Saturday, October 31, 2015

Disneyland-Part 2: The Bad

First up, Happy Halloween everybody! Today is my favorite holiday (although I don't really do anything to celebrate it), so I hope everyone has a fantastic day!

It's time to get on the negative train, but I'll try not to be too much of a downer. Although I did enjoy Disneyland, there were a lot of issues that I couldn't just let go.

Haunted Mansion Holiday ruined the Haunted Mansion for me. I LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas, don't get me wrong, but I felt more like the Haunted Mansion was being abused more than "plus-ed". I did ride it twice, but the second time was almost forced and it was more of a "maybe I'm being overly critical and I should give it one more chance" ride than an actual "ride to see it one more time" kind of thing. In the end, I decided I wasn't being overly critical and I didn't like it at all, even if they left the Hatbox Ghost alone.

When it came to rides, the lack of a queue area was kind of a bummer for me. I guess I'm spoiled to air-conditioned buildings or covered walkways with fans blowing everywhere because not only was the sun and heat annoying, but the lack of queue theming was just boring! I felt like I was just waiting in line versus having an experience. Disney World definitely "gets" ride queuing. The smallness of Splash Mountain, Teacups, and various other rides were a bit of a disappointment too after Disney World's longer rides, but that didn't bother me nearly as much as the lack of a queue.

The food was SOOO not up to Disney World par. I was dreading the whole California Cuisine vibe anyway, but the only meal I considered "excellent" was when we finally managed to wrangle lunch at Rancho del Zocalo, a counter service restaurant. It's pretty bad when a counter service restaurant out does the so-called best of the best in table service.

All the snacks I'm used to getting at Disney World either weren't there, or were awful. The cake pops didn't even taste remotely similar, there were no macaroons to be found on property (although we did find plenty off property), no Minnie's Bake Shop packaged big cookies, no white apple pixie dust, and don't get me started on the possibly week-old chocolate-covered pineapple I had from Marceline's in Downtown Disney. After about three tries from various other locations, I managed to find a sort-of replacement for LeFou's Brew at The Cozy Cone Motel #3 in the form of Red's Apple Freeze, but it wasn't quite as good (although I did have four of them). This was the first Disney trip that I managed to lose weight on versus gaining it, and I lost 7 lbs.

My whole theory about the Florida humidity is why my feet swell up has now been disproved. There wasn't a lick of humidity in the air and yet my feet spent most of the week the size of balloons. I gave up on flip-flops about mid week, but I forgot that I get sun rash really bad wearing socks so, of course, not only did I have balloon feet, my ankles were covered in a nasty rash...attractive!

Disneyland park may be smaller, but I was more lost and turned around there than I have ever been at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. There is no "flow" to the lands, some of them just completely dead end and you have to turn around to get out. This was very weird to me and I never really got my bearings. I didn't have the same problem at California Adventure, it felt very Hollywood Studios in the front and Epcot in the back and I never got lost there once.

Both California parks suffered from paint fade on rides, buildings, and ornaments, in some instances, severely. Granted, the parks were immaculately clean (which Disney World can no longer boast), but seeing rides in faded colors and rust everywhere was a bit disconcerting. You would rarely to never see that sort of thing at Disney World and I was shocked by it more than a little. You can't really attribute it to the California sun because Florida gets a less smog-covered version of the sun and still everything is always freshly painted. It made certain rides and buildings just look sad.

And speaking of which, what is up with all the stairs on rides at Disneyland? You go up stairs in a queue only to turn around and go back down them again two turns later! A lot of the rides had stairs coming and/or going and a few of them didn't make sense, like at Jungle Cruise. Granted, it makes the queue lines longer by going up, but still. My bad knee was screaming at me by the end of the trip and even my good knee wasn't too happy.

My biggest pleasure in life is shopping at Disney, but I didn't even purchase one single thing until the fourth day into the trip. There either just wasn't good merchandise there or nothing I was willing to splurge on. The stores were decked out beautifully, but the selection of items just wasn't there. I know that Disney is trying to make the theme park merchandise more generic so they don't have to make different things for different parks, but even Disney World still has specialty merchandise.

When it came to pins, Halloween Party pins were non-existent, so my usual purchase of a party framed pin set was obviously out of the question. There wasn't even Party merchandise out anywhere. I managed to wrangle a Halloween Party T-shirt on a non-party night at a store in New Orleans Square on our last park day. Other pins were pretty much the same old stuff that I already had, or not fresh enough to make me want to buy them. The resort didn't even have it's own pin. As someone who spends a great deal on just pins, that part of shopping was a complete bust because I came home with less than 20 of them.

The World of Disney Store at Downtown Disney is a joke compared to Disney World's. There is no order to the "rooms", even though they seemed to have theming, but you would often find collectible figurines in the toddler section or ornaments in men's clothing. It was just weird! I walked around that store multiple times for long periods of time and still never found what I was looking for completely. I went with a small list of things to buy anyway (unusual for me, but I didn't have as much spending money this time), but I never finished off the list no matter how many different stores I went into.

I guess a positive note on the shopping side was that, not only did I actually come home with a bit of space on my credit cards, but I didn't have to move stuff around in the duck room to fit all the new stuff, so I guess I wasn't all bad.

