Sunday, November 30, 2008

Post-Disney Interview with Sarah (Part I)

We're back! And we're sick (cough, cough)... but not sick of Disney!

You can probably guess my thoughts about the vacation, but since it was Sarah's first time experiencing the magic, I thought it'd be fun to interview her.

K: How do you think we got sick?

S: Some little kid.

K: I thought it might be the water from Splash Mountain. Speaking of which, what'd you think of that ride?

[BTW, all pics are mine.]

S: I didn't like it. It was too scary. I don't like being put into situations where I feel as if I'm possibly not going to survive.

K: But you seemed happy afterward.

S: Because I lived.

K: OK.

S: I would not do it again.

K: OK. What'd you think of MGM [actually now called Disney's Hollywood Studios]? That's where we went on the first day.

S: It was all right. I think it had a lot of potential.

K: What do you mean?

S: It could've been cool, they could've done a lot more cool stuff. They copped out. Like the place we ate at [the ABC Commissary]. The names of the dishes had to do with shows on ABC. That's kind of a cop-out. You were telling me earlier that even when you're on your way from one place to another, you still feel like you're in the park. [MGM] wasn't like that. There's not a lot of atmosphere.

K: No, it's really the most ghetto of the WDW theme parks. I think a park atmosphere set up to look like a studio lot is gonna disappoint - they're all just big, empty buildings. Anyway, what did you like there?

S: Tower of Terror. Not because I enjoyed it...

K: Uh-huh? But why?

S: Because it's got an interesting story. It's the thing that I saw over the weekend, I think, that had the best, most cohesive story.

K: And what was that story?

S: Well, just when you walk into the park, there's ads for the hotel, they're old and faded. Then when you see the hotel, it doesn't look like the pictures, it's old and decrepit. And then you hear the story of what happened to the people. And then even on the ride, they're telling a story.

K: So it's not like The Great Movie Ride, which is a collection of unrelated scenes, or Star Tours, which makes no friggin' sense - why are you showing up in the middle of a battle against the Death Star, anyway? But back to the Tower of Terror - what about the drop?

S: (pause) Um... It's kind of interesting.

K: Did you think you were going to die?

S: I didn't think I really would, 'cause I kept on seeing all the little kids in line and remembering that however many hundreds of people do this every day, you know, I didn't really think I was going to, but I felt fear. I don't want to do something that could result in feeling like I'm going to die, but while I was doing it, no, it wasn't scary. I'd ride it again.

K: Why?

S: Because I didn't notice a lot of things, I was too busy being scared.

K: And you wouldn't be scared next time?

S: No, I'll be a little scared.

K: What about Toy Story Mania [a new ride, and the most awesome thing at MGM - I loved it! We both did. It's like a game that you ride, but miles better than the Buzz Lightyear ride at the Magic Kingdom. I love it so much!]?

S: That was fun, and everybody coming out of it was happy. Every type of person enjoyed it, no one was crying. Except it was the longest wait we had.

K: Yeah, we gotta FastPass that next time. What did you think about Fantasmic?

S: The light show? I didn't care for it.

K: Why not?

S: It made no sense, it had no story, it didn't feel like Disney, it felt like that weird light show from Singapore.

K: Yeah, I really don't like Fantasmic. It makes no sense.

S: It was, like, I don't know, written by three-year-olds or something? No, it was just really weird.

K: Yeah, Disney villains take over Mickey's imagination... Jafar turns into a giant snake and chases Mickey Mouse... Pocahontas is in it and fights the English, it's just random.

S: Not a fan.

K: Me neither. Any final thoughts on MGM?

S: No.

K: That's funny.

S: Why? It's all a blur, I don't have any over-arching things to say, I just have small things. Except, actually, I think that was the park with the worst hats. I would say, like, three-quarters of the people there had ridiculous hats on.

K: Like me. [I had on my mouse ears.]

S: Oh, and you were about 12 years old that day, because when we first got there, you were leading me around by the hand, and I had to catch up to you and tell you to wait. And you started getting really excited when the Mr. Potato Head broke [at Toy Story Mania]. I think you jumped up and down.

K: I did! It broke! That was great! That was SO funny. He just shut down and stood still for, like, 15 minutes. (Laughs)

S: At first it said the same things twice.

K: Oh, right! That's when I knew it would break! And it did! Stupid Mr. Potato Head!

