Monday, September 27, 2010


I found myself with all of these half-baked ideas, and I realized that two halves make a whole, so I put them all together! And now, for your reading pleasure, are the great proverbs of wit and wisdom that never existed... until now!

Better a late bird than an early worm.

If it ain't broke, don't sweep it under the rug.

One man's smoke is another man's fire.

The early bird catches the cold.

Pen wise, sword foolish.

You can hold your horses, but you can't make them drink.

Those who live by the sword die by the pen.

A mouse by any other name still wants a cookie!

A fool and his cookie are soon parted.

If you can't beat 'em, get out of the kitchen.

Too many cooks can dish it out, but can't take it.

Don't count your chickens until the fat lady sings.

Where there's honey, there's vinegar.

A stitch in time is a penny earned.

Up a tree without a paddle.

What goes up a creek must come down.

Don't sweep the spilt milk under the rug!

Call a molehill a molehill.

Ruffle a few feathers the wrong way.

Many hands make the cookie crumble.

Don't judge a horse by it's saddle.

Look before you judge a book by it's cover.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Once Upon a Disneyland

A friend once asked me, “If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would you go?” I pondered the question thoughtfully, and then responded in all seriousness, “Disneyland.”

He laughed in a good natured way, because he knew that it was true. Even though I go to Disneyland every couple of months, whenever I find a chance or excuse to be there, it's special to me. Disneyland is my second home. Last year, in fact, I even made a huge gingerbread castle that was a model of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.

I spent this last weekend at Disneyland. It was pretty awesome. Wow – I just repeated myself there. In any case, I had a lot of fun. I had more fun that you will probably ever have when you go to Disneyland, but probably less fun than I've had at Disneyland before. It's a delicate balance. Thursday evening, I drove down to the Anaheim area, and arrived at about 3 a.m. After sleeping for just five hours, I woke up with my heart pounding, hopped out of bed, and headed to Disneyland to hang out with my best friend, JD. Well, that is, after getting ready, and enjoying the perfect breakfast: A warm, thick slice of Rye Sourdough toast, with delicious melted butter on top.

But I will not bore you with what actually happened, I will get straight to all my favorite stories. Err – which isn't to say that my favorite stories didn't actually happen, because they did. But, you know what I mean! Anyway... where to begin?

One thing that was special about this last weekend was that the park was newly decorated for Halloween. Space Mountain became “Ghost Galaxy,” and the Haunted Mansion was decorated in “Nightmare before Christmas” style:

“Twas the nightmare before Christmas

And all through the house

Not a creature was peaceful

Not even a mouse.”

In honor of Halloween terror, or perhaps because we were standing right next to the ride at one point, me and JD rode The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. It was Terrible! I mean Terrific! One activity that is always exceptionally fun is to pose for the picture on various rides. Many of the rides are equipped with cameras that take your picture, and it's endlessly amusing to think of different poses for that precise moment. For the Tower of Terror, me and JD did our best to look very happy, contented, and even downright relaxed. The picture turned out perfect! If there was no explanation that we were on the “Tower of Terror,” one might look at the picture, and think that we were just relaxing on a park bench (albeit an odd-looking, elevator-style park bench.) Actually, the reason that we were right next to that ride is that we wanted to get a fastpass for that ride, before heading (from Disneyland's California Adventure Park, DCA) over to Disneyland itself. I only mention that because we never actually ended up using those Tower of Terror fastpasses later at all...

But fastpasses are fun! Besides the obvious advantage that the passes allow you to get on rides quickly, when you could have been happily waiting in line for hours on end, they also give the holder a distinct feeling of empowerment. Even if you never actually end up using a fastpass, you always have the feeling that you could have, if you'd wanted to! Therefore, you might be willing to spend an extra 30 minutes going to get a fastpass, which will save you... 30 minutes of time standing in line. So this one time, I wanted to go get Space Mountain fastpasses (which were actually rather necessary, since the line was habitually over an hour long, due to the “Ghost” decore), but JD and Elizabeth, JD's sister, wanted to stay in DCA instead. So we struck a deal, and they rode a ride in DCA there, while I walked all the way out of the park, to Disneyland, to Tomorrowland, to Space Mountain, to get fastpasses for the three of us, and then walk back to Mainstreet, leaving Disneyland, and then into DCA again.

