Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm 3 Today!

Today is the 3rd anniversary of The Disney Obsession and I thought I'd like to say two things about blogging.

The first is this. Blogging is not easy. I have over the course of these three years come to appreciate the time it takes to compose a blog. There are some who have taken their passion for Disney, placed it into the format of a blog, and then taken it to a level that I can only dream of. This is not me. I do well to have ten items posted each month and maintain that solely because I set myself a goal of doing so. Thankfully my love of photography and giving myself a little latitude on content helps me to do this. But knowing how time consuming the research and writing of a good blog can be, I do wish to commend all those Disney bloggers who make the effort to provide you and me with consistently good content.

The second is this. Blogging has expanded my circle of friends and I know that whenever I find myself in Walt Disney World (which is not as often as I wish), I usually have the opportunity of sharing a few hours with a number of different people. But when I am not there, the friendships continue. In the course of these three years I have developed a few very close friendships and while distance keeps us from visiting often, they are the type of friendships that I feel would develop into the kind of friendship where I could call anytime day or night and they'd be there. I know that I would be there for them. Friends is the best part of working away at The Disney Obsession. It is a way of honoring the friendships that I have gained and have yet to gain by sharing a passion for Disney.

So to my old friends, new friends and friends yet to be made, thanks for reading. I promise to keep working at this and who knows, from time-to-time, I may actually come up with something that will make you stop and say, "Huh!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

Where In The World

Well campers, it's time to update Where In The World. That means we announce the winner of the last contest and post a new photograph for your enjoyment. But first, the congratulations.

On September 7th we reposted a photograph captured from the my new Canon Vixia HF-M31. Dude (that is how the person commenting identified themselves) correctly identified the capture as coming from the Great Movie Ride Gangster Alley scene. What does that mean? Only bragging rights until the next photograph is guessed. And speaking of the next photograph, here it is. Where In The World would you find this?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

And The Survey Says... Dole Whip

Last Saturday we asked the question, "Of these two, which do you prefer?" The choices were the ever popular Mickey Bar and the cold refreshing Dole Whip. Fourteen readers opined this week and the survey says, Dole Whip. Nine people (64%) chose the Dole Whip while the other five (36%) selected the Mickey Bar. Honestly, with these two, they are both winners. Now, to our next poll.

Here is the scenario. You find yourself in the Walt Disney World area and you have one day to go the parks. You can only choose one park. Which one do you go to? Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios or Disney's Animal Kingdom?

The results next Saturday.

A Sign Its Saturday

And while strolling through the France Pavilion, who is it that doesn't enjoy seeing this sign? Ah, vue magnifique!

Friday, September 24, 2010

...if i lived in central florida i'd...

...walk slowly through the soarin' queue (several times) just to listen to background loop. great loop! oh, and i'd soar a few times as well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dining With Doc: Walt Disney's Own Chili and Beans

Yesterday marked the first day of Fall. It is time when the mornings and evenings are cooler and our thoughts turn to football, baseball pennant runs and the October classic. It is a time when we clean our fireplaces, stock in the good books and begin to change our wardrobes from Spring and Summer fashions to the treasured sweatshirts and sweaters of the season. We may also begin to relish those warm meals that indicate Fall is upon us. Which leads us to this weeks installment of Dining With Doc.

The week we turn to page 84 in "Cooking with Mickey and the Disney Chefs" and prepare Walt Disney's Own Chili and Beans. Let's start with the ingredients.
2 pounds of pinto beans, dry
2 medium onions, sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, diced
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To prepare the recipe you,

1. Wash and sort beans and soak overnight in cold water.
2. Drain beans and place in a 2-quart saucepan. Add fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Add sliced onion and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, until tender.
3. Heat oil in a large pan and saute garlic. Add beef and celery and cook until lightly browned. Add chili powder, paprika, and thyme. Mix in chopped tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
4. When beans are tender, combine with meat, stirring gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The recipe has a nice flavor but could use a good deal more salt and chili seasoning; at least to be more like how I think chili should taste. Yes, it says to add salt to taste but it is sometimes difficult to tell how much this should be. I was raised with chili carrying bit more spice. Yet, I did find the aroma quite pleasing. It is also quite filling. You'll notice that the recipe did call for 2 pounds of beans and these cook up to what would be a feast of pinto beans. Yet, the recipe says that the whole of the recipe yields 4 servings. Frankly, I am not prepared to, nor do I know many people who, set down to a 1/2 pound of cooked beans in a single setting. Let alone, the other ingredients that accompany such a large quantity of beans. For our family of two, the quantity is enough to enjoy a few evenings of chili and beans and then freeze a couple of containers to thaw and heat later in the season.
As to the seasoning, the recipe does suggest that those who are seeking a more spicy chili may want to consider adding 1/8 teaspoon each of coriander, turmeric, chili seeds, fennel, cloves, cinnamon and ground ginger. Dried hot pepper to taste is also suggested. Though I would prefer more seasoning, I opted to stay with the original recipe for this first sampling. For my future preparations I will spice it up. In fact, once I thaw a container, I may increase the seasoning to see how we like it.

