Monday, May 25, 2009

Disneyland Overview

There were several reasons why this was a great trip.

We spent 4 days in the park(s).

We saw all the new things that have been done to the park, like the restored Sleeping Beauty walk-through in the castle itself, the new It's a Small World Ride, with Disney characters sprinkled throughout. The new Toy Story Midway Mania, which is a shooting gallery that is interactive.

We also took the time to visit old things that neither of us had seen a lot of in the past decade, like: riding Dumbo, riding the Carrousel, riding some of the other Fantasyland rides like Snow White and Pinocchio. And we rode the double-decker bus a couple of times when our feet were tired. Such things kind of force you to slow down.

One big highlight was stepping into Club 33 with our guide. She could only show us the lobby, of course, but we really enjoyed finally getting behind the big Club 33 door. Membership is quite expensive, and there's a waiting list (but none of us will be on it soon).

Our guide had been in the other two rooms above the lobby, but had never had a meal there. (How convenient that it's all connected to the kitchen in the Blue Bayou, downstairs.) She opened the elevator for us so that we could take pictures. It's one of those old-fashioned ones, with iron bars and grating, much like the one in the Hotel del Coronado.

And we took in the parade in DCA - the same 'ol Pixar one, only this time, UP is leading the way! - and the parade in Disneyland as well - very small, surprisingly short. And then we got in place, sitting on the curb in the Disneyland Hub, to see the fireworks. People nudged us, walked on us, whatever they could do to get by us into the street. It was rough-going, but the fireworks were fantastic. They launched them from all around us, and I still don't know how they pulled that off.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Disneyland, 4 Days Later with Sore Feet

This is our fourth day, and my feet officially hurt. On the positive side, we walked 6 miles the first day, 5 miles the second, and 6 miles yesterday. Whew.

We just got out of the Golden Horseshoe Saloon. I don't remember ever being in a show in the saloon, but I must have, when I was younger. But we were determined to see it, whatever, and finally found two seats in the balcony. We moved our table out of the way so that we could both sit right next to the railing in order to better see the show.

We were delighted. Billy Hill and the Hillbillies were terrific. Lots of music and humor, and they even had us singing along, finishing rock n' roll songs to point out how we're all connected. We agreed we'd have to see them on our next trip.

This is the clean-up day, getting to everything we haven't seen yet. So we first hit the Fantasyland rides today - Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Snow White, Pinocchio. Peter Pan is still being refurbished - gosh, so much is here - that we had to skip that.

Then we went into Innoventions to see the modern house, and the whole house is all about electronics. Some of the pre-teens were singing karaoke and having a wonderful time in the "game room." I played a race car game, and the narrator kept telling me how much I had wrecked the car. "Your brakes are all shot, and your left wheel is hanging on by a thread..."

We still hope to make the parade and fireworks tonight, plus fit in some shopping.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Disneyland, One Year Later

It has been exactly one year since I've set foot in Disneyland, and a few things have changed.

We used the shuttle after flying into John Wayne Airport, and it took us right to the motel at about noon. Very nice. We discovered that there are, indeed, lockers in the Desert Inn & Suites, and they're huge and only $1 for the day. So we stowed our luggage away, to be picked up when we checked in, which was around

Actually, we only visited one attraction after having lunch at the Carnation Cafe -- Pirates, and, yes, Johnny Depp is still in it -- and then went back to the motel to check in and take a nap. Well, Dawn took the nap. We got out of there in plenty of time to take the monorail to Downtown Disney. However, the monorail wasn't working, so we had to practically run to Rainforest Cafe.

We had a delightful dinner at Rainforest Cafe, and walked back in the now cooled-off Downtown Disney back to the motel. We went to bed early, knowing we'd have to immediately check in tomorrow upon the park opening for our tour.

I have always wanted to take the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour, but had never known how to do that. Dawn and I talked it over, and decided to do it, and I called to sign up. When we got to the tour kiosk, which is right inside the park, they told us to select our lunch. He entered that into the computer, and we knew it'd be waiting for us when we returned.

Much of the tour was about telling us how the park started, the obstacles Walt Disney faced into getting it funded, and getting people to believe in him. And then she'd play a little of a speech or talk he had made to illustrate a point. We listened to these on our headsets, which handily set on the back of our heads, not the top.

I enjoyed hearing such trivia as the difference between a merry-go-round and a carrousel. It seems that Walt wanted his to have all horses, not other things in it, so that everyone could have a horse. And a carrousel rides counter-clockwise. A merry-go-round has other things besides horses and rides clockwise.

The guide took us only on two rides: the railroad and the Enchanted Tiki Room. She explained to us that the Tiki Room is still named Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room because Walt had to fund it out of his own money. Apparently, getting enough money together to complete projects was a real ongoing hassle for Mr. Disney. It's hard to believe that in 1959, he opened three major attractions in Disneyland, a mere four years after he opened the theme park itself.

We walked back from where we'd begun, and found our packed lunches on picnic tables, each with our name written on top. We chatted a bit with the mother and daughter team with us, and more with Brittanie when she stopped by to give us condiments. It seems that Brittanie is an expert in candy and all things sweet at Disneyland! She told us a lot about other tours she's led, including the holiday one which gives you prime seating for the parade at night. While that sounded like a great tour, I wanted one led about the candy in Disneyland - what is and what used to be!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Need a Vacation

I'm watching the A's in Detroit. They're giving the game away. While they have over 10 hits, they are not hitting well in hitting situations when men are on base. George says that when things aren't going well, every time you look up, it's 0-and-2. No kidding.

I went to the A's Booster Club board meeting that night, and nobody wanted to talk about the A's and how they're playing. Several did add, however, that they're not fond of Matt Holliday. An expensive pick-up, we all figure he'll be gone by mid-season. He is 4-for-4 today, I believe, and it seems his bat is finally coming around. But not before many people have been turned off.

The A's have the lowest whatever in almost every category. Even their vaunted relief pitching is sinking lower, mostly because our inexperienced starters can't get out of the 3rd, 4th, or 5th innings. Even the best relief pitcher gets tired.

The demise of the Oakland A's explains why no one is going to the park. Why BART is losing membership. Why Comcast is losing viewers. Why global warming is bringing wasps back in the spring. Why world peace seems to be unreachable.

So I'm going to Disneyland! This has nothing to do with the A's, but I think it'll be a relief not going to the games, not finding them on T.V. or radio wherever I am during the day. I'm just worn out.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wasps No Check In

Yesterday, one lone wasp was dumb enough to move permanently into the front wasp trap. But no one has followed. He hangs there, motionless.

So, that means the hamburger I put in as bait did not work. Right after I put it in, we got some rain and some cold weather. I think, to badly quote B.B. King, the smell is gone.

Although something attracted that lone wasp. Perhaps there is a faint odor after all. And perhaps his body will produce another odor, enticing more.

I think if I can ever remember, I'll buy some more meat and load the traps once again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How Would Sarah Connor Handle This?

We had spoken to the guy in the front row a few times, and he even turned up at our table during the Dessert Party, when several of the convention stars came to our table to do a short meet-and-greet. I figured he was about 30 or so.

On the last day, he turned from his seat and said to me, "I think it's really cool when I see older people hanging out and talkin' sci fi."

Older. I could sense a slight pause between "old" and "er." I think the last syllable was added on when he realized how insulting it was going to sound. Oh, yes....that's MUCH better.

I resisted the urge to tell him that I went to my first convention when he was in diapers because, well, that would have added too much ammunition to his fight.

Instead, I sat back and enjoyed the fact that no less than FOUR great women over the age of 40 appeared on stage that weekend: Jeri Ryan, Linda Hamilton, Amanda Tapping, and Michelle Forbes. And I'm sure everyone in the audience, young and old, appreciated them and their contributions to the field of sci fi. And, for some, there may have even been a drool factor involved.

It was interesting to me to see how each of them coped with a career in a place like Hollywood that fawns over younger women. Men can grow older and develop character. Character in a woman is a career killer.

Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine on Star Trek: Voyager, Boston Public, Shark) doesn't seem like she's worrying about growing older. Family has taken over as her priority, it seems, with a 14-month-old daughter, a teenage son, and a chef husband. And her career is doing very well, thank you. Now that maternity leave has just ended, she'll be appearing in a couple of Law & Order: SVU episodes as a D.A., I believe she said, and since she's played a lawyer several times in the past, has no fear of the project.

Jeri mentioned that the costume was unforgiving. Apparently people could notice the difference in the Seven of Nine costume after she ate lunch: it was so skintight that the bulge in her stomach was noticeable. But she got over the obvious sexism of the costume by reveling in the great writing that accompanied the role.

I don't watch Stargate at all, haven't seen a single episode, but even I know who Amanda Tapping is. She is now a brunette, courtesy of her new show Sanctuary. (She said her real color is "a dirty blonde.") However, not content to just act in the show, she executive-produces it as well. When she ran down her list of chores in such a role, I grew tired, but she seemed to accept it all with great enthusiasm, and couldn't wait to get back to it. (I have seen about five episodes of Sanctuary: it has great production values, but I'm hoping for better writing. She promised us that the stories will be better in the 2nd season.)

I first became acquainted with Michelle Forbes when Ensign Ro appeared on the Next Generation scene. She was defiant, to be sure, and at once direct, and was a cool breeze of fresh air on the show. She made headlines, however, when she refused to sign a contract for seven years to appear on the new show, Deep Space Nine. "Do I have to explain this again?" she asked us, smiling, and then added, "I wasn't ready to be married. I'm still not!" Michelle likes to reinvent herself, and a great case in point was her brilliant portrayal as Admiral Helena Cain in the new Battlestar Galactica. Admiral Cain was a force of nature. I'm sure Producer Ron Moore figured out that Michelle Forbes is, too, a force of nature.

Linda Hamilton (Beauty and the Beast, Terminator I and II) seemed surprised and a bit overwhelmed at the enthusiasm that greeted her when she walked onstage. Linda has now crossed over into her 50's, and the parts are few and far between. That doesn't seem to bother her. "I'm more interested at this time of my life in character over story," and will often forsake roles just for the money. She advised us with a grin on her face that she has a voiceover part in the new Terminator: Salvation, which is due out shortly. Sarah Connor definitely lives!

I saw Linda later when I had my photo taken with her, and then again at the Dessert Party. She was full of energy both times, actually dancing around. When you consider that she spent over 12 hours with us, mostly on her feet and actively engaging us, it's really remarkable. I found her personally quite inspiring.

Linda Hamilton, quite early in her career, changed how women were thought of in science fiction, particularly when she reprised the Sarah Connor role in T2. Each of the women I saw this weekend did the same, in their own way. When I think of young girls watching these shows, I feel much pride that these actresses refuse to depict the fainting heroine to be rescued. Not any more.

These women spoke personally about working Hollywood to get what they need and want, regardless of gender or age. I just hope young men as well as women are watching and learning.