Friday, October 31, 2008

Mini Review: Dark Pursuit

I did indeed finish Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins this week.

Darrell Brooke has a well earned reputation as the "King of Suspense." His novels are automatic best sellers and his legion of fans is huge. But that was before the auto accident that left him physically and mentally weak. Now he can't even concentrate to figure out the plot of his one hundredth novel. And he's been working on it for a year.

Meanwhile, across town, Kaitlan Sering arrives home from work early one day to find a dead body in her bed, the third in the small town in a year. The evidence in her apartment makes it obvious that it is her boyfriend, Craig. Since Craig is a police officer and the son of the police chief, she thinks that Craig and his dad have been surpressing evidence, so she can't just call the cops. She runs to the only place she feels she can, her estranged grandfather Darrell Brooke.

With her very life in Darrell's hands, Kaitlan has to trust that he will come through for her. But can he overcome his mental fog long enough to pilot Kaitlan through this real life thriller?

I loved this book. The plot grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. There were several well written suspense scenes. I often find they don't work as well on the page as they might in a movie, but here they worked perfectly.

My only real complaint was the character arcs. As in, there really weren't any. We got some of that kind of stuff crammed into the last couple chapters, but that just made it feel tacked on to me.

This book doesn't come out until December, and I recomment you get a copy when it does. I'm going to have to find more of Brandilyn Collin's books.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Threesome for October 30th

This week's edition is brought to us by the exciting events of this weekend and The Back Porch. (No, my life isn't really that pathetic. It's my attempt at a public service reminder, okay?)

Onesome: Daylight-- Savings Time is up here in the US this weekend. Ready? Set? Go? ...or will you just wake up and worry about it sometime Sunday?
I'll change my alarm clock when I get back from Disneyland Sunday morning so I get the maximum sleep before church. But I'll worry about the rest of the clocks later. Of course, since I'm not using VCR's any more, I have very few clocks I need to worry about changing. I like that!

Twosome: Savings--? Hey, do you use coupons when you shop? ...and do you go looking for them online?
I do at important places like bookstores. Otherwise, I just pay the price. I tried using coupons, but I never remembered to take them. And since it's just me, I don't know if I really saved enough to make it worth while.

Threesome: Time-- to batten down the hatches where you are? They've had snow in Ohio and Ottawa; and we may not hit the 80's this weekend in CaliLand: is Winter approaching for you?
I'm told we might be getting rain showers this weekend. It's supposed to be in the low 70's or colder for the next couple weeks. I think fall has finally arrived. :(

You've Got to Love the Irony

This was part of a longer e-mail about our recent weather change here in Southern CA. But the last paragraph cracked me up.

For the remaining fans of Man Made Global Warming, London received a heavy
snowfall (the first October snow since 1922) as Parliament debated a Global
Warming Bill. Switzerland has also received the most October snow on

You've got to love the irony.

Mini Review: The Clockwork Teddy

John J. Lamb's Bear Collector Mysteries have become a favorite series of mine. And the latest, The Clockwork Teddy, didn't disappoint at all.

Brad and Ashleigh Lyon are in California catching up with old friends and participating in the Sonoma teddy bear festival. Early that morning, Brad witnesses a person in a bear costume attack and rob a fellow artisan.

That night, Brad and Ashleigh are visiting with his old San Francisco Police Department partner when there is a call to go to a murder scene. Brad tags along for old times' sake and finds a robotic teddy bear at the scene. Even weirder, he thinks the murder is connected to the robbery that morning. What's going on?

One reason I love the series so much is because of the characters. Brad and Ashleigh are the kind of peole you'd want to spend time with in real life. The supporting characters are also well drawn. Plus I love Brad's fun sense of humor and puns.

The plot is a combination of police procedural and cozy, and it works well. I did figure one part out before Brad did, but I couldn't put the book down anyway because I still needed the rest of the pieces. And the last 50 pages had me glued to the book.

If you have missed this great series, drop everything and go get it now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What's on my Nightstand - October 2008 Edition

I meant to do this yesterday, but the day got away from me. But fortunately, 5 Minutes for Books is willing to forgive tardiness like this.

I am currently about 60 pages from the end of Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins. I can't wait to finish it tonight and see how it all ends. Look for more on the book at the end of this week or early next week.

