With A Cup Of Coffee: March 10-16, 2013

reads headersHappy Saturday, all!  I’m currently sitting here admiring my view of the Philly skyline, sipping on some Caribou Coffee as the pets drape themselves on various pieces of furniture.  Who could ask for more?

Thankfully, though, I’m blessed with riches this morning, as I’m catching up on some of my favorite blogs and news from the week.  I hope you’ll take the time to check out what’s been “making us happy this week” (trademark NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour):

As many people who follow this blog probably heard, the six-years cancelled TV show Veronica Mars is making its to a movie theatre need you with the help of a wildly-successful Kickstarter crowdfunding venture (it raised its goal of two million dollars in a little over 10 hours).  There’s been a lot of rejoicing on the Interwebs for this project and impending return of these wonderful characters, not to mention the mob-mentality enthusiasm of being a part of A Little Engine That Could.

However, there’s been the inevitable backlash, too, criticism about not only how people should donate their money to some other worthy cause (this argument could then be applied to any superfluous purchase anybody makes ever, which is dumb), but how it sets a “dangerous precedent” for how movies and passion projects are made.  This position is a little easier to understand, since, yes, the $35 I donated does go into Warner Bros.’ bank account, which they’ve pledged to use on a Veronica Mars movie, though I have no real guarantee.  Plus, will I see a return on investment if the movie is profitable? No. (And, let’s be serious, even if Warner Bros. kicks in a few million to get the budget up to $5-10 million, there’s no way this is going to turn a profit for the studio.  It’s obviously a passion project for Rob Thomas, the creator, and Kristen Bell.)

I get that this could lead to a slippery slope: if this is moderately successful by some measure (positive buzz, possibly turning a profit), are you going to have Disney/Marvel launch a Kickstarter for Avengers 2, trying to squeeze some money out of the fans in the name of “better special effects” or a “crazier action sequence” or what have you?  It’ll be interesting to see.  The reason why I’m hopeful the Veronica Mars Kickstarter model will stay somewhat self-contained (perhaps to some of these buzzy, cult-following shows) is that Avengers 2 is going to happen regardless, and anybody would have to be an idiot to propose a Kickstarter for it, much less contribute to it.  A Veronica Mars movie, which they’ve tried for years to make, wasn’t going to happen via traditional pathways.

Plus, as a contributor and consumer, I am fully on-board with VM‘s creator’s perspective on this: I’m essentially pre-paying for my consumption of this movie.  At the $35 contribution level, I get a t-shirt (which I’m neither here nor there about, but there’s some monetary value there) and a digital download of the movie, which I would argue is worth at least $15 itself.  So I forked over a little bit more to get the film made; at least I’m getting some extra value out of it on the back-end too.

There’s also this very interesting piece by S.T. VanAirsdale which goes into how the rewards process works for Kickstarter projects, especially at this scale.

Anyway….yeah. A lot of my week has been following this story since I find it so interesting.  Here’re some other reads that I’ve enjoyed:

Melissa from Mouse on the Mind and Estelle from This Happy Place Blog do another round of Kill-Refurb-Marry at Walt Disney World, this time with the monorail resorts.

Estelle also discusses the very real problem of being…shall we say “attached”…to social media, and when it runs up against the very reason you’re going on vacation in the first place: to relax and enjoy the place you’re traveling to.  I definitely struggle with this myself, like, all the time!

Disney Hipster Adam covers “When You Wish Upon A Star” as they rope drop the Magic Kingdom!

Ooh, one of my fave TV shows, Gravity Falls, got a second season order yesterday. AW YEAH!

As some of you know, I’m a sucker for a good travel deal, and follow several different travel blogs.  Gary over at View From The Wing  tends to do a lot of reflection on the role and responsibilities of travel bloggers themselves (and how many of the big ones get significant referral kickbacks from travel-associated credit cards), and this piece on travel blogs as “thought leaders” in the travel industry is no different.  At some point (and some would argue, this has happened already), these blogs are going to expose too many good deals, reveal too many secret strategies, get too many people involved in the game to the point where loyalty program incentives will continue to decrease and “secret loopholes,” once exposed to the masses, will be shut down.  I’ve earned a lot of frequent flyer miles and hotel points via the advice of travel bloggers, enough to get two roundtrip tickets to Japan and Hawaii in the last two years (without signing up for one credit card!), so I’m curious to see how this sub-industry changes affects the travel companies over the next few years.

Lastly, thoughts from Corey Blake at Robot 6 about comics app Comixology and the concerns of participating in their cloud-based model.  Worth a read as the comics industry slowly and painfully transitions into the digital sphere.

Happy Saturday, everyone!

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With A Cup Of Coffee

reads headersWhat is it about those last frigid weeks of the winter that totally sap your energy to do anything?  I was so unmotivated to go to the gym the other day, so I started watching my brand spankin’ new Blu-ray copy of “Wreck-It Ralph” instead, only to turn it off halfway through and go to bed…at 9:30PM.

