The Boys In The Bubble - Part 3
The Final Frontier
From out of the abyss, our heroes can see the light at the end of the gravy pipe… Just a bit more time, a few more meals, one bite after the other. Yes, dear readers, let’s now finish the saga and awake from this culinary fever dream.
Project: “The Pathway” - A documentary series following the G-League Ignite team
Location: Orlando, Florida
Where You Can Watch It: TNT
Cast of Characters:
Jim - Director
Brett - Producer
Sean - Director of Photography
Kevin - Director of Photography
Jordan - Assistant Camera
March 1, 2021
Jordan’s Last Supper
The team was struggling today and just could not gain purchase in the game. With Donta gone, Jesse out and Prince laid up.... Not looking good.
Lunch, Dinner... It was food. I'm trying to muster the energy to keep this going. I can't go on. I'll go on.
When we entered the Visa center chow hall, Sean immediately stated how much he didn't want to eat after that first whiff of the thick aroma of Disney food-air. It was "Italian Day" from the look of things. Three kinds of pasta, Caprese sandwiches, Italian sausages, and a bean soup. I chose the penne with shrimp Fra Diavolo and a sausage. Well, the sauce was not spicy enough and it was too thick. The sausage tasted like it was in a polypropylene casing and would insult any Italian American I know. You just couldn't serve this in my neck of the woods without expecting to be disappeared.
Sean thought it was weird to have seafood in a red sauce. Fuggedaboutit. Jordan said the sausage tasted like "water." Fuggedaboutit. Brett was just sad that once again there were no gluten-free options except for the sausage which he suspected was not cooked enough. I suggested the opposite - that it was probably never raw enough in the first place.
Jordan then swore off any further meals from the Disney Food Pipe. So, he missed dinner which had the color palette of a 1960's airport lounge. The flavor profile was what? Hopeless Depression? Not all was lost, though. The short ribs were actually tasty because let's face it - the more you cook them, the better they get. Hard to mess up. Green beans were mushy. I passed on the mashed potatoes.
And there we have it. Another bountiful day!
March 2, 2021
Carraba’s Taste Test
Coach was real with the team during practice and they hustled through the plays. Later, Isaiah did some media interviews for Vice, Complex, and something of his own. Supposedly, he writes poetry too. Can we read some of that?
Dinner had Sean checking his head. "I must be going insane cause I think tonight’s dinner is ok too" was the text we all saw. By the time Brett and I bellied up to the chuck wagon, our brains were overflowing with visions of Olive Garden. What we got was a delightful mixed green salad with strawberries, figs, basil, and tomatoes along with chicken parmigiana, mahi-mahi, and assorted vegetable sides. Brett concurred, "Food is good. Tastes like Carrabba's." And you know what, they're both right and that's good for this place.
I mean, excluding the Mahi, which was drier than a box of Bounce sheets, the chicken was like Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill after you've been on the road for six hours and you'd had two glasses of wine. One must now, therefore, ask: Are we all in a collective delusion? At this point, I think the food has all started to look like dinner at someone's parents' house. Good food, but the food you kind of want to eat and then leave so you can avoid a conflict. I also wondered aloud if one could do a blind taste test on this chicken parm and another plate of the same, ordered in from an actual Carraba's. Brett ominously suggested that it would taste exactly the same.
I skipped the dessert. Brett and I saw a frog. A Pickleball injury was reported.
March 3, 2021
Luck Of The Irish
They lost the game they should've won. JK got hurt. It's do or die now. As Rod said, they just have to put more balls in the basket than the other team.
I think food service had their swan song yesterday because today was just a surrender. The consensus was that lunch was borderline Lean Cuisine chicken in garlic sauce. As Brett and Sean correctly pointed out, all we needed was the overcooked sticky rice to make it complete, as it was served in a microwave-safe black plastic dish. As for the pork, I didn't have it, but Brett had a "hard time finding the meat" in there. There was also steamed broccoli and brown rice. The chocolate chip cookie was solid. I had two.
Dinner was an unaccountable cultural disaster. Someone needs to answer for this. For some reason today is St. Patrick's Day here in the Magic Kingdom, despite it actually falling two weeks from now on most Gregorian calendars. Are they using some kind of lunar calendar? Mayan, even? There was green macaroni and cheese. I mean, really? Macaroni? And cheese sauce. Not the good kind. The cheap kind that you make with American cheese, sour cream, and Velveeta. Is this supposed to be "jolly?" Oh, top of the mornin' to ya, have some crusty and goopy green noodles, there laddie boy... It's an all-time low mark for the dining operation, and I don't know where else to blame but the kitchen that was behind it. I hope someone has a tongue-lashing coming, and it's a well-deserved one. Good grief. The only way this could have been worse was if there had been a tray of "Guinness Pub Cheese Soup" and "beer macaroons" for dessert, but I don't really know how that can be a thing.
Of course, they also were serving potatoes and corned beef and cabbage, and chicken in "Guinness sauce." I'm having the flop sweats just thinking about it all. The potatoes were just about the saltiest I'd ever had, the chicken dry and flavorless. The corned beef was fine, especially with the spicy mustard, but really only if you'd already had two pints and wandered to the back of the pub, passing the steam table on the way to the restroom.
In any case, Brett ordered Panda Express because Erin Go Bragh.
March 4, 2021
Another loss. Seems like it might be over for the Ignite.
Lunch was decent. Dinner was good.
March 5, 2021
Snack Shack Conflict Resolution
Rasheed and Rod got personal and real with us in their interviews. Good stuff.
What wasn't good was 85% of the food coming out of the meal-pipe at Coronado Springs. It was as if we were in summer camp, went on a field trip to Kennywood, and ate two meals at the snack bar while waiting on line for a substandard thrill ride at an amusement park that was well past its prime. Lunch was tepid burgers or fried chicken sandwiches. I went for the fowl option and I could tell by the pallor and texture of the pieces that this was classic freezer-to-fryer chow. My mind drifted back to the early nineties when at college, one could always grab a "Quick Chick" sandwich at the campus cafe, while en route to the library or a house party. Just squirt some mayo on it and you're good to go.
Dinner went two ways. The pizza was, again, seemingly time-warped in from United Skates of America roller rink on Empire Boulevard, circa 1983. Spongey, congealed and personal-sized, all warmly savored in the little electric incubator. Brett and I split one. Jordan said it tasted like a meal you'd get at a friend's house when you went over to play video games all day. The rest of my meal was actually worthwhile - broccolini and salmon. Brett, true to form, ordered in from Panda Express.
Sean calculated our odds of staying past Monday and they don't look good. We need a miracle!
March 6, 2021
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? OKC Blue lost and Ignite brought the fire to the court, smashing the spurs to clinch the 8th seed spot in the playoffs. Unbelievable. They were like a different team.
While mentally we had packed it in, so too had the meal service. Well, lunch was pretty good, with a "Florida Seafood Chowder" that stood up to its name, whatever that means. And I actually cannot remember what else was served. I'm sure there was a salad - yes, with cranberries, I think, and I know there were chicken fingers but I didn't go that route. Oh yes, there was a pressed Cuban sandwich and a very delightful hummus and Israeli couscous wrap. So, that all worked well, considering.
Where it went to the graveyard was dinner. My god, it was like "German Night" or "Oktoberfest" or something, because they served Bratwurst, pork schnitzel, and the most basic salad on earth. And streudel. No one liked the brats - again, I stayed away having had them once before on this trip. The schnitzel was bulletproof. It's supposed to be knife and fork eating; succulent pounded pork that's breaded and fried. This was a chew toy you'd toss to the hounds. I'm a day away from calling my uncle Bob at The Hague to report these cultural crimes.
After the game, high on adrenaline, Brett indulged in nachos from Rix's. The rest of us thought the better of double-dipping on the warmed-over faux-German fare we knew was lurking in the chow hall.
March 7, 2021
Land Of Milk and Honey
We got right into interviews with the young guys and then a practice session. Lunch came and went while we were shooting so, on Jordan's advice, we ordered Middle Eastern food from Jerusalem. That is the restaurant, not the city. I got the kofta kebab and it was spot on. Spiced, succulent, well-formed, and nestled atop a bed of fragrant rice. The hummus was also really sublime. Sean was confused by his gyro, expecting a fully formed "sandwich" and not the free-form pile of shaved meat. But he soldiered on and was ultimately satisfied. So, bravo, Jerusalem, you city of gold.
I was still digesting dinner but Brett and I wandered to the chow hall to see if there was anything worth snacking. Unsurprisingly, there was not, unless you were interested in the fuel-injected turkey breast. But, they did have warm peach granola cobbler served with vanilla ice cream, so that was worth the trip.
The Overtime crew was eating food from Popeye's. Barf.
March 8, 2021
Some dreams don't come true. The Ignite played hard but the Raptors kept the pressure on harder all 48 minutes. And now, it's over.
For our last lunch at the Visa Center, we were treated to a generally "good" meal. Those who braved the Buffalo chicken were not offended and those who had the pita with feta and couscous were also fulfilled. The roast beef on ciabatta was off-balance, so I repaired it by jettisoning the bread. The playoff blondie squares were a nice dessert.
For our wrap meal, Brett treated us to Mexican food from "On the Border," and we rolled back to our rooms. But not before a few of us asked for Mickey Mouse ice cream treats from the food hall staff. After consulting with the chef, two pops and a sandwich were procured and we ended the run in sweet creamy bliss.
And it's been quite a run here. I think we'll all miss the sights, sounds, and smells of Coronado Springs. I won't miss the daily testing or the long walks to the convention center, or the endless nineties music at the Visa Center. Most of all, I'll miss the crew and the good times.
Thanks again for including me in this epic adventure. See you at the next one!
Well, there you have it. It really was more of a trial for some of the crew than for others. It was hard to be away from the family for that long, but the monk-like existence of the hotel room, the game schedule and the regularity of everything did not faze me that much. In my downtime, I setup a regular in-room workout schedule on Peleton Digital, wrote, began recording a podcast series (coming soon), re-read “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, watched movies and remotely played D&D with my kids. But, yeah, it was long.
And now it’s a show! Ta Da!
Also Of Interest
Emojis are now also fonts.
Exisential Looney Tunes Backgrounds.
Birds still aren’t real, even if they are on 60 Minutes.
Know thyself. Like this guy. In a (boring) database.
Kevin Kelly turned 70. I interviewed him for my documentary “Welcome To The Machine” and he’s pretty amazing. Here’s his list of “103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known.”
Now Listening To
C’mon. This is just good!
All Good Thoughts,