Up next will be Whatever Tomorrow Brings by Lori Wick.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mini Review: A Vicky Hill Exclusive!

Unfortunately, today's review is another negative one. The first three books of Fall into Reading were me trying new authors, and I have only liked one of them, and it wasn't A Vicky Hill Exclusive! by Hannah Dennison.

The mystery is set in a small English village and stars Vicky Hill, a new reporters for the local once weekly newspaper. She is longing to do more than cover funerals, but the more beautiful Annabel seems to get those assignments.

But one day while Annabel is sick, Vicky decides to follow up on a tip and hopefully get a scoop. Some mutilated chickens have been found at the dump. Then a local death begins to look suspicious. And the villagers are acting pretty crazy. What's going on?

The plot was interesting and certainly kept me reading. It was the characters that ruined it for me, specifically Vicky. She was an idiot. At first, I found it funny, but it quickly wore out its welcome. And every time she got a clue or red herring, she came up with some wild explanation on how it all fits together. Frankly, that made it hard to follow what was really happening.

Then there's the issue of her virginity. She was dying to lose it, and convinced that half the characters, male and female, wanted to take it from her. I have a feeling those scenes were supposed to be funny, but I found them uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Believe me, I won't be going near the sequels.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Threesome for October 23rd

This week's edition is brought to us by The Back Porch as always.

Onesome: Just-- the Cell Phone? ...and no land line? How does it pencil out for you: do you need to have both a cell phone and a home phone in your life? How about down the road? Do you see yourself disconnecting from the hard-wired connection?
I got rid of my land line when I got my cell phone this Spring. And I so love having a cell phone!

Twosome: Checking-- accounts, a thing of the past or something that will be around for a while? I'm wondering how much we're coming around to debit cards and online payments...
Um, where do you keep the money that covers the stuff you pay for with your debit card or an online payment? Your checking account, of course. Now, checks might be a thing of the past pretty soon, although I still find myself using one or two every month.

Threesome: In-- the same vein: how about the net itself? If you're on it for basic communications then what happens when your handheld device becomes your email/chat/and voice communication system? Do you bail from the hardwired home links when wifi becomes just a little more ubiquitous? ...and before you answer, check in with any teen you see walking down the street with their head in the Net!
I don't see myself giving up full internet any time soon. It doesn't help that I don't pay for internet access on my phone. However, I don't think it will really go away in the near future.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good (Earthly) Night. I'll See You in the Morning

So, the co-worker I mentioned last week passed away this afternoon.

I'm not surprised. Honestly, it would have been so much harder for him and his family if he had lived. But I am surprised at how sad it has made me.

Jim was a cheerful pressence all the time. I honestly can't remember seeing him angry or upset, and he worked outside my office. Frustrated, sure? Especially when his computer did something he didn't understand or expect. But he always had a smile and friendly greeting for whoever walked through the door.

And he was a consistent employee. By that I mean he hated to take time off. He was dedicated to getting his work done in a timely manner.

He made a point of learning and remembering people's names. It actually upset him if he couldn't remember to greet someone by name.

And he made a point of saying "Good morning" and "Good night" to each of us every day.

Since Jim worked outside my office, his abscence this last week has been noticable. And I know it will be moreso as time goes by.

In fact, the news that he was in Heaven hit me harder then I expected it to. I knew it was coming. But there is a finality to it. It can't be undone.

So yes, I am grieving right now.

But it is that weird grieving with hope that Christians experience. See, I know exactly where Jim is right now. He is in Heaven. He is not suffering here on earth. (Honestly, a prolonged illness would have been devistating to him.) He is face to face with God. He is in a place so magnificent that they walk on pure gold. I mean, think about that.

And I know this seperation is just temporary. I will see Jim again and get to spend all eternity with him.

And that is a comfort. Not that it doesn't hurt, but that it helps.

Right now, I am picturing Jim smiling down as he says, "Have a good night. See you in the morning."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mid-October Disney Trip

Isn't it wonderful that I have to start specifying which trip I am talking about like that? Yeah, I think so, too.

So, anyway, Angelique, her mom, and I went to Disneyland on Saturday. Meeting up was a snap. I looked up as I parked and there was Angelique getting out of the car two doors down from me.

