Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Room: The Review

The Room is a "film" I've waited to see for quite some time. It's been floating around midnight screenings in Hollywood and New York since 2004, but Netflix just made the experience available on DVD two weeks ago. Naturally, I had the thing queued-up months ahead of time, but when that little red package finally showed up, I didn't watch it for another ten days because I figured two things: 1) I shouldn't watch it alone, and 2) I had to watch it with the right person/group of people. Both turned out to be accurate assumptions.

Set - for the most part - inside a curiously decorated apartment, The Room chronicles the dire results of a love triangle gone bad. What happens when a man's best friend starts sleeping with his fiance? Apparently, nothing much. This movie - originally marketed as being "infused with the intensity of a Tennessee Williams play" - was written, produced, and directed by Tommy Wiseau, the same creepy narcissist (you'll see what I mean if you watch) who stars in it. Conceived as both a stage play and a 500-page novel, Wiseau spent seven years illegally (?) raising funds for his "passion project," the result of which is a film so awful I've already almost watched it twice (I just couldn't make it through the fourth lengthy sex scene the second time around).


I don't know what I could say on here about The Room's imbecilic production, staggeringly awful final cut, and various celebrity/cult followings that Wikipedia doesn't already cover, so I'll just add my own opinion. Did I like it? No. Did I enjoy myself? Hell yes. At first I didn't know exactly how to react to what was happening onscreen, because - as is the case with all super shitty movies - it takes a while to acclimate to the craptastic quality of the proceedings, then turn those elements into a barrel full of laughs. Once you start, though, you won't easily stop.

Everything is just. so. horrible.

Characters who are never explained appear out of nowhere (literally) to finish the dialogue of other actors who walked off set, seemingly important plot lines ("the results came back positive... I have breast cancer") are introduced and then never referenced again, and time passes, well... funnily. The worst part of the whole thing (and, paradoxically, by far the most amusing), though, is Tommy Wiseau's portrayal of Johnny, the lethargic, long-haired, white-assed, clueless, suspicious, happy-go-lucky, and ultimately suicidal protagonist. He mumbles. He screams. He cries. He shows his ass... a lot. I can almost understand why Wiseau spent so many years dragging this project to fruition: he definitely comes across as caring very deeply about the subject matter, even if any sane audience might think there is none.

And there's so much more awesomeness involved. For serious. See it, or risk having your life remain exactly the same as it is now, with the addition of the two hours you didn't waste watching The Room. I know what I'd do.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

7-11 hot chocolate really is the best. And it's made with genuine hershey's!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar: The Review

I figured this post should begin with a list of midnight movie premieres I've waited in line for, if only to establish my nerd level. Please note that friends dragged me to at least a few of these:

- LOTR: The Return of the King
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
- The Village (looong story)
- The Dark Knight
- Avatar

Of the eight, Avatar was far and away the least serious operation. Sean and I - along with several of his friends - showed up 35 minutes early and were, like, fifteenth in line. We also got some beers past security... hell yeah! No one was in costume, and no one seemed to really care about the film. 3D glasses, though, make everything more fun, so we messed around a bit with those to while away the time - all 10 minutes we had to stand outside the auditorium.

After securing perfect seats (and lamenting over the pitiable size of the movie screen) I took the first of two bathroom trips (the second was a very, very difficult choice, because I didn't want to miss anything) and then Avatar began.

So how was it? Well, the visuals were astounding. I could see it three more times just to bask in the glory of James Cameron's masterfully rendered 3D universe. Everything seemed so... real. And immersive. It's like I was there, man. I couldn't tell from the film's previews if the special effects were going to satisfy my relatively high standards, but I'm happy to report that not once did I notice anything shoddy looking. In fact, about halfway through Avatar's 2 hour, 41 minute running time, I forgot the blue aliens onscreen were computer generated. Same with the jungle monsters. And the jungle itself - even during night scenes when all the plants lit up and glowed in proper trippy-ass fashion. I was pretty much drooling.


The story and dialogue, though, were completely predictable. I knew exactly what was going to happen the entire time, down to who was gonna switch sides at the last minute and who would be either injured or killed in which battle. But I can't really hold that against something that was otherwise so freaking sweet. Seriously. Go see this movie. It's an experience. Guaranteed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

3D: The (far from) Final Frontier

So my brother surprised me this afternoon with tickets to Bend's midnight showing of Avatar in 3D. Initially, I had mixed feelings about seeing James Cameron's new film on anything other than a certified IMAX screen, but it turns out the only "IMAX" screen in Oregon is less of an IMAX screen and more of a glorified run-of-the-mill movie auditorium that boasts a slightly larger film ratio... and that's it. These counterfeit IMAX experiences were big news a few months back, mostly because the average moviegoer has no idea they are being duped by paying more for only a slightly crazier cinematic trip.

Having seen both The Dark Knight and Watchmen in 100% legit IMAX auditoriums, I can attest to the difference the awe-inspiring screens provide for a viewing. The image before the viewer is literally SO big and lucid that it's all-consuming. There is no alternative but to become completely immersed in the world of the film. And that's what I wanted with Avatar... especially since it's in 3. Freaking. D.

But alas. I'm relegated to the meager technological wonders of Oregon, and I'll take what I can get. Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on what's about to go down...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And So It Begins

It's no secret to those of you who, like, really know me that for the past several weeks I've been in something of a downward spiral of panic, terror, despair, and complete uncertainty (all in equal measure, no less) regarding my life post-July. Who the hell is going to employ me? How the hell am I not only going to get to, but make it in some big city or another? Is this the point in time where I should throw in the towel, accept a life of begrudging mediocrity, and start working for The Bulletin's Community Life section? Or do I keep on thinking that I can pretty much accomplish whatever as long as I'm driven, and then drive myself right into the deepest, most penniless hole this side of that other deep, penniless hole? The former seems secure in what it would provide, the latter terrifying in that it promises nothing but further uncertainty.

I guess when I put it that way, I know which path I'm taking.

But that means lots more hard work. I need to prove, well, something to someone, the point of all this being that this blog address is going directly under my phone number on any and all resumes I send out to any and all possible employers. I mean, who wouldn't hire someone that's capable of updating a blog almost daily?

Which, of course, means I need to start updating this blog almost daily. But for seriously, this time.

Also, because no magazine or whatever is going to hire me to write summaries about what I've been up to for the past several weeks, my posts have got to start critiquing/exploring/commenting on things that are NOT my own existence. So expect changes, dear reader(s?), and expect them soon. Within a day, perhaps.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Top Tens (2000-2009)

I'd like to preface these lists by stating that I was twelve years old when 2000 dawned, so I probably missed a lot of important goings-ons in the earlier part of the decade. Still, though, this is my blog, so deal. Also: none are in any particular order.

Movies:

- Wet Hot American Summer
- Donnie Darko
- The Royal Tenenbaums
- Almost Famous
- Children of Men
- Synecdoche, New York
- The Dark Knight
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
- Into the Wild
- Milk

TV Shows:

- Six Feet Under
- Arrested Development
- LOST
- 30 Rock
- Mad Men
- Deadwood
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- The Comeback
- The Sopranos (technically began in 1999, but whatevs)
- Stella

Albums:

- Funeral, Arcade Fire
- Neon Bible, Arcade Fire
- Apologies to the Queen Mary, Wolf Parade
- Silent Alarm, Bloc Party
- Oracular Spectacular, MGMT
- Chunk of Change, Passion Pit
- I am the Fun Blame Monster, Menomena
- Is This It?, The Strokes
- Parachutes, Coldplay
- Chicago, Sufjan Stevens

Things/Events:

- Finding out about terrorists/the resulting chaos
- Sasquatch! Music Festival
- Coming out
- New Zealand
- College
- Working at Disneyland
- Any and all camping trips (including that fateful Reed one)
- Beating Dajuan for the position of Student Body President
- My kickass friends
- Apple products

Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's Saturday Night!

And the term is over. I successfully spent the past three weekends in: Vegas (a composed level of crazy), Portland (a seriously out-of-control level of crazy), and Bend (where absolutely the only thing out of control was the amount of food I ate). Otherwise, not much has gone on. I settled avidly into a strict wake-up/coffee/class/library/ gym/food/more-library routine that, while not providing many (read: any) memorable instances, certainly made the time pass.

A note on the seasons in Eugene this year: they've been exquisite! I think we've had, like, maybe nine days of rain in total. The rest have been either absolutely sunny or foggy, with little (read: no) in-between. My grades this term have in no way reflected this trend, so I figured it would be appropriate to talk about them in the same paragraph. Never before have I done so mediocrely! We'll have to see if I end up on top... I'd like to think it's a possibility, but at this point I just can't be sure.

Awesome movie to see: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Awesome book to read: The Devil in the White City

Awesome TV show to watch Online via Netflix: Party Down!

**Apparently I'm a bit behind the times on 2/3 of these "awesomes," so bear with me if any/all of them are old news.

Also, I was writing the first part of this post from beside our house's fireplace (the only nice feature of the entire place), and Chris walked in with some friends. He asked what I was doing, and I replied, "blogging."

To that, he responded, "Oh cool! I didn't know you blog. But I hope you're not writing about how we just rearranged our living room furniture, because that would be, like, the lamest thing to blog about ever."

So now I'm blogging about how we rearranged our living room furniture. I think the whole thing is pretty unpleasing from the perspective of any sort of aesthetic standard (much like the various empty beer bottles Chris - in a stroke of "genius" - previously positioned in a jagged line over the mantel of the fireplace), but who am I to shit on someone's style?

After my only final exam this Tuesday, I'm flying back down to Anaheim to hang out with all the people I left behind in the Disney College Program. It's going to be a good time. I can't believe I'm headed back. I'll finally get to experience the Nightmare Before Christmas-ified Haunted Mansion! Bah!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Continuity's Sake...

I present the fifth and final installment of this "Mysteries of the Universe - The Dharma Initiative" documentary produced by ABC in promotion for it's sixth and final season of LOST. In my opinion, the documentary's segments went way downhill after number two, but I can't just leave you all hanging in regards to what happens, can I?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vegas!

...tomorrow. Today, meanwhile, was another wet one. I spent most of it in/around the library, reluctantly making copies of online articles, hunting for books, conversing with this one dumb lug who always has to be way too nice to me, drinking far too much coffee, and then peeing a proportionate amount of times. Oh, and then during workshop for my Kidd tutorial program we made this 31-year-old lady cry about her piece. She wouldn't stop. For over an hour. It was rough to watch. Must have been even worse to be her.

And now I'm back at home. It's 11:45 pm. I'm spending most of my time at/around my desk, reluctantly making copies of online articles, hunting for the ones I printed out earlier, typing a post for this one dumb blog that I always have to be way too behind on, drinking far too much water, and then later (I'm sure) peeing a disproportionate amount of times for it being the middle of the night.

But my bag is packed! And I know where I'm going! Which is just about enough to pull me through the next 16-ish hours. Turns out I've got a room all to myself Thursday evening at New York-New York, while Sean and the rest of his friends stay further down the strip at Treasure Island. The parents don't even show up until Friday. What the hell kind of trouble am I going to get myself into alone in Vegas for a night? The right kind, hopefully.

Except that hopefully isn't a word, because one literally can't be 'full of hope' as a descriptor for the way they want something to turn out. Kind of like how "decimate" actually refers to splitting something into ten pieces, and not blowing it to smithereens.

This is me being a barrel of knowledge. Don't we all love it?

all: "Yes, AJ, we love it!"

Very good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I love This Guy!

You've probably all seen it before, but here are some cool pictures of 3D sidewalk art, courtesy of Julian Beever. Enjoy!









There are a LOT more on his website. Google the dude.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Hook of a Title...

... to pull you right in. Not much has happened since last time, other than that I'm utterly sleep deprived for reasons that neither make me too studious nor addicted to coke.

Wait.

Was that too jarring a drug reference for an extended-family-friendly blog? Perhaps. (I seriously don't do coke. Jesus!) But it was either that or no post at all today. Just kidding. I probably could have begun by talking about something else, although it's far too late for that. We're already three (?) paragraphs into this shit!

Otherwise, school is, like, really hard. Except I'm not doing any of the work, so I don't know how it's still so hard! Again, just kidding. I am doing some of the work, but only enough to keep me sitting pretty on a pile of 'A's come week ten. I realize some of you might now deduce that I'm actually working very hard to keep up decent grades - and a pile of them, no less! - but that simply isn't the case. Here's the deal: I'm a Senior now, and I know how to do what I need to do to get by, then stop. Seventy pages of literary analysis from the course reader? No thanks. How about I read the first and last paragraphs just before class starts? One insightful comment later, and I'm on the professor's good side for a whole two hours!

Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Oh, and this weekend is Halloween, and all my friends are coming back into town! And Natalie Portman's Shaved Head is playing for free on Friday night! And I've got a sweet costume figured out! Bah! I feel I'm about one exclamation mark away from totally damning my good time, so I'm gonna quit while I'm ahead. It's off to the bars for me% *

*what I'm going to start using when I feel like I'm one exclamation mark away from totally damning my good time from now on.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thesis Crap

So on top of all the other madness that's been going down lately, most of my free time has been consumed by this horrible thing called a Thesis Prospectus, which is due in four days. Then, on November 4th, I'll present this prospectus to a jury of Honors College peers (oh God) and my thesis advisor for signed approval to begin the actual year-long project.

As such, I haven't really blogged much. What I figured I could do, then, is kinda just cheap out and copy and paste onto here the "subject" section of this fourteen-page document so you'd all know what I'll be stressing over until late May. This way, if anyone has any brilliant ideas as to any direction I could take either the research or creative portions of my final thesis project, you can let me know!

Enjoy?

Subject: I intend to explore the subject of family life in modern America, as it might be analyzed in postmodern literature. Technology – and, specifically, its increasing relevance in daily life through media, the Internet, and various methods of communication – will play a large role. The point of collision between these two most crucial elements of the 21st century is what I’ll attempt to capture through my writing. The end result will reveal how increasingly difficult it is to remain a sociable, multi-dimensional human being in an era glutted with devices and concepts that aid us in doing anything but.

In selecting an appropriately charged nexus between the issues I’d like to address, the implications of reality media (I’m hesitant to limit this discussion just to ‘reality television’) trumped all other frontrunners. It’s a law of physics that the very act of observation changes that which is being observed. What happens, then, to an identity when it is continuously subjected to the nameless face of an ever-present spectator? How would any sane individual react to their private life becoming public? Does this shift adversely affect interpersonal relationships? When considering our need for social interaction, is the family unit the only remaining milieu capable of functioning without technology’s aid?

Americans already spend a great deal of time both maintaining and tracking inauthentic digital personas. We are a society governed by a need to interact, but the methods through which we’re choosing to do so are only succeeding in isolating us further. Social networking sites – including Facebook, Twitter, and the Blogosphere – are beginning to compensate for a legitimate, authentic understanding of other human beings. Even our own personal mannerisms, interests, and daily activities – in short, that which makes us each uniquely human – are being converted into lists, links, and streaming news feeds that serve as hypersensitive testament to the knowledge that we’re all on display, all the time. Coupled with our increasing propensity for personalized entertainment – we’ll watch it when we want, where we want, how we want – and the technological means for turning everyday reality into near-instantaneous Youtube sensations, the line between spectator and spectacle is blurring.

Our collective consciousness is now more aware than ever of an all-seeing presence that governs who we know, how we behave, and what we desire. Media is defined by everything, everywhere, all the time: it’s life. The world, William Shakespeare once wrote, is a stage. As of 2009, his metaphor has taken a distressingly literal turn.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

In Other News...


Apple iphone. Allowing dumb people to act smart since 2007.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Nuckin' Futs

Sometimes, life is just crazy. Or, as my former NZ roommate/queen-bitch-of-the-universe Shannon likes to write it, CA-RAZY! (and yes, I seriously just lifted her version straight off of facebook. Man, how I despise that girl!). I've got shit-tons of schoolwork that I don't want to do, even more people I want to hang out with but don't have the time for, and a whole future staring me dead in the eye, daring me to blink (which is the only thing I do a lot of, in this metaphor). About all that's left is for me to sit real complacent-like in the here and now, blissing out on the good stuff while it lasts.

Also, it's 1:02 am as I type this sentence. There are a group of wasted girls ten feet outside my window, shouting about some sorority and wondering where Ali went. One of them also has a rather nasty cough.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Passion Pit Postponed!

And so begins another night of aimless drinking. We even had people coming into town for this one! Guess the living room's in for a bit of a senseless beating.

Speaking of drinking in the living room, the other night my roomie Chris had some of his sophomore/junior friends over for an evening of wine and enchiladas around a roaring fireplace. Precious, right? As it turned out, the enchiladas took two hours longer than necessary because no one had a glass baking pan, I was the only one in the house with any wine, and the fire... well, the fire worked well, effectively ruining my planned description for a trifecta of disaster.

Also, can I just comment on the obscene amount of quality television shows we're being subjected to these days? I now present an exhaustive list (because if it's not on here, it ain't good): LOST, Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Glee, Bored to Death, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, and Modern Family. If you aren't watching, get to it. If you are, you've seen, you've heard, you know. What more is there to say?

I feel like this post has been a bit of a cop-out. My apologies. Maybe I'll post something better when things start going well... except for television, which is already ahead of the curve.

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Buddy Jeff

So today I have a treat for you all: a picture of my friend/hallmate/Anaheim-shenanigans-cohort, Jeff.

Jeff hails all the way from some little town of 200 in Michigan and is currently still slaving away in the Disney College Program as a server at Frontierland's River Belle Terrace. He's also the one who, in his childhood, named his pet gerbil Brandy (after the singer), his turtle Rosie (after the talk show host), and his cat AJ (after the Backstreet Boys singer).

Take a GOOD look at this picture and, should you ever run into him, don't tell the poor sap I ripped it off Facbook.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On the Seinfeld Reunion...

When I was younger, Seinfeld ruled the Earth. My dad loved it, and although the show's blatant obscenities, sexually propelled plot lines, and overwhelming narcissistic tone were all definitely taboo topics in the Evert household, I was still allowed to watch Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, and George screw each other over every week.

We laughed. We stared in horror. Often, my Mom frowned. I learned that shrinkage was normal, freeballin' was super fun, and that not only was masturbating a common adult activity, but that if you abstained from it for even a 48-hour period, you'd win lots and lots of money.

Although plots grew more outlandish as the seasons progressed, when I heard talk of a final episode, I felt devastated. No more Seinfeld? Say what now?

The series finale - broadcast on May 14, 1998 - unfortunately coincided with one of my brother's little league baseball games. I sat on the sidelines, horrified, as inning after inning brought me ever closer to missing Seinfeld's waning glory. Even worse, my parents didn't seem to care! Their allegiance to the show: a scam. As I whined and complained and devised elaborate methods for my brother to get home without us, a neighboring parent grew tired of my shrill, 11-year-old voice.

"I'll take Sean home, Shannon. Let this kid watch his fucking show."

Thank you, Jill Fincham!

And when all was said and done, I sat, mortified, in the living room. Seinfeld... over? The group... incarcerated? Disappointing, guys. Very disappointing.

But then eleven years marched by, each one forcing my face a little further into the mud that you should all visualize right now as just below my life's invisible timeline. And so now here we are, in 2009. Terrorists attacked. College (pretty much) happened. I know what HBO is. I know a guy named Larry David even exists. Most important, he's staging a Seinfeld comeback! And it's being billed as an "anti-reunion!"

If someone had sat my fat little self down in 1998 and said, "Don't worry, AJ; a really, really long time from now there's going to be more Seinfeld in store for you, but it's going to be better than ever and by the time it happens the eleven years between then and now will have seemed like nothing at all," I would have ran away and hid in my closet. Thank God it didn't happen.

There's a lot more I could say about the crazy nature of this whole situation (like how I randomly happen to have free HBO for the exact three months that this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is airing... creepy!), but I won't because I'm hungry. Plus, I've got some Seinfeld to watch! Hell yeah!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Loud Sex

So my roommate Josh has this terribly annoying Canadian fuck buddy who spends most of her time staring at me awkwardly/talking about how much she hates America/being a total annoying bitch, and when she's not doing any of those things, she's in Josh's room having loud sex.

But first I should probably clarify Josh's role in this whole thing. He's short, has a Minnesotan accent, smokes constantly, sports a potbelly, is a grad student in Chemistry, and is basically the last person on the planet you would ever want to imagine having loud sex in the room next to yours.

As I type this, Josh is in the living room with this girl from up north. She's moaning like crazy, saying things like, "Ohhh, God!" and "Ahhhhh, Josh! Ahhhhh!" And then "Ohhhhhhhhh!" again and again and again. I have my music on, but there's pretty much no hope in blocking her fucking obnoxious voice. Even when they're not screwing around, she's really, really loud.

Not to mention the spanking. It turns out Josh is a spanker. He likes to spank swift, and he likes to spank loud. I estimate the spanking will begin about fifteen minutes from now. Mark my words. I'll be sitting here, typing out the last sentence or two of this post, and all I'll be able to concentrate on is the brutal snap of flesh on flesh that will resound, like a dense library book dropped on a tabletop, from twelve feet over.

How did this guy get this girl? Why would any guy put up with such a girl? What kind of crazy, drug-induced euphoria is spurring such a repulsive attraction? It's like train wreck sex: I don't want to concentrate on the sounds, but at the same time I can't turn away.

They've already moved to the bedroom. It's explicit, what's going on, and I dont feel that further description will do any of us a favor. Just be glad you aren't here. I know I wish I wasn't.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chucked Out!

So classes began yesterday, and today I was kicked out of the graduate seminar that I've been super excited for ever since last year. Apparently, the creative writing department frowns on undergrad students taking classes with graduate students who also happen to be that student's teacher during the upcoming school year. It was a giant mess, and I'm more than a little disappointed - that 607 class was my ticket to highest education, man! - but everything else seems awesome so far, which is spectacular.

Otherwise, I'm failing at updating this thing every day. I have no defense, aside from most of the time what I've got to say isn't worthy of recording. Also, the first week of school each year, in general, tends to leave me feeling rather pessimistic and hopeless. It's a malady that usually subsides by week three, but until then I don't feel like spreading what I've got. Stay away, patient readers, and take heed: playful spooks will materialize only if you remain safely seated with your hands and arms inside your doombuggy at all times.

Okay, that last bit I stole from the Haunted Mansion. Sue me, or a ghost will follow you home!




Alright, that too.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mwahaha

I just re-discovered phone-to-blog! Posting daily has never been easier! Loophole!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Failure! Already!

So I realized last night when I signed in to my blog at two am that I'd already let a day go by without posting (even though, in my opinion - and as long as you haven't already fallen asleep - two am on Friday should always count as really late on Thursday). I even had this funny plan to just copy and paste a blog post from My New Zealand Thing and headline it as "On This Day In History...," because I actually did post an entry last year on September 24th. Genius, no?

But whatever. Nobody's perfect... except for usually I am.

I spent the morning working on a story at Cafe Roma, which I can already tell is turning into some kind of sick tradition. If I'm gonna torture myself daily, though, it might as well be at a really good coffee shop, right?

Then I bought course books at the Duckstore... all two of them for Fall Term. That's right, folks, a total of TWO MEASLY BOOKS are assigned for all FIVE CLASSES I'm enrolled in. I don't think I need to let you know that as an English/Journalism major who's also interested in Creative Writing, I usually end up schlepping more than my fair share. What's the deal, here? Should I feel gypped? [also: did anyone know that 'gypped' is the proper way to spell 'gypped'? I had my suspicions, but was also rooting strongly for 'jipped' until I looked it up. I guess the whole derivation of the word as a negative connotation with Gypsies really comes into play here.]

Oh, that's right, THIS is the deal: I only need two books because I'm gonna spend so much freaking time writing! Senior year apparently means you're beyond the point of reading other people's crap and have reached the threshold of needing to produce your own. Terrifying...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Clarity (specifically, a particular moment therein)

After my panic of a post yesterday, I decided it actually isn't too unrealistic to establish some goals for myself this year. Maybe we can all just think of it as a nine-month-long version of Lent, except for I'm actually doing it to better myself and not just make chocolate bunnies on Easter taste really good. And I'm kind of setting these mandates myself, as opposed to following the fancies of some guy who lived 2,000+ years ago and is sending me to hell anyway.

That all being said, my updating this blog DAILY is one such resolution. That's right, folks, DAILY.

Of course, at some point - and in the throes of laziness - I'll probably just post a hyperlink to some dumb LOST article or another... but not all the time! So check back soon! Check back often! Watch me crash and burn! Say, "Wheeeee!" with me!


All: "WHEEEEEEE!"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Forget. Disneyland. That was, like, a month ago!



I'm a Senior now!



And it's going to be fun! And I'm going to write a lot! And exercise. And boost my GPA. And update my blog regularly? And think seriously about my future...?

Wow. I gots a lots of shit to get done. Maybe I should update my blog less. And maybe not think so much about the future... that word's scary. And maybe I can exercise and write on, like, an alternating daily basis. I'll write on even days, and exercise on odds! Except during weekends. Weekends don't work. And neither do Thursday nights, usually. And some Wednesdays. Maybe I'll just stick with what I've been doing. It's seemed to work pretty well, so far.

Except I'm a Senior!



And I can't just sit idly by while a future that promises to disappoint sneaks up. I gots to get goin'! I want Success! And riches! And power. And minimal responsibility. And lots of vacation time? And a summer cabin...?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back in Bend

My trip home from LA was eventful. I visited Sleepy Molly at Hermosa Beach, the highlight of which was a restaurant named Sharkeez and its unlimited mimosas/chips and salsa bar that comes with every breakfast purchase. What a steal! Otherwise, Molly slept... a lot. And so the moniker "Sleepy Molly" was birthed. Fun times.

San Francisco was super fun, as my dear friends Simone and Katelyn went out of their way to ensure a dull moment never dampened our good spirits. Basically, this meant watching a lot of LOST, drinking a lot of cheap beer, and laughing over inanities (yes... it's a noun. Look it up! [I had to]). Although our attempt to sneak at least two of the three of us into a showing of District 9 backfired, and the weather insisted on remaining cold and windy for my entire four-day visit, we took to the streets every night like the brave vagrants we (read: Simone) sometimes (read: often) resemble(s), and I couldn't be happier about the cavalcade of poor choices that made each sojourn at least slightly memorable.

Driving into Oregon made my Thursday afternoon - minus the speeding ticket. I love trees! And mountains! And toothless Klamath Falls gas station attendants! And single lane highways! And Gilchrist... oh Christ, Gilchrist! Since my return, I've pretty much just been staring out my bedroom windows at the trees and mountains and soaking it all up. Also, I finally went and paid to see District 9, which was both incredibly intense and violent. A must see!

Today's my 22nd birthday. I don't know why I'm sitting here updating my blog, but it seemed pertinent. My parents took me out to breakfast at Alpenglow. I'd like the record to show that neither wished me happy birthday until the second time they saw me this morning... I mean, I know I'm not supposed to let little shit like that get me down on such an awesome day, but who the hell doesn't wish someone a happy birthday (especially when that someone is their own son!), like, the second they see them?! Strange...

Otherwise, Disneyland kicked ass. I'm still retrospecting the whole thing, but I think for now I'd just like to say it was a trip and a half. Maybe even a trip and three-quarters.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's All Happening

So I'm halfway packed and the apartment's halfway cleaned, which is halfway closer to hitting the road than I expected to be from the vantage point of earlier this morning. Leaving Anaheim kind of snuck up on me, like a thief in the night. As some of you may recall, my return to the US from Dunedin arrived after a several week countdown, and I was more or less ready to get the hell out of New Zealand (great as it was). This time, though, I have to say goodbye to Disneyland, which is always rough. When I walk out of work tonight and slip through the Cast-Members-only secret entrance, it'll be for my last time.

Maybe.

Yesterday was unofficially my "last," and by that I mean some of the good friends I've made here called in sick so we could head to Universal Studios for a taping of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, followed by running wild in Disneyland with a fistful of Readmission Passes (what you get when a ride breaks down and you're on it, which basically entitles your group to front-of-the-line status on any attraction of your choice, and what Attractions Cast Members pretty much get for free when they collect them from the sweaty clutches of greedy tourists during work). The line for Conan spanned 3.5 hours of my life, necessitated the consumption of 2.5 slices of pepperoni pizza, and allowed for a Scarlett Johansson sighting. The show was incredible; I sat right behind Max Weinberg and discovered what Conan actually sips from his coffee cup. Not water. Not coffee. But Diet Coke. Robin Williams as the first guest pretty much stole the show. Guy's crazy.

And Disneyland, as always, was magical. There really is no place else on Earth where you can wander through an utterly convincing jungle outpost and still hear the cacophony of Fantasmic entertaining 7,000 guests just down the path.


I'm not sure how any other job could ever manage to stack up against this one. Seriously. Office cubicle? Say what now?

Tonight's my last Splash shift. When I clock out at 12:30, I need to return my costume, my ID card, and my parking pass. I'll no longer be in the system. Am I okay with this? I suppose so. But the walk out is going to be a bit tragic. Tomorrow after my housing inspection I'm headed to Hermosa Beach for a day, then up to San Francisco for several more to visit Simone. Wohoo! I plan on being back in Bend around August 20 or 21, depending. Also, I know this last post kind of fell flat past the first few sentences, but I've got to get to work!




Narrator's voice: And so it was... the end of his Great Disneyland Adventure.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

For Fellow LOST Fans - "Mysteries of the Universe"

These videos complement certain elements of the [best show on] television, LOST, particularly the DHARMA Initiative. A new installment will be released every month until Season Six's premiere in January. They're effectively creepy. Watch in order!

Part 2:


Part 1:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Nine Days Left

It's 2:44 p.m. on Friday, August 7th. I'm in gym clothes. I did not go to the gym.

Work looms - the 4:30-1:00 shift (which, I just realized, is nothing I should complain about to relatives, given we all know the ugly, late-night backside of a front desk counter) - and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. On one hand, I do enjoy walking lost and found goods to the drop box at Main Street's Fire Department after closing; on the other... well, there really is no other. I fucking work at Disneyland!

I don't know what else. Yesterday a simple ride stop for a lap-sitter escalated when a girl split her head open during the evacuation, a buxom woman dropped her Juicy Couture sunglasses into the flume, and Yours Truly discovered a Brer Rabbit animatronic hydraulic fluid leak, which necessitated the help of maintenance. We were down for two hours, all because some crazy dad wouldn't keep his kid by his side.

And I also attended a two-hour Imagineer lecture on the current California Adventure expansion and makeover, up to year 2014. I'm contractually obligated not to say anything about it, except that it was [insert appropriate adjective here] (which is exactly what the confidentiality papers I signed instructed me to write, not an attempt at humor... I don't think bracketed statements are funny).

I'll post again before I leave. For now, though, this is what you get. Like you're all so disappointed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Me In Costume

I'm only sharing this because I'm in one of those moods. I took it with the intent of cropping it into a Splash Mountain photo, but that turned out to be way difficult/I don't really have the time, so...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Picking My Nose and Staring Out the Window...

... Is NOT what I was doing when I came up with the title for this blog post. At any rate, the last week has really been insane. My good friends Bird, Caitlyn, Sarah, and Ben all came to visit me and run around Disneyland during the same two day span, so my 48 hour break from Splash Mountain was spent within a half-mile proximity of the attraction waiting in line for everything else. By the end of my Tuesday/Wednesday weekend, my feet were blistered, my good spirits exhausted, and my work week just beginning. I've only now begun to recover. We had a great time, though, and many shenanigans were had. Bird and I even treated ourselves to a spendy lunch at the Blue Bayou before everyone else showed up.



Otherwise, I've been working. And working. And working. My detestation of the "Base of C" position has sunk to new depths, as my previous least-favorite shift, "Merge," has proven itself manageable once the cast member responsible for its functioning knows what the hell they're doing (read: I've been at Splash for over a month now and am no longer fresh-faced to the ways of its world). "Merge" consists of standing at the point in line where the Fastpass and Standby guests collide, which is about 100 feet away from the load station. By this point in time, Standby guests have been waiting in line for anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes, and they've been watching Fastpassers whizz by them at disconcertingly unfair rates. So, when I heave my bulk in front of the Standby line to stop its flow and allow an obscene amount of Fastpassers to cut - just when it seemed there was nothing left to obstruct the Standbyer's from their logs - people get PISSED OFF. Like, seriously pissed off. They swear. They push. They spit. It's not a fun time. I've heard so many lowly stories of how long people have spent waiting for Splash Mountain now that all I can do when I hear a "new" one is stare in bemusement.

Anyway, my new system is this: stop both lines until there's practically no one in front of me (but not so few as to give the loaders no one to work with), and then let in the Standby line up to a designated person who I've picked ahead of time that's standing at the bend in the rabbit hole queue. Everyone after this person has no idea what's going on, because they can't see me until they've rounded the curve. Then, I stop the Standby line again, wait for the area ahead of me (my "buffer zone") to clear out, and let in everyone who has a Fastpass. The official ratio of guests I'm supposed to allow past me at a time is 45 Fastpassers to 5 Standbyers, which is a ridiculous proportion and not one I follow. My system allows for at least 20 standbyers to every 45 fastpassers, and it hasn't backed up on me yet. Wohoo!

In other news, my roommate Kyle totally sucks. He wasn't too great a sport about three of my friends sleeping on our floor last week, and since then I've said three words to him (which were: "hey," "okay," and "night" [as in, "goodnight," which I found too appallingly long a word to communicate to him with, and so abbreviated for my own sanity's sake]).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Base of C

There's a position in Splash Mountain called "Base of C," during which one cast member is paid by Disneyland to sit in the dark recesses of the lift hill that pulls logs and very-much-suspecting guests up to their final plunge. The job of this individual is to stare resolutely at a small monitor that screens each log for lap-sitters or standers and, if they spot one, to enact a manual ride stop, enter the view of the guests with a flashlight, and stand there shouting until whatever was an issue has been fixed. Whenever I'm stuck at Base of C for inordinate amounts of time, such as last night, I start to go a little cuckoo. First of all, there's the vulture spiel playing directly over your head, on repeat, for however long you're down there.



"Everybody's got a laughing place... looks like this one's for you. Wait 'til you see what happened to that old Brer Rabbit... he learned his lesson alright... but I'm afraid he learned to late! Laughing place... we'll show you a laughing place... right up here. If you've found you're laughing place, how come you aren't laughing?"

x 400.

Guest response to these animatronics varies according to age and weight. Little kids cry or scream. Fat little kids laugh back in an obese attempt at cleverness (because the vultures have just asked them why they aren't laughing). Dads stare, entranced, at the mechanical gadgetry displayed before them. Mothers are usually too busy either shielding their sight from a drop that's still a good thirty seconds away or scrambling to secure all personal belongings to notice what's happening. Minorities swear (not being racist, here, just observing and making rash generalizations), and inappropriately skinny adults (read: chain smokers or meth heads, but like there's really even a difference, right?) flip them off. The same-old, same-old nature of this position gets tiring quickly.

Plus, from where I sit, I can watch the logs pass by from the corner of my right eye, which positions myself firmly to the left of their track. On the video screen, though, my view is an overhead one, with the camera perched just above the vultures. Seeing each log from two unique perspectives gets my mind all cracked out on the nature of reality/existence/whether or not I'll still be sane by thirty, and I wig out a bit. Plus, on the far left side of the monitor's image, I can see the entrance to the recess in which I sit, and sometimes I stick my foot out a bit so that I can see my own foot on the monitor. Me watching myself from a distinctly removed position - while also watching logs from two contrasting perspectives - doesn't go over too well. I leave each Base of C shift feeling dizzy and confused, or, as I've taken to calling it lately, "confizzled."

Go ahead, try it! It's fun, I promise: "Confizzled."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some Crap About Time Going Fast

I keep meaning to update this here thing, but the minutes in my days keep whizzing past at a positively alarming rate, and before I know it the next day's already gone by, followed by the next, etc...

Which leaves me at this here point right now, doing my best to follow suit. Work's become more all-consuming, as I've finished my group shifts for Fantastmic crowd control and am now on Splash Mountain eight hours a day, five days a week. Everyone's really nice, but it's an exhausting job dealing with so many thousands of people every shift. I've had two formal "conversations" with New Orleans/Critter Country management about clocking out incorrectly, which means one more and I suffer the repercussions of a mandatory, documented "coaching" session! Otherwise, my actual leads all like me. They say I'm "chill" and that I should know it's a good sign if they talk shit about all the other cast members in front of me. How am I so good with authority?

Simone visited for the last two days (shout out to Simone... my one official visitor so far!), which means she had to drive all the way down from San Francisco to spend a day in the park. All you whiny Oregonians, take note: true friends don't let mileage matter. We experienced 25 attractions, including every major ride in both Disneyland and California Adventure. Now that's some serious theme-parking! Several mini-escapades ensued, but for the full stories you're gonna have to talk to one of us in person.

On another note, I won four tickets to the Conan O'Brien show on August 13! I'm so stoked! And that's all I have to say about that.

Anaheim grows hotter with each passing day, which, if you read my intro paragraph, you should know means it's getting exponentially hotter. I'm so hot! Our dishwasher broke, and no one's exactly done dishes for about the past five days, so the kitchen's a mess. Consequently, I'm eating out more, which means burritos for every meal! Just kidding... not.

I don't know what else I should report about the behind-the-scenes goings-on in Disneyland. Honestly, I'm beginning to think I should maybe keep it all more magical for the rest of you by staying quiet. I mean, who wants to know that the delicious smell of waffle cones drifting from main street's ice cream shop is fake? Or that Mickey Mouse is almost always played by a young girl?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Egads!

A list of things I didn't find savory about today (presented in the order I type them):

- Waking up tired.
- Cleaning my roommate Kyle's accumulated toothpaste spit from the bottom half of our bathroom mirror.
- Having to be extra quiet all morning so as not to awaken/interact with said creepy roommate.
- Spending $24.80 on lunch at Bubba Gump's (which, by the way, is NEVER worthwhile, no matter what ANYONE says, ever).
- Discovering our new roomie is Kyle's "BFF" from upstairs, whose room flooded when the room above it broke their washing machine.
- First laying eyes on said new roomie's extra thirty pounds, snaggletooth, hopelessly-pulled-up white socks, and eager demeanor.
- Not getting an afternoon nap.
- Working Fantasmic crowd control from 5:30-10:30 instead of Splash.
- Guarding not one, but TWO "suspicious packages" for a half an hour apiece until the bomb-sniffing dogs made their way across the park.
- Getting caught texting as I exited the Fantasmic break room at the end of my shift, which is a BIG no-no On Stage.
- Spilling ketchup on my shirt as I ate In-N-Out (alone) in my car.
- Driving for at least two minutes on a busy commercial street at 10:50 pm before realizing I didn't have my lights on.
- Not being able to find out what smells like some girl's period in my bedroom right now.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm Not A Puppet, I'm A City Boy!

So I haven't said much about Anaheim aside from the living/breathing/eating Disneyland aspect. My apartment is in Carnegie Plaza on the Center Street Promenade, a convenient two blocks away from City Hall, Anaheim Ice (home of the city's hockey team), and a massive police department. We've got 24/7 security, palm trees lined with Christmas lights, and aesthetically pleasing fountains right outside the lobby. I'll never again live in a nicer location, and although I'm pleased with where I've been placed, I feel kind of cheated that this was my "immersion" into big city life. I mean, come on! I'm practically on vacation, here. Where are the shady neighbors? The suspect immigrants? The figures who make me walk more briskly?



Oh, that's right... they're just across the street. Aside from providing a spectacular view of Disneyland's nightly fireworks show, my living room/bedroom windows also look out over a mini ghetto that's sandwiched between a gas station (also arguably a vital element of said ghetto) and a suit broker. People walk around, shout, set off car alarms, and curse at police cars all through the night. It's actually a fairly relaxing background noise to fall asleep to.



What else, what else? There are a ton of really cheap mexican restaurants around. For $4.99, one can purchase two fish tacos, rice, beans, and chips and salsa... now that's how you spell "steal!" Also, when Steven left a few days ago, I didn't realize how much of the necessary shit around our apartment (knives, washing machine detergent, coffee filters...) was actually his. It's gone now, and I can't even cook food because I have nothing to chop a tomato (or any other vegetable that requires chopping) with. Also, I'm beginning to realize how incomprehensibly uncultured (read: simply not exposed to anything... at all) a LOT of people from Middle America are. What goes on between East and West Coasts is seeming scarier and scarier by the day...

I passed my PA (Performance Assessment) for Splash Mountain on Wednesday after my initial attempt was interrupted by a ride breakdown/evacuation. I had just finished my tower evaluation (where all the buttons and security monitors are) when the breakdown alarm sounded, setting in motion a thirty step reset operation that I was less than prepared for. Regardless, I did well, and now I'm an official Cast Member! Last night, though, I had to work crowd control for Fantasmic, which was awful. Four hours of shouting to "stay to the right... please... folks" is monotonous at best, and boring at worst (just because "monotonous" is so much more exciting a word than "boring," if that makes sense at all). And now I gotta head to the gym before my 6-12 shift, so I'm out for now. Take it easy, everyone.

AND COME VISIT!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Well... That's All, Folks

He's gone and done it. After high-tailing it back from Vegas (where he was married...) for a hearing, my crazy roomie Steven is fired. From Disneyland. From the program. From California in general. He's got until noon to leave.

The crazy bastard. I'll miss him.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson is Dead...

...Will be the title of my next short story, even if the plot has nothing to do with Michael Jackson. Seriously, though, aren't we living in a sort of alternate reality now that he's gone? I mean, nothing's going to be quite the same again. Very strange indeed. And to think I heard the news from some kid who was in line ahead of me at the Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream Shop in Disney's California Adventure. Nutsacks!

My training yesterday went well (I just realized when I typed this sentence that seeing as this will be a many-days-in-the-making entry, my yesterdays/todays/tomorrows might [read: will] become totally skewed as time progresses). I showed up at the Cast Member Parking Lot on Wednesday with no idea what to expect, and left equally baffled. Met up with a fellow CP trainee named Sam (of the female variety), got lost looking for the flagpole behind Space Mountain where we were supposed to meet our trainer Diane, and then hung out awkwardly in the shade. I was geeking out hardcore (and have been ever since) about everything backstage, which made for a surprisingly tolerable working relationship with both my cohorts, who are decidedly blase about anything Disney-related. Diane was a cool trainer, though, and we spent the day sitting at the "Inn Between" (a cast member cafeteria in between Main Street and Tomorrowland) downing curly fries and rice krispie squares. She's a sleek asian in her mid-twenties and spent a lot of down time locating split ends, staring at her fingernails, calling everything "hot," and rolling her eyes/making a disgusted face whenever a visibly dorky cast member tried to interact with us throughout the day. Not what I expected, to say the least, but I have to say the general backstage air is a far less happy one than what I'd been expecting... except for me, of course. I ran around in glee for the entire eight hours and eagerly waved at any other cast members who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Seeing Buzz Lightyear walking around without his head on and Cruella Deville traipsing hand-in-hand with Jasmine does take a while to get used to, though.

When we weren't at the Inn Between, we squirreled away at West-Park Headquarters, which is a cramped mess of offices and hallways that snake their way around the top stories of the Adventureland/Frontierland restaurant buildings. Or we were watching the parade. Or learning how to direct traffic for Fantasmic. Or being forced to wear lanyards filled with collectible trading pins so that avid (read: freaky) guests would swarm us as soon as we walked Onstage, thereby forcing us to interact with adults and children alike and learn firsthand how to honor the SERVICE model (Smile, Eye contact/body language, Respect and welcome, Value the magic, Initiate guest contact, Create service solutions, End with a thank you). At first I was alarmed by the amount of attention a bunch of ridiculous little pins made me receive, but then it got kind of fun because kids would absolutely freak out if I happened to have the one they were looking for. And some adults came up to me with massive books that shelved row after row of carefully organized pins for trading... they weren't so fun.

SURREAL MOMENT #1: At the end of the day, I headed back behind Space Mountain to Disneyland's massive costuming department to check out a second costume for myself. The place was nearly empty, and I walked alone among massive rows of costumes that stretched from floor to ceiling and even dangled from roller-coaster-like moving rails that swooped shirts down from shadowy corners at the press of a button (think: Powell's City of Books combined with Monsters Inc's Door Factory). The warehouse literally had no distinct end that I could see. Anyway, I had to walk around looking for proper costume elements while "My Girl" pumped from the building's sound system. I don't know why, but it was very, very strange.

And then that night Steven threw a rave in our apartment, fell asleep drunk at 3:30, woke up just as drunk at 7:30, shouted in front of a bunch of Disneyland cast members on the shuttle to Team Disney Anaheim about how wasted he was, got detained at security, and is now suspended, awaiting the results of his urine/blood tests. None of us think he's gonna last much longer... especially after LAST NIGHT'S party (I'm writing this portion like four days after I started this post... don't get confused).

I had to be back at Disneyland at six am on Friday to begin actual Splash Mountain training, which required me to get up at four to meet the trainer, Laurenzo. Splash Mountain is basically much, much crazier than it looks up front, and three days later I'm still learning that my initial conception of some cast members guiding the line and a few more pressing dispatch buttons is NOT what it takes to operate the ride. We first had to learn start-up procedures and evacuation routes for all lifts and drops, of which there are four and three, respectively. But it's not as if everything's clearly labeled. While it may seem like common sense as to where the drops and lifts are as a rider, from backstage there's absolutely no telling. A complex series of hallways, tunnels, catwalks, staircases, and dark stretches must be navigated every time entry into the mountain is warranted. And then there's the Merge point, where fastpass and standby lines collide, at which point the standby people are usually more than a little pissed off that I have to allow 45 fastpass holders through before I can allow 6 of them entrance. And then there are a bunch of other really, really confusing things, but I could never hope to type them all and even if I did you'd all read them and go "yeah, yeah, sounds real tough, AJ," and still have no idea about how hard it actually is because lets face it, empathy (and even sympathy, for that matter) is a dying emotion in today's day and age. You'll all just never really know, and I guess I'm gonna have to leave it at that.

Yesterday was more of the same... kind of. 4:45 am wake-up call. Breakfast on the way to the car. I had to create my own themed spiel for rear dispatch, as well, and it goes like this: "welcome back, lumberjacks! Go ahead and zip on out. Next group, drop on in! Watch your steps!" It doesn't sound hard, but I also have to open and shut the entry gates, which have to be cleared of people who don't mind the yellow line. And keep my fingers at all times on the red emergency button, in case a kid runs out of nowhere and into a dangerous situation. And I have to screen the front row for riders under five feet tall, which aren't allowed. And I've got to remind people about holding onto their hats and glasses, if they have them. And then I've got to press the green "okay" button within thirteen seconds of all the rest of it happening, so really my little spiel is the last thing I'm concerned about and it's really hard to do when I'm just scared of killing someone somehow by doing something I'm not supposed to.

And then there are all the other positions I'm still learning, but I won't get into those. Some thoughts:
- Michael Jackson music videos have been playing repeatedly in the Splash Mountain break room (which is up inside the mountain), because a lot of the older employees actually consider him a respectable human being. I think I kind of missed out on the stretch of time during which he actually had a music career and didn't just look like a monster who molested kids 24/7. Seriously, though, watching him slowly transform from video to video into a hideous beast is even scarier than all that werewolf bullshit in "Thriller."
- I'm exhausted, Hence a lot of this probably not making sense.
- Disneyland at 6 am is a magically empty place. Except for all the delivery trucks driving around everywhere. Watching them scramble for backstage as an 8 am park opening approaches is crazy. There's lots of honking involved.
- Disneyland has around 10,000 employees working every day and 5,000 every night.
- I had to perform an actual ride evacuation yesterday, which was insane.
- Come visit!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Splash Mountain!

So I found out today (and after eight more hours of [paid] lecturing) that I'll be working on Splash Mountain all summer! The reasons I'm very happy about this decision:

1) Splash Mountain is one of the best rides. And it involves water.
2) There are lots of trees in its surrounding landscape. Trees = shade.
3) Good music. If I could choose any attraction music to listen to repeatedly for ten weeks, it'd be Splash Mountain's.
4) There's a Laughing Place involved.
5) It's in Critter Country, which is pretty much the backwoods of Disneyland. Hardly any guests!
6) My costume consists of: khaki Carhartts, a flannel shirt, and suspenders. Basically, what I already wear every day. Except for the Carhartts. And the suspenders.

The meetings today were fairly mundane. I learned more about how to keep the magic alive during my workday (read: playing a "part" AT ALL TIMES). Also, I'm afraid I'm going to be peppering casual Disneyland conversation from now on with terms like "Backstage" and "Onstage" and all that good stuff. It's like when people come back from studying abroad and call their houses "flats," except this is legit because I fucking love Disneyland and have been waiting to say stuff like this all my life.

This afternoon's highlights included eating lunch with a 70-year-old security guard named Smitty who regaled me and a bunch of other dorky College Programmer's with tales from Disney lore that he personally witnessed. I was enthralled. Smitty has a bit of a hearing problem, though, so the conversation was pretty much one-way. Also, on today's more extensive tour of the park we visited many more backstage locations, including the area right around Space Mountain's backside that houses Disneyland's bomb-sniffing dogs. They're pretty cute.

A few more things:
- I'm not keeping a journal this summer (wow... writing that out made me feel incredibly guilty, and I can already feel my future self kicking my current self. Is this a bad idea? Give me advice...!) so my blog posts will be much more frequent, if not tell-all.
- My first actual shift requires me AT splash Mountain's base by six am. This means I've got to be up at, like, four! And I'll be in the park before anyone else!
- I'm still not tired of Disneyland!
- It seems a lot of you are pretty intrigued by my roommate Stephen's antics, so I'll keep posting about the crazy shit he gets into. Last night's story: he washed his two custodian uniforms (which are required to retain their crisp white color) with a ballpoint pen... that exploded sometime during the dry cycle... and ruined absolutely ruined both of them. For the remainder of the night, he ran around the apartment, screaming in his high-pitched southern accent, "My life's a shambles! My life's a shambles!" It was funny to watch.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three Things...

...My roommate Stephen (a custodian) has (unintentionally) done this week to sabotage Disneyland's established goals of creating magic (presented in order of increasing chaos):

- Letting go of a massive dumpster as soon as he got backstage, then watching it roll downhill into a tunnel and plow over a Mickey who was walking to Fantasyland to sign autographs.

- Throwing a cigarette into a trash bin, which then started a trash fire, which then necessitated the Anaheim fire department's aid. Said aid vehicle then got a flat tire, which necessitated another fire truck to take its place, all of which caused a large crowd and some amount of panic.

- Pulling up massive amounts of green tape off of Main Street, which had been placed there specifically to delineate the afternoon's parade route, and causing half the floats to run into the sidewalk/each other/performers, which forced the parade to stop prematurely.

Needless to say, all other custodians are ashamed.

And I'm very, very impressed.

Traditions

So the last two days have been all about getting to know the Disney company: learning to point directions with two fingers (because one finger is rude in some cultures), discussing how to bring even more magic to a child's park experience (hint: kneel to their level and treat them like a prince/princess!), chatting it up with all the people I tried avoiding the first day (networking is everything), forgetting to shave and then being forced to upon arrival at the Team Disney Anaheim complex (one's face must remain squeaky clean), and memorizing whether safety, courtesy, magic, or efficiency is more important (for the record, that's the correct order). It's been loads of fun. Loads.

But seriously, it has been loads of fun! The Disney College Program so far is like the study abroad experience I never had. Last night I met my other two roomies, who threw a party for me the moment I walked into our apartment. They're both named Stephen; one is a cool Asian kid from San Diego who kind of flops across whichever seat he's on, and the other is a crazy loud flamboyant southern guy whose voice would certainly induce headaches if everything he said wasn't so funny. Last night at 1 am he marched out pulling a dolly and a massive rubbermaid container to get more beer from down the street. Yes, he keeps a dolly and a massive rubbermaid container in his closet for situations requiring them. He also lost all his money in a madcap, 36-hour trip to Vegas a few days ago, so I have no idea what he's about to do next.

This morning I woke up at 7 am to dress in business attire and attend our Traditions class, the last boring seminar of the college program. Green shards of glass from smashed Jagermeister bottles littered the living room's hardwood floor (I don't know what happened after I fell asleep last night), and there weren't any clean dishes for me to make breakfast with. But I digress. Let's fast forward to 1:30, right after I'd eaten (discounted) lunch at the (backstage) cast member food court, which is filled with old memorabilia from the park's defunct attractions. We split into small groups in order to tour the park. My group leader informed us to pocket and turn off cell phones, spit out any chewing gum, tuck in our shirts, and follow her. We walked several hundred feet from the building I've spent the last three days in to a massive cement wall lined with support beams that held strangely familiar green hills atop them. This was the backdrop for Toontown!

A small mirror next to the gap in the wall we walked through had the slogan "remember to put on your smile... and check your teeth for food!" printed over it. I turned a sharp left, then a sharp right, and exited the turnaround in the middle of Toontown. People milled everywhere. Music was playing. All of a sudden, and without warning, I. WAS. IN. DISNEYLAND.

I'd like you all to take a brief moment and appreciate the magnitude of this milestone in my life. I don't want to toot my own horn here, but I'm 21, and I never actually thought I'd get to walk into Disneyland through any other entrance but its front one. And here I was. In the middle of the park. Wearing business attire. Freshly shaven. As if I'd apparated. I remember having to catch my breath after the shock of it all subsided.

I don't think it's ever going to get any better than that exact moment.

The tour was awesome! And on the way out we took another cast member exit through Frontierland that involved a massive tunnel and a glimpse at the backstage corral where all the horses are kept. Kickass! Plus, I made friends! After I met my family for dinner at Goofy's Kitchen (the menu of which, by the way, is starting to be a little too kid-friendly for my tastes), I met up with some people to go to Disneyland for the evening. I used my snazzy new ID card to get in for FREE (and I later used it for a 20% discount on a soda!). My dad followed me to the park entrance to get a photo of me using the ID for the first time, which was only minimally embarrassing, and then I got to hang around the park all night! And there was no big rush because I'm gonna be here all summer! Kickass!

Anyway, there's a lot more I could say, but I'll sign off with this for now:

- I still don't know what ride I'm working on (but I find out Monday... I think).
- I can see the park's fireworks show every night from my bedroom window!
- One of the guys I got to know today, Jeff, had a bunch of pets when he was younger; a gerbil named Brandy (after the singer), a turtle named Rosie (after Rosie O'Donnell), and a cat named AJ (after the Backstreet Boys singer). I'm definitely not the craziest one here...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Eating Quiznos by Myself, or: When Dreams Come True.

So it's 7:36 pm on Thursday evening, my first of sixty in Anaheim, California, during which I'll experience the Disney College Program. I've already learned to refer to myself as a "CP," and I've heard rumors I'll receive zero respect from full-time Disneyland cast members (employees, for the layman) because that's just the way things go. Right about now I'm realizing I could be much more clever with all this, but I've been up since 5 am and my eyes are burning, so bear with me.

The first thing you'll probably want to know is how fast I made it from San Francisco (where I spent the last two nights at Simone's - hey, Simone!) to Los Angeles, and I'll tell you right now: five hours. I heard rough estimates and hard-edged assertions from friends, family members, and drunk members of other people's families that I'd be on the road anywhere from four to eight-point-five hours, and I can now claim that five hours is the appropriate time frame. My left arm is very, very red and sore right now because it was hanging out the window for the duration of the drive, and I didn't account for early morning sunburns - one of the worst kinds of sunburns, if you ask me.

If anyone wants to visit me, here's what you do: drive down I-5 until you reach exit 111 in Los Angeles. Take it. Turn left onto Lincoln Ave, then right on Anaheim Boulevard. You've found me! I'll be waiting in room 208 of Carnegie Plaza. It's just off of an enormous living room/kitchen, complete with hardwood floors and granite countertops. My room could be a bit snazzier, but I think a lot of what's detracting from the "oomph" is my (as yet unseen) roommate's half of the land. He's got a pillow and a single white blanket wadded up together on top of a bare mattress. And there's a wrapper for a vibrating condom in his garbage can. I know because I look at such things.* He also seems to have had one of New Orleans Square's street artists paint a picture of himself... for himself. It's sitting just behind his desktop computer, and he looks like he might be alright. We shall see.

The other two roomies are located on the other side of the living room. I don't know anything about them, except for that they're both guys and one has DVDs of the musicals "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera" out by the television... You do the math.

Orientation so far has included a lot of puzzled maneuvering inside a cramped apartment that's been converted into an office building of sorts. I sat alongside a dozen other confused individuals on beanbags as we watched "Cars" on an enormous flat screen and waited our turn to run the gauntlet. I provided the small talk because I'm way less terrified of this whole situation than I was with my Great New Zealand Adventure. I mean, my plane to Dunedin landed in a field occupied by sheep and cows. I felt isolated and depressed almost immediately. And it was cold. So, so cold. Here, the happiest place ever is literally two miles away, and you can see the tip of the Matterhorn and the Tower of Terror from a decent vantage point right down the street. I'm in my element and I don't care who knows it. Plus, for once I enjoyed not being the one who looked seconds away from tears as the brutal reality of the next few months blossomed.

A few more things:

I kinda made some friends(!)... But then botched it up during an awkward hallway goodbye after one of the orientation meetings.

There's a dishwasher in our apartment!

I'm almost positive I'll be working in Critter Country (I peeked at my on-screen information during initial registration). This means I'm either manning Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, or the Davy Crockett Adventure Canoes. Here's hoping for Splash...

My cell phone is totally busted! And I need it to live!

Until next time...

*Though, to be fair, it could just have been a gag gift from what I assume may have been his birthday (there's a huge cake in the fridge).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"X Conference" full of XXXX!

As my one avid reader may recall from a blurb posted in late April, the annual "X Conference," consisting of a panel of UFO researchers and aficionados, was held and recorded live by cnn.com on the morning of April 20th. The researchers declared they held proof that our world's governments were in contact with extraterrestrials, and that the Obama Administration had until the end of May to admit to the public what was going on or else they'd be taking the information elsewhere (possibly to the French, but exactly how or why remained vague).

Anyway, I'm posting now to state the obvious: these people did NOT live up to their word, and I'm very disappointed. It's June 10th, and I want me some aliens! The level of embarrassment involved for all "X Conference" attendees right now must be through the roof. I mean, they seemed pretty adamant about what was going on. How much longer do they think they can keep making annual declarations before the public just stops paying attention? Poor show, guys. Seriously.


^^This is what a room full of fools looks like.^^

I promise this: next time these crackpots hold a public forum, they won't convince me... again. Unless it's held on the morning of April 20th... again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Toilet thought #2: my neighbors are having such a party that their music is vibrating the very water i'm perched over! lousy 8 am final...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Toilet thought #1: god, i love my bathroom time.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Things I Recently Wikipedia'd

- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
- Passion Pit
- Tracheotomy
- Tracheostomy
- Cascadia
- Voyager Program
- Voyager Golden Record
- Sir Gawain
- Xenia, Ohio

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Must... Post... Update

Wow. Maintaining this thing is, like, really hard. So here are some pictures of neat stuff:


^^ David Foster Wallace! Go check out Infinite Jest right now.


^^ That's my curly head on the far left.


^^ Alec Baldwin as Generalissimo, Jack Donaghey's evil Spanish soap opera twin, on 30 Rock.

Until next time!

Friday, May 15, 2009

And the Contest Winner is...

Simone!

Cathleen and Lara both tie for a close second, but I just really like the handstand imagery that Simone's definiton evokes.

By the way, DO NOT google image search "naked handstand." Especially with SafeSearch turned off.

^^ Mr. Hanky and Nugget, Christmas Poos

Thursday, May 14, 2009

David Lynch's New Project

On June 1, David Lynch will present Interview Project, a 121-part documentary series featuring 3-5 minute portraits of ordinary Americans from all over the country.

Commissioned by Lynch, and compiled by a team of filmmakers who criss-crossed the states gathering dozens of personal histories, the series - to be premiered every three days throughout the year until next June - is available only at interviewproject.davidlynch.com, but you'll find an exclusive first look at the very Lynchian project - introduced by the man himself - only here at Minor Fiascos:

Update: fuckin' hell, the thing won't work. Here's a link instead:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid3737074001?bctid=23165842001

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Testing... Testing... Phone to blog is a go?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Contest! Contest!

So it was decided last night by people powerful enough to decide such things (read: Genny, Katelyn, and ME) that the term "chocolate bunny" is far(t) more suitable a name for a sex act than it is for the popular Easter confectionery.

I put it to you then, dear readers, to come up with the specifics of this act. We're inventing history, here.

Be filthy. Ludicrously so. This shit aint no Cleveland Steamer, 'ya hear? Submit responses as a comment.



The winner gets a chocolate bunny.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Awesome Trailer!

Check it out:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/sony_pictures/district9/

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Coolest Commercial Ever

I'll let it speak for itself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5mM7EGR1oI

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All of a Sudden

“It’s just I’ve never seen any woman maneuver her salad dressing so expertly as to avoid it touching anything else on her plate.”

“Right…”

Tom sits adjacent Phoebe, gaping down upon her distinct portions of food – salad, jojos, plank salmon, and a thin slice of cheesecake – in wonder. The balsamic vinaigrette he’d applied to her greens rests at least a quarter inch from anything that isn’t romaine lettuce or an accessory thereof. His own heaping plate sits untouched, an observation Phoebe attributes to the outright unattractive growling sound she assumes his empty paunch is producing. It’s so obnoxious and loud that even the nearby tree line’s crows cease their cawing.

“Tom… Tom? Jesus, stop staring at my food.”

“I’m just – it’s incredible, that’s all.” He’s transfixed, clear blue eyes betraying an unawareness of all else but the delicate woman before him. Her wispy shoulders jut back in annoyance. The move pulls her tank top tight against her chest. Tom grins.
“You know I don’t like it when people watch me eat.” Phoebe’s tone forces his gaze to hers. They match quiet stares, a wind-swayed tablecloth’s gentle lapping keeps measure of the silence. She skewers an errant tomato with her fork, eyes never wavering from his. Tom blinks at the squelch: she may as well have punctured his heart.

“How come I’ve never noticed this precision of yours before?”

“Well, we’ve only known each other, what, three weeks?” She hopes it sounds casual, flippant even. Phoebe slips the tomato into her mouth, commences chewing in a careless manner. A fine dribble of seedy pulp runs from the crease between her lips. Tom may have hauled her all the way up here for the day, and he may have thought his orchestrated series of clumsy encounters was headed somewhere, but she’d conducted a serious powwow with her roommate before heading out. Today’s picnic was the end of the line for this guy. Period. “I mean, three weeks is, like, nothing. I’ve got milk in the fridge that’s been around longer.”

“Ouch, baby.” Tom smiles, an act that flushes his already rosy cheeks. Phoebe decides she’s never before hated Hawaiian floral patterning so much on a man. He must be the only guy in Oregon who dresses for California beaches when he’s headed to the woods, she thinks.

“Just saying.” Phoebe focuses on her food again. Don’t look at his face. Her fork bats a jojo into the salad dressing. It’s a reluctant maneuver, but necessary: she can’t have him thinking he knows her. Tom meanwhile moves his right hand from the table’s splintered surface, a sweat mark from his palm imprinted on a former outdoorsman’s hewn initials. He snakes his arm between himself and Phoebe, wipes the remaining dampness from his hand, and creeps it toward her denim thigh. Then he remembers the champagne. His fingers retreat in haste.

“I almost forgot! Gotta run back to the truck… pièce de résistance, you know.” Phoebe hears him say something like ‘peace resistance’ while he maneuvers his doughy bulk from her side. Then, he’s gone. As the lingering stench of his cologne dissipates, fragrant pine air suffuses Tom’s place at the bench. It’s a Godsend. She glances over her shoulder to make sure he’s really headed off, then scoots his own plate of food two feet further down the table.

“Who the fuck brings jojos and cheesecake on the same picnic?” she asks. Nothing responds, save for the indistinct humming of a nearby hornet’s nest. The sound recalls a mantra of her high school wilderness survival teacher: nature only provokes if you provoke nature, or some shit like that. Either way, she’s not afraid of stingers. Behind her, the shallow rhythm of Tom’s stuffy breath drifts all the way from the truck, soiling the cool afternoon breeze. Phoebe promises herself she’s never again going to come onto a man she meets in Albertson’s frozen dinner aisle. She thinks about how it hadn’t always been like this, how even a few years ago her need to get screwed hadn’t taken priority over basic standards and an actual connection with a man. Her lustrous black hair had been like a satin lure for a hot lay, back then.

A short bark of a scream gores the silence. Phoebe turns without thought, eyes drawn straight to Tom’s cherry red Ford F-350, which gleams with a surreal lucidity among the Deschutes Forest’s muted browns. She’s entered a dream. Tom stands, facing the picnic table, champagne in hand. A matted bundle of muscle and jaw is positioned between them. It’s a black bear, Phoebe knows, though something’s not right. This one’s snarling, contorting its face to maximize the presence of yellowed canines. Its shoulders strain with thick cords of muscle; the creature shudders in an ecstasy of unreleased rage.


Phoebe knew she hadn’t planned on what happened, that until her hand was actually clutching Tom’s oily hunk of plank salmon, until she was actually lobbing it at his face, she’d been focused only on the bear. It wasn’t until Tom had raised his own arm, arcing the champagne high above his head in defense, that the bottle’s punt caught a stray shaft of sunlight and sent a glaring pulse of white heat into her eyes. The moment was brief, but by the time she could see again she’d already cast her throw. Her next view was of the bear pivoting its head along the meat’s trajectory, then vaulting off its hind legs even before the salmon smacked, like a wet kiss, across Tom’s cheek.

Before his frame was overwhelmed by a fury of matted black fur, she observed a look of complete recognition twist at his face. Then, Tom was gone, his presence reduced to little more than a series of sloppy noises and violent spurts of crimson.

As it turned out, the bear was really only interested in his throat. When it had finished gorging, it turned to Phoebe, who still sat at her place on the bench. Running had occurred to her, but it no longer seemed necessary. At first, she was afraid to meet the creature’s stare, but something about its unwavering attention forced her to embrace its eyes. They were dark, the color and texture of ink, though she could see this muddy quality was only because of the sheer magnitude of life they contained. A fine dribble of pulpy matter ran from between the crease of its lips. After a time, the bear lumbered off, leaving Phoebe – who’d just realized she’d pissed herself – to her meal.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Aliens Exist

So yesterday morning on cnn.com, a live streaming news feed allowed my roommates and I to watch a panel of UFO experts deliver a public briefing in Washington. After rambling on and on and on about a bunch of technical jargon, the speakers concluded that the Obama Administration had thirty days to admit to the public that we've been in contact with aliens, or they would be taking all of their substantial evidence to another country. France was mentioned as a backup, though I'm not sure how serious they were. They maintained throughout that the US needs to assume a position of leadership in this next phase of mankind's existence before another country steps up to the plate and beats us to befriending the aliens (more or less).

Of course, my friends and I were shocked. Had we just been told that aliens EXISTED? And that the government had THIRTY DAYS to admit it? Holy shit!

After a few moments of stunned conversation, we agreed to reassess the video. When we went back to cnn's website, though, the "breaking newsfeed" was gone, and no mention whatsoever of a UFO briefing in Washington existed.

I'm serious. Honestly.

Twelve hours later, and after several dozen fruitless attempts to convince others about what we'd seen, the following news article was posted:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/04/20/ufo.conference/index.html

What happened to everything else?!? The world at large remains ignorant to what actually went down, and this is one of those things that people have a hard time believing. I'm beginning to sympathize with those who claim to have been probed. Get in touch with me for the full story.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking grows gravely ill and twenty-one polo horses "mysteriously" die...