Batman vs. Superman

[SPOILERS—If you haven’t seen this movie and are bothered by knowing serious plot points in advance of doing so, then you probably shouldn’t read this.]

Before I get to the movie, I should first give a little background on my history with and love (and then hatred) of DC Comics. I’ve been a fan of Superman since I can remember. I grew up seeing re-runs of the George Reeves television series, and I loved the early movies (though they got progressively worse as time went on). I collected comic books as soon as I was old enough to earn my own disposable income. I’d make trips to the drug store every 2 weeks and buy up all my titles and spend the next few hours reading and re-reading them, falling deeper and deeper in love with all my favorite characters and teams. In no particular order, I remember fondly Batman and the Outsiders, Teen Titans, All-Star Squadron, Justice League of America, The Legion of Super Heroes, Superman, Superboy, DC Comics Presents, World’s Finest Comics, Green Lantern, The Flash, and probably a few others I’m not remembering as I write this. Marvel? Feh. Marvel was OK. I liked Fantastic Four and a couple of other titles. But in general, I was not fond of their wussy teens bitten by all manner of insects; and their whiny, angst-ridden “poor us” mutants. I liked my heroes to be fantastic. I wanted to have to suspend a hell of a lot of disbelief when reading about them. People from other planets with all manner of powers—THAT fires up the imagination! Random gene mutation? BORING. Can you tell that Batman was one of my least-favorite characters?

I read comics until DC’s “Crisis On Infinite Earths” series. I collected the entire series. I collected the “Who’s Who?” companion guide. I bought every crossover title I could find, even if I didn’t collect that series. And then they finished it. The tagline for “Crisis” was, “Worlds will live, worlds will die; and the DC Universe will never be the same!” Well, they were right. As far as I was concerned, they had killed everything I loved about the DC Universe, including Supergirl and the Flash. What they did was stupid and unnecessary, and I decided I was done. I stopped collecting and made room for other things in my life. A few years later while on a family trip I was in a New England drug store with a few minutes to kill, so I found the comic book section of their magazine rack. I grabbed the latest issue of “Superman” and took it out to the car. The art had certainly changed, as had the quality of the paper. I saw these as generally good things. Superman was fighting someone (as usual). The fight ended up in space. Where Superman HAD TO HOLD HIS BREATH. What?!? What the hell was this? I almost cried. I threw the comic on the car’s floor in disgust and have not purchased one since then (about 30 years). I was right—they had ruined everything.

Fast forward to the 21st century. A lot has changed in the media of TV and the movies. Marvel has spent the last decade packaging up their most popular characters (and a few more minor ones) for consumption both on the big screen as well as television, masterfully weaving and presenting the backstories for Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk in the movies; and bringing us ongoing shows like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Agent Carter”, “Jessica Jones”, and “Daredevil”. As I write this, there have been two “Avengers” movies and we are anxiously awaiting a third (“Civil War”). Where has DC been during all of this? Mostly silent. They gave us “Man Of Steel” in 2013, which I rather liked. And someone with a lot of love and a lot of respect for pre-Crisis lore has been pouring their heart into “Arrow,” “The Flash,” and “Supergirl” on television. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, they threw “Batman vs. Superman” our way.

I saw “Batman vs. Superman” last night. I will probably see it again, if for no other reason than I saw it with only one of my two sons, and I’m pretty sure the other one wants to see it too. I’ll start by saying that any movie that has me looking at my watch has not sufficiently grabbed my attention. There were several glances in the first 90 minutes. We apparently are in the universe established by the “Man Of Steel” movie. We have no real background on the Batman of this universe beyond the very basics: His parents were killed when he was a kid, he discovered a cave full of bats and made it his lair, and his family mansion is now a ruin. (I can’t remember if that last detail happened in one of the most recent Batman flicks—I was probably asleep. That franchise has been rebooted/revisited so many times I’ve lost track. (Batman was never my favorite, remember?)) I don’t remember the locations of Gotham City and Metropolis ever being specifically mentioned in the comics. It was always an “understood” elephant in the room that they were both analogs for New York City, which made it only slightly awkward when Batman would visit Superman or vice versa. We didn’t know exactly “where” Gotham and Metropolis were, but we knew they weren’t the same. Well, now we know they are “sister” cities, across the harbor from one another. Sure. Whatever.