This was all after minimal sleep the night before, and so I was so exhausted after that trek that I sat down at a table in the shade, and promptly fell asleep before JD and his sister returned from California Screamin'. Was it all worth it? Yes! A hundred times, yes! For one thing, the nap was worth it, and allowed me to stay up 'til Midnight. For another thing, we all rode Space Mountain later, and it was epic! The flaming skeleton, which we named Mephistopheles by the way, chases people all around the ride, with its flaming hands which can extend seemingly indefinitely. For the pose of that ride, we knew where the Ghost would show up on the final picture, and then posed as if we could already see the Ghost and were reacting in sheer terror. Speaking of which, wouldn't it be freaky if people kept going into Space Mountain... and never coming back out? Then again, I guess Disney is prepared for that possibility, since I happen to know that there are approximately 10,000 body bags under Space Mountain. (That's actually true, by the way). That reminds me, though, a couple days later, I was looking through my purse, and found an old Space Mountain fastpass from July 7th, for 9:30 to 10:30 pm. I wondered if they would notice the discrepancy, and so on September 19th, between 9:30 and 10:30 pm, I got in the fastpass line – and sure enough! They let me right onto the ride!

Another ride that you won't want to miss is called “Astro Blaster,” and you get to compete with the person in the same car as you to shoot at moving and non-moving targets with an unreliable laser gun, from a moving vehicle. My cousin is a CHP officer, and he loves that ride!!! Hmm... that's kinda scary. In any case, you score points based on how many targets you hit, and how many points they are worth. Occasionally, the ride will stop for a few moments, because the Cast Members have to take extra time to help someone get on or off one of the spacecrafts, and while it may be annoying to be stopped while riding most rides, this is one ride where you secretly hope that it stops once in a while... right in front of a really valuable target. This time, it did. Twice. In front of the *most* point-worthy targets, and I just blasted the Disney Magic out of it.

As we were nearing the end of the ride, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that I was not gaining any more points, and so I complained to JD about that fact. After laughing at me, he proceeded to inform me that I wasn't gaining any points because I had already hit the maximum. !!! I looked at my score, and sure enough! Never before, and probably never again! I had 999,999 points! I quickly forgave the ride for refusing to give me more points, and instead invested my energy in trying to take a picture of the scoreboard before it vanished.

JD got more like 250,000. But in all fairness, I've had significantly more practice, and I usually take pleasure in p'wning whoever I'm with. The previous time I was on that ride, I was with a friend who was into weapons, swords in particular, and had been previously boasting about his intense sword-fighting skills. By the end of the ride, my score was over 3 times his score, and he seemed rather discontent about the whole situation, and so I gently reassured him that if it had been a sword fight, he would have beaten me. After a moment's reflection, he seemed happier and agreed that “Yeh, [he] totally could have killed me 100 times by now.”

What loyal friends I have....

Speaking of swords, though, there is an adorable Sword Shop in Fastasyland. Some people may not believe that the words “adorable” and “sword” go together, but swords can be so artistic and beautiful! There is even a pirate set with a skull and two swords, which can actually be taken off the display and used in case some breaks into your intricate, Disney-decorated house.