In the park's defense, we didn't go on a lot of the tours or shows, and really only did about half the things they offer. But I still maintain that it's a little bit lame-ass.

Next time: EPCOT Center, and why I can no longer call it my favorite park (this breaks my heart to write).

Friday, November 21, 2008

There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow!

I was stuck on what to write about for the final Disney post, because it's a big, big decision. This is my #1 (which, really, belongs to the Haunted Mansion, but I was too psyched to wait), after all.

Eventually, I asked my friends for suggestions. Lynn, who's only been to the park once but loved it, said the Maelstrom because she doesn't read my blog closely enough. Sarah said a deer, because she was hoping there'd be deers in the parks ("There aren't," I said. "Damn it," was her reply.). And Julie, who's gone there with me more times than we can count, immediately said "Carousel of Progress," and she is right.

(To Lynn's credit, her second suggestion was also Carousel of Progress, but screw her.)

So either they both know my Disney tastes very, very well - which is obviously true for Julie, not so much for Lynn - or this is just such a great ride that it's an easy choice.

I LOVE the Carousel of Progress, and you know who else did? Walt Disney! They say it in the pre-show. I'm sure he loved all his rides, but I think this was his favorite, and it shows in the wit and humor and good-natured spirit of it all.

Time to get psyched!

- It's so old and creaky. It's shut down a lot of the time (I think they close it at dusk), little kids have no patience for it because it's a show with no thrills, I mean, they made it in 1964! But it's one of those nostalgia rides, which are more important than a lot of people realize, it's for the many people who come here again and again and again and never get tired of it. People like me and my family - when I was a kid, that song would often get randomly sung by my grandparents, aunts and uncles, we all love this song.
- And what a song it is! When I was little, it was "The Best Time of Your Life," but now it's back to the original, "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." (Incidentally, this is the only ride where you can hear Walt Disney himself singing.) I would call these the greatest songs in the entire Disney library. Yeah, you heard me. It's so much fun, and I shouldn't sell it any more because it's only gonna be a letdown for Sarah. My favorite part is during the Jazz Age, when the flapper gals sing back-up and go "Whee!" All songs need girls with heavy New York accents. All songs.
- GE used to be the sponsor, you can tell by the line about people who are "bringing good things to life," but they pulled their sponsorship. Yet I love that they still sort of mention them, and I think (though I'm not sure) you can still see their logo on all the old appliances.
- Their vision of the future, even now that it's been updated and is no longer 70s-riffic, is pretty silly, but I guess it should be, since it's a great big beautiful tomorrow.


I can't believe I'm going back there.

I don't often show people my naturally ridiculous state (which usually includes rolling around on the floor making animal noises, then jumping up and down frantically, then falling asleep), but it's like... wow, get ready for this hokeyness, but I feel like I'm finally going home.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2 Frakkin' Days Till Disney!

I'm freaking out! Two days?!?! I'm busy looking at park hours, figuring out which one to visit on which day (and thinking MGM might be good for Saturday, after all), printing up stuff about vegetarian and vegan choices, and packing my invisible dog leash.

But eff all that, look at those happy skeletons! Honestly, with just two days left, it's really hard picking just ONE thing to be psyched about (I think I could do a post a day for a whole year), but when deciding if today should be about the American Adventure (the amazing and heartfelt and beautiful show about America) or whatever they now call El Rio del Tiempo (the Mexico ride at EPCOT Center), well, viva Mexico!

This ride is amazing. It's never crowded, it's slow and peaceful and relaxing, the scenery is beautiful, I think it's probably kind of offensive to Mexicans, and it's got naked people in it.

Unfortunately, all the stuff I'm psyched about might not exist anymore, because they've added the Three Caballeros to the ride in an effort to Disney it up. I don't think I approve of this, and I've kept purposefully ignorant of all the changes. Assuming nothing has been removed, though, these are the reasons why I'm so psyched to take another lazy trip down the River of Time.

