Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Disney Vacation, G to L

For those of you who missed the beginning, here's the start of my 2007 Family Walt Disney World vacation A to Z... you can scroll down or you can click here to read A to E.

F is for Fast Pass
How in the world did we ever do a vacation without a fast pass? I mean, its like the miracle paper of the park. You walk up, toss your card/ticket in the machine, and out pops a little slip of paper telling you when you can come back to ride a particular ride. Some rides, like Stitch's Great Escape, never really needed one... others, like Test Track and Soarin', you had to have one to avoid a 100 minute or longer wait.

We decided to hop onto Everest, the first ride we were on on the first day in the park, and skip the fast pass, as we were there upon opening, and immediately headed to Everest (like nearly everyone else). Ditto for Soarin', when we went to Epcot on Tuesday. But we needed them in the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, when Peter Pan's Flight suddenly took 90 minutes to get to. Who the heck wants to wait an hour and a half for freakin' Peter Pan? I'm just sayin'.

The true test of the Fast Pass came in Epcot on Tuesday. As soon as Soarin' was over, I grabbed cards and ran over to get passes for Mission: Space and for Test Track. Within the next hour or two, the line for Test Track was out of the building and at least 30 or 40 yards past the opening of the queue line. We got them early, because by 11am or so, the Fast Pass tickets were good for 7pm to 8pm, and by noon or so, the passes were all gone. So after 11ish, or whenever our passes came up, we got in the Fast Pass return line, waited about 15 minutes, and was done with it.

When we returned to Epcot, I grabbed the Lovely Steph Leann's card and headed to The Lands, to get passes for Soarin'... and it took me forever--you'll hear that story when we get to "S".

A little trick... just cause it says 105pm, to 205pm. We're in Germany or Morocco or wherever, and realize our passes are going to expire in about twenty minutes for Soarin'. So, we high tail it across the entire park, past at least five of the countries and two bridges, through the crowds and get in in just the nick of time... only to have the Cast Member say "oh, these would have been good until at least 5 o'clock!". Tell that to Steph's swollen ankles.

G is for Genie
Loved this guy. So, at Epcot on Friday, we're in line for pictures with Jasmine, Aladdin and Genie, and we're near the middle or back. Jasmine and Aladdin leave for a break, leaving only the Genie, and they announce "Whoever wants to get pictures with only Genie, you can come forward. Those of you who want to get Jasmine and Aladdin, please step back." Well, lucky for us, we've already met Jasmine and Aladdin, the night before in the Magic Kingdom, so we come forward, right behind these two high school chicks.

So High School Chick 1 and Chick 2 both step forward to get their pictures, and Genie grabs High School Chick 1 for a hug. And then he just stands there, blue fuzzy arms wrapped around her. She hugs back, but he doesn't let go. He stands there motionless, in a hug, for at least 30 seconds, causing all of us to laugh. Then, just as fast as he grabbed High School Chick 1, he lets go and grabs High School Chick 2. He hugs her, and just stands there. Steph and I, and by now, High School Chick 2, think its hilarious.

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Oh, that crazy Genie...

Suddenly, he lets go of High School Chick 2, and races over and grabs Stephanie for his long lasting hug. Keep in mind both Chick 1 and Chick 2 are still waiting for their picture. I laugh, and he gives me the thumbs up, still in an embrace with my wife. He finally lets go, then holds a hand out to shake. I start to shake his hand, and he grabs me and hugs me. Meanwhile, the Moroccan band Mo'Rockin (get it? clever, though at first I was hoping Mo Rocca was doing some sort of Middle Eastern stand up show) is playing in the background, and Genie is dancing. One of the most fun characters we got to meet all week.

H is for Holidays at Disney
You gotta admire the fact they go all out at Disney. Seriously. Lights everywhere, music everywhere, everything from lampposts to big statues and structures are all decked out in mistletoe and holly and lights and ornaments and garland and ribbon and gold and silver and green and red and snowflakes and more lights and wreaths and trees and Santas and angels and stars and shiny things and so on, all with a little Disney touch.