There were plenty of people in the park, but I we got everything done we normally try to do. And I really didn't feel like we had to rush to try to get it all in. I'm glad we were able to get everything in since we probably won't in two weeks. This will make me more willing to go with the flow.

And we got plenty of shopping in as well. I was looking for one of the villain pins it looks like I missed completely. Hopefully ebay will come through for me. And I was trying to get some Christmas stuff. But despite the abundance of Christmas stuff out, I didn't find what I was looking for. Specifically, I wanted to find a Disneyland castle ornament to match my Disney World castle ornament and some lights I found. They are Mickey Mouse shaped lights with red and white stripes on them to look like candy canes or peppermint candies. They had them everywhere at Disney World, but the cast members thought I was crazy when I asked about them here. Fortunately, I did get the red, white, and blue ones. Just barely got one of those because I saw them moving them to the back. Again, they were everwhere at DW.

And I won the grand prize at the trivia contest at lunch.

During the Master's lunch, they have various trivia questions. I've won small prizes in the past for some of the questions. This year, I decided I wasn't even going to try if I wasn't interested in the prize. When they announced the last prize, I knew I had to try. It was a hooded sweatshirt, hidden Mickey book, and 5 Disney Dollars. We're talking about a $70 prize. And the question? Name the first five Disney movies in order. Heck, I've been studying for that one for years thanks to my DVD collection. I have it sitting in release order.

Of course, the prize wasn't without its set backs. I discovered a couple hours later that the sweatshirt still had the anti-theft device in it. So I had to go into a store and beg them to trust me (since I didn't have the receipt) and remove it for me. But I found a manager at the World of Disney store (the first one I tried) who took down some information, but removed the tag as well. It's a very nice sweatshirt, but it is a large. I think I really need a medium, but I don't think I'm going to try and return it. I can make it work.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Week And A Half

And in all that time, I've talked about books and movies and Thursday Threesomes. But not much about me. Me, me, me.

Frankly, there isn't much to say. I've had a boring week and a half where I go to work, go home, and watch TV. Thrilling stuff, I know.

(And now I'll contradict all that.)

Last weekend I had nothing going on. Only weekend like that for a while. I watched two movies on Saturday and one on Sunday. I really enjoyed The Man Who Knew Too Much, but didn't care for Madagascar. Chicken Little was a good the second time around as the first.

Sunday, I was going to go to Pasdena and play ultimate again, but my friend Kurt called and wanted to hang out. Since we haven't done that in a couple months, I changed plans and went to his house where I played Guitar Hero for the first time. Okay for an hour or so, but not something I am going to rush out and play again.

One of my co-workers is in the hospital. He is 82 and has had two strokes in the last month. I've said for the last couple years that I want to be like him when I get to that age, and I still say that. Up until this, he's been fine. Full of energy and so friendly. Honestly, if I had half his energy today.... The first stroke was rather mild and he was back to work this week, but the one Tuesday night was much bigger. Things aren't looking good right now, but you truly don't know. All we can do is pray because God does know what is best and what He is doing. Still, it's hard around work knowing he might not be back. I am going to miss his cheerfulness.

In happier news, tomorrow is Master's day at Disneyland. What, you think I am going to let a week at Disney World keep me from going? You don't know me too well, do you?

So, maybe this wasn't exciting, but at least it is my life right now.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Threesome for October 16th

This week's edition is brought to us by fencing and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Dodge--? in "Get outa'? Okay, so tomorrow is Friday: where would you go to "get out of Dodge" for a day (if you could, that is)?
Probably where I am going on Saturday, Disneyland!

Twosome: Parry--? What's your best comeback? ...and yeah, "Oh, yeah?" doesn't count !
You know you're wrong.

Threesome: Block-- Parties: do you have them? Apartment get togethers count too. Oh, heck, even dorm keggers, -eh?

Nope. Get to gether with friends? Yes. Neighbors? Not so much.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Darker Superheroes?

I was afraid of this.

A few weeks back (I think it was before I went to DisneyWorld), I saw a report that Warner and DC Comics, inspired by the huge success of The Dark Knight, plan to push all their superhero properties to the darkest level their respective characters will allow.

