Thursday, July 31, 2008

Does Not Follow Directions

Okay, so we couldn't do it. We couldn't let Tuffy go four days with no medication at all. Not when she had already been down to a quarter pill a day, and no pill at all a few days before that. Not when she was having obvious trouble lifting her head, and intermittently snoring while awake. Not when she couldn't even eat cheese any more, let alone dog biscuits.

Not when we could do something about it.

So John gave her an aspirin yesterday and today, inside a slice of shaved turkey. This was not my idea, and he didn't really consult with me beforehand, but I would have said yes. It seems to help a little. And I went out for Cesar brand dog food, the one food we've pretty much always gotten her to eat. I used to hide her pills in it when she was first being treated for the cancer, back when it was on her tongue.

And tomorrow, per John's suggestion, she gets the new med. Okay, we're not following instructions to the letter, and I'm sure there are good reasons why Dr. K. wants the prednisone out of the system before Tuffy gets the other stuff. But there really can't be much prednisone inside her at this point, or she wouldn't be suffering so. And the whole point of this is to keep the suffering at bay as long as we can. Otherwise, what's the point? I'm sitting here listening to her trying to breathe, and morning can't come soon enough for either of us.

In one of the Mâvarin books that I haven't written much of yet, I discovered last week that the king of Mâvarin is self-medicating to rid himself of the effects of a love spell. And I decided tonight that, as in Real Life, that situation won't be resolved quickly or easily. Tuffy is a different matter: right or wrong, we end this painful transitional period tomorrow, and watch her closely to see if the new stuff is going to help. If it does, she gets to live a little longer. If not, then I guess the clock runs out when the reinstated prednisone no longer does enough for her.

I wasn't going to write about Tuffy again tonight, but that was the only thing in my head when I sat down to write this. I could say something about the early Beatles, or Steven Moffat, or the difference between a bug and a feature, or Sara and Sarah going on the Tower of Terror without me (hooray for them!). But really, I'm not prepared tonight for any such rants and rambles. Tomorrow night is the Weekend Assignment, so I'll pull myself together for that. Now, where is that copy of Love?


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This Is Me Being Cranky

Y'know what? I'm not in the mood to edit even a small sampling of Disneyland photos tonight, even if I felt I had time. The joy of this past Saturday is gone for the moment. I'm sure I'll regain some equilibrium in a few days, but right now I'm not having a good time. I've finally caught up with my blog-related obligations, but I need sleep, and Tuffy is never far from my mind.

We stopped at the compounding pharmacy on the way home from work to pick up Tuffy's Piroxicam. The pharmacy had a countertop that was full of pictures of dogs and cats, and someone there told me they fill a lot of pet prescriptions, along with the human ones.

Both the vet and the pharmacist said that this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug has cancer-fighting properties. I notice that it's refillable six times, but frankly I'll be surprised if Tuffy makes it that far. I'm a little worried about her making it through the four days without prednisone before she can even start on the new stuff. Her appetite has already dropped to almost nothing, and her breathing is labored from the pressure the tumorous lymph glands put on her neck.*

Needless to say, John isn't any happier than I am right now. I think even Pepper is reacting a bit. She certainly seems more deferential to Tuffy than she was.

I don't have anything else to say tonight. Sorry. I'll do better tomorrow.

*Later: Tuffy isn't breathing loudly at all right now. I think I feel better.

The Expected Bad News Arrives

Metastatic cancer is not a good look for Tuffy.

Since we never heard back from the doggie oncologist with the biopsy results for Tuffy, I finally called today to follow up. It turned out that while she was on vacation, the test results came back and were accidentally filed away rather than given to her to see when she got back. I figured it was probably something like that.

Yes, Tuffy's swollen neck is cancer, her squamous cell carcinoma metastasized to her lymph nodes. There are no reasonable treatment options for fixing this - we could spend thousands more dollars but it probably wouldn't help much.

I let Dr K know that we weren't going to try any further dramatic and expensive treatments, and she came up with one other thing to try. There's a drug she mentioned once before. It's very good for cancer-related pain, and has mild carcinoma-fighting properties, i.e. it may slow things down a little. She didn't give a time frame, but I'm guessing we can buy Tuffy a few more months of acceptable quality of life, with a $30 a month prescription from the compounding pharmacy near the "dinosaur McDonald's" at Grant and Tanque Verde. First she needs to go off the prednisone, so that is what we'll do.



Monday, July 28, 2008

New Monday Photo Shoot: Proof of Air

New Monday Photo Shoot #31: Photographically prove the existence of air. I realize the stuff is normally invisible, but that's what makes this fun! Show us something that is filled with air, or flying through it, or held up by it, or moving it around - well, you get the idea!

Mine all come from my Saturday morning flight:

Even if the air isn't especially visible, the clouds the float in it are!

Haze over L.A. Doesn't look too bad.

Actually, yes it does.

Hence my mantra, whenever I fly or drive into L.A. "Don't breathe anything you can't see!"

Your turn! Show us some air, directly or indirectly. Post the picture(s) to your blog or journal, include links from there to here and (in the comments below) from here to there. I'll be back on schedule next Sunday night with the results!


Monday Photo Shoot Results: Small Crowds

A small(?) crowd prepares to brave the dangers
of the Temple of the Forbidden Eye

I'm grateful anyone responded to this one, especially since I forgot to list it in the current memes box on my sidebar. Put that down to my recent Disneyland mania. Now let's see those small crowds:

Julie presents a small crowd of toys and souvenirs, mostly alien or robotic.

Jama 's crowds examine a fisherman's catch, and wait to cross the street after school.