I’ll start with Superman. I generally enjoy Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman. I think he has “the look,” and while I wish the colors were a tad brighter, I like what they have chosen to do with his costume. He spends the movie struggling with the age-old question: “Can I ever get close to anyone?”, realizing, apparently for the first time, that if you care about someone (or some thing), then people who don’t like you can use that person (or thing) as leverage against you. I was somewhat relieved when it was revealed that it was this moth-eaten plot device that was going to be the real reason for a fight between our two heroes. They spent a solid hour attempting—poorly— to provide adequate background and character development, leading us to believe that they were going to come to blows simply over philosophical differences (a la the aforementioned “Civil War”). But when it came down to it, Superman simply had no choice. I think he did a piss-poor job of trying to explain that to Batman, but if he hadn’t, there wouldn’t have been much of a fight, and that’s why we all bought our tickets, right?

Batman. I said earlier I’ve never been a big fan of Batman. This movie didn’t make me any more of one. First of all, he kills. And shoots guns. When did that start? Is that a thing now? (Remember; I haven’t bought a comic in 30 years!) One of the things to LIKE about Batman, even if you didn’t like much else, was that he chose not to kill. He was all about justice. Catch the bad guys and deliver them to law enforcement and let the system do its job. No guns, unless they shot cables or mist or something else non-lethal. But in this movie there are several scenes in which he indiscriminately mows down bad guy after bad guy with spray from fully-automatic weapons, and when he’s out of bullets or there’s no gun handy, he doesn’t seem to pull any punches. Several others are quite obviously dead in the aftermath of the sheer brutality of his physical attacks. This is not the Batman I used to know. I will, however, give serious props to Ben Affleck as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. Affleck’s one of those actors who for me is only as good as the material he’s performing. I’ve loved him in roles. I’ve hated him in roles. I loved him in this role! He was suave and handsome enough to be believable as the “billionaire playboy” Brice Wayne (though that aspect of the character is not at all played up in this flick) and brooding and angsty enough to pull off the “Dark Knight” shtick that has become popular with the character over the last 40 years.

Wonder Woman? *blink* What? Who invited her? Indeed, the movie asks this very question as the three heroes are set to face Doomsday (Its name is “Doomsday, right? It’s a post-Crisis character, so I’ve never seen it before, but I’ve gathered that’s its name.): Superman: “Is she with you?” Batman: “No, I thought she was with you!” Her presence is obviously a prelude to a sequel which will expand upon her backstory and her last hundred years, explaining what her contributions to World War I were and where she’s been since then. And we see evidence that The Flash, Aquaman (ugh) and Cyborg will be seen in some future movie(s). But she came out of nowhere and just decided to show up for the big fight at the end.

Superman’s (apparent) death. At the end of the film we are led to believe that Superman (and, ipso facto, Clark Kent) is dead. They handled this all wrong. Superman’s wake was closed (and empty) casket, while Clark’s was open-casket; and Smallville is where the body was buried. That makes it very hard to explain his eventual resurrection. Had they done it the other way around, with Superman’s body on display and Clark’s apparently “missing,” it would have been easy. Superman simply bursts forth, apparently finally healed from his wound; and Clark emerges from some as-yet-uncleared rubble that resulted from the big fight with Doomsday, barely alive, but able to come through his ordeal. I have no idea how they’re going to explain Clark coming back they way they’ve done things.

Broadly, I don’t know what Warner Brothers has been thinking for the past 10 years. Marvel has been trouncing them and it’s like they’ve been sitting around a board room table with blindfolds on and fingers in their ears. Now they’re “awake” and playing catch-up and doing so very poorly. Box office receipts notwithstanding, this new Universe could have been…and still could be…so much better! They need to slow down and take their time and explain exactly WHO all these “new” characters are and where they came from and why we should love them. Superman and Batman are easy. Unless you’ve lived in a cave all your life, you at least know who they are. You know Superman can fly and has heat vision and is invulnerable. You know Batman has a cave and a Batmobile and a utility belt. You almost can’t not know these things! Wonder Woman is on the fringe of this level of popularity. Amazon, bracelets, lariat…check. But Cyborg? Flash? Aquaman? Who?? DC has a LOT of work ahead of itself. In many ways, this film is a knock-off of Marvel’s recent work. Superman = Captain America. Batman = Iron Man. Wonder Woman = Thor. Doomsday = Hulk. *yawn* I’ve seen all of this already!