If you're looking for recipe that will provide a few meals, I recommend spending a Saturday or Sunday afternoon preparing Walt Disney's Own Chili and Beans. Eat some once it is ready while watching a favorite Disney film and then save some for an evening when you just don't feel like cooking.

Bon appetite.

And one last thing...
Doc in the Kitchen 09.22.10

Monday, September 20, 2010

Disney World After Dark: France

It should come as no surprise that the France Pavilion in Epcot is my favorite place to be along the World Showcase. I think I may have written about from time to time. To help with this return to Disney World After Dark, I thought I'd reach back to 1991 and share a paragraph from the Steve Birnbaum Official Guide to Walt Disney World. This was time when Epcot was still known as EPCOT Center.

"Some interesting background notes: The dusty rose-colored, lace-trimmed costumes that the hostesses wear were inspired by the dresses in the Impressionist painter Edouard Manet's Le Bar aux Folies-Bergere, and the park to the west of the pavilion, with its tall Lombardy poplars, was inspired Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat's painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The main entrance to the pavilion recalls the architecture of Paris, most of which was built during the Belle Epoque ("beautiful age") years of the last half of the 19th century when, following the designs of city planner Baron Georges Eugene Haussman (he's also responsible for the master plan of Washington D.C.), thoroughfares were widened and 7 stories became the standard height for city buildings. The lane known as La Petite Rue ("the little street") is inspired by small provincial byways. the sinuously curved, Art Nouveau-style facade of the entrance to the arcade between La Signature and Plume et Palette ("pen and palette") recalls the entrances to Paris's great underground transportation system, the Metro. Don't miss the quiet garden on the opposite side of the this arcade - one of the most peaceful spots in World Showcase."

Steve Birnbaum Brings You the Best of Walt Disney World, Hearst Professional Magazines, 1990, pg. 141

I have spent a good deal of time in this pavilion and hope to enjoy many more hours in the years to come. The France pavilion asks you to slow down a bit, enjoy the atmosphere, the culture and the people.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

And The Survey Says... Jeremy Irons

We recently asked the question, "Of these three, who is your favorite Spaceship Earth narrator?" This being the first poll, the turnout wasn't great, but was enough to see a trend. Eleven readers, including myself, voted and 7 (63%) of you selected Jeremy Irons as your favorite. Four (36%) preferred Walter Cronkite, while Dame Judi has failed to endear herself to anyone taking the poll.

This week we ask a question that was popular on The Disney Obsession Facebook page:

Mickey Bar or Dole Whip?

Make your voice heard, take the poll to the right.

A Sign Its Saturday

Les Chefs de France is quite possibly my favorite restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. I say this not for the food, though I do think it is quite good and ranks among some of the best in Epcot. No, it is because of memories.

Les Chefs has been the venue for several great dinners with family, friends and alone. I recall dining there with my children and my grandmother only a few months after my grandfather died. This was the day my grandmother first looked at Spaceship Earth and said, "I never thought I'd live to see this site." I celebrated my pre-50th Birthday dinner in '07, my daughter's treat. This was the first time ever tried escargot. Add to that, watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth while enjoying the Creme Brulee and espresso was nice. This last year we celebrated my daughter-in-laws birthday at Chefs. Not only was it special because it was her birthday, but it was my grandchildren's introduction to the restaurant, making it five generations of my family to have dined there.

Some of you may recall a time not so many years ago when the promenade side of Les Chefs was fronted by a little establishment called Au Petit Cafe. Many journeys along the World Showcase would include a stop under the canopy. There I'd find a table and enjoy a nice Assiette de fromages de France or Soupe a l'oignon Gratinee usually accompanied by a nice cab. Not quite the Champs Elysees, but nice. In truth, I believe the enclosure of the Cafe, while it added tables to Les Chefs, took away a little something from the pavilion. I would welcome the return of a sidewalk cafe to this little piece of France.

I look forward to my next visit to the World and the opportunity to enjoy a nice meal before IllumiNations with my Little Mermaid - my granddaughter.