Kiva forgoes a birthday party for car reliability reasons, and instead brings us a crowd of "edgy" Apple customers.

New MPS topic to follow momentarily.

And by the way, I'm still dealing with exhaustion and time constraints after my weekend trip. I will get to everyone's blogs for RR and MPS commenting tomorrow night.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

RR and MPS Scheduling Note - and a Brief Rant

Not too surprisingly or unforgivably - I hope! - I'm not going to attempt to post the Monday Photo Shoot results tonight, post the new MPS topic or make the rounds of the Round Robin entries. I've been sitting at this computer for two hours with my feet throbbing, transferring and editing photos, watching a new Doctor Who clip and writing the belated entry for last night. Now I'm going to briefly recount the story of my difficult day, take four ibuprofen and a long bath, and go to bed. I'll post the Monday Photo Shoot stuff on Monday (evening). What a concept!

Sara (left) and Sarah under an astoundingly apt sign

Aside from my extreme lameness, the day started well. My alarm didn't go off, but Sara and Sarah woke me half an hour later.

The new Mark VII Monorail

We got right in at Rainforest Cafe, I got the last copy of a limited edition Disneyland pin set at the Downtown Disney pin shop, and the shiny new red Mark VII monorail was loading as we climbed up to the platform. We got on Indiana Jones Adventure, enjoyed Disneyland: The First Fifty Years, and I learned some stuff I didn't know from the cast member at the museumy-thing there. We went over to California Adventure for Soarin Over California and Turtle Talk With Crush, and then it was time for me to go.

But go where?

My pickup from Primetime Shuttles - remember that name - was scheduled for 3:45 PM at Disneyland. That's Disneyland itself, selected from the drop-down on their online reservations page. For the ride from LAX, they had kept me waiting half an hour with no explanation, but still arrived a little early at the hotel. For the return trip, they had left me a voicemail changing the time to 4:10 PM, but I didn't know this. At 3:35 I went out to the lot where all the trams and shuttles and cabs pick up and drop off, and asked where Primetime picked up. People either didn't know or gave me wrong information. About 3:50 PM I lugged my luggage back to Disney Customer Relations and asked for help. The cast member called Primetime, repeatedly, finally got someone to pick up, gave them my name and situation, and was told to have me go across the street to the IHOP and be picked up there. "You still have time," she said. "They changed the departure to 4:10 for traffic reasons."

So I thanked her and hobbled back across the parking lot and across the street to the IHOP. It was probably a few minutes after 4 PM by then. I'm reasonably sure it wasn't ten after. There was no sign of a Primetime van. I waited for 45 minutes, staring at every red van on Harbor Blvd, searching for my confo and trying to call to find out where the hell they were. I even managed to flag down a Primetime van in the middle lane, who rolled down his window, admitted he was headed for LAX and flat out refused to pick me up. When I finally got through to reservations (their everything-else option rang about 50 times, and my phone thinks pressing 2 means "mute"), they were rude, called me a no-show, and offered to pick me up at 7:30 PM to take me to the airport for my 7 PM flight.

Finally reaching LAX after my 2 1/2 hour ordeal

So I took a cab. He was fast, friendly and very expensive.

Listen, I seldom rant against a whole company. I don't think I've even told you my Jack in the Box story. But don't take Primetime.

Then I was in a horrible long, slow line to check in at Delta. Fortunately, one of their agents was on the ball enough to eventually ask who was waiting to check in for the Tucson flight, which by then was leaving in 45 minutes or less. I checked in, was told to lug my one checked bag over to an x-ray station 200 feet away, and then went through security myself elsewhere. I was so exhausted and flustered by then that I left my boarding pass in one of the bins being x-rayed.

But I made the flight. The seat was narrow and uncomfortable, but I got home. And the dogs were glad to see me. Tuffy's starting to have trouble breathing, though. I really think we're coming down to the end with her.

Tomorrow night, we move on to happier things - I hope!


Saturday Night's Blog Entry

My only edited "camera" photo from Saturday night

My blog entry for last night was never going to be long, because, well, when you'd been on the go for 21 hours on 3 1/2 hours of sleep and just promised two close friends that you'll be up and ready to go seven hours from now, it's not a good idea to spend the next three hours blogging. There was one photo I edited for you out of the 200+ I took on Saturday, not counting the 70 I took using the phone after the camera battery went low. I couldn't transfer those to my computer because I neglected to bring the memory card adapter.

The most interesting of the phone's Fantasmic shots

As it turned out, I could blog last night at all. The hotel's wireless network was offline part of the time, and when it did turn up asking for a login and password I've neglected to arrange for when checking in at nearly 1 AM, Norton was convinced it was some kind of malware site. I've jumped over worse hurdles to blog from the road, but last night, it simply wasn't worth it.

So, what was I planning to say about my Saturday at Disneyland with Sara and Sarah?

I was going to call it "transcendent."

Really, I was. I was extremely happy to be one of my very favorite places, with two close friends who had the same interests in what to see and do next. I was happy that we got along as well in person as online. I was happy that a random stranger gave us three Splash Mountain FastPasses, unasked, at exactly the right moment. I was happy that we got in nearly all of our must-sees the first day, even the Finding Nemo update of the Submarine Voyage. I was happy with the great 80s cover band Stellar, which had replaced the Radio Disney crap at Tomorrowland by the time we were in line for Nemo, and played for us as we waited. I was happy that Sarah's parents were interesting and personable and cool, and that they got us a great spot from which to watch the 10:30 PM show of Fantasmic! I was so happy at seeing Fantasmic, properly, for quite possibly the first time ever, that I spent much of it in tears. (What a softie!)

