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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This

With the news that The Disney Corporation has bought Lucasfilm, there is already talk about a sequel to Return of the Jedi and other shake ups in the a galaxy far, far away.  I just happened to have acquired a copy of the new script,  along with the re-re-release scripts of all six movies, which were smuggled out of the Magic Kingdom inside of an Astromech droid.  Here's some of the details of the new movies and the edits to the old ones due in theaters next year.
  • New Death Star being constructed, looks surprisingly like Spaceship Earth.
  • Entire Endor battle scene takes place between ants and grasshoppers.
  • John Carter gets re-release date of 2014 with new effects, same script.
  • Mace Windu rides ice chutes into Clone Wars.
  • R2-D2 appears in new movie... looks a little like Wall-E
  • Chewbacca now blue and sounds like John Goodman.
  • Every time Luke whines, his nose grows.
  • Episode III ending involves Ben holding baby Luke over a cliff while rebels bow.
  • Jabba the Hut reimagined as sea creature.
  • New musical numbers in the cantina...sung by the drink and silverware.
  • Padme disguises herself as young Asian man instead of handmaiden.
  • "I've got a bad feeling about this" line now "To Infinity and Beyond."
  • John Ratzenberger still in Empire Strikes Back, but plays different characters in other five movies.
  • Millennium Falcon speaks, sounds like Larry the Cable Guy.
  • 101 Dewbacks rushed into production.
  • At the end of Jedi, ghost of Simba appears alongside Yoda, Ben, and Anakin.
  • Leia officially named new Disney Princess, shocks everyone with slave outfit.
  • Boba Fett doesn't fly anymore, but he falls with style.
  • Randy Newman hired to do the soundtrack for new movies.
  • Opening crawl begins with, "A long time ago, in the office of P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney."
  • I won't mention what happens to Lando... but it involves Br'er Lobot.
  • New Star Wars Holiday Special DVD delivered in time for Christmas... returns to the vault, Jan. 1st.
  • Leia leaves Han and moves in with the Seven Ewoks.
  • Jar Jar out...   Roger Rabbit in.
  • Yoda now voiced by Robin Williams
  • Han Solo now wears eyeliner and drinks rum.
  • Darth Vader's mask... something's different. 

Courtesy of Etsy

This move angers me more than I can tell.  First off, Lucas was a pioneer.  When the technology didn't exist to produce the effects or sound that he needed to realize his vision, he invented it.   He was so against corporate intrusion that he primarily financed his movies with his own money, just to maintain control and buck the Studio System.

Now, that level of control proved to be a bit of a downfall as the original trilogy was redone, enhanced, edited, and re-released.  The most heinous of changes were Greedo shooting first, the inclusion of Hayden Christiansen in place of Sebastain Shaw at the end of ROTJ, and the replacement of Jason Wingreen's voice with Temuera Morrison in TESB.

Regardless of Lucas' constant tinkering, Star Wars represented so much more in the way of innovation and advancement in film making while Disney was seen as being very slow to adopt new technologies, allowing Pixar to become the juggernaut that it was in animated films.  Disney floundered until they eventually bought Pixar around 2006.

Some of the fan chatter I've noticed in the last 24 hours has been positive.  The supposed Episode VII talk seems a bit joking, but think about it.  Lucas says he has no plans for three more movies.  Those stories are done.  But with Disney in charge, suddenly there is talk?   I don't like it.  Disney sequels are notoriously done to make money and not actually deliver a quality product.  I smell a string of straight to DVD titles with little effort.  Now, Toy Story 3 seems to be the exception but Cars 2 reeked of Disney corporate machine churning out a sequel to bank off the original.  Remember the debacle with Aladdin 2?

I've got a bad feeling about this?
This list will be re-released next year with added scenes and better grammar.

Monday, October 29, 2012

WUMF: October 2012 Edition

Boo to you fellow surfers. Another month ends and that means it’s a roundup of what’s been going on lately.