Anyway, hopefully that explains somewhat the lack of posts recently; I actually have a whole list of stuff to write about, but when it comes to actually getting up the gumption to write, well…I find myself catching up on episodes of Nashville instead (Juliette, you scoundrel!).

Before we get back to our regularly scheduled posts, however, I’d like to spread some love for of the corners of the Internet that kept me distracted from posting these last couple of days:

Have you checked out the episode(s) of the Disney Hipster Podcast that I totally crashed? You can find ’em on iTunes and elsewhere, but I’ll be nice and include a link here.

Melissa from Mouse on the Mind shares some of her, err…shall we say, challenging trivia questions from the Disney Northeast Meet-up, which I discussed a ways back.

Over on This Happy Place Blog, Estelle catches us up on the happening of Disney theatre, including Mary Poppins‘ swan song and the latest updates on Aladdin’s out-of-town tryout.

Estelle also tweeted us a video of Cheyenne Jackson and Jeremy Jordan “miscast” in one of Lance’s favorite musicals, Side Show! Thanks, Estelle!

Stitch Kingdom shares the first hi-res model art for Shanghai Disneyland; it looks so different from the traditional layout of the parks, I’m a little scared…and is that a Christmas tree between Enchanted Storybook Castle and the carousel? What the what?

MouseChow‘s Dawn chooses her stateroom on the Disney Dream! Lance and I have been debating between a short cruise or a trip out to L.A. this fall (of course, both Disney-related if I press hard enough!), so this is some great info in making an educated decision!

Mara Dreams of Disney has some beautiful photos of the new Tangled Toilets in Disney World’s Fantasyland. EXCITING.

My co-worker and pal Kelly from kellybakes.com talks about e-meeting a celebrity via gluten-free peanut butter brownies.  I have no interest in gluten-free anything and would probably jump off a bridge if I developed a gluten intolerance (“WHY IS LIFE WORTH LIVING???” I scream as I plunge to my doom), but, as Kelly says, the interactive possibilities of social media are mind-boggling at times.

Gizmodo reviews the release of the Marvel Unlimited app, which is intended to be sort of the Netflix Instant of comics.  I’m not ready to take the plunge yet, but if the functionality and titles are there, I might sign up.

DisneyCareers.com.  One day…

Northeast Disney Meet-Up Or Bust

hitchhikingThis past weekend was the Northeast Disney Meet-Up hosted by the Disney Hipster Blog, Mouse on the Mind, and This Happy Place Blog.  I had been super-excited to go, given my recent resurgent love of all things Disney (I may or may not try to hit all the notes in “Out There” while in the shower), and soon after it was announced we made hotel reservations and booked seats on Bolt Bus for the journey up to New York City.

I knew even then that it was going to be a financial stretch for Lance and me to go, since the meet-up was coming at the end of a very expensive month of moving (I get paid monthly, so I measure time in 30-day chunks).  Still, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know the Hipsters and Estelle and Melissa and Jamie and Keith via Twitter over the last few months, and even though Lance + Jeff is by no means a Disney blog, I was compelled to attend.

But the moving expenses kept mounting (SO MANY CURTAINS!), and my unofficial resolution of 2013 was to not spend money I didn’t have (how novel!), so we made the decision a few days before the meet-up to cancel our trip; while our $12 bus tickets weren’t refundable, the hotel was, so we weren’t out too much money.

GEEZ, though, I was so bummed.

I moped around last Thursday and Friday trying to basically figure out my life.  It was very intense: frustration over being cash-poor, mostly, while still wanting to meet in-person people who’ve provided such goodwill and humor to my Twitter feed over the past six months.  Major internal conflict!  I was scrambling, trying to pull together money from different places in order to get our butts up to New York.

Since we’d already canceled on the dog-sitter, we felt bad un-canceling, and the cost of boarding Ripley would’ve added up fast.  Lance fell on his sword, courageously sacrificing himself to watch the dog so that I could attend the meet-up.  The plan was for me to use our original bus reservations to get up to NYC out of Philly, then book Amtrak back late the same night of the get together.  I’d save on a hotel and splurge just a little for the train ride out of Penn Station.

That, and it turned out that Ripley had some tummy troubles the night before the meet-up, needing to go out every hour or two to release some stank diarrhea.  It just wasn’t meant for Lance to come with me; we couldn’t have left Ripley with somebody else given the state he was in.  Poor little guy!

Aww, Dads! My rumbly tumbly!
Aww, Dads! My rumbly tumbly!