So what did my transcendent day transcend? That's easy to answer: fatigue and pain. I really should have replaced those worn out shoes long before walking around in them for 21 hours on Saturday, through airports and hotels and Disneyland and the streets of Anaheim. By the time I went to bed I was thoroughly sore from the knees down, and feeling every minute of my 51+ years. I was even more sore today.

So, how was your Saturday?


Friday, July 25, 2008

Round Robin: A Peek into the eBay Graveyard

This week for the Round Robin Photo Challenges, Kim of Nekked Lizard Adventures asks us to photograph "An Item You'd Like To Sell On EBAY, But You're Too Embarrassed."

Actually in my case, it's not a question of embarrassment. I've sold everything from cookie jars to a JFK candy dish on eBay, from Fisher-Price dolls to Panavision-branded license plate holders. I'm not embarrassed by any of it. No, what stopped me selling on eBay, cold-turkey, about a decade ago, was the frustration and annoyance of all the work involved. I hated tracking what had been paid for by whom, packing stuff up and taking it to Cherrybell Station to be mailed, and my vague attempt at bookkeeping, which included keeping a box of emails and receipts in case I ever needed to track it all properly. More and more, I pondered whether relisting things like the JFK candy dish or the 1950s ashtrays was worth the effort, and whether, aside from the Snoopy Astronaut, the Niagara Falls lamp, the Panavision license plate holders and that pair of tiles with Eqyptian figures on them, any of this stuff made enough money to offset the downside of it all. Financially, this included the packing materials, the eBay fees, and the weekly purchases at yard sales and estate sales and rummage sales and thrift shops. Less tangible costs included the mental anguish of learning that the U.S. Postal Service broke the Woodstock cookie jar, the sleep I lost going out to yard sales at 8 AM or earlier, and most of all, the exponentially-increasing clutter of unsold, possibly unsalable eBay stock. A decade later, we still have a lot of it. Let's take a photographic peek in the overcrowded eBay room, here at the Museum of the Weird:

Here's a striking example of the nature of the problem. In theory, someone should care about a Boba Fett toy from circa 1980, an early-ish Bart doll, molded green Star Wars soap, or a 50-year-old glass milk bottle, formerly delivered by a milkman from some regional dairy. But do they, though? Does anyone really want any of this stuff, enough to bid it up and send in their money to a stranger in Tucson?

I like this jumble of old toys. I think the Roger Rabbit talks, and that the brown feet belong to Wile E Coyote. The bear is a Pooh, if I remember correctly, but not an especially interesting one. Or maybe it's just a bear. I didn't get close enough to check, but we have had a Pooh for sale at one time or another.

My favorite toy here is the oldest one: a dog with a tartan tam on its head and a pipe in its mouth. I couldn't resist buying it at an estate sale, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that the dog has no nose. (How does it smell?)

The Gateway Arch was a souvenir I bought in 1986; John thought it was no longer something we needed to own, but it never made it out the door. Behind it is a Little Kiddles case. I think John found the hard plastic Batman cowl at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, circa 1986. The tournament golf game was locally-produced, many years ago. And surely there are still fans of The Dukes of Hazzard. I don't think I've ever met any, but I know they exist.

Anybody want an old Boston Celtics gym bag? We also have a golf bag somewhere from a Frank Sinatra golf tournament. Or did we sell that?

And of course we also have some old Cornerstone stock, including uncut sheets of The Avengers trading cards. They might be our archive copies - or maybe not.

Gotta rush this, and break my personal rule not to post before midnight MST. My flight to Disneyland leaves in 8 hours, and I have to pack, sleep, and get to the airport between now and then. I'll catch up with everyone on Sunday night or Monday night. Meanwhile, check out the other Robins' entries:

Linking List

Randy and Kim - Posted!
Nekked Lizard Adventures


Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Carly - Posted!

Wammy - Posted!
The Ellis Family Cincinnati

The Eclectic Granny

Maryt - Posted!
Answers to the Questions

Vicki - Posted!

Jennifer Robin - Posted!
Robin's Woods

Teena - Posted!
It's all about me!

Next time you hear from me, I'll be at the Castle Inn outside Disneyland!


Weekend Assignment #226: Jukebox Brain

I had a Weekend Assignment lined up that was more of a writing exercise, but the heck with that. Let's go with something simple this week. Scalzi had more than a few music-related Weekend Assignments over the years: random song lists, songs for Halloween, bad Christmas songs, songs to party by, sf songs, songs for a wedding are all among the topics I seem to recall (or just Googled). I think he even did an earworm one, but let's do a little variation on that:

Weekend Assignment #226: Is there a song that you're particularly enjoying at the moment, that's on heavy rotation on your iPod, the CD player in your car, or just in your head? If so, what is it? If not, what was the last song you were really into?

Extra Credit: What song, if any, has been playing in your head today, and you really wish it would stop now?

As for me, I suppose it's good news that I've finally stopped playing one or both of Murray Gold's Doctor Who soundtracks nearly every day. I love that music, and it makes me happy, but it kind of loses its power after the first 300 times, you know? I didn't really have a favorite specific track on either CD, but I'm quite fond of Westminster Bridge, Clockwork TARDIS (for which I keep threatening to write lyrics), All The Strange Strange Creatures and The Doctor Forever.

Now, the previous CD in my personal heavy rotation was George Martin's Love remix of Beatles songs. It was a wonderful way of making some of my favorite music of all time fresh and new again. I've been looking for my copy of it for a few months now; if I don't find it soon I'll replace it. And the only album stored on my new phone is Once More With Feeling, the musical Buffy episode. The phone doesn't play loudly enough to bother with, though. I need headphones or bluetooth or something. But I have played Going Through the Motions (Buffy sings about her "strange estrangement" while killing vampires) several times recently.

