to go to Disneyland just to be where he was. When I want to sit in the calm, and relax, and imagine what Walt would think about today's Walt Disney World, I go to The Carousel of Progress. It makes me smile like thinking about an old friend.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: The Earful Tower, Hollywood Studios water tower landmark wears a Mickey Ears Hat. What's the Hat Size?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

My Blue Jacket

I miss Blue Jacket.

Blue Jacket, the Epic Outdoor Drama ran for over 25 seasons and closed "temporarily"after the 2007 season, and has since had First Frontier, the producing company declare bancrupcy, essentially rendering the show dead for at least the time being. New DNA testing showing that Blue Jacket himself wasn't blah blah blah basically renders the show dated. Of course, the money and the legitimacy of blood or whatever completely misses the point and the message, and does nothing to diminish the memories.

In the Spring of 2001, as a Drama Major at Thomas More College, I found myself looking for an acting gig for the Summer to come. I'd auditioned already at the place where I'd worked the year prior, and I would have been content to go back there, but due to some upheaval with the organization, they were slow in getting contracts out, and I didn't want to risk not working. So, I drove to Xenia, Ohio with my best friend at the time, Melissa Depenbrock (now Dortch... She met David while at Blue Jacket) who was returning to Blue Jacket for her 2nd Summer and first as the Head Equestrian. I auditioned in a small office, and was offered the role of Captain Arbuckle later that week. I'd still not heard from the other theater, so I accepted.

I mean... I was a chubby, nerdy dude who was going far, far out of his comfort zone to do an outdoor drama where I'd have to, among other things, ride horses bareback, learn stage combat, roll around in the dirt (my sworn enemy), and not be able to rely on my one true strength at the time as a performer, my singing.

I'd done outdoor drama, but there's a big difference in difficulty level between trying not to swallow a mosquito in the middle of singing a high A and doing everything you can to squeeze with your knees to a horse that suddenly doesn't recognize a puddle and let's be honest, I wasn't the best rider that ever walked down the pike. That run-on sentence doesn't convey even half of the anxiety I felt about this new endeavor. This was truly guerrilla theatre. Like..the crawling through the woods on your belly with a gun....LITERALLY...type of theatre.

If you'd have told me after my first day, when it poured rain the whole time, and Johnny Mac (from Chicago), who was doing the fight direction that year (the one year when Rat didn't do it, I guess), had us doing pushups on stage and running and soaking and gasping for life.... If you'd have told me then that I'd be writing a blog now about how it was my favorite time I've ever spent in theater, I'd have slapped you square in the face. Looking back, I wish I had more of those days.

In many ways, it was the best Summer of my life. Certainly the free-est. Definitely not the purest. But let me tell you... the people I met there have been with me perpetually since.

I'm terrible about keeping in touch, with even my closest friends, but I know that Mike Mangione would greet me with a hug and a hearty "SHAWNEE!!" if I ran into him on the street.

In fact, that very idea was shown to be true a couple of weeks ago when I ran into my old friends Tanner and Samantha Thompson at a Bengals game. Tanner and Samantha met at Blue Jacket too. I'm welling up now, but I'm hard pressed to think of a single moment where I was greeted as warmly as I was when I told Tanner to take off that fucking Colts jersey. In true Tanner fashion, he just laughed and smiled and they both gave me big 'ol hugs.

The thing is... I know that would be true for anyone I worked with that Summer (and the next when I went back as a mid-season replacement). I've never had a working experience where I felt like I was part of a family as I did trodding the sand at Ceasar's Ford. And I actually worked FOR family for 4 years.

That first Summer I was there was historically wet at Blue Jacket. We had several rain outs. The creek overflowed for a week once and the horses could barely get across from the pasture. It rained for so many days in rehearsals that for the brief moments when it was dry, you could sense the entire place just sucking in the sunlight. Our Blue Jacket cast shirts that season featured a drenched horse (Bucky). I bought 2.

So anyway... the other day I was on Facebook and I saw that another Blue Jacket alumnus, Spencer Burton (who was 12! that first Summer) had been up to the site and took some photos, posting them on his page. I'll admit they hit me pretty hard... not all at once, but slowly. The images creeping into my thoughts at the oddest times.

The Tofu Muchacha and I had planned on going antique shopping anyway for a show that I'm doing props for, so I suggested we drive up to Yellow Springs and make a day. Thinking that we could stop at the site for ourselves to see that old place I loved so much. I just felt like I needed to see it.

Appropriately, it was raining when we got there.

I can't tell you how remarkably sad the whole experience made me. Sad for a lot of reasons.

I think back to those Summers. To the times that made me laugh (just about all of them) and the times that made me cry (the others).

I think about getting a riding lesson from Keith Conway, who basically summed up his technique by.... ahem... humping the withers (of Jack or Bud, I'm sure) and saying "ya just gotta goooo with it."

