Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day 2: Welcome Home

Hey Folks-

So I had a whole bit written out about my Day 2 at Disney, and I hated the whole fucking thing. This is not an excuse for the delay in blog postings, but rather an explanation of how I spared you guys from the most boring blog ever.

"And then I went to the Safari!"
"And then I rode Everest!"
"And then I took a picture of a spider web!"

So anyway... I suppose my theme for Day 2 could be either of two different things...

"Welcome Home" or "Beefy Muchacho: Master Planner"

I'm going to focus on "Welcome Home" with just a quick comment on "Beefy Muchacho: Master Planner"...

Let's just say that I might be getting too efficient. I got through Animal Kingdom in 4 hours. The whole park. The day was almost devoid of wait time altogether. I start to wonder if perhaps a wait line occasionally isn't such a bad thing. Maybe there's gotta be time to breathe or something. Maybe the idea I should shoot for is a plan that gets you through the park with efficiency, but also sort of builds in some waiting... something to fit the day. I've basically reduced the Animal Kingdom into a pleasant morning/afternoon, and that almost does a disservice to the park, which is beautiful and has some really awesome queue lines (which... I realize are still just queue lines, but still.) And so I'm saying that yes... I'm a master planner, but maybe too good.

Moving on...

I don't know exactly why, but I almost always start my Disney trips with Animal Kingdom. I think that, at least in part, the reason is that I always feel like my time at Disney is at a premium, and when the first day doubles as a travel day I want to save my FULL days for parks that take full days. The reason doesn't really matter. It's come to be a tradition, and for some reason I get more emotional (shut it!) when I get to Animal Kingdom. This trip was no different. I started with Animal Kingdom and I got emotional and I felt like I was coming home.

Here are some of the lasting images of the day...

1) Each of the Disney parks has a sort of "Welcome to the Park" thing they do when the park opens that sort of revs the people up (like they need to be revved up... they're at DISNEY for fucks sake!). Well... I'd actually never seen the Animal Kingdom one before. Usually I have a flight that morning or something like that. Well... The Animal Kingdom "Welcome" is now my favorite. There's something awesome about Mickey Mouse appearing on a Genie lift with cartoonishly large binoculars and safari gear over by the Tree of Life. Pluto and Minnie and Goofy were alllll ready for their Wild Adventure and they couldn't find Mickey. Turns out Mickey was already on the trail! HA! I loved it.

2) On my 2nd Expedition Everest ride of the day I was briefly in line with these weird young teens who had to have been straight from some sort of 60 Minutes report on Sex-ting or Middle School sex or something. The girls (there were 3) were a little more ready to party than made me comfortable. I ended up getting stuck in a train car with them (with the 3rd girl in fact). So while I'm in line with them, the one girl who sounded like she was talking in a made up stereotypical "hick voice" but wasn't turns to one of the boys and says:

"She waunts yew to hol' her haynd. Ahm uh gurl. Ah know. Ain't that raaht Mister?"

It took me a minute to realize she was talking to me. I simply decided to agree with her, because even though she was no more than 14, she scared the shit out of me. "Yep. You should hold hands. It's a roller coaster."

"See? Ah ain't fuckin' around. Ah tole ya. Ahm a gurl."

So the 2nd of the boys and the 2nd of the girls commence to holding hands. The main girl, was also with a boy, but I noticed she wasn't holding his hand. Maybe she was just too scary for him.

A little later on (keep in mind, that this was my longest wait of the day for any ride, and it was no more than 8 minutes) she's talking about the Twilight books and she simply says something so horrifying that I can barely repeat it... but I will...

"Oh that Jacob Black. He's gaht big feet if you know whut Ah mean."

I knew what she meant. I'm still a little shaken that she knew what she meant.

3) The first ride I took was the Kilimanjaro Safari (another tradition, though this may change as part of my "re-organization to add more wait time" adjustments.) Annie of "Fend to Blog" has stated that she doesn't love Animal Kingdom in general, and specifically the Safari ride, because it's not that much different than the Cincinnati Zoo or something, and you know... basically I agree (aside from loving it, which I do.) Well... this was bar-none the best Safari I'd ever had. The lions were AWAKE! There was a giraffe that strolled across the path! It was awesome. The guide was good too, and he sort of minimized the utterly ridiculous Little Red storyline. To Disney's credit, it seems that they are slowly marginalizing that awful thing over the years, but this guy basically ignored "Wilson" the whole time. It was hilarious. Also did I mention the Lions were awake? Those fuckers are awesome.

