Saturday, March 15, 2014

My thoughts on this past week surrounding 'Consent'.

It was a pretty crazy week for me in regards to a certain topic, that being consent. Things happened to friends and communities I am a part of that revolved around this word. Some of it had to do with what most people would think of off the bat, and that would be sexual consent. However, the other things harped on a version of consent themselves. All of this has been on my mind and I felt the best way to deal with it would be to share it.

Wednesday morning, I found out that a girl that went to high school with me was found murdered down in Florida by what looks like her boyfriend, by blunt forced trauma to the head. I did not know her very well, but we were Facebook friends and would comment on one another's statuses from time to time, like photos, etc. She was a mother of three and, from talking to friends who knew her better, was trying to better her life.

I don't know if we will ever know exactly why my friend's boyfriend killed her. I guess it really does not matter... I doubt she gave consent to being killed. Unlike those crime dramas that find out that the victim actually wanted to die, I have a feeling you will find that there was an argument, possibly because she didn't want to do something for him, and the result was her death. Now her children are left with no mother. It is horrific to ever hear of senseless deaths like this, but when it hits close to home, it's just that much worse.

Rest in Peace, Christina.

Then on Wednesday evening, word came down the pike on Tumblr that a couple of popular YouTube artists of a rapidly growing community called Nerdfighters have been involved with issues of sexual abuse and rape. In the one case especially, where the popular of-age YouTube artist had a sexual relationship with an underage fan a few years back, other fans of this person were actually defending the person. I don't know about you, but wrong is wrong. Whether or not this girl "wanted it" at the time, she was underage by the definition of the law. On top of that, the artist was using his stardom and popularity in the eyes of his teenage fans to manipulate things into a sexual relationship. Wrong... period.

There has always been this "walls down" approach to what I like to call 'grassroots fandoms' like Nerdfighteria... where the artists, singers, authors, etc. are approachable and engaging with their fans. Unlike big time actors or singers, these people are popular in their own right because of their devoted fans. It's those fans that these artists craft their work for. They form a bond, a connection, with their fans, so that their fans, in some cases, start feeling like they are friends or, for a few, more than friends. The line has to be drawn to where the artist doesn't act upon this misconception and uses it to forge something that turns out to be manipulative and one-sided. Perhaps the answer lies into creating a barrier between the artist and the fan. I really do not have a perfect answer for this. However, this needs to, and probably will, change.

Since Wednesday, Hank Green, who formed Nerfighteria with his brother John, has been very vocal on the subject of sexual consent. I applaud him and everyone else involved with the new initiatives being taken by the group to educate and combat sexual abuse and rape. Below you will find a video directly from Hank (as part of the Vlogbrothers series), and one from Sexplanations, which is a site Hank, and a bunch of other Nerdfighters, are involved with, and that talks about consent.

Best thing to come from those videos: The absence of a 'no' is not the presence of a 'yes'.

Finally, on Thursday I had to ban a member from one of the Facebook groups I am an admin for. Why? Because he was making another member feel uncomfortable. The two only talked briefly a couple of times through private messaging in regards to a toy, as the group is for toy collectors. That's it... a couple of times about a toy. Yet, he would post things on the wall of this Facebook group directed towards her, like the condition of her health or why she was a fan of the Ravens football team. This made her uncomfortable and feeling awkward because 1. They never talked about stuff like that, so he could only have found out if he went to her personal page, 2. The posts had no relation to the collecting of said toys, but rather her personally, and 3. The last post came more than a week after they last talked. He could have easily messaged her in private asking these questions or stating his remarks, but he chose to display them in a public forum. After talking to her and finding out her fear that it would just continue to escalate and get worse, the guy was banned. 

In this case, the girl, who is also a friend of mine, also blocked the guy from being able to contact her again in the future, or see her profile. She was/is legitimately concerned that, if not stopped, it would continue to get worse. A "no" was put down. She did not give consent to him giving off the vibe of being a "cyber-stalker", and it worried her how obsessed it was seemingly getting. Whether or not that was his real intention, I don't know. However, it was addressed and I hope that's the end of it.

So yea, this week has been a bit intense with all of what happened, all centered around 'consent'. Hopefully this upcoming week will contain less of that, and more fun things like... corned beef! I mean, it is St. Patrick's Day after all.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My thoughts on Anna and Elsa at Walt Disney World

Anna and Elsa with their Disney Infinity counterparts when I met them in
January at the Norway Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase

Yesterday, an article over on Doctor Disney suggests that Anna and Elsa will be moving over to the Magic Kingdom in April. A staple at the Norway Pavilion for months now, the sisters from the hit film Frozen are rumored to be moving to Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland. Though I admit that the evidence seems like they will be, I was hoping Disney would take this opportunity and use this very popular film, and franchise behind it, to bring some new life into the World Showcase. Here is my 'Frozen Blue Sky'.

Location: Did you know there was supposed to be more countries added to the World Showcase over the years? Sadly, since the addition of Norway in 1988, no new countries have been added, but there is space for quite a few. One of these spaces lie between the Norway and Mexico Pavilions, as outlined above. Since it is not being used to house a country, as was the plan, why not take it and 'Disneyfy' it, so to speak.

Arendelle Castle/ Frozen Meet 'n' Greet

Disney has proven that adding new castles to the theme parks has been very popular, with the addition of Beast's Castle and Prince Eric's Castle in New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Arendelle Castle would be a great addition to the back part of the expansion. Why not recreate a portion of Arendelle's courtyard, with the towers rising up in the background, decked out for Elsa's coronation, as the queue? Then have the Meet 'n' Greet inside the throne room?

Olaf's Winter Playground

Olaf has proven that he is one of the next BIG Disney characters, like Mickey and Stitch. His merchandise is VERY hard to come by, and, along with Elsa merchandise, often sold out. Epcot always needs more things for the little kids to do, so why not create an Olaf inspired Winter Playground in the front partof the expansion? Snow slides, snowmen to climb on, fun activities (reminiscent of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids play area in Disney's Hollywood Studios and the Winnie the Pooh queue at the Magic Kingdom), etc. Since he has his own personal flurry, having a snow themed area 24/7 in Florida would work (lest we also forget Blizzard Beach). I would even go so far as to suggest they install a 'snow maker', similar to the ones used each year for the Osbourne Spectacle of Dancing Lights of at Disney's Hollywood Studios, so occasionally it can snow in the playground. Oh, and why not... throw Marshmallow in there. 

Maelstrom: Frozen

Yes, the Maelstrom is a fan favorite ride for some. However, this attraction SCREAMS to have a Frozen re-theme done to it. When I rode the ride in January, I specifically could see how it could retell the story of Frozen without having to change the track of the ride, just change the scenes... to Anna and Elsa's search for love. Also, since the country of Norway no longer owns part of the pavilion, nor pays Disney any ad revenues these days, they don't really have a say what Disney does with the ride. It's a perfect vehicle to add in the rock trolls as well.

Well, there you have it... my 'Frozen Blue Sky'. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Of course, this isn't the first time I dabbled in being an Imagineer. Last year I did a 2 Part Disney's Hollywood Studios 'Blue Sky' over at Those can be found here and here. I think they are worth a read, but I wrote them, so I am a little biased. If you do end up reading them, enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Watching a FREE Movie on a Sunday? Don't Mind if I Do!

I awoke this Sunday with... no big plans. Sure, I have some things online to work on for the websites I write for, and tonight have the Man's Ruin Roller Derby Season Opener to attend. However, I am not romping around the countryside with a bunch of plans. With this sense of "new found freedom", I did what anyone would do... watched TRON: Legacy.

I haven't seen this movie since it was in theaters, and I really enjoyed it a second time. More so because it was FREE. Free? Yup..... F-R-E-E.

TRON: Legacy is one of four movies currently available as a free reward over at Disney Movies Rewards. If you enter three movie codes, you can get a free Blu-ray/ DVD combo for only $3.95 s/h.

As you can see above, other titles available with this are Secretariat, Dumbo, and CARS.

For any of you who have some extra Disney Movie codes stored up, this could be a great way to get a free movie you are missing from your collection. I would try and do it again, but it's limited to one offer person account, and I don't want my points to be on different accounts. :)

Have a great rest of the day.

Kre-o Review: CityVille Invasion Population 2-Packs & Marina Madness

Last week, I was at Target looking around and I came across the Clearance aisle in the Toy Department. It was there that I found some of Hasbro's Kre-o line CityVille Invasion on clearance. Based off the computer app game by Zynga, these sets look to be a parody off some of the more popular monsters in history: King Kong, Jaws, Dracula, zombies, etc. Since I had a $10 Target gift card, I decided to pick up a few of the blind packed Population 2pks, as well as Marina Madness, which resembles Jaws and Amityville. Then today, while on my lunch break, I decided to check them out.

Population 2-Packs

First up were the Population 2-Packs, each of which include a "hero" figure, such as a trooper, scientist, and fireman, and a "monster" character, most of them being zombies. Out of the six packs I got, five of them had different sets.
Capt. Firebreak & Red Blaze

Agent Stealth & Roboticus

Sgt. Drill & Zombie Soldier

Steve Timber & Willy Werewolf

Mike Medic & Zombie Medic

There are three other sets in the Population 2-Pack Series.

I like the characters, except for one thing... their size. Their size is quite a bit smaller than Lego Minifigs. Here is Capt. Firebreak side by side to Abe Lincoln.

Another thing I find interesting is that the CityVille characters, also known as Kreons, only have one hole on the bottom of their feet, which can make for less stable and trickier placements on the blocks.

Marina Madness

After checking out the characters in the 2-Packs, it was time to delve into Marina Madness. At just over 200 pieces, it looks to be one of the medium CityVille Invasion builds. 

First part of the build are the characters. In this one, there are 5, plus one fun loving shark.

Lt. Mari Time, Dockhand Rusty, Sergeant Splash, Ray Manta, and Chuckie Chum

Sharktooth with Chuckie Cumn
And then there are two small vehicles, a Police Boat and a Transport Truck.

The we get to the build of the actual marina. One of the things that Kre-o is doing is Sonic Motion Technology.

Basically, a large brick (in this case the base to the marina building) is powered by batteries to produce sound and vibrate, allowing pieces on the Motion Bricks to move. I will admit that I was skeptical to try it, and when I went thru the trouble to find batteries and install them, I was let down. The premise seems good, but the execution doesn't work. Most of the time, the motion brick "bristles", for lack of a better term, got caught in the grooves of the stationary bricks. I attempted video, but none of it came out worth while.

The build itself was quite easy, like I was expecting. In no time, I had it done.

Overall, the CityVille Invasion Kre-o line is a little too small for me. The figures, the vehicles, etc... all as just too small. It feels like an entire build of Lego mini-builds. That being said, for the price I paid on clearance, it was worth it. I am not sure that the Sonic Motion Technology is quite there yet, but it is a different spin on block building. 

Would I buy more of this line? It is possible, but only if I found them on sale and they had a character I want. I say that because I will probably find a way to display the characters, but the build itself is going back in its' box. Not worth the space it takes up to keep it built. 

NOTE to self: remove the batteries.

Is there anything special that you want me to review (toys or otherwise)? Let me know and I just might do it. :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Aladdin the Musical on Broadway- Opening Preview 02/26/14

When I heard that Disney's animated classic Aladdin would be coming to the Great White Way this Spring, I purchased tickets right on the spot. I really wanted to get tickets to opening night, but they are not on sale to the general public. Instead, I got the next best thing: tickets to Opening Preview, which was held last night down at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. So, after work ended, I picked up my best friend Megan, and together we headed down into the city for what was going to be a fun filled evening.

When we arrived around 7:30pm, the crowds were gathering. It was COLD outside of the theatre. I should have bundled up better.

Once we got into the lobby, I knew what my first stop was... the merchandise kiosk. In addition to picking up my prepaid Aladdin Magic Lamp Ornament, I was hoping to be able to order the upcoming Cast Album Recording. Fortunately, they were taking pre-orders for them. I did the pre-order for when the Newsies Cast Album Recording came out, and it arrived two weeks earlier than announced.

Also for sale were some trinkets, including purse tassels, compact mirrors, and coin purses. There were also a variety of t-shirts, a window card, and a beach towel.

At the concession stand was the normal over-priced theatre fare. Drinks were served in Aladdin collectible cups, and they had some special Aladdin inspired cocktails and mocktails.

What's that? Oh right, there was a musical. I am not going to give away many spoilers, but safe to say it was an amazing musical. It payed homage to the movie, while at the same time boldly saying from the onset that this was a retelling of what we all knew, and to expect changes. For me, the show was excellently cast. Here are some highlights:

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed are the perfect Aladdin and Jasmine, respectively. I enjoyed how they give Jasmine a bigger voice in this version of the story. As for Aladdin, he is given a purpose, and a cause for which he was after, aside from winning Jasmine's heart. The acting by both Jacobs and Reed only excel the improved characters there on stage. 

James Monroe Iglehart plays the Genie. No more the impersonator, but still the comedian, the Genie is now less slapstick, more substance (in a lot of good ways), and a bigger part of the story. He is now the role of storyteller, bringing the audience into one of the 1,001 Arabian Nights. For his part, Iglehart is amazing. At the end of "A Friend Like Me" last night, he deservingly brought the house down, getting a standing ovation even before Act I finished.

Don Darryl Rivera plays Iago. Even though Iago is no longer a parrot, but a human, it does not mean that the character is any less disturbing and creepy. Some of the best lines of comedy come from this character. At times you are laughing at him, others laughing with him, and still others you are cringing at the very thought that he is serious with what he is saying. The part calls for the actor to be over the top, and that is what Rivera is... and he is superb.

Finally, the reason I was so excited to be there last night... Jonathan Freeman as Jafar. Does that name ring a bell? Well, for all of my Disney fanatic friends out there, you might recognize Freeman as the voice of Jafar in Aladdin. Wait.... what? Yup! Jafar from the movie is Jafar in the show. Freeman is a Broadway veteran, and a creepy Jafar on stage. He is such a presence on stage, and very enjoyable.

OK, so some of you probably are wondering about other aspects of the show. Well, i promised I would not give too much away. However, here are a few hopefully non-spoilers.

~ The Cave of Wonders silhouette... breathtaking. 

~ The Flying Carpet/ "A Whole New World" segment... worth the price of admission alone. I still don't know 100% how they could pull that off so effortlessly and magically.

~ People have asked me to compare it to the stage show out at Disney's California Adventure. I have personally not seen it, but caught up with it via YouTube videos... and the Broadway version blows anything they do over there out of the water.

~ The costume budget alone for the "Prince Ali" number must be staggering. When you see it you will know what I am talking about.

~ The only downside? The ending did feel a little lackluster, mainly because of the choices they had to made. It was still a good ending, but less action packed and snaky as i would have liked.

Afterwards, Megan and I stagedoored, where we got to meet the cast and congratulate them on a job well done.

Megan with Adam Jacobs (Aladdin).

Courtney Reed (Jasmine) and I.

Megan and I with James Monroe Iglehart (Genie).

Megan and I with Don Darryl Rivera (Iago).

The one and only Jonathan Freeman (Jafar) and I.

So, there you have it: my (not so much of a) review of Aladdin. If i didn't think all of you should be seeing it, then I could, and would, talk about it more. However, it's safe to say that you will not be disappointed when you see it.

To purchase tickets to see Aladdin on Broadway, you can visit the Ticketmaster website here.

What would you wish for if you had three wishes?