I think about learning about a culture much older and storied than ours, and being inspired by the simple beauty of the Shawnee. What little I had the capacity to truly understand. A 3 day pow-wow just isn't enough is all I'm saying.

I think about spending the Summer being killed at centerstage by Black Fish (Cliff Jenkins) (and subsequently being peed on by Willow more than a few times) outside the burning fort at the end of Act 1.

I remember the deep sadness we all felt when the surprise foal we were so amazed to find in the pasture one day died the next..

I made friends with a horse named Ace, who to this day is still probably my favorite living creature. The one with the gentlest soul. If I had the money and the resource, I would have bought him in a heartbeat. I wonder where he is now, seeing as horses don't have Facebook... or do they?

And then, with all of those things in mind.... With the nights at Sure Shots and the days in the tennis courts at Stone Bridge learning to fight with Rat and Mike Mangione, and the many, many backstage tours I did with Tom Small, and the seeming hours it took to clean those damned guns every week. Thinking about all of those things, I hopped the low rise fence at the main gate (the actor's entrance is so overgrown that aside from the indent in the road, it's hard to tell anything was ever there) and I made my way toward the theater.

The parking lot, and all of that land that once housed our torch throwing practices is a wild field again. The space next to the picnic area, where there once were tables, was now waist high grass. The screens enclosing the meal building are torn and falling.

The theater itself reminded me of one of those movies like "I am Legend" or "28 Days Later" where a bustling place had been abandoned quickly, with it's inhabitants thinking they'd be back soon. The concession stand sign was still mostly intact, with items and prices still listed. The old, familiar tours sign still shows that the next tour starts at 5:00. Everything is boarded up, but for the most part, it looks like aside from some extra debris and weeds, that it could be cleaned up in a particularly taxing rehearsal tech week.

I walked into the theater from the top on the stage left, audience right side. The cry room still labeled. I felt like I wanted to go in there for a minute.
The stage itself is basically unchanged. There's definitely grass growing where no self-respecting A.T. would have allowed it to grow. Clearwater's rock is obscured and hard to see. The buildings, especially building B were looking the worse for wear, but if I squinted real hard, I could see Death Rider at center stage. I could hear that familiar voice over... "This Sacred ground..."I could detail the whole time I spent there (only about an hour) and the things I showed Tofu Muchacha. The 5 million places I pointed out to her...

"That's where I died every night...oh and there...and there."

"Here's where Ceasar fell at the end of Act 1"

"The acoustics here are amazing....listen!"

"There used to be a bat that lived down there in the tunnel. He was our friend."

"Here's where I fell off of Morgan during riding call."

The saddest moment for me came toward the end when I decided to walk to the pasture. The bridge probably wasn't safe anymore, but I did anyway. The path so clear that we could navigate it in the dark was gone...just a hint of a direction...a familiar footstep or two to guide the way. I'd wanted to go in and visit Clyde the horse by the medicine wheel. I'd wanted to go pat Ace's old post.

I'm not a religious person, but the spirit of that place has always hit me more than anywhere I've ever been. I can honestly say that through my first 22 years, the place I'd felt the most at peace, and the most at home was picking the hooves of those horses in that pasture. I readily admit that I have no horse knowledge aside from what I picked up there 2nd hand. I readily admit I may have been the worst rider in the history of the world, but I loved that pasture.

Sadly, the pasture was unreachable. I made it to the gate, which was totally covered in weeds and high grass, and I managed to snap a photo or two, just so I could remember it again later. It would have been no use to climb... the growth was more than I could manage.

We made our way back to the front... I was this close to crying the whole time. I felt unfinished. I felt restless. Then I spied something that gave me a slight bit of comfort as I left, and I felt compelled to take one last photo...It's hard for me to acknowledge any belief in fate and spirits and guides, but I can't help but feel like that path I took (of the many I could have taken) and that sideways glance (of the many I could have taken) was meant to lead me to that seat. To say goodbye to Ace one last time, and to take with me a small piece of his spirit.

As I sit typing this in the middle of the night, waiting for some dumb work issue to resolve before I can go to bed, I am crying.

The funniest thing is that I likely wasn't all that memorable to that place full of memorable characters. I certainly didn't have the same impact of Petey Fitzkee who spent more time playing Blue Jacket himself than any other person, and who still has ghost pains of performing around 8 on a Summer's night... (I read the article in the Dayton Daily News) . I didn't meet the person I love there like Tanner and Sammy, or Mel and David, or Pete and Tara, (or a thousand others).

I likely barely made a dent in that place, and yet when I really allow myself to admit it, it's possible that those 2 seasons dented me more than almost any other experiences I've had. (Not counting the actual dent in my shin from when Pancho kicked me while I was riding Ace). Certainly I had some memorable, treasured times there.

