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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Walt must be spinning like a lathe...

Yesterday was my birthday. It was also the hubster's birthday. We celebrate this like we celebrate all important days we share...our anniversary, Christmas, Thanksgiving...we ignored it. He doesn't speak to me and, in turn, I do not answer him. He never wished me a happy anything, sulked the entire time we were together and waited anxiously for me to give him a ride to someplace else, which I did, gladly. It was a business visit for him, but the business was interrupted with a birthday cake and much merriment. He told me to look on his Facebook page, as pictures and good wishes had been posted. He seems to have forgotten, however, that he "unfriended" me on Facebook, and told me so, because he didn't want his friends seeing me on his page.  Superficiality is not one of the nicer traits he got from his parents. BTW, I found the can opener. Don't ask.

This left me with a birthday and no one to care about it. I was casting about for free things to do. Okay, mostly I was looking for places where I would GET things for free. I remembered Disneyland used to let people in free on their birthdays so I went looking. I know, I was 99.9% sure that Disney would give away Jack Shit, but I looked anyway.

I found that Disney, aside from warmly giving people the aforementioned Jack Shit, has raised their ticket prices. Again. For the second time this year. If you want to take your three year old to Disneyland, and said 3 year old also wants to go across the Esplanade to see Lightening McQueen in Cars Land (built because both the movies sucked and Disney was looking for a way to squeeze as much money out of a franchise they're beating like a dead horse, with about as much success, but it's at California Adventure which is a waste of a good parking lot anyway) you will have to fork out $119. Yep, $119 for a three year old. It will cost you $119 to get your three year old into a place that is too big for him to toddle through, too hot for him to safely stay outside in for more than 20 minutes, too mature for him to go on the majority of the rides (sorry...attractions) and too expensive for him to eat anything except the cheerio-o's in the sandwich bag you smuggled through the gates in your pocket because Disneyland expressly forbids anyone from bringing in their own food for fear they'll lose that 7 bucks they charge for a freaking TURKEY LEG from a cart.

Now, if you really LIKE being ripped off by a rat in shorts, you can buy an annual pass. Oh, Passport. Other theme parks have passes, Disney is special, they have passports, which, I guess, are supposed to remind one that when one goes to a Disney "THEME" park, one is going to an exotic land where only DINKS and rich people live. 

Now, like an idiot, I Googled for information about Disney prices and such. Google is my friend, or so someone used to tell me, ad nauseum I might add. The problem with Internet searching, Google or no Google, is that your first two links will be paid ads and the next two pages will be crap that the bots find in blogs and on message boards which, while they feed the not inconsiderable ego of writers everywhere, offers little in the way of practical information like "How the hell much does it cost to get into freaking DISNEYLAND?" I discovered, finally, that it will cost you $649 to give your three year old a ticket good for a year.


Of course, that price includes parking, so it's justifiable.

In order to find this I ended up wandering through other websites and message boards. I came to the conclusion that people who populate these boards are mindless twits, largely bigoted against those who work hard and live from paycheck to paycheck and probably a lot of other people as well. I was, frankly, stunned at the arrogance and self-righteousness I was reading. Couples who have chosen to share their over privileged lives, not with children, the poor, the abused or the persecuted but with their cats, were opining with out and out disdain about the complete and utter fairness of what appeared to be a monumental price hike which is going to shut out those of more modest means by explaining that no one has a right to go to Disneyland, it's a gift given only to those of status who can afford it. If your three year old wants to visit Cars Land and you can't afford the price of a ticket please just shut the hell up because Disneyland is a place for the rich, powerful and gifted and you, obviously, don't qualify.

The fact that Disney peppers television, billboards, radio, movies, magazines, newspapers and toy stores with advertising designed to show your three year old that the only thing worthwhile in life is to dream of going to Disneyland and thus break their parents hearts when said parents are not well off enough to afford a $1200 dollar Saturday for their family of four (and God HELP you if you have to travel to get there) is certainly NOT Disney's way of extorting money from you because you can lock your kids up in a cage where no social interaction can possibly take place, or, perhaps, move to Lancaster PA, don black coats and hats and sell $1200 dollar quilts to unsuspecting tourists, thus removing the temptation known as a Disney ad. You can also get a cheaper pass which does not include parking (actually a good thing for that three year old you were considering putting behind the wheel) - or park entry on a whole lot of days one might be inclined to go to Disneyland. Days? Try weeks. But you CAN pay $469 for the pleasure of opening the Annual Passholder's special calendar on the interwebs and saying "nope, we can't use these today..." A bargain, no?