Give me something NEW and reasons to once again love the characters that consumed my imagination for most of my teen years. Please?

12 Ways to Become a Great Leader

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1. Think big.
If you want to lead people to do something, make it somewhere worth their time and effort to achieve.

2. Think strategically.
It’s easy to get so caught up with urgent things that you forget about the truly important ones. Ask yourself: do our daily efforts truly lead to the big goals we want?

3. Get forgiveness, not permission.
Don’t wait for someone else to give you a title or a leadership role. Most often, people hold themselves back because they feel like they need someone else’s imprimatur. Don’t do that–and this is true 10 times over if you actually are in a formal leadership role!

4. Forget about titles and pedigrees.
Practice what you preach. Don’t get hung up on what other people’s job titles are, or what schools or previous employers they came from. Watch the results people achieve, instead.

5. Make more leaders.
When someone you’ve mentored or led outshines you–take it as the ultimate compliment to your leadership style. Be proud and excited–never envious.

6. Be open and transparent.
A great leader understands that in a majority of cases, people who hoard information do so because they’re weak and insecure. Give others the tools they need to be successful.

7. Take responsibility; share credit.
Regardless of why a team falls short, if you’re a true leader it’s up to you to take the blame. On the other side, when the team succeeds, share the credit. That’s the burden of leadership.

8. Be courageous.
You don’t have to be fearless; far from it. Everybody is afraid, even of greatness. The test here is whether you can control your fears and act anyway.

9. Be other-centered.
It’s amazing how much success you can have as a leader when you stop worrying about your own success–and instead focus on the success of your team and its members. True leaders put others first.

10. Be confident.
When you have a worthy goal, a good plan, and a great team–act like it. Confidence and optimism usually lead to positive outcomes.

11. Be humble.
Humility and confidence can go hand-in-hand for a truly great leader. Bluster is unbecoming, and ultimately leads to poor leadership.

12. Be caring.
Separate from selflessness, a great leader displays concern and consideration for others. Act strongly and decisively–but with kindness.

My Review of the February 20th, 2016 Performance of “Les Misérables” at the Imperial Theatre, New York City

Alfie Boe as Jean Valjean

Alfie Boe played Jean Valjean in the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert. He was incredible! Last year when it was announced that he would reprise the role on Broadway, I made a promise to myself that I would see him. This past weekend, Amanda and I kept that promise, leaving early Saturday morning for Albany where we caught a train to New York City. We stayed at the Marriott Marquis Hotel right on Times Square, next door to the Imperial Theatre where Les Misérables was playing.

After the opening chain-gang scene, when Javert calls for “prisoner 24601” to be brought before him, the performance had to pause for a few seconds while the crowd applauded Alfie Boe. The man obviously has fans! And well he should, for his performance did not disappoint. He does not merely act the role, he becomes Jean Valjean. His performance was everything I expected. Indeed, after his “Bring Him Home” soliloquy, the partial standing ovation carried on for a solid minute or more, all while he just sat there on the barricade, never breaking character.

While Alfie’s performance was beyond criticism, I cannot say the same for some of the other key characters. I was particularly disappointed with Brennyn Lark’s Eponine. Her solo “On My Own,” well-performed, will bring a tear to my eye. But to do that, I need to believe that the actress is feeling what she’s singing. Lark just doesn’t do that for me. I believe she was also playing Eponine when I last saw Les Mis in August of 2014. The same was true then—I didn’t feel it, because she didn’t make me. Now, Samantha Barks, who played Eponine in both the 25th Anniversary Concert and the motion picture, makes me tear up every time. Maybe there is some benefit brought to the performance by the relative luxury of cinematography, but similar evoking of emotion is to be had when I listen to the complete symphonic recording with no benefit of visual queues. No, I found Lark’s performance mechanically wonderful, but emotionally lacking.

