Nov 242010
 

Why did I let this happen to me?

Once upon a time, a friend passed information to the group that the modest dwelling known as the Ruby Buffet was a good idea. Ruby, a precious stone that commemorates my birth month. Buffet, a not-so-guilty guilty pleasure. I’ve been known to talk up my buffet prowess, but those places had mashed potatoes. Ruby Buffet did not. But that’s besides the point. There was no way we could have salvaged the situation we got ourselves into. Let’s start at the beginning.

Upon entering the Ruby Buffet, I immediately knew it was a mistake. Must have been my woman intuition ringing. All I wanted to do was leave, but I was hanging out with the boys and a boy I must be. I ordered a coke, hoping that the quick access to its magical healing syrup would help undo any damage about to be done. Fat chance. It was time to slowly kill our bodies.

I circled the buffet a few times before I found the courage to start piling heaps of unappetizing food on my plate. Much to my luck, Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” was playing on the radio, and for that moment, I reveled in the fact that I was the only one in this hell hole who cared more about her than anything I could stuff my face with. Within her Ace Of Base/Madonna tribute, I found the strength.

Plate 1: Green beans, chicken teriyaki skewer, spring roll, pepper steakiness, general tso’s, garlic bread, crab and cheese puff and a pork dumpling.

The first thing I ate was the general tso’s. Big mistake. Not because it was bad, but because it was the only appetizing thing I put in my mouth in that entire establishment. Yeah, it was all downhill from there. The teriyaki stick was dry as a desert, the cheesy crab thing was just bizarre, the steak utterly confused my mouth and the dumpling simply made me sad. If there was a time for crying, it would be now, but there’s no crying in baseball. I held my breath, swallowed my dignity pride and moved on.

Plate 2: Corn, more green beans, another spring roll, chicken and broccoli, lo mein and some piece of fried something.

And the winner is.. CORN. That’s right. A stubby cob of corn was the winner of round 2. At this point I could hardly believe it. This plate was strategically planned as a proper get-my-fill-and-get-the-hell-out dinner, consisting of foods I had already tasted and trusted, and others that really couldn’t have been all that bad. So what the hell happened, green beans? You decide to suck over the course of a single serving? And you, spring roll. I trusted you. You betrayed me with your instant yuckiness. How did everything keep getting grosser? Time is not on this buffet’s side. As a matter of fact, I think this may be the buffet where other buffets go to die.

Plate 3: grapes, ?, ?,? ,?, birthday…cake?

While Curdo and Dreamz ventured on for a stupid third plate, Maahk and I threw in the towel…in the name of dessert! Finally, the night was looking up. I was braver than with the savory goods, simply because dessert is dessert, and I can’t complain. I sat down feeling avenged when Maahk popped a grape in his mouth and announced that even the fruit was disappointing. He was right. Upon my grape testing, I managed to crash the reunion of a family of pits and seeds. Bah. Once again a plate went to the kitchen barely touched.

Plate 4: ICE CREAM

Ah, the only plate I finished. I understand now why they put soft serve in these places. They have to make up for everything they just took away from you. Sadly, rainbow jimmies is enough to make me momentarily forget what horrible crimes that my friends and I committed upon ourselves.

Movie time: Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus

That, my friends, is the privileged view of a shark about to bite your plane. Now, I know the boys have all mentioned the display of shark plane biting, but I must reiterate that a fucking shark bites a plane!


Booyah!

So, it goes without saying that Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus was the best thing that could have happened to any of us that night. We were already in hell, might as well have stayed for a while.

Plot: Random turn of events puts us front row to the random rebirth of the Mega Shark and Giant Octopus, that apparently were at war with each other before they were frozen in mid-battle millions of years ago. Oh, and Debbie Gibson was there too. Because, really, who else can drive a submarine? From there on, these mega super destruct-o giants terrorize humanity by biting their planes and bridges and shit, before remembering how much they hate each other. Thus the official battle begins.

Worth Noting: I don’t want to go and give anything away because this movie has very little going for it already. But here’s a few details I enjoy pondering.

-Debbie Gibson changed her name to Deborah Gibson. You know, to legitimize herself. For that role. In Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus. Mmmmm, it makes my brain hurt so good!

-Someone pitched this to someone who gave them money. While the quality is not much greater than a floppy soupy brown finger painting, it cost more to make than your life is worth. Ouch!

-When Mega Shark and Giant Octopus finally get to fighting, Mega Shark’s only defense is to bite tentacles off. This happens twice. As in Giant Octopus’ legs magically grow back. Some may say this is shoddy repetition of already crappy CGI animation. I say it questions the biology of Giant Octopus, a mysterious being who can immediately rejuvenate its limbs. Fascinating! There’s so much we don’t know about the ocean.

