Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm Really Too Old To Be Doing This (Namely, Learning To Drive)

So, I have a confession. Despite having been on this good earth for eighteen years and change—and in Southern California, at that—I haven’t learned to drive. The normal response to this seems to be something along the lines of: “At your age?!?!” It’s gotten to the point that I’ve taken to carrying smelling salts in my daintily-laced whalebone corset to stave off the fainting spells that invariably follow.

Now, I was going to write out a long post about it all, with traditional long-post elements like plot, characterization, and full sentences, but the magnitude of driving turned out to be too overwhelming to capture in paragraph form, and the clarion call of impromptu camping, too great to resist. So I gave up and just wrote a bunch of haikus (+1 real poem) about particularly memorable moments in my second lesson, otherwise known as the Oh Christ, You Want Me To Drive In The City? Lesson. Enjoy the taste of my driving-related agony.

oblivious crowds
swarm around grossmont center
god, I hate walmart

1.5. (corollary to 1)
douchebag on a bluetooth
pedestrian laws won’t make you
less dead if I hit you
just entitled to reparations
if you insist on continuing
your toolery

moonbounce in the park
watch out—kids dart, fishily
aww, doggie playground

green shifts up ahead
teacher says yellows last sev—
oh fuck, ran a red

4. (double the haiku, for no additional cost!)
boy riding a bike
brother perched on handlebars
weaving and smirking

you think you’re so cool
but my instructor agrees
you’re both idiots

one more lesson left
swift disqualification
looms in my future

So yeah. Driving has made me want to be a better pedestrian, because I finally understand what obnoxious roving traffic hazards people tend to be when not paying attention to, you know, laws and stuff. I have no idea why more people apparently don't have this epiphany.

The good news: if I happen to fail my DMV test, I still have time before I leave to retake it! Which apparently strikes some people as “unduly pessimistic”, but I see it as looking on the bright side, really.

Now I just have to convince my dad to let me take the test in his Jeep Grand Cherokee instead of The Red Manatee (AKA my mother’s Mercury Monterey). Wish me luck, y’all.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New York Delis Have Nothing On Me

For obvious reasons, I tend to blog about what’s currently happening in my life—and thus, school hasn’t come up too much. Because it’s summer! And while I am doing somewhat school-related stuff*, and while I’m very much looking forward to maybe blogging about school-related stuff in the future, I figure it’s not quite the right time for it yet.

Anyways! I haven’t spoken pretty much at all about what high school was like for me, but for this moment suffice it to say that I was a busy beaver†. Accordingly, some elements of my life ended up getting shoved to the side, much like misfit toys in beloved reindeer movies or gefilte fish on the plates and tables of any Passover celebration ever.

In case that last bit wasn’t enough of a tip-off, I’m mostly talking about my religious observance. To date, I’ve missed approximately several dozen consecutive Shabbats and, oh, several years worth of Temple, give or take a few High Holidays and a Bar Mitzvah here or there‡.

So, I thought to myself, what endeavor could possibly be Jewish enough to assuage my guilt over my heretofore incredibly lax religious habits?

Bagel-making, obvs.

You could search the annals of Jewish history and not find a better innovation! Except, er, maybe not. But still, bagels are good.

My god, they are ugly suckers when they’re boiling (this is probably the best, least-lumpy picture I took).

See, lumpy. But! But! The end results were far more encouraging.

Even my mom’s gnarly garlic bagels, which were briefly un-exiled from their separate baking/storage area for the purpose of this picture. I mean, come on, I like garlic and all, but Jesus, even I have my limits.

As for this being yet another food post, I'd feel bad if I didn't know that my next post will have exactly zero to do with foodstuffs, and will be up...soon. I've learned to not give specific dates, as life often does not cooperate with those predicted dates. (IMPROMPTU CAMPING ANYONE???)

So yeah. Laterz.

*Eventually it all starts running together, abandoning the sinking ship that is order and (my) sanity to become a whirlpool of postsecondary chaos. I’d draw a picture, but blehhh. No scanner + MS paintfail.

†Though not as busy a beaver as I’m about to become. Ha! -crickets-

‡ Er, maybe not that bad. But to the point that I’ve decided I’d like to be more involved in it when college rolls around. Hillel ftw.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Visiting the Hillcrest Farmer's Market (And Indulging My Inner Hippie)

So, apologies for not actually, uh, writing this on time (or, you know, writing anything else for the past week, for that matter). I claim HEAT SLUGGISHNESS. Which is basically what happens to me whenever it starts to get hot in San Diego. And by hot, I mean in the hundreds. Blehhhh.

See, in SoCal, we have something called “June Gloom”, which refers to the way it tends to get sort of cool and overcast (and sometimes even rainy!) during June. It goes against everything people tend to think of when they think of Southern California, is utterly wonderful and refreshing, and extended into July this year—probably to lull me into a false sense of security, so when the temperature suddenly ratcheted up into triple digits it was harder to adjust to the new situation I found myself in (namely, up a mildly sweaty creek without an air-conditioning-shaped paddle).

Dear June Gloom: come back soon, plz.

Ahem. Let me clarify.

I HAVE NO AIR CONDITIONING. My strategy to combat this tends to involve strategically placed fans, enough Otter Pops to singlehandedly prop up the high-fructose corn syrup industry, and lots of anguished sighing, but since the rest of my family functions perfectly fine without utilizing such methods, I concede that I might be (read: probably am) slightly overdramatic about the whole thing.

Shameless excuses aside, what I MEANT to write about last week (and blew off) was my trip to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market* last Sunday with my mom and boyfriend. Hillcrest, for anyone not in the know or not willing to follow the asterisk down to the website I stumbled upon, is pretty fabulous. It’s a big San Diegan counterculture hub, and if you ever go you know you’re about there when you start seeing the rainbow flags†. Or, you know, the giant suspended Hillcrest sign.

It really is kind of hard to miss.

And so, to the brunt of this post: I lovelovelove the Farmer’s Market. As I mentioned in the last post, my family puts a heavy emphasis on food and cooking; what I didn’t mention is that there's also an emphasis on gardening. I remember growing a lot of produce as a kid—zucchini, pumpkins, green beans, peppers, citrus fruits, pomegranates, berries, herbs—we didn’t grow everything, but we grew a lot. Even as I grew up, when we started getting busier and weren’t able to spend as much time on gardening, we still tried to keep up with the herbs and at least a few kinds of produce. I figure that’s the least I can do while in college, to say nothing of cooking (which I’ll also be doing a lot of—I’ve been temporarily placed in Burton-Conner, a dorm with a strong kitchen culture and no dining hall, and if I stay there—which is likely—I’ll be cooking for myself and probably my suitemates a good deal). And because of those experiences and the drive they created, I have a deep affection for places like the Farmer’s Marker and Whole Foods that allow me to engage in similar experiences and explore the field for myself.

The Farmer’s Market happens to be a place where a love of food, cooking, and gardening all converge in a spectacular display of edibility and excitement, tinged with a whiff of obsessive health-nuttiness. I totally cop to squealing like a little girl to my boyfriend upon arriving (“OMG LOOK at all the awesome FRUITS and VEGGIES that I can COOK WITH SQUEEEEE”). And while it is true that you couldn’t swing a free-range Pacific salmon around without whacking some sign or banner labeled “organic”, “local”, or the like, I think that some people, in their distaste for the hardcore proponents of the organic and slow foods movements—who, to be fair, can come across as self-righteous—tend to forget that organic, fresh-from-the-farm produce tends to taste pretty damn good, in addition to being good for the environment. So it’s not like you’re giving up flavor for sustainability. It’s a pretty win-win situation.

HOW CAN YOU RESIST SUCH GLORIOUS BOUNTIES OF NATURE? The produce, I mean, not the random people who occasionally walk into my shots. As for why I’m including so many pictures, I don’t know if I could fully express in words the vibe of the place and how amazing it actually is, so I toss up the pictures I take. Me: acting like a tourist for your benefit!

Now, the Farmer’s Market is probably something like 60% produce and product tents and 40% prepared food tents. And so I’ve dutifully documented the latter tents as well, because I’m of the opinion that getting your grub on acts as a disproportionately large motivation to go to the Farmer’s Market, though that might change now that I’m cooking for myself more and there’s apparently a relatively nearby (!!!) market at MIT .

Dueling Tamales!

Righteous Turkish food. They recently opened a restaurant nearby, and when I visited I found out they make their own hummus. WHY THEY DO NOT STOCK IT AT THE FARMER’S MARKET, I DO NOT KNOW.

There were also Dueling Gyros!!! Sadly, my shitty MS paint splicejob was thwarted by the fact that I didn’t get a picture of the other joint.


Allow me to repeat myself: MMMMMMMMM. For reals. Times a million.