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Epcot lights, with the Spaceship Earth in the background

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I know, I know, it looks like the crowd from 2002's Its a Wonderful Deuce Christmas, but actually its Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

I'd never been to Walt Disney World during the holiday season, but I'd like to go back soon enough.

I is for Incredibles
Everyone has their favorite characters, and their favorite characters they like to meet. I think Steph really liked meeting Piglet, and both of us were giddy for Mater and Lightnin' McQueen, but for my money, when we had a chance to meet up with Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl at Disney-MGM on Monday, it was just cool.

Right before us, another girl came up, being pushed in her stroller by her parents. The girl was a special needs child, you could tell just from looking at her, and we gladly gave our turn to the family. It was great to watch Mr. Incredible and ElastiGirl get on one knee, both giving her tons of attention, stroking her hair, holding her hand and such. That's what you're supposed to do.

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And it made for a great picture with us.

J is for Jokes at the Laugh Floor
This show was just funny. As you might recall, in Monsters Inc, the city of Monstropolis needs children's laughter, not screams, to keep power and energy flowing. So, the theme of this Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom) "ride", or show is we're all hustled into the auditorium, the Monsters are doing stand-up, and we are all laughing to fill a Laugh Canister. The Monster of Ceremonies is, naturally, Mike Wazowski, the one eyed green monster voiced by Billy Crystal in the movie. Appearing with Mike Wazowski is Roz, the scratchy voiced, spectacled supervisor (haaaa haaaa haaaa).

The trick of the whole show, though, is that its interactive animation. On the screen, they talk to the audience, ask questions and even use jokes submitted by the audience. You can tell the mouths of the characters don't quite match all the words, but its still close, and remarkable all the same. The first time we went, I got to talk to them, and the second time we went, they used one of my jokes ("Didja hear about the mushroom who had no friends? He couldn't understand it... he thought he was just a fun-gi"). Even though I knew some of the one liners, the show was just as good the second time as the first.

K is for Kilimanjaro Safari
Located in Animal Kingdom, in Africa, its hit or miss with this ride. When the Lovely Steph Leann and I went in 2004 on our honeymoon, we went early in the morning, and got an upclose and personal picture of a giraffe, and a few others. This time around, going a little later in the day, it started slowly, but we got lucky to have our safari vehicle stopped by two rhinos crossing the road.

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The mother rhino, protecting her rhino kid... cub... youngling... whatever

I've always heard to go early in the day, maybe mid-morning, because the animals are up and feeding. Mid to late afternoon is harder because most of the animals are being lazy... unless you're the lions, who I think are always lazy, laying on the rock. We got a great view of the elephants as well as several good views of the bird life. The hippos were hidden by the water.

L is for Le Cellier
Simply the best restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Okay, so, I have only been to about a dozen of the billion (okay, I don't know how many, but here's a list if you want to count them), but I know its got to be at the top. Located in the Canada area of Epcot, its a steak and seafood place that the Lovely Steph Leann and I fell in love with on our 2004 honeymoon. We insisted that the family go this time around, and it didn't disappoint.

From the Le Cellier menu, I had Canadian Chedder Cheese Soup (featuring smoked bacon and Moosehead beer), for my entree, I went with the 14 ounce New York Strip steak, complete with roasted Yukon mashed potatoes (with a side of delicious oven-roasted wild mushrooms), and for dessert, I indulged in the Vanilla Creme Brulee. Some of the other food items on the table were the Prince Edward Island Mussels (Ron), the Mushroom Filet Mignon (Ruth), the Chocolate Whiskey Cake (Steph).

The only problem? Too much food. I tried to eat it all, I really did... but the food just kept coming, and my stomach was only so big. The service was fantastic, and it was a great way to toss down a $108 meal for the two of us... being on the Disney Dining Plan, though, it didn't matter that much. We'll get to that.

Coming soon... M is for Mater... Q is for Queue Lines... and Y is for Yak & Yeti

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Disney Vacation, A to E

Since it would take me about 10,000,000 words and three weeks to blog each day, I thought I would break down our sensational vacation to Walt Disney World in 26 steps. One for each letter.

The set up... The Lovely Steph Leann and I traveled with Steph's parents, Ron & Ruth, in the big Yukon SUV. To heck with global warming. Traveling behind us was The Lovely Steph Leann's sister Angie, Angie's husband Randy and their two kids, Madeliene, 10, and Benjamin, 6. So, in a recap of 26 letters, here's our Disney Vacation, 2007.

A if for All Star Resorts
I love the All Star Resorts There are three, the All Star Music, the All Star Sports and the one we stayed in, All Star Movies. As nice as I'm sure the Animal Kingdom Lodge is, and we've seen the lobby portions of the Polynesian, the Contemporary and the Grand Floridian and assume they are awesome too, Disney rooms are mostly good for one thing... sleep. As long as the bed, the shower and the sink is clean, why spend a fortune on a room that you'll only spend perhaps six hours a day in, and you'll be asleep then anyway? At least for us, that's what we did. Spent all day in the park, sometimes late into the night, came back to the All Star Movies, room 5853, collapsed, and dragged ourselves up sometimes four hours later.

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The All Star Movies is broken into several sections, including Toy Story, 101 Dalmations, Herbie the Love Bug and where we stayed, Fantasia. No the movie, not that obnoxious screechy voiced American Idol chick.

B is for Beast (how not to get a picture)
The Lovely Steph Leann and I love character pictures. So, naturally, when we saw that Beast was with Belle, we got in line. Having already taken a picture with Belle at a breakfast a few days before, we were excited because I don't know that we've even taken a picture with the Beast. Here we are in line, we get a few families from the front, and its announced that Beast is going to be leaving, but will be back in 30 minutes, and Belle will stay. So we made the decision to not stick around, and walked down EPCOT.

A little while later, we hopped back in line for Beast, knowing that he had a few more minutes to return. He did return, in all his hairy, thick, probably sweltering costume splendor. And again, we got a few families from the front--two, I think--and it was announced that Beast would be leaving again to return in 30 minutes. Sigh. At this point, we couldn't wait around, because we had fast passes for Soarin', a ride that's very, very hard to get into, so we left the line again. And never got our Beast picture.

C is for Cast Members
The people who work for Disney don't work on the "floor", they work on a "stage". The backroom is not a "backroom", it's a "backstage". And employees are not employees, they are "Cast Members", who are putting on a show on "stage", be it as a character, or a show performer or a cashier. The Cast Members are awesome. All are informative, all are fun to talk to, just about everyone took an interest in pins that The Lovely Steph Leann and I had on, and we have many conversations about them and other things. There were a few that were in a hurry, or you could tell were having a bad day, but they were few and far between. You can tell they love their jobs, even the bus drivers, even though the pay isn't all that good.

D is for Digital Camera
Last summer, I saved up my bonus, and went to Best Buy to get me a camera. You may remember me chronicling the event in the column Amberly & the Digital Sell. And it worked just like I wanted it to... I wanted a camera I could carry in my pocket, load pictures onto a computer, take multiple snaps of the same thing and get rid of the ones that don't work. And my Sony Cybershot was perfect.

Random story... the first night we were there, my battery was dying, and I couldn't remember if I had packed the battery charger. When we arrived at All Star Movies, I opened up the luggage, and felt around, and couldn't find it... which meant the Lovely Steph Leann and I decided to go to Best Buy to get another one. I mean, what, $30? $40? And Best Buy was right up the road, right? We just passed a shopping center with Target, Best Buy, Kohls and more. So while the rest of the family went up to Planet Hollywood at Downtown Disney, we hopped in the Yukon and was going to Best Buy. And we got so lost. Seriously.

We thought it was right up the parkway, then take a turn on the right and down that way, but as we went 'down that way' a little farther than we thought, we realized we didn't know where we were. It took us several minutes to even figure out which direction we came in from... the area map we were given didn't help us none, and after stopping at two Wal-Greens, plus about 5,388 turn arounds, we found it. I spent $65 on a Sony 3x Charger, the only one available for my camera. And then we discovered if we had gone straight, right on Osceola Parkway, we would have come across it quickly.

Then, to add insult to lost-ness, after dinner at Planet Hollywood (which was really good), I found my charger under some shirts in my luggage. Thankfully, I had not opened the new one, but we lost the receipt over the course of the week. Yahoo.

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Working the settings on my camera, I was able to take great shots of various things, like the castle.

E is for Everest
Its the newest ride in Animal Kingdom, called Expedition: Everest. On our first full day in Walt Disney World, it was Animal Kingdom we went to first, and we, like most everyone else, headed to the land of Asia to get on Everest. One of the great things about Disney is the theme and atmosphere they set up for the ride, this being a large mountain where a giant Yeti lives and terrorized climbers and visitors.

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Everest looms large, as we approached it. The ride is in the mountain and around.

We were actually near the front, and the ride was so-so for the first part. It trundles through a few twists and turns, and then hits a point where it stops, right before a big piece of track that is all mangled and ripped up. I'm thinking we're about to plummet forward, but we don't... we go backwards. And fast. The ride takes off backwards, then goes forward again later, and rips through the mountain at all sorts of banks and speeds. In a word, Awesome.

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On the ride. That's Ron Campbell in the front, arms outstretched, as we are about to enter the mountain.

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There was supposed to be a big animatronic Yeti who swoops down over the coaster, but we heard it wasn't working. Instead, we got the shadow. This was taken in the middle of the ride, right as its about to go forward again.

Coming soon... F is for Fast Pass... L is for Le Cellier... S is for Soarin'... and W, for Why Disney is Better than Six Flags

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Off to Disney!!

Well, after knowing the trip was coming for at least seven or eight months, tomorrow myself, the Lovely Steph Leann, Ma Ruth, Pa Ron, and Steph Leann's sister's family, Randy, Angie, Madeleine and Benjamin, will all head to Orlando, Florida. Brother in law Tyler joins the family after classes let out on Wednesday.

With that comes the unknowing future of blogging over the next week. It might be the day after Thanksgiving, and you might still see this message... or it might be the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and you might see three posts... I'm going to try to blog from Disney, complete with pictures, but we'll see what happens with the internet access down there.

So, if I can, I'll talk to you shortly. If I can't, then expect a full update the last week of November!

Friday, November 09, 2007

High Maintenance in the Starbucks World (and other frivolities of the life of Dave)

You know, if you're in a Starbucks, be aware of your surroundings.

Case in point... yesterday afternoon, we were busy. It's getting colder, Christmas time is in the air, and more and more people are coming to Starbucks... here's why:

Maintenance. When its hot, and you want refreshment, you come to Starbucks for a frappuccino. Or Brusters for ice cream. Or Smoothie Planet/Tropical/King for a smoothie. Or Sonic for a Sonic Blast. Or Dairy Queen for a Blizzard. A ton of choices, which is why most sales go down during the hotter months.

But when its cold, where do you for hot chocolate, lattes or something to keep you warm? Starbucks. Oh, I'm sure there are other places to go as well, but Starbucks is one of the best places to go.

So, we're busy... three of us on the floor, I'm running the front register, but I need to hope over to help out in Drive Thru, because four cars just pulled in at the same time. I figure I'm just going to get these next two customers at the register and then I'll jump over to DT and save the day.

"Is that peppermint mocha good?" asks the old lady at the register.

"Its really good. I hope you like peppermint, though, because it is... well, pepperminty," I replied with a smile.

"Well, then I'll take one of them in a grande size. And give me one of them pumpkin breads out of the food case here," she asks.

"Alright, thats a grande peppermint mocha and a piece of pumpkin loaf," I said, "and that will be [ringing up] $5.91"

"5.91?? Why is it $5.91??" she stammered.

"Well, it's $3.48 for the peppermint mocha and $1.95 for the pumpkin loaf, plus tax," I replied, getting a little anxious. In the background, there's a woman and her son. The woman is picking up mug after mug after mug. Her son is picking up the stuffed bears, "Bearista Bears" they call them, out of the basket and piling them on a table.

"Well, I'll just take care of it then," she said, opening up her billfold. When she opens up the pocket, I see the glisten of coins. Lots of coins. Being with this company for five years, I knew what was coming next... I cringed as she said, "I'm just going to get rid of some of this change here."

She began to count out five dollars and ninety-one cents in various coinage pieces. Meanwhile, Kelly is in the drive thru getting killed. And the bar person is going to down in flames.

Finally she gets all of her change out, and I snap it up, handing her the pumpkin loaf and smling as I let her know her drink will be ready in a moment. Immediately, the lady behind her hands me a tumbler. "Here, hold this. Your a man, you can tell me how it feels," she says as she quickly turns back to the wall shelves to grab another.

The kid's bear pile is becoming quite high by now, nay, almost admirable. The beep is a constant sound in the headset in my ear, signifying another car, then another car, then another car in the drive thru.

The lady comes back to the counter with three tumblers. "What do you think?" she asked.

"Well," I answered, looking at the fat tumbler in my hand, "I like this one, but my issue with is that it won't fit into a car cupholder, so it depends on what he'll be using it for."

"Yeah, you're right," she says, standing there with four cups, looking at each. Remember, all of this has happened in the span of about five minutes, where I could normally shoot through about twelve customers or more.

I smiled, nod towards the pyramid of stuffed bears, and said, "Your son is quite the architect there." She looked over, sighed, and said, "Put those back." Her son obeyed, and put... two back. She grabbed on, grabbed a small stuffed penguin, piled them on the counter and said, "I'll take these."

I rang up all four tumblers, a small stuffed penguin and the Bearista Christmas Bear. "That'll be $74.03," I said, running the credit card she handed me. I bagged everything up, handed her the bags, thanked her and she was on her way. And just like that, the rush was over.

Now, what have we learned?

When you come into a Starbucks, its okay to take your time. It's okay to be in a hurry. We have customers in both catagories. But, be aware. Life does not revolve around you. You are given our full attention for a very brief time, so when you get that attention, don't take it for granted. Cause, there are lots of other people around who also want our full attention.


I get to go give blood this morning. My buddy Ryan, and my buddy Rad-a-Tad too, works for the Red Cross, and anytime they have a big event, I try to go give. Lifetime, I've given two gallons and three pints, so I'm working towards three gallons lifetime.

Everyone has their blood donating horror stories... the first time I gave, it was in the Samson High School gym. We had blood races, with the guys pumping their fists on that hard plastic tube to make it flow faster. I never finished higher than 2nd.

My veins are pretty big. Nurses see them, they start drooling, then stand on the other side of the room and toss the needles in my arm. My worst experience? Well, two...

1) I was giving at Troy State, upstairs in the Adams Center student building. The line was really long, and I was running late for my freshman journalism 101 class, so as soon as I was done, I grabbed a rice krispy treat and ran... yes, ran... out the door.

For those of you who know Troy State, this is not a good thing. I dash down the stairs, out the Adams Center back doors, and then up the hill leading to Wallace Hall. Then, I run down the hill to the Wallace doors, then up three flights of stairs. I dashed into class at the last second, and sat down behind Miranda. Then the fact I just lost a pint of blood hit me.

"Whoa..." I whoozed. Miranda turned around, looked at me funny, and said, "You don't look so good."

2) I was giving on one of those mobile blood RVs, and the nurse had stuck the needle in. When she did, a little blood spurted out and got on the sleeve of my white shirt. "Oh dear," the nurse said, grabbing a little cloth. Then she started rubbing the blood spot on my sleeve, but as she did, her hand kept knocking the needle protruding from my arm. As it moved back and forth, stuck in my arm, it kinda hurt. "Um... uh, don't worry about the blood on my..." I stammered.

Not paying attention, she was talking to some other nurse, all the while, actually moving a needle that was sticking out of my veins. Not good times. Bad times, bad times.


Sitting here watching "While You Were Sleeping", one of my favorite films. Yes, it will appear in the Dave100 somewhere along the way, once I get to it. And no, I haven't forgotten about the Dave100. Its a list that will make its way over the next few months.

Anyway, my little sister and I watched "Speed" the other night. We actually watched "Muriel's Wedding", which I was hoping I would like, and I did, but before either of us could move, or I could kick her out, "Speed" came on, and we were sucked in. We had a discussion about Sandra Bullock, who had her big breakout in this movie. Remember when both she and Meg Ryan were the absolute cutest things in the entire world? Back in the early 90s?

Well, "While You Were Sleeping" came on, and it reminded me of just how much I used to like Sandra Bullock. She has a Sydney Ellen Wade performance here, because there's not one time in the movie she doesn't look absolutely gorgeous. I had a friend in college named Jennifer Davis who smiled like Sandra Bullock. I think thats why Jennifer Davis was so hot.


Speaking of hot chicks, I read in Entertainment Weekly that there's another sequel to "Gone With the Wind". The book, not the movie, but the book is coming. Anyway, the literary sequel is called "Rhett Butler's People", written by Donald McCaig.

I only mention this because they actually are planning a movie version. Apparently, in a poll, The Goddess is the most popular choice to play Scarlett O'Hara, narrowly edging out Rachel McAdams.

Now I have an issue... would I have to watch this movie? I mean, its associated with Gone With the Wind, which is normally something I don't associate with. But, I'll watch anything Ashley Judd in it. I mean, she's Ashley Judd. She's The Goddess. And she's been in some terrible, terrible movies. This might not be any different.

I guess Ashley is to me what Colin Firth is to The Lovely Steph Leann. Colin is president of the "Guys That Steph Wouldn't Leave Me For, but Would Hesitate Before Saying No" Club (who boasts members like Bradley Whitford and Patrick Dempsey). I guess Ashley is my own president, over members like Debra Messing and Kate Winslet.

Of course, none are Steph Leann. And like I tell Steph.... "I'm with you, not Ashley Judd, so what does that tell you?"


Just got a message from my friend Tiffany Abbott (McCauley, or something like that, who knows), who was to Troy what Julie Wise was to high school. She tells me of the bathroom conditions at the Georgia/Troy game, which Georgia won... by only ten points, mind you.:

Georgia is in such a drought that they basically had signs posted at the football game bathrooms to the effect of "if it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down." There were employed restroom attendants whose job is was to do the flushing.

I laughed hard. Talk about your potty humor.

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Can you believe that after knowing Tiffany Formerly Abbott for twelve years, this is really the only picture I have? So, I figured I would post it just for comedic effect.


And finally, if you're in Tuscaloosa and you want some BBQ, don't go to Dreamland. Go to Archibalds. I was helping train new Starbuckians for the new store in T'town last week, and decided to visit my brother-in-law Tyler on campus, and his roomdawgs, Trey, Jonathan and Stephen. After killing time and watching two or three episodes of "Family Guy", we were hungry. I suggested Archibalds.

I don't know where I'd heard it, but I had heard it was really, really good. It was later I realized that I had seen it on ESPN's College GameDay, where Todd Blackledge has a weekly segment where he visits local restaurants and such.

Anyway, after Tyler drove us around in circles for 30 minutes, we found it. It's this hole in the wall restaurant, where Archibald, this large, old black man, serves BBQ out of the pit that's actually in the wall. The building itself is really not bigger than a regular trailer.

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Stephen, Jonathan, Trey, Archibald, myself and Tyler. Oh, Archibald is the big black man in the middle.

But the food was cheap. And FANTASTIC. For just over 8 bucks, I got a big plate with four ribs and a BBQ pork sandwich, and a 20 ounce Mountain Dew. None of us, not me, nor Stephen, nor Jonathan, nor Tyler, nor Trey said much as we chomped our food.

Seems the place has been around for at least 47 years, when he took over for his daddy. He laughed heartily, and seemed to enjoy the fact we were a bunch of young bucks--even me--eating in his restaurant. A good time was had by all.

And I was full. And it was nice.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Golden Compass preview

I'm naive to think all of my readers, the dozen or two they may be, are Christ-followers, and in fact, some of the following may be music to some of your ears. But, I am a believer in Christ, so I figured I'd give you the following info about a great looking Christmas movie coming up.

And no, its not a copy-and-pasting forward--its all typed out by my own ten fingers.

So, there's a kids movie coming out called "The Golden Compass", starring Nicole Kidman, that looked like it would be pretty good... so, while we were sitting here watching "The Amazing Race", and the trailer/commercial for the movie came on. The Lovely Steph Leann, sitting next to me, just pipes up and says "You know the guy who wrote those books is like, an athiest, and the books that the movie is based on is totally anti-religious and anti-Christian." (this is paraphrasing, but you get the gist)

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Doesn't this look like a great movie? Maybe not.

Anyway, I went onto, which is a great resource for rumors and such, and here's what I found...

Essentially, the book "Northern Lights" (which was relased as "The Golden Compass" in America) is written by England's Philip Pullman, a hardcore athiest, and is the first in a trilogy called "The Dark Materials". He's a guy who professes that he doesn't think its possible there is a God, and, in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, said, "My books are about killing God". Christopher Hitchens, who wrote last year's best selling "God is Not Great", has said that the Dark Materials trilogy is a rebuttal to CS Lewis' Narnia series.

There are some religious leaders, such as the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, has said that Pullman's negative portrayal of the church is really an attack on dogmatism, and other Christian authors (Kurt Bruner, Jim Ware) say that despite his best efforts, Pullman's books "also uncover spiritual themes within the books, which, like shafts of light, break through an otherwise gloomy universe—despite Pullman's best efforts to keep them out. In the end, the authors argue that Pullman offers an unwitting tribute to the God he intended to discredit.".. ie, (what the enemy intended for evil... you know the rest)

From what I've read so far, I've figured out that the movie's writers have taken lots of the anti-Christian rherotic out of it, so as not to offend the ever larger Christian family market (and their money), but you know what happens when people love movies based on books? Many times, they want to read the book. And in this case, any book written about killing God is not a book I'll want my kids to read.

Here is the link for the article I'm basing this on... here is Phillip Pullman's Wikipedia page to read about the author... here's the synopsis of the book "Northern Lights", (that was made into "The Golden Compass")

In case you don't want to read all of the book synopsis, just know that " the trilogy, a young streetwise girl becomes enmeshed in an epic struggle to ultimately defeat the oppressive forces of a senile God. Another character, an ex-nun, describes Christianity as "a very powerful and convincing mistake." In the final book, characters representing Adam and Eve witness the death of "God" (who turns out to be an upstart angel, rather than the creator)."

Finally, here's an article from Peter Hitchens (no relation to the aforementioned Christopher, I don't think), who claims Pullman is the "one athiests would have prayed for, if they prayed"

Anyway, I'm not telling you to NOT go see this movie, or write letters to your congressmen or protest whatever, you guys can decide for yourself and your family as to whether you want to see this flick.

I just thought it might be good to have an idea of what you were putting your family and kids in front of. I have a feeling that Steph and I will put our hard earned money towards something with more meaning, like "Fred Claus".