I'm writing this post as a catharsis, so please excuse the ramble. I've left it largely unedited, which likely makes it largely unreadable for most. I hope someone "Googling" Blue Jacket will come across this and smile knowing that a minor cog like me was, over a Summer and some change, so greatly impacted. I hope some of the people who have more history than I do there will know how much their contribution to Blue Jacket meant to me, and to know how much the loss of the institution grieves me.

I called this post "My Blue Jacket", because this is just my own personal take on a the tragic loss of a friend... of a family... something bigger than any of the single people who spent their Summers in the mist of the evening.

I hope it comes back one day. I hope that one day is soon. In any case, I'll never forget it. Not ever.

I leave you with the words of Rusty Mundell, the playwright:

This sacred ground, which you call your land, never belonged to you, fellow-man. It has always belonged to the Great Creator.

Look at the earth around you. Do you think it has anything to say?

Look at the forest and at the stone. What stories do they have?

Listen to the stream nearby... singing lost songs to lost children. Do you hear the earth?

It tells you that the Great Creator put it here in order to offer his children all that grows upon it. The Great Creator put it here...and from its womb...he made man.

...You killed us, and we fled before your numbers and your power, until we came to this sacred ground.

Do you hear it? Do you not hear the ground say that this is so?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

28 Days to Disney: Carnivore's Delight

Hey Folks-

I've never made it a secret that I've struggled with my eating habits over the years. It's been an up and down thing for me ever since I can recall. Then I had my surgery, and while really, really limited still as to what I can eat, I'm not having the same struggles.

Sometimes, and I'll admit it's not often, but sometimes I really wish I could just eat whatever again. Even if for just one day. I watch those Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives episodes and all I want is to eat like a whole plate of some greasy bacon ranch fries, or some crazy burger creation that Guy chows on.

I used to really want to try one of those giant serving contests. Like the 72 ounce steak or the 12 egg omelet. Those dreams are a thing of the past though (along with about 200 pounds of me that reminds me how dumb some of those urges really are...

That's neither here nor there. One of the things I'd eat on my 1 day of food freedom is something I had plenty of chances to try when I could, and yet I never did.

The Walt Disney World GIANT TURKEY LEG.

Okay... so there are so many awesome things about this Giant Turkey Leg...let me enumerate:

1) Apparently they are prepared in the most delectable way ever. Disney World even is the one who created the rolling brine thingies that the legs are cooked in.

2) There's something especially visceral about just chowing the fuck down on a hulking piece of bird. Like it's something the Vikings would do, and if you know me... I do like Vikings.

3) I don't feel there's quite enough whimsy in every day meals, and let me just say... These Giant Turkey Legs have whimsy to spare.

The Tofu Muchacha says that if I get one that she will help me eat it. I hope this is true. I hope, also that I will have a chance to get my picture taken while holding one.

In fact... there's one reason more than all others that these Giant Turkey Legs, something that I've never personally tried, has made one of the top 30 things about Disney World in my countdown...

It's that people look utterly ridiculous eating them. Nothing is quite as funny as seeing some old woman double fisting one of those fuckers. Nothing will make me giggle more easily than seeing a child with a leg of bird the size of his or her head, just gawking at it in horror and delight and hunger. It's a sight to behold.
And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: Approximately how many of these Giant Turkey Legs are eaten every year at Walt Disney World?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

Monday, September 21, 2009

29 Days to Disney: Is that Music I Hear?

Hey Folks-

So... How do you like the new scheme?

Anyway, there's only 29 days to Disney. Time for another blog in the countdown.

One of the reasons Disney World sticks with you and leaves an everlasting impression is a tiny little detail. In fact, I think it's one of those things you notice right at the beginning of the day, but you sort of forget about it after a few minutes. Rest assured, though... it's there.

As you walk through the parks, if you prick your ears up (what does that mean?) you'll hear the Walt Disney World soundtrack playing. I'm not talking about the sounds of the children laughing, and the shouts of glee on Splash Mountain (or the screams of agony from deep within It's a Small World)...those are there to be sure, but Disney actually plays ambient music throughout each land of each park. It's like I said. You don't really notice it after a few minutes, but they evoke a emotion. It is, admittedly, manipulative, but that's the way it goes. It's just like in a movie or a play when there's a subtle change of light or a slight change in the music that leads the audience in a certain direction.

This is something I absolutely LOVE about Walt Disney World. The concern isn't just putting asses in the seats, but rather to provide those asses with a full sensory experience that makes the whole time complete.

I was at King's Island on Sunday (in the rain... ) and I listened. I heard the rides. I heard the screams. I did not hear the music. I missed it. The continuity just wasn't there.

