Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pecos Bill Review - why I keep mentioning it...

Of the four theme parks in Disney World, Magic Kingdom has the worst selections of restaurants unless you love character meals or counter service (which I typically don't). But there is one notable exception...Pecos Bills Tall Tale Inn And Cafe. It's halfway between Frontierland and Adventureland, so the theming changes as you move through the seating area. Now, there really isn't anything different about Pecos Bills, it's your typical Burgers and Chicken Strip kind of counter service:

Everybody wave hi to Am's ponytail!


BUT, and I do mean B-U-T, there is one menu item that has held me captive since as far back as I can remember! I get it numerous times every trip and I can't get enough! What is this magical mystery meal item, you ask? A taco salad...yes, you read that correctly a taco salad! What makes it so special? Well, where Pecos Bills differs from most other counter service restaurants in Walt Disney World (although there is a couple that have them), is what's called a "fixin's bar". So, picture if you will, A typical taco shell bowl with just meat in it (because that's all you get with your order), but then picture yourself walking over to the fixins bar and loading it up with whatever you want as high as you want!!! From past dining reviews you know I typically order the same thing...but taco salads at Pecos Bills are a whole other ballgame!!







There are probably a half-dozen more pics, but my eyes are crossing looking for them!! This up-coming trip will be no exception, but now that I'm blogging, it might be different...I might even do a live "build a salad" blog or something! Am laughs at me for my Pecos obsession, especially considering the excellent food at Disney World and I get all bent out of shape over meat in a shell!! She's tried them a couple of times, but she doesn't get it (it's because she uses cheese sauce instead of shredded cheddar...completely changes the dynamic...I've tried to tell her this, but her answer was just to use both cheeses...cheese sauce does NOT belong on a Pecos Bill salad!! The build is this (and this is precise science): layer of shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa, more shredded cheese, more tomatoes, more salsa, more tomatoes, more salsa, and more shredded cheese and tomatoes on top for presentation! It's the only combination that truly works!!

So, there you go...another meal review! I haven't ventured out of the Magic Kingdom much on these reviews, but it is my favorite park, so that's probably why!

Wa Wa Wah....but a review instead

Well, I got too excited too quick...I forgot one major necessity in October planning...the release dates for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! I kind of need those so I know which parties we are going to and then everything kind of goes around the parties! That's what I get for skipping a year, my internal Disney planning guide is off!

So instead, and since now MNSSHP is on my mind...how about a review of the absolute best party Disney puts on - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

MNSSHP is a private ticketed event (thank god...the park would be packed otherwise) that takes place in the Magic Kingdom on selected nights in Sept and Oct (and now even the first couple of days in November!). Basically, the park transforms into a "spooktacular" (I love that word!) place where a lot of characters are out for pictures (one of the few times all seven dwarfs are out together), some even wearing their Halloween costumes. There is trick-or-treating and a lot of guests dress up as well (but like hell we ever would - I stopped doing that at 10...long story for another blog), the absolute best parade and fireworks shows that Disney does, a Villains stage show (it's Halloween-loween everybody!), Stitch has his own dance party, special creepy lighting and music, the rides are all operating, the stores are all open (let the pin frenzy begin) and have special party only merchandise...in a word...awesome!!! There is even an Event Party CD you can buy that has Mickey's Boo To You Parade music, the Villains Dance Mix and Mingle, and, of course, Hallowishes, the fireworks show. I play that all the time!!

I have also been to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and it was wonderful, but, we're not "Christmas" people. I can say I've been and seen it, but there is no need for me to do it again other than for my Mother's sake because she loves Christmas (another reason I question my lineage). But without further ado:

Main Street USA becomes forboding:
2010

2005


The Haunted Mansion gets spookier:
2010

2009

The Hitchhiking Ghosts join in on the fun:
2010

Maleficent takes charge of Cinderella Castle:
2010

And your local "Ghost Host" blows everything out of the sky!:
2010

2007

2005

Those are just a few highlights throughout the years. This upcoming trip will make our 11th and 12th MNSSHP parties (or at least mine...I had one Oct trip up on Am although she's got a Flower and Garden festival up on me) and they will be no less magical and I'm as excited about them as I was the first one!! Seeing the Headless Horseman ride out to start the parade, listening to Madame Carlotta's ghost interacting with visitors outside of the Haunted Mansion (not to be confused with Madame Leota who is inside the mansion), running from store to store trying to get the framed pin set and Am (as per usual) saving the day and keeping me from going postal because she ALWAYS finds them, Am and I singing Halloween-loween everybody out loud, praying that Am doesn't corner another guest (again) and ask for a picture with them (again) because their costume is cool, and best of all...taco salads at Pecos Bills! (ok, one of these things are not like the other ones but explanation coming up!).

So, there you go...Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party! If you're ever at Disney World in Sept-Oct, you definitely can't miss this event!

Here's a video of the Villains Dance Mix and Mingle...everyone should have this song stuck in their head! Besides, Maleficent rapping...come on! And I'm not a Cruella DeVille fan, but that chick can boogie!! You gotta love it!! I picked a clip from a couple of years ago simply because they changed the show last year and since I haven't seen it in person yet, I can't review on it.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's Official!