-Science! Man, there’s so much science in this movie. Seriously. They’re all up in their labs and mixing test tubes of glowing liquids and shit. Plus, they’re so good at being super scientists, they don’t even have to measure anything. It makes me wonder what kind of science they’re actually doing. I have a hunch it’s magic (aka AWESOME).

-Despite the presence of Lorenzo Lamas, everything about Debbieorah Gibson makes me gag. How does she do it? Riveting performance.

I’m exhausted from re-visiting these memories that I had intended on forgetting. But if you’re interested, Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus is still available on Netflix Instant Watch (skip the meal!).

Nov 192010
 

It Begins…

The evening began as many of my evenings do, drinking at 12 Steps Down, a local bar located at 9th and Christan in South Philadelphia’s Italian Market. I had been trying to nap while watching The Hangover when a barrage of text messages from my friend Sean rousted me out of bed and got me thinking about the drink. He was there with Dreams who, as you know, is a fellow soldier in the war against hunger, so I decided to numb my tummy a bit before the buffet-style gastrointestinal onslaught began. Maahk joined us a short while after I had arrived, beaming with excitement and anticipation for the incredible meal in which we were about to partake. Niquisha was the straggler, stuck at home and working diligently on homework until she could no longer ignore her hunger pangs.

The first official God Awful Dinner and Movie Night had begun.

High Hopes…

Brimming with emphatic exuberance, the four of us piled into Maahk’s Buick and headed to the shopping center located at Washington and Columbus, a mere eight blocks away and the home of The Ruby Buffet. The prospect of an all-you-can-stuff-in-your-fat-craw buffet-styled eatery enticed us all, especially after having received word from our close and trusted friend, Banji, that the place was far superior to what you would expect from other city buffets. Naturally, we had decided to make this location the first official G.A.D.A.M.N. dinner location.

The House of Diarrhea

The decor of the place was Asian-inspired with purple neon-light accents around the buffet stations – phenom! There was a dessert station, complete with a soft serve ice cream torture machine and various types of wee tiny cakes; a salad station which housed various fruit / fruit-based treats, and Jello (of course); three hot stations, overflowing with seafood, typical and atypical American Chinese food dishes, various types of white and fried rice, poultry, beef and pork dishes – even pizza and donuts!; and the one station that I was most excited for – the sushi station. The sight was breathtaking and I immediately began to tremble, feeling as though i might have fallen to my knees and wept, anxious beyond belief for the plentiful bounty I had just discovered with my three dear friends.

I cleared my bladder before dinner, to maximize capacity of course, while beginning a half-assed conversation with Dreams as we stood side-by-side at the urinals. Alas, it was obvious that neither he nor I were listening to what I was was saying – there was food to be eaten!

We all grabbed fresh plates and began piling on the hot mess. My first round, as depicted below, consisted of 6 pieces of sushi, a piece of garlic bread, two pork dumplings, a chicken… thing… on a stick, four cheese and crab meat wontons, a spring roll and the cutest crawdad I could find in the soupy, salted bile from whence it came.

... it begins.

Aside from being a bit more tasteless than I had hoped, the first plate went down just fine. Disappointments included the mackerel Sushi tasting like salted fish water, the pork dumplings being mostly pink, stinky meat and gristle, the cheese and crab meat wonton tasting neither like cheese nor crab meat, and the garlic bread which tasted uncannily like regular bread. All of this was nothing that a full two tablespoons of wicked strong wasabi couldn’t fix. I put it on literally everyone on my plate. The crawdad sat atop an intriguing throne of compacted rice, the contents of which was and is still unknown. It was, however, the most delicious thing on the plate – hands down.

I had won Round One, and had beaten all of the others seated around me to a clean plate. My prize? Well, more food, of course! I leapt from my chair and hauled off to the amass another mountain of “nourishment.” A fresh shipment of snow shell crab legs were brought out from the back room in our presence and we witnessed one man take every last one, as though to say “yeah, you saw me do it. Go ahead and try to take these away from me.” Dreams and I did not try to take them away from him.

... enter: self loathing ...

More sushi, a secret pouch of sticky beans ‘n’ rice, crispy duck, bland potatoes, mystery meats, shrimp fried in what seemed to be sandy dirt, and a salted melange of boiled seafood. This round was much more difficult to get through. Pretty much everything tasted like the grease the cook used to fry it, except for the shrimp, which tasted like hell on earth.

But I couldn’t stop there. If I was paying $15 dollars for this meal, and I was certainly going to get my money’s worth. The third and final round was the dessert round, complete with Jello (of course).

... the resulting heart murmur

A disgusting rosebud painted bready red bean mush treat, Jello (of course), a bloody dick, banana graham cracker mash (of sorts), a wee tiny cake, a “kind” of “cheesecake” and coconut chicken – on Dreams’s recommendation. Everything was so sweet I could swear i tasted Type 2 Diabetes, and i quickly became too full / disgusted with myself to finish this plate. By this time I was so dizzy and sleepy I could barely lift the fork to my face. I needed it to stop. I needed it to stop for real this time.