Now I realize I am in the minority, but I didn't care for The Dark Knight at all. (And I got attacked for my opinion, too. If you want a good laugh read some of the comments on that review.) In my mind, the movie was way too dark. There was not even a glimmer of hope at the end of it. While I enjoyed Batman Begins, I will go out of my way to avoid seeing this movie ever again. And I had to go home and clear my mind with the nice theropy of Monsters Inc.

Now, I realize that Batman is a dark character and most of what I have seen isn't true to the character. Fine. I can live with that. I now know to think carefully before I injest any more Batman.

But let's think about some of the other characters this affects. Superman. Wonder Woman. Aquaman. I'd say the list could go on, but I don't know my superheroes all that well. The point is, dark isn't the word that comes to mind when I think of the characters I've just listed.

Furthermore, let's think about superheroes for a minute. They're designed to fit into our fantasies. We're talking wish fullfillment, really. Who wouldn't want to fly or make others tell the truth. This really isn't a dark place. When I think Superhero, I think light escaptist fun.

Yes, Superheroes need villains to fight. Otherwise, their lives would be boring and we wouldn't want to read about them/watch them. I get that.

Maybe I just need to actually read comic books. I must admit I have never done that. Most of my exposure to Superheroes comes from TV and the movies. And I know that this means I am not seeing the characters are the were created to be known. Fine.

But the first thing I think of with Superheroes is escapism. I'm not looking for morals about life. I'm not looking for darkness. I'm looking for your basic good vs. evil story where good triumphs at the end of the day. And the fact that I can predict the outcome isn't a bad thing as long as I care about the characters and enjoy spending time with them. But if I am going to leave the theater depressed, then I certainly won't care about the characters enough to ever come back.

So, please Warner Brothers, rethink your decision. Keep Batman dark. After this last movie, I won't be going back to him anyway. But don't take away Superheroes from me because you think everyone wants them to be dark. Some of us find real life dark enough and go to a movie for something fun and light.

(This post has been my entry in this week's Watercooler Wednesday.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mini Review: Relentless

Today is obviously book day around here. I'm going to catch up on my mini reviews. (I've got to finish my current book soon!)

Today's review of is Relentless by Robin Parrish. I bought this book when it came out in 2006, yet waited until now to read it. Yes, I can be an idiot.

One morning while walking to work, Collin Boyd looks up to see...himself walking to work. As he hurries to catch up with himself, he looks in a window and sees a stranger staring back. Then a mysterious woman appears and tells him that his life is now in danger. What in the world is going on?

So, obviously, this book has a strong fantasy element to it. But that didn't bother me in the least. The plot still raced from one event to another. In fact, I had a hard time putting the book down. It's one of those where, just as you get one answer, you get two more questions. It was a little bloody in spots, but basically a great read.

It's the first in a series, and I can't wait to read books two and three and find out what happens next to the characters

Newbery Winner: Bronze Bow

This month in the monthly children's classics discussion, we are focusing on Newbery winners. Now, two of my choices have already been discussed (Witch of Blackbird Pond and My Father's Dragon), so I am going to go with a third, The Bronze Bow.

This book is set in 1st century Galilee. The story centers around Daniel, a young zealot who has a very intense hatred of the Romans. When he is forced to return to Nazareth to care for his invalid sister, he meets Jesus. Will these encounters change his life?

This was the book we did for English when I was in 8th grade. (I was home schooled at the time.) My entire family fell in love with it, and I went out and read the rest of author Elizabeth George Speare's books.

What makes this book so great? The story pulls you in almost from the start. And there is always something going on. It may not be exciting action, but there is plenty of conflict.

Better yet, the characters are real. You truly come to care for them by the time the book is over.

I can remember Mom reading this book aloud to us and the entire family being captivated by the story. This is a "kids" book that they will enjoy but will entertain any adult who reads it. It's certainly worked on me when I've reread it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mini Review: Stamped Out

Yes, with Fall into Reading comes my habit of writing mini reviews on my blog. I always include a link to my longer review at Epinions if you are interested in reading more.

Unfortunately, my fall got off to a poor start with Stamped Out by Terri Thayer.

With her marriage dissolving in San Francisco, April takes a job offer from her father and moves back home to Pennsylvania. She only plans to stay for a year or so to get her feet back under her.