The man responsible for much of my musical joy and agony

Meanwhile, I've had McCartney's Monkberry Moon Delight in my head all evening, mostly because I referred to it in a joke last night. This morning it was The Safety Dance by Men Without Hats, which was on the radio as John dropped me off. I think I'll ask him to keep it on NPR from now on!

It's a Small World (After All) really doesn't bother me

Your turn! Tell me off music in voluntary and involuntary heavy rotation in your head these days, whether it's the latest single by Sally Obscura, Moonlight Sonata or a Gregorian chant. Write about it in your blog or journal, and post your links from there to here and here to there. The playlist gets posted a week from tonight!

And the wind played a dreadful cantata


Weekend Assignment Results: Ruts Broken!

Set yourself free this weekend!

For Weekend Assignment #225: Rut Breakers!, I asked folks to plan a break from the usual weekend routine, and to tell us about it. For some of you, that thought must have been too scay to contemplate, but a few brave souls did manage to pull free from the mire:

Kiva said...

I think I will just sit down and (drumroll here) read. I seem to get so busy these days with family and work that I rarely read except if I'm on an airplane or bus going somewhere. (Not only that, but she went to see Julie Andrews in concert!)

Mike said...

That might not seem very exciting, but for us it is a major rut breaker. With two kids under seven, it is not often that we get to go out to eat, or anything else, on our own. I think out last child-free dinner was about a year ago with the same couple. I think we are due.

Florinda said...

I didn't exactly break my routine wide open this weekend - shoot, going to BlogHerCon would have really fulfilled this assignment! - but I did shift things around a bit. Sometimes, it takes baby steps. To begin with, we did NOT go to Target on Friday night! Tall Paul and I went out for some dinner, with the intention of a trip to what Elder Nephew used to call "the circle store" afterwards, but we decided to go home instead, relax on the couch, and watch the previous night's episode of Burn Notice from the DVR.

Sarah said...

Library school and Disneyland are conspiring to make me miss yet another weekend assignment, but I'll say here that on Saturday night, on the spur of the moment, I left the apartment at half past midnight to go to a karaoke bar with an engineer friend who was sick of being at the office. Going to a karaoke bar isn't at all out of the ordinary for me - it's commencing a night out after midnight that almost never happens.

It can be scary, but rewarding!

It's not too late, you know. Do something fun this weekend. You deserve the break!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Karen's Semi-Snarky Guide to Disneyland

Tonight I used the Wikipedia lists of current Disneyland and California Adventure attractions as a basis for rating which ones I consider absolutely crucial to a pleasant Disney trip and which ones...meh, not so much. If you love Disneyland, or hope to get there someday, you may find my list entertaining or useful or something. The lists I emailed to Sara and Sarah were almost verbatim copy-pastes from Wikipedia plus my numeric ratings. For the corresponding blog entry, though, I'll be replacing the Wikitext with my comments, if any. And what the heck: let's throw in some pictures from past visits!

1. Wouldn't mind doing this twice or more. Heartbroken if I don't do it at least once per trip.
2. Want to do once per trip if possible.
3. Interested, if there's time, but if not, go without me.
4. Meh.
5. Don't bother unless you've done everything else that's even vaguely interesting.


Hey, it's the park that means more to me than California Adventure, most of the Florida parks and the foreign Disney parks combined. It's the original, the one where Walt planned, and walked, and occasionally slept over.

Main Street, U.S.A.

Disneyland Railroad (opened 1955) KFB: 1
Although you can board the train from a number of places around the park, the best station is the one you see the moment you pass the entry gates. You can use the railroad to ride back from elsewhere in the park instead of walking, but it probably won't save you any time. The most important part of the ride is the last stretch before arriving back at Main Street Station (and no, I won't say why), so sometimes we just ride the whole circle trip rather than use it as transportation.

Main Street Cinema (opened 1955) KFB: 5
This is where you can stand up to see the first six Mickey Mouse cartoons on a continuous loop. Yawn. They're historically important, but absurdly low in entertainment value given the surroundings, and the fact that they're not hard to watch elsewhere.

Main Street Transportation:
  • Fire Engine (opened 1955) KFB: 3
  • Horse-Drawn Streetcars (opened 1955) KFB: 3
  • Horseless Carriage (opened 1958) KFB: 3
  • Omnibus (opened 1959) KFB: 3
These four turn-of-the-century-themed modes of transportation are quaint, low capacity, low-thrill-factor ways to get from the foot of the train station to the Hub at the other end of Main Street USA. They mostly run in the morning. Unless you're trying to ride everything that was here in Walt's day, pick one and get on with it. I kind of like the streetcars myself.

Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years (opened 2005) KFB: 1
The museum-y part of this is wonderful, with films and models and ephemera and a
recreation of Walt's office at the Studio. It's usually staffed by someone who really knows his or her Disney lore, which is often far from true elsewhere. Don't rush into the Steve Martin thing, which replaced Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (and Steve Martin is no Abraham Lincoln). Take the time to explore the exhibits first, watch the films, ask the questions, and listen to the spiel. It's also a great place to just sit down in a quiet, air conditioned room for a bit. THEN go laugh at Steve and Donald.


Astro Orbitor (opened 1998) KFB: 4
This replaced a more interesting ride. The moving baubles are kind of fun to look at, but the bronze retro future rockets with astrological symbols on them (why?) aren't worth the wait. They're basically Dumbo in disguise, without the whimsy.

Autopia (opened 1955) KFB: 4
Go ahead and laugh at me, but I find these kiddie cars very hard and tiring to drive. To make it pull my weight I have to floor it the whole time, and my leg gets tired. The 2000 update added Chevron cars themes and fun signs, but you can see most of this without getting in one of the cars.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (opened 2005) KFB: 3
This is interactive and kind of fun, in a dopey, kid-oriented way.

Disneyland Monorail (opened 1959) KFB: 1
John tells me the monorail cars have been upgraded/replaced again, but I'd be interested anyway. The bad news is that they aren't terribly useful as transporation. Basically they go from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney. Not sure if the Disneyland Hotel extension has reopened. Hope so.

Disneyland Railroad (opened 1955)
The station in Tomorrowland is basically a bare platform.

Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage
(opened 2007) KFB: 1
We were on the classic Submarine Voyage attraction the last night of its existence (1998, or 2003? I forget!), and have been waiting for the Pixar updated version ever since.

"Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" (opened 1998) KFB: 3 or 4
This is a fun multimedia show with lots of little jokes in the pre-ride and such. Everyone should do it once, but it doesn't require an annual pilgrimage.

Innoventions (opened 1998) KFB: 2, even though it's lame
The building used to be home to the wonderful Carousel of Progress, and oh how I wish I could visit that again instead. Last time I was there, it was a mostly-lame look at the near-future, basically a lot of corporate-sponsored areas of current technology. I gather that it's now mostly Microsoft. Ho-hum. But there are echoes of the older attraction of you know where to look, such as the ASIMO show. And Stitch may or may not still be there for some one-on-one conversation with guests.

Space Mountain (opened 1977, closed 2003, reopened 2005) KFB: 1
I love, love love this, but they should have kept Dick Dale's blistering guitar soundtrack.

Starcade (opened 1977) KFB: 5
Who needs another video arcade?

Star Tours (opened 1987) KFB: 3
This is far from cutting edge these days, but the pre-ride is magnificent,
detailed and funny, and the droid characters (most of them more Johnny Five than R2D2) are fun and likable, especially the one voiced by Paul Rubens, who played a similar role in The Flight of the Navigator.


Alice in Wonderland (opened 1958) KFB: 1
Wikipedia tells me this has been slightly upgraded again. The original voice of Alice narrates, as she's done since the 1980s.

Casey Jr. Circus Train (opened 1955) KFB: 4
Want to ride in a car or a cage? Neither one is a thrill, but it's whimsical, and covers part of the same territory as the canal boats - but faster.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant (opened 1955) KFB: 5
Cute, but mostly for kiddies. Take a few pictures and move on. The low ride capacity pretty much guarantees that it's not worth the wait to get on it.

Disney Princess Fantasy Faire (opened 2006) KFB: 4
This is a meet and greet area for "face characters" and their fans. I'm not one of them.

It's a Small World (opened 1966) KFB: 1 (if open)
It's whimsical and leisurely, and if you don't like the song you won't have a good time, because you're going to hear a lot of it. The dolls were designed by Mary Blair, an important Disney artist with her own unique style. The chiming of the hour is a fun thing to watch from OUTSIDE the attraction. It's a Small World closed for major renovations in 2008, and I think it's still closed, darn it.

King Arthur Carrousel (opened 1955) KFB: 5
It's hard to make a carousel thrilling, even if you know which horse was Walt's favorite.

Mad Tea Party (opened 1955) KFB: 4
I'm not big on things that make you dizzy, and if you don't try to spin these, there's not much point to the ride.

Matterhorn Bobsleds (opened 1959) KFB: 2
This brilliant early reimagining of the classic roller coaster ride was upgraded in 1978. It's fast, fun and not too scary, the view is great, and there is minor splashing involved.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (opened 1955) KFB: 3
He's not the most iconically Disney character, but the ride is fun and the line is short. Upgraded in 1983 as part of the New Fantasyland.

Peter Pan's Flight (opened 1955) KFB: 2
This is the best of the the Fantasyland dark rides, mostly because you're "flying" in your pirate ship.

Pinocchio's Daring Journey (opened 1983) KFB: 4
It's fun and pretty, but not as good as Peter Pan or Snow White.

Snow White's Scary Adventures
(opened 1955 as Snow White's Adventures) KFB: 3
The facade and effects are what makes this upgraded dark ride worth your time. Look! Up in that window!

Storybook Land Canal Boats (opened 1955 as Canal Boats of the World) KFB: 3
A boat ride part a bunch of quaint miniature fairy tale locales can be fun and peaceful or rather boring, depending on whether you're interested in seeing Gepetto's house or Jasmine's palace. I find the (relatively) recent additions a little jarring, but that's probably just me being a Disney traditionalist.


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (opened 1979) KFB: 2
This is a roller coaster update of the old "Nature's Wonderland Mine Train" ride - not too scary, and fun. I assume they've resolved the safety issues of a few years ago.

Tom Sawyer Island (opened 1956) KFB: 1
Back in the day, this was basically Mark Twain-themed places to explore, plus a fort. They closed the fort for a while, and recently added pirate-themed stuff. I see that the fort is open again, which is good news.

Rafts to Tom Sawyer Island (opened 1956) KFB: 1
This is simply the means of getting to Tom Sawyer Island.

Frontierland Shootin' Exposition (opened 1957 as Frontierland Shooting Gallery, became Frontierland Shootin' Arcade 1985, Frontierland Shootin' Exposition 1996) KFB: 5
A laser-based shooting gallery. 'Kay.

Mark Twain Riverboat (opened 1955) KFB: 3
It's not exciting, but it's a pretty trip around the Rivers of America, and you can still hear Thurl Ravenscroft's voice if you listen carefully.