Any Now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day:

QUESTION: Why is the height of many buildings inside the parks at Disney World only 199 ft high?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limited Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings will be posted on the "Contests" page of

(I'll post all of the answers for all of the questions after the trip.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

30 Days to Disney. The Magic of Disney

Hey Folks-

In 30 days I'm going home. The Happiest Place on Earth. Walt Disney World.

It's going to be the greatest. I'm so excited, I've decided to make the next month, a full-on celebration of all things I love about Disney. Well... not all of the things...that would be impossible.

For the next 30 days, I will post a blog every day to discuss one of the things I most love about Walt Disney World, ending with the final 5 days being my Top 5 Favorite things.

I did this once before, in November and December of 2005, leading up to my December of 05 trip. It was pretty fun. I'm curious to see how different my 30 items are, as I've decided to not refer back until after I'm done. There are certain to be some differences, as there are new things I've experienced in my last 4 visits that weren't there then, or that I'd never tried before. I'll be sure to mention those things as they come up.

Lastly, to make things interesting, I've decided to hold a daily trivia contest, with the aggregate winner getting a Limited Edition Disney Lapel Pin (as yet unpurhased). The first question comes at the bottom of this entry. we go...Tofu Muchacha has said something a few times that really resonates with me... she's talked about how she's looking forward to going, because it's going to be a time where she doesn't have to worry about anything. She can just have fun. Without knowing it, she's hit upon the absolute key to Disney World... The Freedom from Worry.. The Freedom from responsibility. The freedom to do anything or nothing. The Freedom to be a kid.

Walt Disney World is the only place (aside from Vegas in it's own, drunken way) where adults can walk around with giant mouse ears on, and not only would they not get a sideways glance, but they'd likely be high-fived by another adult with a similar mouse eared hat. It's a place where adults ask for autographs from life-sized characters from their youth, and wait in line behind 8 year olds to get their picture taken with Captain Hook, or to get a hug from Baloo.

People who've never been before may not really truly understand. You don't expect yourself to be that way. You think... "Well... I'll check it out. I'll ride some big deal."

Then you get there and something comes over you, and your thoughts transform, and your cynicism falls away, and before you know it, you've got 1000 Lapel Pins and you're scouring ebay for me, and you're day dreaming about your next visit before you've even returned home. There's no other place in the world that I can think of that has the same pull. There's a residual magic there. It's the Disney Magic.

Over the course of the next month, I'll refer a lot to the Disney Magic, or the "Disney way". This is so, so important to my lifelong love of Disney World. That's why I made this the first blog. The Magic of Disney is what separates us Disneyphiles with just regular kooks. It's what MAKES us Disneyphiles in the first place. The attention to detail. That wink and nod to the 29 year old guy saying that it's okay to be goofy. or...Goofy
And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day:

QUESTION: What was the price of 1 Adult Admission ticket at the time of Walt Disney World's Grand Opening in October 1971.

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limited Edition pin purchased during my stay.

Standings will be posted on the "Contests" page of

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Football Time

Hey Folks-

Football picks time.

Last week I went...11 and 5. Not a bad way to start.

I have a plan to write a Bengals blog about what happened last weekend with the Broncos, so I'll leave those thoughts for then. I've had a breakthrough.

Here we go...

Patriots over Jets - I love how everyone is so worried about the Pats all of a sudden. I mean... Tom Brady can't have a little rust? Well, I'm not buying.

Saints over Eagles - My favorite team killed it last week. Drew Brees is a man.

Redskins over Rams - The reason I told you to not ask me why I liked the Rams as the sleeper team this year is because I was, for some reason on crack.

Jaguars over Cardinals - I've been reading about how the Cardinals can't win East of the Mississippi. I guess I'll go with that this once... but for the record, I'm on the fence.

Falcons over Panthers - Okay... so Delhomme I like, and there won't be another egg laid like last week, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons are too good.

Vikings over Lions - Favre pisses me off. The Wrangler jeans commercials have convinced me to never buy them. Thanks Brett.

Packers over Bengals - I can't talk about it.

Titans over Texans - Andre Johnson huh? We'll see I guess.

Raiders over Chiefs - The Raiders are intriguing. I wonder if there's a precedent for a team being so insanely run that they happen upon being good.... The New York Mets?

Bills over Bucs - I dunno.

Niners over Seahawks - Yeah... I flipped a coin on this one.

Ravens over Chargers - I used to be able to rely on the Ravens having a terrible offense. It was comforting. Flacco ruins that.

Bears over Steelers - Maybe I'm just hoping.

Broncos over Browns - The Broncos are not a team of destiny. Don't let the miracle play fool you. That was all about the Bengals.

Cowboys over Giants - I'm with Bill Simmons on this one. I absolutely CAN NOT wait for the giant screen to get hit over and over.

Colts over Dolphins - I have nothing to say about this one.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Viva El Beefy Muchacho!!