But on her first day on the job, a demolition project unearths a skull. Since her father built the building just demolished, the local sheriff zeroes in on him. And since the sheriff is known for his less than fair tactics, April knows she will have to figure out what really happened to clear her father's name. Can she do it?

Basically, I didn't like anything about the book. The story moved forward very slowly, with too much time spent on the sub-plots. Then there are the main characters. I hated over half of them. Even April herself got on my nerves with her whiney "whoa is me" attitude. Granted, if it had been over her recently failed marriage, I would have understood. But she was still upset over her father leaving her mother for a man. And that happened over a decade ago when she was in high school. Frankly, her attitude was childish most of the time.

I won't be moving on with this series, and I highly recommend that you don't even bother with it.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thursday Threesome for October 9th

Looks like The Back Porch doesn't have a Thursday Threesome listed this week. But since I haven't yet done the one from when I was at DisneyWorld, I'll do that one.

Onesome: "Goodbye,--Norma Jean"? Hmmm.... Best song ever? ...or did he top himself when he adapted it for Princess Diana?
I actually have heard either version of the Elton John song, so I don't have an opinion.

Twosome: Yellow--lights: run 'em or slam on the brakes? ...or do you plan your speed so you never hit them yellow? ...or maybe, "What yellow light, Officer?" !
Usually it's slam on the brakes while grumbling that I have to wait. But if I am close or have sat through the light a cycle or two already, I will push it through.

Threesome: Brick Road--s and flying monkeys? Okay, did those things just creep you out? ...or were you one of those people who really, really, really wanted one for a pet? Just askin'...
Pretty much, they creeped me out in the movie, but I thought they were cool in the book. A walking contradiction. But what about that surprises you. :)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Since Disney

Yes, I've been back for over a week now, and I'm still blogging about my Disney trip. But there has been other stuff going on in my life. Really!

Naturally, things have been busy at work as I try to get back in the swing of things. I think I'm finally there, but we'll see what shows up next.

And I've spent lots of time trying to catch up on TV. I think I am watching too many shows, yet there are none I want to cut out. And I've got three more premiering next week. I know ratings are low at the moment on a couple of my shows. I hope they don't get the ax as a result.

As if I hadn't had enough of amusement parks, I spent Saturday at Magic Mountain. My friend Debbie was back in town, this time with her youth group. So I spent a day trying to make myself sick on all the big coasters. I hadn't been since 2004 or so, so it was lots of fun. I really should get an annual pass again. I was trying to ride X one last time, but it shut down due to mechanical problems. I waited until about 12:40 for them to finally admit it wasn't coming back up. But I got a free pass to be used by the end of the year out of it.

The unfortunate thing is we had sprinkles on and off on Saturday. Yep, first rain in months, and it was that day. It wasn't enough to truly slow us down, however. And we all seemed to have a good time despite the weather.

Sunday I headed to Pasadena for the Ultimate Frisbee pick up game I intend to join regularly. It was great to get out and play. Although between the two I was so sore that night. And my workouts the last couple of days have had more leg stuff then I would have liked.

And I think that's about it. You are now up to date on my thrilling life.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Disney Report 4 - The Final One

Yes, that's right. I am going to get the last two days of my Disney trip done even if it kills me.

But before I move on to Saturday, I do need to make a point about Friday for those who haven't been to Disney World. It isn't like Disneyland where you can walk from Disneyland's main entrance to CA Adventure in two minutes. The parks are miles apart. You have to take shuttles (or monorail) do get from one to the other. And yet I was extremely blessed with that. I walked onto every shuttle or monorail I needed on Friday. I had had to wait up to half an hour earlier in the week. But this time, when I was ready, there was the shuttle.

Okay, so on to Saturday.

Saturday started very early in the morning. We had a group photo at 7:15 AM. That meant I had to get up and get going earlier than I would have liked. But we were all there and ready on time. The photo went quickly, giving us some time before we had to get on a bus and head to EPCOT.

Our next group event of the day was Mouse Quest. We were broken into teams and then given a series of clues or questions we had to find the answer to somewhere in EPCOT. We did one set in Future World and one in the World Showcase. Basically, it was a glorified scavenger hunt. But it was lots of fun. That took all morning, and we ended in the America portion of World Showcase, so I went to see American Adventure again. Yes, I loved it so much I did it two days in a row. From there, I wander through the rest of the countried I hadn't made it to yet and watched the two films - one in France and a Circle Vision one in Canada. That one is hosted by Canadian Martin Short and it is so funny.

