Alcohol

Rage Post: Why I generally hate humans, Part 1 – Rape Culture

I was going to write about a completely different subject.  It’s the eve of Thanksgiving and I was going to write about happiness and how to promote and avoid becoming complacent, etc etc.  And then I got my latest issue of Rolling Stone, and in it was an article about a girl that was raped at UVA.

I’m going to warn you now, this is not a happy post.  It is also possible that it will upset you if you have been a victim.

anti-rape-campaignUnfortunately I felt compelled to see what this article was about, and then I immediately remembered again why i carry such a general distain towards humanity.  This article not only describes in detail what happened to her (I will NOT go into detail, but it involved and entire pack of frat boys in a room in the most prestigious fraternity there.) That alone literally made me want to murder these men that I do not know.  Murder.  Like I decided at that point that these people give up their right to exist in this world when they make that choice.  If I were their god, they would suffer and perish for thinking and acting as they do.

And that’s the core of it: I CANNOT condone, understand or even conceive, after ANY amount of alcohol (and trust me, I’ve had as much as my body can take and still function)  even CONSIDERING forcing a woman to have sex with me…  let alone HOLDING HER down with a GROUP of men and each one of them making the choice to restrain, abuse, defile, desecrate and then assist all the others in doing the same to her!?  HOW!?  HOW do you EVER even EXIST knowing you CONSIDERED doing something like that?  If I was somehow mind-controlled in to such an act.. the moment I came out of it and realized what I had done, I would find her, throw myself at her feet, allow her to do whatever she wished to me and inflict whatever amount of pain and suffering she wanted on me, and then, if she didn’t kill me, I would kill myself.

I consider this merciful.

I consider this merciful.

When you willingly and knowingly make a PRE-MEDITATED, SUSTAINED, ORGANIZED choice to devalue a COMPLETELY
INNOCENT woman (or man.. let’s not be sexist here) like that, you are the worst thing on the planet.  At that point the EBOLA VIRUS is BETTER and more NOBLE than you are.  It deserves this life MORE than you do because AT LEAST it’s simply doing what it exists to do, without the conscious process to choose differently.  It is being natural.  HUMAN RAPE, regardless of what some might say IS NOT NATURAL.  And do you know why?  Because you THINK.  You DO have the choice, and even somebody like me who’s been compared to a SOCIOPATH knows that such things are SO INCREDIBLY WRONG that there’s ZERO justification and ZERO reasoning.

“Oh they’re just boys being boys.” or “They are genetically programmed like that.” ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?  That’s like me chopping your arm off in front of you, frying it up over a fire with a little Ponzu sauce (I do love me some ponzu!) and eating it in front of you.  And then when they ask me why I did it I say “Oh well I was REALLY hungry.” and that makes it okay.

Mind you this comes from me. ME!!  I’m a pretty damn hedonistic, sexual person and even with my reputation I’m far mellower now than I was at my hormonal peak.  Even then.. NEVER could I justify restraining a woman (against her will.. willingly is a whole different story..) and actually enjoying violating her like that.  I honestly don’t even think my equipment would work.  And call me new-age but I really like my partners to be on board and enjoying it as much or more than I am…

A real man doesn't give a fuck about ANY reputation over HUMAN RIGHTS.

A real man doesn’t give a fuck about ANY reputation over HUMAN RIGHTS.

But you know what?  All the horrors above aren’t even the worst part.  The worst part is that when she finally told somebody about it, when she overcame threats, and fear and trauma, she was told to shut up and forget it.  Her friends were concerned it would affect their standing at school.  Two weeks later she SAW the guy who had led her to that frat party, to the room where those men had been waiting for her, and do you know what he said?  “Hey Jackie (obviously the name has been changed for the article) are you ignoring me?  I wanted to thank you for the other night.  I had a great time.”  What!?  WHAT!?  That’s not even biblically evil.. that’s beyond it.. that’s sickness.  He REALLY believes it’s okay for him to talk like that, as if the event was pleasant and this girl’s horror doesn’t exist.   It’s a level of programmed psychosis deeper than simple sociopathy.
Even after THAT, after she quit her job where she worked with this guy and missed all her classes for a week out of trauma, even the DEAN of the school encouraged her to keep it quiet to protect the school’s reputation. The FUCKING REPUTATION.  Because apparently the ACTUAL character of many of the students who attend the school doesn’t matter, so long as the reputation is intact.