October Disney World hours have been posted! More to follow since I'm at work and can't even enjoy them!!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Duran Duran Part 2 - New birth for them

You're probably gonna have to forgive my spelling/grammar in these last two posts...it's already past my bedtime and I'm typing like mad because I get that way when I get obsessed about something and I really need to get these blogs out. I almost feel like a traitor being a die-hard Duranie and yet, in all the time I've been blogging, I've barely mentioned them. The Behind The Music Remastered episode just reminded me that if I'm going to be true to myself in my blog, I can't really do that by leaving out Duran Duran because they make up such a large part of me and who I am and how I got the way I am!

Now, on with the show. After Liberty, came what is commonly referred to as "The Wedding Album" because of the wedding pictures of their parents on the cover, but the official title was Duran Duran (the same as their first album, which technically was also their third album since their first album was re-released after their second Rio and the song Is There Something I Should Know was added, but I digress!). Most of you young-un's probably know Duran Duran from this period with Ordinary World and Come Undone, neither of which I care much for (shock). My favorite song from that album was actually a song called None Of The Above. Since it was never officially released, the best I can do is just a song, but it's the lyrical message of the song that's important anyway, so it works. During this time of my life, I was just coming out of my shell and I had just met my now ex-husband. My life had done a complete 360 (and, as I would discover, not in a good way!):



Next up came the Thank You album, an album full of cover songs, and Duran got hell for this one! Sure, some of the covers are amazing (White Lines live is still one of my top five ever and it's hilarious to see a bunch of well over 30 females jumping up and down like little girls!), but come on, 911 Is A Joke? Seriously Simon?



I'm also including the video for A Perfect Day for one very important reason...notice who is drumming? Roger slowly starts making an appearance back in the band. Talk about screaming at the tele the first time I saw this video!



But the overall mood of Thank You felt funny to the true Duranie for a reason...John was about to leave and we could feel it. He had been doing some solo stuff (and John, I love you with all my heart, but son, you can't sing (even if I do own all your solos)) and even did a superground kind of thing with Steve Jones, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (yea, picture if you will, Duran, the Sex Pistols, and Guns And Roses members in the same band), called Neurotic Outsiders (even had a semi-hit with Jerk). They had started their next album, but in the middle of recording it...John left for good and Duranie hearts everywhere broke. Even though I'm a Simonite...John leaving hurt almost as much as if it was Simon. Medazzaland had to be re-recorded because the tracks John worked on couldn't be used, but the final piece didn't turn out as bad as we were all expecting. There are a couple of hidden gems on that album as well even if publicly it also flopped. My personal favorite is Out Of My Mind. It was dark and creepy and closer to the Arcadia sound and it was the first really good video Duran had turned out in years! Pure theatrics! What a Duran video should be!



After this point, Greatest was re-released as a 10th Anniversary thing, but, for the first time, Duran Duran found themselves without a record contract and Duranies found themselves in the very real prospect of being without their band! Also during this point my life was 360ing again...I got divorced and got cervical cancer! My first panic attacks started because my ex was stalking me...happy days! But luckily Duran got picked up pretty quickly by Hollywood Records (which coincidentally is owned by Disney...how cool was that! Duran and Disney were now one!). Unluckily, however, the result of that pick up was, in my opinion, the worst album Duran ever did Pop Trash. Simon had always wrote the lyrics, but this album they gave way too much creative control to Warren and it changed the entire dynamic of the band...it wasn't Duran anymore. It was awful. I was heartbroken and I thought I'd lost them forever. Hollywood Records dropped them almost immediately.

But then something amazing happened...Warren got fired, John came back first, then Roger, then Andy and then, viola! Duran Duran were the original Fab Five again! I got a hysterectomy so no more of that problem and things were starting to settle down...and there is no way to sugar coat this...IT WAS FUCKING AMAZING!! I had seen Duran play live numerous times, but this was the first time I had seen all five on stage together (I was too young to go to concerts before) and I bawled like a baby and laughed and sang and screamed and cried some more! My life was complete! I could have died happy at that point! And low and behold, record companies were knocking down their down and we got a new album as well and entire thing was FUCKING AMAZING!! My favorite track being What Happens Tomorrow simply because it fits me.



Oh, and not the best pic...but I took this...I was at this show!

Once again Duran was hot again! They started a new album, but once again, Andy got itchy feet and off he went again, so the album had to be scrapped, partly because of Andy leaving and partly because the record company thought they needed a "modern" sound. In stepped Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. Now, most die-hard Duranies hate the Red Carpet Massacre album, but I'm not one of them. There are a lot of good tracks on it and Duran are known for every album being different and constantly changing their sound...unfortunately, this was just too big of a jump for us now late 30, early 40 Duranies. I personally hear a lot of classic undertones in these tracks...the strongest being The Valley:



Now we are up to the present time. Duran met Mark Ronson who convinced them that Red Carpet Massacre made the true Duranies feel like we'd been abandoned and they needed to do a true "Duran" album...so we have All You Need Is Now. On the time scale, this album has been reported to be a followup to Rio and that's what it sounds like. Honestly, it's good, but not my favorite. I like the fact that Duran changes and grows and this album isn't growth but a celebration of the past (which might explain my lack of pedestal noticing I mentioned in the last blog). The only song that really speaks to me is Before The Rain (not to be confused with After The Rain from the Rio Album), but since there is not an official video or a good concert clip, there is a winning fan video:



OK, I have got to go to bed, but that's it, my history with Duran Duran. I hope I did them justice to any fellow Duranies and gave you a bit of insight into some of their non-popular tunes that, in my opinion, are much better than the singles that everyone knows!