4) Flights of Wonder is the only show at Animal Kingdom that I'd never seen, which is saying something because I've been to AK no less than 10 times or something, but I am kind of terrified of birds and I think they're gross and full of disease (which is totally true) so why would I want to watch a Live Bird Act? I've actually always felt that it seems a little small and provincial for Disney World. (Which is ridiculous, because Walt fucking LOVED the Tiki birds and that talking Abe Lincoln thing.) Anyway, I went to Flights of Wonder and it was really great. From someone who hates birds and believes they are gross and full of disease, that is high praise. High Praise! there was a parrot that sang Yankee Doodle! There were HUGE, terrifying birds that swooped over our heads and made me feel crazy and icky. It was disoncerting, but it's definitely being added to my list of "must-sees" when you are hot or tired or just wanna have some effing ice cream and relax for a minute (as was the case with me.)

5) It's Tough to be a Bug is still hilarious. I do think they could stand to re-do the thing maybe a little. There's never a line anymore, so I also think they could possibly make it a little longer... Still.. when you're there and there's the one part where Hopper shows up and the children in the audience get abso-fucking-lutely terrified and start crying. I kinda feel like Disney did that on purpose. They had to have, right? I mean.... that shit is intentionally scary and I have to believe that there are videos upon videos in some executive's office of children crying and screaming like crazy when Hopper pops up. Love that.

So really... I'm always so happy about being at Disney to begin with, and I think I'd have a hard time leading off with any park aside from the Animal Kingdom. It's easily the most laid back. It's easily the least crowded, even on the most crowded days. It's the most familiar. It's the perfect re-entry into the World for me. I'm not a fan of crowds and so I definitely need a good, fun park that slowly weens me back on to the Mouse Juice.

Since I've been back, I've been looking at blogs and rumor-mill type things and one of the subjects that seems to come up is that Disney is considering expanding AK to include an "Australia". I'm all for this. As long as there's another big ride attraction. There needs to be something else. Right now we're looking at 2.5 mega-rides at AK and that's not enough.

Still... it was a great start to my trip.

Also, I went to The Rainforest Cafe later that evening and had a Green Python in honor of my Cousin Abbey. It was delicious.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 1: Blowin' in the Wind; or La Guardia is a Hole

Hey Folks-

Sorry for the lull in posts... I was in Disney World, and what can I say... I was too excited to blog.

I've got too much to discuss to fit it into one blog, so I've decided to break it down into a blog per day. It's fitting, actually, because more than almost every other vacation to Disney I've ever had, each of the days sort of fit into a different theme.

'Nuff of the prelims... Here we go.

I work for an airline. I don't want to mention which one, but it's a big one, and one of the great "benefits" is that I fly for free.

Sounds great right? Well... it certainly can be. It also can be a colossal, terrible, heart-wrenching disaster. "How's that?" you ask.... Because I fly for free... flying STAND BY. It's as bad as it sounds.

So on Thursday last (that's how we writerly-types say Last Thursday), I headed to the airport. I arrived around 6:00 for my 8 am flight, with the thoughts that if that flight looked close to being full, I could take the 7 am flight to La Guardia and connect to Orlando there at 10:14. Both of those flights looked pretty open, and while it would get me down to Florida a couple of hours later, I'd still make it pretty easily, which when flying stand-by is extremely important, because lemme tell ya...that shit is stressful.

I get to the ticket counter and ask the ticketing agent how the flights are looking (having already checked them from home, but things change pretty fast sometimes, and I wanted to check again). She gave me the official answer of "It's oversold by 8". Now...let me just say... This is total bullshit. This is the official answer. The answer they give regular customers. I don't understand AT ALL why these people can't just tell a fellow employee what the real numbers are. I knew that, while it was technically oversold by 8, there were 12 seats that were available for standby and mishandled passengers and whatnot. This is the number I was looking for, because even though it's oversold, I could easily get on if my priority got me in that top 12. Do they give me that information? no. I don't fucking get why.

Anyway, because she refuses to level with me as a colleague, I decide to not risk missing the direct flight and go to my less-convenient, but more likely to have trouble getting on La Guardia option... (I refused to even look if I would have made it on the direct when I had a chance. Would make me too angry).

So I'm on the flight. I make it with no problems. We're approaching the runway in New York and the winds are whipping around pretty bad. Bad enough that I notice the pilots are having a tough time keeping steady and it's making me a little nervous. I am not a nervous flyer at all. So we're about 30 feet off the runway and suddenly they pull up and we start climbing. This is around... 8:45 and I'm not yet alarmed. I still have an hour and a half before my flight. The captain gets on the PA, and says "Well folks, as you may have noticed we didn't land. The winds are pretty strong right now, so we're going to circle around and make another attempt. Won't be but a minute."

