I became a vegetarian because the girlfriend I had at the time didn't want to kiss me because she said I smelled like meat. That was on Earth Day 1986. We broke up after that, but I stuck with the diet because the horrific allergies I had been plagued with all my life evaporated. It also fit in with my newly acquired Buddhist philosophies, so it was good all the way around.
Back then, vegetarian versions of my favorite foods were not easy to find. And most of them you could find tasted like ass. But all that changed when I walked into a Johnny Rockets diner in Santa Monica, California where they offered "Boca Burgers" for sale. I ordered one (no grilled onions or mustard), tasted it, then had to call the waitress over because I was convinced I was accidentally served a meat burger. But nope! It was just that good.
Eventually I found them at my grocery store and was eating them at least once a week for decades.
But then my world came crashing down when Kraft bought out Boca Burger and "new and improved it." They claim that they updated the texture and taste to serve modern consumers. But to me? It tasted like liquid smoke and burning hair smeared on pencil erasers. It was fucking disgusting. But no big deal... I could still eat the "Vegan Original" which had the original taste. Until Kraft discontinued it and replaced it with a fake turkey burger. When people complained, they said that when their customers wanted a vegan burger, what they really wanted was turkey. Which is a load of fucking horseshit... which, coincidentally, is what I'd rather eat than one of their fucked-up "turkey" burgers.
And so I stopped buying their horrific "food" products.
A lot of other people probably stopped as well, because when I was at the grocery store yesterday I was shocked to see that the "Vegan Original" had returned! SWEET! I looked very carefully at the box. The photo indeed showed the light color of the original instead of the dark brown plastic look of the "new and improved" model. I bought two boxes and couldn't wait to have one for dinner.
Then I opened the box...
These are NOT the original recipe. Not by a fucking longshot. And now I'm stuck with two boxes of this gortesque shit. So as not to waste my hard-earned money, I did cook one up to give it a shot. It's not as horribly over-flavored as the non-vegan option, BUT IT'S STILL NOT THE ORIGINAL THAT THEY PROMISE YOU RIGHT ON THE FUCKING BOX!
100% false advertising. I'm writing to Kraft and insisting on a refund based on their fucked-up lies. I mean, why in the hell not put the ACTUAL product's picture on the damn box? Had I seen it was this new brown plastic crap, I would have never bought it!
And so I guess I'm finally done with Boca Burger now. After clinging to the memory of that amazing burger I ate in a Santa Monic Johnny Rockets so very many years ago, this was the last straw. I'll cook up Impossible Burgers or whatever else isn't going to taste like the physical manifestation of fucking disappointment.
Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, and everybody else has already moved on from Kraft's Boca bullshit, I guess I can as well.
It's another edition of Bullet Sunday... this time coming to you from beautiful Denver, Colorado!
• I love Ponyo. Yet another Miyazaki masterpiece. Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is such joyous, imaginative, feel-good fun that you don't even need kids as an excuse to go see it. Pretty much a retelling of The Little Mermaid, the oft-told tale of the little girl who wants to be human has never been seen in quite this way. Featuring some of the most mesmerizing traditional animated sequences I've ever seen, this is a stunning film which trounces the animated garbage we've been inundated with lately (hey, they're making a sequel to Happy Feet!)...
The main character, Sosuke, is so lovingly crafted that you'd swear he was a real little boy... everything from the way he walks to the way he acts is just captivating to watch. While I prefer to see Miyazaki films in their original Japanese, I have to admit that the vocal talent Disney lined up for the American release is pretty stellar (ZOMG! BETTY WHITE & TINA FEY!) and all the actors seem to ring true to the characters they're dubbing. Well worth seeing in a theater for the sheer spectacle of it all... the pastel-rendered backgrounds are beautiful, and demand to be seen on the big screen.
• Failure to Launch. I got to the Cherry Creek Center Theater for Ponyo a little early so I could eat dinner at the Johnny Rockets there, only to find out that they didn't have any vegetarian Boca Burgers. AGAIN! Why am I not surprised? After all, I've been denied Boca Burgers in San Francisco (twice), Santa Monica, Seattle University Village (twice), Seattle Pike Place Market, Seattle Pacific Place, Miami Aventura Mall, Seattle South Center, and Kent Station... why should Denver be any different? Still finding it positively absurd that a FROZEN item can't be stocked in such depth that it won't run out 50% of the time a customer would like to order it. If you're not going to bother to watch your inventory, don't bother putting it on the menu so that people like me don't waste their valuable time going to a restaurant expecting to get the food we want.
• Denver and Killer Squirrels. After the movie, Howard and Cameron dropped me off downtown so I could take a few photos around the Capitol Building. After goofing around for a bit, I decided to walk back to The 16th Street Mall for dinner and have a look around Union Station. As I was walking through Civic Center Park, I heard something in the tree above me and turned around to look. Much to my surprise it was a very angry squirrel, who glared at me just long enough to let me take a blurry photo of him...
That's when I noticed that squirrels were everywhere, and they had no fear of humans. One little guy was eating a pile of sunflower seeds somebody had left and I was able to sit right next to him. He barely noticed...
Just for fun, I was going to reach over and grab a few seeds, but didn't want to risk getting bitten and end up with rabies or something. That would be just my luck.
• Film by Tarantino. My most consistently favorite director outside of Hayao Miyazaki is Quentin Tarantino. In my capsule review of his latest masterpiece Inglourious Basterds, I said that the word "visionary" was inadequate to describe his cinematic genius. This prompted one reader to ask me how I would rank his films, which would be thusly...
&bull Housekeeping Aggressive. One of the most thankless jobs on the planet has to be that of a housekeeper at a hotel. Forgotten entirely when they do their job well, yet persecuted ruthlessly when they make a mistake, the housekeeper is in the ultimate no-win scenario. Historically, I've always endeavored to be excessively kind and generous with housekeeping staff in order to balance out this wrong, but my attitude has been changing as of late. Because, in addition to being the most thankless job, it can also be the most passive-aggressive career in history. And more and more this is getting to be the case. Housekeepers maintain this front of kindness in service, but all too many of them really don't give a shit and, indeed, are actively hostile in their work.
As an example... in the hotel I'm currently staying (which shall remain nameless, because it really doesn't matter) the housekeeping staff is so horrendously noisy each morning that I have no choice but to view it as intentional. And it begins the minute they exit the elevator... laughing and whistling and yelling and screaming and banging and slamming. Never mind that it's still fairly early and people are trying to sleep, they just don't give a fuck. Across the hall from my room is a laundry chute. What they could do is prop the door open so that the soiled linens will pass silently down to the laundry. But what they actually do is let the door slam shut again and again and again, which is an endless source of banging that is so forceful that my walls shake every time. And heaven forbid that you should want to sleep in, because if you stay later than they like, they will purposely create a huge racket outside your door until you ultimately give up and flee the premises. Every drawer is banged. Every word is yelled. Every cleaning tool is rattled. Every door is slammed. Because the housekeepers just don't seem to give a flying fuck anymore. They're up at the crack of dawn doing a thankless job, and they want you to suffer for it. Over and over and over again. One of these days I'm going to have had enough and scream into the hallway as loud as I can "SHUT THE HELL UP!" knowing full-well that it will only encourage them to be louder. Because that's what happens when you mess with people having the most passive aggressive job on earth.
• Farewell to The City. And that's all she wrote. Tomorrow I'll take a trip to some stores I want to check out which were closed today... and then it's off to the airport and other adventures.