Simon LeBon will always be my first love no matter what happens (or how many dreams I have about Mark Owen or Howard Donald!).

Duran Duran forever!

Duran Duran part 1 - My real birth into the world

I must be feeling bloggy tonight! But in the process of clearing my DVR (to make more room to save every episode of Once Upon A Time), one show that I've been meaning to put in my Duran Duran file is the Behind The Music Remastered. I have a huge file on my computer of Duran Duran that I've been adding to since my very first computer, so, as you can imagine, it's a pretty big file!

Now, I know I've said a million times that Take That are my favorite band and Darren Hayes is my favorite singer, but what I don't say very much is that Duran Duran is my heart. Simon LeBon was my first "real love" (or as real as idolized love can get) and Duran Duran were my childhood, my teenage years, my youth, and my adulthood. They are still so high on a pedestal for me and can never be knocked off (even though upon occasion I may not notice the pedestal for a while).

But watching the Remastered show and seeing the "public" view of Duran Duran's popularity, it reminds me of how my view of Duran Duran was so very different. When you think of Duran, depending on your age, you probably think of Hungry Like The Wolf (my least favorite song of theirs BTW) or The Reflex or Rio or A View To A Kill. Or, if you are a bit younger, you think of Ordinary World or Come Undone.

For me, my first view of Duran was early fall 1981 when MTV started. Back in those days, living in bum-fudge Arkansas, MTV was like nothing anyone had ever seen before, and for someone like me, who felt completely out of her element and didn't fit in at all, I now had access to music that appealed to me and I didn't feel so out of place anymore because I now had something of my own! It was amazing and beautiful and life-altering and I watched it as much as I was allowed!! Now, for those of us who are old enough to remember the video for Duran's Planet Earth, there are no words to describe what that was like for an 11 year-old girl in Arkansas in 1981! It was still borderline late 70's here, rock was still the prevalent genre or country or hippie folk (and Cartman and I share common views on hippies, and BTW, 70's rock and country are still the prevalent genres here, in 1988 they wanted our prom song to be Free Bird...seriously...I didn't go to prom that year), but music, in general, although I did listen to it, didn't even get close to affecting my soul (which is what good music, or at least music that is good for you, should do). Sure, even now I still have my Shaun Cassidy records and I even remember my very first cassette was Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield earlier in '81, but it was just something you listened to, and I hate to keep using the word, but not something that "affected" you, at least not until Duran changed me.

Duran, at the time, were part of what was called, "The New Romantic" movement, along with Spandau Ballet and several other bands. Looking back at it now, it was all very Darcy-esque, men in ruffled shirts and cravats and leather trousers and yes, there was makeup involved, but it just enhanced the whole effect! The point was, it was theatrical and beautiful and they were beautiful, but best of all, they were British! The Anglophilia had begun! Now, I bet you think I'm gonna post the video for Planet Earth, but like I stated earlier, this is about my view of Duran and although Planet Earth might have been my first glimpse and started the ball rolling, it's not my favorite earliest video of them, that award goes to Careless Memories and it's still my absolute favorite of theirs to hear live, but I'm gonna post the official video for it just to show what I saw in 1981.


Yeah, I know, now it's a bit corny (OK, so a lot corny, but I still love it and it still makes my heart flutter!

As their popularity grew and the record company got their claws in and realized Duran had sex appeal, they decided to "upgrade" their looks to appeal (there is that word again) to more of a mass audience (i.e. us money-spending Americans). Nowhere is this more evident than my next vid post...Lonely In Your Nightmare (which just happens to be my favorite song from the Rio album, not all the popular ones you might know...for the record, Last Chance On The Stairway is my second favorite). Half of this video is shot in the New Romantic look while the other half after the "make-overs" and if you thought I was in love with them before...now they were official pin-up boys and hotter than hell (well, at least for 1982!).



After the success of the Rio album, came their third, Seven and the Ragged Tiger, which was the height of their 80's popularity. Now, record-wise, SATRT is probably my least favorite because it's WAY overproduced, but, the videos at that point were top of the line. Duran Duran were THE video band. At this point in my life, I would use my lunch money to buy Smash Hits and Tiger Beat magazines like crazy. I had a Duran Duran scrapbook (which I still have to this day as well as all my other memorabilia) and I couldn't get enough of the world that was Duran. I used to write to a record store in NYC and send them checks and they would send me 12" versions of Duran singles because our local record store couldn't get them. It was 83-85, my Asperger's and OCD were coming into full swing at this point (but, of course, no one knew or understood either, I was just a bit "crazy"), so you can only imagine my state of mind at this point. But of all the videos to come out of S&TRT, only one was my favorite, and that was New Moon On Monday...it's the reason why I took French in high school (and college). There are more versions of this video than there are Kardasians! But my favorite is the movie version just because you get to see Simon act (although he totally sucks at it, which is funny since he was a drama student before the band). Considering the fact that it's over 15 minutes, the only way I could find it on YouTube was in two parts, so here you go:

