Monday, July 30, 2018

More to Find Than Can Ever Be Found

Or Whiskey Before Boarding


Our family has an ongoing joke that our girls can never get a straight answer from Shannon and Ryan on what we like in a restaurant.  It always ends up going into a full on Travel Channel styled debate on quality control, menu selection, service, and value.  But we enjoy it.  Shannon of course just wants the best food and a great glass of Pinot and isn't worried about price.  For Ryan though, enjoyment (as with many things in his life) is always a bit nebulous and grounded in value.  Meaning, Ryan loves a good Filet Mignon but would rather have a great $25 filet with pretty good service over an $80 orgasmic filet.  Well maybe Filet Mignon is not a good illustration as an $80 velvet textured filet that you can spread with your tongue is a rare and beautiful thing like other things that are so tender you can spread with you tongue.  But anyway, any answer from Ryan on "do you like this place daddy?" is clouded in price vs value, along with presentation, choices of sides, service, and other accouterments that nobody (and certainly not my daughters) care about.

Anyway, a few weeks ago we found our way meandering through Orlando with a few hours to kill ahead of boarding a homeward flight from ORD to BWI.  Orlando means Disney and Disney is a second home to my girls.  On a quick count I believe we've been to Disney (Cali, Florida, and cruise included) fifteen (15) times since they were born.  Wait, this past time was probably the 16th and I'm probably forgetting one or two.  Anyway, we are addicted to Disney.  And because I'm who I am and we are who we are and this blog is what it is, I am addicted to determining the best, most efficient, and affordable way to enjoy Disney and then to, of course, blog about it.

Btw, here are my past Disney Posts:

Celtic Dance at Raglan Road
     The Rides - Where's Your Laughin' Place
     Places to Eat (and Pee) - Second Star to the Right
     Special Ryan Suggestions - How Do You Do
     More Ryan Special Suggestions - A Pirate's Life for Me
     Ryan in Cali - Scary Monsters

So over the past few visits we have decided that our new favorite restaurant in Disney World is Raglan Road located within Disney Springs.  Raglan Road has it all for Ryan:  good reasonably priced food, great service, inspiring music, and smokin' hot Irish dancers!

What you end up with a happy environment, a warm atmosphere, solidly good food not at Victoria and Albert's pricing, and a free show!  Who doesn't like free, especially at Disney.  Doesn't Irish music and those quick footed Irish dancers just make life seem great!?  And when they are so close to you and so cute, all the better (dancers and musicians)!  At our last visit we got to see these dancers and the Briste Band who are one talented group of cute Irish lassies!  Yes, during your visit you will laugh, cry, drink, maybe be kicked, maybe fall down from too much drink but you will leave full and happy.

Chicken Pot Pie - YUM!
So Raglan Road comes out punching for pleasure from the time you sit down.  First tasting action is the amazing Irish soda bread with their special Guinness Dipping Sauce that, with the beer and Brown Sugar, is delightfully tangy and sweet (just like those quick stepping dancers)!  I would definitely consider an appetizer at this place.  There are many to choose from including salads and some great seafood (and yes they have wings if you just can't break free from your Yankee ways).  We like the Smokie City which is a creamy baked haddock spread with potatoes and tomatoes enjoyed over crispy toasted baguette.  By now Shannon half way through her first glass of Pinot.  Ryan does have to bail on authenticity here as he has never been one of those bitter brown beer dudes.  I admit I have to punt and do a lager.  For the true of beer connoisseur Raglan Road does have beer flights and true Irish imports.

If you don't have a big appetite, many of the appetizers and salads can sub in for center of the plate.  Shannon loves their Irish Egg, the scallops on the appetizer menu can make a meal, and if you are a little too chichi, fru fru, or simply Continental you can go with their Goat Cheese terrine with shallots and shiitake mushrooms over mixed greens.

Ryan is not a real heavy eater so when I'm going to Raglan Road I try to not eat all day and save up for some real gluttony.  I am simple and love the Chicken Pot Pie (often a special) or the Guinness Beef Stew.  The pies are warm and hearty with the savory mushrooms and Irish root vegetables making the dish as much as the main protein feature.  The creamy filling in contrast to the crisp scratch pie crust creates a delightful distinction yet balance to your palate.  You have to have the Colcannon Mashed Potatoes as a side.  I'm not a big veggie eater but the fresh bacon & almond roasted brussels are a rare way to get me to eat those typically nasty things.  The parsnips are nice and Irishy too!  Be careful the portions are mighty!  The Roast Chicken will feed a small army and if you have your kiddies along they do make a decent burger.  If you do feel like you have to experience tasteless Brit food they do have the obligatory fish and chips and bangers and mash (or in Raglan's case and booze).