Chris McCarrell’s Marius had me nervous at first. He seemed almost as if he was fresh out of school and that this was his first performance anywhere, let alone Broadway. At least he started out that way. By the end of the show I was convinced of his talent and ability without further question. Wallace Smith as Enjolras was up and down, almost warbling one minute and then bowling us over with the raw power of his voice the next.

Every time I see or listen to Les Misérables it seems like I notice something new. My favorite minor character is Grantaire, the student whose first lines chide, “…is Marius in love at last?” In “Drink With Me” after the barricade has gone up and the weight of what is to come becomes apparent, Grantaire asks, “Can it be you fear to die?” I have always regarded this as merely a rhetorical question, but the way it was portrayed in this performance (by Richard Barth) was as a challenge to all present, i.e., “what the HELL is the point of all of this? Do you think anyone will remember what we do here…or even care?” He dares to ask the question everyone is thinking. The rest of the cast quickly rebukes him and he retreats, slumping and weeping against the wall stage left, with Gavroche offering comfort in the form of hugs. I never caught that before.

It’s hard to come away from any performance of Les Misérables disappointed. Actually, I’m not sure that’s even possible (for me)! I very much enjoyed this performance and recommend to anyone who has yet to experience it that you do so if you find yourself with the means.

America (2016)

This evening at bowling someone played Neil Diamond’s “America” on the jukebox.  I never saw “The Jazz Singer.”  I don’t even know the story, much less the context for the song as performed in the motion picture.  I’ve never cared especially for the song, but for some reason, hearing it now struck a chord.  The lyrics tell the story of how this country came together from, basically, the dregs of everywhere else on this planet.  For a long time, it was “y’all come!”  And all were welcome.  There have been some very dark times in our nation’s history, to be sure.  I won’t romantically gloss over all of that.  But we have always invited those like us to join us.  From Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus”, which is engraved on the pedestal of our very own Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Reading recent headlines, it would seem that Neil Diamond’s “America” doesn’t exist anymore.  If that’s true, I mourn that loss.  Still, it’s a catchy tune–an anthem, really!  And I think the melody deserves to live on.  But it will need new lyrics.  And so, with humble apology to Neil Diamond, I offer “America (2016)”:

We all travelled so far
To our new home
Away from any Czar


We cut down all the trees
And tamed this land
While writing our own creed


On the boats and on the planes
We all came to America
Welcomed all who shared our pain
They all came to America


We forgot from whence we came
Now if they are not the same
We don’t want them here
We don’t want them here


All they want is a new place
It is to our great disgrace
That we greet them with fear
That we greet them with fear


Everyone around the world:
Stop coming to America!
Just in case you haven’t heard:
We fear you in America.


We don’t care where else you go,
Stop coming to America!
You don’t fit the status quo,
Stop coming to America.


Stop coming to America!
Stop coming to America!
Stop coming to America!
Stop coming to America!
Go ‘way, Go ‘way
Go ‘way, Go ‘way, Go ‘way!


My country used to be (Go ‘way!)
A place where all would be (Go ‘way!)
Welcomed with Love (Go ‘way!)
We’ve really lost

What’s In A Name?

No…seriously!  It is 2015.  Someone explain to me why we haven’t evolved beyond the “need” for a wet signature on paper as a means of authenticating or approving anything!  The notion that I wield any degree of “power” whatsoever by virtue of some arbitrary scribbling is ludicrous.

This has been a bad day and it’s not even Noon.  Amanda’s folks generously trickled-down a car to us.  We’ve been trying the one car thing since letting Brady take the Subaru to grad school.  It’s been generally OK, but we’ve found that when it’s inconvenient, it is VERY inconvenient.  And so we have been on the casual hunt for a “beater” to be used primarily in-town.  Rob and Pat have given us their 2004 VW Passat wagon.  Rob needs his plates back so he can put them on the “new” car he has bought.  I need to get the Passat registered!  I fill out–which is to say I BELIEVE I fill out–the requisite paperwork and schlep over to Canton, the county seat and location of the nearest DMV office, where I mercifully find that there is no line, but frustratedly am informed that I neglected to have Amanda sign in all the right spots.  Proud of myself for not spewing vitriol at the very nice clerk who assisted me (these stupid forms were not her doing, after all!) I return to Potsdam and the rest of my day’s schedule which now includes a return trip to Canton this afternoon.