Sailing Ship Columbia (opened 1958) KFB: 2
This is marginally cooler than the Mark Twain, and that's saying a lot.

Big Thunder Ranch (opened 1986 as Little Patch of Heaven, closed in 1996, reopened in 2004, became Big Thunder Ranch in 2005) KFB: 2
This petting zoo is sort of hidden away in the back, away from the crowds. Sometimes it has seasonal shows.

The Golden Horseshoe Stage (opened 1955 as Golden Horseshoe Saloon, changed name to The Golden Horseshoe Stage in 1999) KFB: 3
Once home to the legendary Wally Boag, it now features Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. Fun, but not something I need to do every year.


Enchanted Tiki Room (opened 1963) KFB: 1
The first fully animatronic Disneyland attraction, it was upgraded a couple years ago, and is at least as cool as it ever was. Take the time to listen as the Tiki gods introduce themselves in the garden outside, and listen for some classic Disney voice artists inside and out.

Indiana Jones Adventure (opened 1995)KFB: 1
I love the long walk through the pre-ride, the backstory in newsreels and films narrated by Sallah, and the fact that Indy and Sallah say different things on different trips through the temple. Great stuff!

Jungle Cruise (opened 1955) KFB: 2
This is historic, low key, and fun: the guides have a lot of latitude to improvise their jokey live narration, and Marc Davis's whimsical animals and people from an early upgrade are still pretty effective, forty years on.

Tarzan's Treehouse (opened 1999) KFB: 4
It's kind of neat, but I'm still annoyed that it's no longer the Swiss Family Treehouse.

New Orleans Square

Disneyland Railroad (opened 1966) The Disneyland Railroad station in New Orleans Square has some fun "backstage" Mardi Gras decor nearby.

Haunted Mansion (opened 1969) KFB: 1
On my last few visits to the haunted mansion it's been redressed in its annual celebration of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I'm looking forward to seeing the "real" version again.

Pirates of the Caribbean (opened 1967) KFB: 1
This wonderful classic ride, with voices by Paul Frees and Thurl Ravenscroft and others, has been updated a number of times, sometimes to make it more PC, sometimes for technical improvements. The latest update adds Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, and Davy Jones from the films, while still respecting the source material.

Critter Country

Splash Mountain (opened 1989) KFB: 2
It's ironic that this extremely popular ride is based on Song of the South, which Disney refuses to release on DVD due to political correctness issues. (Most people I know dispute the idea that the film is racist - of its time, certainly, but not racist.) The ride's big water drop at the end is just at the edge of what I can tolerate in scary rides.

Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes (opened 1971) KFB: 3 or 4
It's fun to travel the Rivers of America under your own power - yours, and that of a bunch of other guests. Kinda time consuming, though, and it doesn't need to be done every time I visit.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (opened 2003) KFB: 3
Much as I love the original Milne characters, I found this ride disappointing on my only previous visit. But I'll ride it again to look for the hidden characters from the "Country Bear Jamboree" attraction that it replaced. I'd rather see that classic show than the current attraction.

Mickey's Toontown

Chip 'n Dale Treehouse (opened 1993) KFB: 5
I don't even remember seeing this. A lot of the places in Toontown don't really accommodate adults, and this may be one of these.

Disneyland Railroad (opened 1955)
The Disneyland railroad station in Mickey's Toontown tends to be crowded. Expect a wait.

Donald's Boat (opened 1993) KFB: 5
Donald Duck's boat-on-land doesn't have any Carl Barks quirkiness to make it interesting to this adult.

Gadget's Go Coaster (opened 1993) KFB: 4
A weird, tame little roller coaster - it's worth doing once.

Goofy's Playhouse (opened 2006) KFB: 5 (kids only)
Goofy's house is strictly for kids, and isn't even a bouncehouse any more.

Mickey's House and Meet Mickey (opened 1993) KFB: 4
Mickey's house. The decor is fun, and it ends with a meet-and-greet with the great mouse. Not something worth doing more than once every five or ten years.

Minnie's House (opened 1993) KFB: 4
Minnie's house is like Mickey's house - cute, but not a must-see very time. Minnie no longer hangs around waiting for your visit.

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (opened 1994) KFB: 2
The pre-ride is fabulous, full of backstory and visual jokes and funny overheard dialogue. The ride itself is kind of meh.

Parades and Shows

Walt Disney's Parade of Dreams (opened May 5, 2005) KFB: 2
Gotta see every Disney parade at least once, if possible! Oh, wait. I have seen it.

Jedi Training AcademyKFB: 4
It's kind of fun to watch, but maybe not the whole thing.

Fireworks (whatever it's called this year) KFB: 3
The fireworks shows are tricky to see properly without a major investment in time, finding a good spot and staying there.

Fantasmic KFB: 2
This is even harder to do properly than the fireworks, because there's really only one area of the park where you can see it.

Disney's California Adventure

Notice that there are only three top priority attractions at CA for me: Soarin' Over California, the new Toy Story thing 'cause I haven't seen it, and the Animation building.

Golden State

Condor Flats:

Soarin' Over California (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 1
This is wonderful, wonderful and again wonderful, beyond all whooping! Well, I may be overstating it a bit. But it is great!

Grizzly Peak Recreation Area:

Grizzly River Run (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 3
It's a raft ride on white water rapids, much the same as the one at Sea World and losts of other places. Fun, but not amazing.

Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
It's mostly a play area for kids, but it supposedly now features rock climbing and a Brother Bear scene cave. Uh-huh. I might give it five or ten minutes of my time.

The Bay Area:

Golden Dreams (opened February 8, 2001)KFB: 3
This movie about California's past and present is narrated by an animatronic Whoopie Goldberg. No, really!