Post Anemia
Work has been taking up a lot of my time and my post counts have been lower than I’d like. I am sort of trending in the wrong direction and I apologize to those four and half people that read this stuff. I will try to keep it going as much as I can.

I will say, that my posting on the Store blog has increased immensely. I’ve been putting out a post on each of my designs for the Westeros League.

It’s a group of designs centered around a fictional sports league for 14 teams from the world of Game of Thrones. There are specific sports attached to each but there are clear influences from real life professional sports teams among the NBA, NFL, and MLB.

Hurricane Sandy
First off, I want to give a shout out to all my friends on the East Coast and hope they stay safe and somewhat dry as Sandy becomes a bigger bitch to them through Halloween. However, apparently, Pittsburgh weather reporters felt it was necessary to scare the poop out of folks in Southwestern PA. Seriously? We’re getting some rain, but to nearly empty stores of milk, bread, and TP is ridiculous.

Will we get a lot of rain. I’m sure of it. Will we get snow? Eh, jury’s out. Depends on the wind. It could be a Noreaster come Halloween night. But, I do not believe it will be as bad as Snowmageddon was back in 2010.

In any case, we did catch a sigh of relief. The trick or treating in the Pittsburgh and surrounding areas was pushed back to Saturday, November 3rd at 6pm. Sucks having to get your kid out on a weeknight and then come home to go to bed before really getting a good start on their candy.

The Election
Whichever way you choose to vote is up to you. I am not here to sway you one way or the other. It has always been my opinion that elections are not about picking the person who will do the best job. It’s about picking the one who won’t be worse at it. Now, I also believe that I am not voting for a candidate but for an electoral vote. The electoral college can vote however they like regardless of who has more individual votes… and they have done it before.

Still, it’s your right and duty to vote. So, get out and vote…. And for those of us in PA, don’t listen to the ads that are still playing about Voter ID. The courts overturned it. The commercials are wrong. Don’t be intimidated by ads or people. VOTE people! And… make sure you just don’t vote straight party and not look. There are other issues, individual issues that need voted on, not just people. Pay attention to the machine or ballot and complete it all.

Missing the Point
Kids are precious. If anything ever happened to my daughter, I'd go into Liam Neeson mode... but I am not as good. I'm more like Peter Griffin in that sense. In any case, whenever a kid goes missing, I can sympathize. I think about my kid in that situation and try to instill in her the idea that strangers are bad, and even you know the person, if they do something that makes you uncomfortable, make sure you are heard. Scream yell, and run like hell.

However, when I see the various Facebook posts about missing kids, I tend to be a little less sympathetic. A lot of times, I see people passing around posts about missing children and they are not even in the same area of the country. If people would only take the time to check snopes or Google and see if it's a valid claim. Further still, when I see the pictures that these people use to promote the idea that a kid is missing, I hate when they use Facebook profile pics or dumb duck face shots from over their head. PEOPLE... if you want to legitimize your concern and get help, post a better picture. Do people not have school pics of their kids? Hell, take a photo of one of them and post that.

I was driving home today and there were two electronic billboards with a missing teen's picture offering $1000 reward and all I could think was, "Unless I see a kid that looks like Daffy Duck, I'll never know this girl if I see her. I know that sounds cruel, but you want to make sure you have a picture of what your kid will look like at any given moment, not something they post on Facebook for the sake of wanting people to like the picture.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Travellers Tales 2012 Supplemental: Marblehead Lighthouse and East Harbor State Park, OH

Part 3 of the Labor Day extravaganza, only two months late.

After we left Great Wolf Lodge, we spent the day at Marble Head lighthouse and the beach at East Harbor State Park. First, we needed breakfast or lunch, as it were. We stopped at a place called. Marblehead Galley.

