Monday, May 26, 2008

In Which I Make Good On A Promise, Excuse My UnforgiveableNegligence, Discuss The Fleeting Nature Of Money And Praise My Courageous Gentile Forebears.

Note: There is apparently a maximum number of letters and spaces in a Blogger Title and I ran out of them between Unforgiveable and Negligence.

Yesterday, I said I'd write a real blog entry today, so...make good on a promise? Check!

Excuse my negligence? I'll admit that even though GF and I took a little overnight trip right into the very backyard of certain UCFers, I neglected to tell no meeting up occurred. In my defense, we made this plan at the very last minute and really wanted to just get away together for a little trip. Hence, I excuse, not apologize. Check!

So where did we go on our little trip? Mystic, CT. It's a really cute little town about 3 hours away from Brooklyn. We chose this destination with two things in mind. I'll get to those shortly. On the drive up, I realized we'd be passing through Bridgeport right about lunchtime. I spent a considerable amount of time in Bridgeport when we were shooting Pistol Whipped and there's a restaurant there that I like quite a lot. Ralph 'N Rich's is really terrific and if you're in the area, I recommend it. GF had the french dip sandwich; I had the linguine with white clam sauce; we each had a cocktail and desert. Niether of us could finish what we ordered because Ralph 'N Rich's does not skimp on the portions. Everything was excellent, but soon we discovered that the only attainable goal here would be to not embarrass ourselves by making sure we'd eaten enough to make a respectable dent in the meal. I don't know how long I was eating before you could see any evidence that the dish had a bottom. Did I mention that Ralph 'N Rich's isn't cheap? Eighty bucks including tip. Hey, we were on vacation. A little decadence is called for.

On to the first reason we chose Mystic as a destination. Mystic is just down the road a little way from Foxwoods Casino. We really didn't want care about staying at the casino and by the time we were looking for reservations, the only rooms they had were going for $489 per night, but we do like playing, off to the casino. (I've already broken the ice on the fleeting nature of money, but here's where you get to see it really fly.)

I usually like to start at slot machines because it doesn't call for any thought. I quickly managed to lose $40 at the quarter slots. At one point I was winning, but you don't win unless you get up and walk away before you give it all back.

Then, off to the roulette tables. How'd that go? Um, not so good. I don't think either of us was winning significantly at any time, and we contributed more to the no-longer-so-needy Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation's coffers. Let me take a moment here to say that I never expect to win at a casino and decide, in advance how much I'm willing to lose (i.e. pay for the entertainment of playing). The only machine in a casino that's guaranteed to pay off is the ATM.

At this point, we split up for a while. I went to the craps table and GF went to the penny slots. BTW, penny slots are really deceptive, because by the time you choose all of the available lines to play, and how many pennies to play per line, you're betting $1.40 on each spin. That's OK. GF won 246,000 pennies. I had a good run at the Craps table too. I won almost $500 which put me comfortably back on the plus side for the day.

At about 7:00, we decided to go look for dinner. I'll stop here for a second to say that Foxwoods is a huge place. There are 4 or 5 casinos and a bazillion restaurants ranging from food-court style up to really fine dining and everything in between. Some casino/resorts are to be avoided at all costs on a holiday weekend, but even when it's busy, Foxwoods is big enough that you never have trouble finding a seat at a game or in a restaurant. We went to a really good place that I didn't bother finding out the name of. I had prime rib (hit it over the head and bring it to the table), and GF had grilled salmon. The second excellent meal of the day. And considerably cheaper than lunch.

So, we stuck around for a few more hours after dinner and played some more and won some and lost some and I actually came very close to breaking even. We had a lot of fun and then decided to call it a night and go check into our hotel. Note: I had printed mapquest directions to the hotel, but between the fact that they've been rebuilding the roads around Foxwoods pretty much non-stop since the place opened and the fact that Connecticut's attitude toward street signs, is "If you don't know where you are, you don't deserve to be here", we had a little difficulty finding the hotel. By some miracle, though, we only made one wrong turn, corrected that quickly and soon found ourselves in a lovely room watching a laughable Steven Seagal movie. Under Siege, if you must know and I can totally go the rest of my life without seeing Gary Busey in drag again. Just sayin'.

So, we slept in and then went off to do touristy stuff in Mystic. We walked around the town a little bit and walked into a couple of touristy shops where we had no intention of buying anything and just generally wasted time for a couple of hours. You might be interested to know that because of geography, some of the stores here seem to divide themselves into being stores for Red Sox fans or stores for Yankees fans. One store gave them equal shelf space and I lost all respect for them about two steps into the front door.

I don't know why I was so impressed by their drawbridge, but I was.

The humongous concrete counterweights only miss that roof on the left by a few inches.

And I never did see what was going through that was tall enough to require the bridge to go up. I'm sure there was something, but I never saw it.

