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Responses to this rant
Dandy   Friday, 2/3/2017 7:18 AM
Older rants
June 1, 2020   Trip to the Grand Canyon (last year),
Code Talker
Mar 21, 2020   The World Famous San Diego ComicFest
and the testament to dorkness that is my cubicle
and my sad, sad little doodles
Mar 8, 2020   A return to Potterland,
Meg & Dia's Christmas album, December Darling,
some other random stuff
Feb 21, 2020   Agorafabulous!,
Emeli's amazing creations
Nov 27, 2019   David Savakerrva Volume 1
The cubicle of nerdishness
Oct 28, 2019   Art Matters, Neil Gaiman
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle
Alternate Routes, Tim Powers
Disneyland - Galaxy's Edge
Oct 4, 2019   Meg & Dia, HappySad tour San Diego 09/18/19
September 21. 2019   David Bowie - Scary Monsters,
More Adventures in Leasing,
More cubicle fun,
A new doodle
September 10. 2019   The Cranberries - In The End,
The Cranberries - Something Else,
Icicle Works, Icicle Works (vinyl),
Dia Frampton, Red,
Juliana Hatfield, Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton John,
The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads,
Green Day, Insomniac ,
Flight of the Conchords, Flight of the Conchords Live in London
August 28, 2019   Heir of Ra (Maciek Sasinowski,
The Catalyst Series (JK Franks): Downward Cycle, Kingdom of Sorrow, Ghost Country
May 11, 2019   Goodbye, little friend
Nov 30, 2018   Fire of Our Fathers,
a Science Fiction Book Club rant
Nov 24, 2018   The Dinosaur Lords,
Dragon Teeth
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
June 24, 2018   Jake, Lucid Dreamer
June 13, 2018   Troll-stalking
May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008 usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

The Not-So-Magical Kingdom

Since our Harry Potterland annual passes expired in December, I guess it's only natural that we would return to the land of Disney, right? Over-priced tickets, super-expensive food, and massive crowds...what's not to like?

I did at least use the Disneyland Crowd Forecast to pick the best date to attend. And it proved to be about as useful as a consulting a Magic 8 Ball. The calendar promised Ghost Town crowds on our Wednesday in January, and maybe compared to a non-Ghost Town day, but it didn't feel all that Ghost Townish.

Disneyland again met all my expectations (none of which were optimistic). Most of the rides had lines of 30-45 minutes, but at least the lines weren't extended beyond the end of their normal stopping point as they were the last time I went to Disneyland. Luckily, the restaurants were pretty empty the couple of times we stopped for food. As we were eating, we did watch the lines grow and grow and grow so I guess we just had good timing. And, to be honest, the food we had in California Adventure (at Flo's in Cars Land) was actually pretty affordable. There wasn't a ton of it, but it was really tasty and relatively-reasonably priced for an amusement park (around $12 for a smallish adult meal). We also ate at the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland and I had a pretty good slice of buffalo chicken pizza. It was probably around the same price as the sandwich I had at Flo's and not nearly as satisfying.

But enough complaining about the stuff I didn't like (don't get too excited, I'm not going to stop blathering just yet) - on to my observations about the rides that I haven't been on since the end of 2015. My observations on updates may or may not have been actual updates. I could just be mis-remembering what it was like before. Who knows?

The first ride of the day: Space Mountain...or as it's known now: Hyperspace Mountain. The first thing I noticed, other than the name change, was the missing escalator to the upper level where the line generally began. The line now snakes up around the front of Captain EO (which is some other Star Wars related thing now) and over to where it used to pretty much start. Luckily, at least half of this winding outside line was empty so I was hurrying up to where it actually started near where the escalator used to be. The video screen near the entrance to the inside-part of the line is now Star Wars related stuff. The huge video screen in the final room now shows Star Wars stuff instead of the generic space stuff it used to show, but the huge spaceship suspended from the ceiling is still a non-Star Wars ship. And the audio playing while waiting in line is all Star Wars related now. Inside the ride, they added a few Star Wars ships/battles projected on the walls, and one tie fighter canopy (that's what it looked like to me) swooping down over the track. But it's really still pretty much the old Space Mountain with a few minor changes.

And then we were off to Pirates. On the way, since we were walking past it anyway, we picked up fast passes for Indiana Jones. I love Pirates of the Caribbean. It's my favorite ride (and area of the park inside Disneyland) by far. It's the only part of Disneyland I prefer to Harry Potterland. All that said, there wasn't anything visually different inside the ride as far as I could tell. I thought I heard some updated audio in the pirate skeletons in the pirate bar section of the ride (laughter that I don't remember being there in years past). And Jack Sparrow at the ride's end seems to be breaking down a little. His mouth was barely moving - but that's more of a non-update to the ride. Also semi-pirate-related, I saw some pirate skull key chains at the ride's end (I always pop into the pirate shop after riding POC) that I don't think I'd seen before. I wanted one, but wasn't ready to pony up $7.00 for it. There was a bunch of other stuff I hadn't seen before in the shop, too, but nothing in the super-tightwad price range.