Surprisingly, the coconut chicken was the winner of this round, far and above it’s plate neighbors, though the sauce had the consistency and aroma of hot, tropical semen. I immediately imagined a hulking, bronzed god with a head made from a coconut j’ing off on an entire platter before the server presented it to the unsuspecting patrons. The Jello fucking ruled. But all good things must come to an end – usually at the moment you begin to feel the cold grip of death take hold.

The Aftermath…

With about thirteen-thousand tons of food challenging my intestinal fortitude, I laid back in my chair (since sitting upright was far too painful) and gazed at the caliber of human that would patronize such an establishment for much longer than I could even possibly imagine tolerating. The sight was truly atrocious. From the obvious and blatant New Jersey couple who chose to stare longingly into each other’s eyes over a steaming hot pile of what would soon be explosive, painful diarrhea, to the brutal redneck party-of-four with the wife wearing the Kenny Chesney 2008 tour t-shirt and the sister who’s incredibly obese breasts occupied the majority of the table while she continued to eat – it was really quite something.

We slowly groaned our way to our feet and began to lumber over to the front desk in order to pay the check, which seemed much steeper after the food had already been inserted into my maw, and leave.

I made it as far as the bench outside the doorway before requiring a much needed rest. Niquisha, who was intelligent enough to avoid eating nearly as much as Dreams or I had, decided to venture into the Halloween store that neighbored the 7th circle of hell outside of which I painfully sat. When my strength returned to me, i stood up and ventured in after her.

I spent my time upstairs in the “adults only” area, staring longingly at this…

By this time I wanted to die, moreso than any other time in my life. The “food” was trying to make an escape, through whichever hole possible. I had to get home, curl up in a ball and die. Thankfully Maahk wasn’t taken with a festive sombrero or a chicken-through-the-head and was waiting patiently outdoors – presumably to use the restroom on the second floor of my home. Thank the heavens.

The After-aftermath…

Up to this horrible, horrible point we were all driven by the assumption that we had decided to watch the movie Cube 2: Hypercube for the evenings horrible, horrible movie. However, it was decided that it wasn’t right to watch without our fellow G.A.D.A.M.N. staffer Milton Suck-it Pony. We decided instead, on a whim, to choose to watch Mega Shark v. Giant Octopus, which turned out to be the perfect start to the most horrible idea ever.

Unfortunately, shortly after the scene where the helicopter pilot exclaims “oh crap!” before crashing into the side of a glacier seemingly for no reason, i passed out – partially due to the pain and partially because i had been awake for fourteen hours at that point. Niquisha sat next to me and was kind enough to howl with laughter each time a good part came up so I caught most of the highlights. Like the naval captain telling the Pentagon that the mammoth megalodon had been killed, and dramatically exclaimed “it rises!” when he realized that he was in error.

I’ll certainly have to watch the rest of it soon. Any movie that features a giant shark biting a commercial airliner out of the sky deserves another watch. Oh, and in case you were wondering, it is possible for a mega shark to bite a plane out of the sky. Heres how. And did you know that there’s a Cube Zero?

God Bless America.

Nov 192010
 

Nov 12, 2010 – Ruby Buffet, South Philadelphia

The website for Ruby Buffet flaunts its credentials as a serious dining establishment by citing the approbation of the Philadelphia Daily News: “Ranked Best Buffet Restaurant in Philly 2007-2008.” The Daily News is, of course, the “people’s paper” and, after eating at Ruby Buffet, one wonders just which people decided that this purple neon-festooned neighborhood trough deserved the accolade in 2007, or any other year. I, for one, can report that my three trips to the buffet on 11/12/10 in this self-proclaimed “up-scale” establishment yielded no surprises. Aside from a few funny stories from Curdo, the dining experience was sub-par and, in a few instances, really quite discomfiting.

For my first plate, I stuck with the familiar, the tried and true.  I loaded up on white rice, sweet and sour chicken AND General Tso’s chicken. In the interest of full disclosure, please know that this was the first and only time that both SnS and the General have occupied one platter for me. I’d like that understood. Anyway, you’d have to be damn near retardard to ruin white rice. Both chicken recipes were well executed, particularly the General Tso’s, which had a nice tang, but wasn’t overbearingly spicy. The SnS could have been a little crispier and broken into smaller nuggets, but the desired effect was still there.

Round 2: The most disappointing by far. I finished none of the items I collected in this second go-around. The pizza was really quite bad. It had me drooling for a slice of Elio’s frozen pizza…patties? Or one of those rubbery jobs that we used to sell for fundraisers at my Catholic high school. I gave only a cursory nibble to one of the two fried chicken wings I selected, finding the meat too fleshy, too close (or so I imagined) to the consistency of the poor living beast from which these fried bits were yanked. The “baked” chicken was equally off-putting. This was due mainly to the fact that the skin was left intact and the meat had not been de-boned. This is a rule for me. Unless it’s a leg or a wing, I expect that meat to be thoroughly de-boned.

Round 3: Dessert! I had high hopes for the dessert. I really did. While I found myself too saddened by the presence of a soft serve bar (far too decadent), I held out an eager tongue for the various puddings, cookies and cakes on display at the fourth and smallest of the buffets. I sampled a piece of tasteless cheesecake, a tasteless cookie, a tasteless whatsit, another tasteless whatsit, and a banana-graham-cracker-bread pudding thingy with the consistency of wet white bread left on a rainy pavement for the birds, or so I imagined. Now, I have a sweet tooth. Almost none of the items on my plate qualified as “sweet.” The sweetest morsel on my dessert plate was the honeydew, a product not of human hands, but Mother Earth.

Sooo…after a brief sojourn in a nearby costume store, my companions and I dumped ourselves into my 2002 Buick Century, fully-loaded with six cylinders and sex appeal, for Round 4, the movie. We settled on Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. Have you ever seen a poorly rendered CGI megalodon sieze an airplane out of the sky from cruising altitude? No? See MSvGO. Ever see a giant octopus swat a descending Black Hawk helicopter out of the sky? No? See MSvGO. Does your butter melt over passionate, intimate moments and romance forged in the flames of a crisis threatening all of humanity? Yeah? See MsvGO…and melt away!

Nov 172010
 

For our first official God Awful Dinner And Movie Night, Ruby’s buffet on Columbus Blvd in South Philadelphia was decided on after a recommendation from a friend. It purports to be “an up-scale buffet with reasonable price.” Now, grammar aside, as if I’m one to criticize grammar, like Pat’s or Geno’s claiming “best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia,” nothing about this claim has merit. Except possibly the buffet part. I mean, I could wear a shirt that says “World’s Greatest Lover.”

Ruby’s is more of a feeding trough for humans. The plate(s) I ended up with resembled a grey slurry of farm animal feed, with all the sub-low grade ingredients crowded together in one salty melting pot of flavors. Crab-water soaked fried chicken. General Tso’s crawfish. Sweet and sour sushi. At least pigs get their food brought to them. I know this sounds like a criticism of the buffet style in general, but my main beef is with the “something for everyone” approach. Stuffed grape leaves don’t taste bad if you get some tzadziki sauce on them.

The upscale parts of this buffet included a purple neon light, which we all agreed was “cool”.

Arguments against the “up-scale” claim include:

1: The staff looked like they wanted to be there about as much as people wanted the salad which was offered.

2: The purple neon light which we all agreed was “cool”.

3: Some of the food was past it’s prime. Then past that. Like a stuffed pretzel sitting under the heat lamps too long at Wawa, many items offered were too dry for consumption. Coming in at first place for worst offender, was the crab stuffed shrimp, which smelled like feet and tasted worse. The only reason I ate it was my eat-one-of-everything policy, which was ignored from that moment on.
4: Of all the upscale restaurants I’ve ever been to, which is admittedly not too many, I’ve never seen anyone waiting
around until they’re hungry again.

Ruby’s wasn’t all bad, though, and the good things were actually kinda surprising. The coconut chicken, my favorite item, looked like chunks of medical waste in the floor drain at the end of a three-day bukkake party. What is surprising about this is that I could ever enjoy the taste of something that looked like chunks of medical waste in the floor drain at the end of a three-day bukkake party.

The strange rice rectangles covered in some unidentified neon colored sauce stuff was pretty tasty as well.

In short, if you find yourself at Ruby’s despite the threats of physical violence you make towards the person who tries to bring you there, eat the things that look the most unnatural. Or the General Tso’s, which was fine.

On a scale of one to twenty-one, with one being the worst, eleven being the highest, and twenty-one being a cup of coffee from a vending machine outside Bowling Green, Kentucky which also dispenses chicken soup to the guy before you in line, Ruby’s buffet gets an eighteen.

The movie we picked was Megashark vs Giant Octopus. This was, hands down, the worst movie I have ever seen. Like when I saw french fries at the buffet, the moment Deborah (Debbie “Shake Your Love”) Gibson’s name appeared on screen, it was clear that we were in for an EPIC DISATER. I’ll let someone else describe this movie in greater detail. I just want to say that there are bad movies you shouldn’t watch, and then there are bad movies that should never have been made, and then there are bad movies that do everything wrong in the most perfect two wrongs make a right kind of way. If you add all that up and square it, Megashark vs Giant Octopus was delicious chunks of medical waste in the floor drain at the end of a three-day bukkake party. Laughed my ASS off.

-Dreams