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Month: February 2017

2017 Road Trip – Feb. 13th

2017 Road Trip – Feb. 13th

Monday was our first day at the parks, so we had to get to the security checkpoints bright and early. But first, breakfast.

I really enjoyed the variety of the breakfast buffet at Hyatt Place, and I think I’ve grown spoiled for hotels having free breakfast as one of their perks. This really saved a bunch of money for us since we ended up having a hearty breakfast, a few snacks at the parks, and then a decent dinner.

We generally only spend two days at the parks, with Park Hopper tickets, we’re able to hit most of what we want to do within those two days. Plus, with Pirates of the Caribbean being closed, that was one ride that we didn’t get to do, but we got to go through most of our other favorites. The first thing we did as soon as we got to the parks was get Fast Passes for the Indiana Jones ride, then we went to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad because the wait wasn’t too bad early in the morning, so we got our coaster fix.

Then I had to get a Dole Whip Float:

Okay, now it’s really a day at Disneyland.

As we passed through Critter Country, we saw that Splash Mountain was open. Note that every other time we’d been to Disney in February, this log flume ride was closed, but I assume that since so many other things at the park were closed or being renovated, they decided to keep this ride open. So, for the first time, we rode Splash Mountain.

Aaaaaaaaand I got thoroughly soaked. There is a drop that happens in the dark that was unexpected and drenched my hair and some of my dress and my leggings, so by the time the huge drop happened, I was already soaked and didn’t care how much wetter I got. Did I mention that I was sitting in the very front seat? So that I got the brunt of the water? Jeff said I should duck down low with every drop, so eventually I ended up ducking, because I could see the drop coming, but since he was sitting behind me, he couldn’t see anything. So HE got the brunt of the water I avoided by ducking down.

But we were SOAKED by the time we left the ride. Oh, well, at least it was a nicely sunny day, and we sat on a bench in the sun in Critter Country watching people meet with Pooh & Friends. It wasn’t a bad way to dry off.

After riding Indy, we picked up Fast Passes for Star Tours, did the Jungle Cruise and Autopia and Buzz Lightyear and did Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (which is my favorite out of the Fantasyland dark rides, fight me Any ride where you get blown up, end up in hell, and then escape is fine by me.). Redeemed our passes for Star Tours (I have never been chosen to be the Rebel spy yet, dammit). We did get to ride through Hoth, even if it ended with the Gungans on Naboo, which is my least favorite of the “random” locations. Oh well…Hoth is one of my favorite scenes, so that’s something.

While in Tomorrowland we wanted through the Star Wars exhibit which got a few new things from Rogue One since the last time we visited:

GUYS THESE ARE BODHI’S ACTUAL GOGGLES

THEY WERE ON RIZ AHMED’S FACEEEEEEEEE

Chirrut’s actual Lightbow. DONNIE YEN HELD THIS

Cassian’s fancy convertible blaster rifle. DIEGO LUNA LEFT HIS DNA ON THIS

And of course Jyn’s Empire disguise. This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to Felicy Jones and I’m sad.

Eventually, it was getting around to dinner time so we took the Toy Story shuttle back to the parking lot and then took the short walk back to our hotel room. We rested a bit and showered to get rid of the worst of the chlorinated water from Splash Mountain and then, as a special pre-Valentine’s day celebration, we went to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, which was located right next door.

Did I mention how much I love meat? Because I love a good steak. And this was a really good steak. I had the petite rib eye, which was just enough for me. Jeff got the regular rib eye, and for our sides we had the sauteed Brussel sprouts and the potatoes au gratin:

And here’s the aftermath:

Yes, we can’t believe we ate the whole thing. Our server was going to ask how everything was but it was pretty obvious that we enjoyed every single thing.

Happily stuffed with beef, we wandered back to our hotel room and fell into bed, resting for the next day when we head into California Adventure.