Dessert is a Irish drama as there is so much to choose from including Fluffy Lemon Clouds, Sinful Chocolate Smothered Cake, Tart Berry trifles, and apple crumb cake.  I'm always a sucker for bread pudding so that is typically my desire.  But no worries you can go with a min-dessert flight which is typically how the Beaumont's roll.  If you are not merry enough yet pair that dessert with a Bailey Irish coffee or a silky smooth port.

By now you are full of food and full of drink and dance, nothing can get you down; even if you have to board a plane and go home.

So next time you are a Disney and you don't have an eternity of money (or time) then just click your heels, say Erin Go Bragh, and head over to Raglan Road and enjoy!







And enjoy the fact that while food and spirits may not be the meaning of life they sure do give meaning to life!



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

As Soon as You Get it You Want Something New


I started this post about a year after I started my blog but have never used it.  It's lived on a flash drive in my office desk in dormancy.  And now, as I am determined to bring this blog to closure and am in dire need of content, I am bringing it out.  In my first blog entry I wrote that my fantasy job would have been a sportswriter.  I do think I am a decent writer.  I minored in English in college and did write sports for my high school and college newspapers.  My English minor was in technical writing though so with that and coupled with my training in the 5 W’s and H from Journalism I tend to be an efficient writer specializing in a bullet pointed “less is more” style.  This blog has given me the chance to expand myself to flesh out the writing in order to build characters and stories.  When I started writing the blog I first wrote in a Word document.  At one point I realized that the Word doc was over 100 pages, well on its way to being book-sized!

I think I also mentioned in an earlier blog entry that I had some ideas of stories that I had partially written in my mind over the years.  So with that in mind I would like to throw out one of my story ideas here for some critical feedback.  Now that I know I have the ability to produce 100+ pages of junk, why not take a stab at a novel!

To set the story line up I will say that this was inspired by personal experiences or perhaps more accurately thoughts and feelings.  Several years ago while mired in a career crisis in the Midwest I had the opportunity to interview for a job at my alma mater.  This was a perfect job and I knew I would be a good fit.  Furthermore a former boss who hired me out of college at another business was now at my alma mater and would be my bosses’ boss at the university if I was hired.

This was a slam dunk, a done deal in my mind – Shannon and I were already thinking about what schools our girls would attend, what neighborhood we would live in.  It was very exciting and a rare escape from an island of discontent into a truly better world.

So I prepared and prepared for the interview.  I psyched myself up and nailed the many interviews I had over the course of a full day.  At the end of the day I was talking to my former boss who I considered to be a mentor and friend.  I just casually asked if there were any internal candidate as it had not been mentioned beforehand which tends to be professional courtesy.  He said there was an internal candidate but nothing had been decided ahead of time.  Of course my mind raced, I had spoken with ever person involved with the operation – which one was the “internal?”  There was one guy about my age who was very professional and seemed very motivated and energetic.  In fact I had connected with him a bit.  He had a young daughter, about my daughter’s age and was a single dad (where the mom was did not come up obviously).

Of course that ended up being the guy who got the job.  I was beyond crushed but I couldn’t help feeling a bit happy for the guy.  This was the opportunity of a lifetime for him and would set him and his daughter up for life.  Such a strange and difficult paradox to deal with on a personal level but I am always intrigued by paradox.

And so some time later as I pondered my feelings I envisioned a movie around this storyline.  Of course just interviewing for a job and not getting it is of no interest to anyone.  But throw in anticipation, desperation, aspiration, dejection, anger, sorrow, love, hate, fear, yada, yada and you have the makings of a murder mystery story around this same plot.  Of course I will change scenery, names, careers, etc. to make it more interesting.  And of course I am not really crazy so I have never actually thought about making fiction reality here. J  But I do think it is a good story idea.  So what follows will be my attempt to put that story into an initial script outline so to speak.

By the way, I'm a little late to the game now that Netflix has scored big with Last Chance U.  I am a total addict to that show as it hits close to home.