Part 1:


Part 2:


After SATRT came Arena, the live album, which also had Wild Boys on it and I remember the first time I heard Wild Boys on the radio I cried because "it wasn't Duran Duran", at least not the Duran I knew and loved, but it eventually grew on me. Then came A View To A Kill and at that point, still no real fourth album, but Duran Duran were on top of the world. John and Andy decided to do a side project, one you may remember called The Power Station, with the now deceased Tony Thompson and Robert Palmer. Not to be outdone, Simon and Nick also decided to do the same and dragged Roger along, although I'm not sure Roger cared too much for it, but their project was called Arcadia. Now, in Simon LeBon looks history...his Arcadia days are my absolute favorite! This will always be "my" Simon. Sure, Arcadia didn't have one-tenth the success of The Power Station, but the music was much more Duranish (or at least the way I thought Duran should be).


And yes, that is Sting singing background.

I'm also posting another Arcadia video just because it's frickin amazing and I've always loved it!


After this phase, Duran Duran got back together, minus Roger and Andy and came out with the Notorious album. It was funkier (in part because it was produced by Nile Rodgers) and quite the departure for the Duran Duran fan of the day...most jumped ship at that point. Fun fact, the video for Notorious launched the career of Christy Turlington (and it was choreographed by a young Paula Abdul fyi). Notorious wasn't my favorite album either, but I didn't jump ship simply because my three favorites were left and damn they looked hot (even if John's drug use is starting to become apparent at this point)! Now, I didn't pick a produced video for this bunch because I didn't like them from this gen and the only song from this album that really "spoke" to me was Vertigo. Besides, the Working For The Skin Trade tour is one of my favorite Duran concerts to this day, so this clip is appropriate:



After Notorious came Big Thing. Wow, what a change Big Thing was! John was practically emaciated from the drug use at this point, Simon was going through a weird biker phase and his ugliest look ever, but the music was good even if the record was warmly received. I've learned over the years to appreciate Big Thing more and more, but the only video worth showing is Do You Believe In Shame. Back in the day, I hated this song, but I understand it now, so it's changed for me:



Next up came their first Greatest Hits album called appropriately Greatest. Nortorious and Big Thing didn't do well, but they weren't flops. Liberty, in a word, flopped. The funny thing about this is, Liberty is probably my most favorite Duran album and I think the "true" Duranies know that Liberty had some true pure Duran gems on it (even if it was just too under-produced, a side effect of SATRT being over-produced perhaps). It was also the album that officially replaced Andy with Warren Cuccurullo (who, even though he was a member of Duran longer than Andy, I NEVER accepted...he didn't belong) and Roger with Sterling Campbell, who only lasted through the Liberty album. Decade did turn out one new song (well, two if you count the B-side), but in all actuality, it wasn't a new song at all, but an amalgam of Duran songs melded into one called Burning The Ground. See if you can hear the individual songs in the mix (like the video clips aren't clues, but still)!

Sorry I have to give you the commercialized VEVO version, but it was the only one I could find:


Now, back to Liberty. There is one song in particular on Liberty called Serious. It my "my" song. It is the song, if you hear me playing it over and over and over again, step away from me, I'm not in a good place. It's my healing drug, my medicine, my salvation. I've never grown sick of it and I never will (and trust me, when I've been in a bad way, I have played it for days, over and over and over again, on constant repeat...drives my co-workers insane). Serious is, in my opinion, the best Duran Duran song ever. Period. End of story. It's also my absolute favorite video of all Duran time. It may be simple and cheesy, but it's Simon at his finest and it's him and John just having fun! I can also even ignore Warren successfully! It's also their biggest flop. Go figure. But here is the masterpiece that is my salvation:



Liberty was during my college years, not a good time for me personally (which is probably why Serious speaks to me so deeply). I'm gonna stop this post here and go to part 2 simply because at this point in Duran history, things changed for them, and me, forever.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tele reviews

Some of you guys may wonder why I give television show reviews and I may have explained this before, but I feel like doing it again! The only American television shows I watch are Once Upon A Time (which I seem to get more and more obsessed with every episode) and Mike and Molly (which I probably wouldn't watch if I didn't have a DVR). Throughout the years it's always been that way, I've always been more of a movie person than a tele person and maybe only one show a year catches my attention and it rarely ever keeps my attention. Some shows I watch when they come out on DVD instead of weekly...Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and House, simply because I'm horrible at cliffhangers, or I don't care enough to watch them every week even though I may like them.

Throughout the years, only a few American shows have left lasting impressions on me...Wings, ER, South Park, Queer As Folk, and Moonlighting and that's about the lot and probably about in that order of importance. I still think Joe's proposal to Helen on Wings is one of the finest in television moments and if I'm flipping through channels and Wings is on, I will stop and watch it, even to this day and I own all the DVD's!