After Pirates, we checked on Indiana Jones and saw that it was now broken down. So we would have to wait to see if it was repaired later. Instead, we headed over to The Haunted Mansion. I didn't see a single update to that ride, but it's such a classic ride that I think any "improvements" they make are just a waste. One non-update: the projected face of the murderous bride near the exit of that room looked less clear and a little messed up, so I don't know what was going on there.

After The Haunted Mansion, we checked on Indiana Jones again (still broken), and then headed over to The Matterhorn. Along the way, we passed by by Peter Pan (another favorite ride, second only to Pirates) and saw it was as super-crowded as ever. The rest of Fantasyland had pretty much normal lines, but Peter Pan is always insanely busy. So we skipped it. The Matterhorn seemed to be pretty much the same ride I remembered. There could have been some new Yetis (there are so many now I can't keep track of them all) or wreckage/debris. Or maybe even new Yeti noises, but it has never been a ride I loved, so I don't have fond memories of what it once was to compare it against.

After the excitement of The Matterhorn, we needed to keep that adrenaline rush going, so we headed to...see Animatronic Abraham Lincoln. What? Not exciting? Maybe not. But we needed to justify our visit as a "field trip" for Emeli, so an educational stop was in order (not to say the Pirates ride isn't educational, but since Disney Jack Sparrowed it up, it's a lot more fictional). It's the same ol' Honest Abe show it's always been. Nothing new to report there.

We headed over to California Adventure after seeing Robot Abe. CarsLand is pretty much the best part of this park (we'll see how I feel after the remodel of The Tower of Terror into Guardians-of-the-Galaxyland), so we headed to the Cars ride (it was closed due to technical difficulties) and then ate a late lunch/early dinner at Flo's. It was very tasty and not too expensive.

We popped into a couple of shops on the way out of California Adventure, but didn't try the only other ride I enjoy in California Adventure - Soarin' Over California (I don't even know if it's still open, it might be closed for conversion to Soarin' Over the World).

Back in Disneyland, we tried Indiana Jones again. Fortunately, this time, it was open so we jumped in the Fast Pass line. I don't remember seeing anything new on this ride either, but it's not a classic ride from my childhood that has burned itself into my memory, so I don't know for sure that nothing has changed.

Since we were right there, we decided to also ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We didn't have a fast pass, so we had to wait in a crazy-long line that snaked back in front of the Mexican restaurant dining area. It was dark by this time, so I didn't really see much of the ride. There could have been updates that went unseen. The one update I thought I did see was something that stands out more at night anyway, so that could be a misconception, too. It looked like they added a lot of lit/burning fuses and dynamite to the Dynamite tunnel. It was pretty cool. And may have been cooler than last time, but who knows?

By now, we were creeping up on the 8:00 closing time, so we headed over to Tomorrowland for our last ride of the day: Star Tours. I didn't expect anything new so I was surprised by a bunch of updated videos on the huge video screen in the first room (showing all the interesting planets Star Tours can take you to, weather on the different worlds, etc) and what I thought was updated C3PO dialogue and new dialogue for the luggage scanning droid (that may not be true, though). The ride itself was to a planet that I don't remember ever having been to on Star Tours: Kashyyyk (the wookie world) and Coruscant (I think that was the end-point). Oh, and there were the usual close calls with Imperial ships and Darth Vader of course. Fun stuff.

After Star Tours, we made a shocking discovery: the Buzz Lightyear ride had a five minute wait time. And we were walking right past it, so we rushed to the front of the line for our actual last ride of the day. This was only my second time on this ride, so I have no idea if it was any different than it was from the day it opened. I did shoot a lot of targets with a gun in each hand (my weak hand, the left, scored higher than my right, which was weird).

On the way out, we were trapped behind the wall of parade watchers as the Electric parade wound it's way down Main Street. We should have escaped on the monorail, but I wasn't thinking. So instead, we were squeezed into a crowd of people as we waited to escape. It's a good thing no terrorists decided to target Disneyland that day We would have been sitting ducks.

So that's my Disneyland report. Exciting stuff.

The Whistler, John Grisham

Before I get started, yes, I know John Grisham's novels are essentially the same story rehashed with different characters/settings/legal issues, etc. I know this...and I don't care. John Grisham can tell a story that draws you in and makes you hungry to find out what happens on the next page. He makes the characters in the books feel real and interesting. Or real and loathsome, if they're supposed to be loathed1.

I actually stopped reading Grisham's novels for a couple of years because he was really letting his politics show and it was making the same well-written and engaging fiction...less enjoyable. But I've read the last several novels and even though there is definitely a bias to the left, they're much more politically neutral - much as they were in the beginning (or at least how I remember them being - my memory is far from perfect).

The Whistler is John Grisham's latest legal thriller. And despite the implications of the title, the primary character in the book is not a whistle-blower. She is, of course, a lawyer. An attractive lawyer, as are pretty much all of Grisham's protagonists. Young, idealistic, honest - very much the typical Grisham protagonist. There is a whistle-blower in the background of most of the story, but the reader is sheltered from the identity of this person for most of the book. The FBI also figures pretty heavy in the story, as they have in many other John Grisham stories. And, as usual, the FBI agents are perfect boy scouts2. And, in a Game of Thrones-y move, one of the main characters is killed of fairly early in the story.

I considered finding an interesting passage from the book to share, but nothing really stands out any more than anything else in my mind. It's all good. I could spoil the book by going more deeply into the story and characters, but I'll just leave it at this - if you read and enjoyed The Firm, I'm pretty sure you will enjoy The Whistler. If you require completely original plots in everything you read, this may not be the book for you.

1 I suppose it's possible that the same people who root for the Empire in Star Wars could read John Grisham's books and root for the shadowy, nefarious thugs to to win. Or at least to admire their clever criminality/viciousness. But I'm not one of those people, so I can only speculate.

2 Having dealt directly with the FBI in the past (in real life), I find that depiction to be a little bit of a stretch, but it makes for a more enjoyable story, so we'll overlook it.

Prince of Outcasts, S.M. Sterling

Here's an interesting note about this novel and its predecessor - The Change, an anthology3 written mainly by guest authors set in the same universe, was published between The Golden Princess and The Desert and the Blade (briefly mentioned in previous posts). I mentioned The Change briefly here. Several of the characters/settings created by other authors in The Change were then incorporated into the The Desert and the Blade and Prince of Outcasts (and will likely continue to be principal players in the story going forward). One of my favorites from the anthology, the Tarzan character, hasn't made an appearance, but the books don't spend much time on the east coast of the U.S., so he could still make his way into the stories. The latest books are giving us glimpses into more of post-change California, the South Pacific, Japan, and Korea, so that's been interesting.

Now, thoughts on Prince of Outcasts specifically...

I briefly mentioned Prince of Outcasts predecessors (The Golden Princess and The Desert and the Blade), but gave little more than a generic recommendation for both. Honestly, these three books all blend together in my mind at this point (though Prince of Outcasts is still pretty fresh), so from an overall perspective, here's the scoop: it's been a long time since technology ceased to function as it once did when the world reverted to a medieval playground. We've moved on to the third generation of survivors who think of the world their grandparents knew (airplanes, automobiles, etc) as little more than myths and legends. The big baddies from the earlier novels have been defeated, but other incarnations of the baddies are going strong elsewhere in the world so there's no time to rest and enjoy a little peace. The children of King Rudi (the son of Mike Havel and Juniper Mackenzie of the original novels) are now having adventures of their own and seeing the world.

Stirling's books are well-written and do inspire a hunger to find out what's going to happen next, but it's hard to explain why. Maybe it's because Stirling does so much research and writes with authority on nearly every topic. But he's also just a skilled, descriptive writer. If you enjoy post-apocalyptic stories and alternative history stories, you'll probably enjoy this series. But it's a weird blend of alt-history and fantasy, so if you're committed to alt-history rooted in fact, this may not be the series for you. And there's no end in sight for the series, so you can keep falling deeper and deeper into this weird universe.

3 Speaking of anthologies, Thieves' World is one of the best. If you can still find a copy (it's really old and likely out-of-print) of the original, I'd recommend it highly. I have an ancient copy in my book collection (as well as a non-comprehensive graphic novel adaptation).

Since every recent post needs to have some kind of reference to The Magicians for Dan, here's my obligatory Magicians-related comment: I still haven't watched the first episode of the new season of The Magicians. And the second episode just aired, but I haven't seen that one either. They're both queued up and ready to go, I just need to find a little time.

I started re-reading the novel again, but I had started to forget what had come before in the previous forty pages, so I started over. And on a non-Magicians tangent, I'm also currently reading the Joel McHale mostly-factual autobiography, Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be. It has been pretty amusing (I'm almost halfway through it now). I've literally laughed out loud a few times. The Joel McHale book is a physical book (I've been reading an eBook version of The Magicians), so it gets priority when I read. Maybe I'll have to go pull The Magicians out of whatever box it's in so I actually spend a few minutes reading it.

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