2017 road trip – Feb. 12th

2017 road trip – Feb. 12th

I was pretty anxious to get on the road, so Jeff and I left the house before 10am. We were planning on driving down on SR-99 instead of I-5. While 5 is much faster than 99, there is barely anything to see along the way, which makes the road trip pretty bland and boring. We thought that if we traveled down 99, we’d be able to see a little more of California, because 99 goes through the cities of the central valley.

It was such a gorgeous Sunday drive down too. I had to get a decent shot of the green California hills against the beautiful blue sky.

Somewhere around Delano CA (I think?) I discovered the headquarters for Halos mandarin oranges. I had to shoot across the driver’s side of the Jeep but luckily Jeff didn’t get in the way.

Normally, if we take I-5 down to L.A., we stop in Buttonwillow to gas up and grab a late lunch, just enough to get the Jeep (and us!) to Anaheim with the right amount of fuel. This time, since we were driving down 99, we had to use technology (thank you Yelp) to find a decent fast food place on the way at roughly the same distance as the McDonalds in Buttonwillow would be. Then, I discovered that we had enough gas left to make it to Bakersfield, and, yes, we stopped by the In-n-Out:

I’ve said before that I’m basically a California burger snob now because I do like In-n-Out more than any other fast food burger. Is it the best burger on the face of the planet? Nope, not by a long shot. Is it a decent burger for the price? Heck yeah it is! And while they’re not really known for the best fries to accompany the best fast food burger, I like getting my fries well-done to make these thin-cut fries crispy and more akin to potato chips. But yeah, this is a dang tasty burger and I still appreciate the secret menu.

A few hours of driving later and we finally made it to Anaheim. For the past few years, and in an effort to stay within a decent budget, I decided that we should stay at a hotel that was nearer to the Anaheim Convention Center than Disneyland itself. So, ever since September, I’d been researching for the best hotel for the budget. In the past, we’d stayed on-site (at the Paradise Pier Hotel, as it’s the cheapest of the 3 Disney-run hotels), and we’d stayed in a hotel across the street from the Harbor Disneyland entrance (at the Fairfield Inn, which was pretty good). But this year I found an awesome price for the Hyatt Place hotel near the convention center. This is a newer hotel in the area, and it caters more towards people who are attending conventions while wishing to go to Disneyland as well.

I really loved this hotel. The front desk folks were always friendly and welcoming and they could handle basically any request I made. I had an issue with printing our Disneyland tickets on one of the public computers that they have in the lobby and one of the front desk people helped me fix it so we could go to the park in the morning. The hotel doesn’t have a gift shop, per se, but you could basically buy or borrow anything you needed just by asking the front desk for it. I forgot to pack some mouthwash (yea, silly me) so I asked to purchase some at the front desk. The bottle, which was basically sample sized, but I was only going to stay there for a few days so it didn’t matter, turned out to cost 54 cents. The hotel itself was located close to the convention center, and across the street from the Toy Story parking lot. One tip I learned from my many hours of Disneyland research is that if you ended up staying at one of the hotels near the convention center, you can walk into the Toy Story lot and take a free shuttle to the park. They don’t check whether or not you’d parked in the lot, and the ride itself is only around 5 minutes, because the shuttle takes as many back streets and shortcuts as possible. So it was basically a short walk from the hotel to the parking lot, and then the shuttle drops you off right in front of the security checkpoint at Harbor. If the price is right, I might make Hyatt Place, or any of the other hotels on that strip near the convention center, my hotel choice for Anaheim. The shuttle is convenient, and I liked being a little away from the hustle and bustle closer to the park.

The hotel room itself was spacious and comfy. There was a lounge area that was kind of separated from the beds by a short wall, but it was enough. The couch was a corner sofa which faced the flat screen tv. Plus the tv was on a swivel mount so you could angle it towards the sofa or towards the beds if you wanted, which was nice when we did our late night anime sessions (we always end the day by watching a few episodes of anime). On that first night, we were pretty tired from our road trip, plus we still had the remnants of a fast food meal in our stomachs, so we opted for a couple of ready-made salads available in a small refrigerated case in the lobby. Again, convenient! We ended our Sunday by watching a few episodes of School Rumble (one of my favorite comedy/romance anime series) and got to bed, because in the morning, we were going to tackle Disneyland.

 

Legion isn’t really beholden to a wider universe

Legion isn’t really beholden to a wider universe

I almost never watch new television live, so although I was beyond curious about FX’s new X-Men-adjacent series Legion, I had to wait until the day after it aired to actually watch it. Thank you, on-demand Roku app.

David Haller, or Legion, is, in Marvel comics continuity, the son of Professor Charles Xavier and a powerful mutant in his own right. David has Dissociative Identity Disorder, which means that he harbors multiple personalities, which each manifest themselves as a different mutant ability. In FX’s version, helmed by Noah Hawley (who has already become one of my favorite TV creatives thanks to his masterful work on the Fargo TV series), David Haller has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he’s walled up in a mental institution following a suicide attempt. The main crux of the story, whether or not David has powers or is he just mentally ill, is never quite answered at the end of the pilot, and I think I like it that way. In this age of Peak TV, where shows have to have something unique about them in order to have them stand out among the rest of the shows, Legion is probably one of the best comic book adaptations out there. I’ve only seen the first episode, but I’d put it up there with Netflix’s Marvel offerings, perhaps even higher because Legion isn’t really beholden to a wider universe.

There’s no real connections with FOX’s X-Men universe or the MCU, and I like it that way. It allows the show to breathe and be its own thing, and its own thing is masterful, trippy, and mind-bending. It really keeps the viewer on its toes. David, with his various sensory issues, is as unreliable a narrator as you can get, so if the viewer is seeing everything through his experience, there’s no telling whether or not everything he sees is “real.” It is, however, still a compelling story, and what I really want to get out of it is how the show balances the mental issues David obviously has with the fact that he has mutant powers. I’d like to think that both of these things contribute to creating David as a character. Hopefully the show doesn’t chock everything up to his abilities.

And what a character. I’ve loved Dan Stevens ever since Downton Abbey, and I even stopped watching the show after he left because his leaving destroyed my OTP for the show. Anyway, apart from being David Heller, Dan’s also going playing the Beast in Disney’s new live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. I’m hoping this means that Dan’s going to be in the spotlight a lot more because he really deserves it. Watching him with an American accent is pretty distracting, though, and I sort of remember him having a deeper voice when he was Matthew on Downton, but a higher, more agitated voice does match well with the character.

But I think I’m going to keep watching this show, at least to see how they’re going to explore David’s abilities.

Elephants

Elephants

Continuing on with the tiredness, but my emotional and physical state doesn’t have to do just with the current political climate (which, I understand, is a shitshow of epic proportions), but because of personal issues. There is an issue I have that I cannot change lightly as it involves the cooperation of a bunch of people who will not work together on anything. It’s my elephant in the room, and I will henceforth be referring to it as the Elephant, if I ever refer to it at all in my future blog. It’s vague because it’s personal, and I do not want to air out the entirety of my dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see.

So, this Elephant.

It reared its head last night, bellowed its ungodly, trumpet of a bellow, and decided to wreck havoc on my sleep. The Elephant stomped through the house, trumpeting its importance, shaking the walls with its insistence that everyone must pay attention to it, that it is the most important thing in the entire world (when the Elephant has lost perspective and besides, said Elephant is patently wrong about quite a number of things). I have been anxious about the state of the world lately, each and every piece of news coming from DC fills me to so much dread and uncertainty. I am in the middle of my period so my hormones are running wild, I’m cramping like there’s no tomorrow (my uterus and The Elephant must be in cahoots to send me into writhing fits). And…the Elephant is not making things any easier.

I’m beyond grateful that Jeff and I will be leaving the Elephant behind for a while when we go on our annual sojourn to Disneyland and then to a Doctor Who convention. Much fun will be had, and then, when I return, I will be ready to face the Elephant in the room, and maybe also the Vulgarian in the White House too. I just need to remind myself that not all is ugliness and despair. There is fun. There is light. There is passion for small things.

And there is a Dole Whip float with my name on it.