Golden Vine Winery. KFB: 5
I'm not a fan of wine.

Pacific Wharf:

Mission Tortilla Factory (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
Do I really care how tortillas are made? I'm pretty sure I can go watch that in South Tucson.

The Bakery Tour (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
This is a presentation the Boudin Bakery and how sourdough bread is made. Probably no free samples, though.

Paradise Pier

California Screamin' (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 5
I've stared repeatedly at this very fast, very scary roller coaster, and my answer is no. I can't do that, Dave.

Maliboomer (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 3
Wikipedia says that this drop ride launches 180 ft. in 4 seconds. I've done it and enjoyed it, repeatedly, which is rather a surprise for me. Still scary in the anticipation, though.

Sun Wheel (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 3
This ferris wheel ride has both swinging and stationary gondolas. There's a wait for the swinging ones, and I chickened out on trying those, the only time I rode it. Should I try again?

Mulholland Madness (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
This mini-coaster is fun but not compelling.

Orange Stinger (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 5
These are swings that revolve around a giant orange. Pretty, but dull.

Golden Zephyr
(opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 5
A low-key "swing" ride on retro-style rockets, it's even more lame than the Astral Orbiter.

King Triton's Carousel (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 5
Sea creatures do not make a carousel that much more interesting.

Jumpin' Jellyfish (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
A mini-drop ride, but not as interesting as it sounds. Kind of pretty, though, from the ground.

S.S. rustworthy (sic, opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 5, kids only
This model ship is a play area for kids, it says here.

Games of the Boardwalk (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 5
Midway games. They cost money. Yawn.

Toy Story Midway Mania (opened June 17, 2008) KFB: 1
3-D glasses, spinning vehicles, virtual environments, Buzz and Woody, based on classic carnival midway games. That sounds promising.

Hollywood Pictures Backlot

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (opened January 23, 2006) KFB: 2
Decent pre-ride, fun ride, but not outstanding.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (opened May 5, 2004) KFB: 3 if I can make myself do it
I did this once, mostly because I wanted to see the decor and enjoy the backstory, and because I tolerate the Maliboomer well. I was still terrified, and not in a good way.

Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular (opened January 16, 2003) KFB: 2
This musical adaptation of Disney's movie Aladdin at the Hyperion Theater is really well done.

Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! (opened April 11, 2003) KFB: 5
As an adult with no kids, I have zero interest in a show where visitors can meet the Playhouse Disney characters live.

Muppet*Vision 3D (opened February 8, 2001)KFB: 3
This 3-D show featuring the Muppets is almost as good as you hope it is.

Disney Animation (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 1 for the whole thing
  • Turtle Talk with Crush (opened July 15, 2005): A show in which one can interact with Crush from Finding Nemo. I've wanted to do this for years.
  • Animation Academy - (opened February 8, 2001): A presentation on how to draw Disney characters. Eh.
  • Character Closeup - (opened February 8, 2001): An exhibit featuring the "Toy Story Zoetrope", where visitors can view concept art and models of Disney characters. Basically this is where you see seriously cool design sketches and maquettes and stuff.
  • Sorcerer's Workshop - (opened February 8, 2001): This exhibit features the "Sorcerer's Workshop" where visitors create their own animation (sort of), "Beast's Library" where visitors are told what Disney character they are most like, and "Ursula's Voices" where visitors can recored their own voice into a scene from a Disney animated feature. Basically kid's stuff, but worth a few minutes.
  • The Hollywood Backlot Stage - (opened February 8, 2001): KFB: 4 - CA's performing center may or may not have something worth seeing. I seem to recall some lamish show involving Donald and...hats, I think.
"a bug's land"

It's Tough to be a Bug! (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
A 3-D film on the life of an insect. It's fun once.

Bountiful Valley Farm (opened February 8, 2001) KFB: 4
Wikipedia says it's a "water play area for kids about California's irrigation system." Doesn't sound promising.

Flik's Fun Fair - kiddie rides. KFB: 4 or 5
  • Flik's Flyers (opened October 7, 2002): A swing ride based on over-sized food boxes.
  • Francis' Ladybug Boogie (opened October 7, 2002): A ride similar to Mad Tea Party, with ladybugs instead of tea cups.
  • Heimlich's Chew Chew Train (opened October 7, 2002): "A train ride in which visitors see how Heimlich finds food." Huh.
  • Princess Dot Puddle Park (opened October 7, 2002): "A water play area for kids." What, another one?
  • Tuck and Roll's Drive'Em Buggies (opened October 7, 2002): A really low-key bumper car ride. Once was enough.


Disney's Electrical Parade (opened July 3, 2001) KFB: 3
It's a classic, but why does it have to be all the way over at California Adventure?

High School Musical 2: School's Out! (opened August 18, 2007) KFB: 5
Oh, please.

Pixar Play Parade (opened March 14, 2008) KFB: 3
I like Pixar, but again, I'm not sure it's worth my time.

On the other hand, if I had a week to spend - and someday we will - I'd visit every attraction that could physically accommodate an adult!


Sometimes a Sunset

I got much more sleep last night than the night before, and I'm keen to repeat last night's triumph, although I'm already half an hour too late. So I won't linger lovingly over tonight's entry. You know how it goes: some nights you get a three hour extravaganza from me, a nice long rant-cum-essay illustrated with pretty and/or clever photos, which may or may not inspire a comment or two; and some nights I post whatever photos are handy, string together a few paragraphs and call it bedtime. Guess which kind you're getting tonight!

But I did get a few semi-cool photos today, and several less-cool ones. First up: a subtle layering of folded mountains in the morning sun. I shot this through a closed window, which resulted in a few distracting reflections. I darkened and cloned them out as best I could. Can you tell where they were? (I can see it on my laptop, not so much on the computer at work, which I checked on my lunch break.)

At the end of the workday, the same mountains were blanketed by monsoon clouds. It's not just the sky that changes; the look of the mountains changes with the variation in light, even discounting the parts that are hidden behind water vapor.

It wasn't time for sunset on the ride home, but the future site thereof had its own special lighting.

An hour or so later, I happened to walk past the front door and saw the orange of the late stages of tonight's sunset. Of course I grabbed the camera. This shot is resized and sharpened lightly. Period.

Just for fun, I also gave it the "autoenhance" treatment. Funny what PhotoStudio will choose as the "corrected" colors.

And this shot I only saturated about 22%. It's not all that far off what my eyes saw. Well, on the laptop, anyway. It looks a bit extreme on a desktop computer.

Tonight I mostly read Doctor Who Magazine. No apologies from me: I enjoyed it. I also worked on Chapter Eight of Heirs for a bit, and chatted with Sarah about Space Mountain (which she wouldn't miss) and Tower of Terror (which I may or may not go on again, to challenge myself and support Sarah if she tries it). Tomorrow night, I plan to start packing, so there's no last minute panic trying to post the Round Robin entry while searching for my Disney pins and Disneyland hat, and that shirt that quotes Walt Disney as saying, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

If I can just accomplish that last bit of advice, I'll call it a life well-lived - even if some blog entries are better than others.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Disneyland Strategizing

As the last weekend in July approaches, Sara and Sarah and I are IMing each other more and more about Disneyland. What time is everyone arriving? When and where shall we have breakfast on Saturday? Does the Blue Bayou really have vegetarian selections for Sarah? Is it important to get a good view of the fireworks? What about Fantasmic? Is Space Mountain too scary for a non-coaster person?

A meaty meal at the Blue Bayou

Oh, it's going to be a great trip, but it's going to require more planning and strategizing than most of my past visits to Disneyland. I don't even reach Anaheim until about 8:30 AM Saturday, luggage in hand; and the shuttle back to LAX leaves at 3:45 PM Sunday for my 7 PM flight. Phooey. Not much time, is it? I priced a rental car to try to buy myself an extra hour at the park, but the cost was prohibitive.

But I wasn't there in 2007!

So I won't be there as long as Sara and Sarah, which is fair, in a way. Sarah hasn't been there in many years, and I don't think Sara has been there before at all. So they will get a little more time after I leave to see things that I've already experienced adequately on past visits. I won't be wasting time on Dumbo, the carousel, Casey Jr., any of Paradise Pier or most of Mickey's Toontown. Other attractions will be new to me, because they've opened or been redone since October 2006. Those are the must-dos, along with one or two things I've never quite made it to in the past. Still others I try to do on every visit, preferably twice or more: Indiana Jones, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain are the main ones, and Soarin' Over California.

Fast, frightening fall into the Briar Patch

I expect that I'll get to do most of my must-sees with my friends, subject to individual tolerances. Can we all handle that scary, scary drop from the top of Splash Mountain? Will Sara like being thrown around in the dark on Space Mountain? Will I ever again brave the Tower of Terror?

Fireworks: a must-see or a waste of time?

And what can we work in of the second tier of wanna-sees? Do we skip the fireworks or Fantasmic on Saturday night, on the theory that they can see both on Sunday night, and the Saturday evening hours are better spent on Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion when the lines get shorter? Getting a decent view of either nighttime show involves staking out a good spot hours ahead of time, or sitting or standing someplace uncomfortable for a slightly shorter period, or walking out of an attraction at just the right moment to catch the finale of Fantasmic as you walk quickly past the crowds (since you're not allowed to stand where people are trying to walk). I suspect the three of us will need to seriously discuss our options, and make a final decision on the day.

Disney pins: are they acceptable to airline security?

I will be flying to California for the first time in years and years; I usually drive, but John and I decided that the time saved flying this time was worth the airfare, especially considering the cost of gas. The last time I flew anywhere was at least five years ago, before security got quite as bonkers as it is now. I probably won't pack any shampoo or conditioner (well, maybe a three ounce bottle), but what about other stuff I normally bring? What about my Disneyland pins? Are they considered a potential terrorist weapon, all those hunks of pointy brass on a swingable lanyard? I went to a couple of sites to read about what is and isn't allowed in carry-on luggage. There was no mention of jewelry, except to say that valuable jewelry should be kept with you, not checked through. Right, then. Disney pins in carry-on - but I fully expect to be scowled at by someone at the checkpoint.


New Monday Photo Shoot #30: A Small Crowd

This week's Monday Photo Shoot is an oxymoronic variation on one that John Scalzi did last summer:

New Monday Photo Shoot #30: Photograph a small crowd. Your crowd can be anyone from diehard fans at a losing team's home game to the express line at Safeway at closing time; commuters on a late night bus or sunbathers on a cold day at the beach. They don't even have to be human! (See below.) Just show us a middling number of people or animals engaged in roughly the same activity.

Here are the shots that inspired this week's topic:

Pepper greets her new friends at the dog park...

...and is soon surrounded by them.

One day earlier, in the human world:

Democrats demonstrated during George W Bush's visit to Tucson

to attend a fundraiser for Republican candidate Tim Bee.

Your turn! Photograph a small crowd, post the result to your blog or journal with a link back here, and add a link to your entry in the comments below. I'll be back in a week to show off the small crowd of entries. And remember, everyone's invited to participate, including you! So don't be shy; we're a small but friendly crowd around here!