So far, my personal favorite is the comment made saying, in essence, that the price hike was a very good thing because this woman could afford the over $3000 a year it will now cost her family of five to renew their passes and, with all the people who will now be priced out of the place it will make their "experience" better.  Since it will be better she won't complain to Disneyland as much and that will make Disneyland happy because, apparently, Disneyland management spends most of it's valuable time, not crunching numbers to see how high the prices can go before their guest's balls fall off from the twisting, but reading her letters and working out ways to make her "experience" better.
It's a Win/Win.

I don't know about you, but frankly, I don't want my kids anywhere NEAR people like that. Hell, I don't want to be anywhere near people like that.'s my idea. Drive up to Los Angeles instead of Orange Country. Go to Griffith Park. Take the kids, take their friends. Take a picnic.  Take them to the Observatory and show them the universe. Take them to the carousel and let them grab for the brass ring. Take them to the Zoo - it's not the greatest Zoo ever but I remember once standing absolutely enchanted watching a small herd of giraffes run...heads gliding in slow motion, bodies galloping like they were in the home stretch of the Kentucky Derby. Take them to the Autry Cultural Center and show them the REAL Frontierland. Take them to "Travel Town" and let them climb through actual train cars and engines.  Go with them.

Next door to Travel Town is the Los Angeles Live Steamers. Here, on Sundays, you can immerse yourself in the actual Disney experience. Walt's scale live steamer barn, the one he kept on his property in an upscale L.A. neighborhood, is there, looking exactly as it did when Walt used it to house his own trains. Steamer enthusiasts run their trains on scale track here, through scale tunnels and up scale mountains and back again. They will let you ride for free, donations are appreciated.

Parking all over the park is free and you can have an entire Disney experience for less than 10 bucks a head if you like, including the hot dogs and potato salad. Not only that, the pretentious yuppies you don't want influencing your kids wouldn't be caught DEAD in a place that admits everyone.

Now that's a real Win/Win.

Friday, June 1, 2012

All the modern conveniences

About, oh, a million years ago, I decided no stop replacing the electric can openers every few years and buy an old fashioned Swing Away the next time I went to the market. It cost me $3.95. It went through the dishwasher (when I had one), thus eliminating that PITA of taking parts off the electric can opener and trying to scrape the crud off of them. It never broke, it never wore out and it took up absolutely NO counter space.

Four years ago, when we were forced to move (may the bastard who programmed the robo-signing machine at Wachovia burn for that thankyouverymuch) I took the can opener out of the drawer I kept it in, threw it in a box and transported it to my kitchen on the other side of town. Since then, it has resided in the drawer on the left hand side of the sink.

Now, I'm not exactly anal and, as of this minute, the dishes from dinner last night are still in the sink, the dishes from yesterday's lunch are still in the drainer. I know, I know...I'm not Martha Stewart. If I had a kitchen the size of hers I still wouldn't have enough counter space. I work until six, then I go home and start dinner. I finish cooking, yell at everyone to get their own damn food and usually end up taking my own plate to the bedroom so I don't have to watch yet another talent search based reality show featuring little talent but a lot of ego sitting at the judges table. I didn't name the show because it's ALL of them. You know it is.  I'm worried "Wipeout" isn't coming back too. It's summer, the days are longer and we should be watching "Wipeout."

Last night was taco night. It's getting warm here in the urban village and, for some reason, I equate warm weather with taco night. Yes, I'm a gourmet, I got the taco seasoning with the least sodium for the money and store brand shells. I got a rather zippy salsa ranch southwest chili tortilla salad type kit, because sorry, I'm a fair cook but I do NOT like having to start in the second I get home from work and I take shortcuts. Yeah, suck on THAT, Food Network.

My younger son didn't expect to be home until late, so I pretty much planned dinner for 3. He was delighted to find he wasn't needed for the rest of the rehearsal and so was home for dinner. I was delighted for him and glad to see him but also decided to stretch the taco/salad dinner to feed 4 instead of of the four being WELL over six feet tall. Okay, THREE of the four of us are over 6 feet tall but this one brushes 6'9". So I poked around and found an onion, a wrinkly green bell pepper a can of diced tomatoes and a can of diced Ortega chilies and started a pan of Spanish Rice. I actually WATCHED the onions and peppers and rice as I sauteed them and everything was picture perfect when I grabbed the can of tomatoes and reached for the can opener.

Which wasn't in its drawer. It wasn't in ANY of the drawers.  It wasn't in the cupboards, in wasn't in the fridge, in wasn't in the sink or the dish drainer or on the counters. It wasn't in the microwave. By this time my younger son had come out to help hunt. Eventually "Jeopardy!" went to a commercial break and the hubster inquired as to the commotion. "Where's the damn can opener?" I yelled.   He wandered out. "I left it on the counter after I opened a can of tuna earlier." Well, it's not on the counter now. It's not anywhere. "Did you look on the floor?" he asked. This was a serious question, not a joke. I can't fathom the workings of a mind that asks if the appliances, small though they may be, are on the floor. I also don't want to imagine what growing up in his house must have been like, considering the nonchalant way he asked me if I'd checked the floor. I was going to ask if he had considered putting the can opener AWAY when he was through opening the tuna fish instead of just leaving it on the counter but, after 34 years I have learned that there are some questions best left unasked.

Suffice it to say, the can opener wasn't on the floor. 

By now the water I had thrown in with the rice was starting to evaporate. Facing two cans and no opener, I got out the beer opener and proceeded to punch holes in the cans. While this drained the liquid from the can of tomatoes the fruit itself (yes, tomatoes are a FRUIT, DAMMIT!) remained stuck in the can, unable to make it through the smallish triangle shaped hole on the side of the can lid. I punched another one and another one and another one, methodically going around the outside of the can, until I had managed to free the lid from the sides of the can and dump the tomatoes into the simmering rice. I did the same with the can of roasted Ortega chili peppers.

I then started to hyperventilate at the thought of some rogue shard of aluminum peeling off the multi punctured lids and being eaten.I spent the rest of the evening watching my kids and husband in case some piece of metal suddenly burst out of their chests, sort of like the Alien did to John Hurt.

Well, no one exploded, the tacos were good, the Spanish rice would probably have been better if I had had a can of plain tomatoes in the pantry, or at least a can of tomatoes and chilies and onions instead of the can of Italian ones I had, thus making the Spanish rice sort of European rice...Ortega chilies and basil with a hint of oregano. It wasn't bad though.

As of this morning, the dishes are still in the sink and the can opener remains MIA.  We're stone broke or I would have gone and bought another can opener at the grocery store, thus assuring the old one would show up because as soon as you replace something that's been lost, it pops up. You KNOW it, I once had to do that with a pair of Joan Rivers earrings I got from QVC.

And I'm sitting here, avoiding work and looking for recipes to make tonight that do NOT involve opening any cans. I had a lot of good stuff planned for the week-end meals because, well, it's my birthday tomorrow and I ordered a George Foreman grill from one of those catalog outlets which foolishly gave me credit in exchange for an outrageously inflated shipping charge. The grill is supposed to arrive tomorrow and I've got all SORTS of ground turkey and pork chops and chicken breasts, all to be slapped on the grill and served with fresh salad and corn on the cob.

Except now I have to move things around and make turkey burgers without the benefit of a fat fighting grill because I can't open the can of baked beans I was going to serve with the pork chops tonight. 

My father is going to stop by tomorrow morning for coffee, he's on his way to his 60th class reunion which is being held in the town bordering the urban village at 11am. I'm guessing this is the reunion equivalent of the early bird special. Anyway, he will bring me a card and, with luck, a cash gift which I can then use to buy a new can opener. Since it's my birthday I'm going to go the extra buck and a half and get the kind you bolt to the wall. And this is what happens when one turns looks forward to a new can opener and laundry money.

Oh, and just for the record? America HAS no talent.