More to follow...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dining With Doc: Intermission

For those of you checking out the blog expecting to see another installment of Dining with Doc, let me apologize. It was my intention to cook last night and have a nice article posted this morning for your enjoyment. Sadly, that is not case.

A family emergency has taken my wife out of town and I prefer to cook when she is able to enjoy it. She encouraged me to go ahead and share something simple, like the PB&J Shake from the 50s Prime Time Cafe. But again, I like sharing these things with my wife before I share them with you; even though she is not a fan of the PB&J Shake.

She'll be back in town on Monday and I'll have something cooked up to share with you next week. And since it will be the first day of Fall, why not try something like Walt Disney's Own Chili and Beans? In the meantime, I hoped you enjoyed reading my 300th post.

More to follow...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Sign Its Saturday

I believe for the month of September, I'll stay in France. Along the World Showcase, I think that Morocco is the most photographic pavilion, followed by China, but France will always be my favorite. As I mentioned last week, and on other occasions, it is here that my love for Walt Disney World was rekindled.
This Saturday, the Arcade. In the France Pavilion, entering the Arcade provides you with access to La Signature and the Plume Et Palette. It also acts as a passage to Character Meet and Greet opportunities.

The sign is patterned after signage used to mark entrances and exits to the Metropolitan, or Metro in Paris. Many of the Metro signs that you see around city are influenced by the Art Nouveau style of art and architecture popular during the turn of the 20th Century. This particular example found in the pavilion finds its influence from the entrance of the Abbesses Station in the Montmartre area of the city. The station was opened October 31, 1912.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Belcourt & Waking Sleeping Beauty

The last film I saw at the Belcourt Theatre was the 1981 John Boorman film Excalibur. I remember enjoying the film but thought the friendship between Arthur and Lancelot could have been explored in greater depth. Prior to that, I remember seeing Tora Tora Tora with my father in 1970. Sadly, the advent of cinema multiplexes made going to the Belcourt unnecessary, what with the variety of choices the multiplex can offer and the convenience that our society demands. The Belcourt simply got lost.

But that has changed! The Belcourt is now Nashville's film art house. It is the last of the Nashville neighborhood theaters to remain operational and offers Nashvillians a steady diet of independent, foreign and classic films. It also serves as an intimate concert and live theater venue. Last night, and all this past week, it has played host to Waking Sleeping Beauty.

Directed by Don Hahn and released March 26th of this year, Waking Sleeping Beauty was a film that I strongly wanted to see but didn't think a middle-market city like Nashville would attract. I am happy to be wrong about that. As the tag line states, 'From 1984 to 1994 a perfect storm of people and circumstances changed the face of animation forever." And this is true. It was refreshing to retrace the steps that gave us The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. It was a unique perspective on the personalities and the processes that produced the 2nd Golden Age of Disney Animation.

But I was also struck by the Let It Be quality of the film. In Let It Be, The Beatles allowed us to see the toll that their genius took on the process of creating some of the world's greatest music. They did not attempt to hide or to sugar coat their personas to the world; it was what it was and that is what came out in the film. Waking Sleeping Beauty does this same thing to the creative energies of those riding that perfect storm of animated innovation. Yes, we see the playful nature of art but we also see the harsh realities of business. After all, as much as we, the consumers of Disney like to focus primarily on the joy that Disney brings through the parks, the films and the merchandize, we also know that it is a business. And business takes human casualties. Daily. I appreciate that Hahn gives us not only the creative process and the energy behind it, but also the human struggle, both good and bad, that brought these masterpieces to the screen. He doesn't endeavor to show us how we hoped it would be, but how it really was.

One poignant moment in the film is the presentation of the death of Howard Ashman. I must admit that I did not follow his career. Yes, I knew of his importance to the music and his contributions to the telling of the stories, but when it came to the films, I was drawn more to the visual elements. The music was integral, but it was not what held my attention. I say this so that I can tell you how moving this short portion of the film was. The relating of his death and the death of Frank Wells did caused my eyes to leak for a moment.

My only regret is that Don Hahn did not come with the film. I would have enjoyed a time of discussion afterwards to get more of his insights and to learn some of what the film did not capture through the interviews and the times when the camera was not rolling.

The film is slated for DVD release on November 30th. But should you check your local listings and see that Waking Sleeping Beauty is showing near you, go see it. It is a documentary, yes, but it does deserve to be seen on the big screen. At least I think so.

The Belcourt and Waking Sleeping Beauty. It was nice to become reacquainted with some old friends.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updating Where In The World

Some of you may recall the 07.26.10 installment of Where In The World. It featured this photograph:
The one thing that I love about this photograph is that it is captured from the my new Canon Vixia HF-M31 Hi-Def Video Camera. It does a very good job of capturing low-light scenes. I took a decent amount of low-light video during the camera's inaugural trip. Hopefully I'll be able to put together some decent video to share in the future.

