Friday, May 9, 2014

More Cute Stories Volume 4: 1964/65 New York World's Fair

Man, I love Rolly Crump.  I also love Jeff Heimbuch for all the great Rolly Crump material he has helped produce in the last few years.  Jeff is kind of like Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus, except instead of sucking the youth out of children, he is getting all these great stories out of Rolly Crump's head and passing them on to us.



Jeff and Rolly's newest project is "More Cute Stories Volume 4: The 1964-1965 New York World's Fair."  I have been a fan of this World's Fair for quite some time, so to hear first hand accounts of what went into making some of it's attractions was fantastic.  Rolly's tells you all about the experiences he had working on Small World, The Ford Magic Skyway, The Tower of the Four Winds, and why the Seven Dwarfs didn't walk around the fair.



As much as I love hearing about the fair my favorite track on the album was the one about Mary Blair.  Rolly is known for being one of the few people who was close to Walt Disney, but his friendship with Mary Blair is just as incredible to hear about.  In fact, I hope we get a whole volume of Mary Blair stories one day. (Are you reading this Jeff!?)


Speaking of Jeff, now that I think about it, he does have a very youthful face.  Even with a beard he could pass for 17.  Maybe he has more in common with Hocus Pocus Bette Midler than I thought.

Do we know if any kids went missing during The Communitour?


You can download the album for only $4.99 on amazon! What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Look What You Did You Little Jerk: The Time I Met Macaulay Culkin

Last night I saw Macaulay Culkin's band "The Pizza Underground" at the Hi Ho Lounge in New Orleans.  If you aren't familiar with them, they sing Velvet Underground songs, but change the lyrics to be about pizza.  You can listen to their demo here.

Like everyone else on the planet, I love Home Alone.  I saw it in the theater when I was 8 and have been a fan of Macaulay Culkin ever since. I live in Houston, so New Orleans is a 6 hour drive, but this was not something I was going to miss.  Two of our Houston friends; Eddie and Martha also wanted to go, so we all met up in New Orleans.

The Show:

We didn't realize it until the day of the show, but the Hi Ho Lounge had added a second earlier Pizza Underground show.  The doors for our show were supposed to open at 9:30 with the show starting at 10, but because of the early show everything was pushed back and we couldn't get in until after 10.  I think this made the crowd a little antsy, especially when there were two opening acts.  Neither Carte Blanche or Toby Goodshank played for very long, but the crowd talked over them the whole time.

There was a girl in the crowd who had made a giant pizza slice out of card board and attached it to her head band.  The crowd put up with her wearing it for the opening acts but before The Pizza Underground came on people started throwing paper at her and yelling for her to take it off.  She was close to the stage and was blocking everyones view.  Luckily The Pizza Undergrounds mascot "Anchovy Warhol" came out and told the girl she could either take it off or move to the corner.  She decided to move.  I thought it was really considerate of the band to do that.  After showing a video of various pizza related things on a screen at the back of the stage The Pizza Underground came out.  Macaulay Culkin asked the crowd "Hey, do you guys like pizza?" A couple band members went behind the screen and brought out at least 10 boxes of pizza handing them out to the crowd telling everyone to take a piece and pass it on.  Then The Pizza Underground started their set.

If you've listened to their demo it's only 9 minutes long.  If they would have come out, handed out the pizza and played for 15 minutes I really think the crowd would have been satisfied.  Instead they would leave the stage between songs and have someone else come out.  First it was one of the members from Carte Blanche who came out and rapped.  Macaulay's girlfriend came out and sang a poem that he had written for her.  One of the female members of Pizza Underground stayed on stage and sang a song by herself.  There was even a Nirvana tribute performer named Kurt Cobained under the band name "Nevermound" who sang Nirvava songs in the past tense (Come as you were).  The most bizarre of the side acts was Pussy Joel.  The band left the stage and a video of cats played on their projection screen while Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" played over the P.A. all while the hashtag #PussyJoel would randomly appear on the screen.  Like I said, I would have been fine with just 15 minutes of Pizza Underground, the side acts were a but much.


After the show the bar cleared out pretty quickly.  Within an hour there were probably 20 people left, with most of them standing at the bar.  Becky, Martha, Eddie, and I decided to hang around for a while to see if Macaualy Culkin would come out.  A couple girls kept one of the pizza boxes the band had passed out and had asked one of the guys who was helping break down the stage to have the band sign it.  He went backstage, had Macaulay sign it, then found the rest of the band and had them sign it too.  I had brought my childhood Talk Boy with me (my wife was carrying it in her purse) hoping we could get Macaulay to sign it.  Since the pizza box had been a success for the girls, Becky went over and asked him politely if he could ask Macaulay to sign the Talk Boy.  He was pretty excited "Man, I haven't seen one of those in a long time!"  Unfortunately though, he said he could not ask Mac to sign it.  He told us that he was the bands manager.  "But, when he comes out to leave, you can ask him to sign it."  That was good enough for us so we waited around a few more minutes to see if he would come out.  There was another girl who had been waiting near us, one of the bar backs came from backstage and told her that Macaulay had left.  Martha had heard the bartender tell someone that the band had been practicing their karaoke earlier, so we assumed they went to a karaoke bar.  When we left the Hi Ho Lounge, we saw one open bar across the street.  We decided to try our luck and check it out.

The Karaoke Bar:

Right when we walked into the bar I knew we were in the right place.  There was Anchovy Warhol, and next to him was Macaulay Culkin.  He was leaning against a pole in the middle of the bar.  I honestly don't think anyone in the bar realized he was there.  He was standing there by his manager and one of his bandmates watching people do karaoke.  When the manager saw Becky he waved her over.  He tapped Mac on the shoulder and said "Mac, this is my friend Becky."  He turned around, avoided eye contact, quickly shook her hand and turned back around.  I thought it was a really gracious move of their manager to introduce Becky as his friend, giving us an opportunity to ask him to sign the Talk Boy, especially if he thought it was for a friend of his manager.  Becky gently tapped him on the shoulder.  He did not stop looking at the stage (even though no one he knew was singing) but turned his ear slightly towards her.  Becky said "I really hate to bother you, but I have a Talk Boy in my purse and I was wondering if you could sign it for me."  Without looking at her he said "Nah, no, no.  I don't want to make a big deal."

Now, I am not an unreasonable person, I understand his thinking behind that.  Sure, you don't want to sign one autograph and get ambushed, but like I said before, no one was talking to him.

I have been waiting to meet this guy since I was 8 years old, and here I am 2 feet away from him, I'm not about to pass this chance up.  I did not want to not take up too much of his time, so I decided to offer to buy him a drink.  I tapped him on the shoulder and got the same slight head turn that he had given Becky.  "Mac, can I buy you a drink?"  He turned his head away from me, raised up a beer and said "Already have one."

Becky and I went back over to Eddie.  The three of us stood there like Charlie and Grandpa Joe at the end of Willy Wonka. "What did we do wrong?"

That's when I noticed Martha talking to a very drunk, very angry woman.

The Incident:

I walked over to Martha to tell her about our strike out.  That's when the angry woman (I never heard her name, but for the sake of this story lets call her Roxy) told me her story.  I had seen her at the Hi Ho while we were waiting for Macaulay to come out.  I had seen her go backstage.  She told me "I gave him $75 worth of mushrooms (I'm assuming they were from Whole Foods and were for putting on his pizza) and he didn't acknowledge or even thank me, just took them!" (I edited that a little, just drop an F bomb in wherever you want.)  Then she started yelling about how she was going to grab him by his pony tail and slam his head into that pole.  Becky and Eddie had still been standing over by him and saw us talking to Roxy so they came over to see what's up.  Eddie said the whole time he was over there that Macaulay had been bragging to his girlfriend about how how was the king of karaoke and how he was better than all these people.  Naturally this made Roxy even more angry.  Then Becky told her the talk boy story.  At this point Roxy was boiling and walked away.  We were standing around discussing how we should probably just leave before we are disappointed even more.  That's when I looked up and saw Roxy screaming in Macaulay Culkin's face.  Then she pointed over at us and started screaming at him even more.  I didn't know what to do, I just figured we should get out of there. I started walking towards the door, that's when Roxy grabbed Mac's head by his ponytail and bashed it into the pole he had been leaning against.  Anchovy Warhol and the manager jumped in-between them and yelled "Get her out of here!"  As the bouncer came to haul Roxy away, safe behind his 2 friends, Macaulay started egging Roxy on.  Arms out telling her to "come on" with an obnoxious smirk on his face.

Martha and I went outside to look for Roxy so we could find out what she said.  She was already in the back of someone's car, but saw us and came out.  First she had yelled at him about his lack of gratitude with her generous gift of mushrooms.  Then she told us she said "Those people came all the way from Houston to see you and you won't even sign something for them?!"  That's when she grabbed his ponytail.  "Then Andy Warhol shows up and I tell him F**K you Andy Warhol, Your'e washed up!"



The Conclusion:
Martha and I went back to the bar to find Becky and Eddie.  They were inside watching Mac's girlfriend rub his sore head.  It was almost 2 in the morning at this point so we decided it was best to leave.  As we were waiting for a cab to drive by, out came The Pizza Underground.  I thought to myself.  "This could have been one big misunderstanding, maybe Mac will see Becky (one of the only people who recognized him) his conscience will kick in and he will say "Hey, I'll sign that Talk Boy for you now."  That didn't happen thought.  As they walked past us I heard one of the members say "We'll just do Karaoke when we get back to New York, and we'll make sure to get a private room."  Then they crossed the street, got in their van and left.

Maybe he was drunk, maybe he had eaten Roxy's mushrooms and didn't want to be bothered.  The truth is though, you were in New Orleans to play a show, your name is on the ticket.  If you didn't want people talking to you maybe don't advertise it as a Macaualy Culkin show.  Let's be honest, he's the only reason anyone outside of Brooklyn knows who this band is.

I've played the night over in my had a million times at this point.  Was I overreacting?  Is he just short with people?  On stage he had been laughing and joking and seemed like a really pleasant guy.  I checked twitter and one guy had tweeted about seeing Roxy slam his head into that pole.  He also tweeted that Macaualy Culkin refused to take a photo with him.  So, the whole time he was in that bar  only a handful of people approached him and he was rude to all of them.  How hard is it to just be nice to someone who took time out of their day to support you and your band?  "I already have a drink right now, but thanks, maybe later."  "Find me when I leave and I'll sign your Talk Boy outside, I don't want to cause a scene." "Hey, Roxy, thanks for the mushrooms, they'll really add to the delicious factor of my next pizza!"  Just a few nice words and he could have avoided the whole thing.  If he would have just taken the slightest amount of effort I would be writing "I met Macaulay Culkin and it was the best night of my life!" instead of "I met Macaulay Culkin and I will probably never watch Home Alone again."

He had told Becky he didn't want to make a big deal by signing our Talk Boy, but by not signing it, that's exactly what he caused.

Gas to drive to New Orleans: $60
2 Tickets to see The Pizza Underground: $30
1 Night in a hotel: $200
Seeing a woman slam Macaulay Culkin's head into a pole: Priceless

















Friday, January 17, 2014

Tales From The College Program: Guinea Pigs and Sorority Girls

You may find this hard to believe, but being a Disney Intern does not pay very well.  It was because of this, that Dan and I decided to find ways to some make extra money.  The easiest way we found was to sell our plasma.  There were a few draw backs to this though.

1. It only paid $15.
2. We had to pay $5 in tolls to get there.
3. It was 40 minutes away.
4. We had to sit in a waiting room with mostly homeless people for an hour.
5. Plus another hour in the chair with a needle the size of a Capri Sun straw in your arm
6. Dan took one of the plasma girls out on a date and never called her again.
7. The one time Dan's roommate Rickli came with us, he got violently ill in the CiCi's pizza bathroom afterwards.
8. One time they jammed the needle through my vein which gave me a hematoma that went from my shoulder to my wrist.

Eventually we found something much easier that not only paid more, but also fed us.  We became professional guinnea pigs.  Using the website gpgp.net (Guinnea Pigs Get Paid) Dan found out that we could make $1200 by simply staying at a resreach facility in Gainsville for the weekend.  The three of us signed up, passed the physical inspection and before we knew it, we were locked up with 20 other lab rats. 

Aside from Dan, Rickli, and I only 2 other people in the study spoke english.  They were girls our age that went to the Universty of Florida.  What they were doing there I have no idea, because they didn't look like your average guinea pig.  One of the girls even bragged about a time that she made out with Nick Carter at a bar. 

We checked into the facility on Friday morning, slept over Saturday and Sunday, then had to come back on Monday with our pee jug and poop journal for a final check up.  This study was for high blood pressure medication, to test the effects on someone with normal blood pressure.  It was also the only study we did that required us to pee in a jug and take notes on our bowel movements, but hey this story is supposed to be about a Sorority right?

We had become friendly with the Doctors who ran the facility and they knew we lived in Orlando.  They offered to let us stay at the facility Sunday night so we wouldnt have to drive back and forth to Gainsville for 6 hours on Monday.  We had nothing better to do so we took their offer.  One of the girls asked us if we had dinner plans for Sunday night, we did not so she invited us over to her sorority house for dinner.  We may have been guinnea pigs, but we weren't complete idiots, we accepted.

We had all day Sunday to ourselves, we grabbed our pee jugs and headed to the movie theater to see "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" then we snuck into "Euro Trip."  Spoiler alert, both movies are awful.  Our date with destiny was approaching so we headed back to the research lab to get ready for our big night.

Our host had told us to dress up, but when you know that for the next 3 days you're going to be peeing into a jug, wearing nice clothes isn't your number one priority.  I borrowed a shirt from Rickli and we left.  This was before GPS on phones and none of us had ever been to Gainsville before, so I have no idea how we found this sorority house.

As we approached the door we realzied that we didn't even know this girls name.  Who were we supposed to ask for if she didn't answer the door?  Eventually one of us knocked and a girl who wasnt Heather/Jennifer (pick your favorite sorority girl name) opened the door.  Luckily instead of asking who we were there to see, she asked for our names.  We passed the inspection and she had us sit in a holding area with some other dudes where she explained the rules to us.

Now, you may be thinking, "I've seen college movies, there are no rules!"  Well, this sorority had one, "Guys were only allowed on green carpet."  This meant we could be in the entry way, main room, or dining room, that's it.  When you got to the stairs the carpet changed colors.  After she was done explaining the rules Heather/Jennifer showed up and took us to the dining room.  It was huge!  I don't know how many walls they tore down, but this dining room felt like a school cafeteria. 

We sat down and were waiting for our food when one of the head girls stood up to make announcements.  Maybe I was extra hungry or tired of peeing in a jug, but the announcements went on forever.  After the head girl was done, guys from neighboring Fraternities would come to the front to say something along the lines of "Hey Ladies, I'm Brad and this is Chad we're from (insert frat name here) we are having a car wash/party/bake sale/t-shirt sale/(whatever frats guys do) coming up and we want to invite you/sell it to you/get you drunk!" This was always followed by squeals of excitement.

Finally the announcements were done, time to eat.  Nope, not yet.  Now all the girls had to introduce their guests.  The first girl stood up "This is Dave and Rick from (insert Frat name)."  The guys names were also followed by squeals and screams, but those were nothing compared to the noise made when it was announced "And guess what ladies...Theyre SIIIINNNNGGGLLLLLLEEEEEEE!"  The girls went nuts, apparently Sorority girls have a thing for single Frat guys.  Do you want to guess how the next Frat guy intoduction went?  The same, they just kept getting louder.

Dan, Rickli, and I looked at each other, we were all thinking the same thing.  We turned to Heather/Jennifer and said "You know, we're cool if you dont introduce us."  It was too late though, we had already been spotted.  Maybe the girls had screamed themselves tired, or maybe it was because Heather/Jennifer gave us the worst introduction ever, but the girls reaction to the three of us was worse than we had expected.

Heather/Jennifer half stood up and in one quick breath said "HeythisisDanRickliandDonnie" she started to sit down when she remembered she needed to tell these girls about our obvious relationship status. "oh yeah, theyre single."  She mumbled it even faster than she had said our names.  The sorority girls were not pleased, they did not squeal, the did not scream, the did not make a peep.

We ate our spaghetti as fast as we could, stood in the main family room long enough as to not appear ungrateful then got the hell out of there.  Since we spent the night at the research facility, we were the first ones checked out in the morning.  We took our checks and headed back to Orlando, we never saw Heather/Jennifer again.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Magic Bands & Rapid Fill Mugs

When I first heard about the Disney's Magic Band system I hated it.  Let's see if having spent the last week using one changed my mind.  I'll go over each function of the band and how well it worked for me.

 
 
Room Key:
The first time I used my Magic Band was to get into my hotel room, and it worked fine.  We ended up swithching rooms ( we had asked for one with a queen bed) and the front desk was able to update the room number in our bands without having to go to the front desk.  I had gone to the new room before we moved our luggage to make sure both bands worked, and they did.  Something happened in the time I went from the new room back to the old and my wife's band had stopped working.  The next morning she went to the front desk and had it reset, and this somehow caused mine to stop working.  After it was reset, both of us were able to access the room for the rest of the trip without a problem.
 
Park Passes:
The Magic Band also holds your park pass on it.  Just like with the key card, you still have to provide a finger print.  Everything you do with the Magic Band requires you tapping the Mickey on your band to a Mickey someplace else.  So, getting into the park you place your Mickey on a pole at the main gate, wait for the circle around Mickey's head to light up, then put your finger on the scanner.  If all goes correctly the lights around Mickey's head will turn green and you can enter the park.  This worked everytime for me.  On our second day my wife's band acted up again and it had to be reset by a Cast Member who was standing by.  They have done away with the old turnstyles and added 2 Magic Band stations in their place.  I wouldn't say this system is any better or worse than before.  Guests without Magic Bands tap their card againt one of the Mickey's which actually seemed to work a little faster because you have to line the Mickey on the band with the Mickey head at the gate the right way to get it to read.
 
Making Purchases:
So far the Magic Band acts just like a wearable room key, and like the room key, it can be used to make putchases.  When you check into your hotel they will ask you to select a pin number for your charges, this way if you lose your band no one else can make charges with it.  This was the part of the band that caused me the most trouble.  Every register in all of Walt Disney World now has a Magic Band reader.
 
 
 
Just like when entering the parks, you hold the Mickey on your band to the Mickey on the machine and wait for it to turn green.  After that you type in your pin number and you're good to go.  I had a problem with this at least once a day.  One time the problem was with the machine itlsef not reading, but most of the time after I entered my pin the machine would say "Thank You" and nothing would happen.  The Cast Member would have to start over, and if it didn't work the second time I would just get out my credit card.  When it works though,  it's actually very convenient.  At the end of your trip Disney emails you an invoice of everything you charged and even who's Magic Band made the purchase. 
 
 
Fast Pass+:
Planning your days in advance was the part of the Magic Band I hated the most when I first read about it.  I did not want to plan out my entire trip before I was even in Florida.  I later realized that was not how it works, it's actually pretty awesome.  I had not ridden Toy Story Mania in years because I did not want to waste my precious "no wait morning hours" on Hollywood Studios.  With Fast Pass + though I can get a Fast Pass for Toy Story, Tower of Terror and Star Tours without even entering the park.  All you have to do it open the "My Disney Experience" app and select the park and attractions you want.  You can even change your Fast Passes for a different attarction or park after you've made your selection.  Every attraction now has it's own fast Pass + line.  They use the same Mickey reader as the main gate.  I did not have any problem with the Magic Band when it came to Fast Passes.  I did miss one of my times because Fantasyland was closed during the fireworks.  Instead of lighting up green, the Mickey lit up blue, but the Cast Member let me go through, she even fixed the status on a nearby computer so when I got to the second station it was back to green.  Using Fast Passes on your band is similar to using the paper ones, you tap the band once at the entrance, then again before you board.
 

My Disney Experience:
My Disney Experience is the app used to make all of your plans.  You can make dining reservations, select your Fast Passes, and even check wait times for attractions.  The app did crash on Thanksgiving day for a while, maybe there were too many people trying to use it.  Other than that it worked fine.  I do wish they would send push notifications to your phone telling you when you had a Fast Pass available, I kept having to open the app and check.  I would also like to see them cut down on some of the options.  Right now there are too many menus in the app, and I feel like some of the could be combined for a better user experience.

Verdict:
As much as I hate to say it, I like the Magic Bands.  I will miss my beloved key cards, but if they can fix all the small issues with the cards, I think people will enjoy them.  I am worried about what they will do to ticket prices in the future.  Even if the bands are cheap to make, they still have to mail them across the country.  I think they should find a way to charge people for the bands, but also have a free option that uses the plastic bracelets they used to use for Not so Scary and Very Merry. 

Disney has already started making Magic Band related merchandise.  Seriously, I can't find anything with Mr. Toad on it, but this shirt was made?



 
Plus, all sorts of Magic Band accessories.

 
 
Now onto this new mug system.
 
Rapid Fill Mugs:
I assume everyone is familiar with Disney's resort mugs.  You pay $12 for a platic mug that you can use at the drink stations in your resort for the duration of your trip.  I will admit that I am guilty of throwing my mug in my suitcase and using it on my next trip.  It's not my fault that they havent changed the design on the mug for years.  Do they expect me to buy the same exact mug twice a year?  The answer is yes.  Apparently Disney saw reusing mugs as a big enough issue that they have overhauled the whole system.
 
 
My wife went to buy breakfast one morning and decided to purchase a mug.  The Cast Member asked how many days she was staying, my wife thought she was just being friendly.  When she said 6 days the Cast Memeber took her mug and placed it on a machine to activate it.  Then told her it would be $17.99
 

This is the same picture I posted earlier, but the machine in the back is the one used to activate the mugs.  They set the mug on top then select the number of days.
 
 
When she told me about this new day charge I decided to get a mug but say I was only staying for 2 days.  The price of my mug was $11.99.  I figured this was some new sort of honor system, but I was wrong.  When I went to fill up my mug, this is what I saw.
 
 
There was a new digital display on the soda fountain.  There are also plastic trays under every selection that you have to set your cup on before it will start dispensing.  If you do not set the cup down, you will see this message.
 

 
After you set your mug down on the tray the display changes to show you how many more days you can use your mug, and  how much soda is left with this refill.  When the digital mug is full, you have to wait to get more.
 
 
Lets say you try to pull a fast one and  fill up your mug then pour the contents into your friends older mug.  The Rapid Refill system is set up to where you can only refill your mug every 3 minutes.  My wife ran into this problem when one of the machines was broken.  She walked over to a different machine and this message was on the screen.
 
 
This all seems completely ridiculious to me.  Were so many people bringing back their old mugs that Disney needed to trash all the old one, buy new high tech mugs, then spend millions of dollars updating every soda machine in the resorts?  They are sending out free Magic Bands to thousands of people everyday!
 



You might be wondering what I did after my 2 days were up.  Turns out there is a way to cheat the system (for now).  Only the soda fountains are set up with the Rapid Fill system, you can still get all the free tea, coffee, and hot chocolate you want.  I should also mention that the mug is your only option for getting a fountain drink in the resorts now.  There are no more cardboard/styrofoam cups avaialble unless you are drinking coffee.
 
I rode Small World on this trip and it was a mess;  missing dolls, broken animatronics, and dirty carpets. Who at Disney makes these crazy decisions? "Should we fix the problems we have with attractions, nah, let's find a way to make more money off of these resort mugs!"
 


 
 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ultimate Willy Wonka!

The Alamo Drafthouse is pretty much my favorite place on earth (after Disney Theme Parks of course).  If you are not familiar with The Alamo Drafthouse, it is a small ( but growing) theater chain built for movie lovers.  First of all you can order food from your seat and eat it during the movie.  This is done by writing down what you want and placing it in a rail for a waiter to pick up.  The theater itself looks like this.

If you look carefully, I'm actually in this photo.

Aside from the eating/drinking and their awesome no talking or texting policy,(or that they own Mondo) The Alamo Drafthouse holds some amazing events.  I have seen Rushmore with Jason Schwartzman and The Breakfast Club with Anthony Michael Hall.  Both stars hung out before the show to talk to fans and participated in a Q&A after their film. The most recent event I attended was a screening of Willy Wonka with the original Veruca Salt and Mike Teevee in attendance.


Not only were some of the films stars there to answer questions, but everyone in the audience was given a bag of goodies to use during the film.  There were bubbles for the fizzy lifting drink scene, dryer sheets to make the theater smell like a laundry for "Cheer up Charlie."  We had champagne poppers for when the great glass elevator bursts through the ceiling, streamers to throw during "I Want it Now" and of course, lots of candy.

Before the film started Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) and Paris Themmen (Mike Teevee) came out to introduce themselves and say a few words.  Julie came back during the movie to pantomime her "I Want it Now" sequence, which the crowd went crazy for.  When the movie was over, they came back out to answer questions from the audience.  Julie talked about how her and Denise Nickerson (Violet) both had crushes on Peter Ostrum (Charlie) and would switch off days holding his hand.  Paris said that since he was younger and kind of a brat they wanted nothing to do with him.  


Paris is mostly bald, so of course someone asked if it was because of Gene Wilder pulling his hair in the "Pure Imagination" scene.  He laughed and said they had to do that part 9 times.  Julie talked about how Roy Kinnear (the man who played her father) taught her a trick for getting paid extra and being in more shots.  He showed her how he elbowed people and leaned into the scene so he would be seen on camera.  This ensured he would get paid for being on camera but also appear in the film more.  I had given my wife Becky a pretty good question to ask, but when Julie looked over and was about to pick her, they were told time was up.  There was another movie starting soon so they had to wrap things up.  Julie shrugged at Becky and mouthed "sorry."

After the screening we were all given a Willy Wonka poster singed by Julie and Paris.


After everyone had left the theater, Becky and I waited around to see if we could say hello to Julie and Paris.  We ended up walking outside at the same time they did.  I went up to Julie and thanked her for coming and told her how much I had enjoyed it.  Paris came up to us and I thanked him as well.  Julie recognized Becky and said "You had a question that we did not get to, what was it?"  Becky asked the question I had been wondering my whole life.  What is a bean feast?  In "I Want it Now"  Veruca says "I want a feast, I want a bean feast!"  As a kid I always thought, "Who wants a feats made entirely of beans?"  Turns out, that's not what it is at all.  A bean feast has nothing to do with beans.  Julie told us that it is like a harvest festival where you have the best of everything.  She went into more detail about it, but I was so excited to be standing next to Veruca Salt I don't even remember what else she said.

After that we parted ways.  Julie and Paris were both very friendly and since they had stopped to talk to us I did not want to bother them more and ask for a photo.  Maybe next year!





Monday, September 9, 2013

Tales From The College Program: Smush and The Pretty One

I received a special request to write out this story, so here it is.

I was in my apartment at Vista Way when Dan called me "Some random girls just called my apartment and asked if I wanted to go to Tampa."  At Vista Way calling an apartment was simple, you added a one to the first number of the apartment (1205 = ext 2205)

Dan started telling me about these girls he was talking to and their plan to go to Tampa.  In the middle of our conversation I heard the click of another call coming in, I told Dan to hold on and switched over.    On he line was a very Puerto Rican sounding girl "Hey, so jew wanna go to Tampa with sum sexy girls?"  I told her to hold on and switched back over to Dan "Now they are calling me!" I told him.  I switched back over to mystery girl and told her that one of her friends was on the phone with my friend, she told me that we should all meet up at their apartment.  I walked over to Dan's and the three of us (Me, Dan, and his roommate, Rickli) headed over to meet these girls.

At this point, I cannot over stress that these girls spoke very highly of their physical beauty which probably should have been our first indication that we were in for an awful night.  Let's be honest, pretty girls don't need to dial random numbers looking for dudes to go out with.  When they opened the door it became apparent that they may have exaggerated just a little about how attractive they were.  This is not to say that the three of us were some sort of catch.  It felt like we had gone too far to turn back now, so we headed in.  The Puerto Rican girl I had spoken to on the phone was the leader, I don't think we never actually heard her name, so we started referring to her as "Smush" whenever we told the story.

A plan was made, the girls would spend the night in Tampa while Dan, Rickli, and I would drive back that night.  Smush and 2 of the girls rode in her car while Dan jumped into the car of the one we had named "the pretty one."  Rickli and I rode together in his car.  Now would be a good time to mention that it was 9:00 pm, foggy, cold, and mid November.  And we're off!

The drive from Orlando to Tampa is about 2 hours, while Rickli and I discussed pop culture topics, quoted episodes of Seinfeld, and sang the Perfect Strangers theme; Dan got to hear all about the pretty one's boyfriend that she had back home.  A few hours later we were in Tampa.  We pulled into a parking lot and I walked over to the beach.  It was so foggy and dark that you couldn't even see the water.

The girls decided they were hungry and we all headed over to some hole in the wall restaurant.  Smush did most if not all of the talking, while Dan, Rickli, and I sat there wishing we were back in Orlando.  It was dark, cold, late, and we were realizing that we had nothing in common with these girls.  After dinner the girls decided they wanted to check into a hotel.  A friendly homeless looking guy over heard and told everyone to follow him around the corner.  He took us to the shadiest looking motel I have ever seen.  If memory serves correctly, it was called the Diamond Motel.

It was around midnight and the motel manager who already gone to sleep, but our hobo guide knew she lived next door and he banged on her door until she answered.  The woman did not seem to happy to be woken up, but she gave the girls a key and walked us all to their room.  The motel was set up like a labyrinth, it was all outdoors with walkways that wrapped around buildings, and no exterior lighting.  The inside of the room was terrifying.  It looked like she had stumbled across an abandoned haunted summer camp and started charing people to sleep there.  The one light bulb in the room hung from the ceiling without a shade and emitted so little light that a man with an axe could have been standing in the corner and none of us would have noticed.

After the owner left, Dan, Rickli, and I looked at each other, looked at the girls and simultaneously said "OK, see ya."  The girls all screamed "No, stay!"  and this was in no way a seductive "no...stayyyy"  it was a "we don't want to die in this place!"  We all stood in that creepy room trying to decide the best way to wake up the owner and tell her that the girls wanted their money back.  We walked back to the restaurant, found the hobo, and Rickli explained our predicament to him.  He woke up the owner, who was more unhappy than the last time and we got the girls money back.  Now to find a suitable hotel.

Dan had joined Rickli and I in the guy car, and left the pretty one to talk to herself about her boyfriend.  The girls pulled into a nice hotel while we sat in the car and waited.  When we knew they had a room, we were going to floor it back to Vista Way.  They came out with no room.  Turns out all of the girls were under 21, and the manager would not give them  a room.  There was only one member of our little group that was 21, and it was me.

We drove down to the next hotel which was a Red Roof Inn.  We told the girls to wait in the car, the plan was for me to rent the room with the girls money, give them the key and leave.  Once inside, we let Rickli do the talking again.  He told the manager about the awful hotel we had escaped from and how we had very little money but needed a room just for the night.  He made no mention of the girls, just told the story as if it had just been the 3 of us.  The manager sympathized with our tale and even offered to give us a managers discount on the room.  The night was beginning to look up, then it happened.

In his joy of almost being rid of these girls, Rickli slipped.  He said something to me and Dan along the lines of "I feel much better now that the girls will at least have a safe place to stay."  After hearing this, the managers mood took a drastic turn.  "I dont run that kind of hotel!" he screamed.  We all jumped in "No, no, no, no, you don't understand, its not like that."  I tried to calm him down by explaining "No, you haven't even seen these girls, they aren't even hot."  He had already made up his mind, apparently Dan, Rickli, and I looked like some sort of casanovas brining a bunch of girls back to our hotel room.  We tried to explain how they were not 21 and I was just getting the room when the manager picked up the phone and started to dial "I'm calling the police, this is not that kind of hotel."  That was all we needed to hear, we ran back to the car and took off.

We started driving back towards Orlando with the girls following behind us.  They pulled into a small hotel along the freeway.  We sat in the car while they went in to talk to the desk clerk.  They came back with a room key a few minutes later.  The girls headed towards their room and we drove off in Rickli's car.

A few weeks later I received another call from Smush, she invited us over to their apartment for Thanksgiving dinner, we respectfully declined, I had to work on Thanksgiving.  We never heard from the girls after that.  I'd occasionally see Smush working at Pinocchio's at the Magic Kingdom, but she never saw me.

I found out later that it was my roommate, Dan's (a different Dan) fault that Smush called our apartment in the first place.  For Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Dan had dressed up like a character he called "Dr. Love" and handed out business cards with his Vista Way extension on it.  He gave one of those cards to Smush.  I owe that whole night to him.  Thanks a lot Dr. Love.






Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

I remember being up early on a Saturday morning watching cartoons and seeing a trailer for a movie with Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors.  I ran upstairs and woke my mom up.  I told her there was this great movie coming out called Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and asked if we could see it.  Without any hesitation she said no.

I was really confused by her answer, until a few days later when I saw the trailer again and pointed it out to her.  Turns out she thought I had said Honey, I Shot the Kids.

After the movie was released my Saturday morning cartoons were interrupted by short segments about Disney's newest theme park, MGM Studios.  One of these segments showed the backlot tour and how the "bee scene" from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was done.

In 1991 my family visited MGM Studios and while on the backlot tour my sister and I were picked to ride the bee from the film to show the rest of the tour how the effect was done.  A Cast Member came up and asked my parents if my sister and I wanted to be part of the show.  We said yes, obviously. They took us off the tour and onto a sound stage, and there it was, the bee!  Until we saw the bee we had no idea what we had volunteered for.  Having seen that special a few years earlier, I knew what we were going to do.  The rest of the tour caught up with us while Katie and I walked up a ladder and onto the bee.  From there fans were blown on us and we were told to act scared, but I remember just doing a lot of waving.  When it was over we were able to watch the video of us flying on the bee, then return back to the tour.



Does anyone know what happened to the bee?