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Sunday, November 28, 2010


Yesterday, we went to see Disney's 50th animated film, Rapunzel.  Sorry..."Tangled." (why?) It was great.  If Glenn Keane draws his characters' eyes any bigger, it's gonna be "The Kewpie Movie".  The song at the end will date it terribly, but it was probably part of Mandy Moore's contract.  Afterwards, we went to the Japanese bookstore and got this month's issue of Disney News, (Yes, they still have one, PLUS, it's gorgeous) whtich Fab likes to call "Japan's got better stuff than we do."  Seriously, the links will make you cry.  Their parades, their shows, their characters' costumes, their adorable, adorable food!  It's on the "someday" list.

The Tiki Den is still in planning stages for the most part.  We ripped up the smelly old carpet, moved furniture out of the way, and had the cable installed.  Perhaps if we have time later this week we can move some of the furniture to the garage and get the couch and a nice rug out there.  May could be up by Christmas!

Thinking more about history brought me back to my old class and textbook project.  I was thinking about the first Snow White-themed dark ride, actually just the Gold Mine ride rethemed by painting a Snow White mural on the front of the dark ride - with Disney's permission.  It was on Surf Avenue, according to renowned Amusement Park historian Jeffrey Stanton (who also penned a couple of game design textbooks back in the 80s).  We've come so far, but, then again, we haven't.  The Little Mermaid dark ride is an Omnimover, Garner Holt did an amazing job on the animatronics (Disney says Imagineering did it.  No, they didn't.) - they're colorful and full of personality.  It's going to be a fun attraction.

Disney's dark rides are unlike any other - those that Disney did for Disneyland and such.  I love to go to sites like Laff in the Dark so that I can experience what I was born too late for - those seaside wonderlands with garish Pretzel rides and walk-throughs.  Next weekend, we'll be visiting Santa Monica Pier - near the former home to what arguably was Disneyland's strongest competition, Pacific Ocean Park.  All that's left now is some machinery in the water, and they've popped up a lot of generic, off-the-shelf rides on the Santa Monica Pier to try to capture the spirit of the old days (and the tourist dollars); but Pacific Ocean Park was a hoot!  I love this very enthusiastic and loving (and low-tech) fan site:  ... is a loving tribute to the site as well.  There was a Peter Pan-esque flying carpet dark ride!  There was a jungle-themed dark ride where they gave little boys rifles to shoot!  The skyway was clear flying balls!

I'll have fun there in the present, and think fondly and appreciatively of the past.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Here is the finished cake:

You can't really see it, but there's a little starfish inside one of the "lobster traps" on either side of the hut.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Yesterday, I talked about the Tiki Cake.  I iced it with matcha buttercream and assembled it last night, colored and put the fondant on it, and started putting on the flower shapes I'd piped last week.  I also colored the smocked fondant I was making "bamboo" from, and dusted the tikis, big and small, that I piped along with the flowers.  I piped the "wave" and the stringwork before adding the flowers.

This morning, I finished adding flowers to the cake, set up the hut, attached the "traps" with rings and piping (and a little starfish inside one of them) and started piping the roof.  I also added the small tikis bounded by starfish to three points at the bottom of the cake (two of them were where the fondant had tucked in wrong).  As of 3:30PM, I have everything but the last, straw-colored layer of the thatched roof done. 

I have no idea what to do with the cake when it's finished, as the cake itself is an almond cake, which I don't like.  It's cloyingly sweet and has a weird aftertaste.  I just do not like almond extract.  I love almonds, and Chinese almond cookies, though.  But this recipe is just so, so, so very...sweet, like an Upson Daiquiri.

Here's the unfinished cake:

I probably will refrain from posting tomorrow, as I believe just about everyone will be doing something other than reading blogs.  I hope everyone in the US has a happy Thanksgiving.  I'll be with my hubby and daughter, trying to figure out what to do with a neat-looking but otherwise icky Tiki cake.

Also, congrats to my pal Paul Barrie, Jr., who is smart enough to ask Tairy Rich to be his Mrs.  They got engaged earlier this week.  Here's Paul a few years back when we had brunch on a gray, rainy day at Disneyland. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


As I said yesterday, I loved the "Three Brothers" animated sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.  So much so, that I sent a fan email to the animator, first apologizing for bothering him, then letting him know how much his work touched me and Alice.  He replied this morning from England, actually delighted that we loved his work. 