At one point, I was going to wander over to Magic Kingdom in the afternoon, but I just didn't have enough time to make it worth while. Instead, I spent time in the Future World part of EPCOT. I rode a Segway in one of the Innoventions pavillions. That was fun yet challenging. And I rode Test Track several times in a row. And I found most of the Christmas ornaments I was planning to buy in Magic Kingdom, so I bought them there.

Even with staying in EPCOT, I was the last one to make our dessert event that night. We had a roped off (and therefore) private patio area to watch the fireworks that night. And we had delicious desserts to enjoy, too. The fireworks were neat, although they did spend too much time focusing on the ball or Earth. It is only cool to watch it rotate so many times.

But no, the day wasn't over yet. About 10 of us headed over the Magic Kingdom after the fireworks. We were hyped up on sugar and adrenialine, so we had a blast making fools of ourselves. We sang Disney songs at the top of our lungs on the monorail. Then we sang along with Pirates and Splash Mountain. We had lost some of our spunk by the time we hit Small World. And we ended the night with Space Mountain. It was around one by the time I got home and to bed. It was totally worth it.

But that didn't mean I could sleep in Sunday morning. I only had a few hours left. I packed, checked out, and headed back to Hollywood Studios. I rode Toy Story a second time (after waiting in an hour long line), Rockin' RollerCoaster, and Tower of Terror before heading to the next park.

And here's where I really blew it on several fronts. Before I left, Mom and Dad had told me to be sure to see the totum poles at Wilderness Lodge. For some reason, I was thinking they were impressed with Fort Wilderness Campground. So I took the shuttle there, planning to take the ferry over to Magic Kingdom. So I ride the shuttle from Hollywood Studios to Wilderness Lodge to the Campground, going right past what I was supposed to see. Then, after getting out, I discover I am at the opposite end of the campground from where I need to catch the ferry. So I set out walking. It was at least a mile away. I must admit I did enjoy the campground. It made me want to stay there. Although I'd be at the parks the entire time and never truly enjoy the campground. I just enjoy camping that much, I guess.

Anyway, I did finally make it on to Magic Kingdom, where I went to PhilharMagic one more time. I wish I had gotten there early enough to do it twice because I had a tall guy sitting in front of me, blocking part of the screen. But I needed to move on. I bought the castle Christmas ornament I couldn't get the day before, then headed back to my motel where I had just enough time to grab lunch before it was time to catch the UnMagical Express (hey, it can't be the Magical Express if they are taking you away from Disney World toward your real life) to the airport.

And I'll give them this on the Magical Express. I checked my bag onto my flight from my hotel before I went to the parks. It was great to not have to worry about that all day.

Angelique and I were on the same flight back to LA. I was flying with Delta this time, and I didn't have nearly the had times I did with the flight out on United the week before. Everything went according to plan. I made it home a little before 11, tired.

As you can tell, it was a great trip. Yes, I'd go back, although I don't know if I would rush back. We already have the majority of the stuff I loved there here in California. And it's much cheaper to do Disneyland for a day. Still, there are enough differences and enough things we don't have here that I would like to go back at some point in the future. We'll just see when that winds up being.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Disney Report 3

Obviously, I didn't get back to continue on about my trip yesterday, so here goes today.

I believe we've made it up to Thursday. (And I must say the interest in these posts has been much greater than I imagined it would be. I thought I was doing this mostly for me.)

Thursday, I went to Typhoon Lagoon. I went with Dana, Roxanne, and her husband Rickie. But we met up with Mary, Marnee, and Marnee's sister and roommate.

They have a real wave pool. And by that I mean a pool that sends out real waves. Yes, it also does the "storm at sea" stuff I had been in before. But those waves were much larger than the ones I usually swim in at the ocean.

In many ways, the rest of the park was your typical water park. Now, since I love water parks, I don't mean that in a bad way. But it had speed slides (although not the highest kind) and tube slides and a lazy river. And we had a blast hanging out together.