Did I mention I have a fundraising dinner in Ogdensburg this evening?  Three trips to/through Canton in one day.  UGH.  (Though I’ll probably go through Morley on the way to O’burg this evening…so 2.5, I guess.)

Fuck bureaucracy.

The Resort Life

While my Disney Vacation was awesome in almost every respect, Disney and I did have a small clash.  At the end of this post I will share the letter I wrote to Disney after the Day 2 Monofail incident, which garnered positive results; but I’ve done a lot of thinking about how and why that happened.

First, there is no disputing that Disney had conflicting information.  Even they acknowledge that.  I “travel well.”  I have stayed in lots of hotels.  I know the ins and outs of flying in the post-9/11 world.  I can figure out a bus schedule and a subway system.  But the sad fact is that I am just not well-suited to a resort-style vacation.  The very notion runs contrary to my personality type.  I like doing things myself.  I like being ABLE to do things for myself.  I do not like creating work for other people, even if it’s their job.  I like planning things.  I like details.  I like getting them right.

And so I planned.  We sat in the airport in Binghamton planning our days at Disney.  When necessary, I looked something up.  They have a great web site and a WONDERFUL app that lets you plan everything, make dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, etc.  They encourage it!

But it’s a RESORT.  Literally every employee you see is paid to help you and do things FOR you!  But they aren’t mind readers.  Had I gone to the front desk/concierge with our ideas and “must-sees” they would have fallen all over themselves to help us plan our day(s).  I would have been presented with the weekly pamphlet detailing park hours and monorail hours of operation and never have even seen the web site with the conflicting information.

It simply didn’t occur to me to ask.

Next time will be different.

My letter:

My Family is having generally wonderful time on our vacation.  Thank you!  It has not been without its specific frustrations, however.  This morning did not get off to a good start.  We had 8:40am breakfast reservations at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom.  We are staying in the Contemporary Resort.  Your web site states: “The Walt Disney World Monorail System operates from one hour prior to earliest park opening until one hour after latest park closing.” ( ) Planning on that, we were up in plenty of time, descended to the fourth floor at 8:00, only to be greeted by a guard, a locked gate, and a sign indicating that the Monorail runs from 8:30am.  Given that the Magic Kingdom opened at 8:00am today, we expected that the Monorail would have been operating since 7:00am (per the web site).
The guard was helpful in that he directed us to the bus terminal.  So we went to the bus terminal.  By 8:30, no bus for the Magic Kingdom had arrived, so we went back inside and joined the line for the Monorail.  We didn’t get to Be Our Guest until 9:00 or so.  (They took very good care of us!)
I am not writing for myself.  I am writing for the next person who takes your published information at its word and makes plans based on them.  Please either update your web site to reflect actual operation of the Monorail, or update the service to bring it in line with what is published.  I hope you’ll agree that’s a reasonable request!
Romeyn Prescott
Potsdam, NY
PS: I have since learned there is a walkway from CR to MK.  We will be investigating that, weather permitting.

Disney Vacation Day 4

Today was Magic Kingdom Day.  It was OK, but we’re very tired!

We forewent scheduled breakfast and decided to “wing it” in the Magic Kingdom.  Having an early FastPass reservation for Thunder Mountain, we walked in the entrance and went straight up to the train platform–a shortcut to Frontierland exiting right next to the ride.  It being so early, there was only one train running and we JUST missed it.  It would be half an hour before it returned.  On our way there we stopped in Starbucks and got breakfast.  We also got notified that the ride was closed and our Fastpass was now good for any of the other rides in the area, anytime that day with no reservation required.

We went to the Haunted Mansion, then It’s A Small World (again for me and Brady!), Splash Mountain, Tom Sawyer Island, A ride around th park on the WDW Railroad, Space Mountain, Carousel Of Progress (at Kyle’s request), the Wedway Peoplemover, lunch with Winnie the Pooh and Friends at the Crystal Palace, the Swiss Family Treehouse, The Enchanted Tiki Room, The Hall of Presidents, and finally (after 4 tries) the Liberty Square Riverboat.  After all that, we were pooped and bored and so returned to the hotel.  Amanda and I availed ourselves of the pool facilities.  Brady had actually returned earlier, nursing a sore stomach.  We had dinner at the Contempo Café in our hotel and Amanda and I left the boys to return to the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, “Celebrate The Magic,” and Wishes Nighttime Spectacular (fireworks).

I’ll have another post soon on the folly of my expectations for aspects of this trip, which clearly were unreasonable; but there were a few things today that were disappointing.  Today was the only day with “bad” weather.  It’s very interesting to see what happens to this place at the mere HINT of lightning.  RIdes close down (like the Jungle Cruise).  The street vendors from whom you all of a sudden have a nasty craving for a bottle of water or Coke are suddenly nowhere to be seen.  The damned Liberty Belle leaves every half hour, SHARP.  If you are 3 seconds late, too bad.  Now, I applaud punctuality.  But when the attendant looks right at me from the boarding ramp as I shout from the gate, “room for one more?!” and ignores me instead of politely, but firmly informing me, “No, I’m sorry, sir!” I get annoyed.  Chef Mickey’s, a venue that takes walk-ins for buffet-style breakfast with cartoon characters inexplicably transforms at the end of the day into a hyper-exclusive hot-spot that is booked solid 6 months in advance for dinner.  The…I guess I’ll have to call him the Maitre’d…will not only tell you this, he’ll barely contain his contempt as he sneers the information at you.  There are 5 elevators in the Contemprary Resort.  They dont tell you this, but I was able to deduce that at dinner time they commandeer two of the elevators for express/direct service between the conference center on the second floor and the rooftop restaurant.  This makes for a LOT of disgruntled people on the 4th floor (the “hub” of the hotel) who see these two elevators blowing right past floor 4, despite the “up” and “down” buttons being pressed.

If I haven’t said it already, the food everywhere here is amazing.  We have not had a bad food experience yet.  Staff, presentation, quality–all get top marks!  The Electrical Parade hasn’t changed much.  But the “Celebrate the Magic” presentation on the face of Cinderella’s Castle defies description.  And the “Wishes” fireworks presentation sure makes a hell of a lot more sense from in FRONT of the castle than it did while standing in the middle of Fantasyland behind it, looking up somewhat bewildered (which is where I was on Sunday night).  The show is well-choreographed, but has to be seen from in front of the castle to be properly appreciated.

Our shuttle to the airport leaves at 12:20 P. M. tomorrow.  We have all morning to do “one last thing” if we want.  I think we’re going to take the Jungle Cruise and Big Thunder Mountain Railway!

Disney Vacation Day 3

Today was EPCOT day!  And it was a great one.

More Monorail troubles, however.  Knowing that we couldn’t get out of our hotel using the Monorail until 8:30 (we learned that yesterday), we left early to take a bus to the Ticket and Transportation center where we could catch the other Monorail that goes to EPCOT.  We got there at 8:30 only to find THAT Monorail closed too, with a sign stating it doesn’t open until 9:00.  We had to wait almost half an hour for a SRO bus to EPCOT.  *sigh*  I write this having had not 20 minutes ago a conversation with a Front Desk rep.  When we got back to our room tonight there was a message light on the phone.  Disney had read the letter I wrote yesterday and it got results!  [Yes, I’m “that guy,” the one who writes letters when he feels customer service could be better.  More on that in another blog post soon.]  I don’t know if they will change the web site as I requested, but it turns out there is a timetable at the front desk which details the daily schedule for the Monorail, and it’s different almost every day!  That would have been nice to know before.  The chap I spoke with was very nice–even sympathetic.  But that doesn’t change the fact that Disney’s own transportation system seems stacked against the patron who wants to actually BE at any of the parks when they open!  We’d have been better off calling a local cab, if they even allow them on the property.  But forewarned is forearmed.  Tomorrow will be better, now that I have this new information!

Enough negativity.  Today “felt” better than yesterday.  We weren’t rushed and saw almost everything we wanted to.  “Soarin'” was the only thing we didn’t get to, and none of us really cared.  Here’s the rundown of how today’s itinerary ended up: Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, Bus to EPCOT, Spaceship Earth, Mission: SPACE, Living With The Land, The Seas with Nemo & Friends, Turtle Talk with Crush, Lunch at Coral Reef Restaurant, Captain EO; then a tour around the lake of the World Showcase pavilions, including the “O Canada!” cinema 360 movie, the France movie, Voices of Liberty (America), a snack at the Liberty Inn (after which I helped a pollster troubleshoot her tablet which wasn’t working), Reflections of China (also cinema 360), Dinner at the Mexican Pavilion, and the evening capped off by the fantastic “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” light show and fireworks display.

Some notes: Turtle Talk with Crush was hilarious and probably rather underrated.  It uses the decades-old gimmick of a real person who can see the room (but who can’t be seen) voicing the surfer dude turtle from “Finding Nemo,” but what was really amazing is that he also seemed to be able to control the turtles animation, including lip movement.  It was like a digital marionette and for an I.T. guy, it was impressive to watch.  The entire “Sea” exhibit is incredible.  The aquarium is so huge, the globe of Spaceship Earth could fit inside it!  Did you know it’s illegal to touch a manatee in the wild?  (It’s OK if they touch you, however.  I checked.)  Captain EO…I had never seen it.  I’m not sure I care now that I have.  🙂  The “O Canada” movie has been updated since I was last here.  Martin Short now hosts and narrates.  Dinner at the Mexican Pavilion was amazing.  I love the “outside inside” ambiance of that pavilion!  It is eternally twighlight/early evening in there.  Very beautiful.

Someone on Facebook today asked about the weather.  I’ll admit I thought it was lunacy to come here, of all places, in the middle of July.  As a speaker at a conference I recently attended said, “Going to Disney World in July is like going to the surface of the sun, and then going to the DMV they have there.”  But we spend almost no time outside!  All of the buildings are air conditioned, as are all of the rides.  IF a line is long enough to snake outside of a building, you aren’t outside for very long.  Even the walk around World Showcase wasn’t bad, as we were constantly ducking in and out of stores.

While in between rides, I discovered that Boar’s Head had noticed my Instagram post from Saturday.  I have been asked to call their customer service line to discuss the matter with them.  I’ll try and make time for that tomorrow.  If not, definitely on Thursday while we are waiting at the airport!

Disney Vacation Day 2

Today was Hollywood Studios day!

We had breakfast reservations for 8:40am at Be Our Guest in Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom.  We had planned to take the Monorail to MK, unaware at the time of the relative convenience of a walking path from CR to MK.  The Disney web site states that the Monrail system runs from one hour prior to the earliest opening of any park to one hour after the latest closing of any park.  Since Magic Kingdom opened at 8:00, we expected to be able to ride the Monorail from our hotel at any point after 7:00.  When we got to the entrance, we were greeted by a gate, a guard, and a sign indicating that the Monorail opened at 8:30.  The guard was helpful in that he pointed out that we could take a bus.  So we tried that.  After waiting half an hour for a bus that never came, we went back inside and joined the huge line for the Monorail.  Result: we were half an hour late for our reservation.  They took very good care of us, however!

Breakfast at Be Our Guest was very good.  Its a limited menu and they have everything on hand with waitstaff constantly roaming the dining rooms with stocked carts, delivering whatever you ordered.  Very efficient!  Drinks are self-serve.  The food was very good, even if my mood by this point was not.

We left the Magic Kingdom and took the bus to Hollywood Studios.  From a design perspective, this is my favorite of the 4 parks.  I just love the Art Deco period, and there are so many details!  There wasn’t a whole lot of “exploring” this park like there was in Animal Kingdom yesterday.  Maybe it’s because I was tired, maybe its because I forgot to have coffee at breakfast; but today felt a little rushed in comparison.  When we got there, a performance of the Frozen Summer Spectacular was in full progress, blocking the main street.  We skirted it and headed straight for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, followed by Star Tours, Beauty & The Beast Live on Stage, (a long) lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre, the Great Movie Ride, “Lights, Motors, Action!” Extreme Stunt Show, and wrapped up with Muppet Vision 3-D.  A brief rest back at the hotel and we had dinner at The Wave of American Flavors restaurant in the the Contemporary Resort.

Rides and shows are rides and shows.  I don’t have a lot to say about them.  The Beauty & The Beast Live On Stage was very good, but not as amazing as yesterday’s similar Lion King performance.  The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre had good food with a 1950s feel.  “Tables” were mock 50’s cars converted to diner tables.  Dim lighting and a massive projection screen have the effect of eating in your car at the drive-in.  Posts with speakers next to the cars played the sound for what was on the screen: a combination of 50s era cartoons (Chuck Jones era Tom & Jerry), “News of the Future” vintage newsreels, and trailers for really cheesy B-movies from the 50s.

I have decided to get to bed before midnight tonight and am not venturing over to the Magic Kingdom (which closes at Midnight).  I am sitting in the Contempo Café writing this post and abusing the privilege my bottomless refill mug affords me.  As I have been sitting here, I have been watching one of the workers.  The Café is on the fourth floor.  The Monorail is above on the fifth.  As the express Monorail passes through the building, it has full view of the Café.  Each time it does, this girl gets genuinely excited, stops what she is doing, and waves to the train.  Disney World IS a magical place, and it’s because of people like her.  And now that I’m done with this post, I’m going to walk up to her and tell her I think so!



Disney Vacation Day 1

We got in very late to the Contemporary Resort.  By the time we had unwound, unpacked, and turned in, it was about 2:30 A. M.  We had breakfast reservations at Chef Mickey’s for 7:30, so that meant about 4 hours of sleep.

We got up and had breakfast.  Having reviewed the schedules for the four theme parks, we decided that today would be Animal Kingdom day.  After breakfast we boarded the bus from our hotel and arrived at Animal Kingdom shortly after the park opened.  We hit Kali River Rapids first (after buying some hats and sunscreen) and got soaked, which kept us cool most of the rest of the morning.  We took the safari tour, the walking tour through the forest, went to Conservation Station (train!), had an AMAZING lunch at the Rainforest Café, the Primeval Whirl roller coaster in Dinoland, the Bugs Life show in the theatre under the Tree of Life, Dinosaur, the “time travel” odyssey, The Lion King show which was absolutely incredible, and lastly, Expedition Everest, which is one hell of a roller coaster.

We left the park around 7, despite there still being 2 “magic hours” left to which we were entitled.  But all the food places had closed and we hadn’t had dinner yet.  (Did I mention how amazing lunch was?)

We took the bus back to the hotel where Amanda and Kyle decided to relax.  But Brady any I weren’t done yet, not by a long shot!  No, the Magic Kingdom was open until midnight!  Off we went, taking the Monorail the “long way” around the lagoon.  (They don’t let you ride in the nose with the pilot anymore–a pilot died in a collision between two monorails about 10 years ago.  They won’t tell you this, but it’s not a secret.)  Main Street USA was already lining with folks getting ready for either the fireworks, the Electrical Parade, or both.  We didnt care about either of those things (we’ll see them later) and so made a beeline for “It’s A Small World,” which is one of my favorite rides.  Brady grudgingly accompanied me (he’s a good sport).  We left there intending to make our way to Tomorrowland.  On the way we passed a LIttle Mermaid ride, which I just HAD to take.  Brady once again indulged me.  But my wanting a picture with Ariel was just too much for him, and so he waited outside while I did that.  After that I found him quickly and we made our way to Tomorrowland as planned.  The Disney App indicated that Space Mountain was temporarily offline, so we rode the Wedway Peoplemover.  After that we got some ice cream and wandered back into Fantasyland to see the fireworks.  By then Space Mountain was running again and so we got in line for that.

And now here I am sitting in the Contempo Café enjoying my 24×7 refillable mug and typing this post.

Time for bed!  I am exhausted.  Happy, but exhausted.