(Now that I think about it, a lot of my weekend revolved around poop…)

So, I went up to NYC solo, bummed around Midtown for awhile buying socks (no, really, the Uniqlo socks are THE BEST. Why doesn’t anybody believe me??) and gorging on some wonderful pizza at Eataly.  It was raining and miserable so I thought I’d hop on the C Train down to Brooklyn early and work on some blog stuff at a Starbucks with a big hot cup of coffee (remember, I was working on about four hours of doggy diarrhea duty sleep), only to find out that those crunchy granola weirdos in Brooklyn don’t believe in chains.  Why are there more Starbucks per square mile in Baghdad than there are in Brooklyn?

I was a hot wet mess by the time I got to the Cornerstone Lounge in Brooklyn for the meet-up.  Lots of soggy hugs were had before the Disney-inspired drinks started flowin’.  You can check out a cute photo re-cap over on the Disney Hipster Blog. Update: Estelle over at This Happy Place Blog also has some wonderful photos!

The meet-up was great, and I got to put a lot of faces to Twitter handles that I’ve been following for weeks or months.  There was some super-hard Disney trivia (do you know what year they added the magnetic strip to Disney World tickets?) and some not-so-hard background music trivia…and then more drinks.

I ended up missing my train as the night grew long, though thankfully New Jersey Transit and SEPTA run pretty frequent service between NYC and Philly.  This also afforded me the opportunity to guest on a couple of episodes of the Disney Hipster Podcast, the first one which is now available on iTunes!  The hipsters and their “co-whores” Jamie and Keith are a lot of fun, and I had a fun time bullshitting about Disney with them…which in the second episode we recorded, is a more literal statement than you’d think.

So thank you for hosting the Northeast Disney Meet-Up, guys.  There was a reason I felt so compelled to get my butt up there: it was really fun, and it was great getting to know new and not-so-new Disney pals.  It’s a great, mostly positive corner of the internet these fans reside and operate within, and I’m glad to be even tangentially a part of it.

They Need A Hero, Bolt

Thanks again to Estelle at This Happy Place Blog for allowing me to share my thoughts on another under-appreciated Disney film, 2008’s Bolt.  It’s a little Homeward Bound, a smidge Lilo & Stitch, and part original Toy Story…and it works better than it’s given credit for.

Click here to read my second entry to This Happy Place Blog’s series on “EndEARing & Underrated” Disney films.

 

Honey, You Mean HUNK-ules

Hey y’all!  Just a quick, belated plug for my guest post for This Happy Place Blog’s “EndEARing & Underrated” Disney film series.  My contribution is about 1997’s criminally under-appreciated “Hercules”–I hope you’ll all give it a go.

I also want to give a shout out (a phrase I really dislike, by the way.  Can we come up with something else, like “I’d like to take a moment in order to acknowledge this person’s value”…rolls right of the tongue, no?) to the Disney bloggers I’ve had the good fortune of interacting with recently, who’ve been so supportive and gosh darn enthusiastic about everything.  You don’t get that in many corners of the internet, so it’s a nice change of pace.  If you love all things Disney and want a refreshing, non-troll-y take on things, make sure to check out This Happy Place Blog, Mouse on the Mind, and the Disney Hipster Blog.

 

Walt Disney World 2012 Day Three Trip Report

Click here for our Day One coverage….

and here for our Day Two coverage.

Now, onto Day Three!

Day 3: Alright, confession time.  This was the day in our trip where I didn’t really know what to expect.  Here was the itinerary I sorta laid out:

8:00am-9:00am: Take advantage of Hollywood Studios’ Extra Magic Hours to finally experience Toy Story Midway Mania

9:00am-1:00pm: Animal Kingdom

1:15-2:30pm: Lunch at Sanaa, in the Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village

3:00pm-6:00pm: Blizzard Beach

See, I’d only been to Animal Kingdom once before, back in 2004, and was massively underwhelmed.  As its newest park, it’s also the resort’s most spartan in terms of attractions (the addition of Avatarland will help address that, though, as I’m sure many Disney-philes feel, I’m kinda sad Disney didn’t reach into its own catalog and pull out stuff from The Lion King or something like that instead. Maybe that’s too obvious…) Granted, I should note that, the one day I visited some eight years ago, it was also pouring down rain, it was pre-Expedition: Everest, and I was with my freshman year roommate, so things like Camp Minnie-Mickey didn’t really appeal to us.

I wanted to give Animal Kingdom another shot, though, since I know there’s a small but ardent fan base for the park.  Did I just miss something the first time around? The schedule was tight, but I thought we could do most of the major Animal Kingdom attractions in about 4 hours.

Well, as it turns out, after staying in the Magic Kingdom the night before until 2:00am and not getting back to the hotel until 3:00, we were bushed, and I couldn’t get myself to wake up at 7:00am to get my butt over to Hollywood Studios for the Toy Story ride.  We were working on a combined 9 hours of sleep over the past two nights and I just had to sleep in…until 8:00am.

Was I ever going to get to ride Toy Story Midway Mania??

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