Next up, although there wasn't much, there was enough ugly to change my life...for the better or worse has yet to be determined.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Disneyland-Part 1: The Good

So, I'm back from my first trip to California and Disneyland. Granted, the Post Disney Depression is still pretty high, so much so that I still can't even look at the pictures in detail yet, but I'll get around to them eventually. But I did promise a trip report, so here we go, in all it's good and bad glory! I've decided to divide this into three sections, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First up, the Good:
As much as I dread dealing with airport security, I have never really had any problems with it. I work myself up into a frenzy in my mind, and it always ends up being just fine or with minimal upset. This was one of my best flying experiences ever and the views from the plane were amazing! I did get some really good pictures from the window (or at least I hope I did) of places I've always wanted to visit...mountains, deserts, plains, just general terra gorgeousness! I did briefly fall asleep during the period while we were too high in the clouds to enjoy the view anyway (the side effect of too much Xanax), but I don't think I missed too much. We did hit a lot of turbulence on the way back, but again, I kind of didn't even notice it too much.

So many people warned me that I would be disappointed in Disneyland since I was a seasoned Disney World vet, but I found that I actually enjoyed Disneyland, maybe more so than Disney World. Granted, there were issues I'll discuss later in the bad, but I found the parks to be quaint and comfortable, steeped in far more history and charm than my parks could ever be. Pirates of the Caribbean, arguably tied for my favorite Disney ride ever (with Haunted Mansion) was FAR superior at DL and I found myself riding it six times and felt like I could have easily ridden it even more! Considering all the blank spaces at WDW's version, there is no reason why the extra scenes couldn't be added to Florida.

I will also say that where Disney World's Space Mountain is a kidney crusher, Disneyland's was smooth and relaxing. It was nice to ride Space Mountain and actually enjoy it! The Matterhorn, on the other hand, more than made up for the bumpy ride and my kidney's still kind of hurt from the one time we managed it. Big Thunder Mountain seemed smaller at Disneyland, but I liked that most of it was outdoors and there seemed to be more scenery in the ride. Same for the train...the dioramas, although weird and unrelated to one another, still were quite enjoyable.

Cars Land at California Adventure is quite possibly my new favorite land in any Disney park. The level of detail to the movies and the large quantity of Mater-ness easily made it the place I found myself always going back to. Granted, riding Radiator Springs Racers was a feat and virtually impossible without a FastPass (something I've gotten out of the habit of at Disney World), but the two times we managed to ride it were both quite pleasant experiences considering the wait times, even for FastPass riders.

The fact that we could easily walk from The Grand Californian into both parks was definitely a bonus and I was quickly spoiled to the afternoon breaks that I had avoided so much in my Disney World past. There was really no need to ship purchases back to the resort, just take ten minutes and walk them back! Even our stay at the Contemporary at WDW wasn't as convenient as the GCH was. And it's similarities to Wilderness Lodge (my favorite WDW resort) made me feel at "home" and considering how much out of my element I was, it was quite a welcome feeling.

I'll discuss the LA Tour we took more in the bad and the ugly, but there was a glimmer of goodness in it, that being Santa Monica. I could literally live there! It was gorgeous and had that calm vibe that I always look for when I'm travelling. I walked along the beach, along the pier, along the cliffs, some of the time by myself, and I enjoyed every single minute of it. About the only thing that stressed me out a bit was the homeless. They were sleeping on the beach, digging in the trash for food, even grunting loudly at us as we walked by. I'm never sure how to react in those situations because we don't have visibly homeless here, but I chose the non-responsive response. I watched how everyone else reacted to them and they seemed to do the same, so hopefully I made the right decision.

I was so afraid that my apple-shaped body would be out of place in California, but I was surprised to see that the skinny to fat ratio was a lot smaller than I expected. I guess I've always associated Cali people as skinny beautiful people and I really didn't see a lot of either, it was more just the "real world" type of guest, so I felt more comfortable than I was expecting to. I will say though, some of the outfits shocked me because most all were not "size appropriate". I saw more butt cheeks than I cared to (well, I never care to see butt cheeks, especially in public, but you know what I mean).

And the two-hour commute I was expecting from the airport to the resort only took 52 minutes there (including a grocery stop) and 37 minutes back. Although L.A. traffic was terrifying to look at from the car-pool lane, I was so grateful I went the car service route and decided against renting a vehicle...I would have been in physical conniptions by the time we got there and back!

The best thing though was that my new camera performed beautifully (or at least I hope it did)! I have looked at a couple of individual pictures from various streams while loading them and they look ah-maz-ing! Best purchase ever even if the rude woman at Rancho del Zocalo rammed me with her tray and completely soaked one of my lenses in beans.

Overall, despite the problems and issues I had on this trip, I really did enjoy the parks, enough so that I would be willing to go back someday. I wouldn't mind taking an LA Tour that was more hands-on and that took us places that were actually worth seeing or places we wanted to go versus the general dump areas and I'd love to do a whole PCH driving tour, maybe as far north as San Francisco and the Disney Museum. And now that I'm familiar with both the park layouts and Disneyland planning, I would be willing to give it another go...but that's a trip for a far off time, I need some good 'ole Disney World time with my sissy now, so 2016 planning has already begun!

Next up will be the bad. The bad does outweigh the good (and don't get me started on the ugly), but I still feel like I should reiterate that overall, I did have a good time and I did thoroughly enjoy Disneyland.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Top 10 Fancy Dress Ideas

The Suddenly Kate Show

I would probably recommend you check out Kate's and Tiff's for this topic...this isn't going to be a good one for me.