British tele, on the other hand, is a whole other ballgame. Most Americans don't take the time to watch British television other than what's on PBS (which is a lot of period stuff) or BBCA (when it's not Gordon Ramsay or Top Gear) and, unfortunately, that's just the tip of the iceberg! I may be Southern born and bred, but my interests have never been on this side of the channel! But fortunately, it's a very easy thing to get British television shows, all you need is an all-region DVD player (and almost all DVD players can be made all-region or you can just buy one) and you're all set. I've blogged before about different region DVD's, but basically the US and Canada is region 1 and the UK and Europe is region 2...there are 9 different region codes. An all-region player is basically set to 0. But there is another catch with British DVD's...most countries use the NTSC television system, whereas the UK uses the PAL system. Most newer DVD's play NTSC and PAL DVD's even if they aren't all region (but can be made that way) and aren't advertised that way. It's how they are encoded for the television, not for the DVD player. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. There is a great software decoder called DVD43 that works with VLC player that will make any computer an all region player for free.

You can purchase DVD's from Amazon UK just as easily as you can Amazon.com (but with the caveat that you can only purchase directly from Amazon UK and not from third party vendors). British DVD's are also much cheaper than American DVD's are. But there is a reason for this. Our shows are typically 20-24 episodes per season with an average of 42 minutes per hour show, theirs are 6 to 8 per series with an hour per hour show. They also don't always do scheduled seasons like we do, some shows may only have 7 series, but they may have been over 20 years, like the Vicar Of Dibley, for example, depending on the actors schedules because most actors work on more than one show at a time. What they lack in quantity, they make up in quality. Another caveat is that if you buy the American version of a British show, it will cost a fortune and all they are doing is making them region 1!! I've never understood that! I've paid $100 for series of Spooks in their MI-5 incarnation, but you can get the same thing from Amazon UK for 11.99 which, depending on the exchange rate is still less than $20. Yes, you may have to wait a couple of weeks for it to make it through customs (which, BTW, it's American customs it gets stuck in), but it's definitely worth it! Shipping is typically less than ordering from an American vendor as well! And UK shows come out on DVD almost immediately after the series has ended...there is no waiting practically a year for it to come out on DVD like Supernatural.

And don't even get me started again on how many American shows are remakes of British shows and everyday I keep seeing in the news how we're stealing more and more...Mistresses and Sherlock are the next two up on the register...an American Sherlock Holmes!! Yeah...about as stupid an idea as an American Doctor Who, but hey, guess what...another idea that they are actually working on!! What are they gonna use for a Tardis? A port-a-potty?

I went off topic again...the reason I give these reviews is to give Americans a peek into the wonderful world of UK tele and what great shows that we have easy access to, but don't even know exist! With the popularity of Downton Abbey, more and more people are starting to watch even more UK shows. But Downton Abbey also plays into the cliche of the British only do period dramas and I try to show that this is not the case! Yes, there are a couple period shows...Lark Rise To Candleford (one of my favorites), and of course Downton and Upstairs Downstairs, but they are more rare than you think.

I have seen tons of American shows that totally suck but of my UK tele collection, only a couple have been disappointing...none have totally sucked and my collection is quite large now. No two have been the same (No CSI Miami, NY, Vegas, Timbuktu, etc) even if the actors might be (they don't have thousands of actors like we do, but that's OK, it's much easier to follow your favorites that way!).

And for the Jane Austen fans, you've all heard of the game 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon? I like to play 3 degrees of Jane Austen because every British actor can be traced in 3 or less steps to a Jane Austen adaptation! Just for example, lets take Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey (since he's known by most Americans now)...I don't even have to go 3 degrees on him, but I can go 3 choices...Lost In Austen, in the '99 Mansfield Park, and Miss Austen Regrets! Want a more famous actor? How about House himself, Hugh Laurie, who was in Sense and Sensibility and then you can trace him to Spooks (one of the best heads of 6 that the show ever had) which had Matthew MacFayden (Pride and Prejudice), Rupert-Penry Jones (Persuasion), and Peter Firth (Northanger Abbey) and Richard Armitage who you can trace to The Vicar Of Dibley and back to Hugh Bonneville or Richard Armitage to Keith Allen in Robin Hood to Max Beesley in Bodies to Julie Graham in Survivors back to Hugh Bonneville in Bonekickers (OK, so that was four but I got stuck on Richard Armitage and you get the point)! Trust me...I could do this all day!!

So, I hope that my reviews will give you a bit of insight into some really great shows and I hope that you give them a shot, they aren't as far out of reach as you might think!

October WDW schedule is almost out!

I've been a cave lately and completely missed the fact that the October Walt Disney World Park schedule is about to be published! You know what that means...it's time to officially plan days! That gives me the best way to pick restaurants which is definitely the most fun (and most frustrating) of the whole process!

For those of you unfamiliar with WDW, you're probably thinking what's this crazy OCD chick talking about? The plan is to get the most "bang" out of each day and the only way to do that is to know what the schedule is. For example...On Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party days, the Magic Kingdom closes at 7 to non-party guests. We are doing two parties, but there will be more parties happening, so I don't wanna schedule a day in the Magic Kingdom only to be kicked out at 7 since MNSSHP is a private ticketed event! The scheduling process is one of the most delicate dances of the whole trip process!