20 minutes later we miss our second attempt too. By this time, we've been circling for a while and the wind is bumping the plane up and down. This doesn't mix with 25 people with sensitive stomachs. It's about now that the first dude barfs into a little paper bag. Yep. I said "First". 10 minutes later the Flight Attendant has literally run out of barf bags and is starting to search the empty seats for extras. I'm one of the few people who don't puke, and it's basically a miracle. I was close a couple of times.

We finally land on the 3rd attempt, after the captain mentioned that if we didn't make this one we'd be diverting to JFK. That was a nightmare scenario for me at the time, as I still had almost an hour before my connection, so as long as we landed shortly, I'd be fine. Turns out diverting would have saved me 40 bucks, but I'll get to that shortly.

So we land and then we sit. And sit. And sit. And I start to get worried, because suddenly there's only 25 minutes before my flight. I'm starting to freak the fuck out at this point. The captain provided only a small explanation involving something regarding a broken down "lear jet" (whatever the fuck that means) and emergency vehicles blocking the taxi-way. Let me tell you... that was a hard pill to swallow. I could see the plane I needed to get on. I could see where our plane needed to be. If we'd have made one of the first 2 attempts, we wouldn't have been on the taxi-way when this "lear jet" broke down. GUH

We finally get to the gate (after a short little ridiculous shuttle bus ride from the tarmac) and I run up to the departure gate (10 minutes before departure) and she's TAKING ME OFF THE FLIGHT. I begged her. I pleaded. I told her all of the shit that happened to which she gave me that one emoticon face where it's like... eyes that just blink blankly.

"I called you and you weren't here."
"I know! I was out there!"

Well... it's now 10 and I have no clue what I'm going to do, because flights are being canceled left and right. I end up missing the next flight to Orlando. And the next one back to Cincinnati. And to Atlanta. Basically... I've got nothing. I'm starting to be afraid of the very real possibility that I don't even make it out of La Guardia at all. I stay at La Guardia (where there is no Wi Fi) until about 3:15, when I ask a gate agent if there are flights out of JFK... The answer? Orlando? No. Cincinnati? Yes. So I take a 40 dollar cab ride to JFK.

I was told, originally, that I'd never make the 4:25 flight back to CVG. Well.. I did make it.

My plan was basically to go home and try again in the morning. I didn't get in to Cincinnati again until 7:00. Now... there was a flight at 8:05 to Orlando, but i was listed 6th on the list and there were only 2 seats available. Not only that, but everyone but one person had checked in, so there was only even the HOPE of 3 people getting on.

By some miracle (or the fact that 4 of the people ahead of me were together) I made it on the Orlando flight. I sat in a middle seat, between a foreign guy and a pretty Indian girl. It was... a long flight. I finally get in to Orlando at 10:15 and grab a cab (another 60 dollars) to the hotel. So what was supposed to be a great, half-day at Disney turned out to be a 14 hour day of sitting in airports and planes and taking a 12 hour round-trip to Cincinnati for no reason... but there it is.

My first day.

Stay tuned for Day 2. (I promise it will be more interesting.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Zoltar Had it Right

Hey Folks-

I've had a couple of conversations on this in the past week or so, so I figured I may as well write about it.

When I was a kid, I hated other kids. I just didn't really like hanging out with them. I didn't like the shit that kids did. I think maybe the whole "only-child" thing sort of contributed... (Now before I get angry letters, I DO have a sister, whom I love. That said I didn't have any siblings at my mom's house, and I didn't always see my sister at my dads, AND there are 8 years separating us, which means very little now, but when you're 10 and she's 2... big difference.)

What was I saying? Ah yes... so anyway... When I was a kid I always wanted to hang with adults and do what the adults were doing. For me, it all goes back to going to rehearsals with my dad and for some reason feeling like the coolest kid when I'd get to go to dinner with his theater friends or whatever. I loved adult conversation. I remember one particular night that really sums up what I'm talking about.. I was 12, and my Dad and Dee Anne had just directed Windy City for Footlighters (still possibly my favorite theatrical experience ever in some ways) and for some reason or another they took me with them to dinner at Barleycorns on the river with a couple of their friends. It was just so much fun! Listening to the general gossip, hearing about backstage antics, etc... I just felt so grown up. I'm sure it didn't hurt that as a 12 year old, I was capable of sitting still and occasionally even contribute in my own small way to the proceedings. I think people are always a little taken aback by the kid with the decent one-liners... anyway... my point is that I always aspired to be an adult, even when I was a kid.