The park does have two things that set it apart. First, you can swim with sharks. They've got a small salt water pool with docile sharks in it. It's small, so it's over before you know it. They don't let you dive below the surface, either. But it was still cool.

The other park that really stood out is the water slide roller coaster. These slides actually use powerful jets to shoot you up and down hills. They are fast and lots of fun. We all enjoyed those.

My biggest gripe is that one group of slides had a long path to the top. It wandered around and you go up and down and up again. I'm sure it's for summer crowds, but as I got tired, I just wanted to get to the top. And all the stairs were starting to get to my knees.

Ironically enough, I think this was the coolest and least humid day of the trip. Of maybe that was how it felt because I was wet.

We left mid-afternoon to head over to Hollywood Studios for that night's group dinner. That was my first chance to see some of the people who arrived on Thursday. We ate at the Prime Time Dinner, a restaurant themed around the 50's. The decore looked like a house from that time period. They had black and white shows on TVs, or at least bits of the shows. (Of course, one of the shows was Dick van Dyke, which was a 60's show.)

And the waitresses treat you like they are your mother. For example, I got in trouble for whining. And when I tried to point out that someone else had said what I said first, I was yelled out for being a tattle tale. And yes, I was the first in the group to get in trouble. But plenty of others were told to finish their food, especially their vegetables. No bribing, but plenty of pressure if they didn't.

We finished Thursday by going to Fantasmic. The idea behind the show is the same as here in Disneyland, but they actually have a stadium set up so you can sit down and watch it. You still have to get there early if you want good seats. We did, and we were about 8 rows back in the middle. They have a large portion in the middle inspired by Pocahantus, which I think dates the show. Overall, it was very good.

Thursday was the only night I made it back to the hotel before 11. In fact, it was 10. I hung out on the patio and talked for a while and even jumped in the pool and talked to the people there for a while. I was going to be in bed by 11, but that didn't happen. It was my usual midnight bed time.

Friday, I struck out on my own with one goal in mind, hit all four parks picking up stuff I had missed. And I did hit all four parks, but I didn't hit all the things I had missed. Of course, that's my fault.

I started out at Animal Kingdom because I wanted to do Expedition Everst again. Walked on it three times in a row, once with Tanya, before moving on.

Next up was Hollywood Studios. I wanted to see the Beauty and the Beast show because it is my favorite Disney movie. I should have skipped it. I knew they couldn't do the entire thing in half an hour, but they really hacked up the story. It was okay, but not something I'd rush back and see. I also road the Great Movie Ride again and did the back stage tour. I even took pictures around the park since it had been raining when I was there on Monday.

Next up was Magic Kingdom where I wanted to hit the Steamboat and the Tikki Room. By the time I got off the steamboat, the parade was going, and it was exactly where I needed to go, so I headed to Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. I got a little sidetracked in Tomorrowland and repeated a few things. But it was hard to turn down no wait for Space Mountain or the Buzz Lightyear ride. Heck, I even road the Jugle Cruise again, this time not saying a word so I wouldn't get into trouble again.

But I did finally make it over to The Tikki Room. Now I had heard that they changed the show around in Florida. In fact, they call it "Under New Management." I wanted to see what I thought of the changes. Take my word for it. Don't go see it. Basically, they tried to update it by adding Iago from Aladdin and Zazu from Lion King. The premise is these two birds have bought the place and are going to change things up. But change is not always a good thing. Why they messed with a classic, I'll never know. This one wasn't funny in a cheesy way. It was just painful. Now, it might help that I am a huge fan of the original. But I just didn't like it at all.

I did make my major pin purchase of the trip here, too, before moving on.

I had intended to make it to EPCOT early and finish off the world show case, but it was rather late by the time I got there. And I was dangerously tired. I say dangerously because we had to be up early Saturday. But I pressed on. I made it about half way through the world showcase before I got too tired to continue. I stopped with the American Adventure, a movie/animatronic show. I loved it! Although with all the animatronics that pop up, the "stage" area (really a hole between us and the screen" had to be much bigger than it looks to us. Hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain, it recounts America's history in 30 minutes from the Pilgrams to the present day. Yes, some things get compressed, but it does a reasonally good job.