On top of all that, one of the many perks to staying on Disney property is Extra Magic Hours (and I've had the on-property/off-property debate, so we know where I stand on that issue!), and Extra Magic Hours also have to be factored into the schedule to help maximize the day. But just because it might be Extra Magic Hours in Animal Kingdom, that means that the park still closes at 8 pm if its an evening EMH, meaning there is plenty of time to go Downtown shopping or what not. Or, for example, a normal Animal Kingdom closing night is 5, but a night EMH elsewhere, means another park is open till 11 pm or midnight (the joys of a Park Hopper Pass!!). Unfortunately, we've never made an a.m. EMH, but I have done a park opening ceremony and what an amazing experience that is! It will bring tears to even the hardest of people when at the Magic Kingdom the train pulls up and all the characters arrive (even me!). I can't even imagine what it's like for the random family that gets picked to open the park (and a bit of trivia, it's the only time of the day that the Walt Disney World Railroad train is perfectly centered at the Main Street Station and is the perfect photo op for at least the first 30 minutes of the opening of the park!). The other park openings are not quite as magical, but they have their own appeal just the same.

Other things to consider is the fact that fireworks can be at different times, some nights there can be two firework shows, crowd calendars have to be consulted (because god forbid I want to be in Epcot on a crowded day...the line for Soarin' is already long enough!), several schedules have to be made in case dinner reservations can't work out, it's not as easy as people think it is. Plus, I have to monitor the DisBoards to see which major tour groups are going to be there the same time as us and try to track their movements as well, so that we can stay well away! This is still my reasoning for why most people that go and have a terrible time is because they don't plan. You wouldn't go to Europe without planning! I've said it before and I'll say it again...Disney World is NOT Six Flags!

I usually come up with about 6 to 10 options and then at the 120 day mark when I can make dinner reservations, which ever plan works out best is the one that gets to live! Then, there is a rare occasion when the schedule has to be changed again, and you talk about a nightmare! But, that's why I only go to Disney World once a year (OK, not the only reason, the main reason is down to money), but it takes a whole year to plan a trip!

If someone where to call me and say, "you've won a trip to Disney World but you have to leave tomorrow", believe it or not, I'd probably say no! My nerves couldn't take it! I would have no restaurant ressies (and the food IS part of the experience and you're not going to get them last minute unless you're incredibly lucky, which I'm not). Then there is the weight issue, I've got 30lbs to loose and all my Disney vacation clothes are two sizes smaller than I am right now! Plus, you have to be of a certain physical strength to even manage walking around that place and, even when I am, I still end up in extreme pain by the end of the trip with swollen feet, blisters and it takes me a good month to get over it! I know nothing about the current guest climate (one needs to know these things...don't want a repeat of '99 and waking up to cheerleading squads every morning!). And probably the most important reason of all, I need tons of spending money! I have "I want" syndrome and my house is the showplace of that syndrome and I need new "stuff"!

So, in the coming weeks, I'll give you guys an inside look at what goes into planning a Disney trip, not just from the view of an Asper-girl with the added bonus of OCD, but in the way that makes for the best trip ever because I've had quite a few!!! My Disney mantra is this, if you have a bad time at Disney, it's your fault, not theirs!!

As a parting gift, I've found a clip on YouTube (god bless YouTube) of the opening ceremony, so you guys can get a a taste of what I mean, although it can't do the same justice as being there in person!

Friday, March 23, 2012

TUSAL time

I figure that since any growth in my ORT jar was a figment of my imagination...then what a more fitting location for this months pic than in the corner of my Figment collection!

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I made the mistake this week of bragging about a good day and those words have poked me, prodded me, kicked me, and generally made my life a living hell the rest of the week! That's what I get! I would say I won't make that mistake again...but more than likely I probably will!

So, in honor of such a "marvelous" week...and the fact that I'm still having "missing my daddy" issues (yeah, I know Am and T, let it go already!)...here's a vid of my favorite band singing my favorite song in my favorite incarnation to perk me up. Markie has gotten me through many a bad night as well as Howie (in an entirely different way than Mark...sometimes not...sometimes they work together...I better shut up now, this is beginning to sound a bit risque, maybe I should have stopped at two glasses of Malbec! I am, of course, referring to their singing...or at least that's my public line of defense - no comments from the peanut gallery T-boo). I'm just kidding! I'm a kidder! (Who's mind is apparently in the gutter...product of my edu-ma-cation! I may or may not regret this post tomorrow! But without further ado:

Take That - Shine - Take That At Abbey Road Live


And for the Americans who have never heard of Take That...browse through YouTube and check out their catalog...this is how a boy band is SUPPOSED to mature and it's just a shame that this country is deprived of a great band, but hey, it means I don't have to share them!

Hey, while I'm at it, and the "daddy" issues are still plaguing me...how about a little Said It All as well! Yeah...Take That Daddy-O!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Good Day! (for once)

I had a really good day at work today! I think that's the first time I've said that in years! I'm not getting my hopes up, but hey, it was nice for a change! I had my standard headache as per usual, but it was almost not noticeable!

But I did want to say thank you to all my friends, new and old, for the kind comments! I've had a bit of a time with all the meds and have not been able to blog like I used to, but hopefully things will change soon.

But thanks again to everyone and things have to get better because I have a Disney trip to plan!