I've noted before that I have the opportunity to walk amongst the gods at times.  That friends and acquaintances are also heroes of mine.  Some give the world beautiful stories.  Others give us excitement, art, music, writing and other forms of creativity.  Some are fascinating historians.  The braver ones teach.  Some make the world a better place just by existing; some by surviving.  The first thing I noticed about Noe was his compassion - it's the thing I value most in people, and something I too often lack myself.  I don't know if it's that famous Aspergian inability to feel empathy; I can't miss what I've never known.  Noe says that my kindness and patience with students was the first thing he noticed about me as well, so there may be hope for me yet.

Awkward as I am, I am sometimes a successful fangirl.  I admire the people I've mentioned above, but I do actually spaz out and get all fangirl on occasion.  Remember in the second blog when I mentioned that I'd found another special focus while living in Hawaii? 

Bae Yong Joon:

Lovely, isn't he? 

Long story, here goes:  When learned enough French in four years of high school to be able to read some literature in the original French: The Count of Monte Cristo is way better in French than in English, as is Le liasions dangereuses (Dangerous Liasons), pretty much going through people's mail in naughty old France.  I was disappointed with the film version, and so horrified with the "Valmont" version that I boycotted Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice for a whole year.  I attended HIFF, the Honolulu International Film Festival with a pal who was originally from France.  She heard that there was a Korean version of the story called "Untold Scandal" and talked me into going, for a laugh. 

This Korean actor nailed Valmont.  I cried so hard at the end of the film, my pal thought I was laughing.   When I got home, I looked him up on the computer, and found his latest pictures:

Dayam!  Waitwait - that's the same guy?  But there's more.  All over Korean restaurants and shops in Hawaii, there was this guy's photo.  He was famous for a Korean Drama (like a soap opera, but limited run and at night) called Winter Sonata.

Again, the same guy.  I was fascinated.  Winter Sonata was so syrupy, but I couldn't stop watching, and even yelled at the screen a couple times.  Oh, that evil Cherin! 

So, I became a fan.  Other fans, or "family" as he calls us, were very kind to me, sending me things from Asia that I couldn't get here.  Then, I found out that he was going to have a fan meeting in Seoul, something very rare for him as he was so famous at this point that he could sell out an arena in Japan in minutes. 

In Korea, the opening weekend of a film, the stars of the film go from theatre to theatre in Seoul, thanking people for watching their film.  There is no official BYJ fan club outside of Japan, but there is a fan club made of people from Korea, and they arranged a Korean-only fan meeting.  Others in the club felt that this was not fair to people from other countries, so they arranged an international Bunggae (fan meeting) the day previous. 

I got a ticket from a friend in Korea, and worked three jobs to pay for my plane fare and hotel.  I flew Korean Air coach, and was treated better than anytime I've flown first class on an American airline in the past two decades.  I stayed at MyeongDong Guest House, like a hostel, for 30.00 US a night, and had a private double bed room with a private bathroom - and Korean bathrooms are cool - it's all one big shower.  I had a fun week exploring Korea, shopping, eating, eating, eating, meeting wonderful people, and of course, seeing Bae Yong Joon in person.   He did his appearance in the theater, then came down the stairs on the side of the stage.  As he came down, he saw me, and smiled in amazement.  At that moment it occured to me that among the almost thousand women there, I was the only white person, and blonde (at the time) at that.  Ha!

It's a happy memory, and I saw him again a couple times after that.  Never talked to him, never shook his hand.  But even if I hadn't gotten to see him, my trip to Korea would be one of the high points of my life, because of the wonderful "sisters" I met and got to hang out with, from Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, many wonderful people.  Korea's fun.  I want to bring Noe and Alice and go back someday.

I came back and started a Hawaii fan club for BYJ, and made more friends and happy memories there.  So, that's my adventures of a (white)Korean fangirl, and that's where I've been.  BYJ, a shy, introverted person, is phasing out of the public eye, and I respect that and wish him well.  He and our "family" will always be in my heart.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm still working out how to do a control journal to help me with executive function.  I've included regular time for blogging in there, but until I'm on a proper schedule, I may have to forego blogging in favor of schoolwork, etc.  Like last week, for example.

This week, I am making a Tiki cake.  Toba Garrett's book has a very distinguished-looking cake, covered with fondant and ringed with royal icing rings connected by small lines of royal icing to form a kind of chain.  Also, there are small scrollwork hearts connected to swags, a random stringwork cap and some smocking.  Very elegant and rather boring.

So, I made my smocking look like bamboo, the hearts into bright green tiki-water-flower shapes, the rings curl into a tiki hut, with the roof the stringwork cap.  The cake is almond cake, which is way too sweet, so I made a matcha (green tea powder) buttercream to go underneath the fondant and cut the sweetness a tad.  I'm working white chocolate Godiva and some cocoa powder into the fondant to make it a sand color and more pliable (Fondant loves booze.  It will do anything you want if you get it drunk enough.)

The next project for the class is our final.  We have to do fondant, some royal icing piping and gumpaste flowers on a wedding cake.  I'm doing a stained glass cake.  The bottom layer is based on Louis Comfort Tiffany's Pond Lily pattern, the middle on his Cyclamen pattern, and the top on Mackintosh's famous rose pattern.  It goes from very busy on the bottom to very simple on the top, and moves upward through decades, culminating in a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired "stained glass" bride and groom topper.  Here's the process for designing the bottom layer:

 First, I found a picture I liked, and imported it into Photoshop.

I trimmed the top and bottom, leaving just the design.  Then I went to Free Transform and skewed it into more of a rectangle shape, cropping the image after I was finished manipulating it.

I then tripled the image and manipulated it to fit into 32 inches, the circumference of the bottom layer of the cake:

Finally, I messed with the color so that it wouldn't clash with the other two layers:

This is a rather weird-looking mockup of how the cake is supposed to look when it's finished.  Except, I promise you, it will look very little like this:

I tested several ways of coloring the fondant the other night in class, and found that petal dust and luster dust with a dry brush seems to work better than gel colors or wet dust.  I found this surprising.  Once the patterns are transferred to the fondant and painted on, I'll line it all with gunmetal gray royal icing.

In Honors English 3, we're studying Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.  It wasn't sad the first time through, but it was the second time, when we took it apart piece by piece.  I'd tell you what the book was about, but the way it's written, the author slowly unveils what the story's about and that discovery is a big part of the reading experience.  He also wrote The Remains of the Day, which I loved in movie form.

It's different in Japanese class.  We're learning Japanese as usual, lots of tests, quizzes and classwork, but no big semester project nor presentation like we did in Chinese class.  Japanese 2 has a different instructor, so next semester might be different.  I'm taking that as well as the dreaded algebra I need to graduate, History of Asian Art, Dreamweaver, and the other cake decorating class (sculpting, etc.).

We spent some of the weekend combing the local Toys R Us stores looking for the Epic Mickey charging station.  We can't find one anywhere, unfortunately.  Oh, I can't wait for the semester to be over so I can play Epic Mickey.  I'm going to miss my professors, though.  I hit the jackpot this semester.

We saw Harry Potter 7A Thursday night/Friday morning at Long Beach Towne Center.  When we left at nearly 3AM, there were people lined from the theater door to the exterior door for the 3:10AM showing, and the mall parking lot was full - I mean, all the way down to the WalMart full.  Amazing.  And they still didn't break any records but their own.  Noe isn't interested in Harry Potter, so he didn't go.  He wouldn't have understood a thing.  I really want him to see my favorite, #3.  I can't force him, but for me, someone not interested in that is like someone not interested in Mele Macs, the most delicious Hawaiian candy ever, just because they haven't tried it.

The high point of the film, for me, was the gorgeous animation in the Three Brothers sequence.  Jerry Beck's Cartoon Brew discusses it today. It was like shadow puppets in water, but better than that!  Even if you're not into HP, if you get a chance to see a clip of it (I'm looking, I'm looking!) give it a peep.

I have a lot on my plate for today, and all I want to do is curl up with a toffee cocoa and coo sweet nothings to my space heater.  Well, I got the blogging done, anyhow.  See you tomorrow. 


Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Disney was King

This enthralls and depresses me:

Many of you don't remember, but when I was a kid, Disney was the king of technology. Before Star Wars, Disney was the world leader in movie special effects. Look at films like Darby O'Gill and the Little People, the Medfield College movies, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and then look at other films of the time that used special effects. Disney rarely looked cheesy, and, to those audiences, the special effects were amazing.

When Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out, Disney was relegated to playing catch-up, with copycat The Black Hole the norm and TRON the exception. Now, Disney's films are full of CGI-laden special effects, and we are amazed. It's amazing to see how far computer animation, an art form pioneered by Disney, has come. I remember seeing Glen Keane's work in the early tests for "Where the Wild Things Are" and marveling at the (now considered primitive) clockwork in The Great Mouse Detective.

The theme parks echo this. Disney was the unquestioned master of theme park attractions, and then, somehow, they lost their way. Movies were considered superior to audio-animatronics because they were relatively cheaper to produce and operate. Universal began creating attractions that matched and, in the case of The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, surpassing Disney. David Mumford told me a funny but depressing story. At WDI, before they do the actual model of an attraction, they do a paper mock-up. When they took out the charming Kitchen Kabaret to replace it with Food Rocks, one of his friends working on the attraction makeover showed him the show's progress. "That mockup looks good," David said, "when are you going to start on the model?" His friend replied, "That IS the model!"

Sigh. I saw the show once; that was enough. Um...the lighting was good. The lighting was very, very good. Yep. Good lighting. If you want to see the difference, you can look on YouTube or get one of Jeff Lange's excellent DVDs. World of Motion, a charming Ward Kimball trip through the history of transportation (and that catchy tune, "It's Fun to be Free") became an attraction where unpleasant thing after unpleasant thing happens to you, capped off with a wild trip over the employee parking lot at the thrilling speed of...well, about ten miles per hour less than you take to work. But the turns are banked! And don't get me started about Imagination. Seriously. Who thought of that? I'd like to kick him or her firmly in the shins. I wouldn't, of course, but I'd like to. David oversaw the rescue efforts for the attraction, along with the incredibly talented Larry Nicolai and the rest of that fantastic team, but the intro is still gone.

See? I do like to complain. But I'm not some kook yelling alone in a field. One of the most popular shirts at Epcot is one with all of the old symbols on it. Disney's answer to this was to release more "vintage-style" EPCOT CENTER shirts, but they're not reading the message: people really love that old stuff, because it was good, high-quality entertainment, with original music and characters, and the education tempered with fun. Horizons was my favorite attraction, because it echoed back to one of Disney's triumphs of the past and a good memory for me, Carousel of Progress, and was full of hope for the future.

But the people who came up with this:

are still there in the company, as far as I know.

Depressing, isn't it?

I think tomorrow I'd better just blog about some of the many things Disney does right, for balance.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Girl, Interrupted

I embarrass my daughter. Yes, I know. Every 16-year-old on earth thinks that their parents are embarrassing idiots. She gets all of that "normal" idiocy, plus my not-so-endearing ticks, like interrupting, rocking and talking endlessly about my Special Focus (right now, it's WDW).

I have to write a paper based on Never Let Me Go - it's a good book, but she wants us to keep a log of our reading (I finished it) and make special notes for the direction we want our essay to go. OK, but she has yet to give us our prompt, so I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for. No one else in class said anything, so I'm given to think that either they understand or they don't want to ask. I'm going to ask when I see her tomorrow.

There is a Cambodian community in my city, but that's about it in terms of major Asian population. I found three - THREE - separate Japanese-themed free publications at my neighborhood Ralph's. I can only assume it's because Bixby Knolls has a higher weeabo population than the rest of the city. I have no idea.

I'm working on designs for my final for cake class; I'm doing an arts & crafts stained glass-inspired cake. Can't think about what to do for the topper. Roger and I threw together my "fake" wedding cake for cutting in about fifteen minutes. Seriously. Neither of us had ever touched fondant before. It didn't turn out TOO bad, but oh, is that pink ribbon hiding a myriad of faults!

We served a sheet cake that was white cake with triple-berry delight filling (they couldn't do it for stacked cakes and we figured better to taste good than look good) and white chocolate shavings. I hear it was delicious. Good!

I apologize for the short blog today, but I have to go make an almond pound cake in class.

Here's something from the olden days: Remember my old April Fool's jokes? This was my favorite, I think. Before the ride was announced, a dear person sent me some photos of the model for Everest. I decided to show them without showing them. Many people who read my blog that day didn't understand why I was talking about Hot Wheels and Science Fairs (that's lucky student C. K. Dexter Haven, the winner, with his volcano), some laughed, and one picked up the phone and SCREAMED at an acquaintance of mine. Oh the fun!

Cake photo by Trevor, unbelievably bad photoshops by me.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Sometimes, my husband will spring an unexpected bouquet of my favorite roses. In younger days, I didn't care for cut flowers - beauty cut down in its prime and all that. Now, I love them. I decided to give Noe a dozen of a different kind of "rose": A 12-pack of Ashanti Hot Wing Sauce. Wait, this is actually going somewhere. I have a pair of best pals, both of the male persuasion. Never been anything sticky there, never will be. They are Jon and Roger. Roger was visiting with his most excellent Mom and brother, we were in DCA, and we wanted a nice lunch that wouldn't break us. I suggested the bar above Ariel's Grotto. Lunch was good, and Noe, who is a finicky eater (oh yes you are) mentioned that he really liked the wing sauce.

One of the things I love about Disney is that if you really like something, they'll give you the recipe. I asked our server about it, and he disappeared into the back. He returned with the name of the sauce they used: Ashanti. I'd never heard of it. For the next few days, I kept my eyes peeled when shopping, but finally had to go to the Internet. I'm not a big wing person, but I like the sauce on fried chicken.

Last night, we worked in Pro Cake Decorating class with chocolate fondant, modeling chocolate and royal icing. I like the 4-3-2-1- marshmallow fondant recipe, and after it's aged a day you add cocoa powder (Dutched is best) and some chocolate liquor. I had none of the Godiva Toba Garrett suggested, so used some Bailey's chocolate mint that was laying around. That's it. From now on, no matter what, I'm feeding my fondant booze to make it happy, because it was wonderfully easy to work with last night. I was "hot" last night...I'm not a Wreckerator (anymore) by any means, but I'm no Jessika Ramos (btw, that's Pierre Jues, my chef instructor, on the previous page). Here's the result:

My MIL jokingly said, when she learned that I was making a chocolate fudge cake, that I was to put her name on it (meaning save it for her) - as part of my royal icing work, I did so, in script instead of lettering. This cake nailed me my first perfect score in the class, and my chef instructor is a renowned French pastry chef who is not an "easy grader".

I'm taking a different cake decorating class next semester, focusing more on sculpture, airbrush and more "stunt decorating". For my four foundation classes, I'm taking Japanese 2, Algebra, History of Asian Art and Web Design. When I taught Web Design classes, we used FrontPage. I think I need to catch up a bit.

I need to buy a 0 tip and 1 tip this week - my smallest round tip is a 3, which is a bit too big to do nice detail work. I really, really love the tiny detail work, much better than the buttercream scrolls around the border of the cake and all that. I'm going to make decorated sugar cubes and see if I can sell them to the local tearooms and gift shops. When I was a teenager in Hawaii, my friend Mariko Takemasa (now Ikagi) sent me some Christmas sugar cubes. I was enchanted. I never used them; I thought they were too pretty. Now, I can make them!

We can't swing a Disney cruise for a while, unfortunately, and there's a huge billboard above the GameStop that I see every day, mocking me. It will be docking in LA in January, and I would like to lay eyes on a DCL ship. I am considering going to San Pedro to see if we can take a few photos of it from land while it's docked there. The first day, I think, is Jan 23. I'll have to double-check.

Japanese class got canceled (this is why I check my email on my Blackberry every 2 1/2 minutes) so I'm going to catch up on homework and help out my parents.

I am not a big TV watcher, though I love The Big Bang Theory and a couple other shows, I saw two commercials that got my attention. The first was for Union Pacific, which I was surprised to see, and the second was the new Alka-Seltzer commercial - Speedy is back! I hope they keep him.

In closing:


Monday, November 8, 2010

Memory, Opinion and Truth

One of the "funny" things (depending upon where you're standing) about Asperger's Syndrome is that Aspies tend to believe everything they are told. I'm a little better at sifting now that I know better how my mind works, but you'll still catch me saying "REALLY??" way too much. (Usually followed by "Oh. Oh, yeah. Of course I knew you were joking.")

I was so torn back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I'm really glad that huge chunks of that time have disappeared from my memory. Undiagnosed, and with no clue about AS, I was frantically trying to keep my head above water. I wasn't too bad, I think, at "passing" as merely eccentric. I taught myself to study someone's retina so that they would be fooled into thinking that I was making eye contact. People in the Disney community often wear name tags; if I was reminded of the first name, I could often follow that in my leaky memory by their last name and what they did. I was absolutely certain of something, then absolutely certain of the opposite after listening to or reading someone else. Disney was wonderful. Disney was horrible. Why, if Disney is so horrible, do I still love Disney? Because Disney is wonderful. Doesn't even make sense to a neurotypical when put that way, does it? It makes my head spin even now.

I hated the cutbacks and scrimping on quality for the sake of an easier buck. I also hated the endless negativity, sniping and complaining. I got sick of doing it, and I got sick of hearing it. I couldn't figure out which Imagineers were giving me information because they wanted the fans to have the excitement of the defunct Preview of Coming Attractions that I loved so much or if they had axes to grind and agendas to promote. I didn't know who my friends were. Later, I found out.

I moved back home to Hawaii, and was working long hours in a bunker on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor with the NMCI-ISF. I stepped away from Disney, returning for the 50th anniversary kickoff refreshed. It was nice to look at Disney without a jaded, angry outlook.

In the meantime, I'd found other things to interest me. I had a brief Special Focus on Harry Potter, and made good friends at Draco Dormien. At the end of Book 5, Minister Fudge refers to "Lord....Thingy" -he didn't want to say "Voldemort", who got his moniker by anagramming his name, Tom Marvelo Riddle, into "I am Lord Voldemort". I anagrammed "I am Lord Thingy" and got "Royal Midnight". That was my character's name and a few account names had that, too. I also dropped 40 pounds, dyed my hair blonde, got blue contacts, and dropped the Michelle for Shelly. I wanted a new start, and I got one. I even came upon a new Special Focus that sent me halfway around the world - but more on that another time.

I went back to Walt Disney World in January 2001, after being away for five years. I don't remember much of it. I just have to write it off to all the stress I was under at the time. I don't even know where the photos are that I took, but I remember that I borrowed the camera from someone very, very kind at MousePlanet. I know that it was a gentleman, but don't remember whom.

I now write, on occasion, for Jim Hill Media, which Jon Nadelberg and I started back in the Dark Ages and Jim bought from me before I left for Hawaii. I retain 5% and right of first refusal for most West Coast stories/events. He and Nancy have done an amazing job. I'm jealous, and proud, and thankful it isn't me having to do all that work that they do. What makes me happiest is that finally, all those great stories of Jim's are getting heard, and because he doesn't have a slant (though he's constantly accused of it, sometimes "you hate Disney" and "you're a Disney lackey" from the same exact article!) when something negative pops up, it isn't "the boy who cried 'wolf'" and is taken a bit more seriously. Richard Kaufman's points are backed up by solid evidence. He has no axe to grind. He also knows what he's talking about.

I got weary of trying to armchair-quarterback what a dead man would have done, and even more weary of others doing it. Walt Disney's daughter says that even she didn't know what he was going to do next. If she didn't, and his brother and people who worked closely with him didn't, then how the hell do you know if he'd be offended by Indiana Jones in the Parks or would have or wouldn't have or wanted or didn't want? He had an innate sense of what people would like. That made him an exceptionally rare creature; most people can't do that.

This, however, is not a valid reason to slap the Disney name on any piece of crap and wait for the money to roll in. If you're going to try to do what you think Walt wanted, just remember that he was always willing to spend money to make sure something was done right. And while you're at it, don't twist his words to back your cheap-ass agenda:

Awesome! What new, cutting-edge attractions HAVE you done since 2005 with all that moolah you saved?

Nice try, but people do notice. But they also keep coming, stating more with their purchases of annual passes and Sunday lunches at Rancho del Zocalo that Disney can keep doing this and they'll still come back and spend money. The stockholders will be happy, and that, as a public company, is Disney's primary concern. Is that the right thing to do? Depends. If you're a theme park historian or even a guest expecting highest possible quality for price paid, no. If you're looking to make short gains on your stock or get that profit-based bonus, or, hell, even try to keep your job at Imagineering, then, yes, it's the right thing to do.

Still sucks, though.

Is Disney horrible? Sometimes. Soarin' over California at Epcot? Seriously? Tom! Stand in the corner! Is Disney wonderful? You bet! My daughter Alice raved about Tangled; she said it was as good as "How to Train Your Dragon", and for her, that's saying something. The ad campaign (and name change) had me pretty worried - but a far better person than I had similar fears a few years back:

Here's what I do: spend accordingly.
When I have (rarely, I'm a full-time student) discretionary income to spend on Disney stuff, I steer clear of the crap and vote with my dollars for the good stuff. This is why you'll rarely see me in a Disney Store nowadays when in the late 80s I used to haunt the place, blowing paycheck after paycheck on wonderful books and collectibles. I understand it's looking less like KB Toys lately, and might give it a peek. I lean away from prefab trends like pin collecting and Disney vinyl. It seems like a money tree for the not-very-creative; collecting for collecting's sake and a knock-off of the Urban Vinyl Movement. Make something that touches my heart, memory banks or funny bone, is useful or at least brings genuine joy, and you're more likely to get me to set the moths free from my wallet. Experiences are another thing I'm fond of, shoddy memory or no.

Lastly, if you're writing about Disney and you're angry and miserable, there are other things out there. Be happy you're not living in a tent in Haiti and go look at my pictures of Lotte World's Snow White Castle Walkthrough for a giggle. Find something that brings you peace, makes you happy, and isn't Disney. Then come back and be delighted. Or not. But at least your eyes will be fresh. I'm lucky, though. When I start to feel like the world is against me, I remember the Happy Troll Song my husband Noe taught me:

"I'm the happy troll and you can all go to hell."


Thanks to Tim O'Day for helping me figure out the blog's name.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fab Speaks

I decided to start blogging again in response to "Autistics Speaking Day"...but I didn't get the blog done on time; it was yesterday.

But let me tell you why: I had a paper to write up notes for in Honors English 3 on the links between emotion and reason and morality, especially in the film Frozen River. The movers came with my parents' furniture (and some of my old stuff, too). I packed my husband's lunch and helped get my daughter off to school. I had class, ran errands - including grocery shopping and supplies for my night class - picked up my daughter and had a nice talk with her, got ready for class, learned a lot of cool things, went home, ate dinner, and went to sleep.

At no time did anyone or anything "hold me hostage". I was not, you may note in the paragraph above, ruining my parents' lives nor making them want to kill me. I was not taken, I was not stolen, I was not locked up nor locked away. I was not being a burden to my poor, put-upon parents, nor was I, to the best of my knowledge, breaking their hearts nor disappointing them.

In the end, how it worked out turned out for me to be the best way to acknowledge Autistics Speaking Day: I lived my life.

My name is Shelly Valladolid. I have Asperger's Syndrome. My special foci are Disney (especially Walt Disney World), the World's Columbian Exhibition of 1893, and Korean actor Bae Yong Joon (though that's fading a bit). Others come and go, like computers is gone now, but they usually come back later. I've been married to a wonderful man for a month and a half, who understands me and have a 16-year-old daughter from a previous attempt at marriage. I write for websites and go to school.

I think neurotypical society is rather stupid at times and marvel at the fact that some people think it's better to be obsessed with buying shoes and reality TV than with Disney and technology. I'll never understand how it's "tragic" that a teenager would rather paint Warcraft models than get drunk and sleep around.

I also have really strong opinions. Just a warning for the easily offended.