Hey Folks-

I have a lot of blogging to do in the upcoming weeks, so I wasn't planning on blogging much before the Countdown to Disney blogs start up on Monday. Was just gonna lay looowwwww.

Little did I know that something wonderful would happen today...

My buddy Tony "The Awesomest Dude Ever" Doench is an incredible artist, and I'd asked him a while back for a Beefy Muchacho logo for the blog and the site and for my general Beefy Muchacho needs... Well...the guy came through with something amazing. Something so fantastic, that I had to put it up right away.

So... without further ado... I give you the new Standard. The "Coat of Arms" if you will...

The Beefy Muchacho!! Pretty effing awesome, no?

So anyway, now that I have A Muchacho of my own, I shall be working to re-vamp the blog layout (some people hate the white on black) and the website and everything.

Mostly, though, for the moment, I just want to thank Tony for doing such an amazing job. I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


So... do you remember that one night (just the one) where you got drunk (or...whatever) and you went into the kitchen lookin' for something to snack upon, and... nothing there seemed to fulfill all of your drunken food requirements.

Sure...there were the pretzels with their salty, crunchy goodness, but they didn't hit that sweet tooth at all.

Yes... there were the leftover buffalo wings with the grease-bomb core that would be oh-so-tasty, but you just didn't think you had enough ranch and it made you cry a little.

Of course you had that bag of 2 week old circus peanuts that were certain to make the most colorful puke possible, which of course had a certain appeal, but didn't have the salt your little heart most desired.

So what did you do? You took those wings and put them on a plate. On top of them, you crumbled a bunch of those pretzels, and then you generously portioned out some of the orangest circus peanuts you ever saw right on top. Popped them in the microwave for 100 seconds, and then you chowed the fuck down. Heaven.

Until the next day, of course, when you woke up with a bloody lip and melted peanut remnants on your shirt, and a penis drawn on your face in that ranch you found later in the last place you expected it to be (the refrigerator). That's when your Circus Chicken Nacho Extravaganza (you named the dish and made up a song even, that you can't remember now), doesn't seem like such a good idea. When you can't stand up straight because your stomach is exploding from deep within... you know your drunken experimentations were unwise. And you curse your friends for taking those pictures where you're performing lewd acts on the arm of a chair in your grandparent's basement.

So anyway, that's what happened with my latest Beefy Muchacho Baking Adventure. Except I wasn't drunk. The pie crust was. I was B.U.I.; Baking Under the Influence. And despite my lack of any actual alcohol consumption, I feel that my vodka laden dough was leading me down a dangerous path... Allow me to take you back to the beginning... two weeks ago...

You'll recall I made my second pie in as many weeks, the Mexican Pecan Fiesta Pie (The name keeps getting bigger, doesn't it?), and I vowed to make my own pie crust the next time. I felt like a pretender. A fraud. A glorified Stir-er. So, my aunt, an excellent (near legendary, really) baker sent me a pie crust recipe....

A Vodka Pie Crust.

That's right. A pie crust with vodka in it. Sounds delightful doesn't it? I don't know either, but she claimed that you can't taste the vodka at all, and it merely inhibits the formation of gluten (or some such) and that it makes a more tender crust.

Apparently the vodka also makes me fucking crazy. I went in search of a pie recipe. I wanted to do something simple, because if it was really crazy it would possibly make the crust evaluation more difficult. I found in The Book an apple pie recipe that seemed simple enough, so I headed off to the store with a short list of ingredients (I also made chili, but that's not particularly noteworthy...though I will say that bacon is an interesting addition).

Needless to say, by the time I'd left the store, my plans had grown a bit more complex, and I'm blaming the booze.

Here be the Mise en Place: You'll note a thing or two not typically included in an apple pie recipe. Yep... those are craisins. Yep...that's extra sharp cheddar cheese. Now...don't get me wrong. I'm not in any way equating putting orange circus peanuts on a hot wing with adding craisins or cheese to an apple pie. In fact, I've had an Apple and Cheddar cheese pie before. And really, how much could throwing in some gloried raisins fuck things up? So...maybe it's not that big a deal. Of course, I'm constantly reminded of how delicate a balance you strike while baking.

For example, last weekend, for a party, I baked Lemon Bars. (I know..what's with all the baking Muchacho?). Me being me, I couldn't leave well enough alone, so I added raspberries. I also added about 2 tablespoons more lemon juice than it calls for, because what can I say... I like tart foods. So anyway, it seems that the additional liquid, even what little additional liquid there was, prevented the lemony goodness from setting up quite right, so they were way more gooey than I like in a bar. They were tasty, but gooey.

Anyway, so my point is... I was playing with measurements on things that don't have them. More on that later...

The crust...