If you are reading this, and thinking that Disneyland is all about the awesome rides, then you are sadly, sadly, mistaken. Already I've mentioned the thrill of the fastpasses, the sleep-inducing tables, and the carefully crafted swords, but there is so much more to Disneyland than that. For instance, one activity that I always find amusing is stepping on and off the sidewalks. ( Go ahead and take a moment to laugh at how odd I am before continuing, if you must... ) You see, when I step off a sidewalk, I always use the wrong foot to step with. That is, if I am resting my weight on my left foot, and I reach the curb, I put my right foot forward, but then slide my left foot onto the ground before putting my right foot down. It's fun, but it takes practice. Similarly, when I step onto the sidewalk, I do not step up. I jump just a bit, and then put both of my feet down sequentially. Sure, it's unnecessary, but it's fun! For instance, have you ever tried being unhappy while skipping? It just doesn't work!

Now, I had come to Southern California to visit Disneyland, to visit all of Disneyland, and to visit nothing but Disneyland. But then, you see, I learned that one of my close friends in the area had two tickets for a concert, which he didn't plan to be using. Normally, I wouldn't give a second thought to it, but two of the bands playing were Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold. So you see, since the man I love had at one point listed those two exact bands as two of his all-time favorites, I felt very motivated to go and see them, if for no other reason than to make him jealous. :) That is the flexibility of my Disneyland schedule. Some people have every moment of every day there set in stone, but not I. So JD and myself set off to find ourselves in a midst of a concert which couldn't be less Disney if it tried! It was certainly pretty interesting, and I did find it quite enjoyable, though I walked away with the distinct impression that the bands were darker and more obsessed with fire and death on stage than they had seemed on CD. Since I hadn't had a lot of foreknowledge about going to this event, I somehow missed having the important thought that I would have wanted to bring some sort of ear protection. As a result, my left ear was still ringing the day...

“Say, what ride do you want to go on?”

“Huh? Talk in Granny's good ear!”

One part of the trip that was particularly memorable was the part at which me and JD and Elizabeth all got the best Caramel Apples ever, and then enjoyed each delicious bite, while next to the lovely Rivers of America. This was memorable not only because it was ridiculously tasty (and even filling!) but because we weren't talking, while the three of us munched on the apples. We were all overly-hunger, and while happily consuming the newly-acquired food, it struck me that we hadn't had a moment of silence like that up to that point. Those were some *good* apples, though. I certainly plan to get another one the next time I visit. As we walked over to buy the apples, we ran into my good and dear best-friend who lives far away, Trina! No sooner had the words “Caramel Apple” left my mouth than she was giving me puppy-dog eyes to try to persuade me to get her one as well. Heh heh. That girl is like a little sister to me, and so of course, when we hung out the next day, I got her a caramel apple. For the sake of context, she often has so little money and gets so little to eat, that feeding her is one of the more rewarding experiences one can have.

Then again, she's good at being adorable and getting people to do things for her. Just like Hope, except more skilled. For instance, at one point the other day, I was hanging out with Trina, and the line for Haunted Mansion was about an hour long. She didn't have an hour to stay in the park, and she hadn't yet had a chance to see how it was decorated for the upcoming holidays... so she found some Cast Members she knew, and before I knew it, one of them had let us through the Fastpass line though we didn't have fastpasses!

But as many adventures that we had, while we were there, there were also adventures that we didn't have. I should definitely tell you about some of those as well. First of all, there was the game of invisible checkers that we never got to play. On Tom Sawyer Island, there is a table, and on that table, there is a painted Checkers/Chess board. At one point in the past, I was with a friend of mine, and while we did not have any game pieces, we did have Triscuits (a type of cracker). We used those as pieces for the game, and named it “Trisketiers.” The rule was: If you jumped the opponent's piece, you got to eat it! It was awfully fun. But this time, I didn't even have Triscuits. Therefore, I thought to myself that we should play checkers with no pieces whatsoever, and just try to keep track of where the pieces were. There were three of us, and so while two of us could play, the third could settle the inevitable disputes that would have come up, regarding where the pieces were, and how many were left. It was bound to be boundlessly amusing, but then by the time we got there, two other people were sitting at the table.

