The Animal Kingdom Post

This past weekend we headed off to Animal Kingdom (Jake, Mum and I) which was a lot of fun. Though I’ve never been a big zoo-fan, the environments they have at the park are really stunning to see. Lots of terrific carvings and lush plants that they shipped in from allover the place, and some pretty cool original stuff. The animals were interesting too I suppose. Hit Expedition Everest, the new coaster, and was pleasantly surprised. It reeks of Thunder Mountain, but has a nice ride-plot and some really good segments featuring the Yeti. 2nd time was a lot better, guess I had a better seat or something but the stomach lurching was a little more evident than the first. Tried to tape the whole thing but my camera turned off for some reason. Also hit the big safari tour which I missed last time I was there with Dad. Pretty impressive setup once again, but is cut too short by the fast moving trucks that drive you about, and ends with a very weak ‘stop the poachers’ storyline that it could stand to loose entirely.

Due to unforeseen circumstances centering around Premier being a total jerkface, there will be no video for this post. Had some nice footage…but I guess I’ll be keeping it all to myself. Here are some pictures instead.

The Epcot Post

Epcot was next on the list, and we hopped on a bus after lunch. Enjoyed Spaceship Earth and Test Track (though the ride photo would have you believe otherwise), but was less than impressed with the new Living Sea’s Nemo themed upgrade. Spaceship Earth needs to be totally redone. It’s laughably outdated. You know when the ‘future’ consists of being able to talk to people on your TV across the globe, that its time to play some catch-up. The International Showcase was fun as always. We stopped by the British pub for some overpriced import brews, then wandered about for the rest of the day. Ate dinner at the German beer-garden which was awesome. All you can eat buffet with massive beers. It was opretty sweet. And the real icing was that they had a live accordion and Ricola-horn show.


The Gaming Graveyard Post

So the 360’s dead. Fine I have made my peace with it, and even though I get the red-ring-of-death whenever I want to play a movie or game I am pleased that it’s not costing me anything to fix. The box arrived today from Microsoft for me to mail it in with, so the ball is in motion on that one. However the gaming gods have taken a shot at the other nut now, and have killed my PS2 for the second time in its lifetime. Uncool. Knowing that it will cost me more to mail and repair it than the system is worth, I headed to Target today and picked up a new PS2, this time getting the sleek, silver, tiny model. It’s way sexier than the giant black and blue behemoth I bought 7 years ago.

The Epic Movie Post

Ok, now of course this movie won’t score highly here simply because of the type of film it is. Spoof-comedies are never well acted, shot, made or well…anything. But Epic Movie has the appeal of a SNL sketch, and as we all know SNL can be hit or miss. Epic missed a lot more than it hit unfortunately.

In an attempt to spoof the Chronicles of Narnia the movie sets 4 orphans on a quest to stop the Ice Bitch (Stiffler’s Mom) from taking over ‘Gnarnia’. Along the way they meet rip offs of Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, Borat, Harry Potter, the X-Men and many more. It’s pretty much that Bill and Ted show they do at Universal every Halloween, except 2 hours long. Somehow Kumar made it into this film without me knowing about. Not that I keep tabs on Kal pen, but I’d of thought that a 2nd Van Wilder movie would be enough to keep him off the big screen for a good few months. Apparently not. Carmen Electra makes her usual ‘Movie’ return, as does that little black midget they like to keep bringing back.

For 2 hours of suffering there was about 5 minutes worth of funny. So don’t bother with it if you are wanting a good laugh/time ratio. I enjoyed it simply due to the company watched it with and the fact that we knew what we were getting into before we signed on. But the way the movie doesn’t take itself seriously and often goes out of its way to pull things off in the crappiest and cheapest way possible makes it a laugh worth renting down the road if you have some friends over. And look on the bright side, there is not a Wayan’s brother to be seen! That’s worth a few points right there.


The Cheesecake Post

So we just ate dessert at the Cheesecake Factory, a first for me. All I can say is ‘wow’. I am so full I can’t even see straight. I feel fat. Like Venus of Willendorf-fat. Considering I just consumed nine bazillion calories (I looked it up online) I suppose that’s understandable. But oh man...good cake that’s for sure. I did the White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake, which was every bit as delicious as its 11 syllables implies. Tomorrow we are hitting Epcot which should be cool, if I’m able to do more than lay about while patting my belly and moaning, which is all I can manage at the moment.

The Pathetic Pirates Post

Jake and Mum arrived late Wednesday night and have been spending time down here visiting me. Last night we went to the Pirates Dinner Theater, which is a Medieval Times type dinner with a high seas theme. Oh and a lot crappier.