I think it was under a different name the last time I had been out here, some 12 years ago. It was a tad busy. In fact, the server said that if we were having lunch it would be longer than if we were having breakfast. Apparently, there were a few big parties and they didn’t have everything switched over for the lunch menu… I try not to figure it out as my head begins to hurt when I do.

Another factor contributing to the long wait was a somewhat small seating area. However, the food was excellent. It was probably the meal I had that weekend. I had their signature waffle and it was delicious. The food was worth the forty five minute wait.

The Lighthouse was how I remembered it in my Cedar Point days. You could see all the way to the park. However, the beach was a bit of a letdown. Now, I’ve exclaimed to wife that Lake Erie beaches aren’t the same thing as the beaches of the Outer Banks. The sand isn’t sand color and the water isn’t very appealing. She continued to call me a negative Nancy about the whole thing.

However, when we reached the beach of East Harbor State Park, it looked like a post apocalyptic beach. The building, which used to house showers and restrooms was pretty well abandoned and simple plywood cubes were constructed in the entrances of the restrooms, serving as changing stalls. There was no bathroom, save a port-a-john in the parking lot. Along the beach side walls were a string of shower heads at shin level. That was your only way to wash off the scum.

As you walk down the ramp to the beach, a sign gives you all you need to know about the area. Now, usually, beaches will have warnings about the tides, lack of lifeguards, or general things you should not do. Except, how often do you see warnings about ingesting the water and watching for slime and algae?

My wife’s mood soured. My kid was all gung ho to get in the water but her mother wasn’t having it. “Toxic blue-green algae?”  My immediate thoughts from seeing the sign and state of the area was a bit from Creepshow 2, called "The Raft".

The lack of a proper shower just sealed the deal over the whole thing. Now, I truly hate to be right in these situations but I had just say, “Why do you not listen to me when I say that Lake Erie is not the ocean and it’s a bit of a cesspool?”

“Shut up!” was the only response she would give. Up the road a bit was what looked to be a newer station being built. It was all enclosed with fences and “Do Not Enter” signs. A passerby who had been coming to these beaches in her youth said that there were stations all up and down the beach, active, and clean. No more.

Eventually, we decided to leave, against our kid’s wishes. We let her play in the sand for about an hour before packing up and heading out. It was a downer moment on an otherwise fun trip.

Perhaps next year, we’ll find a new place to go, or as my kid expressed, “Let’s go back to Splash Lagoon.” Frankly, I don’t have a problem with that. I liked Great Wolf Lodge, but it wasn’t really built for adults. It was built for kids whose parents were happy to watch them frolic while they just stood around.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Travellers Tales 2012 Supplemental: Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky, OH

I’m recapping our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge over Labor Day Weekend… nearly two months later. Next up, I’m talking about the room and the actual hotel rooms and water park.

King Whirpool Suite with Fireplace and Patio

The room was, according to my wife, awesome. We had a King Room Whirlpool Suite with a sofa sleeper for my daughter. There was a gas fireplace, two televisions and a patio outside our room. Not too shabby. At Splash Lagoon we had to walk pretty far from a connecting motel to the actual park. Here, it was simply down the hall and down one floor. After driving for four hours, we wanted to decompress but the kid was jumping on the bed, “Let’s go! Get our swimsuits on, come on!”

Now, Splash Lagoon also had several slides of varying levels of thrill. There were ones for younger riders and then there was the pain hole that I tore myself up on over and over for two days. No such luck, here. It was very kid friendly. They had a small kids area with some little baby slides and standard buckets and fountains to get the little ones wet. In the middle of the complex there was the fort. It was a giant tree house looking structure with lots of rope climbing areas and various pipes and levers to squirt water out at people. Then, every few minutes, a bell rings and a giant bucket drops water on everyone.

Attached at the top were two slides, one that went in the dark and one that didn’t. In the back of the park, there were two kid slides, a couple more tighter turn slides that emptied into pools and two inner tube slides that went outside the building but were still enclosed. On the left side of the building was a pool with basketball hoops, a general swimming area and a small ropes course, and on the right side was the family and adult hot tubs.

