A Rant: The NORWAY Pavillion at Disney’s EPCOT

Kirk’s cousins Kathy, Matt, and Liz were visiting recently and, since they’re all rabid Disneyphiles, we decided to spend the day at EPCOT. Since the Akershus Restaurant at the Norwegian Pavillion is my favorite– I love the smorbrød— I remembered our last experience when we showed up (no more tables) and thought to call from the house to make reservations.

Well, guess what? Prospective diners have to make reservations MONTHS AHEAD, because the Akershus Restaurant now hosts Princess meals, which is yet ANOTHER form of Disney character breakfast: women dressed as Princesses mingle with guests– hence the need for reservations, because this is so extremely popular with families and their children.

Needless to say, we weren’t able to dine at that restaurant and probably never will again because– let’s face it– who can predict a trip to EPCOT?

It was understandable a few years ago when meats were removed from the smorbrød menu because so many people– Americans, I was told– were piling up their plates with food that they would typically waste. Meats are now only to be ordered from the wait staff, and there are NO endless refills. This I understand.

What I can NOT accept is that yet another slice of life has been sacrificed to the whims of children– in this case, because the Princess craze is so popular and brings in BIG BUCKS for Disney, it was obviously decided that the Norwegian restaurant would also be used to feed this mania. WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAVE TO BE KID FRIENDLY??

STOP IT ! Can’t an adult wander happily through EPCOT, knowing that he’ll soon be dining at his favorite Disney restaurant? Apparently not. The Disney Financiers, who have replaced the Disney Imagineers, are now working their magic on EPCOT. (Note: The Living Seas exhibit is no longer very appealing to adults, having recently been saddled with a ride featuring a fish named Nemo.) 

Thank you, Disney, for taking away yet another bit of enjoyment from myself and my guests; we won’t be visiting again any time soon.

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A Long, Long Walk: January 17th. 2008

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Today I started to take a walk in the late afternoon, up to and around the complex north of me. When I got to the highway, something compelled me to walk further, even though it was drizzly; I got the idea to set out for the San Pedro Conference Center, a retreat house with a beautiful little chapel. I knew it had to be a couple of miles away, but I went ahead with the impulse anyway. Normally I would obsess about the facts that it was late afternoon; it might rain harder; and traffic was getting heavy. But I forged ahead.
I got there after about 45 minutes, went into the Chapel, sat down in front of the Tabernacle, prayed. It was sooooo beautifully quiet; I didn’t have my hearing aids in, which helped; otherwise I would have been distracted by children playing tag six miles away, or lawns being mowed in distant suburbs. But I basked in the stillness.
Then I got up and got a Liturgy of the Hours– the Large Print Edition, as it was sort of shadowy in there, what with it being late afternoon. I read the Evening hours for the day– the beautiful Psalms of praise, the readings… they’re so comforting, always, with their rhythm and promises of hope. And I was still asking myself: what compelled me to walk all the way here, without an umbrella, under gray, drizzly skies?
I was doing my usual after reading the Hours– concentrating on the Tabernacle and emptying my mind so as to better contemplate the great Mystery in front of me. (I always meditate on how HUGE and yet how INTIMATE God can be at the same time.) Then I got a mental poke: I decided I needed to look in the prayer book and see what Saint’s Day it might be: and today, January 17, was Saint Anthony’s day: and my departed Dad was named for Saint Anthony.
So, I think, there was a compelling reason for me to walk to that Chapel after all: God in his goodness was asking me to spend a little time with Him, and when I did, He presented me with my other Father. I thought that was so generous: huge and intimate at the same time. What a great gift to have been handed in the middle of a gray Thursday afternoon, right?

Orchids 2

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This is a Cymbidium orchid, which I also received from The Woman Who Does Not Keep Tags, so I cannot tell you which variety it is. It set two bloom spikes recently and they are still going strong, and apparently two more spikes are on the way. It likes the cold weather, apparently having roots in the Himalayas, and we’ve certainly been having some cool days and nights lately. It’s certainly thriving!

The Waiting Game

EVERYONE knows just what an impatient person I am, but what everyone does NOT know is that I have the patience of a saint when it comes to the BIG things– it’s the petty things that drive me wild– like waiting in lines. I HATE WAITING IN LINES!

Lines usually crawl forward thanks not to the inefficiency of the officials in charge, but to the everlasting stupidity of the people in line. For example, a few times a year I deign to get onto a flying cattle car with dozens of other people, simply to get to a destination quicker than I would had I decided to drive. Naturally, this being 2007, most of the world’s travelers are subject to the whims of a few crazies and, therefore, subject to the indignities of things like Airport Security Screening.

I don’t really mind the inconvenience if it means that the woman standing in front of me might be relieved of an AK-47 and a pair of shoe-sole detonation devices; I would actually be grateful. What I DO mind are recurring examples of the following…

On a recent trip to Brooklyn, begun very early in the morning, I found myself being herded along with hundreds of other travelers as we wove our way through the byzantine machinations of my airport’s security maze. I was pleasantly buzzed on caffeine; my foot cream was working its wonders; and my jockey shorts fit snugly, yet comfortably. No problem, right? WRONG.

The Bluto ahead of me, whose entire demeanor screamed HOME ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM, felt compelled– after sweating, fidgeting, and sighing– to complain to me: “What the HELL is taking them so long up front?” I took one look at the load he was prepared to shunt through the security system, and offered a rambling, existential response: “Well, look at all the CRAP you people insist on traveling with. Do we really need all this stuff? What are we, nomads? Are there no creature comforts at our final destinations? No WONDER it takes six weeks for a planeload of people to get settled… no WONDER the stewardesses are bitchy! Can you blame them?”

I got no response. In fact, his television-seasoned brain labeled me as a potential threat to his masculinity, probably because I spoke in complete sentences, was thoughtful, and used the passive voice. We proceeded through security with no further comments.

Fast forward a few months, to Christmas 2007. I am once again in the security line at my home base, and I present my photo ID when asked. It’s my state driver’s license, which has been updated by phone every seven years since 1987– thus, the photo is a bit outdated. Apparently, the security officer was unfamiliar with my type of driver’s license, which was unnerving enough; however, when he (defensively) told me that he was unfamiliar with my type of license, I replied– employing those annoying  ‘hellooooo!!!!!’cadences– that it had been renewed by telephone, and was actually quite legal. Without batting an eye, he directed me around a corner and against a wall, where I was eventually frisked, felt up, and wanded. I was expecting to be brought to the secret, window-less room, but alas… no such luck. (I wonder what’s in there– a coffee maker? Pinball machines? Discounted clothing?)

Granted, I’m grateful that my odd, old fashioned driver’s license drew enough attention that I was set aside for further prodding, but the tiny, rose-colored-glasses-wearing man deep inside me chafed at being treated like just another calf wending its way through an abattoir. I suppose I can avoid future instances such as these, but that would mean going to the state driver’s license office and standing in line for days and days just so I can get an updated license… but I HATE WAITING IN LINES.