Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Reads of 2019

A listing of what I've read in 2019.

I've got a couple going, one of them a re-read of Stephen King's massive It, which unless I decided to lay out of work, I won't finish for a while.  The other is a history of Walt Disney World on the Kindle.  I likewise probably won't finish it until 2020, so I'll count them there.

It breaks down almost half and half as to what were listened to as audiobooks, and what were read either as physical copies or e-books.  

Lots of good, and a couple of stinkers.  Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything that I started but didn't finish this year, though I'm sure there were a couple.  Month by month....


Best in Show:  the Films of Christopher Guest and Company, by John Kenneth Muir
One Summer: America, 1927,  by Bill Bryson
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring,    by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dark Tower:  the Gunslinger, by Stephen King
Things We Lost in the Fire,   by Mariana Enriquez
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: a Sortabiography,  by Eric Idle


The Troop,  by Nick Cutter
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Hounded, by Kevin Hearne
This Dark Chest of Wonders: 40 Years of The Stand, by Andy Burns
Big Fella:  Babe Ruth and the World he Created, by Jane Leavy


The Coen Brothers:  This Book Really Ties the Movies Together, by Adam Nayman
Christine,  by Stephen King
Adrian's Undead Diary: Dark Recollections, by Chris Philbrook
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
The Elephant of Surprise, by Joe R. Lansdale


Kenichi Zenimura:  Japanese American Baseball Pioneer, by Bill Staples, Jr.
Star Wars:  Thrawn,   by Timothy Zahn
The Million Dollar Policeman, by John Swartzwelder
Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin
Wounds:  Six Stories from the Border of Hell,   by Nathan Ballingrud


What Stands in a Storm:  Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the South's Tornado Alley,  by Kim Cross
Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles, by Thomas Lennon
Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman
The Disaster Artist:  My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, by Greg Sestero
North American Lake Monsters, by Nathan Ballingrud


Time's Children, by D.B. Jackson
Lucky Town, by Peter Vonder Haar
The British are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, by Rick Atkinson
The Friends of Eddie Coyle, by George V. Higgins
The Hum and the Shiver, by Alex Bledsoe


Chernobyl:  The History of a Nuclear Catastrophe, by Serhii Plokhy
The Cycle of the Werewolf, by Stephen King
Growing Things, and Other Stories, by Paul Tremblay
The Toll, by Cherie Priest
Wild and Crazy Guys, by Nick de Semlyen


Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
The United States of Beer, by Dane Huckelbridge
The Talisman, by Stephen King & Peter Straub
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling
The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth


The Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse
The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
Into the Raging Sea:  33 Mariners, One Megastorm and the Sinking of El Faro, by Rebecca Slade
Thinner, by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)
For the Good of the Game, by Bud Selig with Phil Rogers


Hinge Factor:  How Chance and Stupidity have Changed History, by Erik Durschmied
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North
Star Wars: Black Spire   by Delilah S. Dawson


Skeleton Crew, by Stephen King
The Ice Harvest, by Scott Phillips
Where Oblivion Lives, by T. Frohock
Call Me God: The Untold Story of the DC Sniper Investigation, by Jim Clemente, Tim Clemente, et al.


Agent to the Stars, by John Scalzi
Still Life, by Louise Penny
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Haunted Mansion

I'm no stranger to the idea that amusement park rides take your picture.  In fact, such a thing has been the subject of an internet rabbithole or two.

I mean, just search roller coast puke under Google Images and while away the hours.  The secret is to look at the folks in the row just behind the puker, and delight in the magnitude of the change in disposition they're about to have.

We went to Disney World last week.  It was a long planned trip, and it was one that had started to be threatened a couple weeks beforehand.  But we made it.

And I'll write a little more about it.   But I'm playing on the computer, going through a couple of the pictures, and this one, which was taken on the Haunted Mansion, is my favorite:

I mean, that's practically an advertisement for the Haunted Mansion.

I invite Disney to use it.

In exchange for another day's admission so that we might do Rise of the Resistance.

It's actually not my favorite picture of a ride experience.  We rode Twilight Zone's Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios.  It was my big omission from the trip with my sister.  While riding that, a particularly curvy member of our riding party was having to hold herself into her top.   I think Disney nixed that one.  I would have liked to have had it, if only because the roller coaster and Dinosaur ride pics don't convey much emotion, but the picture from Tower of Terror really did show some anxiety on both our parts.  I'd have liked to have had that one.....

Anyway.  I think we'll be going back in a little while.  I'm not sure how long that while will be.  I really really really really really really really want to do Rise of the Resistance.  

I'd also like to ride the Skyliners.  And eat at Sanaa.  And get a beer at the British pub at Epcot.

I don't think we'll be one of those couples who goes every year, but I think we might see this become a not so unusual destination, either.....

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Eats

A Cross posting from a Disney Food group.

We took our long-planned trip to WDW this week.  I'd like to thank the group for all the recommendations and ideas, especially for the help finding some great experiences for a vegetarian traveler.  It's easy nowadays to find vegetarian options, but finding a truly great dish can be rare.  She found a couple.

Apologies...this is a read...I didn't take many pictures of food.  Christmas decorations, parades and attractions yes, but food...not many.

Day 1:  We'd planned on getting to Disney about 5 o'clock on Friday, resting up at the hotel for an hour or two, and wandering to Disney Springs to find some dinner, but we hit three separate traffic snarls between home in Tennessee and Orlando.  Our 8.5 hour trip took somewhere around 13 hours, so we made dinner of the stuff we'd brought in the car that night.