That panini doesn’t stand a chance.

So, the above pictures of the panini tent and the below pictures of the 410 Degrees cookie tent represent my favorite foodstalls of the day/all time. I can’t really add anything, so feel free to just gaze at the Frenchmen-made paninis and FABULOUS CREATIVE CHEWY COOKIES OMG.

I want these served at all major milestones in my life. Graduation? Check. Wedding? You betcha. Birth of my first child? We’re handing out these puppies. None of that fake cigar bullshit.

The guy manning the tent was pretty cool about me getting all touristy on him. I admire those capable of handing verbally flailing young women armed with cameras.

Pancakes and bacon, people. Pancakes and bacon.

Two cookies framed by my boyfriend’s giant manhands. They each, er, have a bite taken out of them. I might’ve forgotten that I wanted to take a picture of them before trying them.

And so that was my day at the Farmer’s Market. Tasks accomplished:

A) Bought some zucchini to make some effing awesome zucchini bread
B) Made sure the stomachs of all involved in this expedition (namely me, my boyfriend, and my mother) were filled with glorious noms
C) Acted embarrassingly tourist-y for the purpose of gathering blogpost material
D) ???
E) Profit!!!

Okay, maybe not those last two. South Park references aside, I felt Highly Productive. Yay for actually getting stuff done? Of course, my productivity for the week was promptly used up judging by the lateness of this post, but yeah. Until next time! Which will hopefully be tomorrow.

*Holy crap, there’s a website! Look: Why did I not know this? I feel so uninformed. Thank you, Google, for making me feel like a luddite or somesuch historical relic.

† Coincidentally, this past Sunday my mom and I were driving to Whole Foods (which happens to be located in Hillcrest, and which, alongside the Farmer’s Market, stands as Hillcrest’s primary draw for me—seriously, it’s like crack for people too health-obsessed to actually do crack) and accidently got caught in the San Diego Gay Pride Parade. For real, we were this close to becoming a float in their route. Somehow the fact that the Pride Parade was that day escaped our notice until we found ourselves in nearly stop-and-go traffic staring down a truckbed filled with rainbow-painted men lifting their shirts up at the crowd, Mardi Gras-style. It was kind of awesome.

Lastly: all pics are mine except the first two, which are courtesy of the Ventura County Star and the Hillcrest B&B.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Useful College Skills: Cooking

So, I made dinner tonight. And it was pretty damn delicious. And I have the recipe/commentary/all that good stuff! But first, a little more about me and my school.

I haven’t actually said which college I’ll be headed off to yet—perhaps due to the fact that, thanks to my mother, I’ve had more internet privacy lessons than your average CIA agent, or maybe because it just didn’t belong in the other posts—so here goes: come this fall I’ll be attending the postsecondary/inanimate love of my life, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Why yes, I did shamelessly rip this from the MIT website.

This is relevant because there is a 100% chance that I will be cooking for myself there. Not entirely, but a good bit, and because I want to, not out of any sense of need. However, because of the way MIT dining is structured (something I’ll go into in my next food post, because it’s late, and this post could quickly get very long if I try to tackle it now) there’ll be some students who will, in fact, need to cook, and need to learn to cook at that.

Which, if you ask me, is a great thing. Maybe not on the surface, but it seems like something that’d fall into the “blessing in disguise” category. On the list of Things That Are Probably, You Know, Pretty Good To Know In Life, “how to cook relatively tasty stuff that won’t send you to the hospital” is incredibly high up, or should be.

But! Because I promised, here’s the recipe, the commentary, and my initial thoughts on college cooking.

Chicken Cacciatore for the Culinarily Skittish


Canola/Vegetable Oil (just a bit)
Flour (2 handfuls, or 1 cup)
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2)
Green bell peppers (2)
Diced tomatoes (one 14.5oz can)
Chicken broth (one 14.5oz can)
Garlic (2 cloves)
Oregano (2 small pinches)
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Pasta (1 package)

Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Using your knife, butterfly* the chicken breasts. Coat them lightly in flour and pan-fry in a pan with oil on high heat until golden-brown, and just slightly undercooked. Take them out and place them on a separate plate temporarily.

Chop both bell peppers (making sure to discard the seeds and center) into small pieces and mince (finely chop) the garlic cloves (making sure to take the thin skin covering the clove off first). Add the garlic and bell peppers to the pan the chicken was in and cook briefly, stirring occasionally, until the garlic softens a bit. Put the chicken back in the pan, on top of the garlic/peppers, and add the can of diced tomatoes, the oregano, and half of the can of chicken broth. Cover (with either a lid or foil), turn the heat down to low or medium-low and let cook for thirty minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta, stir occasionally, and drain when done.

Once the chicken is ready, take the pan off the heat, uncover, add to pasta, and voilà! † You have nomtastic chicken cacciatore in forty-five minutes. And without being too precise about how you go about it.


Chicken Cacciatore + Pasta + Italian Garlic/Herb/Cheese Breadsticks = Ultimate Happiness

Mmm…breadsticks…*Homer-Simpson-esque drool* I didn’t include the recipe because they took a good bit more work, but I could link to it if anyone wants.

Honestly, I think that’s one of the biggest problems when it comes to college students and cooking for themselves—that being the preciseness that tends to get associated with cooking. Unless you grew up in a family that heavily emphasized not only food, but also cooking and learning how to cook—and, honestly, even if you did—cooking for yourself beyond making a sandwich or achieving the perfect cereal/milk ratio can be on par with “trekking the Himalayas” and “safely landing a plane on the Hudson”. Sure, some people can do it, but that doesn’t mean you can.

I know. I come from a family like the one I described above, what with the food, and the cooking, and the teaching, and I still have to fight the urge to get bogged down by precise recipe details and Cooking, the capitalized, abstract, far-away concept only do-able by my mother, restaurant professionals, and Top Chef contestants situated comfortably in the magical world of television.

And that sucks! Because cooking is actually pretty fun, and way easier than people imagine. You could feed yourself lifetimes over with easy recipes before ever moving on to something more difficult, if that’s what you’d like, though I think the more likely scenario involves people gradually wanting to try their hands at harder recipes once they get a taste for the basics. (Hah! See what I did there?)

And cooking (unlike baking, which actually does take a certain level of precision) is very adaptable. For instance! That chicken cacciatore recipe used to have onions and mushrooms, but we didn’t have mushrooms (and I was too lazy to go out to the store), so out they went. As for onions, they’re one of the few vegetables that I really, really dislike, and so when I’m making dinner I’ll often leave them out. If you want to change recipes, it’s very easy to do so, and as you go.

So I guess this marks the beginning of “cooking is awesome, yo” campaign, and the near-beginning of my college culinary exploits. Stay tuned! ‘Cause yeah. More to come! At some point!

* For those not familiar with the term, “to butterfly” means “to split a piece of food down the center, cutting almost through…the halves are fanned open and laid flat to cook or fry…the fan resembles a butterfly.” Kudos to for that definition, because god knows I’d mangle it. I’m like Justice Stewart and porn—I may not know how to define butterfly-ing, but I know it when I see it.

†I know, voilà is all inappropriate and French (l’horreur!), but my high school didn’t teach Italian. So there.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

T.I.TDMF. Part Three: On Carnival Swindlers and Letting the Magic Live On

6PM, July 1st, Del Mar, California. The cloud cover was just beginning to break, an hour or two before the sun was due to set. The fair was still in full swing, people arriving as steadily as they had been at one that afternoon. My boyfriend and I were in the Funzone, the area of the park where all of the games and more adult rides were located.

Not the Funzone. You can’t tell, but the entrance of the park is REALLY FAR AWAY.

As I stood next to a carnival basketball game, watching my boyfriend fritter away $20 in a sweet (but ultimately futile) attempt to win me one of these glorious creatures

I realized two things:

--Firstly, those hoops were fucking rigged.
--Secondly, the Del Mar fair is best if consumed no more than once a year.

For all those “but WHYYYYYY?” naysayers out there, hear me out.

I love the Del Mar Fair. It’s a part of my childhood. I’ve been to it more times than I could say, beginning since I was too young to really remember going. As kids my brother and I won prizes for (in retrospect, somewhat skimpy) vegetables we had grown in our garden and arranged, spiffy-like, in wooden baskets. I’ve gone with my family, my friends, and my significant other. I’ve made the transition from Kiddieland to the more adult-centered areas. And I’ve loved every minute of it.

But do it too often and it becomes commonplace. The beauty of the fair is that you wait all year for it, and then when it comes to town, and you finally manage to get off work or out of school to go, you have an absolute blast. You spend the day navigating through the throngs of fairgoers, eating marvelously shitty fair food, and being dazzled by the rides. You let yourself be overwhelmed by the colors, and the sounds, and the smells and tastes, and then later that day, or that night, you go back to your everyday life with pictures and memories and cheap little prizes to show for it. And, until next year, or the year after, or whenever you finally manage to go again, that’s enough to hold you over. If you frequent the fair day after day, you risk weakening the effect. You risk the well running dry.

So if you can, go to the fair, and have that absolute blast. And don’t worry if you’re only there for a day. It’ll be back next year, same place, same time.

Note: all of the pictures in the This. Is. THE DEL MAR FAIR. series are mine, with the exception of the last ferris wheel one, which is courtesy of rockoutkaraoke.

T.I.TDMF. Part Two: Food

Ah, fair food. No other culinary subcategory can claim to be so populated by items both wholly disgusting and impossible to stop eating. The food I eat at the fair would likely cause me to die of something like shame, were I to consume it in my daily life. Shame, and the inevitable heart attack. But mostly shame.

Tasty, Australian shame.

During the Del Mar fair, San Diego becomes the world capital of both fried foods and foods that have been inappropriately shoved onto sticks. In fact, it’s widely believed that the earthquakes experienced by San Diegans are not in fact due to tectonic shifts, but to Mother Nature’s residual displeasure at the general culinary goings-on at the fair. Seriously, most anything you could want (and many, many things you would never want) batter-dipped and tossed into oil and/or shoved onto a stick can be located there. See for yourself:

“Eh,” you might shrug. “Most of that’s old news. I already saw it all on that one show on Travel Channel about deep-frying.” If so, you are cynical. Also, I have you beat. Allow me to call your attention to a glorious nugget of information from that menu:

Don’t see it? No problem. Let me blow that up for you.

You know you’re dealing with a true culinary horror when
chocolate-covered bacon doesn’t even warrant a mention.


And lest you think some wayward soul responsible for developing the Del Mar Fair menu decided to insert such a monstrosity as a whim, take a look:

Mmmmm. Fat-fried fat.

Now, there is a chance that they put that up there purely as a promotional stunt, but why would they do that if they weren’t prepared for someone to order it? And I’m certain someone must have, just out of pure curiosity. Hopefully just out of curiosity. I wasn’t one of those people, just because I do have to draw the line at something, and this appeared to be that something.

Honestly, though, I would happily hork down* most anything at the fair, abovementioned atrocity aside, so much so that I ended up having to mentally pit certain food choices against each other, World Cup style, as too much food causes my stomach to lash out via the dreaded food coma.

Strawberry Shortcake à la Mode won the dessert round, natch.

So, am I completely indiscriminate, food-wise, or taken by the fabulousness that is Del Mar Fair food? YOU DECIDE. Except, you know, I’m pretty sure it’s the second one. Though if you feel the need to head out and see for yourselves, I happen to STRONGLY encourage that.

*According to Urban Dictionary, this means both “to eat quickly” and “to vomit up”. I most definitely used it with the former definition in mind, though I like how it’s essentially the “shalom” or “aloha” of food--it means hello and goodbye.

T.I.TDMF. Part One: Rides

The first rule of carnival rides: do not take your cell phone with you onto the ride. For real. This advice should be bronzed and/or mounted on a plaque. Why, you might ask?


When I was a kid I went to our local fall festival every year. Equal parts carnival and new-age witch-y craft fair, it was the best thing about fall, next to Halloween (which, for a kid, is a pretty big deal). It was shut down sometime while I was in middle school when the owner fell ill, and to this day I still miss it.

I have plenty of fond memories there, but some of the best involve the moment I became old enough to tackle the “grown-up” rides, all of which were both mildly terrifying and fairly thrilling at the time, and many of which had truly hilarious, budget sci-fi names (I’m looking at you, Gravitron). I would eventually ride most of them, multiple times—but one never got a repeat ride. Likely because, as my late elementary school/early middle school-age self put it, it was a “screaming metal deathtrap” and “like being in a car crash”.

That ride? The Zipper.

When the fall festival shut down, I didn’t think I’d see the Zipper again. But lo and behold, awaiting me at the fair was a little piece of my past.


Since then, I’d matured quite a bit and developed more of a taste for thrill rides. So, upon arriving at the Funzone, I convinced my boyfriend to forgo the free-fall ride he’d been eyeing and go on the Zipper with me first. I suppose I was feeling nostalgic.

“You should put your phone in my bag,” my boyfriend suggested as we stepped into the cage, helpfully holding up his backpack and gesturing with it, ostensibly so as to demonstrate the space still available between his illicit chocolate-chip cookie stash and the tube of SPF 50 he’d packed for me.

“Nah, I’m good. I have tight pockets, so it’s not going anywhere,” I said, ignoring his raised eyebrow. He shrugged, and as the ride attendant secured us and slammed the door (lid?) I attempted to quell the anxiety beginning to bubble up in my stomach.

Look at this shit. Those are twirling PEOPLE-CAGES. How can you not be anxious?

It turned out to be 100% the car crash I had remembered. As we hurtled through the air to the tune of screeching metal, wind whistling past us, and the combination of my boyfriend’s exhilarated laughter and my unexpected and admittedly somewhat pathetic screaming, I was forced to stop squealing in terror and look on in—well, still terror—as the force produced by the roundabout motion of the ride tugged my phone out of my pocket and sent it ricocheting around the cage.

“Oh, shit,” I blurted out, dizzily watching my phone shoot around the cage like an ungainly maroon bullet. Briefly it occurred to me that the holes in the mesh door were too small for my phone to fly through, but the moment of absurd relief at knowing my phone wouldn’t get sent flying across the park vanished when I realized that if it hit me or my boyfriend at the speed it was going, it could deal some serious damage. In my periphery I could see my boyfriend’s eyes widen as he realized what was happening.

“Shit!” He yelled. “Catch it!”

All of a sudden the ride flipped again, and my phone, which had been momentarily rattling around the bottom of the cage, shot up, directly towards my face. Reflexively I brought my hands up in front of me and clapped them together. The feeling of the phone between my palms made me sigh in relief, and for the duration of the ride I kept it in a deathgrip.

Eventually the ride slowed, with our cage still at the top. I shoved my phone into my boyfriend’s slightly-unzipped bag in case we started moving again, but it soon became clear that the ride was over. As we waited for the rest of the passengers to be unloaded and for our cage to clank down to ground-level, I couldn’t help but start laughing. My boyfriend tried to hold out and look sufficiently stern, but ultimately failed, and broke out into an exasperated grin.

“Next time it’s going into the bag,” he declared. “No arguments.” Needless to say, it went into the bag from there on out.


So, yeah. I really can’t think of a better argument for slipping your phone somewhere a little less hazardous on carnival rides than the threat of an extremely ignoble injury (and/or death) by flying cell phone. Especially since the abovementioned incident occurred within a span of roughly ten seconds, which, in SoCal terms, is, like, hecka fast.

But despite our harrowing experience on the Zipper, my boyfriend and I continued on our ridefest*. We went on the Zipper, the Mega Drop, the Evolution, the Magnum, the Sky Flyer, and several others that I can’t remember, either because they were so ludicrously and/or generically named that I can’t match the name with the ride, or because the trauma caused me to repress the memories of them.

After a while we took a break to head over to the Ferris wheel to recover and fortify ourselves, which turned out to be a great idea. See, camera + high vantage point + gorgeous locale apparently = some cool photos. Also, I had forgotten that we were like this close to the ocean for a minute, and the view reminded me.

And this isn’t even a good picture of what we could see. Best city in the world? I think so.

I also got some pretty good shots of the whole Funzone.

That hellacious circle-y thing to the center-left is the Evolution. The doom-tower at the upper-right corner is the Mega Drop. Yeeeeeah.

I personally believe that there’s an inverse relationship between how colorful a game booth is and how likely you are to win a prize. Most of these booths are equally bright; you may draw your own conclusions.

The entrance to the park is WAYYYYYY down there. And yes, those are people dangling from that upper-left corner brontosaurus-looking ride. I politely declined to ride it, as I believe human bodies are not meant to be continuously catapulted headfirst for several minutes straight.

To conclude: I love the rides at the Del Mar Fair, dearly, and in my own prone-to-screaming way. And it’s way cheaper to go to the Fair than to go to any of the more popular SoCal amusement parks. Seriously: adult admission is $13—or free (!), if some awesome stranger gives you a ticket because he/she has an extra, which is what happened with me—and $30 will bag you an all-you-can-ride wristband. So go! Have fun! Spend your tourist dollars in lovely San Diego! And go read the next two installments of the Del Mar Fair trilogy!

*An interesting component of this was the ongoing attempt by the ride creators to name their rides in a manner designed to make us

a) Underestimate the intensity of their rides


b) Associate fairly innocuous household names and terms with unrelenting terror.