Saturday, November 24, 2007

On Disney, Scratch & Dent World, and tipping etiquette

My friend D-Wright still works at the same northeast Ohio technical translation company where we met some twelve years ago – at this rate, he’s only a couple of years away from tattooing a permanent “L” on his forehead. If it’s any consolation, I got my own “L” a few months ago when I realized I might as well have majored in Elizabethan poetry, for all the good my stellar college education is doing towards my train-wreck of a career… but I digress. Last month, the company sent him down to Orlando for a military gadgets and weaponry conference in the hopes of drumming up some translating business. The war-mongers conference, as D-Wright christened it, was held smack down in the middle of DisneyTown, or whatever the hell it’s called. I guess if I was a war profiteer looking for a good place to hold a weapons conference, I’d pick the Magic Kingdom, too!!!
Disney and weapons of mass destruction – a match made in Hades.

Since I’ve got a handful of vacation days left and have zero travel plans because I’ve resolved to finish my thesis before it goes into its fourth year of ineptitude and procrastination, I took a little time off from work and drove up to DisneyTown to hang out with D-Wright Warbucks. Getting up to Orlando wasn’t a problem, since I’ve driven up there quite a few times. Once in DisneyTown, however, finding my way was an absolute nightmare. I had detailed Mapquest instructions, but they were absolutely useless. Mapquest lists the streets by their supposed name (East 160th, etc.), but DisneyTown ignores this and lists the streets with colourful but idiotic names like “Parking Lot 2: where the magic happens!” or “The Wild Kingdom.” After driving a complete circuit around DisneyTown, I finally did the unthinkable and stopped at a Hess gas station to ask for directions. The attendant there was kind enough to translate the Mapquest street names into DisneyTown lingo, and I was then able to find the hotel easily.

The hotel in question is The Coronado Resort, an utterly ridiculous hodgepodge of Conquistador/Mayan/Aztec décor and nomenclature. The buildings, for example, were referred to as “Casitas” and “Cabañas,” while the convention center was termed “El Centro.” Why Disney chose to glorify western Europe’s exploitation and subsequent near-annihilation of indigenous Americans is beyond me. Then again, I shouldn’t be overly critical, since I have a Chief Wahoo logo tattooed on my shoulder. I guess I have no point.

The pseudo-Aztec hotel room mirror – I would have checked to see whether it was real copper, but I didn’t have my Mohs hardness kit handy.

Disney did, thankfully, stick to native plants when landscaping the grounds. Here’s a beautiful flowering cluster of Sagittaria lancifolia bordering one of the ponds (yes, the college education can come in handy every now and then):

While channel-surfing in the hopes of finding TBS (the hotel didn’t have a channel guide – I guess since neither the Conquistadores nor the Aztecs had a channel guide, the powers-that-be decided hotel guests don’t need one either) so we could watch the Cavs, we came across a repeating loop of ads for something called Scratch & Dent World, featuring a trailer-trash spokeswoman with a plaid dress, a knee brace, a mullet, and an overly exuberant disposition. It’s difficult to describe the lunacy of these ads. Luckily, someone was kind enough to post a YouTube clip of the same ads for the Daytona branch:

As mesmerizing and inexplicably enjoyable as the Scratch & Dent World ads were (admit it: you want to watch them again!), the highlight of my two-day stay in DisneyTown was a Tarantinoesque discussion D-Wright and I had regarding the propriety of tipping a hotel chambermaid. We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure this out – we really needed D-Wright’s better half to help us, but she was back in Hiram burning her bras. For me, the tipping issue is pretty simple. If the person providing whatever service is paid commensurately with the value of the service, no tip is needed. This is why, for example, tipping 20% when going to a restaurant here in the States is not only common but actually expected – if I get a $50 check after a meal, very little of that money goes to the waiters and waitresses that work at the restaurant, because their wages are laughable. In Europe and South America, on the other hand, tipping a waiter 20% is unheard of, because their wages are actually quite good. I use this criterion whenever I try to figure out whether to tip someone. Waiters and waitresses = yes; girl who cuts my hair = yes; nurse who fondles my bean bag while asking me to cough = no (she should pay ME for the “privilege”). My problem with the chambermaid tipping issue is that I have no idea how much chambermaids are paid. I explained this reasoning to D-Wright, and he promptly settled the problem by surmising that chambermaids made horrible wages because of, and I quote, “their highly probable non-legal immigrant status.” Man, I’m still laughing over that description. Oh-by-the-way, I ended up leaving a $10 tip.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

All hail The Sweater Vest

As one who lived through the all-too-painful John Cooper years, I haven't the words to describe my delight. Since The Sweater Vest took over the coaching reins at THE Ohio State University, we've won a National Championship (an outright championship, might I add, and not some pathetic, mythical, "shared" championship) and dominated The Greatest Rivalry In American Sports by going 6-1 versus the hated Michigan Wolverines. The Sweater Vest's run of success is nothing short of a-maize-ing, and next year's team promises to be ridiculously loaded. Michigan, on the other hand, can be thankful that neither Mike "I'll come back my senior year because I promise to beat the Buckeyes" Hart nor Chad "11-for-34 passing" Henne will be with the team next year.

Here's a little celebratory ditty by my fave Columbus band:

O...H...I...O !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Thirteen random things I've learned from watching the NFL

  • Puffing cheeba is infinitely more rewarding than making millions of dollars for playing a game.