I have to admit...this whole crust making process perplexed me. Maybe it's just my tentativeness in doing new things, but little variations throw me (like..the recipe makes several mentions of a food processor, which I didn't have). I used a pastry thingy (likely not it's actual name) to mix the butter, flour, shortening, and sugar. Then I mixed in the water and vodka (ice cold...and by the way, the giant bottle of vodka from the picture was the final remnants of a party from months ago. Someone wanted me to make sure that I mentioned it wasn't just like..the house vodka for the week or something.) The other thing with the recipe is that there are certain descriptors that are completely subjective.... like... what is "tacky" to one may be not "tacky" to another.

My usual guide, the beautiful Tofu Muchacha (pictured here in her costume for the production of Romeo and Juliet we're performing in starting Friday) was super, super busy, so I couldn't have her come into the kitchen every 10 seconds when I started whining about it not being tacky or too crumbly or whatever. It was a truly terrifying experience...

So basically, I was a rudderless baker, playing with drunken dough. I managed to get them balled up and into plastic wrap, where I was instructed to let them cool (like a drunk tank) for 45 minutes or so... I took that time to peel me some apples. My hand is still cramping, since I decided to be a tough guy and peel them all fancy with a paring knife instead of using a peeler. This was a poor, and time consuming choice. Let me tell you. Also, as you'll probably come to find out, I am absolutely terrible at guessing how much of something or other makes a cup. I did it with the peaches before, and I did it with the pie now. My GOD Muchacho! What kind of crazy, giant pie are you making? So... I actually timed it pretty well, because by the time I was done slicing the apples and concocting the rest of the melange of filling (Including cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and lemon juice), the crust had cooled well enough.

This "melange" or "slurry" is where my concern about fucking with ratios and whatnot comes in. I eyeballed about a cup of that sharp cheddar cheese and about a "handful" of craisins. The most scientific measurements possible, basically. You know those weights they (THE GOVERNMENT!!) have locked up that are like the official Gram and the official Ounce? Well... my fist should be locked up too. How do you measure "grate cheese until you're tired of grating cheese" or "an eyeballed amount of craisins"?

Anyway, I mixed those things in too. Here's where it gets a little hairy... Not literally. That would be gross. Did I mention I'd never made a pie crust before? I didn't really know anything about rolling that fucker out. I am kind of taken aback by the total lack of science behind rolling the dough, since there's so MUCH science in creating it. Like... when they suggest liberally applying flour to the rolling pin and board, what does that mean, exactly? I'll tell you what it means. It means liberally, because that dough stuck to just about everything unless I added flour. A lot of it. Of course, this made me paranoid about adding too much flour and thus making it tough or something. I honestly had no idea what it would do, but it just doesn't seem appealing. The Tofu Muchacha has a really handy pastry board that has pre-fab circles on it corresponding with different sizes of pie and crust and whatnot, so I had a nice circular guide. I'll say this... were it not for that, I would have been completely and totally lost, instead of merely lost.
This was my best attempt at getting the crust into the pie plate. I will say that I was pleased that the crust didn't tear or crack in the putting it in. It lifted well and didn't stick. I'll also say that there were parts that were entirely too thin, and conversely other parts that were too thick. It was strangely shaped too. Things to work on the next time, I suppose. I wasn't altogether pleased, but it could have certainly been worse. I'll call this "The Blind Squirrel Correlary".

After that, I piled in all of that delicious topping, I rolled out another dough ball to cover everything, and I sealed and pinched away. I even cut some dainty slits in the top.

Here's where my total inexperience in pie dough rolling shows the most. I didn't give myself enough "lip" on the lower later to sufficiently pinch in all of the places, and there were other places where there's a veritable log of pinched crust. It makes for an ugly pie, for one. It also seems that it could potentially make for uneven baking.

Anyway, I popped it in to the oven at 425 for _____ minutes. I say that, because I set the timer for 45 minutes, but then forgot to start it. Thankfully I take a ton of pictures, and the camera has time stamps, so I had at least some idea of when I'd taken the covered pie picture above. I think I lucked out, overall. It maybe baked for 47 minutes, but that could have been disastrous.

Here's the completed pie: I have to say... really doesn't look to bad, does it? The crust, not being even made for some difficult and messy cutting, but aside from that it looked pretty good.

As for the taste? It tasted like an apple pie with a little too much nutmeg (I'd mis-read the recipe and basically used a quarter teaspoon instead of an eighth.) The cheese didn't add a ton to it, aside from a nice rich aroma layer. The craisins were good, but I could have used more.

The crust, however, was really pretty tasty. Again..there was some uneven baking due to the inconsistent thickness, but I'd definitely call it a success for my first time out. I'd eat it again. I'd eat another piece.

So... Successes, Failures, and Things I'd Do Differently:

- I'd have to say that the crust was pretty good for a first attempt.
- The apples were nice and tart. I like a tart pie.
- I liked the subtext of the was at least a good idea.