But I digress. This image was captured from a video clip taken during that last trip to The World. A few days following the post, my friend Ryan Wilson offered this clue for those wishing to proffer a guess. He wrote, "You'd better hold on tightly to your purses and wallets."

So, with that, do you care to take guess on where you'd find this image?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Keeping Up Appearances

I have spent a good portion of this Labor Day morning taking care of some badly needed blog maintenance. I was pleased discover that Blogger now provides the ability to add Pages to the blog. This gives us the option of moving information, such as "About Me", blogs we recommend, and other items off the margins and onto a dedicated page. I also see that new templates are available.

What does this mean? It means, look for changes in the appearance of The Disney Obsession in the weeks and months to come. There are a new few templates I am considering. As for pages, I have added an About Me page, a Reading page which lists blogs I like to look at (along with links), and an On the Web page, providing resources, both official and unofficial, about Disney. I am also considering a Library page (books) and Listening page (music and podcasts) in the near future.

I hope you find these changes and additions helpful.

And, it seems there is a Stats tab that I can look at, which prompts me to say, thank you for visiting the blog! Without comments it is hard to tell if someone is visiting the blog and frankly, it can be discouraging to think no one is visiting. But Stats let's me know that people are stopping by and that is what keeps me, and other bloggers, going. So again, thank you!

More to follow...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Sign Its Saturday

This has got to be one of my most favorite signs in all of Walt Disney World. Okay, not as great as the signs marking your entrance to Walt Disney World property, but it is way up there. I suppose it all goes back to a day in the late '80s when my love for Disney was rekindled. It has its roots in this theatre, watching this film and listening to that soundtrack. Even now, the Saint-Saens still stirs my emotions.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dining With Doc: Cottage Pie

You may recall a film last year. Julie and Julia starred Amy Adams and Meryl Streep as Julie Powell and Julia Child. In the film, Julie undertook the daunting task of preparing every one of the 524 recipes in Julia's book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. And, she was going to complete in a single year and blog about her experience.

I liked the film. It, along with my wife and a few friends, has inspired me to start a similar journey. Though it will in no way compare to that of Julie Powell's. My journey will be to prepare one recipe every other week. It will be a recipe found in a Disney park or resort and found (most likely) in one of the Cooking with Mickey Cookbooks I've purchased over years. And since I have a blog, I thought I'd share it here. I'll call these little gastronomic gallivants, Dining with Doc.

For the this foray into the kitchen, we begin with Cottage Pie from the Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot. The recipe can be found on page 189 of Cooking with Mickey, Volume 2. We'll start with the ingredients.

1/4 cup of butter
1 cup diced onion
1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground savory
1 cup brown gravy
2 cups mashed potatoes
Additional butter
To prepare the dish:

1. Heat 1/4 cup of butter in a 9-inch skillet. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, stirring.
2. Add beef, salt, pepper and savory and continue cooking 5 minutes longer. Stir in gravy and heat until bubbling.
3. Spoon into a buttered 8-cup flat casserole dish. Top meat mixture with mashed potatoes. Dot with pieces of butter.
4. Bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned.
The result!

A few notes. First, finding ground savory was a problem - not a spice used that often in the mid-south so it isn't stocked in the main line groceries or super markets. You can use thyme or sage as a substitute. I used a mixture of some fresh thyme from my herb garden and little rubbed sage from the cupboard. Also, when I repeat the recipe (and I will), I'll remember to whip the potatoes a little less than I did this first time. I would have preferred them to be a bit thicker.

All in all, a good first outing. No one left the table looking for something else to eat.

I'm not sure what I'll be cooking up next time, but stayed tuned for the continuing adventures of Dining with Doc.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Let Me Recommend...

Let me draw you're attention to a blog I've been following of late. It is called The Relocated Tourist. It tells the story of Going from 'What If?' to 'Why Not!'. The blog chronicles the adventures of Carl and Ellie Peters and their daughters as they prepare to move to Central Florida to be close to the Magic.

Wow! They are preparing to live the dream that perhaps, many of us have.

In a recent post entitled 300 Days and Counting, they commemorated this milestone in their countdown by listing 300 things they are looking forward to once they have relocated. It is a great list and reminds me of my moments of daydreaming that I call "if i lived in central florida i'd..."

Stop by their site and take a look, and be sure to check in frequently. For those of us who harbor even the slightest hope of someday living within after work distance from the parks, their journey will inspire you.