Fourth and Long (or Two Minute Warning):

The Background:

Dalton Drakeford is the archetypical All-American guy.  He is from Santa Cruz, CA.  His dad, Duke Drakeford (“Double D” to his friends), was a legendary high school football coach from the area.  Double D was famous for being ahead of his time for his high energy, wide open, throw it all over the field style offenses. Dalton was his greatest quarterback.  Dalton was all everything in high school and went on to play quarterback and star at Northern California State University (mythical).  He had a great career and was All-Conference and Academic All-American.  He did get some pro try-outs but in the end although “mobile and cagy – the typical coaches son” he was a bit undersized to make it in the pros.  But that didn’t matter because as his dad told him “it’s time to move onto your life’s work.”  And that was to be a coach, the path he always knew he would take from the day people started calling him “Double D Jr.”  Additionally he was now engaged to his college sweetheart Katie.  Katie is a beauty from Northern California as well and was majoring in Elementary Education.  They were excited to start a life together eagerly awaiting the path of success that undoubtedly lay ahead.

Hell-a-Good Hair Coach T as DD Jr.

Early on Dalton and Katie’s life charted according to plan.  Dalton stays on at NCSU as a graduate assistant while Katie finishes school.

Note:   underpaid graduate assistant is usually the necessary entry into college athletics and even at that you usually need to have connections to get that first opportunity but of course Dalton always had plenty of connections.

Could be Katie or cute adviser from LCU
After Katie and Dalton finish there degrees Dalton gets that first full time opportunity as a position coach at Omaha State University (mythical) in the Mid-West where his old quarterback coach at NCSU had gone to become the head coach.  Life away from California is difficult but Dalton loves being fully dedicated and Katie knows this is the sacrifice that needs to be made to get Dalton started on that career path that will undoubtedly land him that Pac-10 coaching job by his mid-30’s.  For the meantime Katie is content to be a wife and a kindergarten teacher and of course she is excited to plan for the family she dreams of.

Dalton becomes somewhat of a guru on recruiting in the Mid-West, particularly that great JUCO talent base throughout the Plains.  Over the next 8 years Dalton moves three times to progressively better jobs and eventually is the offensive coordinator at Texas Panhandle State (mythical) a top notch FCS school.  He is now on the verge of being a head coach.  But upon sending out feelers about some head coaching opportunities at the D-I level he gets feedback that his biggest detriment is that he has never been the “top guy,” that he needs some actual “head coaching experience.”  Isn’t that always the catch how do you get the job when you can never get the experience.

On a whim a colleague suggests he go interview for “that opportunity at Oklahoma Panhandle Junior College.  It’s a solid if not great program with great potential.  If you can turn it around there it will build your resume and give you that experience you need.  With your energy you should be able to turn that program around in 3 years and be on your way.”


So Dalton and Katie are now off to a small town in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  At 32 now Dalton is not exactly a youngster but this should get him at least a “Mid-Major” head coaching job by 35.  And then it would be on to the big-time.

Of course the best laid plans don’t always work.  Three years turn to 5 and Dalton is still at OPJC and the turn around isn’t as easy as it seemed.  And now he is not the up and comer, he is starting to be the guy who can’t get things turned around.  It’s not that the team is awful; it’s just that a 27-23 record over 5 years with no bowl games just doesn’t turn heads.  And for coaches on the fast track as they say “just win baby.”  So the big time slowly gets farther and farther away like the tide going out after midnight.  The folks in the OPJC community do love Dalton and Katie and they would be welcome there indefinitely.  The good side is no pressure here for championships; the downside is when do you let mediocrity become satisfactory.


But as Dalton starts preparing for spring football again he sees that the Offensive Coordinator at Northern Cal has just left to take the head coaching job at Colorado Tech.  And Dalton knows that Coach C at NCSU is near retirement.  The guy that gets that Offensive Coordinator job now might be on an inside track to being the Head Coach in just a few years.  Yes, these are the fates determining his direction.  Dalton calls Coach C about the opportunity and they have a great conversation.  Coach C is glad Dalton is interested and encourages him to apply.

Soon after the call Dalton gets his chance to interview.  He and Katie are ecstatic.  They begin earnest discussions on what neighborhood to live in, where are the best schools.  Dalton’s mom and dad are cautiously optimistic but all are happy.