New reviews - Eternal Law, Monday Monday


So, it's been a while since I've done any tele reviews and there have been two shows on my radar lately that have really left a mark with me...the first being Eternal Law.  The initial draw to the show was Tobias Menzies and Samuel West, both of whom played the young Mr. Elliot in my personal favorite Austen, Persuasion.  I've had a crush on Tobias forever, especially since his very short stint on Spooks, but this role for him was perfect because he is super hot as a bad guy!  The possibility of a heavy religious connotation did give me pause, but I've always been fascinated with angel lore, so I thought I'd risk it for Tobias' sake and I'm glad I did!
Tobias Menzies
Basically the premise of the show is angels are sent down from heaven to give humans one final chance and the angels must do their best to defend them, as lawyers!  Yeah, come on, how could you not love that premise!  But wait, it gets better!  Not all the lawyer-angels are good...and this is where Tobias comes in!  He's a fallen angel, black wings and all!  Tobias' character, Richard, tries everything he can to interfere with Samuel's character, Zak, and to try to start the countdown to armageddon...which has been threatened if one more angel falls out of favor (usually by falling in love with humans).  Zak already has a past with a human (Hannah) and he thought he was starting fresh with a new body in a new town, but Richard has other ideas when he brings Hannah directly into Zak's path once again.  On top of dealing with being on "probation", having to control himself around Hannah, who he desperately loves, Zak is also having to mentor a new earthbound angel, Tom, who was a choirboy in heaven and is having a hard time adjusting to the ways of our wicked world!  On top of all that, there is Mrs. Sheringham, who was once an angel, but gave up her wings for true love with a human, only to have him die on her 6 months later from a brain tumor (apropos considering my circumstances) and now she's stuck in human form and babysitting angels!

The show was cancelled after it's first series, but it doesn't end with too bad of a cliffhanger and the ending still made me quite happy to say the least!  One of the best scenes was Samuel and Tobias beating the crap out of each other in a church!  Loved it!  Definitely highly recommend!




Then, there's the show I can't stop watching!  Monday Monday!  I got a major crush on Tom Ellis by watching Miranda (who also has a bit part in this show, BTW), and as per my usual crushes, I start IMDBing him to find out every single show he was in which is how I found this gem!  It really does have an all-star cast which adds to it's appeal.

Tom Ellis

The premise of this show is an in trouble supermarket chain has to move their corporate offices to Leeds, which is a good thing for Sally, who's trying to escape the fact that she just caught her fiance in bed with her sister.  But almost immediately she makes the mistake of going home with a guy she meets in a bar when she is way too drunk, only to make an arse of herself by throwing up all over him before it goes to far.  She's grateful she never has to run into him again, or so she thinks, because her embarrassing one night stand turns out to be Steven (Tom), who is the new main bosses PA and sits in the desk right beside her!  Their chemistry is still undeniable however, even though they decide to be friends and at first Steven borders on total prattiness, especially when Sally discovers that he's been secretly having an affair with his boss the whole time!  But as the show goes on, and Sally and Steven become friends, their relationship changes along the way, despite the troubles at the company, Steven's relationship with Alyson, and the reappearance of Sally's bastard fiance.

Steven being a total prat (but I promise he turns into a total sweetheart!)


This is another show that didn't make it past the first series, but it ends beautifully, so another no complainer!

I really don't understand why these shows get cancelled!  I absolutely loved them both and I highly recommend them both!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I stitched on IHSW and got Liebster awards!

It's been a couple of weeks, but I think my mojo is coming back! OK, so I didn't do a lot of work, but I did what I could with a headache. I had to keep stopping and starting, but I'm still proud of my little bit-o progress!  At least I got something done for IHSW!!  So without further ado:

The 35th Anniversary Celebration:
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And A Walk Through The Highlands:
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Apparently in my absence from the blog world...awards have appeared and two people have given them to me! I have to say I'm more than a bit surprised and humbled!  MangoGirl At Naughts & Cross Stitches and my pal Vickie over at Reading And Stitching both thought enough of me to give me this honor!  And I'm supposed to pass it on.  This is not something I'm very good at, but I'm gonna give it a shot!  Funny thing is, both these ladies would have been one of my five!


Liebster is a German word, meaning favorite, dearest or beloved, and the Liebster is awarded by bloggers to other, newer bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers, to spread the word and help the new(er)bies gain wider recognition. The award comes with four conditions that each recipient must satisfy when accepting:

1. Choose five up-and-coming blogs (with fewer than 200 followers) to award the Liebster to.

2. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

3. Post the award on your blog. List the bloggers you are giving the award to with links to their sites. Leave comments on their blogs so they know about the award.

4. Share five random facts about yourself that people don't know about you.

Ok, the bloggers that I am giving this award to are:

1) Katy over at Momuboocrea Island - One of the best things that has come from blogging!  What a great friend she has become and what a fantastic person!!  I can't imagine life without our weather swaps!  But then again, she is to blame for my new obsession for Crunchies!!

2) AbbyBeth at The Tomboy Princess - Another new friend and a fellow Disney lover!  A pretty strong girl who has been an inspiration even if she doesn't know it!  Hope to see you in October in WDW!!

3) The Crafty Princess - Her stitching is absolutely amazing and I find it mind-boggling that she can do so many WIP's at one time!

4) Nikki at Nikki's Stitching - Another fabulous stitcher who never ceases to amaze me at the varying subjects she stitches!  I find myself drawn to her blog just to see what's next!