Even writing about this is making me feel sick, it’s rage, pure unadulterated rage.  And you know, I wish that I could say it was an isolated incident.  Or just that school’s particularly dark underground.  But no, according to research and statistics, this particular story is the average situation among US Universities.  1 in 5 women on a college campus is a victim or rape, but only about 12% report it.  This is not an isolated thing, this is a cultural thing. And the rapists get away with it, more often than not.  The statistics also say (and I found this truly alarming) that 9 out of 10 campus rapes are the result of repeat offenders, and further, the average repeat offender has six rapes under their belt.  And they are getting away with it.

This CANNOT happen unless there is a SOCIETY and infrastructure in place to SUPPORT it.  The bottom line is, this doesn’t just happen because people ignore it, it happens because some sick, sick people encourage it!  Somewhere, a douchebag alumni dad is teaching his son that it’s okay to go to college, join a fraternity that openly objectifies women and use them for whatever they so desire whether they agree or not.  Maybe he doesn’t use those words, but his stories, philosophy, and “the reputation of your fraternity, brothers, and school above all” IS the rape culture.  And when these children grow up to be rapists, all the grown-up rapists who are now often rich with old money, affluent and in positions of power simply band together and use their resources to keep it quiet.  They use denial, guilt, fear, shame, aggression and threats minimize the victim and nobody thinks anything of it or looks into it until somebody dies.  Even then, action is questionable.

JT gets it because he's a sexy, classy man.

JT gets it because he’s a sexy, classy man.

It sounds like a big conspiracy.  But this is a system that exists.  It is FACT.  It is up to those of us that know better to teach our generation and the ones below us that this is wrong on every level it can be, and must be destroyed.  Fortunately women are becoming stronger, making them harder to victimize and more outspoken in order to bring these things to light, but the institutions that support this rape culture must be dismantled from the top down.

Fortunately, the government has now stepped in and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is performing extensive compliance reviews on MAJOR schools and universities that can result in the nuclear bomb of higher education – the revoking of all government funding for a school found in serious violation.  It’s enough to make everyone take notice.. but it’s only a start.  These rapists and their culture must be battled and dismantled until nothing remains except the stories of the evil, savages that teach future generations that they cannot be allowed make the same  mistakes.

The people like the rapists mentioned above are what bring the collective of humanity down as a whole.  They are parasites attempting to survive among the people that could make this world a better place, or, at least, the people who aren’t trying to make it any worse.  One way another, they, meaning the culture that created and sustains them have to die.

**Note: Let me just say that I understand this is not only not just a US problem and that so many other terrible things happen in the US and around the world every day.  This is just one example of one that I happened to read about and reacted strongly to, but I am in no way singling this situation out among the unfortunate mass of human idiocy/evil that plagues the entire world.  It’s an irony that the same species that seems to produce truly enlightened individuals also produces those who are more evil and animalistic than any other sentient being on the planet. 

Of Food and Wine (and other wonderful consumables.)

Epcot Food and WIne

One of my favorite times of year here in Florida is the fall season.  The weather is damn near perfect, the holidays are upon us and most importantly, Epcot holds it’s annual Food and Wine Festival.  As an annual pass holder this is by far my favorite Disney event of the year in what is (arguably with Animal Kingdom) my favorite of the parks.  I figured this was a great opportunity to elaborate on my love of food and drink!  I am unapologetically the guy who takes pictures of his food and posts #FoodPorn.  I’ve come to terms with the fact I may lose followers as a result of that admission.  This will probably make you hungry…

 

Soda

Though not specifically part of the festival, I wanted to highlight the “Cool Zone” as it’s one of the very rare places to get FREE unlimited soda in the parks.  (The other being the “Chase Lounge” but it’s only during Food and Wine and only for Chase card members.)  Long ago I drank soda like water, but frankly it was making me fat and causing me stomach issues, so I gave it up, dropped about 60 lbs and now only rarely partake.  I do have a bit of a weakness for Ginger Ale, and it is one of the very few things I will mix Scotch with (very rarely!!)  This Cool Zone features various Coca-Cola products from around the world.  Unfortunately they introduced a number of new flavors about a year ago (which took out the Ginger Ale!!!) leaving only Brazil’s “Kuat Guarana” worth drinking.  I remember a version of this soda from my Capoeira days!   The others are worth trying, but not regularly in my opinion.