Oh well. We had to quickly abandon that idea, and content ourselves with running all about the Island, climbing on and over everything, and taking lots of fun pictures. It was a blast!!! A person isn't really allowed to climb on everything on Tom Sawyer Island, but it's mostly just for safety reasons. There's also a shipwrecked boat on the Island, which I named the U.S.S. Acosta after the friend who I played Trisketiers with, C. Daniel Acosta. While on the Island, me and JD and Elizabeth took many excellent pictures which prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that we had more fun than we actually did, and then we headed back for the mainland. On the way to Tom Sawyer Island, actually, JD had been causing trouble by flipping the sign around, so that it said that the Island was closed. Not surprisingly, people still came to Island. Surprisingly, when we got back, the sign *still* said that the Island was closed! No Cast Member had even noticed it! After the requisite bout of laughter (and maybe a couple extra ones), we conscientiously corrected the sign before heading off to other adventures.

Another adventure that we never had was visiting the fireplace. You see, after a long day, filled with more fun than you and grandmother can handle, the most enticing place in the whole world is this one spot with a huge, cozy, snug fireplace.

In front of the fireplace are perhaps a dozen comfy rocking chairs, and there is soft piano music playing in the background. There is nothing quite like it. Even if you were able to reconstruct the scene, you wouldn't enjoy as much if you were not quite so physically exhausted. And even if you were physically exhausted because of work, you would not enjoy it quite as much as you would after a long, exhausting day of fun at Disneyland. It's like... well, you know the feeling that you have in the morning when you wake up, and then you hit “snooze” and snuggle up with your blankets for another few minutes? It's like that cozy feeling, times ten! It's just a perfect feeling that you want to hold on to forever. Well, we didn't have a chance to enjoy that feeling because on Friday evening, we were at a Disturbed concert, and on Saturday evening, we were busy watching Fantasmic, and then World of Color. It was all good, though, because we had such an extraordinary amount of fun, and besides that, now we have adventures to have next time!

So you can see, many people don't bother to write about the adventures that they never had, but sometimes, that's the best part!!! You can why I never get bored of Disneyland, though – every time I leave, I have so many exciting plans, that at the end of the trip, I find that I simply must come back again to finish having all those adventures that I hadn't yet gotten around to having.

Now, when we did see Fantasmic, it was absolutely breathtaking. Except for one important detail. The Dragon – the main antagonist who sets the whole river on fire – was missing. :| Naturally, I did not miss the opportunity to tease my Arch-Rival (who is a Fantasmic lead) about the Dragon being gone. I hear that the Dragon, a couple weeks ago, was put in the hospital after Mickey zapped him so powerfully that he fell face-first... and couldn't get back up.

Epic victory on Mickey's part! Although I do have to mention that the Dragon was never particularly cooperative. When he first made his debut this year, he kept breaking because the Disney special effects crew couldn't handle him. Eventually, they just hired the people who built him to control him during the show. Obviously, the Dragon, in time, was too much even for them. Even so, we miss you, Fantasmic Dragon! Please come back!!!

Speaking of things being missing from Disneyland, JD and I wandered into Toontown at one point, and I was shocked and disappointed to see that Landmark 3 ½ (which had been dedicated on “some important day”) was gone. One word: Why??? Seriously. Why? What could Disney possibly gain by taking away Landmark 3 ½? For that matter, why did they take away “The Blank Sign?” All they have there now is, well, an actually blank sign. Not quite as funny.

But it was all good. I remember at one point, me and JD were standing in line for the Canoe ride, which is by far, one of my two favorite rides in the entire park (Elizabeth didn't want to do any hard physical labor on her vacation. I can't figure out why), and JD mentioned that he rarely gets to spend so much time with me – that it seemed odd, but in a good way. That made me think, because it didn't seem at all odd to me. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to be at my favorite place in the world, with one of my favorite people in the world. Not for one instant did anything in the world seem more “normal” to my mind. I leave Disneyland, and then come back months later, but as soon as I arrive, I feel as though I've never left. The canoes were tremendously fun, by the way. Not just tolerable, not just somewhat fun, but incredibly fun! It's small wonder that I hold the record of thirty times on that ride in a day. The canoe guide was very witty, and told the canoe jokes with skill and finesse. Even JD was very happy to hear those jokes (which I'd recited to him again and again) actually told in context. The guide, Ben, even told some canoe jokes that I'd never heard before. For instance, as we slowly glided by the Smoking Area that is right along the river, Ben called out to us “Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” and then, turning his head to those smoking, “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke!” It was pretty hilarious, and even the smokers found it amusing. To be fair, though, that wasn't his best joke; that's just one that I'd never heard before, and will have to add to my list.

I took lots of interesting pictures of Disneyland. In fact, Disneyland is one of the few places where I ever take pictures at all, and I have one simple guideline: I don't want to take pictures that look like everyone else's pictures. “Here's me with the Castle.” “Here's me with Mickey Mouse.” “Here we are in front of a ride.” Boring! That might just be the best way to make the most exciting place on earth look simplistic and over-rated. However, I do love to take pictures. Luckily, JD and his sister had digital cameras with them, and I relied on those a great deal. Of course, I also brought a camera, but you see, I *hate* carrying things. When I go to Disneyland, I do not carry a backpack, or even a purse. If I have to carry it, I don't bring it. It's that simple. In this case, though, since I brought my camera and it didn't fit in any of my pockets, I simply carried it in one of my boots. Last time, I carried it in my pirate hat, but the trouble with that was that I would keep forgetting, and every time I would take my hat off, my camera would fall to the ground! I didn't like that much, but as hard as I tried, I never could keep in mind the fact that I was carrying a camera in my hat. (Similarly, my friend David teased me at the end of the day when I took off my boots, and my camera feel to the floor. Clearly, I also can't keep in mind that I'm carrying a camera in my boot)

Anyway, that kept things nice and interesting because we would be walking along, and every time I saw something that I really wanted to take a picture of, my friends would get to laugh at me as I hopped on one foot, while trying to get my camera out of my other boot. (Then again, it makes me wonder: Would Disneyland be quite as fun if I were not quite as odd?)

Well, looking back over all the stories I've told so far, I can see that I've already told quite enough, if not too many. Even so, I haven't even told you about all the excitement from this trip, and this has been just *one* trip. Imagine how much fun I've had on all the trips combined!!! And do I go back to Disneyland and do the same things again and again? For some things, yes, and it's familiar and awesome. In other ways, no; I have different stories to tell every time I return. There are about ten more favorite stories just from this most recent trip that I haven't the time to write about. Stories of contraband, and going on Winnie the Pooh again and again to relax at the end of a beautiful but mentally-tiring day; stories of accidentally creating status symbols, and my mental ponderings about whether or not it's worth it to have a conversation if you already know everything that's going to be said. There are a couple stories about various adventures having to with “15 minute parking” (would you believe “50 minute parking”?), and how trippy it is to go at high speeds on a ride where you can look backwards the whole time. All those stories will have to wait for another time, though. I had lots of fun. So much. In fact, I did things so risky that at one point, I hid my ID in my boot, for fear of getting caught and having my pass revoked. But the abundance of stories is something that never ceases to frustrate me at times, because, at the end of a really awesome day, I will have perhaps 10 pages of stories to write. But before I can raise my hand to write in my journal at night, I fall into a contented sleep. When I wake up, it's usually time to go back to Disneyland. I mean, who can sit around writing, when Disneyland awaits?

[Text on Sign: "This is a blank sign! Please do not pay attention to any printing you may see on this sign. We only wrote this to let you know that this is a blank sign. With nothing on it. Except this message."]

Anyway, I hope that you guys have *half* as much fun as I have! Because, you see, that would mean that I would be having twice as much fun as you... and you guys seem like you'd be having a great time!

Well, after all this, I've reached the end of this blog. And, as much humor as it has contained, I have just one last joke – for all you psychics out there: