Sunday, June 28, 2009

LOST Ramblings

Here are some random thoughts while (re)watching the Season 1 finale of LOST on dvd...

This show is so amazing. Seriously.

The Lovely Steph Leann and I are working our way through it, and are finishing the first season. We'll work on the 2nd season in a few days, perhaps get through it in a week or two, then go to the 3rd, then the 4th. We'll wait for the 5th on DVD, probably in December or so, and then be ready for a week by week take on LOST, the final season.

I might even blog it episode by episode, to coincide with American Idol. I will say, though, there has never been a more impressive, more amazing series first episode than LOST.


I was surfing the interweb this afternoon, a relaxing Sunday afternoon, while The Lovely Steph Leann worked on computer. While we were doing our tasks separately, yet still in the same room, the Enzyte commercial came on. You know, the "once a day pill for male enhancement" commercial? Bob is all smiles because... well, he takes Enzyte, and Enzyte... well, it... um... it makes... makes men happier, which in turn, judging from the look on Mrs. Bob's face, makes the wife happier. Do we really need to explain this?

Anyway, I was curious about Smilin' Bob. Hold your imaginations until I get this paragraph finish, okay? I did a Google search on Smilin' Bob and in the process, I found out that not only is the actor named John Larson, which apparently is the name of a congressman (D-CT) as well. The company that owns the brand Enzyte, a place called Berkeley Premium, had thousands of complaints against it to the Better Business Bureau because... well, it didn't work. Plus there was everything from credit card fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy against at least five of their CEOs.

Says Wikipedia: On February 22, 2008, Steven Warshak was found guilty of 93 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering. On August 27, 2008 he was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay $93,000 in fines. His company, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, along with other defendants, was ordered to forfeit $500 million. His 75-year-old mother, Harriet Warshak, was sentenced to two years in prison.

They have changed the company name to Vianda.

You think thats weird? In my searching, I also discovered that apparently, John Larson (the actor, not the congressman) was in a boating accident off the coast of Martinique, and has been missing since May. Apparently, around June 12th, he's been presumed dead.

How 'bout that for random, huh?


Watching Vh1 Classic this afternoon, they had a Michael Jackson retrospective with a ton of videos. We watched a few, like "Billie Jean", complete with this cool, balance on your toes while posing dance move. I tried it many, many, many times over as a child. Didn't work.

Another video we watched? "We Are the World". Its a total list of 80s Former Mega Stars... Huey Lewis. Cyndi Lauper. Lionel Richie. Diana Ross. Peabo Bryson & James Ingram (I actually am not sure which is which, but I'm pretty convinced they are the same person). Daryll Hall AND John Oates. And Dan Aykroyd, who somehow made into this group of superstar singers.


At church today, that being Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), we had a presidential impersonator. His name is John Morgan, and he came out and deadpanned former President Dubya. The laugh was the same, the mannerisms were the same, the voice was the same... it was pretty close to being spot on.

And he was really, really funny. The great thing was, though, he didn't stay in character the whole time. He came out character about 3/4s of the way through, enough to introduce himself and share the gospel.


On his own website,, you'll see video of him with Tony Danza, doing his own music (as Dubya) and more. Its a hoot. If you have a chance to see him, go.







Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sandra Bullock's Proposal

I read a recent review of “The Proposal”, and it made a great point about romantic comedies… usually, within the first 15 minutes, you can kind of deduce the ending. The appeal of the movie is, is what you’ll go through to get that inevitable happily ever after worth the happy ending you knew was coming? For “The Proposal”, I have to say… well, it kinda was.

You have to know I’m a huge Sandra Bullock fan, always have been, and at one point between 1994 and 1998, I went to the theater to see every movie she released... that includes...

That many movies in a row with any actor, I’m not sure I can say that for just about anyone right now. Maybe ever.

Right from the get-go, you know exactly how this movie is going to end, but really, it’s a lot of fun to find your way to the moment when Margaret (Sandra) and Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) finally get together.

Margaret Tate is a mean, mean boss, especially taking for granted her hard working, long time, loyal assistant, Andrew Paxton. The predicament is when she, being Canadian and ignoring her call to renew her visa, is threatened with deportation. Her solution? Marry that hard working, long time, taken for granted assistant, and of course, against his will. (Let’s forget that this movie was called “Green Card” when it was released in 1990 and starred Gerard Depardieu and Andie McDowell… because “The Proposal” is a far better film, it gets a pass)

So they travel to Alaska together, to his hometown to meet his family, and… well, hilarity ensues. The supporting characters add much to the fun, including Ramone, who makes a half-dozen appearances, all hilarious, throughout the film. Betty White is the grandma, and has her own issues which are quite funny, Mr. Incredible Coach and Mary Steenburgen are the parents, doing an ample job and worth mentioning is Malin Akerman, who plays Andrew’s former flame Gertrude (really? Gertrude? They couldn’t come up with a better name for that?) I only mention Gertrude because while really good looking here, she wasn’t anywhere near this cute as Silk Spectre II in “Watchmen”.

There is a notable scene, heralded in the media and with critics, where both main characters are naked, accidentally running into each other, he covered in sweat after hard work, she wet after just getting out of the shower. All naughty bits are covered and unseen, though, and the scene is very funny.


Ryan Reynolds is growing on me. He rose to fame as the title character in “Van Wilder”, and has been seen in films like “Waiting”, “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle”, “Adventureland” and most recently, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. The Lovely Steph Leann dug him in "Definately, Maybe", though I was partial to Isla Fisher myself.

This is a nice comeback of sorts for Sandra Bullock, having been a bright spot, perhaps the only bright spot, in films like “Premonition”, “The Lake House” and “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous”. She’s got another romantic comedy coming up this fall, with Bradley Cooper, called “All About Steve”, and after seeing the trailer for it today… well, I’m looking forward to it.
By the way, Ryan Reynolds is actually from Vancouver, and Sandra Bullock hails from Virginia.

Sidebar... I wrote this review about a day or so after I saw the film, but as I was on blogging hiatus, I chose to sit on it and not post it until later. I think this is what I'm going to do for movie reviews... either write them, then wait a few days to post, or wait a few days to write and post, because after a few days, I have a chance to think about how much I liked (or dis-) the movie. I mention this, because after two weeks of thinking about, I really, really liked this film.

Second Sidebar… as The Lovely Steph Leann and I were walking in, towards Theater 14, we were behind these two older ladies just taking their sweet time… which was fine, really. As they (and we) walked past the big cardboard standee poster of “G-Force”. Old Lady 1 turned to Old Lady 2 and asked, “Have you seen that movie yet?” Old Lady 2 said, “No, not yet. But I saw the previews for that, and that movie just looks so funny!” Old Lady 1 replied, “Oh, I know! I think that’s going to be so good!”

Mind you, this is a movie about a crack team of espionage agents infiltrating a madman trying to take over the world. Oh, and the team is talking guinea pigs. I wanted to reach up and thump the ears of both of those old ladies and say, “It’s cause of people like you that my company has this crap, Beverly Hills Chihuahua and 108 versions of Air Bud on their shelves! Because people like you keep going to see that crap!”

Just sayin’.

Not Emmy Turnbow Safe

First and foremost, I need to go on record and apologize to Emmy Turnbow. This is not an Emmy Turnbow safe film by any stretch of the imagination. Even if it was censored, toned down and edited for its broadcast on TNT in 2013 on a random Saturday afternoon, it still wouldn’t be Emmy Turnbow safe. In fact, in thinking about it, there isn’t a single moment of this film that could be considered Emmy Turnbow safe.

For those of you curious, Emmy Turnbow is the wonderfully wonderful wife of our Sunday Sch… er, Life Connection class at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship), and she’s one of the most Godly chicks I know. So, if she’s going to disapprove of something, or I’d feel bad knowing I led her to it, I called it Not Emmy Turnbow Safe. Its almost the same thing as NSFW (not safe for work).

So, consider “The Hangover” as not at all Emmy Turnbow Safe. That being said… holy crap, this movie was funny. I mean, really funny. I mean, like, seriously, really, really funny. Wrong in every sort of the word, totally crude, totally raunchy, totally put your face in your hands and wonder how long to wait before praying repentance that you, a Christ Follower, are finding this film as hysterical as you are. But its funny. So I'm not here to debate the merits of seeing such a movie while proclaiming the name of Jesus, I'm here to tell you I went, by myself, to see a movie that I thought would be funny, and it was.


Simple premise is, three guys take their buddy for a night stay in Vegas for a bachelor party… all three have distinctly different personalities, all three are played to the hilt, and all three react differently when they wake up in their now-trashed hotel room the next morning, a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, one guy missing a tooth and the groom completely disappeared. None of them can remember a thing about the night, but they start backtracking their steps to find out what happened, and why Mike Tyson ends up in their hotel room. And where the tiger came from. And why one of them is missing a tooth. And why there is a baby in the closet. And why... come to think of it, this sounds like The Lovely Steph Leann's bachelorette party.

All I can say is, if you take the cleverness of “The Wedding Crashers”, the silliness of “American Pie” and the sheer crudeness of “Superbad” and “Old School”, then toss them all in together, you’ll get a movie like “The Hangover.” Go into this expecting lots of F-bombs, lots of potty humor, Heather Graham breastfeeding and somewhere in there, a naked Asian man wielding a tire iron in a scene that make me cry because I was laughing so hard. If this is not your alley, then please, stay away. You’ve been warned. And the ending credits? Wrong. And funny. And wrong. And funny. You’ve been warned.

Emily Duncan Turnbow, you stay away. Don't even think about it.

Go Speed Racer Go... and Keep Going

Some movies rely soley on effects, with a story tossed in there… this was a problem that plagued the last three Star Wars films, and, coincidentally, the 2nd and 3rd Matrix films, directed by The Wachowski Brothers.

This is the problem that prevents “Speed Racer” from being a pretty good movie. First, and hear me on this, the visuals in this movie are spectacular. Perhaps overly so. In fact, its one of the few movies I can honestly say I’m glad I didn’t see in the theater and not because I didn’t want to pay the 8 or 9 bucks for the ticket.

When you were a kid, did you ever play with the television menu? You know, moving the little dials on contrast and tint and such, and do it so the color almost screams at you obnoxiously? I wouldn’t bet against some kid doing this to “Speed Racer” while it was in final production. The racing scenes are glorious, a sensory beatdown for your eyes that feels as if just before shipping the film to theaters, they tossed in a box of primary color Crayolas and shook the can vigorously.

This is a live action still shot. Imagine this color being blasted over a fifty foot screen.

The Wachowski Brothers are known for their movie techno prowess, being the directors who created the visuals of the character jumping in slow motion, the camera spinning wildly in a circle and then everything coming back to normal speed as the character does the punch and kick. We first saw this when Neo did it in “The Matrix”, on all accounts one of the most amazing films to ever experience for the first time, and we’ve seen it a thousand times in other films, be it a rip-off or a parody.

In saying all of this, I can totally appreciate what The Wachowski Brothers are trying to do here. They want to make a family film that can not only be enjoyed by kids and adults, but also set another bar for how g ood a film like this can be. The problem is, I can truly see how kids would be dazzled by the colors and scenes, but it moves so fast and blurry that they would be lost. I can also see how adults, unless truly focused on this film, would be lost in the storyline and not care enough to figure it out.

It boasts a decent cast, including Susan Sarandon and John Goodman as Speed’s parents and Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer. Two casting decisions left me cringing, though, one being Christina Ricci as Trixie, Speedy’s girlfriend. I’ve never been a huge fan of Christina Ricci, and here she looks… well, she just looks frail and ghastly. While that one is more a personal preference, the other cringe casting is Matthew Fox as fellow driver Racer X. At first I was thinking that it was just I could only see him as Jack from LOST and couldn’t picture him in anything else… but the more I watched it, the more I realized he just doesn’t fit. He looks out of place, he looks like he’s having a miserable time, he looks like he’s just truly mailing it in.

Poor Matthew Fox.... pretty good in "Vantage Point", pretty decent in "We Are Marshall", a square peg in a round hole in "Speed Racer"

All in all, “Speed Racer” is one of those films that if you are flipping channels and come across it, especially in HD, you should take a few minutes, soak it in, enjoy the color and sight and splendor of it all. Then go find something like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, my 29th favorite film of all time, a movie that finds its color, sight and splendor in its characters and in telling its funny, sweet story.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ten Disney Must-Do's (Part II)

I think because I work at The Happiest Place in the Mall, The Lovely Steph Leann and I have become sort of "de facto go-to" people for advice on The Most Magical Place on Earth. We are by no means experts, but through trial and error, we've figured out a whole heckuva lot to do, and not to do. I go through some of this on a blog from 2008, called "How To Do Disney", but am always looking around for more tips and advice.

All that is to say I am by no means a Disney expert--but I do have some fun stuff to share. Just today, my ol' friend Deniece emailed me to tell me that she and her family are headed to The Most Magical Place on Earth tomorrow (!) and wanted to know about character meet & greets. So I wrote a rather lengthy discertation on who to find where, what lines to watch out for and so on. Yes, I'm a nerd. But such a magical one.

Before we finish our Ten Disney Must-Do's, I wanted to give you a few things that are worth experiencing, and I didn't include them because they either fall just outside the Top Ten, or because they are so intregal to a Disney Experience, I figured it wasn't a suggestion, it was a no-brainer...

  • Fast Passes (this is vital for big rides and attractions)...
  • The Monorail (sometimes its nice just to ride around the resort and park)...
  • Downtown Disney (unbelievable shopping, a Lego store, a Toy store and great eats)...
  • Package Resort Deliveries (did you know that if you are staying onsite, you can buy something and have it shipped back to your room the next day? or if you are not staying onsite, or are leaving the next day, you can have it taken to the front of the park so you can get it on the way out)
  • Main Street Confectionary (on the corner of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, they've got cotton candy, candied apples, M&Ms and Jelly beans of dozens of colors and these big, fat marshmellow krispy bars dipped in chocolate)
  • The American Idol Experience (This is fun to watch the first time. Don't know that I'd do it over and over)

If you missed it, here's Part I... here's the rest of d$'s Disney Must-Do's...

5. Pin Hopping
We are pin traders. We love it. If you don't care about pins, if you don't care about trading, then keep reading anyway. Just do part of it.

Here are lanyards that The Lovely Steph Leann and myself use when we go to the parks. Hers are the two on the left, mine are the two on the right. And yes, we only wear one at a time, the extra is a spare lanyard with extra pins.

The resort monorail goes from The Magic Kingdom to Contemporary to the Transportation & Ticket Center to the Polynesian to the Grand Floridian and back to the Magic Kingdom. Riding the rails on a hot afternoon is wonderful, if only for the air conditioning, the comfy seats and the relaxing whirrrrrr of the monorail.

However, if you want to do a little pin hunting, hop the monorail and ride it three stops to get to the Polynesian between 5p & 5:30p. They have a "pin board" they pull out and put on display, and you are welcome to trade two pins off of the board (when you are done, go get some Dole Whip in the Polynesian's food court). Get back on the monorail, and go to the Grand Floridian, because between 6p and 630, they also have a pin board they pull out. Again, you can trade up to 2 pins per person.

Here is what The Lovely Steph Leann was looking for... Small World pins. The ones on the left she got last time at Downtown Disney's Pin Trader's area, but didn't find anymore this time. The ones on the right she found this past trip.

Hope on the monorail once more, then take it 2 stops to The Contemporary, where they have the best, biggest pin board of the three. You have a full hour to peruse the pins on this set-up, but you can only trade one single pin per person--so choose carefully.

Going into this trip, I had 12 of 13 possible "Fast Pass" pins--pins that look like... well, "Fast Passes". Each series has one ride from each park (with the 2nd series having 2 from Magic Kingdom). My goal was to find the Mickey's PhilharMagic pin to finish my entire set. I found it on day 2.

Its a great way to see the resorts, see some pins that you might not otherwise see, you can take a minute and eat at any of the three resorts, and you'll find that you'll see the same people from resort to resort, sometimes striking up a conversation and a temporary, two hour kinship, as those in lines and areas are wont to do.

4. Soarin'
I love this ride. Its just magnificent. As soon as they allow you into Epcot, head straight for this ride, and get in line. You can get a Fast Pass, but many times it takes too long--try and get one after the ride, it will be a good ride to come back to around noon, when its 118 degrees outside.

You travel through the terminal of the ride, and are directed to stand in one of three lines (if you can, ask for the front row... you might have to wait until the next ride, but its worth it). A video comes up, and Puddy tells you about your flight, putting your stuff in the underseat compartment and all that. The doors open, you go in and see rows of hanging chairs. You take your seat, buckle in and wait.


Finally, the ride lifts. If you are on the front, you are lifted over 50 feet in the air (the second row goes up 35, the third up about 20), but if you are afraid of heights, you don't feel the air you've taken. The screen lights up, and you find yourself literally "Soaring" over California locales like Monteray, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite, Malibu, San Diego and more... when you soar over orange groves, you get a whiff of citrus, you feel air rushing to your face and you feel like you are really hang gliding.

If not the best part, its right up there, is the music. Its simple, its peaceful, its not all sappy, its calming yet powerful. Its a perfect start to your Epcot day.

3. Wishes Fireworks
As you sit down for the SpectroMagic Parade, keep your spot until 10, for Wishes, especially if you are in front of the castle. At 10, you'll hear your host, Jiminy Cricket, and then the fireworks begin... and really, no one, and I mean no one, does fireworks like The Most Magical Place on Earth.

How much can I say about fireworks? Here's some shots from The Lovely Steph Leann's camera...


What's more, its not just about the fireworks, though thats the major part of it. Its the castle itself, lit up in blue, green, pink, purple and other bright colors, matching the fireworks. Its the crowd's "ooooh" and "aaaaah" that, thought cliche, is fun to listen to. Its the kids around you laughing as they marvel and clap and scream in joy at the loud bangs and firecrackers lighting up the sky. And the fact that not once have I ever smelled that burned fireworks smell that you get at just about any other fireworks display... sometimes the best Magic is the stuff you don't experience.

2. Get a Character Meal... or At Least, Eat Somewhere Nice
This is a vacation. And its not just any vacation, its a Disney vacation, one that you hopefully have saved for, prepared for, planned for and waited for... The Lovely Steph Leann and I are blessed to be able to take several trips, but for some families, it is a once in a lifetime--or at least, a once in a very-long-time--trip. This ain't Six Flags, friends, this is Walt Disney World.

If you can get in, I highly recommend Le Cellier in Epcot's Canada. Its a fantastic steakhouse and seafood place, but you'll need reservations, or hope you get lucky.


You'll have plenty of chances to do so, by the way. There are restaurants everywhere, so you'll just have to figure out what you want, but find a fun place to eat for the family. Have a "table service" meal, eat a steak, or a big bowl of lasagna, or some fish or something. Let the kids let loose and have some pizza. Disney servers are fantastic, and are trained well to give you a great experience, and most restaurants will work with you on allergins and such.

This is at the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at The Grand Floridian, where you'll meet Alice, Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, and of course, The Mad Hatter, who is always a fun character to meet.

Character meals are awesome, though. Depending on which characters you want to see (Pooh? Tigger? Mickey? Pluto? Lilo & Stitch?), and when you want to eat (breakfast? lunch? dinner? late dinner? brunch?), and where you want to eat (in the parks? in the resort?) there are a ton of places to go.

A fun picture of The Lovely Steph Leann and Tigger

Take the pictures, enjoy the experience.

And finally... my current Number One Must Do at The Most Magical Place on Earth...

1. Toy Story Mania
You will have more fun on this ride than possibly any other ride in the park. The Rockin' Roller Coaster is faster. The Tower of Terror will kick you in the stomach harder. Small World is more classic. Everest is bigger. But Toy Story Midway Mania appeals to anyone who's ever had fun throwing rings or tossing balls or trying to win at skee ball or trying to get those stupid little red tickets in an arcade... because "arcade" barely covers it.

You get in your little car, behind a goofy gun with a pull string. You put on the 3-D glasses, and then are whirled around to a screen where Jessie & Woody greet you, asking you to practice. You pull the string and... a little paintball appears on the screen, splattering a plate Woody is holding with red paint.


You are whisked away to five areas, breaking plates, popping balloons, tossing rings and more... your score is kept via your little digital readout, and the entire time, you are eager to beat the person next to you, and laughing all the way. Its awesome. The Lovely Steph Leann and I did it five times last February, and though we could only do it once, this is a ride that is on a short list of "we have to ride this everytime we go. Every. Time." kind of attractions.

Normally, I would strongly encourage you to get a Fast Pass for this ride as soon as the park opens, then ride it, leaving you Fast Passes for it later. However, this past trip, I raced ahead to get the Fast Passes, while St'ray, C'ray and The Lovely Steph Leann went to the line, where I'd catch up with them in just a few minutes. However, I'd never seen what I saw that morning... the Fast Pass line was a hundred persons deep. It stretched out of the Pixar Place gate and beyond. I said, out loud to no one in particular, "Forget this!" and joined the others in line.

We did end up getting Fast Passes for it later that morning, which allowed us to ride it after 6pm. We ended up giving them away, as we left the park before our Fast Pass time. So, judge accordingly, or get there first in line to get in the park to race to Toy Story Mania. If you are staying more than a few days, and are going to Hollywood Studios twice, get there early to ride this first... the next day you come to the Studios, you can go immediately to Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster and probably be able to ride both a few times in a row, as everyone else is on the other side of the park.

So, there's my list of Ten Disney Must-Do's. You are welcome to add your own, or throw your own comments and advice in. The Lovely Steph Leann will be doing her own guest blog soon, telling her own Disney stories, so look for that hopefully next week!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ten Disney Must-Do's (Part I)

There are hundred things I could tell you to do when you go to Walt Disney World. When people come into The Happiest Place in the Mall, asking questions about The Most Magical Place on Earth, I have to be careful not to be drawn into a 20 minute conversation, answering questions about the dining plan, the character meals, the places to find Mickey, the places to find Hidden Mickeys, the best (and worst) resorts and so on... I could make that list of a 100+ things, but I'm sure after about #12 or #14, I'd lose half of you, all but the most diehard Disney nuts.

I've been back a week from The Most Magical Place on Earth (the Lovely Steph Leann informed me that "The Happiest Place on the Earth" is actually DisneyLAND, while "The Most Magical Place on Earth" is DisneyWORLD. Yeah, whatever. I'll make the change from here.)

Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favorite parts of the magic. These are ten things I've chosen as my MUST-DO attractions, rides, events and experiences when you go to Disney. Perhaps you've done some, all or none of things, perhaps you've thought about some of them but wasn't sure, or perhaps you just need some ideas for a quick trip... well, here is your checklist, from my perspective...

10. Dole Whip
Its this ice cream they serve at Disney World, but its more than just ice cream... its soft serve. Its tasty. Its refreshing. Its Dole Whip. You can really only get this at two places in The World, one being The Polynesian Resort food court, the other being a little vendor in the Magic Kingdom, over in Adventureland. Its served in a glass of pineapple juice, topped with whipped cream and a cherry on top.


Its served in chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, mango and orange, but The Lovely Steph Leann usually goes pineapple, and I either go pineapple or vanilla. Its a Must-Eat.

9. Fantasmic
A couple of nights per week, Disney Hollywood Studios does a production unlike anything else in The World... its a production that involves Mickey Mouse, the Big Cheese, joins some of his closest friends, including Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto, Belle, Pocohontas, John Smith, Rafiki, Cinderella and more, and they take on the evil villiany of Jafar, Hades, Cruella de Vil, Scar, Monstro and more. Maleficent shows up, turns into a dragon and when it looks like Good will fall to Evil... Mickey Mouse prevails!


What makes this a spectacle is the pyro and hydro-technics. There's fire, there's explosions, there are massive water screen geysers with full-on movie scenes projected onto them, and of course, there's magic and imagination. Get there early, maybe 45 minutes ahead of time, to get a good seat... you can also do "Dining Packages" with several of the Hollywood Studios restaurants, like Hollywood & Vine and Mama Melrose's, where you can eat and get special Fantasmic seating. This can be expensive, between $45 and $50 for adults, but it includes a full, more-than-you-can-eat meal... if you are on the Disney Dining Plan, this is well worth the investment. This is a Must-Do

8. Finding Nemo: The Musical
When walking around Animal Kingdom, you check out the Times Guide, and see "Finding Nemo: The Musical", at 11am, 1pm, 245pm and so on. You think of whether to spend the 30 minutes in line, the 20 minutes seated, waiting for the show to start, then the 45 minutes on the show itself, or spend all that time riding Everest, or Dinosaur or go on the Safari.

When Crush comes out, the audience cheers. As well they should.

So, you figure, its hot, your feet hurt, why not take a few minutes in the air conditioning, right? And what you see is a marvel. Its a show on par with The Lion King Broadway show, in its imagination, its color, its music, its puppets and more... here's what Chuck Schmidt in the Staten Island Advance had to say:

"Finding Nemo: The Musical" captures the best moments of the Disney/Pixar film in the refurbished -- as well as enclosed and air conditioned -- Theater in the Wild, the previous home to the "Tarzan Rocks!" stage show. But what makes "Nemo" so unique is the range of talents employed during the elaborate 40-minute production -- everything from puppets to dancers to acrobats are combined with strikingly colorful animated backdrops and a beautiful score to present what is truly an exhilarating experience.

Unless you just simply detest "Nemo", this show is a Must-Sea

7. Mickey's PhilHarmagic

When you are in Fantasyland, you need to take a stop into this attraction. You walk in, you put on your 3-D glasses, and hear Mickey, Minnie and Goofy getting ready for a big concerto. But where's Donald? He's missing! Open those curtains, and there's Donald, asleep. Mickey Mouse comes out, wakes Donald and instructs him to not "touch my hat!" And of course, Donald Duck puts on the Mickey's Sorcerer's Hat.


And it all takes place on a 150 foot, 3-D screen, and in it, you see Ariel, Simba, Lumiere, Aladdin, Jasmine, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, and you hear some of greatest Disney tunes of all time... and Donald Duck is right in the middle of it all. Its wonderful. Its a Must-Do.

6. SpectroMagic
Currently, every night at 8pm, go around and find a spot either in front of the train station or town hall, or at the end of Main Street, perhaps around Cinderella's castle or even around the bridge. Have a seat, kick your feet up, rest a spell. Because at 9pm, the best parade around kicks off.. its the SpectroMagic Parade, filled with over 600,000 lights, over 100 miles of fiber optic strands and 72,000 watts of speaker power, all in 36 different floats or performers.


I'm not necessarily one for parades, really... I find the wait for them to be long, many times they are kinda silly, and having seen many a parade in my time, with everything from Miss Samson Misty Kimble sitting atop a car in a sequin dress waving insincerely at the crowd to Santa Claus tossing candy at the end of a Magic Kingdom procession... but SpectroMagic has me glued every time.


Perhaps its the little kid in me that just enjoys the lights, or the music, or Ariel in a bikini top, or whatever, but it makes me smile. Anything with that many lights makes me smile. Its a Must-See.

Tomorrow, Part II...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


So, Wednesday morning, June 10th, at 1115a, The Lovely Steph Leann and myself will be joining our friends St'ray and C'ray and will be heading down to The Happiest Place on Earth... we'll be there until Monday, and if its like usual, I'll have very little access of blogging or posting anything...

So, I'll be off the blogpage for at least five days. And then after that, I'm going to take a week long blogging vacation, if you will. I'm sure I'll have lots to say, and lots to type, but I'm going to take a few days, re-focus some stuff, maybe stay off of Facebook a day or so, and just... well, be. Cause we all need that, don't we?

However, I do want to say really quick... thank you for reading this blog. I've got 14 people that now "subscribe" to it, about 15 more than I would have guessed I would have. And a number of people out there who send me emails, comment or just tell me outright "hey, I read this and..." and it never fails to make me smile and make me want to write more. I'm sure I'll be all mushy and stuff when I do Column #500 some time this summer, but for now, a big thank you.

Talk atcha soon.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Front Porch Sign Says Yard Sale

The front porch sign says yard sale... real estate sign says "sold"... family picnic table holds all that it can hold... on the grass and on the sidewalk, yeah there must be half the town... ain't it funny how a broken home can bring the prices down... Sammy Kershaw's "Yard Sale", from the 1991 album "Don't Go Near the Water".

Old school country, really. Its from Sammy's album "Don't Go Near the Water", debuting in 1991. It really is a little cheesy, but its pure, true country... the chorus says, "...They're sorting through whats left of you and me... paying yard sale prices for each golden memory... oh, I never thought I'd ever live to see... the way their sorting through whats left of you and me..."

The video is even better... poor Sammy watches his woman take her ring off, lay it on the table and slowly walk out. We see him just wander around the yard, watching people pay a few bucks each for all of the prized and cherished possessions of their marriage.

The video is here, but YouTube won't let me post it. Some crap about copyright infringement... whatever.

Anyway, this was all up in my mental jukebox this weekend as The Lovely Steph Leann and I raced around the house gathering up stuff out of The Cabana's depths, cabinets, closets and so on... we were invited by The Tebershaws to join in with their own yard sale... Tiffiany, the Tebershaw lady, is going to have herself a little baby, so she and Teber are working on clearing some space for a youngling. Gemini and Heather King recently downsized into a smaller habitat, so they had a bunch of stuff to get rid of.

I mean, its a yard sale. Stuff that you had five years ago, stuff that you held so dear and precious, stuff that you'd neeeeeeeevvvvvveeeerrrr get rid of (and I say this tongue in cheek, as typically I was the one that did just that very thing) suddenly, now, don't seem so important. Yeah, there was a few things I kept, for reasons here and there, but sifting through boxes, seeing stuff I hadn't since before we left The Casa de Pesos for The Cabana

You left two Sunday dresses in the backporch and on the line... lady just brought them to me, said she thinks they'll fit just fine... well, there goes the baby's wagon and the mirror from the hall... I'd better take just one last look before they take it all...

Anyway, here's a few snapshots from the weekend...

The driveway of The Tebershaws home, where we lined up three couples worth of stuff. It was kinda comical to begin with, as we actually had an "electronics", a "home decor", a "Christmas" and an entire table of picture frames, of which we sold nearly all of them.

I finally sold what remained of my home video collection. Yes, I do have a few irreplaceable videos here at The Cabana, but mostly, this was it. Back in 2004, The Lovely Steph Leann and I--both married in our late 20s, so we carried into the marriage numerous things that we suddenly had two of, like dishes, furniture, movies, towels and so on, of which I had to get rid of most of mine because hers was better--joined forces with Mikey and his wife Ashleia, and we had a yard sale. Mikey and I, tenants of The Deuce, probably owned at least 600 videos between the two of us, and both of us were jumping headfirst into the DVD revolution.

Well, that yard sale, The Lovely Steph Leann and I made about 700 dollars, Mikey and Ashleia made somewhere around 500, and probably half of both of our totals was videos. And we managed to sell several this morning, first at $2, then $1 per. Top left, you'll see my Monkees video collection, when I used to get a tape each month with three episodes of the serious. I was a diehard Monkees fan back in the day, and still am to some respect. Wookiee used to make fun of me. The "Abs of Steel", however... not mine.

The price sticker says 25 cents on it, but we taxed it much more. Its a great cup, though. Whatever you put in it, it looks great and smells great and seems awesome on the outside. What you actually get, though? Not so much. (I had a dozen of these rolling this morning...)

Not sure which couple this belonged to, but it seemed like a funny picture... a contridiction, if you will.

Gemini sold some boots that had been worn in Iraq, carrying with it geniune Iraqi dirt.

Not to be outdone, this kangaroo puppet is straight from Australia. Seriously. My friend Darlene brought it to me when she went there on missions... finally, though, 12 years or so later, it was time to let it go.

That's the problem with friends that go on missions and bring stuff back... you feel so obliged to keep it, because not only were they nice enough to think of you, but its stuff thats from... well, around the world. Scotty Latta brought us back a stuffed banana, while my little sister Ashley brought back some Chinese stuff from... China. We've still got them.

My most prized "missions gift" though is a hand carved mancala set from South Africa that my friend AmyAlex brought back years ago. She and I have lost touch, but I still have that set, and won't get rid of it for anything.

On another topic, The Lovely Steph Leann and I find ourselves... well, I "find" myself, she seeks it out... watching "Clean House" on, what, Oxygen? WE? Style! Yeah, that's it, Style... anyway, I preferred "Clean Sweep" on TLC, mostly because it amused me that a family show would sample "Blowin' Me Up With Her Love" by JC Chasez for its title tune, but "Clean House" is the same concept... in the show, usually around the yard sale time, the head designer appeals to the homeowner about a certain item, one that they just don't want to get rid of, because it holds a special memory of a loved one, often times deceased.

For me, this moment came when this woman picked up my dad's old camera.

It was a Minolta, with two lenses, and one of those flashes that towered above the camera itself, in a big column, and the flash faces out in a rectangle. It was in the case, still with the instructions, had been used maybe, four, five times, ever. Value of the camera when purchased, with all the accrutrements? At least $400. And here it was, some 23, 24 years after it had been bought, and almost 10 years since my dad passed, the camera sat on the table with a $20 price tag. And this woman dared to haggle me about the price. Actually, I had already marked it down to $10, so I didn't understand why this woman wouldn't pay the full ten, not bring it down more...

Of course, to her it was just an old camera, much like if I went to her house and spotted a 1987 edition of Univision Monthly on her table... to me, just an old magazine, to her it might contain a special story that means something, or perhaps her cousin was featured in a novella on that Thursday night or whatever... one man's trash...

So, she paid 7. I took the money, she put the camera strap on her shoulder, and she walked away. I stood, silently, watching the camera go down the driveway, disappear into a hatchback and drive away forever. With my right hand, I wiped away a little moisture in my eye (it was dusty in that garage, mind you) and then went out marking other stuff down, as it was getting later in the day.

MZ asked me later why I got rid of it, and at first, I didn't know... but I knew. It was taking up space. I was never, ever going to use it. It was so old, I wasn't even sure it all worked. And I've got mementos from my dad from before he died, so it wasn't as if this camera held a lock of his hair or something... it was... well, it was just a thing. And I'm okay with it being gone.

What I wrote on the box speaks for itself.

On top, kids, thats a Vee Cee Are... it stands for Video Cassette Recorder. Say it with me... Vee... Cee... Are... and below that is a DVD player that we only sold because we just bought a Blu Ray player.

I wanted to keep this one, and replace one upstairs in the guest room... this one here belonged to me, therefore, it was a better machine, and the one I wanted to replace belonged to The Lovely Steph Leann. And guess which one we still have, and which one we sold. Yup.

Was there any bigger misleading investment potential than that of Beanie Babies? The Lovely Steph Leann even commented that ten years ago, these things would go for a few bucks more than the 50 cents we were selling them for here.

So that was our yard sale, and our end of it pulled in about $230 or so. Course, to look in The Cabana's hallways and such, you wouldn't know that anything was missing... everything just collapsed in on itself to fill the now empty space.

"Oh, they're sorting through what's left of you and me... paying yard sale prices for each golden memory... oh, I wonder what you'd say if you could see... the way they're sorting through whats left of you and me...."

Friday, June 05, 2009

What I Was Going To Say Was

I was totally going to blog tonight about some random stuff... then I just got busy...

...what I was going to tell you was that I saw "Observe and Report" tonight at the $1 theater with Mikey. It was pretty terrible. It was a random (not in a good way) movie, it didn't go anywhere, it veered off into fifteen different directions, it wanted to be a comedy but still wanted to be taken as "smart" comedy, which it wasn't. Out of every character in that movie, including a usually reliable Seth Rogan's Ronnie, Anna Faris and several other "that guys" and B-listers, including Ray Liotta, the ONLY character in the entire movie I actually liked was that of Nell, the Cinnamon Bun stand worker, played by Collette Wolfe... otherwise, the movie was really lame...

Nell works at the Toast The Bun cinnamon place in the mall, and really the only likable person in this film.

...And after that, I was going to tell you this random story...

On the way over to the movie theater, I stopped at the Chevron across the street to get a few snacks to smuggle into the theater. Oh, stop it, you know you've done it before. Anyway, I had my iPod on, and was somehow listening to Puff Daddy (as he was known at the time) and The Notorious B.I.G. The song that had just come on my earbuds was "Hypnotize", so as I'm getting out of the car, I'm not thinking about it, and the words I'm actually saying aloud are "Biggie biggie biggie biggie can't you see, sometimes your words just hypnotize me..." But that wasn't all. As I entered the Chevron, I continued with, "And I just love your flashy ways, I guess that's why they so broke and yo' so paid..." A few funny looks from the brothers buying oversized cans of Budweiser and Molton made me realize that I, d$, am not the right guy to be emulating Biggie Smalls. I got my Peanut Butter M&Ms and my Yoo-Hoo and left right quick.

...I was also going to tell you I had a great conversation with another high school friend, this the sister of K Dub. Kelly! Kelli! Kelle! and I had been talking here and there a few times via Facebook, doing a little catch up, but only in short sentences, and tonight, we were actually able to chat a while.

There's K-Dub on the left, Kelly! Kelli! Kelle! on the right. Perhaps Kel Dub might even, one day, get her own picture in the sidebar...

...I was going to mention that The Lovely Steph Leann and I have been busy little bees the last few nights, as we are preparing for a yard sale with our friends, the Tebershaws. Holy smokes, the crap we've managed to pull out of the closets and such. We've only been in The Cabana a little over a year, but we are finding stuff that five years ago, we couldn't bear to part with, while now? Gone. Let'er go.

...And with that, I was going to say that Tuesday night, we just took a break. Well, actually, we got started late. I don't know why, but the television was on the Biography Channel, and somehow we ended up watching the ABBA biography. It was awesome. By the way, their first song as a group was called "People Need Love", and they called themselves Bjorn & Benny, Agnetha & Ani-Frid. Well, this was cumbersome to say, to write and to work with, so according to Wiki...

In early 1973, their manager Stig Anderson, tired of unwieldy names, started to refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA. At first, this was a play on words, as Abba was also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden. However, since the fish canners were unknown outside Sweden, Anderson came to believe the name would work in international markets. A competition to find a suitable name for the group was held in a Gothenburg newspaper. The group was impressed with the names "Alibaba," "FABB," and "Baba", but in the end all the entries were ignored and it was announced in the summer that the name "ABBA" was official. Later the group negotiated with the canners for the right to the name.[21] "ABBA" is an acronym formed from the first letters of each group member's name: Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid (Frida). The first 'B' in the logo version of the name was "mirror-image" reversed on the band's promotional material from 1976 onwards and became the group's registered trademark. The first time the name is found written on paper is on a recording session sheet from the Metronome Studio in Stockholm, dated 16 October 1973. This was first written as "Björn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida", but was subsequently crossed out with "ABBA" written in large letters on top.

Dude, I love me some ABBA, and am not afraid to admit it. I should do an entire post on this band, and might one day.

...I wanted to talk about "John Adams", the HBO Mini-series that The Lovely Steph Leann and I have been watching. We finished part 2 of 7, and already, its magnificent. Its just a wonderful piece of film thusfar, with Paul Giamatti as the title character doing a great job. It might just stolen out from under him, though, with Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin, who is hilarious and perfect at the same time. The big surprise? How much I love the character of Abigail Adams. I already dig on Laura Linney anyway, one of my favorite actresses, but her take on the strained and sacrificial wife of John Adams is nearly flawless.

...At some point, I was going to give a shout out to Mindy D'A. Got an email from her earlier today, a very thoughtful, considerate and surprising email. And I wanted to publicly say "Hey thanks. You're a sweetheart, to the max." And I'll answer that as soon as I come up with how I want to answer it. Hopefully, that doesn't tell you everything the answer might say, but it possibly does.

...I was also going to acknowledge that yes, its time for new music on the Clouds. And I promise, it will come soon enough.

...I was also going to tell you all that we'll be headed back to The Happiest Place on Earth on Wednesday! The Lovely Steph Leann and myself, along with our friends St'ray and C'ray, will be driving down on Wednesday, visiting the parks on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then headed back to Monday. We are really big fans of St'ray and C'ray, and look forward to hanging out with them at Magical Kingdoms!

So, with that, I don't even know if I'll have time to blog about any of this stuff...