 
Pork

So, you’ve probably already gathered I’m a carnivore.  But this grilled lamb chop from the Australia section is amazing.  The pork is cooked perfectly and slides off the bone effortlessly (impressive considering how many of these they mass produce throughout the day.)  The meat is tender and juicy, but even better is that it retains spectacular flavor while not being too gamey.  The mint pesto balances the flavor perfectly and even the “potato crunchies” (read: glorified crushed potato chips) added a nice texture in the absence of (undesirable) char.   I go back for this every year and feel it’s one of the more underrated offerings.

 
 

MahiMahi
Singapore is also an annual favorite, but not for what I got this year.  A new offering was the seared mahimahi with jasmine rice and “Singa” sauce.  Normally I’m not huge on fish that’s not in a sushi roll, however a good friend of mine demanded I try this and she was absolutely right.  The fish was good: tender, boneless and flavorful, but WOW that sauce did it.  I’m a sucker for a good sauce (I’m addicted to Ponzu…) and it really made this for me.  Add that to the cheapest (and surprisingly well paired) wine offering in the park, the Marqués de Cáceres Satinela, and you have a fantastic and flavorful snack!  I tend to prefer sweet white wines, this one was a little dry, but it balanced the fish / sauce out really well.

 

Sling

Also from Singapore is the “Singapore Sling”.  This gets it’s own section as it is in fact the reason I go back to Singapore every year.  For $8.00 you get this cup of what is essentially a combination of two alcohols: gin and “Cherry Heering”. Traditionally a “sling” was an American term for any spirit and water that was sometimes sweetened or flavored.  It seems a bartender from Singapore initially mixed some sort of cherry brandy (may or may not have been Heering) with gin and the Singapore Sling was born.  The exact recipe changes from bar to bar, but almost always involves gin and some sort of cherry flavor.  The important thing about this particular incarnation is that on Disney property you’re getting essentially 3.5 – 4 shots of liquor for roughly $2.00 a shot.  Good deal.  In past years the gin ratio was really high resulting in a really potent drink that smelled and tasted like rubbing alcohol.  This year they evened it out making it a bit weaker but much more palatable.

 

Marsala

Normally the Italy pavilion is all about the stuffed ravioli (offered every year,) but this year they had a chicken marsala that was new to the menu.  I’m a sucker for mushrooms and a good wine sauce and this did not disappoint.  Even more surprising was how tender the chicken was.  I have to hand it to Disney, not only do they have natives from each country serving the food, but they manage to perfect the cooking process enough to mass-produce really well cooked food.  I wouldn’t call it “gourmet”, but regardless really tasty!  Well about the average you could find in your average chain restaurant!

 

Cheese Platter

Cheese.  If there is any reason in the world I would hate to go vegan, it would not be giving up meat, it would be giving up cheese.  I love cheese.  I often joke that one of two things in this world will be the death of me: women, or cheese (or some freaky combination of the two.  This offering was at the “Hops and Barley” pavilion (read: USA.)  This actually had the one cheese I’m not terribly fond of: bleu cheese.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it, it’s just my least favorite in my favorite category.   However, the other two made up for it.  In the middle of the tray was a fantastic cloth-wrapped cheddar, and on the left was (my favorite of the three) soft, creamy goat cheese called “Purple Haze”.  It was so good that I think I understand why then made it’s name sound like a designer drug.

 

Frozen Martini

Next up was the France pavilion.  It is very difficult to choose here as they offer arguably the best assortment of food and drink that is, while pricey, generous and well-made.  While not the deal the sling was, this “La Passion Martini Slush” gives you more than enough to cool off in the Florida heat while a combination of (presumably mid-level) vodka and Grey Goose Le Citron helps you feel it.  It’s tasty, cold and easy to drink, so basically an expensive slurpee for adults, which is pretty fitting for this sort of event.

 
 

French Food

France has an equally wonderful selection of foods.  Most people go for the escargot, an annual favorite.  I’ve had it before, and I love the garlic, but it didn’t win me over enough to ignore other offerings (and my wallet can only handle so much!)  New this year was the “Gratin De Crozet De Savoie”  Since I have no idea what the name means, it was the description that sold me: “Wheat pasta gratin with mushrooms and Gruyere cheese.”  Carbs..?  Mushrooms? CHEESE???  SOLD!  Let me tell you, it was probably the highlight of my festival this year.  It was a pretty good serving but it was just not enough.  By now I was already quite full and I considered getting another.  Very, very good.  I hope it makes it back next year.

 
Canada is probably the winner for my kind of diet.  I’ve had the pleasure ofSteak dining there at the legitimately gourmet “Le Cellier Steakhouse” thanks to an amazing friend of mine who works at Epcot and put our names on the list months in advance.  This offering during Food and Wine is a petite version of the amazing steak I feasted on before and it does not disappoint.  Granted, it’s really hard to go wrong with a decently cooked Filet Mignon, but what you see on top is truly wonderful truffle butter accenting a bed of wild mushrooms.  Really, really good.  Compared to the full-sized, fresh cooked to order version I had, this is probably an 8 out of 10, which is pretty good considering the circumstances.  I love steak… and mushrooms… and butter.  Yum.  Also worth mentioning is the Canadian cheddar cheese soup!  However, it doesn’t photograph well (rather plain) and this was already a long entry, so ask me about it if you like (also really good!)

 

Honey Mead

My last highlights come from Ireland.  (Greece is also great, but again the presentation left a bit to be desired and that’s an important part of the package!) As I mentioned before, I prefer sweet wines so when I come across something called “Bunratty Meade Honey Wine”, it gets my attention.  You get a relatively small serving (about your average shot.. maybe a bit more) but the flavor is distinct and sweet.  Though this is not a pure mead (from honey only,) it’s a dessert wine and you can absolutely taste the honey heavily used to flavor this treat.  Most importantly the dulled bite of the white wine pairs really well with…

 

Irish Cheese

Irish cheese! I can’t resist another cheese platter, especially one offered by Kerrygold!  I’ve long been a fan of their unsalted butter (I’ve even put it in my coffee!)  This particular selection includes a Reserve cheddar, Dubliner with Irish Stout and Skellig (a slightly sweeter Irish cheddar developed specifically by Kerrygold.)  The chutney, bread and butter add substance to the platter for the price, but the cheese is exactly what you expect: quality Irish cheddar with no real surprises.  In my world, that is very, very okay. I’ve picked up this platter every year for the last three years (or more.. I don’t remember…) and I will look for it next year.  If you love cheese like I do, don’t miss it.

There are many more pavilions, and probably a lot of fantastic food I didn’t try, but that’s what next year is for.  In the meantime though, if this manages to make you as hungry reading it as it made me posting it, I’ve done my job.  Unfortunately the Disney Food and Wine Festival is done for the year, but I’ll see you there next year!

Homecoming: A Long Epilogue

Coffee + Magical Sky Juice = Writing Fuel!

Coffee + Magical Sky Juice = Writing Fuel!

I’ve been in the air for a little over an hour now (likely somewhere over Idaho) heading toward a short stop in Texas before the second leg of the trip back to Orlando. I think the most important thing I took from the short trip in Seattle is that I like it there. I like the weather, I like culture, I like the city and I like the people (My friends, arguably more so than I used to.) My path and the place I belong now is Orlando, but if and when the opportunity to return to Seattle made itself know, I would follow it happily. Granted there are many places that I would be willing to go in order to take the next step, but Seattle previously carried a stigma to it that no longer exists. In fact, because of my familiarity and the people I have there (friends and family both) it carries a specific appeal for sure. I have a hometown.

Shortly after my last post I was picked up and spent the evening (after all too iconic Seattle traffic) in Bellevue catching up with three young ladies from my high school days (all three of whom I’ve had a crush of some sort on at some point or another.) We began at a Mexican restaurant, three of use with appetizers and shots of tequila while we waited for our fourth to arrive. We told many stories of our classmates, and ourselves, went through some 16 total margaritas (combined), took many selfies and laughed about our misadventures in high school and since.

Tequila!

Tequila!

What was fascinating about these discussions is that each of them knew me in a different way. One hadn’t really kept up with me over the years (in fairness neither had I kept up with her…) but was the fortunate enough one to be stuck in traffic with me, allowing us to get a head start on catching up. We’d covered some relatively deep subjects, so when I began telling stories to the group she had a contextual reference the others did not. Another is a regular follower of my blog, so she had a great deal of background information both recent and historical. The third has been keeping up with me on Facebook and through regular messages for some time and was probably the most knowledgeable on my current life status.

I told them one thing I was quite jealous of was their children. As of now, two of them are married (one to her high school sweetheart) and the other is an amazing single mother (as evidenced by the stories of her children.) For the longest time I’ve wanted a child (preferably legitimately) but obviously I have to find the right person first and so far not a lot of headway has been made. In the car ride (traffic) over I had mentioned that we always want what we can’t have. So (especially in our thirties) some that have long established families and routines look at my lifestyle and see it as adventurous and free (I do my best anyway…) while I listen to the stories of their children, families and well-established careers and can’t help but wonder if I’m falling behind. Of course, as it stands, I don’t think any of us would trade, and though all three have two children (ideal in my mind), they are each in pretty different set of circumstances (perhaps I will elaborate on them a bit more in a future blog.)

As the night carried on we wandered the mall called Bellevue Square that we had spent a great deal of time at as high school kids. One had promised a friend she would pick up nifty scented bath soaps/oils of some sort and then we (predictably) found ourselves in Sephora (a makeup store) at which point one of the girls who hardly wears makeup and I slipped away to find more drinks. This was an education for me as I was introduced to Nordstrom’s having a full bar dead center in the middle of it’s store. Prices were surprisingly reasonable considering what the clothing usually runs. Eventually the other two caught up to us and after more discussion/selfies we made a quick stop to see my car (Tesla!!) and moved on to our final destination.

It was a Dark and Stormy night..

It was a Dark and Stormy night..

One of the girls had promised her friend she would take a photo of a huge blown glass chandelier that was crafted by a famous local Seattle artist (kicking myself at the moment for not having a photo to include in the blog.) When that mission was accomplished we moved upstairs to a pool hall I had talked to them about called “The Parlor”. Shortly before I left for Orlando I had spent a fair amount of time there. It had an upscale vibe (because Bellevue…) but was reasonable on prices and had pretty good happy hour specials. With fifteen minutes until happy hour we settled in for our last round.

Perhaps it was the drinks adding up or the hours getting later (in truth it was only 11:00 PM but people have families now and it was a Tuesday…) but the conversation turned to sex and was primarily based on me. As it happens I have a number of entertaining stories (don’t worry to some of you reading this… probably not THAT one… probably…) that had reactions ranging from laughter to a great deal of eye rolling (a not uncommon reaction.)  We finished off our drinks that accompanied some really great happy hour appetizers and decided to call it a night.   (I should point out that those who were driving had moderated their drinking responsibly as the night went on… and those that weren’t… probably felt it the next day.)

Addiction Manifested.

Addiction Manifested.

The following day I slept in and then took the Sounder (Seattle’s rail system) to go and visit my father. It was my first time on the train and I enjoyed the random local conversation along with my ability to plug in my electronics. The ride was quick and easy and before long my father picked my up in Lakeland where he now lives. After a quick stop to show off his new place, we headed out to Potlach (Hood Canal) to the house on the water to visit with his girlfriend and her son whom have become a part of his/our family throughout the years. Naturally as I lounged fireside I was fed and fed well. Meat, cheese and wine precluded my father’s amazing signature buffalo wings of which I ate entirely too many (as usual.) Feeling fat and comfortable I retired to my room for the evening, caught up on some shows and drifted off to sleep with an early morning and a day of flying ahead of me.

The morning went smoothly, I did my best to capture a few images of the water in the dim foggy morning light and we were off to the bus station. I arrived just in time to say goodbye and walk onto the airport bus. Upon arrival, I easily made my way through security with plenty of time to attend some business, pick up my new book (Prince Lestat!) and do a bit of shopping. The plane is completely full, and I’m in a middle seat, but I’m fortunate enough to have relatively small people on either side of me who seem to have good personal hygiene (the girl sitting next to me is also pretty cute. Bonus!)

The house on the coast.

The house on the coast.

As I near my landing in Texas I just keep thinking about the combination of familiarity and newness that Seattle has now that I carry a fresh perspective on it. It’s easy to see why people who travel there fall in love and never leave. Additionally, with the disappointing recent results of the Florida elections, it’s also easy to see why living in such a liberal state would be appealing. Seattle has culture, food and a specific vibe that is hard to find anywhere else. My father tells me every time I return that I need to move back and go back to school, he will be going for his Master’s soon and thinks I should follow suit. I might. But as much as I would like to say that my goal is to move back and live there indefinitely, I cannot. The truth is I will go wherever it takes to take the next step, to “make it”. When I do, I can visit, and catch up as I did this time whenever I like. It may or may not be home again someday, but it will always be my hometown.