The stunts were awful less maybe 2 or 3, the acting was almost as bad as the singing (but not quite as atrocious), and the food was small, tasteless and gave me the shits. I did however have a blast. Mum, Jake and I spent the whole time laughing at how bad the whole production was, and made a night of it. The set was really impressive I’ll give them that…but oh man...dreadful show and fittingly shitty food. I would not recommend going unless you want a night of laughing at crap (which can be a lot of fun mind you). They have an impressive holding tank ahead before you go into the main show that has palm readers, snake charmers, gift shops galore and some impressive themed bars, which were pretty cool. We milled about before the show with the crowd for a good hour orso before being escorted to our seats in the main water tank area. The main set is a huge ship with rigging galore and a myriad of trapease access platforms, in a large water tank. Around the tank are colored sections where people are seated (we got the blue section). Each area has a team pirate that you are supposed to cheer for (and boo all others). Our guy was the main hero so he got the girl at the end and won the most fights. But he was also the most weenie and hard to cheer for. Didn’t stop us from getting pretty rowdy though. All in all a great night, but because of the company not so much the entertainment.


The Continuation Post

Here’s some more photos from the other weekend Herb took. I figured I’d post them because…well. I’m in some of them, and most pictures I take don’t have that awesome feature.


The Positive Post

I think I’m on to something. I may have found the ticket I need to move up in the world. (or at least my world here). I can’t say any more at this point but this week will be a big one for me. If everything goes according to plan I stand to do well for myself. I am excited.


The Piñata Post

This past week has been one filled with addictive gaming on behalf of the new 360 game I picked up; Viva Piñata. The game, though overly ‘kiddish in its presentation is a ton of fun, and addictive as all hell. The basic premise is that you tend a garden in real time in an attempt to lure animals into becoming your residents (piñata animals of course) you manage the whole circle of life/food chain thing and breed, raise and sell the animals to coax in different creatures. Dumb? Yeah probably, but oh man… hours go by and I don’t even realize. The game is videogame crack. I’ve never gotten into any of those big online games that people put hours and hours into and never see the light of day once they start playing, but I am starting to see how it’s possible.

Fortunately (or not) for me, the gaming gods stepped in and bricked my 360 last night, so now it doesn’t work. After a lot of very long calls with the service department, Microsoft is going to send for my system and repair it. It’ll be out of my hands for a good two weeks or so, which I’m fine with. Plus they are paying for all repairs because it’s apparently a big issue for many people. Same thing happened to the good old PS2 a few years back, and it cost me 70 bucks plus shipping to fix.


The Paintball Post

This was a pretty fun week. Tuesday was Bruce’s actual birthday so Dawn and I worked ahead of time to make him feel adequately old. We swapped out his chair with a wheelchair Dawn took from Disney’s Sports complex , and tarted it up to look particularly ‘geezery’ with an I.V. some pill containers and various other old people adornments. I threw together a pretty funny shot of his with added wrinkles, grey hair, missing teeth etc, which we had on posters around the office aswell as on his cake. I have some footage of Bruce wheeling himself about and pulling off wheelies in his chair, but unfortunately missed it when he tipped over and fell backwards and cracked his head. Silly old people.

Today I got up early to head to a guy named Allen’s place up in Apopka to do some paintball with Brian, Bruce and a few others. The setup there was awesome. Allen lives next to some land that’s owned by a housing company that isn’t in use. For zoning reasons the area is covered with thin, but very tall pine trees that only have pines at the very top. The end result is some awesome cover and lots of space to run. They use the area fairly routinely, and have set up bunkers, tarp blockades, a central trench and various other terrain mods too.

There was a lot of sitting about with the country boys drinking beers and recounting matches between rounds which was very chill. Allen brought a massive CO2 tank for refills so there was no reason to track back to the house. He also demoed his homemade ‘paintball-bazooka’ which was pretty impressive. The guy’s a good few inches over 6-foot and built like an ox (he’s a farmer) and was blown backwards by this thing when it went off. You could hear it for miles.

I had a great time, spent the majority of the day out there unloading on people. We were using borrowed gear (again from the Disney complex) and Brian’s guns, and were unfortunately the only guys not sporting automatic, supped up guns. One guy (also named Jamie) is a professional paintballer, and was touting something like three-grand in his marker alone. So yeah… kinda got my ass kicked. Only a handful of welts to prove it though, plus I got to shoot my boss in the face. All in all a good day


The Ride Photo Post

Here are a few ride photos from Universal the other day. My favorite is probably the Hulk, though the Men In Black shot is pretty humorous. It was a great trip, hardly felt like work at all.


The Surprise Party Post

Yesterday was Bruce’s surprise party for his 40th. Stacey (his wife) organized a big get-together at the Velvet Lounge in the Hard Rock hotel. Bruce was genuinely surprised and was really happy to see everyone. Relatives from out of state, past co-workers he hasn’t seen in years, plus loads of long time friends and current coworkers. There was food there was drink there was merriment in many forms, it was a great time. Bruce got pretty tore up and at one point was wandering from hotel room to hotel room with underwear over his pants with a rubber chicken hanging out, looking for people with a giant magnifying glass, while wearing this crazy shirt Craig and I put together for him. He sobered up when we left the hotel to hit Citywalk though, and ended the night on a high note, which is key.

We started out in the Hard Rock, where there was a sectioned of area of the club for us, and a kick ass food selection. Henry (the VP from work) told all the servers that anything I drank was on his tab, which was a terrific gesture. I defiantly took him up on his offer. Actually the whole night I was getting complementary introductions and a lot of ‘oh you’re the Jamie I hear so much about’ which is fantastic and just what I need to hear. Its great to be appreciated and I really feel like I’m fitting in down here. After we left the lounge we went up to the suites that people were staying in and partied up there for a while with jager and champagne, then we hit up Citywalk after that and wandered from club to club (somehow getting in free and into the VIP sections pretty much everywhere we went) which was awesome. Got a ride home from Craig too so I didn’t have to worry about driving, so that was a load off my mind that allowed me to kick back and enjoy the night.

I met my first (pseudo)celebrity as well, in Manny from WildBoyz, who wandered through the Velvet Lounge while we were there, and posed for a shot with me. Really cool guy, very laid back and approachable. His road crew who I met later in the night were kinda obnoxious and asked me to score them some pot which freaked me out a little (they didn’t even say please), but yeah at least Manny was cool.

The Second Shoot Post

Friday we had a pretty cushy day at the office. And by at the office I mean at the theme park. We spent the whole day running about riding various rides and posing for photographs, all on company time. Got a free lunch out of the deal too at the employee cafeteria on the studio back lot, which was pretty cool. On one ride (Men In Black Alien Attack) we were supposed to pose with the laser guns (it’s a target shooting game but in a moving car) away from our faces and looking forward, but the guy who was next to me (some guy who worked at the park) kept holding his gun gangster style and allover his face. I kept yelling at him to put it down lower, but he ignored me. So come time for the photo I’m reaching across pushing his gun down and yelling at him. It makes for an amusing photo, but unfortunately and unusable one. I’ll post the actual ride photos when I can get at them (they are saved somewhere on the server at work), but until then you can enjoy my little clip show of shots I took while we were there.


The Stuff Post



The Brotherly Post

Stefan’s off to boot camp today as his processing is at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Mum took him this afternoon up to Maryland where he’ll stay in a hotel overnight. It’s a tough time for the family, Mum in particular, considering that Jake and her are the only two at home at the moment they are having to rely on each other for comfort (Dads away on business and Sam’s back at college). I called and offered my support best I could, and anticipate doing so for the next few days.

I was edgy about calling Stefan, one because I didn’t know if he still had access to his cell phone at this point, but also because I don’t know what to say. I’m proud of the guy, and know that this is something he really wants to do, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being worried for him considering the times. While he is only a reservist*, and is going to be trained for paramedic duties, I still worry about him being called up for combat. I’m sure a lot of that is my ignorance with the actual situation overseas, as well as my current frame of mind, but the feeling is still there no matter how happy I am for him.

*By ‘only a reservist’ I don’t mean to belittle his position. I simply am trying to distance his position from combat overseas.

In the end I did call, and had a brief conversation. I think that if I didn’t at least make an attempt to wish him well and have that cookie cutter conversation before [he is processed and doesn’t have phone/email access], I’d get really down about it after the fact. I didn’t have much to say, and neither did he (such is the way of our conversations these days unfortunately) but it meant a lot to me, and I’m feeling chocked up now having just hung up. He’ll graduate boot camp in 6 months then he’s off to Texas for paramedic training for another 3-4. Once that’s over with he gets to move home and needs only report for drills every 3 weeks or something of that nature. I think his current plan is to rent a place in Maryland and work at a volunteer firefighter station, which is what he has always wanted to do. I really hope his plans pan out for him.


The First of 2007 Post

First off happy New Year. I hope 2007 will be a good one for you. It’ll be an interesting year for me I’m sure. I plan on keeping up this living on my own thing for a while, and see if it keeps going in a positive direction. Stefan will be heading out on Wednesday to boot camp for his basic training (Army Reserves) which is a big deal for the family, especially considering the times. Its what he wants to do though and I’m happy he’s picked a defined career path and taken effort towards that goal. Best of luck brother.

Sarah was here last week for New Year’s which was awesome. It was her first time coming down and seeing my new place and the area I’m in. Took her on a tour of work one day so she could meet my coworkers and friends, but unfortunately spent a lot of the week working while she was forced to potter around the apartment (for which I feel bad). We had a great time despite my need to run off to work every day. We watched the recent season of Scrubs as well as a few other DVDs from the recent Christmas haul, had dinner out at some nice restaurants in the area, scoped out all the local shopping attractions and malls, and spend some quality time together. It was great having her here, and I got used to having her live in the apartment with me very quickly. It feels rather empty here at the moment to be honest (no offence Coolio). I’m sure I’ll be fine though, especially considering she’s going to be coming back at the end of February, and that my family will be visiting on various trips this month and next before that.

New Year’s was a lot of fun. Drove around a bit checking out different areas and eventually settled on Howl at the Moon, a piano bar on I-Drive. Their live show, with lots of audience interaction and foul humor made for an interesting night, and it was great to spend the countdown with my lady. As far as resolutions go I haven’t finalized anything yet, probably a little late at this point, but I plan on keeping up with my gym routine with Craig, starting my Maya (re)training and possibly writing that children’s book and screenplay I’ve been kicking about for a while.