I know I've told this story a hundred times, but there is a sequel to it, so I must retell it yet again for the finale. When I was ten years old, my parents decided I was an adult and took all my toys away and gave them to my younger sister. Yes, I subsequently destroyed as many of them as I could, so I got my revenge, but there was more to the story. Anything child-like, like cartoon watching, kiddie book reading, and child events were also thrown out the window, hence Halloween was gone for me. My only job at Halloween was to take my sister out trick-or-treating...she got to dress up, I was the "adult" who chaperoned her. What I actually did was let her collect the candy, get about a block from the house, and then threaten her life, took what I wanted, and left her with the bad candy. I never claimed to be a nice kid (nor do I claim to be a nice adult either, but I do try a bit harder now).

Long story short (too late), I haven't dressed up for Halloween or any other event since the age of 9, roughly 34 years ago and I've actually managed to develop a phobia about doing it. My Asperness keeps me from performing a lot of "normal" things, especially if said things draw attention to me. When I was little, it was all about the candy and I understood to receive candy, I must subject myself to attention-drawing outfits. I was a fat kid, so I would have done practically anything for candy and it was a torture I was willing to endure. When I got older and could just threaten candy out of my sister, I managed to skip the whole dressing up side and I realized pretty quickly that maybe being forced into "adulthood" at such a young age wasn't a bad thing after all. When she got old enough to figure out how to tattle on me, then the intimidation had to stop and I just learned to buy my own candy when Halloween rolled around. I still absolutely adored the holiday, but the dressing up part was a distant, and slightly tortuous memory.

As an adult, there have been occasions where I've been asked to dress up for various occasions and I've flat out refused. I might wear a black T-shirt or maybe one with a particularly Halloween-specific theme, but other than that, fancy dress isn't ever going to happen again in my lifetime. Besides, in our Southern culture, fancy dress isn't something one does unless it's for Halloween. So, how do I build a top 10 list for an unobtainable thing? Well, I'm going to operate on the assumption that I'm not a fat Asper with social anxiety issues and try to think like a thin normal person. It's going to be a stretch of my imagination for sure, but I'm going to try! Oh, and I also debated on pulling pictures from the internet, but my imagination can't expand far enough to picture in my head exactly which direction I would go, so I decided to leave out pictures.

Yes, I'm of a certain age and of a Disney frame of mind so, of course, I have a fascination with everything Princess. I always pictured a huge princess prom dress (which didn't happen, I had a crappy prom dress for junior prom and I didn't go to senior prom), a huge princess wedding dress when I got married (which didn't happen, we had a justice of the peace ceremony in their living room), blaa, blaa blaa. The reality of the situation is that I have huge gross arms no matter how much weight I lose or gain, and since most princess dresses are either sleeveless or strapless, it's an option that I couldn't pull off in my wildest dreams, no matter how much I might think about it. But just the mention of such a dress and the first picture that comes to my mind is the dress that Snow White wore on Once Upon A Time during Ella's wedding ball. It was purple and strapless and had a huge skirt and it was simply gorgeous, especially on Ginnifer. Or, the definitive princess dress of dresses, Aurora's make it pink/make it blue dress from Sleeping Beauty, especially if it actually turned from pink to blue (hey, this is a fantasy post after all, so I can go there!).

Why not Simon, you ask? Well, anybody who knew Duran back in the day knows that John Taylor had a very specific, yet very identifiable look with the blonde streak and coiffed hair, so his look would be much easier to recreate. But as an aside, today is Simon Le Bon's 57th Birthday, so Happy B-day to the greatest love of my life (sad, but true).

I'm talking a scary, Thirteen Ghosts quality ghost, not a thrown-over-the-head sheet kind of ghost. Something worthy of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights (see, I can mention that "other" place after all).

When I was younger, I was fascinated, nay obsessed with the creatures of the night and it is safe to say that at some point, I was probably obsessed with wanting to be one in my youth. A certain book/movie series has ruined the overall appeal of vampire-dom for me now, but I still wouldn't mind being a classy female vamp, if only for a night.

Granted, my shape would only lend me towards an Ursula-type costume (but again, I'd have to watch the hole sleeveless issue), but I would much prefer one of the pretty evil ones like Maleficent or the Evil Queen.

Again, I would probably be stuck as the fat lady being sold, but my favorite Pirates pirate (and I'm talking the ride here, not the movies) would be old drunk kitty kitty kitty....

I was Allison in school, so it would be more of a trip down memory lane versus an actual Halloween costume, but oh well!

This would have to be for sheer scare factor only, but I think I would rather enjoy rolling my eyes back in my head and cussing out loud and violently for the "sake of a character". I would, of course, leave out the whole crucifix as a masturbation device prop...even I'm not that sick.

In this incarnation, I'm referring to the ghost-host, as in Disney's Haunted Mansion. That would be a cool costume if done right. And I definitely have the cold, dry personality of a ghost host, so I could play that off as well.

Of all Jane Austen's heroines, I associate personally more to Anne than any of them (well, without the whole reuniting with my lost love who never fell out of love with me part). I could carry around Wentworth's letter and thoroughly enjoy my misery, while wearing period clothing. All I would be missing would be a Captain Wentworth in a cravat...most women dream of Darcy, give me the Captain any day!

OK, I know, sucky list, right? Well, I did warn you! I'm sure Kate and Tiff did SOOO much better!

Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Back!