-Too much nutmeg.
- Uneven and poorly pinched pie dough.

Things I'd Do Differently:
- I'd slice the apples waaaaayyyy thiner. First, they didn't all bake enough, so they had too crunchy a texture in some places. Also, I think they'd be easier to lay in the pie if they were smaller.
- I'd use a stronger cheese, or more cheese or something. As it is, it just sort of strikes me as a throw-away gimmicky thing. Doesn't do much for me one way or the other. Knowing how much I like to mix sweet and spicy, I'm sort of toying with like a hot pepper cheddar. Or something like that. We'll see... that may be too much.
- I'd use more craisins. Probably double what I did use.

All in all a success.

Coming up are my Countdown to Disney Blogs, plus the start of my Disney Trivia Contest. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What is the World Coming To? (and other dangling prepositions)

So... I go into the trunk of my car tonight to get out some boxes. Wait... I need to go back further...

Back in July I agreed to to props for The Drama Workshop's Fall show "Lend Me a Tenor". I don't know exactly what prompted me, aside from wanting to be more involved than just showing up to act. Well... I've been collecting these props for about a month now, and keeping them in a box and a bag in the trunk of my car.

Every time I open my trunk I sort of inventory the props that I've already obtained, and I also check to make sure nothing's been damaged by my insane driving.

So... I go into the trunk of my car tonight to get out some boxes. I take the boxes out and, because it's dark, I glance quickly in and start to turn away. Then I realize what I'd just seen...or rather...what I'd just NOT seen. The props are all gone. I ask the Tofu Muchacha if she'd moved them.


I ask the Tofu Muchacha if she remembered me moving them into the backseat for some reason (already knowing the answer).


So that pretty much leaves only one actuality here... My fucking car was violated. Sodomized. Raped.

I've been robbed before. I'd actually put 3 separate CD players into my old Dodge (Simon the Silver). For some reason, this one feels worse, because like... those had all been on a street, or in the parking lot of my apartment complex. This one was in a driveway. Meaning that the bastards had to go onto private property to do it.

Oh...and also... stealing a CD Player is logical. They have some (if minor) value on the black market. I can't, however, even see the point in sifting through my trunk (oh yes... there were things left, so they took their time to fucking shop) and stealing, among other things a 1930s era radio that doesn't work at all. An old telephone. Some glasses. Oh..and my Disney Villains bath towel that happened to be in there. The mother fuckers.

I hope they die.

There's just no point to it. I hope they fucking enjoy the 19 dollars worth of shit they stole from me, because let's be honest... if your life is at the place where a broken vintage radio is the last thing between you and blowing old men for crack money...well... I guess you needed it more than Tito Merelli.

At least they didn't steal my Blue Ash Idol trophy. That would have really bummed me out.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Labor Day and Thanksgiving in one!

So... Monday was Labor Day and for once I didn't have to work, and I didn't have any big plans, so the Tofu Muchacha and I went to a couple of thrift stores (looking for various things, including some decor type props for the show I'm collecting for that opens in a little over a month.

First, let me tell you something about "thrifting"...

I enjoy the occasional jaunt to the local Valley Thrift or St. Vincent De Paul, and I'm told that Mondays, in general are the a good time to go, since there are often sales. Well... Combine a Monday and a day where most people are off work and you have what can only be described as outright fucking lunacy.

Anyway, this day I prepared myself to go thrifting:
We got there around 10:20 in the AM and not only was there a near-riot in the parking lot to find a space (we ended up eschewing the lot altogether and parking up the street in a residential area), but when we walked in, there was an effing mob scene at the checkouts. It was insane. At least 4 times while we were there (about 45 minutes or so) someone got on the loudspeaker to annouce that such and such a car was illegally parked and that they'd be towed. There was also an announcement that went something like this:

"Will the owner of a silver van, license plate # AH52JS please come to the front. You have been hit."

And then the entire throng....the blood thirsty mass of bargainers...they laughed.

After leaving there (and finding some pretty snazzy silver plated stuff in the process) we grabbed lunch and hit another store.

At some point, the Tofu Muchacha decided that I needed to bake again (as it was Monday). Since it's fun, and I'm certainly not against sweets (I'm no communist!), I agreed. Her only request was that I make a cheesecake. Another thing I'd never made before... I don't know why, but I've been hesitant to try making cheesecake so far, because it always has struck me as being more complicated than regular type baking. I dunno...

So I looked through The Book, and found nothing of particular interest (I KNOW!) and then turned my search to the Food Network website once again. After about 14 seconds, I'd found a highly rated recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake...By the sexiest Southern gal I know...Paula Deen. I love her.

In my last blog, I stated my reasons for disliking Emeril (despite his food all being so good), so it's only fair that I talk about Paula. Oh..Paula. She's great for all of the same reasons Emeril is getting so, so old.