Day 2: 

Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie:

She was really excited about this one, and we made it our breakfast and coffee on the first day in a park.  She got a beignet, which she probably enjoyed more than any breakfast she's had in ages.  I got a heated up Poulet et Pistou, and enjoyed it very much.

Spice Road Table:

We ate lunch at Spice Road Table.  What a great location for people watching.  We had wonderful weather our whole trip, but Saturday was absolutely beautiful for outdoor dining. This was our only time on the trip we had any service trouble:  we sat with our waters for several minutes before we had to flag down a waiter because nobody had come by to take our order.  Once we had our orders taken, our experience was great.  She the Mediterranean Vegetable Platter, and I got the Lamb Sliders.  We were both blown away by the Hummus Fries, which is something we're going to attempt to replicate at home, really soon.  My Lamb Sliders were also extremely was one of the best lunches we've had in a while.

After lunch, we wandered back to our room at French Quarter, and came back for an evening wandering around World Showcase. 

We snacked and grazed our way around the whole evening.  I made a supper of some pork schnitzel from a stand at the German pavilion, while she got a pretzel and a beer.  We also had some coffee with walnut liqueur from a stand near the Morocco pavilion, some wine from France, some "Viking Coffee" and a chocolate pretzel from the Kringla Bakery in Norway.  We finished our night by picking up a couple treats from the bakery in the Germany pavilion, which we ate for breakfast the next morning.

Day 3:

This was our Magic Kingdom day.  we ate breakfast in the room, and got another cup of coffee in the park at the Cheshire Cafe...a treat for her, because Alice in Wonderland is her favorite Disney flick.  Just afterward, we rode the Mad Tea Party, and she got a thrill as Alice rode the ride in the teacup next to ours.  Not food related, but she enjoyed the heck out of that.

Lunch:  We did a quick service lunch during our travels around the park at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn.  I got a Bacon cheeseburger that I fixed up with nacho fixings, and she got the plant based Southwest Burger, and she did the same.  Not a bad sandwich, but our nachos were kinda stale, and we ended up not eating too many.

Supper:  We took a break again at the hotel, and I ate a sandwich there.  We were there for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and again, we snacked our way through the park over the course of the night.  Pretzels and free cookies don't constitute a healthy diet, but we're on vacation, right?

Day 4:

This was our Hollywood Studios day.  With Rise of the Resistance opening a few days prior, the park was a lot more crowded than Epcot and Magic Kingdom had been. 

We got a quick breakfast of a bagel for her and a croissant sandwich for me at the Trolley Car Cafe. 

Up to the week prior, we'd planned on hitting the Drive-in for lunch, but with our fast pass schedule and the Rise of the Resistance crowd, we decided to drop it in favor of some quick service somewhere.  We ended getting a quick service lunch at Pizzerizzo, since it was on our way from the Indiana Jones show to Galaxy's Edge.  For a quick service pizza, it wasn't bad, though I kinda wish we'd ended up doing something else, as it wasn't anything special, either. 

Hollywood Studios was our only disappointing day, as we couldn't get a boarding pass for Rise of the Resistance.  We ended up leaving the park around 3, after hitting all that we wanted.  We'd planned a break anyway so we could rest and change clothes so we could meet the loose dress code at Jiko.

Jiko:  I say this without exaggeration:  This was one of the best meals I've ever had.  I cannot recommend a place any higher.  She said the same.  We got Inguday Tibs in Brik as our appetizer, which was wonderful.  She was able to upgrade an enhancement dish, Egyptian Kushari, to an entree, and she said it was one of the better dishes she's ever eaten.  I got the Filet Mignon, and cleaned my plate.  The desserts were equally fantastic.  She got the Malva Pudding, which was tremendously light and just a joy.  I got the Braai Brownie, which is just amazing....lightly spicy mixed with dark chocolate, bitter coffee and tart raspberry....We both ate entirely too much, and practically had to be rolled back to the French Quarter.

Day 5:

This was our Animal Kingdom day.  She ate her leftover Kushari for breakfast, and I just had coffee...if possible, I was still stuffed from the day before.  I did grab an apple from the fruit stand just outside the Safari ride and eat it while in line. 

Yak and Yeti was our lunch.  Another very fine meal.  She got the vegetable bowl, and I got Bhaktapur Duck, which was amazingly good, but probably not the best choice for eating right before wandering back out into the hottest part of our day.  I was thankful we did a couple of shows after lunch, just to let my lunch digest.

Dinner:  We went back to the Animal Kingdom lodge to eat dinner at Boma.  I'm not normally a buffet guy, but this was quite good.  There's too much to mention, but I especially enjoyed the Carrot Ginger Stew, the Zulu Cabbage and the Kenyan Coffee Tarts on the dessert bar. 

Day 6:

Our departure day.  We took a breakfast at the Sassagoula Float Works.  I ended up just getting a bacon and eggs breakfast, after the line at the Biscuits and Gravy station ground to a halt when a lady started complaining about her order....even at Disney, you have that person.....

Again, thanks for the recommendations.  There are still things we want to do....Sanaa, for one, and there were a couple or three places over at Disney Springs that seemed really interesting.  I kinda wanted to poke my head into one of the Star Wars eateries at Galaxy's Edge, but couldn't for the crowds.  And I figure we'll hit the Drive-In at some point, as well.  This was her first trip to Disney, and it was a memorable one.  She wants to come back in a year or two, so we'll be looking forward to that......