Outside, you could go lounge at the pool which had lots of chairs and umbrellas and some basketball hoops in the water at one end. It was nice that they provided lockers at a fairly decent rate per day. The only issue was that the key was your standard locker key on an elastic wrist band. While trying to keep up with my kid, who insisted on climbing up to the top via cargo netting, I snagged the key on the netting and ripped it right off the band. I managed to find her and tell her to stay put while I climbed all the way back down to the floor and search for it. It doesn’t help that there is rushing water everywhere with a giant bucket dumping 1000 gallons on you every couple of minutes. Luckily, I found the key and my kid hung back until I was able to reach her.

After you’re done seeing the park you can get a pretty good, but slightly overpriced meal at the restaurant and even some ice cream. For breakfast they had a pretty decent buffet with omelet station. The thing is, after one day, you’ve pretty much exhausted all there is to do at the park. Splash Lagoon kept us busy for a couple of days but I was pretty much just standing soaked with nothing to do on day two.

After a long first day, we decided to settle down at the lobby and watch the Chuck E. Cheese style show with a bunch of woodsy creatures and a really bad Native American get up straight out of grade school Thanksgiving coloring books.

Clocktower Show

I wanted to download some pictures of the event, so I ran out to the car close to midnight to retrieve my laptop bag which had my microSD adapter in it.  Remember, I don't have a smart phone; just a lowly old LG Cosmos.  On my way out to the lot, I caught a glimpse of something interesting.   Lo and behold there’s one of the local police force parked outside. “Son of a bitch”, I thought. Of course, I had to get a picture of it because, well, if you read any of my Outer Banks posts from this summer you’ll understand why I am a little gun shy when it comes to vacations and the police. The next day, I had asked the server at the breakfast joint and they said the police are here often. In fact, they had an evacuation before we checked in the day before. Gives you a great sense of security, right?

Perkins Township's Finest 

One of the last things we did at the hotel was go into the game room. That was a huge mistake. First of all, the child does not really play video games with any skill or coordination and the first thing she wanted to play was Dance, Dance Revolution.

“You have trouble walking in a straight line. No.”

Then she wanted to win something which is always a joke. After working at Cedar Point for a year we realized how bad the redemption games are. You spend obscene amounts of money for tickets to buy something worth a fraction of the price. Listen, the reason why people always win the Scale Games at amusement parks isn’t because the guesser sucks. The scales have nothing to do with your ability to fool someone. You are the fool because you play. If you see someone win, you are more inclined to play. So, you spend $2.00 on a game and win a prize worth about $0.20.

With redemption games, you pay $0.50 for a game of Skee-Ball, only to get enough tickets to get an eraser or $0.10 piece of candy. Now, the first two games of Skee-Ball ate my quarters, so I had to go get the attendant to refund me. That was a joke. One poor girl manning a counter with each side filled with people. There was no order, no line, no sense of organization. Quite frankly, I was happy to be out of there.

Next up, Marblehead light house and East Harbor State Park

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Travellers Tales 2012 Supplemental: Great Wolf Lodge Sandusky, OH

Only a month late on this… I had to break it up into parts as to… um.. not… ramble….

Yeah, I’m doing that trick where you used to expand the spacing to get an eight page paper to look like a 10 page one.

So… the long time coming, hardly anticipated post is here.

Labor Day Weekend of 2011, I took my wife and daughter up to Erie to visit Splash Lagoon. We take our normal summer vacation in the first week of June, but it leaves a lot of summer left without a getaway of any kind. Labor Day Weekend is the last chance to have any fun before the pool closes and it gets all rainy and chilly around our place.