1) While she's become arguably as famous as the Emeril, she seems to have somehow avoided picking up any bit of pretense.

2) She's unabashed about her cooking style. She's from the South and she likes fatty foods. I was once told that a Southern "health food" was deep friend green beans. She just cooks what she likes and doesn't apologize. I love her for that. I was saw her bake the craziest breakfast casserole anyone's ever seen. I don't recall all of the details, but I know it included large quanities of the following: Ham, Cheddar Cheese, Bananas, Eggs, Potatoes, AND POTATO CHIPS. Baked in a pan.

3) She just seems like she's always having fun. Perhaps because she's drunk, but who cares. She took a bite out of a fucking chunk of butter on live TV.

So anywhoo....we went to the store and picked us up some food type supplies, and got to work immediately on creating another masterpiece.

Here is the mise en place:

So..the primary change I made in the recipe this time, (because what would a Beefy Muchacho Baking Adventure be without a diversion), was to replace the regular honey graham crackers with chocolate graham crackers. The Tofu Muchacha approved of this decision. In fact, she approved enough to volunteer to make the crust her own self. It was a sight to behold. That's for sure...Like I said... Beautiful and Terrifying.

Frankly, I don't see why you wouldn't add chocolate to something, and this is no exception. This is my favorite innovation I've come up with so far.

As for the filling, there's not really much to say... aside from it was waaaaay easier than I expected. Oh...and make sure of 2 things when making cheesecake filling:

1) Make sure that the cream cheese is super, super soft before you start mixing it, or you'll have a hell of a time with the mixer, and... When I saw this mess, I couldn't really picture it ever looking even remotely appetizing.

It looks way better now, and it also tasted pretty good raw. I know that sounds gross, and I'm probably dying of some sort of egg-bourne illness and I don't even know it, but it was worth it. I could have eaten it with a spoon. Instead I used my fingers.

2) Make sure that your computer with the recipe is out of splatter range.Yeah... That happened.

So, if you see above, that's a pretty large bowl of goo, right? I would have never thought, in a million years, that it would all fit nicely into that 9 inch springform pan... but Paula Deen has her shit on lock, and it fit like O.J.'s glove. (Nothing like a nice current reference, huh?)

There she is... ready to go in the oven. (at 350 for an hour). It was a pretty moist day outside, so I didn't put any water in the oven with it, hoping that it wouldn't crack. In fact, I didn't even know that cracking was likely. Shows how much I know, right? Because, an hour later I had a veritable canyon of cheese in the oven...
Now how can I possibly serve my co-workers completely free dessert that looks like that? I know they are folks of high standards. So, the Tofu Muchacha came up with the idea of a Chocolate/Sour Cream icing (which, I may end up using again when I make the May-hican Pecan Pie again.)

It's not that interesting, but basically I melted about a 1/3 cup of chocolate chips, 1/3 cup of sour cream and some confectioner sugar (added by the T.M.). It ended up looking a little like this (from melty chips to the top of the cake):

Not bad, eh? I have to say that I am especially pleased with this improvisation. It makes me feel like I should just have that in my back pocket at any time. It's really, really tasty. It's not too heavy. It's simple to make. Yum.

So, we let it cool, and worked on our Romeo and Juliet lines while we waited. I knew we would be pushing it a little bit, but I really wanted to taste it before bed.

Yep. It was that fucking good. I am most pleased with this one of all of the Beefy Muchacho Baking Adventures.

Here's I detail the successes, the failures, and things I may try the next time...

The chocolate additions (crust and icing) were both awesome, and honestly I can't imagine this cake without them. A little plain, I would think.

I would have liked for the cake not to crack like the fucking streets of Pompei. I realize that this failure resulted in the greatest triumph of the dish, but still... aesthetically it pissed me off.

Things I may try next time:
I kinda like the idea of maybe a fruit icing... like baked apple or something else Autumn-y. I dunno. It was pretty effing good. I'd definitely plan on a topping from the outset.

The other big "first" of the day came during dinner. I had my surgery in January of 2008 and have not since had a single hamburger or anything like that. Well... Sammy the cat (of the Sammy and Bear conversation) finally catched him a Mo', and brought it into the house, so it seemed a perfect time for the Tofu Muchacha to make those Mole (pronounced Mo-lay for those pretentious people out there)Burgers she'd been wanting to try.

Personally, I was a little nervous about eating a burger, as my stomach is still sensitive to complex proteins, and I would think that Mole meat would be pretty tough (what from all of the digging). All of my fears turned out to be unfounded, because the combination of the special Mexican Mole seasoning (apparently moles are quite a problem down there), which I believe included Chocolate and chilis among other things. The thing went down smoooooth. Seriously. It was my favorite burger I've had in 2 years. It was super tasty, and I felt fine after. Even fine enough to have some cheesecake.

'Twas a good day.