The interview goes well although Dalton is a little underwhelmed by the reception at NCSU.  Coach C was certainly glad to see him and asked a lot of questions about Katie, the kids, his dad, etc.  It was more like a family reunion than an interview, should he be worried about that?  The team of assistant coaches, while certainly cordial and respectful, didn’t seem really excited to meet him.  Perhaps he is just being conceited.  He did leave NCSU 13 years ago, for most of these coaches he is just a name on the wall of letter winners and just another guy trying to score a great coaching opportunity.  A few days after the interview Dalton has a follow up call with Coach C and he finds out that one of the offensive coaches he met (Jim Bergsten) has also applied for the job.  Coach C says “nothing has been decide yet and that nothing is a slam dunk, I’ll be in touch in about a week to keep you posted”
Of course one week turns to two and then two and a half and finally Dalton calls Coach C.  Apparently the job was offered to Jim and they were working out the details.  Coach C is sorry and says he was going to call later in the week.  He says he wishes he had 2 jobs “because we would love to have you on board.  But with your experience you will land something soon.  Best of luck to you and stop by whenever you’re in town.”

So there it is the dream over, no plan B – only reality back to Western Oklahoma.  But how does one feel when your dreams die - sad, angry, happy for Jim (he did seem like a great guy), glad we don’t have to move the kids half way across the county (rationalizing)?

The main point though – one guy, good or bad, stands between Dalton and the life he had dreamed of since he was a boy!

Dalton goes back to work, spring football starts in one week but this year he has little motivation.  He is all consumed by the lost opportunity – his lost opportunity and how to feel about it.

Then one night he has the dream.  In the dream he travels back to NCSU and removes the road block, the guy standing in the way from HIS life.  Just a little accident, something that could easily happen on one of those windy Northern California ocean-view drives.  And with the road block removed, he is back on track.  A horrible act to be sure but one deal with the devil and then a lifetime making up and enjoying the good life he was destined for.

Main Cast:

Dalton Drakeford                   Luke Wilson
Katie Drakeford                      Elizabeth Banks
Duke Drakeford                      Scott Glenn

Coach C                                  Bruce McGill
Jim Bergsten                           Paul Rudd
President NCSU                      James Cromwell

Story Progression:

The story would be in medias res.  The opening scenes will be set in a dream-like sequence just after Dalton has apparently acted on his dream.  From there, the story will alternate between the recent past to include the lead up to the interview, the rejection after the interview, the planning of the act, and then the act alternating with flash-backs to his life growing up, in-college, meeting Katie, playing at NCSU, and his coaching career through his years at OPJC.

Ultimately at the end we are brought back to the present which will be just after the act.  There will be another scene where Dalton wakes up from a dream in a pool of sweat and we will be left to wonder if the entire story of the act is in fact a dream.

The story could be left there if you want an Indie-style movie.  Perhaps sirens sounding in the background or a police officer at the door and we are left to wonder if he has been caught.

For a Hollywood ending Dalton would wake up, realize it was a dream, realize the thought is horrible, and then go off to practice feeling a bit better while breathing a sigh of relief and determined to “gut it out and persevere like his dad would.”

Once at practice his assistant would say “good mornin’ coach, hey coach, there is a message for you from Bobby DeLoss at Colorado Tech.”  The assistant says, “isn’t he the new coach there?  He must be needin’ some quick fixes from the JUCO ranks, you think Jefferson or Marshall (OPJC players) could play at the FBS level?”

Dalton walks slowly to his office sighs and then dials the number on the note left on his desk.  The secretary at the CTU football office politely answers and says “Hello Coach Drakeford, Coach DeLoss was looking forward to your call, he said put you through as soon as I hear from you.”

A few seconds later the husky but energetic voice of Coach DeLoss answers the phone “Coach Drakeford, thanks for calling!  Hey, I was just on the phone with Coach C up at Northern Cal; you know I worked for him over there!  He says I need to be talking to you about the new offense I want to put in here at CTU!  I know you were disappointed…… (conversation continues but slowly fades away).”  Dalton slowly turns in his seat while listening to look out of his office window onto the OPJC football field as players in practice uniforms make there way onto the field.

…..Dalton:  “Sure Coach DeLoss, Katie and I would love to visit CTU when would you like to see us.”

The End