This year, Splash Lagoon was booked, so I turned to my old stomping ground of Sandusky, OH. I spent two summers working at Cedar Point. And for a moment, I thought about saying, “Let’s just go there.” However, with a five year old in tow, it seems like an awful waste of money to go to a coaster heavy amusement park and spend your whole day in Kiddieland. Yes, they do have a water park on site, but it’s outdoors and even though the weather was still warm, it rained or was cloudy most of the weekend. So, we opted to go to an indoor joint, instead.

Great Wolf Lodge is another one of those indoor water parks like Splash Lagoon. This one has a forest theme, complete with log cabin motif. As I started to look for the best deal, my wife chimed in saying, “You better get a King room with a whirlpool.” Now, this is the same girl that was all gung ho to go camping and sleep on the ground the week before, stating I was being a sissy for having some reservations about sleeping in a tent. The fact that I had to book a King room for her, just proved my point.

The trip has been a point of excitement for my kid who has been chomping at the bit to go. She just started kindergarten and was excited to get away for the weekend. I was, too. I think we all were. That weekend was also her parents’ wedding anniversary and that’s still a sore subject after losing her mom two years ago. We felt bad, at first, leaving her father at home. He had been sort of sedentary all summer with a bad leg. We had no idea what we were coming back to with that. But, he put on a brave face and said go. I’m sure my wife had some pangs of guilt about leaving him at home, but after two years, the pain is more like a dull ache that acts up every once in awhile.

After getting on the road we wanted to stop for a restroom break and decided on the Portage service area on the Ohio turnpike. We had thought about Boardman as that is the closest exit to the border, but I ballsed that up and missed the exit. We ended up on a back road near some college and said, “Screw it! Get back on the turnpike. Boardman IHOP will just have to be skipped.” After that roundabout we realized that we desperately needed lunch, as our kid’s mood was starting to reach critical mass, so we stopped at the next service area which was 27 miles away. As we pulled in, my kid says, “Great, we’re back where we started!” We had to explain to her that most service areas on the turnpike are almost identical.

We had a pretty decent meal as I had opted for Panera. Gotta love the Bacon Turkey Bravo. I had even got some chuckles from the guys working there as they noticed I was wearing my Callahan Auto shirt. I really had no ulterior motive to wearing it into Ohio. It had just came up in the rotation of shirts. Still, I did the “business card” thing and gave them one to go and get their own. After that we were on the road towards the Great Wolf Lodge.

You can always tell when you’re close to Sandusky. The quarry smell sort of gives it away. After awhile you become indifferent from it, but I can always tell when I’m close to being back there. Some of it looked different. I guess 15 years will do that. The Great Wolf Lodge used to be called The Great Bear Lodge when I worked at the Point. Eventually, they got absorbed into a corporate location and now operated as Great Wolf, though I’m sure that most of the exterior resembled what it used to way back when.

Once we arrived, the kid could barely contain herself, but we were too busy checking out the digs. The lobby which looked like a log cabin as if a log cabin was built by Donald Trump in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The huge fireplace took up almost one wall and the chimney went floor to ceiling, three floors high. There was a huge set piece in the lobby which we weren’t sure what to make of when we saw it. Apparently, they had some kind of animatronic show, a la Chuck E. Cheese. That would be a nice wind down moment for our kid after dinner.

And with that we went to our room. Next up… the amenities.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Dissecting Skyfall Trailer and Song

OK. Let me tell you. I am psyched for Skyfall’s release in November. When the trailer first came out, my 12 year old self squealed as if it were 1987 all over again and Roger Moore… or at least his stunt double… was dangling from the Golden Gate Bridge.

As more trailers came out and the Olympics showed us that skit with Bond and The Queen (Oh, the CORGIS!) I began to ramp up my excitement. November is now only a month away. And now, the announcement of Adele doing the theme has cemented that feeling.