Disney is over with for another year and, as per usual, Disney Depression has set in ten-fold. There were good parts and bad parts, but right now, I just need time with my little monster who missed his mommy terribly before I'm ready to post a trip update. I've already written tomorrow's Top 10 post, and I haven't had a chance to read your comments from last week's post either, but I will get around to them as soon as I can, hopefully by the end of the week or by the weekend. I'm also back to work tomorrow, so normalcy is hitting a bit sooner than usual, which I'm hoping will help with PDD, but I'm kind of expecting the "real world" to make it worse. I've never wanted to be alone so much in my entire life, but I've made this bed and now I have to lie in it, so wish me luck! At least I can start stitching again!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top 10 Scary Movies/Books

The Suddenly Kate Show

Don't forget to visit both Kate's and Tiff's Blogs for their challenge posts of these. Horror has many varied sub-genres and I'm curious to see where they lie on the horror subject, but it is absolutely my all-time favorite movie genre, so I'm excited about this list, for sure!

For me, I work in a path lab, so gore doesn't affect me in the least. I know what a dead body looks like or what guts look like, so what is portrayed in movies is just plain ridiculous, even with today's technology. Jump scares are good for the moment, but once they are over, they are pretty much forgotten. I much prefer the type of movie that is a subtle scare, the kind that you don't realize is scary until the lights are off and your mind starts wandering back to the movie and you can't get it out of your head.

This time of year I spend a lot of time watching horror movies and I've been hitting Netflix hard the past couple of months, but I don't think my ultimate horror list has been altered by a single one of those movies because basically the horror movies today are utter crap. My list tends to go further back, maybe to a time when I was more impressionable, but I think it was because the writing was just better. Sure, movies today may have amazing special effects, but if the story isn't there, then it's just a waste of time because my imagination has nothing to run with and my imagination can run pretty easily given the right material. Oh, and I'm going to try to find trailers for these, but some of these are so old, I'm not sure the quality will be great, so please forgive me!

When I refer to this movie, I'm always talking about the original 1984 version, definitely NOT the crappy remakes from a few years ago. Yes, by today's standards this movie is cheesy with extremely outdated special effects, but back in the day when it came out, it scared the living crap out of me. To this day, I still have Freddy dreams every once and a while and I don't even need to watch the movie again to have one. I have the complete Freddy box set (of course), so they do get the occasional view session. When I was a kid, I had a lot of nightmares due to various personal reasons, so a demon who feeds on nightmares is my own personal brand of boogeyman (and everyone has one). I also remember the lyrics to the children's nursery rhyme about Freddy like it was a 30 year old Duran, two, Freddy's comin for you...three, four, better lock your door...five, six, grab your crucifix...well, you probably know the rest.

Again, I'm not talking about the remake or any of the sequels, but rather the Linda Blair original. I'm not sure if the possessed kid scared me more or the priests constantly yelling and screaming at a kid, but whatever the case, this movie isn't one I can watch alone, even to this day, at least not after dark. The pea soup throw up is stupid (although an incredibly popular scene for some reason), but the head twisting thing and the whole (and I'll try to put this delicately), pleasuring oneself quite violently with a cross is pushing boundaries for just about matter your temperament or religious affiliation (or lack thereof). The fact that this movie was based on a true account of an actual exorcism doesn't help matters any (no matter how much of it was dramatized for our enjoyment). As with any great classic, this movie has been remade and sequeled to the max, but nothing beats the original. And all the bad ju-ju that happened to the cast and crew of the movie makes for a great story all on it's own.

Yes, as you've probably guessed, I'm referring to the original 1963 version of this movie in all it's black and white glory. There is nothing overtly scary about this movie...there are no jump scares, or visible ghosties, not even the creepy cherubs that dominate the remake are present here (a truly crappy piece of cinema FYI)...this movie is all psychological. You never see what's banging on the door, or making the light fixtures wiggle, or even sneaking up behind you, but you know there is something there. You feel the terror that each character feels, there is no way to avoid it. I would even probably say that this movie would probably be tied for second instead of third.

One of my biggest fears is of trees and forests and a movie set exclusively in the woods sounded like a good scare, so off to the theater I went expecting the scare of my life. But an hour and a half of shaky cameras, horrible acting, nerve-ending torturing sound effects, and quite possibly one of the most dumbfoundedly stupid endings ever, and I was laughing like a loon when I walked out. I thought it was quite possibly the stupidest movies I had ever seen...that was until I was home alone. I was twitchy, everything seemed to be moving around me, shadows shifting, I was hearing things I shouldn't have been hearing, basically my imagination was running in hyperdrive. By bedtime, I was convinced there had to be suggestive messages embedded in the movie because I was terrified. Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all that night or a couple of subsequent nights and I had to sleep with the lights on for at least a month or so afterwards. As an afterthought, I realized this movie was far more clever than I initially gave it credit for because it left it up to me to find the terror in it and I apparently made it my own. I haven't tried to watch it since because I don't want that bad juju in my house. The sequel, however, is truly a work of total dookie.

Other than Freddy, the typical horror movie villain doesn't scare me...Jason (he just needs a hug), Leatherface (he only does what daddy says), Saw (he serves no purpose), not even Michael Myers (again, another hug needer who has family issues) typically bother me...usually. But when you are talking Halloween II (again, the original), all bets are off. It always surprises me how many people have never seen this movie. It takes place immediately after the first movie ends, with Laurie in the hospital trying to recover from the events of movie 1. Anyone who has been in a hospital at night knows they are creepy (it's the sterile and empty hallways and the overall air of sickness and death), but throw in a serial killer who was murdered hours earlier and is still stalking you when your injured and unable to defend yourself, well, you might as well just lay there and let him chop your head off, it would be easier! It's not Michael per-se that gets me, it's being stalked in a hospital. Laurie somehow always manages to survive (at least until movie 7 or 8...I lost count), though, even if no one else does.

Yes, this is a very cheesy movie about spiders and it even has Jeff Daniels and John Goodman in it, adding to the cheese-factor...but since I suffer from severe Arachnophobia and I saw this movie in the theater, I live in terror that I might actually be flipping channels one day and this movie will appear on my screen. Since technically I can't flip channels anymore because I went straight to Hulu and Netflix watching, this movie will NEVER end up in a queue for me, at least not by my hand. I can't even subject myself to look for a trailer for it on YouTube, so you're on your own there. Just for the record, I am also no longer friends with the person I saw this movie with ruined a friendship.

Once upon a time, there was a great horror writer named Stephen King. His villains weren't clowns or giant spiders, but actual evil things like dead people, ghosts, witches, vampires, etc. He wrote the stuff of nightmares and I held him in very high regard. But then his writing changed, his scare factor turned into more of a laugh factor and I was officially done with him. They say he got even worse after his accident, but I haven't even tried to read anything since Needful Things (which was a really great book after a series of suckers, but the movie was laughable).

But one of his older novels, Pet Sematary, is, without a doubt, the scariest book I've ever read in my entire life and still is to this day. Anyone willing to write (in detail), the smushing of a child by a semi truck and his subsequent re-animation, has my utmost regard. Movie-wise, the second movie to Pet Semetary is far better than the first (a rarity, but true), but anyone who has ever read the book, can't sit through the movie without laughing (although I still love the theme song by The Ramones, hence the video clip below). Actually, most movie adaptations of his books suck and it's just sad really, especially since he usually has script approval.

Yet again, I am thinking about young me here (and the original version, if you couldn't tell already). In my mid teens (aka, the mid 80's), there were a string of stupid horror movies that were more gory than scary with stupid kills and even stupider killers. April Fools Day was different. You didn't understand why the killer was killing and you never knew who was next. The ending, was a complete and utter twist that no one saw coming. Once you've seen it once, however, the effects are ruined and can never be duplicated, but I've tried hundreds of times throughout the years. It's still my great 80's go-to horror movie and just typing this makes me want to watch it again. Do I really need to reiterate to stay away from the remake? Nah, didn't think so. And anyone from the 80's can just hear names like Deborah Foreman and Clayton Rohner and get all kinds of excited...and 80's fan's dream cast sans a brat pack member!

OK, so this isn't a horror movie, but a movie about giant alien bugs is pretty darn scary to me! I've seen it dozens of times and every single time I've had nightmares from it. It's stupid and cheesy (I hate to keep using that word, but it's never been more apt than in this case), but seriously...giant...alien...bugs!

We started with Freddy and we're ending with Freddy. Of all the sequels and the remakes, this is the only other Freddy movie that gets to me (and I have watched it numerous times compared to the first one). Since I already have "Freddy issues", making him "real" was brilliantly cleaver and extremely terrifying (at least to me). Then, of course, you have original cast members coming back as themselves as well as the creepy kid from Pet Sematary playing Heather Langenkamp's son, and it's sheer Wes Craven brilliance! Not a lot of people give this movie enough credit, but anyone I've known that loved it as much as I did also has Freddy issues, so maybe that's why we "get it" and it affects us so. There are other movies in the series that aren't bad, like The Dream Warriors, but this one is a true sequel to a fabulous classic movie, made even more poignant by the death of Wes Craven.

There are other movies I really wanted to include, but I would need more than a top 10 list...movies like the original Amityville Horror and the original Omen would be next down the list, but I would also add one remake, Thirteen Ghosts (the original version was incredibly stupid). The remake of Thirteen Ghosts isn't a scary movie overall, it's the ghosts themselves that got to me, each one of them taps into a particular fear, fears which I pretty much have all of, so that's why I find that movie scary. I might even include the Friday the 13th version where Jamie Lee Curtis has a kid of her own (a very young Josh Hartnett) and Michael's back to his old wasn't particularly scary, but it was a great story. Of all the new batch of movies I've been watching lately, only one has stuck with me (although not enough to sleep with the lights off), and that was Mercy. I always did love a good possession movie.

When it comes to books, there are so many great ghost stories, like that of the Bell Witch or The Amityville Horror or even A Haunting in Connecticut, but the crappy movies made from these great books or stories (excluding the original Amityville), diminished any terror level they might have held for me in the past. I typically tended to lean more toward true ghost stories than fiction, so my fictional horror library is small and I didn't have much to pull from there. But I did still manage to get a list, even if there was only one book on it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top 10 Halloween/Autumn-Themed Charts

The Suddenly Kate Show

It's that time, Top 10 Tuesday time! Make sure to check out Kate and Tiff's Blogs to see their take on this week's topic, they are WAY better at this than I am! I am horribly wordy and I'm not sure why. I don't speak much in my day to day, so that might be why, I've got a lot of built up words just dying to get out. But this time I did include pictures, so you can skip the long and boring reasons why these are on my list!

This week's topic is Top Halloween/Autumn-Themed Charts, and since my craftyness extends only to cross stitch, this is going to be a very cross stitch-centric list. I decided not to scour the internet looking for great's too close to Disney and I don't need to spend any extra money right now (those damned control issues!), but instead I've decided to only pick from my existing stash. It also feels kind of weird doing a stitch-themed list during a time when I'm not stitching, especially since my stitch mojo is really strong right now and I want to be stitching. I just can't stitch and plan Disney at the same focus is singular at this time of year, but once I get back, all bets are off!

Oh, and FYI, I've had most of these photos so long that, if they aren't already watermarked, I have no clue where they came from, so forgive me if I'm violating any copyright issues, it is definitely unintended!

I've never stitched one of my own charts (yet), but when I initially bought cross stitch software, it was with these guys in mind. I've charted them numerous times using various software programs, but as of yet, I'm not completely satisfied with the patterns and I can't do it until they are perfect. Considering I'm planning on doing them as four separate projects and quite large, it may take me the rest of my life to actually finish them even if I do manage to get the design right. No matter the method, they are still my ultimate cross stitch goal and always at the forefront of my mind when it comes to both my stash and Halloween-themed charts.

As a diehard Marc Davis fan, I probably should be lusting after his versions (the Disneyland versions), but my love of the Disney World versions is far greater, so these are the ones I've chosen. Maybe one day I'll do both sets because they are quite different, or even do the Disney character versions, but my loyalty is to these first. Numerous sellers have these listed on Etsy, but they are typically as one picture instead of four individual charts as I plan to do them. Maybe I am crazy after all!

belle of bonaventure
I think it's obvious to anyone who follows me that I have a penchant to Jasmine Becket-Griffith's artwork in cross stitch form and since Heaven & Earth Designs has the rights to chart her work, then that's where I go to get them. Since they have changed their charting method, I haven't bought any JBG stuff from them (don't get me started again), but luckily this one was bought a long time ago and is dither-free. It is still available HERE and it comes in a Faces chart as well. Unless things change, this will be the next HAED-JBG chart I stitch after I finish the Bouguereau Princesses. I'm not sure I would technically categorize it as Halloween/Autumn themed but considering the cemetery in the background, it gives me an excuse to include it in this list. It actually reminds me of Phantom of the Opera, the scene in which Christine visits her father's grave, but I'm not sure if that's what JBG had in mind or not. Nonetheless, I absolutely adore this pattern.

I have numerous charts centered around the Headless Horseman (probably more than one of them will make this list), but this is my absolute favorite. probably because it's purple-centric and the Disney version. I bought this chart from Etsy, and I'm not sure if the seller is even still selling these (after the mass purge of copyrighted charts, especially Disney ones), but it's a really well made chart, so I'm looking forward to doing it one day.

Thine Is The Trick and the Treat
I bought the material and the thread for this chart eons ago, not long after I bought the chart, but I've never managed to get around to stitching it. I'm always fascinated when other people stitch it, but it hasn't been enough of a motivation to make me start it (yet). I think I'm avoiding it probably because it's on linen and I HATE stitching on linen. I guess that's what makes a great stash collection, so many charts, so little time. There are also variations of this pattern and I typically like to do sets, but this is the only one of these I have.

Again, another great JBG chart from HAED, this one indisputably Halloween themed. It is also still available and has a mini version as well. I've got the full version because I think her artwork lends itself better to full-sized designs especially because of the banding between the eyes, but that's just my preference. Again, unless plans change, this chart will be the JBG I do after Belle of Bonaventure. Unlike most people, Halloween isn't just a holiday for me, but a way of life. I don't put Halloween decorations out for a month a year, but if it's something I like, Halloween-themed or not, it will stay out year round. If I ever finish this chart, it will stay on the wall forever (that is if I can find enough wall space to hang it up in the first place).

Sleepy Hollow Mural
This was the first non-JBG HAED chart I ever bought. I've had it kitted up for a couple of years and I mean to start it every single finish, but I always seem to find another project I want to start more. This chart isn't available from HAED anymore, it was pulled within a month of being listed. I've learned the hard way to buy the things I like as quickly as possible thanks to Disney. I wish I had a dime for every time I was in Disney World, debated for too long over an item, and when I finally decide to get it, it's gone, even if I saw it in fifteen different stores. I've even walked out of a store, changed my mind and walked back in, only to find either they've pulled the item or there was a mass rush and it was all bought up and none were left. It's made me shopper-skittish much to my wallet's chagrin.

Bat Banner
This is another chart I've had forever. My issue with this one has always been that I've never been able to find the "right" material for it. It is also a linen project, so I haven't made a concerted effort to look hard for the fabric, but I do look upon occasion and I haven't been happy with my options. I've never been able to find the suggested fabric, it's probably not available anymore. If I do ever find the perfect color of orange though, you can be sure I will do this one.

Sleepy Hollow
Another chart I've had forever but my reason for not starting this one is completely different. I have all the supplies and I've bought fabric, both the suggested and others (because the suggested fabric looks nothing like the picture and I like the colors of the picture's more blue/purple where the actual color is more green). The holdout on this one is purely because it's hard! I haven't figured out how to count correctly such huge gaps in linen and it's not like you can grid the material (or can you?). I bought this pattern because I love the design and I love seeing others stitching it, but alas, my stitching skills are just not up to par enough to do this project (yet). I'm holding out hope that someday I'll be worthy.

I'm putting these two together because honestly I couldn't choose between them. These aren't the only Annie Rodrigue charts I own, nor are they my favorite (that honor is reserved for Night Wish, which will hopefully be a next year's start), but I still adore these charts and both A Night Out and The Perfect Poison are still available on the HAED site. I will admit though, the monochromality of both of these (even the purple one) scare me quite a bit considering the size of these charts...that's a lot of one color! It's probably the reason why I haven't bought any other Annie Rodrigue patterns even though I really like a lot of her art. It has a dark yet light-hearted quality to it

Mini pumpkin pixie
Even though I prefer a full-sized JBG HAED, I do have some mini's (and I've even completed one). This is my favorite in my stash and it, as well as the full version, are both still available from HAED as of now. I just figured the mini might be a better stitch option considering the flatness of the background and the fact that there really isn't banding between the eyes like her other work. Guess I'll find out eventually how it stitches up!

Of course I have numerous other Halloween charts in my stash, but it is just a top 10 list after all. I also have some autumn-themed ones as well, but Halloween takes precedence for me. I'm curious to see Kate and Tiffany's take on this topic...I wonder if they stuck with cross stitch or branched out to other crafts. Let's all go see, shall we?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top 10 Things I Love/Hate About Autumn

The Suddenly Kate Show

It's Tuesday time again which means Top 10 time! Be sure to check out Kate and Tiff's Blogs as well to see their take on this week's theme, Top 10 Things I Love/Hate About Autumn.

Since this is my absolute favorite time of year, this is mainly going to be a "love" list, but as with everything, there's always a negative touch, so let's get started.

Is it possible to turn every list into a Disney list? I'm not sure, but I'm willing to try or at the very least include it just so happens that the autumn is a very important Disney time for me. I've been to Disney World at different times of the year, but the fall is my absolute favorite time to go. Not only does the Magic Kingdom have Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot has the Food & Wine Festival, but, for the past several years, Disney have also been offering free dining as well (and does it get any better than free food, I mean, seriously?). Right now, I am so regretting going to Disneyland instead of Disney World, especially with all the changes WDW has been going through, but hopefully Disneyland will prove me wrong.

Since this is such a great time of year to go to Disney World means that everyone else has figured it out as well, including the dreaded "evil ones". Disney may be the best place on earth, but most Disney guests are typically the worst sort of people...they are rude, mean, self-absorbed, and can ruin your trip faster than you can say "Donald Duck", hence their specialty moniker. Thankfully, they are what god made Xanax for and, when that option fails, there's always the safety and privacy of your resort room where you can at least regain your composure without the possibility of an assault charge. The benefits are worth the struggles of dealing with them, so I endure it for the cause.

Everyone has "their" holiday, Halloween is mine. Most people think that Halloween people are scary weirdos who don't fit in, and they would partially be right, at least in my case. But the history of Halloween and the subcultures surrounding it is one of the most interesting of all the holidays...that's not just my Celtic blood talking because Halloween goes further back than even my ancestors. Like every other holiday (or religion for that matter) it's been bastardized and turned into a dark twisted version of it's true meaning, but it's older than Christmas or even Christianity itself and definitely worth studying. I'm a firm believer in learning about the things that are important to you, even the "fun" things, and Halloween is a very interesting read.

And now it's negative time. For a "big" girl, I don't fall into the typical body issues that women of my size suffer from, most notably, all this extra tissue doesn't insulate me from the cold. I'm am always freezing from the inside out, so when the weather turns cooler, my internal thermometer goes haywire. Usually nothing, not extra layers of clothing or even heat can warm me (although I keep trying). They've tested me for every possible thing that could cause me to be like this, but everything always shows up normal...I'm fat because I eat too much and I'm cold because I was born that way. I love summer because it's hot (especially here in the South). Autumn is bad but Winter is way worse, especially since it's been getting colder and colder every year. If we're really headed for another ice age, I hope I don't live long enough to see it. Autumn means that Winter is coming which doesn't make me happy, Disney-time or not.

Although the title of this number probably seems more suited to the previous number's description, I am actually referring to the changing of the colors more than the weather. Of all the bad things I can say about my region, it gets pretty gorgeous around here as the seasons start to change, we are, after all, not called the Natural State for nothing! It's something you have to plan for because it happens rather quickly, but if you manage to catch it, it is truly a sight to behold. I often get so caught up in life around this time of year (planning Disney trips) that I often miss it, but thankfully, Eastward doesn't change as soon as we do and I can just take a short day's drive and see the colors to my heart's content.

Thankfully, it's not a problem I have to worry about now, but as a kid, school was the absolute worst time for me, all the way from daycare to college. Don't get me wrong, I loved learning (and still do), but dealing with all the socialness you are forced to deal with in a school setting just about did me in. I'm still not sure how I ever made it through those years alive. Every once in a while, I debate going back to finish my education (although my art years are far behind me now), but I've come to realize that there is absolutely no way I can ever put myself through that again even if it could possibly mean that I could better myself and my situation. The damage to my psyche is too extensive (and it's not like I could afford it anyway). I know that the education process is changing and going to a more online environment, but it's not quite to my comfort level yet, and probably never will be. I figure if it was meant to be, I would find a way, I always do with things that are important to me, so it must not be my destiny. Besides, I think that some people are career people and some people are job people and I'm just a job person. My career doesn't define me and I can't imagine any career that could, and luckily most jobs don't really require an education.

In this country, fall means that it's TV season again. Shows have had the summer off and all those annoying cliffhangers we were left with in the spring can now be cleared up and new stories can begin. It's one of the reasons why I've never been a fan of TV. I tend to get obsessed over things quite easily and waiting week to week to see my favorite characters is bad enough, but waiting months through the off-season is too hard for me to take sometimes. I am the consumer that Netflix and Hulu targets...the binge watcher. It's so much easier for me to wait until an entire season of a show is finished and I can watch it all at once (i.e. Supernatural or Vampire Diaries) than the week-to-week struggle I go through with Once Upon A Time. There are other shows I watch, but I can save up several episodes of them and enjoy them when I'm ready and in the mood. Once is the only show I'm obsessed over right now and I hope it stays that way because I'm not sure I could add more to the stress load.

#5 above leads to #7 in this town, traffic. We are a college town and a small town so fall means an influx of out-of-town students looking to get an education at an affordable level. New college students are typically still teenagers which means they are horrible drivers as well, so double the vehicles driving erratically makes for really painful commutes to and from work. The fastest route for me to get to work is still through the college though, so I'm exposed to it more than most, but when your commute time goes from 10 minutes to 30-50 minutes overnight, it certainly doesn't make one look forward to this time of year.

I didn't mean for this list to turn out as negative as it seems, but here we go again on a bad note. I'm not a pessimist, I promise, but I am a realist and the reality is, life sucks. Fall means it's MRI time (and I've already explained how well that process went this year), but it also means the changing in the weather affects the quantity and quality of headaches for, not just me, but all migraine sufferers. Thanks to Zanaflex, I've had several months almost completely headache free except for the occasional flare up. I'm not looking forward to resuming a regular schedule of debilitating pain. I'm really hoping that the muscle relaxers keep doing their job and this season will be better than last, but I won't be able to count on only having occasional headaches once the barometer drops and stays down. The reality of the situation is that no medicine can completely control Mother Nature. Even as I type this, I am quite aware of the fact that the inside of mouth is completely numb to the cold tea I'm drinking...a precursor sign of an oncoming headache. Yea me.

Fall brings an entirely different menu to most places, even the most steadfast of locations. Granted, I'm not a fan of most "fall" foods...things like pumpkins, cooked apples, spices, turkey, etc, but I do love the smells they produce. I love me a good spiced apple scented candle, just don't expect me to eat the flavors the smells mimic. When I was younger, I was all about summer smells and foods (still the foods), but the even the ocean smells better in the fall, more sea than rotting fish and I'm appreciating that more with age. Granted, living alone I'm able to enjoy any food I want at any time, so if I want chilli in the heat of summer, then so be it, but if I want to order a bowl of chili in a restaurant, I pretty much have to wait until this time of year. I'm also not a fan of the fall/winter "meals" that are traditional, but thankfully age has settled that problem too...I'm now old enough to tell my family I'm staying home for Thanksgiving and Christmas to enjoy my personal time with my puppy.

September means it's time again for my Birthday. When I was younger, celebrating my birth was never a good thing, no matter how good the presents were. I was told at a very young age that I was only "created to save a marriage" and since that marriage failed, I drew my own conclusions about the importance of my existence. Even if I could look past that, there was still always the issue of the social occasions that are created by celebrating such a day. People are staring at you while you blow out candles or open presents and, even if those people are your nearest and dearest, they are still staring and you are the center of attention...not a good thing for someone with my condition. As I've gotten older and my Asper-ness can dictate who with and how I celebrate such a day (which is typically alone) and I've been able to move past the circumstances behind my creation, even if I still can't accept it. I feel more like a 16 year-old today than I did when I was actually 16, and I'm not sure that's a good thing, but I'm enjoying my life for the first time ever, so I'm not going to complain too much!

Well, another list down! This one wasn't nearly as hard as the past couple have been...this one pretty much rolled off my proverbial tongue, which probably means I should probably read over it and edit it some, but life's too short and I've got a trip to prepare for!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The darkest of days

It's world is ending. Just when I think life can't kick me any harder, it stomps me flat out. Sure, there's the whole brain tumor thing and the whole vision problem, then, of course, I've got the whole Asperger's/OCD/Social Anxiety Disorder mess I deal with on a daily basis, so I'm already underdogged out, but I deal with all that OK (or avoid it really good, depending on your point of view). But come on, seriously, what cardinal sin did I commit in the womb to be punished so?!?!?

For those that have no clue what I am talking about, I have one guilty Disney pleasure (that's a lie, I have dozens, but still, let's focus on the matter at hand), and that's my beloved Taco Salad at Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Cafe at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I have at least one every single trip, sometimes more than one, sometimes quite a few, but alas, I will never have one again because they changed their menu and it's not on it! It, in all honesty, wasn't a culinary masterpiece, it was rather plain actually, but it was MINE!

I made it my own, adding cheese till it was overfilled, then tomatoes, then salsa, then more cheese and tomatoes and salsa and then a touch more salsa followed by another dash of salsa. Sometimes I changed up the order of the ingredients, but never varied (except for that one time I tried it with the liquid plastic cheese, but I never did that again).

So, in memorial of my absolute all-time favorite Disney food item, a photo retrospective. I don't have photos from every single time I ate one. I really didn't start taking food photos until 2005 and would sometimes forget, so the first "real" shot I have starts in '08.
'09 #1
'09 #2
'10 #1
'10 #2
'10 #3
'12 #1
'12 #2
Oct '13
2013 (10)-1335
Dec '13 #1
2013 (12)-0462
Dec '13 #2
2013 (12)-3504
'14 #1
'14 #2
'14 #3

I'm sure I ate way more than those, but that's all the pictures I have. It makes me want one even now. They were really nothing special, probably the same as your local Taco Bell, I think it was just the combination of the fixin's bar, the atmosphere of not only being in Disney World or even my favorite park, but in a restaurant based off of my favorite Disney short cartoon. The new menu looks really good and I'm sure I will still eat there, but the thought of never ever having a taco salad again crushes me to my very soul.

I still hold out hope that there will be a fan backlash and they will bring it back, but since I am the only mega-fan I know of, I doubt it. Most people thought they were disgusting and ordinary. My Sister did eat them, but she didn't love them (obviously the pictures with two of them in the same shot meant that one of them was hers...I never ordered two at the same time, although I've considered it more than once).

I tend to form attachments to things though, even the most mundane of things, and this was a really big one for me. I don't say this very often, but Disney, you've let me down BIG TIME! I think I'll go to the store and get taco salad fixin's for supper.