On the long list of bad ideas, driving to Northeast Philadelphia to eat at a seafood restaurant in the dead of winter occupies a place near the middle. The suggestion probably doesn’t cause you to think, “Oh yes! That is the perfect time and place to enjoy fresh seafood!” Then again, the thought isn’t particularly repulsive either. Especially when you consider that the seafood restaurant in question is a branch of America’s most widely advertised seafood chain, Red Lobster. “Oh, that isn’t really a seafood restaurant,” you might think. “That is an Applebee’s, a Ruby Tuesday, a T.G.I. Friday’s with different items on the menu.” And you’d be right. This is about neither fresh nor local, quaint nor upscale. This is the middle of the road. This is the world’s most edible food, ocean edition. This, paradoxically, is God Awful Dinner And Movie Night territory.
These thoughts occupied my mind as I rode seatbelted in the front seat of Mark’s Buick, north on Interstate 95, to Roosevelt Boulevard. As we pulled onto the boulevard, the great red claw of American cuisine came into view. “There she blows,” my colleague Andy astutely observed.
There indeed, Andy. Well said.
When we arrived in the lobby, we were told that we’d have to wait an hour or so to get a table, and that the nine of us would have to split up into two groups. Both prospects were somewhat distressing, but Dan was given a buzzer to alert us when our table was ready, and we got down to waiting. Luckily, there were plenty of people to look at, food to smell, cigarettes to smoke, and friends to talk to. After a little less than an hour, we were seated, all nine of us at one table.
James was seated at the head of the table, and at my request he gave a rousing speech, which elicited more than a few huzzahs from the rest of the table. Menus were distributed, and we got down to work.
Before I tell you what I ordered, I should tell you that I recently received my federal tax return from the IRS. This means that not less than one thousand dollars was recently deposited directly into my checking account. Moreover, I am not a financially prudent man. All my accounting and all my budgeting take place inside my head, and they include neither foresight nor memory. I tend to have money until I no longer have any. I’m a tiny microcosm of the boom-and-bust cycle that’s characterized the American economy for nearly a century, and I am almost always on the bust end.
But not this month. This month, I’m able to treat myself to New York Strip Steak and Rock Lobster Tail.
At 33 dollars and 75 cents, it’s the most expensive entree on Red Lobster’s sizable menu. In the interest of getting my money’s worth, here are a few close-up shots.
All this fancy food deserved a fancy cocktail. Namely, it deserved a Top Shelf Long Island Iced Tea, which includes shots of four different premium liquors.
Now, as meals go, this one was alright. The lobster didn’t really have much flavor, but the butter I dipped it in did. The steak was likewise under-seasoned, almost bland, but I was able to dip it in the pile of creamy, buttery, salty mashed potatoes to give it some more flavor. Also, the steak was perfectly juicy. But I’d have been a little disappointed in the food if I hadn’t been able to use one of Red Lobster’s delicious cheddar biscuits (see below) to mop up the liquid combination of microwaved butter, mashed potatoes, and cow’s blood that covered my plate after I finished the steak and lobster. That was delectable, and I would probably pay another $33.75 to have a whole plate of biscuits and a dish of that improvised sauce. Yes, please.
The dinner, all things considered, was a smashing success. We chatted, we laughed, we ate, we drank. Really, we communed. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I’d gone with 52 dollars in my pocket, prepared to spend 52 dollars, and only spent 47. Like I said, I’m not the best with money, but by my calculations I turned a modest profit.
After all that food, though, I was tired. Since I fell asleep during the last 20 minutes of the GADAMN movie, Zardoz, I’ve decided to just copy an article from an Irish newspaper that came out around the time the film was released. It’s pretty informative.
DUBLIN – Actor Sean Connery apparently wandered onto the set of a pornographic film while on holiday in the Irish countryside several months ago, inspiring the filmmakers to switch gears and take advantage of the movie star’s presence by writing a new script. The film, Zardoz, was released last week.
The film’s director, John Boorman, whose other works include the critically lauded Deliverance, said that several scenes that ended up in the movie were actually shot before Mr. Connery knew he was on camera. One early scene, for example, shows Mr. Connery shooting one of the other actors with a revolver while standing inside the mouth of a large, stone idol–the god Zardoz.
“That scene wasn’t scripted,” Mr. Boorman said. “Sean seemed a bit jumpy, and when one of my actors surprised him inside Zardoz’s head, he just turned and shot. The guys wasn’t badly hurt, but he had to wear his arm in a sling for a few weeks. That’s actually how I got Sean to agree to be in the film. I said I wouldn’t press charges if he’d film a few scenes with us.”
Mr. Connery, a Scotsman best known for his portrayal of British secret service agent James Bond in five films of the 1960s, plus one earlier this decade, readily accepted the offer.
“After Sean joined us,” Boorman said, “the script just sort of wrote itself.”
The plot of Zardoz follows Connery’s character Zed as he stumbles into “The Vortex,” where a race of immortals who practice a type of pure democracy try to figure out his intentions and how he got there. In one scene, the immortals – who have a type of telepathic power – show Zed a film of a woman rubbing what appears to be mud on her naked breasts. When Zed does not get an erection, the immortals are concerned and confused.
That scene, too, was unscripted, Mr. Connery has confirmed.
“That scene was actually filmed before I put a bullet in that poor bastard,” Mr. Connery said. “What happened was, I’d been out hunting wild boar with my revolver all morning, and I ended up stumbling across a beautiful woman in the forest. We spent the afternoon making love, really going at it, and by the time John and the crew showed me the film of the mud-woman, I’d pretty much had my fill.”
“I was also on a dangerously high dose of barbituates,” Mr. Connery added.
Mr. Connery also apparently picked his own costume for the film. He said that the short red shorts and shotgun shell shoulder straps that he wears for the bulk of the film are actually part of a traditional hunting costume worn by Scots. As of press time, Scotland’s Ministry of Culture in Edinburgh had not returned calls seeking confirmation of that fact.
Mr. Connery told reporters Monday that acting in the film had been “a gas,” and that he’d consider making a sequel if Mr. Boorman were up for it. Asked whether he had actually seen the finished film, Mr. Connery responded, “Well, now, that is an interesting question.”