I don’t want to get all gushy over Adele, because I have one friend that rags on her voice being auto tuned… but then again he’s a conspiracy nut who looks at 9/11 as an inside job…. Let’s not go there. Still, I can appreciate the lack of joy over a Top 40 performer being pegged to do an iconic turn as the Bond Theme Singer du jour. However, when you look on the names and talents associated with the honor, Adele fits right in with names like Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Carly Simon, and even Tina Turner. Don’t get me wrong, I love Duran Duran, Paul McCartney, and Chris Cornell’s themes, but there is something about a set of female pipes that just lends a smoky, sultry quality to the themes.

So, what about the trailer? (Spoilers ahead)

Well, from what I can gather, and I’ve not done a lot of reading, Bond dies. If this is intended, like all Bond movies, to give him an edge in his investigation I don’t know. After listening to the song, this is probably going to be the opening gambit, with Adele’s song coming on screen as Bond seemingly sinks to his doom after falling off the train, shot by Naomie Harris. The opening lyrics talk about holding your breath. Probably a good bet that this is how the movie opens. The second trailer goes more into detail about the opening scene, I think.

Now, I won’t make any judgments, yet. I won’t go and update my Best of Bond Themes until I’ve seen the film. I’m thinking that the new theme falls somewhere around 11. May need to reorganize that list. Until then, I will wait with baited breath until November 9th.

On another note, I want this. I usually hate buying collections because the newest movie isn’t even out yet. Though, this is the 50th anniversary. It might be a good idea. Of course, my only Blu-Ray player is my PS3. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

20 Years of Sucktitude

20 Years of Losing
Get it on a shirt at Redbubble or Zazzle

The Pittsburgh Pirates ended their season with a loss. They ended with a loss to the Braves and a loss to the fans. They did clinch their 20th consecutive losing season with a record of 79-83. Now, that’s seven wins more than last year, but when the team was 16 games above .500 and in contention for a wildcard spot in August. Now, they have only the speculation to look forward to.

What will the team do to improve? Will heads roll? Will money be spent? For the angry fan, the answers always seem to be, “No”.

The last time the Pirates had a winning season, Bush was in office. That wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t talking about the first Bush. I was still in high school. I’m now 37. Chipper Jones was on the Braves’ minor team at that time. That’s how flipping long ago it was.

However, the last two years seemed to be different. They were improving. They were winning. They were bringing back the fan base. I bought into it, two years in a row. Then, the same thing happened, twice. They collapsed. Oddly enough, both collapses started after a 19 inning game. Suddenly, the fans were a battered spouse and the team was the abusive drunk that promises to stay sober and get help… only to smack us around one more time.

Last year, the team got on this weird kick of taking on a Wilson Philips song as their theme. This year was the year of the “Z”. Last year, the Wilson Philips thing didn’t do much. This year, the “Z” was infectious. The Zoltan sign was such a quirky one off that it caught fire and soon shirts were being sold, people were scratching their head and looking up a movie called, “Dude, where’s my car?” It was strangely catchy, though. Hell, I even jumped on the band wagon.

But that was August. The sad truth is we can’t blame management for this collapse. We can say that they didn’t do enough at the trade deadline or that they dealt away Brad Lincoln and Casey McGehee. Well, actually, maybe you can. After all, the real reason why the Pirates were as good as they were may not be because they were any better than an under .500 team. It’s just that the rest of the division was weak out of the gate. There was a lot of sound bites thrown around about how bad the other teams were that it made it easy for the Pirates to look great. Andrew McCutcheon played like he wasn’t human and on most teams that would be enough to help. AJ Burnett, who made me facepalm early on with his Spring Training injury, became the beacon of hope for the team. He was the one player who had every reason to be negative. He played for the Yankees and ended up here. Yet, he played like he cared. He cared like he wanted the team to snap that losing streak.

And now, without hockey to talk about, we rally around the Steelers who are 1-2. Steelers aren’t stellar. No hockey. Sigh. The Pirates missed a great opportunity to grab more fans. Now, all we have left to think about is that they are raising ticket prices and probably won’t get any more players to justify that cost increase.

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