Archive for May, 2010

Disneyland Hotel Pool

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Yesterday the Disney Parks Blog released some concept art for the Disneyland Hotel Makeover. One of the centerpieces of the blog is the redesign for the pool that lies at the center of the hotel’s three towers. Currently the pool is themed to Peter Pan characters. Soon it’ll be a little bigger and splashier (excuse the pun):

Showing my age, as soon as I saw this I thought, “But they just re-did the pool the year I moved to California!”

Which was in 1998.

Yeah, I guess it’s time for a makeover, eh?

Lost Tomorrow

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Tomorrow’s the big day, the series finale of Lost. I won’t bore you with my theories about the show, in 40-something hours it’ll all be revealed. Or not. Sometimes that’s how they roll.

The one thing that I am glad about, and have been in the weeks since photography wrapped, is that everyone lived.

Actors, to clarify, all of the actors lived. Most of the characters appear not to have.

The West Wing wasn’t so lucky, remember when John Spencer died mid-way through the final season (see Leo McGarry has died.)? And they even had a flash-forward in the season opener, that could have been bad news for them.

But in a show like Lost, an untimely death would have been devastating.

History is Written … by Texas

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Continuing the trend of being controversial today, here’s a clever blog entry “What Would U.S. History Look Like If It Were Written By Texas and Arizona?

A few of the clever bits:

1803-1848–America continues to expand westward into empty territories. American settlers make the land bloom with the help of friendly Indian tribes.

1848–Mexico, in an act of friendship following their humiliation at the Alamo by the great Republic of Texas, gives their territories to the United States.

1941–Patriotic Japanese Americans volunteer to place themselves in gated communities so that America will be safe from Imperial Japan.

1950–Senator Joseph McCarthy fearlessly highlights how America is infiltrated by communists from Russia and China. Big Hollywood and the liberal establishment are brought to their knees by his brave efforts.

Oh the whole thing is clever, just go read it!

Prostitutes in Dubai

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Oh snap!

Check out this article in The Guardian: “Why Dubai’s Islamic austerity is a sham – sex is for sale in every bar.”

230 years (and one day) since the Dark Day

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

How had I never heard of New England’s Dark Day until, well, yesterday?!

And I have a poem too! I know, I know, I only quote poetry about the apocalypse (see Two-thousand-and-Froze-to-Death?).

In the old days (a custom laid aside
With breeches and cocked hats) the people sent
Their wisest men to make the public laws.
And so, from a brown homestead, where the Sound
Drinks the small tribute of the Mianus,
Waved over by the woods of Rippowams,
And hallowed by pure lives and tranquil deaths,
Stamford sent up to the councils of the State
Wisdom and grace in Abraham Davenport.

‘Twas on a May-day of the far old year
Seventeen hundred eighty, that there fell
Over the bloom and sweet life of the Spring
Over the fresh earth and the heaven of noon,
A horror of great darkness, like the night
In day of which the Norland sagas tell,
The Twilight of the Gods. The low-hung sky
Was black with ominous clouds, save where its rim
Was fringed with a dull glow, like that which climbs
The crater’s sides from the red hell below.
Birds ceased to sing, and all the barnyard fowls
Roosted; the cattle at the pasture bars
Lowed, and looked homeward; bats on leathern wings
Flitted abroad; the sounds of labor died;
Men prayed, and women wept; all ears grew sharp
To hear the doom-blast of the trumpet shatter
The black sky, that the dreadful face of Christ
Might look from the rent clouds, not as He looked
A loving guest at Bethany, but stern
As Justice and inexorable Law.

Meanwhile in the old State House, dim as ghosts,
Sat the lawgivers of Connecticut,
Trembling beneath their legislative robes.
“It is the Lord’s Great Day! Let us adjourn,”
Some said; and then, as if with one accord,
All eyes were turned to Abraham Davenport.
He rose, slow cleaving with his steady voice
The intolerable hush. “This well may be
The Day of Judgment which the world awaits;
But be it so or not, I only know
My present duty, and my Lord’s command
To occupy till He come. So at the post
Where He hast set me in His providence,
I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face,
No faithless servant frightened from my task,
But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls;
And therefore, with all reverence, I would say,
Let God do His work, we will see to ours.
Bring in the candles.” And they brought them in.

Then by the flaring lights the Speaker read,
Albeit with husky voice and shaking hands,
An act to amend an act to regulate
The shad and alewive fisheries, Whereupon
Wisely and well spake Abraham Davenport,
Straight to the question, with no figures of speech
Save the ten Arab signs, yet not without
The shrewd dry humor natural to the man:
His awe-struck colleagues listening all the while,
Between the pauses of his argument,
To hear the thunder of the wrath of God
Break from the hollow trumpet of the cloud.

And there he stands in memory to this day,
Erect, self-poised, a rugged face, half seen
Against the background of unnatural dark,
A witness to the ages as they pass,
That simple duty hath no place for fear.

That was John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Abraham Davenport” first published in The Atlantic Monthly in May of 1866.

Star Wars Video

Thursday, May 20th, 2010


Star Wars Weekends kickoff tomorrow at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios).

It’s Getting Hot in Here

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Paul Krugman has an interesting post on his New York Times blog: “How Will They Spin This?

Check out his graph and you’ll agree, “global warming” does have a nice ring to it …

Urban Farming

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The New York Times City Room blog had a neat post the other day, “High Above Queens, the Dirt Is Deep, and Good.”

It’s a 40,000-square-foot farm on the roof of a building in Queens. Apparently they will “grow tomatoes, eggplants, chilies and various leafy greens to be sold at a farm stand on the premises and to a few restaurants”.

Fantastic idea!

If You Sell It, They Will Buy …

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Saw an interesting article in the Des Moines Register (what, you don’t read the ‘DMR’ every day?): “‘Field of Dreams’ site for sale (guess the asking price)“.

Yes, the ballfield/cornfield from the 1989 Kevin Costner movie is up for $5.4 million. You also get the house. And two souvenir stands that cater to the 65,000 visitors a year.

Back in 1998 when I moved to California we stopped there. It was pretty cool – it’s at the end of a small road in this sleepy little town. My brother and I were among a dozen or so tourists checking it out. Don’t believe me?

Here’s a photo of my brother at the site:

It was pretty neat, but maybe not worth $5.4 million …

Unseen Portland Blog

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

One of my photos made the Unseen Portland blog!

Sure, it’s run by my brother’s college roommate, but still, it’s a pretty cool picture.

Abramoff and the Tea Party

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Pointed, but probably true: “If Jack Abramoff weren’t in prison, he’d be leading the Tea Party.”

Fringe Finale

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I’m going to let my geek flag wave here today – over the weekend I watched the first part of the Fringe season finale. Sorry it’s so closely on the heels of a similar post just last month (see Back to the Alternative Future).

So this week we’re back in the Fringe alternate universe, but it’s the present day this time. First off they started out with an alternate red tinted credit sequence:

Hey, waitaminute, “First People”? In the normal credits it’s “Parallel Universes”:

Interesting …

Alternate New York City still has the World Trade Center and airships up the yin-yang (likely they didn’t have a Hindenburg disaster) but they also have a fairly esoteric early 20th century architecture reference – Antoni Gaudí’s proposed Grand Hotel:

The hotel was designed in the early 1900s but (obviously) never built. It actually looks quite a bit like a super-sized version of London’s Swiss Re Building:

Apparently there’s an architecture geek on the writing or production staff.

This New York still has a Statue of Liberty, although somehow theirs has retained its original copper-bronze hue:

Also, as you can see from the title, it appears that Fort Wood is the home of the alternate universe Department of Defense.

I’m still taken aback by the lack of Verdigris on the Statue; we can either assume that the science behind corrosion works differently in the alternate universe (which is unlikely), that the Statue has been rebuilt (perhaps their September 11th attacks had different targets) or a third, unknown reason.

Moving on, my favorite jokes of the episode are the numismatically inclined. The defense forces in the alternate world find a dead human from our world and go through his wallet. They’re particularly confused by our money:

“Who’s ‘Jackson’?”

Wow, so either the guy doesn’t know who his seventh President was, or someone else was their seventh President. Naturally this, in conjunction with the “First People” bit above, leads me to wonder about that universe’s Creek War and Seminole Wars – with no Andrew Jackson were Native Americans treated more humanely in this universe?

Or maybe I’m overthinking this.

The next one blew me out of the water, though; in wanting to compare their $20 to ours, they asked for “a Junior”.



So either Martin Luther King, Jr was a President, or they’re keeping in line with the Hamiltons and Franklins and put influential non-Presidents on money.

Either way, bad-ass.

They also use dollar coins over there:

Shocking, I know. The front was even moreso:

So Reverend King and Richard Nixon made it onto the money in this world?!


Honestly I took this more as a homage to Watchmen, where Nixon was still President in 1985 (after the repeal the 22nd Amendment and the suspicious murders of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein).

This next thing, it’s just weird and funny:

Yup, The West Wing season eleven. Why the The West Wing? Maybe because both it and Fringe are produced by Warner Brothers Television?

Maybe they’re just fans?

The last one was startling, check out the map in the background:

Time to turn to the internets for help. I found an article at SciFiWire: “Secrets of the alternate U.S.A. from Fox’s Fringe.” They saw the map in-person on set and say this:

California has clearly suffered a major catastrophe; half of it is gone, presumably underwater.

The state of Washington is called “Southern British Columbia.” (A wink to the crew of Fringe, which is shot in Canada’s British Columbia?)

Nevada is called “Independent Nevada.”

Texas is divided into two states: North Texas and South Texas.

Oklahoma and Kansas are combined into a large state called “Midland.”

North and South Carolina are combined into a single state called simply “Carolina.”

Louisiana is called “Louisiana Territory.”

The area around Washington, D.C., is called “District of Virginia” instead.

The upper peninsula of Michigan doesn’t exist.

The map designates red “quarantine areas” and blue “incident areas,” presumably either places that have been cleared of all life or areas of unusual “Pattern”-related activity. The biggest red quarantine areas are in Delaware, eastern New York and southern Maine.

I’d say it’s more Eastern Maine, say Hancock County?


Sorry Bar Harbor, MDI. You lose. Better luck next alternate universe …

Gold Bar ATM in the UAE

Friday, May 14th, 2010


You jackasses are making it too easy to mock you and/or too difficult to defend you!

The geniuses at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi have installed, well, the title says it all: “The ATM that dispenses gold bars.”


The Roy E. Disney Animation Building

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

You might recall my mentioning how Roy E. Disney, Walt Disney’s nephew, passed away back in December (see Roy E. Disney).

I forgot to tell you that, at a memorial service in January , the company announced they were renaming the animation building on near the Disney Studio Lot the “Roy E. Disney Animation Building”.


I was legitimately touched when I read this, that was the building in which I worked for a good number of years around the turn of the century.

Of course, it might be confusing to folks in Burbank as there’s already a Roy O. Disney Building named after his father (who was Walt’s brother and business partner). It’s sadly the ugliest building in Burbank, a brute of a concrete 1976 mess, not unlike Boston City Hall, actually.

Anyway, apparently on Friday they had the official dedication of the building.

Here’s a photo:


Dubailand Update

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Just saw this article from Dubai’s Gulf News about the famed Dubailand complex: “Dubailand project continues as it adapts to new market realities.”



I’m … shocked!

Dubailand was the conglomerate of theme parks that was always touted as “twice the size of Walt Disney World” using phrases such as “45 mega projects” and “5 billion square feet” – even though right now it’s all desert. I railed on it quite about over at Newlywed in Dubai.

Anyway, here’s today’s key quote:

Theme parks still on the list include Universal Studios, Six Flags and Legoland, [Khalid Al Malek, chief executive officer of Dubai Properties Group] said.

No mention of the other parks, which include (but are not limited to):

Warner Bros. Movie World
Dreamworks Animation Theme Park
F1-X Theme Park Dubai
Marvel Superheroes Theme Park
Dubai Snowdome

Huh. Reality.

Area 51 in the News

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the Area 51 article in last week’s Los Angeles Times: “The Road to Area 51.”

French Press To Go

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Wow, I just saw this article at the New York TimesCoffee to Go That Brews While You Carry It.”

It’s a fully-recyclable single-use French Press cup called the “XPress cup” made by California’s SmartCup, available at NYC’s BKoffie.


Train Station on Commercial Street?!?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

So there’s a proposal to extend train service northward from Portland to Brunswick. Apparently they’re looking for a new train station in Portland … and are seriously looking at Commercial Street and Center Street.

From The Forecaster: “Center Street train station a front-runner among Portland North transit proposals.”

Weird location, and then have the train go down Commercial?


Transbay Transit Center

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Check out the design for San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center released a few weeks ago.

When it’s completed in 2017, it’ll be the hub for twelve different transit systems, including the yet-to-be-built California High Speed Rail program.

I think the rooftop park (including outdoor amphitheater, playground and lily pond) is genius.

For more, check out the World Architecture News.