- The inside of the Mexico pavilion, I'll say, is the most beautiful of the World Showcase. If you've been there, you know what I'm talking about, if you haven't, look it up on Flickr or I'll post something when I get back (don't wanna spoil it for Sarah).
- The ride begins with videos made in the early 80s of half-naked Aztecs dancing. No explanation, no "These were the native people of Mexico," you're just drifting through an ancient temple and - surprise! Lots of random ass-flashes - those loin cloths aren't very protective when you're jumping around.
- Those singing skeletons! I'm sure they didn't mess that much with the most fun part of the ride, which is a colorful town with no adults but lots of Mexican children (who look like piƱatas) playing with fireworks, pretending to be bulls and doing all sorts of things that look dangerous and fun, and those skeletons sing that catchy-ass and totally inaccurate song, "Welcome mis amigos to friendly Mexico, to the land of fiestas, they're everywhere you go." Everywhere!
- I highly doubt the videos of the stereotypical Mexican merchants made the cut, but God, I love 'em. They'd follow your boat and try to sell you stuff - two men, two women. They never give up!
- Then there's random videos of cliff-divers and people lounging in jacuzzis. It's like, this isn't representative of Mexican culture at all, it's like b-roll for some resort commercial. I love it, none of those people are Mexicans, they're American tourists. So this ride teaches me that a big part of Mexican history and culture is that... tourists come to a place that has a bar in a swimming pool?
- Back in the day, I'd always leave a couple coins hidden on the ride (you can reach out and touch the scenery if you are not afraid to break the rules). I highly doubt any of my coins have remained untouched for eight years... but I want to find out. If I find one, I'm hoping it will be full of power from the River of Time.
- The ride ends with something that, to this day, I have no idea what it's supposed to be. They're life-sized puppets or mannequins, but they aren't made to look like real people. And they're in this carousel that goes around and around. Are they dancing? Is that what it's supposed to be? Because even back then, they could've made realistic audio-animatronics that don't look like corpses on ropes. Is this what they do in Mexico?

It's blurry, but it's the only pic I could find.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3 Days Till Disney!

Someone asked me last night when I was gonna post about the Disney-MGM Studios (although I guess now it's called the Disney Hollywood Studios).

Well, here's the thing... I'm not. I'm just not psyched about that particular park, and there's a chance that we might skip it entirely. Here's why (and if you disagree or I'm forgetting something, please comment)...

- The Great Movie Ride. Boring! I guess it has a few good moments (mostly when you're onboard the Nostromo - I won't go into details because Sarah is reading this), but it's pretty meh.

- Star Tours. No, I don't like Star Tours. "If they should bar tours, let them bar Star Tours," as Bill Murray might have sang. It's just a motion simulator ride with pretty dated technology. And I know all the merch will be prequel and Clone Wars specific, so it will suck. The only good thing about Star Tours is waiting in line, which, I'll admit, is really awesome.

- They got rid of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Play It! When I used to live in Florida, I would go to MGM every 30 days and play this over and over until I got put into the hot seat. Then I'd win some pins and a hat, maybe a shirt if I was lucky, and sell it on eBay. That's partly how I made a living. Now that it's gone, eff it! (Though I should wear that shirt some time during the trip.)

- They got rid of Disney's Doug Live! The absolute best stage show ever made ever. I have most of the songs memorized and have it on audiocassette somewhere. It was so good and sweet, I miss it. And I would've played Porkchop if they hadn't shut it down, and yeah, I'm still bitter about that.

- What else is there in this craphole? Oh, yeah, you know my feelings about the Rock'n'Roller Coaster, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror never did it for me. It's just a freefall ride, all gussied up. My favorite part (again, no spoilers) is really cool, but way too brief. They need more of that [spoiler] and fewer drops! Also, it TOTALLY kills the suspension of disbelief when you look out over Florida instead of 1930s California.

- Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular? No, thanks! When, oh, when will they put in Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye? That Disneyland ride is SO amazing! Seriously, the #2 Ride in the World, I'd say (after the Spider-Man ride at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure).

- Fantasmic. I've heard it's amazing in Disneyland, but here... you have to cram into a huge amphitheatre, like, two hours before and it's a show that's... well, I'd rather have fireworks. This is just a lot of dancing characters and video shown on fountains of water and Jafar uttering the ridiculous line, "Now I am the ruler of all Mickey's imagination!" It takes a LOT for Disney to do something that makes me go, "Well, that just doesn't make any sense whatsoever," but Fantasmic does that to me.

- And the rest. While I enjoy Voyage of the Little Mermaid, The Magic of Disney Animation and even the Backlot Studio Tour (please, oh, please tell me they still have that creepy-ass, faded painted wagon from Dumbo's Circus), I dunno if Sarah would enjoy them that much. Maybe she would, she likes intellectual things.

- Oh, crap. I forgot about Muppet*Vision 3D. Crap! OK, I guess we're going to MGM.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

4 Days Till Disney!

As Liz commented on in the last entry, I gotta throw a shout-out to Aloha Isle Refreshments (sponsored by Dole), conveniently located in Adventureland.

For most of my life, I'd never eaten one of these. I'd heard stories, but since most of my trips were on a shoestring budget, I wouldn't buy any food.

Then, last year during a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage to The Price is Right, my brother and I also visited Disneyland and got one of these, and you know what? It really hit the spot. That's one of the memories I have from my very memorable first visit to Disneyland, sitting on a bench eating ice cream with my brother.

Like they say, it's the little things.

- Delicious pineapple-themed snacks, what more do you need? Ice cream, probably skewers, juice, and all sorts of crazy combinations thereof. There are a ton of refreshment stands throughout the parks, but this is one of the most famous... for good reason. In fact, the only other one I can think of off the top of my head is that goddamned McDonald's French Fries wagon near the Frontierland/Adventureland border.
- I imagine pineapples are vegan, so there'll be something on the menu for Sarah. She loves snacks, too!
- Those benches are in the primo people-watching area of Main Street USA and Adventureland. I LOVE watching people on vacation, they're either absolutely wonderful or horribly grotesque. I remember sitting at that bench in Disneyland, watching kids crying for ice cream, parents denying them in nice ways and awful ways, people sitting and enjoying the park and people sitting and having a terrible time. I'm always amazed at how unhappy people can get over stupid, little things, especially at a place like Disney World. I wish I could say Dole Whips fix everything, but some people just can't be fixed.
- It's right by the Enchanted Tiki Room, and though I won't visit the Florida version (I disagree with its New Management), there are terrific pictures of parrots drinking pineapple juice, which I find delightfully absurd. Birds can't drink pineapple juice!

Liz, you wanna chime in on this?

(And I know the pic is from Disneyland, it's still the best thing I could find.)

The Apiary Made Me a Winner!

(They told me to say that in my blog, so I did.)

Wait, Kirk, hold up a minute... What's going on?

OK, let me start over. I just won two tickets to see Rhys Darby (the manager on Flight of the Conchords) do stand-up, courtesy of the Apiary.

Now I don't enter a lot of contests, but they give stuff away almost every Friday, and Sarah's a fan of the show, and they have my email address already, so I figured Year of Yes, and now I won!

Whoo hoo! I love winning!

The Apiary asked that I mention the contest in my blog, so I'm fulfilling my end of the bargain, and now tomorrow I'll be enjoying this guy over at 92YTribeca:


Monday, November 17, 2008

5 Days Till Disney!

Holy crap, SpectroMagic is back!

By now it shouldn't come as any surprise that I'm the type of person who loves a parade. On paper, they sound lame, because it's sitting on a street corner watching people walk by, but in practice, whoo boy, they're so much fun!

I feel bad that Sarah won't get to experience the now-retired Main Street Electrical Parade, because I can't imagine a life lived without seeing and hearing it at least once, but SpectroMagic is absolutely nutz. Nothing gets me more psyched than a parade that can simultaneously creep me out and, as Mitchell would say, "turn my legs to putty."

- The whole concept is so bizarre. It's like a late 70s/early 80s revamp of the Main Street Electrical Parade. Everyone wears white futuristic-y outfits with lights in them. It's just so retro, who came up with this idea, who approved it, and why did they bring it back?!
- There are all these weird, white-masked people. They don't exist in any Disney movie or film, but they're all over this parade, grinning with frozen, hollow faces. I hope that one day, when the demons come and kill us all, they look like these things.
- Disney princesses! I think they're delightful and a little bit dreamy. I used to know a bunch of them (one even reads this blog), and even though my friends have long since retired, it's fun to see the new princesses... if only to go, "Really? They cast HER? With those cheekbones?"
- I'm like a baby, I find it very satisfying to wave at people. Usually the people on the floats are just waving generically into the crowd, sometimes at kids, but when someone waves back and you make eye contact, it's this nice shared experience. I gain satisfaction from someone waving at me in the same way I feel good when I'm the last person applauding at a show.
- The music is really fantastic. I could say this about nearly every ride/show at the Walt Disney World Resort, actually. However, I think I've only seen SpectroMagic maybe once, but I still clearly remember the tune and most of the lyrics, that's how catchy it is. Writing down the lyrics helps me understand the parade's theme a bit more: "On this magic night / A million stars will play beside us / Cast a spell of light / Glimmering, shimmering, carousel-ling." And there's even this weird children's chorus in it, always a plus.

This has been a pretty creepy post, but I think that's fair, considering the subject.

Five days!!! To misquote Mitchell, "if God could grant me one wish, it would be to spend more time at Walt Disney World."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

6 Days Till Disney!

These Disney posts has been heavily skewed toward EPCOT Center, so I thought I'd give a a shout-out to Disney's Animal Kingdom... specifically, Expedition Everest!

I've never been on this ride (it opened in 2006, so it's still pretty new), but hot damn am I psyched to go on it. In case you're not aware, it's a roller coaster, and I really do love roller coasters.

A good one, a really good one, is about as close to flying as we can get in our human form, and that's one of my favorite feelings, and can reduce me to screaming things like "Hotchee motchee" (one of the catch phrases of Jay Sherman from The Critic).

Since I don't really know what's gonna happen on this ride, I don't have many specific things to write about, but...

- Look at those train tracks! Someone destroyed them! And you know who it was? It was the Yeti, AKA the Abominable Snowman. I'm really psyched to see this audio-animatronic, and am a bit disappointed I saw a spoiler on Flickr (and that would've been the pic for this entry, but it's copy-protected). I was psyched about the Yetis over at Disneyland's Matterhorn, but they were really weak. The Yeti over at Expedition Festival is supposed to be terrifying.

- Most of the Disney roller coasters, I admit, are kind of weak-ass. Space Mountain is fun, Big Thunder Mountain's interesting to look at, and Splash Mountain is a great dark ride with one big drop, but they don't get me screaming nonsense words (Space Mountain, I admit, is pretty fun, mostly because it's in the dark). And although Aerosmith's Rock 'n Roller Coaster is exciting and goes upside-down, the entire theme (you're in a limo traveling to an Aerosmith concert) isn't very Disney for me. I'm hoping that Expedition Everest tops all of 'em.

An interesting/concerning note: Sarah dislikes fireworks and roller coasters (although I think she should ride the "Mountain" ones, since they're all tame. I'm fine skipping Aerosmith.), but she loves hotels, so I'm curious if this vacation will be a bust for her, as I wind up dragging her by the arm through the parks. Which I'm perfectly willing to do.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

7 Days Till Disney!

"We've gathered here tonight around the fire, as people of all lands have gathered for thousands and thousand of years before us: to share the light and to share a story. An amazing story, as old as time itself, but still being written. And though each of us has our own individual story to tell, a true adventure emerges when we bring them all together as one.

I hope you enjoy our story tonight: Reflections of Earth."

That's what's said by an aged narrator (who I think might be God or Father Time or a friendlier version of Uatu the Watcher) at the beginning of the best fireworks show I've ever seen, EPCOT Center's Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

I seriously love fireworks, they're like great big booming cannonball fights where, instead of people dying, the sky turns pretty, and seriously, I get so psyched over fireworks displays you'd think I'm John Lithgow. But Reflections of Earth is the only one that can make me cry.

- This show is just the perfect way to end a day at EPCOT Center. All day long you've experienced ideas of today giving birth to tomorrow (the over-arching theme of Future World, the front half of the park) and the ideas of global brotherhood (as shown in the World Showcase), and now you see these themes explode! As fireworks! In improv terms, it's the ultimate third beat!
- Surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon are all these giant torches, and when the narrator finishes his opening monologue, he blows them out, and whoosh, they're extinguished! I love that part.
- Not that I plan to do this, but leaving a theme park during a fireworks show is an amazing experience. Imagine walking through a sea of people, all of them facing one direction, all looking to the sky with a look of awe and wonder on their faces, as multi-colored lights and shadows dance across the populace. And you're the only person doing something different. Absolutely amazing. Incidentally, that's what inspired me to write my infamous (and unpublishable) role-playing game, Press Ne Presents: Chaos in Disney!, as a chemical fallout from the fireworks turned everyone into a mind-controlled horde.
- The music, and I know I sound like a sap saying this, but it's really, really beautiful. At the end, this woman sings, "We go on to the joy and through the tears, we go on to discover new frontiers [like space!]."
- I guess there's something I like about shared experiences with huge groups of people. I find it very satisfying to be there with all these families from across the world, people of all ages, watching these fireworks together. Once the show is done, people are back to their own individual vacations, but for these 30 minutes (I think it's that long), we're all united. And there are always those people who decide to go on rides during Illuminations, because the lines are much shorter, but what I love is that when they exit the ride, they look over to the lagoon, and there's always a look of longing and some regret at what they missed.
- Afterwards, while all those suckers exit through the front of the park, I'll be one of the few who take the secret back route near France. Enjoy the long lines, suckers! Sarah and I will be taking an empty bus to Downtown Disney (unless we're really tired).

I can't believe I'll be there in less than a week! By this time next week, I'll be on that empty bus (assuming we go to EPCOT Center on the first day, and further assuming we're not really tired).

Friday, November 14, 2008

8 Days Till Disney!

Don't be fooled by this picture of scenic Southern tranquility. This is actually the Riverside Mill, the food court at Port Orleans: Riverside (the hotel where we'll be staying).

I love hotels! I love everything about 'em - room service, weird towels, different bed, crazy air conditioners, key cards, they're great. I love 'em so much that they make me want to pull a John Waters and start doing the pony.

And Port Orleans: Riverside (or, as I still call it, Dixie Landings), is by far my favorite of Disney's Moderate hotels. It's got so much more character than its twin hotel, Port Orleans: French Quarter (or, as it used to be called, just Port Orleans), which has a Mardis Gras theme.

I only have moments to blog about what gets me psyched before the urge to dance will take over, so this'll be quick.

- Seeing if Ahn still works at the Riverside Mill. He was a cashier there almost a decade ago, but a very nice man who pronounced cream cheese as "cream chee" and once gave us a small cup, free of charge, "for water," he said with a wink. (You usually have to pay for a cup to use the soda fountain. I believe Ahn kindly gave us the little one, fully expecting us to fill it with free soda.)
- That Japanese channel! I once stayed up all night watching some marathon of a soap opera or drama... and I'm still not sure what it was about.
- The channel that's all about Disney park info! I'm sure they've revamped it since 2001, but I do hope they still sing "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, tip for today." Most of those tips are for n00bs ("Have a good time! Stay together") but it's the de facto background channel.
- Having two double beds! One gets all your luggage and crap, and the other is for relaxing and jumping on and breaking.
- The ridiculous water pressure in their showers! Nothing is better than coming back after a day in the park, being very tired, sweaty and dirty and sore from a day of walking, throwing your clothes into the dirty clothes bag, and taking a kick-ass shower.
- The statues of Huey, Dewey and Louie in the gift shop. There's something that makes me laugh/cringe when I see Disney characters dressed up in faux Southern nostalgic outfits. Like, I just want to ask, "But what about slavery?" Then I like to imagine, say, Goofy dressed up as Abraham Lincoln (I choose Goofy only because he's the tallest), and then getting assassinated by Donald Duck as John Wilkes Booth.

OK, that image pushed me over the edge, I gotta dance.

Eight days!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

9 Days Till Disney!

"Like a grand and miraculous spaceship, our earth has sailed through the universe of time. And for a brief moment, we have been among its many passengers."

So begins one of the finest rides of all time, Spaceship Earth. For those who don't know, Spaceship Earth is the big ball at EPCOT Center (I'll be damned if I'll just call it EPCOT), and it tells the history of communication, from cave drawings to the printing press to the near future.

Above is the mural right outside the entrance. I love it. It's my laptop's wallpaper.

There's so many things I love about Spaceship Earth! Writing them down might overload the Psych-odometer, but Dr. Latham assures me that one can never get too psyched, so let's go.

- New narration! Even though I loved Jeremy Irons' soothing voice, I'm excited to see what changes they've brought to the script, and (possibly) to the scenes set in the near future. I think the new narrator is Dame Judy Dench, but I'm not sure, and I'm avoiding reading about it so everything will be a surprise for me.
- The smell of burning Rome. One of Julie's favorite smells, she always says they should put a restaurant up there.
- That creepy kid selling newspapers.
- Remembering the old song "Tomorrow's Child," which has been gone for years and years. This was how they used to depict the future, with weird silhouettes of children and one of the most inspiring lyrics ever, "The future world is born today." It makes me want to run around and do something for humanity, even if it's just making videos about a talking cake from outer space. "We're alive!" it makes me want to scream. "We're alive and even if things are sucky right now, eff it, we're alive and we can do something with our lives! We're all in this together! Yes, we can! Year of Yes!"
- Siemens is now the sponsor for Spaceship Earth (taking over from AT&T), so I'm interested to see what the new post-ride exhibit will be. I was never that in love with AT&T's Global Village, though Julie and I used to make crank calls with their giant weird phone that made animal noises.
- When the narrator says, "The theatre was born."
- When the future teacher says, "Try a dragonfly." I bet this part is gone, because it was always weird and never made sense. It was some weird classroom where they were designing a spaceship that's similar to a bug, and they try bees and then the teacher suggests the dragonfly, and it loops forever, and that's where the ride always stops when I'm on it so I go through the loop 18 times.
- The absolute money shot of the ride, which I won't spoil for Sarah, but it's when you reach the apex of the ball. I hope the script hasn't changed, and I'm sure the music has, and I hope it still has the same power as it used to.

Nine days!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

10 Days Till Disney!

Who is this handsome fellow?

Why, he's one of the bats that hold the velvet ropes in the Haunted Mansion queue!

I probably mentioned this before, but the Haunted Mansion is my absolute favorite ride in the Magic Kingdom. I was scared of it as a kid, and it still makes me a bit nervous when I'm waiting in line outside, right before we enter the foyer, because I know some day, something is gonna go wrong and those ghosts are gonna be real.

So what about the Haunted Mansion makes my psych-odometer go nutz?

- Changes! I haven't been to Disney World since 2001, so I believe there's now an Escher-like room, amongst other things. Also, I've only seen the California version of the new Attic Bride.
- Haunted Mansion maids! I love 'em! I love their costumes, I want one so damn bad.
- The familiar wolf howl as you make that right turn in Liberty Square. So melancholy.
- The improved seance room!
- The immediate change in temperature as you enter the foyer.
- Looking at (and being disappointed by) the Haunted Mansion merch. Weird, I know, but I'm psyched to see all the lame stuff they're selling.
- Shrinking back into my Doombuggy as we hit the attic and graveyard, because those ghosts that pop out at you still make me jump.
- The gargoyles in the stretching room - I missed those guys.
- Telling everyone to look up so they don't miss the hanging corpse of Master Gracey.
- The one kid that's gonna start crying immediately. I laugh at that kid's cowardice. Trust me, when something finally goes wrong and the ghosts become real, that kid's dead!

Sarah said that every day, as this vacation gets closer, I become a little bit younger, and it's true. I just want to run around and scream all the time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

11 Days Till Disney!

I spend a lot of my lunchbreak just looking at flickr pics of Disney World and EPCOT Center to psyche myself up.

In an attempt to break the Psych-odometer (an invention of Dr. Lanny Latham), I'll try and post a pic a day.

Norway! An amazing ride (with Vikings, polar bears, and even an oil derrick), an amazing movie, an amazing country.

Things about Norway that get me psyched...

- The giant troll in the gift store
- The Vikings exhibit, which I've never seen.
- When the troll on the ride goes, "Disappear, disappear!"
- The part in the movie when the ballerinas realize they're being filmed and one smiles shyly (one of my all-time favorite moments of all time).
- Troll merch.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thanks For the Tip, Katey...

but soda for mixed drinks ended up not being necessary. Most of the people who came aren't big drinkers (or drinkers at all), and were pretty happy with what we had.

The party went all right. The turnout was a lot lower than I'd have liked (and, since we only invited a select few people, it'd be more accurate to call last night a gathering instead of a party), but we had fun.

A few things I learned, in case we do this again for Xmas...

- Don't spend all day prepping, because then you'll be super-tired when it's time to have fun.

- 45 minutes after the party seems to be the time when first people arrive, an hour is when most of them will get there.

- Gerbils are a big hit.

- Don't buy the fancy-looking 9 oz. disposable cups - they're too small!

- Don't buy bite-size tortilla chips, they're also too small and can't scoop up both layers of the bean dip.

I asked Sarah if she had anything to add to this list, and she said, "I didn't learn anything from this party."

There was a long, uncomfortable pause, and then she said, "I learned that Time Bandits is that crazy movie I remember from when I was a kid."

She's right, this movie is CRAZY. The big, glowing head (which I think is God) always used to scare me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Housewarming Party Approaches...

These are some things that I stress about:

- Nobody's going to come because the trains in Astoria are majorly effed up during weekends in November.

- That too many people will come and we'll not have enough chairs (we have seven chairs).

- What kind of drinks to get. Sarah says no one will really want soda, but I'm not too sure.

- We still don't have a coffee table, so where will people put their drinks?

- Rain.

- That it'll be an awful, boring time for everyone.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

You Know Who Else is Having a Year of Yes?

Everyone who was unhappy with the direction this country's taken in the past eight years under George W. Bush.

Everyone who volunteered and voted to make history, and, hopefully, possibly, change the world.

What's interesting is that even though this is the end of the race, it's the start of the game. I hope that people won't sit back for the next four years, but will remain engaged and active to make sure that Obama lives up to his promises.

Change isn't just a buzzword, it's an actual, real thing. Or it can be, anyway.

So now it's a Year of Yes x 4 for America, to help make the country even greater than we can imagine.

(Also, it's a Year of Yes for Obama's daughters... They're getting a puppy!)

Someone Else is Having a Year of Yes...

Yes, we can.

Yes, we did.

And yes, we will.

Monday, November 3, 2008


It's November, time for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month for the n00bs). It's not exactly my thing, but Sarah and her dad are doing it, and since this new Cakey script is just about done, I figured why the heck not, it's the Year of Yes.

November 1st: Started out fine. Tried this pulpy/mystery thing set in a fictionalized Saint Augustine.

November 2nd: I changed my idea and decided I wanted to do a novelization of Disney Zombies, since I need to write that down anyway. So I started over. The prologue features the Three Little Pigs.

If we're to reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, I think we have to write 1,667 words or so a day. That's harder than I thought. I can write at a pretty good clip, I'm no Ed Wood (who allegedly could work on multiple shitty screenplays at the same time), but if I don't edit myself and just keep plowing ahead, I can knock out 1,000 words with little difficulty. Those final 667, though, aren't so easy.

And I choose not to think about what's gonna happen during Thanksgiving, when we spend a week in Disney World. In my mind, sure, we'll write while we're down there, sure, we will), because otherwise that number ups to about 3,000 words a day.

In other news, all of my dreams in the past week have involved zombies, Disney World, or the election.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Halloween

At some point last night, while riding in the back of a cargo van, trying desperately to keep a homemade supercomputer prop from falling on top of me as Ptolemy drove through the bumpiest, swerviest side-roads on Roosevelt Island, I thought, "This is probably the weirdest thing I've ever done."

And that says a lot.

Last night was a lot of work (and I think I did the least out of everyone involved) and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed myself.

It's not interesting to recap the game's plot to those who weren't there (and it isn't my story to tell), but at the end of the night... maybe 1 or 2 a.m., I was in a wheelchair, feigning unconsciousness, hooked up to this supercomputer that was killing me.

And this large group of players (I don't know how many - my eyes were closed) slowly approached us. They were told the only way to stop the supercomputer was to chant a code, and they did.

So we were slowly surrounded by this chanting horde, and the only thing I could see through my eyelids was their flashing iPhones as they took pictures of me drooling (I can't wait to see them). They chanted louder and louder, Ptolemy, the main baddy, exhorted them to stop, and the supercomputer finally died in an amazing burst of light and whirrings. I was saved!

What a way to spend Halloween.

And I mean that seriously, what an awesome way to spend a Halloween.

It makes me think of last year, when I wrote and produced a jukebox karaoke musical for the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre called High School: The Deathening.

Again, it was a lot of work, but a lot of fun.

At the time, I thought, "I'm sacrificing my Halloween, nay, my entire month of October, this year. Instead of doing something fun, I'm giving something fun to the people." But I've since realized that this is kind of nonsense, because I really loved making that show. I was doing it for an audience, but I was also doing it for myself.

In the same way, I really enjoyed helping out some fine people with this alternate reality game. So thank you, Prototype161, the pleasure was all mine.

Still, it was really weird to be seriously concerned that I could get badly cut by a supercomputer (that sucker was full of sharp bits).