While I wanted to keep pressing on, I knew I needed to leave. But on the way by, I checked on Soarin'. It had a half hour wait, which was the shortest I had seen, so I went a head and did that. Yes, it's exactly the same as the one here in California. But it is so much fun no matter where it is I don't care.

That meant I got in later then I wanted on Friday night. So I went straight to bed. We had to be up early Saturday morning, so I tried to get all the sleep I could.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday Threesome for October 2nd

I'm hoping to get back to the Disney trip tonight, so I thought I'd post this now. Brought to us this week by ...tom... and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Your-- ability to see beyond the horizon is limited only by your imagination. Discuss !
But what if your imagination and what is really over the horizon don't match up?

Twosome: mileage may-- be lower for some drivers due to variables like under-inflated tires or speeding up to get to the next red light. Hmmm... Any tips out there for those trying to stretch their fuel dollars?
While I have become quite the led foot, I do take my foot off the gas if I know the light is red ahead of me. Not only does it save gave, but it saves your breaks, too.

Threesome: Vary-- this, vary that, and pretty soon you've broken up a routine. Here's one: what routine of yours really needs to have a little variation introduced? (I'll exclude changing the flavor of your Friday evening ice cream snack; while a little change may be good, radical events should be planned out!)
My weekends could use more ultimate Frisbee, something I hope to change soon.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Disney Report 2

Now, you'd think that I'd visit all four park before I went back to one, right? Well, you'd be wrong. See, Tuesday, I was back to Magic Kingdom. I spent the majority of the day hanging out with Jenn and Angelique. They started the day with a character breakfast at a nearby hotel. I slept in a little and got to the park about the same time they did. And we managed to hit the majority of the park.

And I've got to say, the lines really helped. The longest line in Magic Kingdom that day was for Peter Pan's Flight. We almost literally walked onto Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain.... You get the idea. And since we fast passed Peter Pan, our longest wait of the day was Jungle Cruise at 20 minutes.

And I did get into trouble on the Jungle Cruise. I gave one of the guides punch lines for him. Honestly, I thought he was going to stop it had been so long since he'd said anything else. And since it is one of my favorite lines, I had to say it. (But that was nothing like the yelling I got on Tuesday.)

It rained for maybe 20 minutes all day. It was cooler, but still humid and overcast. But this was the last of the rain we had done.

And I went to Mickey's PhilharMagic for the second time. This 3-D movie was one of my favorite things there. Donald steals Mickey's sorcerror hat and tries to conduct the orchestra. Things get wildly out of hand and he finds himself chasing the hat through songs from several Disney movies. The 3-D is great, the computer animation georgeous, and the songs fun.

I was the only one of the trio signed up for dinner that night. It was a character dinner at the Liberty Tree Restaurant. Several of the classic characters (Goofy, Minnie, Chip and Dale) came around while we ate turkey, stuffing, roast beef, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. family style. Lots of fun, even if Dana did convience Dale I was crazy.

From there, I hung out with Jayne, Susan, and Dana. We thought Animal Kingdom was open late, but we were a day off. Instead, we went to Downtown Disney were I bought some pins and then split off to hit Pleasure Island. I stayed later then I wanted to originally because I went to the comedy club. I laughed lots, but it wasn't at jokes I should have been laughing at. I popped into the Adventurer's Club, but it was too crowded to really do anything. So I stopped in a couple of the music clubs on my way back to the bus to the resort. I think I got in about 1 AM. Yep, another long but good day.

Wednesday, I finally made it to EPCOT. I started off the day by myself, but soon met up with Jenn, Angelique, and Rhonda and her family. We did stuff in the Future World part like Test Track and Mission Space for a while. Then Jenn got us backstage to look at the aquarium stuff, specifically the dolphine enclosure. That was special and something very few people get to do.

Fromt there, Angelique and I split off and started in on the World Showcase. We didn't get very far before we met up with the group who had dinner that night. It was too expensive for my budget, but we met up with them because some of them wanted to hit Disney Quest. This is a virtual theme park Disney has in Downtown Disney. Think virtual reality games. It was fun, especially the Virtual Space Mountain part, where you get to design and then ride your own rollercoaster.

The weather all day was overcast, but it was also cooler and less humid. Translation: the best weather we'd had all week.

(Since I've been telling everyone about my trip all week, I think this qualifies as an entry for Watercooler Wednesday.)