Now that I'm an adult, I look back and think... I was a fucking idiot. I should have enjoyed myself when I had the chance.

Now that I'm an adult, I can't think of a single thing I do that for fun that isn't in some way a call-back to trying to be more kid-like.

Allow me to detail my weeks events:
Monday: I have rehearsal for a play. Where I pretend. Like in the sand box.
Tuesday: I have Trivia, which while at a bar, is basically a large board game with prizes.
Wednesday: Karaoke, where I am most reminded of those times where as a toddler my grandpa (of whom I was immediately reminded when I saw Gran Torino last night) would have me stand on the coffee table and sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".
Thursday: More rehearsal
Friday: Usually going to see a movie or going to Alan's house to watch sports or play video games. VIDEO GAMES.
Saturday: See Friday.
Sunday: More rehearsal.

So basically all of my liesure activities are geared toward acting less like an adult. Frankly, being an adult sucks. Bills, responsibilities, jobs, relationships.... clearly I'm not the only one who thinks that, because karaoke is fucking crowded. Trivia is fucking crowded.

I don't remember the last thing I had a serious discussion regarding my 401K or how Obama needs to re-consider socializing health care. That is, unless we were between rounds of Call of Duty, or waiting for South Park to come on. The whole time cracking jokes.

Last night, as I talked on the phone, I played PS3. It's how we relax. Why was I in such a rush?

The whole thing just makes think that I wish I had one of those Zoltar machines from the movie Big. Hanks put in his quarter and becomes an adult that thinks like a kid, and he has a total blast. Even hooking up with Elizabeth Perkins... (On a side note... is that, or is that not statutory rape? I mean... he was mentally 13 or whatever, but he was by all outward appearances a man. Are we looking at a Mark Chmurra situation here where the girl told him she was 18, so that absolves him of responsibility? In either case, good job Hanks.)

Next week I'll be going to Disney. I'm thinking about posting my first Podcast FROM Disney World, as it's my birthday weekend, and I'm pretty sure I'll be so effing high on Mouse that I won't be able to type. The last time I tried to blog from Disney, it failed miserably.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pot Poetry

My writing group has assigned the following:

Write an A, B, C Poem about what I want.. Titled "I Want". This is a 26 line poem where the first letter of each line starts with the next letter of the alphabet. You'll see how this goes.

First, let me just say that I don't understand poetry. Not at all. Not in the least. I am bad at it. I can't identify good versus bad. I just.. I dunno.

In fact... I've now started it several times, and I just can't make it feel right. In the meantime my friend Samantha (who may just be my favorite person) was talking about this and that and she gave me this idea about a pothead girl who has these tendencies toward being super, super tidy. This idea kinda entertained me and I told her that I'd write a poem in her honor about a Tidy Pothead.

So since I kind of realized that it might be kind of fun to live with a Tidy Pothead, I'm doubling this as my "I Want" ABC Poem.

I Want (A Tidy Pothead)
by The Beefy Muchacho

Afternoon breezes dissipate the smoke
Blows around, mixing with the air purifier.
Cleanser aroma in the room from a morning of scrubbing.

"Dude. You look like Mr. Clean." she muses..
Evoking the god of cleanliness.
"Feet off the couch please." she murmurs

Ganja packed into a glass bowl.
Holding it to her lips, she flips to Animal Planet.
I can't help but look at her and smile.

"Jesus... Lemurs are fucking amazing...
Koalas are too. I love those fuckers."
Laughing, I place my soda on the table.

"Make sure to use a coaster." she says.

Next to me carry-out menus
Ordered and arranged perfectly by size
Papa Johns then Mr. Wongs then Burrito Joes.
Quarters in a neat stack for the laundry
Right by the sack of herb
Seeds meticulously separated.

"Time for some Fritos"

Unhesitating, she bounces upward
Vapors from the bong lingering in her place.
Waving at the smoke, she grins... Contented.

Xanadu in the living room. She turns back.
"You really do look like Mr. Clean." she grins wickedly.
Zigzagging to the kitchen, straightening a picture as she goes...

On a side note, Michael Phelps: AMERICAN HERO was just caught smoking pot... And nobody should care. In fact, if smoking pot can make someone do what he does, I think people should think about legalizing it and packing it in school lunches.