5) Five wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! Mcewan07 at Cross Stitch W.I.P. is the kind of stitcher I wanna be when I grow up!  Her work looks flawless!!

Ok, now for the hard part. 5 random facts about me that people don't know (and for me this will be really tough because I've been pretty forthright on my blog and in life):

1) I'm terrified of spiders, but the bug that scares me the most is ladybugs!  Years ago when I lived in the country, it was a migratory year or something for the little monsters and they covered my house for about a month!  But that wasn't the bad part...one night I opened the back door and thousands, and I do mean thousands, of them fell on me!  A scene right out of a horror movie!  Live bugs, no matter how "cute" covering you is terrifying!  That was about 15 years ago and I still find ladybug corpses in my house upon occasion!

2) I don't eat yellow candy.  Don't know why, I just refuse to do it and always have.  I even pick out the yellow M&M's!  It's not because they are lemon, or pineapple or whatever flavor yellow happens to be, it's just a weird phobia!

3) I was in my late 30's before I ever stepped foot in a liquor store!  It just wasn't something I could bring myself to do.  It's not something I have a problem with now!  I've become quite the wine lover!

4)  Speaking of beverages, I am a total tea snob!  Tea should never be made instantly, herbals are NOT teas, and good tea, made right, needs absolutely no sugar - besides, you can't taste the flavor of the blend if it's sweet.  Oh, and once you get a taste of the good stuff, Lipton tastes like grass!  Totally ruins your dining out experience when you want a good glass of tea in a restaurant and you know the second you taste it, it's Lipton!

5) I miss my daddy.  I shouldn't.  He doesn't deserve it.  It may be our Scottish pride dragging this rift out, but I can't make him love me and considering everything I'm going through with my head, he's got to be the least of my worries!  Guaranteed he doesn't give me a moment's thought I just wish I could do the same.  Wonder what he'd say if he knew I had a brain tumor?  Probably nothing.  I just hate that I can't forget him and I hate that I think about him every single day.  Totally sucks.  I may act all big and tough when it comes to my father, but he is definitely my Achilles heel!

Wow, that's a positive note to end on!

Ok...Hopefully you will stop by and visit my friends blogs!!!  That's the award process!  Everyone enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Time for IHSW!



Considering I haven't even touched a needle in weeks...I don't hold out much hope of a good weekend, plus I have a hair appointment on Saturday, but I am gonna try to get something done for the sake of the event! I'm not sure yet which one I'll work on, so that will probably be a surprise!

Still no blogs of late because of same problem...had another doctor visit...got meds added, meds taken away, meds upped, meds downed...basically same ole, same ole. Still being doozer-bashed daily so we'll see. He's running me through a steroid pack now to break the current headache cycle but so far no help. He wanted me to take time off, but right now it's just not feasible. Ugh. That's a whole other can of worms!

But anyway, good luck everybody since I probably won't get out another post between here and yon!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

WDW Restaurant Review - Artist Point

OK, so I know I've seemingly fallen off the blog radar as of late, but it just couldn't be helped. Remember the doozers from Fraggle Rock? Well, they are building tons of construction walls around my head and are constantly hammering on it with their tiny little doozer hammers! You'd think after two weeks they would have built a skyscraper by now!

But that is not the purpose of this particular blog. I'm gonna try my best to get out a review since it's been so long. My second favorite sit-down restaurant is Artist Point inside the Wilderness Lodge (of course...were you surprised?). It continues the Northwest theme with both the decor and menu but at the same time it's one of the more sophisticated restaurants on property. Kids are there in limited quantities, but they are out of place and subsequently seem to realize it because they are on their best behavior.

But without further ado, it's picture time! Here's my meal from 2005 when Am and I were there:

Cheese plate (didn't enjoy):

Caesar Salad:

Pork Chop and Tillamook Mac and Cheese

Best Berry Cobbler ever!

Funny story about my 2006 solo trip...I guess they thought I was a restaurant critic, sitting by myself and taking pictures of the food. I did notice that they were quite attentive during dinner, but when I got back to my room and I had a message from the restaurant manager hoping I enjoyed my dinner and if I had any questions or comments I could call him on his direct line or cell phone! I didn't call him back, but I felt really guilty!! Here's those pics:



Portobello Mushroom Soup (normally I hate fungus, but this is amazing!):

Pork Chop and Tillamook Mac and Cheese (I'm nothing but a creature of habit!):

Berry Cobbler (once again):

But there you go! Another Disney restaurant!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Update and Sissy B-day

I haven't posted in a while and I've had a couple of questions about how I am, so I thought I'd give an update, but there's really nothing to update on. I've had a headache everyday for over a week (well, all but last Friday, my one reprieve which more than got made up for on Saturday). I've done absolutely no stitching. I've been working alot and sleeping not so much. I didn't want to bore ya'll with that info which is why I haven't been posting.

I have been doing a bit of spring cleaning and managed to clean out a ton of old clothes (including the last two pieces of my high school wardrobe), but it's going slow.

But, on a positive note (bet you thought that wasn't possible with me, but trust me, a pessimist I am not, just a realist), today is my Sister's B-day! So everyone wish her a happy B-day and here are my favorite two little guys to help: