Friday, June 27, 2014

BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY: Do you love Reading Rainbow?  Do you want Seth MacFarlane to have to spend some of his fortune on worthy causes?  Now you can combine the two--for the final few days of LeVar Burton's (already hugely successful) Kickstarter to relaunch Reading Rainbow, MacFarlane has agreed to match gifts, up to a total of one million bucks.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

271 PEOPLE WHO NEVER HAVE TO PAY TO SEE A MOVIE AGAIN: As usual, many of the new invitees to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year were first time Oscar nominees (Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender), but there are also several character actors (Clark Gregg, David Strathairn), young up and comers (Josh Hutcherson, Ben Foster), and comedic talents (Chris Rock, Rob Riggle, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who will now have power over who wins the Oscars.
THROWING IT ALL AWAY? Noted enthusiast Phil Collins has decided to donate his multi-million dollar collection of Alamo-related memorabilia to the State of Texas:
That includes hundreds of documents, ranging from a letter Stephen F. Austin wrote from a Mexican prison in January, 1834 and Sam Houston’s original 1835 land grant for property in East Texas, to the signed receipt for thirty beeves that Travis brought into the Alamo on the day the siege began, plus artifacts like uniforms and Brown Bess muskets that belonged to Mexican soldiers, a sword belt believed to have been worn by Travis when he died atop the northern wall, and a shot pouch that Crocket is thought to have given a Mexican soldier just before he was executed.
Do you want to take a look at it now, or do you not care anymore?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

SECOND-HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH:  Bullet points from two days at Disneyland/California Adventure:

  • Wow, that's a small castle.
  • Some things are bigger-and-better: Pirates and Small World in particular (love the outdoor entrance).
  • A bifrost bridge to Asgard has opened at Tomorrowland (in the Innoventions space), with many authentic relics available, plus meet-and-greets with Thor and Captain America which my girls loved. (The latter: "How do you get along with Tony Stark?" "I wish he didn't play that rock music so much.")  They also had a full array of Iron Man suits across time, which was pretty darn neat.  
  • I'm still a bit skittish on non-Disney properties being at the main park -- in addition to the Marvel stuff, you've got Star Tours (still awesome) and the Indiana Jones ride (temporarily offline) coexisting with Jack Sparrow and the Princesses.  But the rides themselves are great and well-done. (Of course. It's Disney.)
  • California Adventure is a better park than Hollywood Studios at WDW.  The new Cars Land stuff is gorgeous and well-done; Paradise Pier is just a great grouping of attractions, including Toy Story Midway Mania (So great. Always.) 
  • Soarin' Over California is great, but so much better when you're in the top row so you don't have dangling feet over year head as a distraction. (Yes, we did it twice.)
  • But the best thing there, even greater than the Radiator Springs car ride, is that they've got an auditorium where every half-hour, they teach lessons on how to draw a different Disney character, with sketching pencils for everyone. Fantastic. We'd do it 2-3 times a day if we had more time.
  • Also, we ran into a 50s "police officer" there who started questioning the girls on where they were from, etc. "Oh, what's the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia?", he asked. "Jim's?", Lucy responded.  He paused. "Is that on South Street?", he responded. So great. (They were issued a citation extolling their Good Citizenship.) This is the kind of unnecessary interstitial stuff that I will always laud Disney for doing, just totally rounding out a wonderful experience.

Monday, June 23, 2014

DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?  I have discovered that a local shaved ice chain offers coolers full of snowballs for on-demand snowball fights.  (Related to headline:  Pearl Jam does "Let It Go.")
WHERE WITCHES, GHOSTS, AND WOLVES APPEAR:  There was a bit of a kerfuffle a few weeks ago after a New Yorker item suggested that there had been a couple of substantial changes to the film adaptation of Into The Woods.  Now, Sondheim and his lawyer have issued a statement walking back some of the things said in the article, most notably confirming that an interaction between two characters and a song have not been deleted, as Sondheim originally suggested, and proclaiming that the film (which he has allegedly seen a rough cut of) "is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie."  (That said, he doesn't deny that one character death has been removed--perhaps unsurprisingly, given that Disney has their own separate franchise around that character.)  Surprisingly, still no trailer, though you have to assume it goes with one of Disney's big late summer releases (Guardians of the Galaxy?, The Hundred Foot Journey?).