Next we went to the Mystic Seaport Museum. I think we were there about 10 years ago, and frankly, at the time, it was pretty small and cheesy. That's kind of what I expected to see again, but we had other reasons for going there, which I'll get to soon. But, the place has been massively expanded in those 10 years, and it's really quite impressive these days. It's a recreation of a 19th century fishing village and it's big enough now that saying village isn't a joke anymore. It's pretty cool and worth a visit.

Anyway, we started by touring the place and walking into a few more shops to look at stuff and say snarky things like "Do we need a crab shaped backscratcher?" No. We did consider buying one of these squeeky lobsters for the kitties, but since they have the attention span of dust and a crumpled of sheet of paper is a great toy, we decided they didn't really need one.

We also saw this Marine and his new bride (with photographer and waitress carrying the champagne and flutes). Can't see 'em? They're there, really. It's just that the camera started acting up right about now and chose to shut itself off instead of taking additional pictures when they got closer.

We toured one of the whaling ships.

Look, it's a whaling ship.

After walking around for a while and looking at a bunch, but, by no means all of the 19th century villagey stuff, we got around to the true purpose of our visit...eating lobster. The Mystic Rotary Club was having a fund raiser and serving up the first lobsters of the season. Yum!

Here's the ticket for my lunch. Between admission to the museum and tickets for lobster lunches, I shelled out 72 more bucks. Did I ever tell you that once, while working on a movie in Cincinnati, GF and I flew to NY for the weekend. I say, for the weekend, but the only reason I wanted to go was to have dinner at Peter Luger. I'll travel for a meal. Everything else is just icing on the to speak.

So, here's where we get to the part about my courageous Gentile Forebears. Who was the first guy to look at one of these things and think it might be good to eat. I imagine the first attempts involving teeth being broken on the shell. Then I imagine someone figured out to hit it with a rock to get at the stuff inside. With the lack of fire, I doubt that was a very successful exercise either. Sooner or later, though, somebody figured out how to cook the things. And then, with the discovery of butter, the whole thing was perfected. Damn, they were good, and I tip my hat to those who came before me, so that I could reap the benefit of their disgusting first experiments with crustaceans.

Also, witness the evidence of two different strategies for eating corn on the cob. GF uses the typewriter platen method whereas I go for the rotary style.

On the way back to NY, we stopped off at one of the Outlet Malls along I-95. I'm not sure they're really such a great bargain, but we bought some stuff anyway. One of the stores we went into was a Kitchen gadget store...because you can never have enough kitchen gadgets. We got some new kitchen towels, a juicer, a little doohickey for chopping garlic and a flat grater. GF also picked up a set of measuring spoons labeled 'dash', 'pinch' and 'smidgeon'. This offended me as I don't think those measure have been standardized and that the manufacturer is just making shit up. GF looked gave me 'the look' and said, "It's not like we ever actually measure anything anyway".

Apologies to anyone who read this before I caught all the typos and stuff. Hope I got 'em all.


Tom said...

Nathan, that sounds like a fabulous trip. I've never been to Foxwoods, but you make me want to go.

I love Mystic. My Mom came up from Texas to donate some family stuff to the museum, and we were treated like royalty. I've been there a number of times, both with friends and by myself. There's a fudge shop in the tourist shop that I regularly stop at, and, believe it or not, Mystic Pizza makes a really good pizza.

The family stuff Mom donated related to our ancestor who was a shipbuilder in the Mystic area around the late 1700s. He built the ship that Nathaniel Palmer was sailing when he discovered Antarctica around 1820. It was a 47' sloop (single mast) named "Hero". Can you imagine sailing a single-masted ship from Connecticut to Antarctica when nobody even knew it was there?

I don't know if John will forgive you for being in his back yard without notice, but I will. It would be great to meet you sometime, but that is enough of an excuse to make another trip sometime.

Thanks for the extended post!

Anonymous said...
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Nathan said...

See Tom, that's another reason I have to give notice when I'm going somewhere. If I had, I'd have known to look for the stuff with the "Donated by Tom's Mommy" plaques. :)

That's actually a very cool connection.

Steve Buchheit said...

Took my Mom to Mystic when we went to Connecticut for my cousin's HS graduation. This was about six years ago. Things were an awful mess, and both of us were using canes (Mom's back and I was getting over my broken leg). So it's good to know it's gotten better. There was a little lobster shack up the road you drive down to the harbor that we got lunch at. Lobster roll, mm mm.

John the Scientist said...

Connecticut's attitude toward street signs, is "If you don't know where you are, you don't deserve to be here"

And New York's isn't? But I agree. You also need to drive up here in the winter and experience out solar powered snow removal program in the Eastern end of the state.

You are forgiven for not letting me know. We were not much in the mood for socializing this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great road trip.

By coincidence, we, too, were hitting the Indian casino... although ours was 3,096 miles away, according to Google Maps. And, ours involved razor clam steaks (chewy!) rather than lobster.

Looks like a great trip! Thanks for the pics.