The Potter Park Post

Concerning something I mentioned a few weeks back, Universal’s Studios officially announced today that Island’s Of Adventure will receive a “seventh island” based off of the Harry Potter franchise. Harry Potter Wizard World- as it is tentatively titled will be a recreation of Hogsmeade, a small magical town that lies at the base of Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry (which will be the new islands main attraction. The new location will lie between Jurassic Park and the Lost Continent and will acquire land from each, plus a lot of currently unused land neighboring an employee parking lot behind the park. The ‘island’ will be over 20 acres, which is the biggest island by a fair margin, and will feature many rides and attractions themed off of the Harry Potter universe. The set designer for all of the films will head the project. Though not officially announced at this point, the Erlando Sentinel thinks it is very likely that Dueling Dragons and the Flying Unicorn will receive complete overhauls and will be acquired from the Lost Continent by the new area. Concept sketches and models are on the cover of today’s paper, and from the looks of things this is going to be absolutely fantastic. Groundbreaking on the project begins late this summer with the new section currently scheduled for a 2009 opening.


The Week O'Ferrara Post

This past week Eric has been here in Orlando. It’s been great to see him and I’m glad he finally made a trip down here. Coincidentally a buddy of his was in town also as well as a friend from college so it was a productive trip for him on the social front. I pooled my recourses at the office to snag some tickets to Disney and Universal during Eric’s stay, and while he wasn’t keen to go on as many rides as I would have liked, we had a great time exploring all the different parks and seeing all there was to see.

We hit Universal Studios and Islands of
Adventure on Saturday then followed up with all four Disney parks on Sunday. Got some great food at Mythos, which was a first for me (the #1 rated theme park resultant for six years running). Epcot was awesome as always, wandering about the world showcase and checking out the German beergarten in particular. We caught ‘pirates at Citywalk on Friday and hit a few of the clubs there as well as grabbed dinner at the Hard Rock with Marlow and Antoinette. Somewhere out there, there is footage of Eric “repping the V” with light-up LED teeth (an early birthday present) so keep your eyes peeled and let me know.

The rest of the week was filled with random trips about town, checking out places like Millennia, Tijuana Flats and the Ale house and a lot of poorly orchestrated Davy Jones/debutant voice impressions for whatever reason.

Yesterday we went to Medieval times, which is a longtime favorite
and family tradition of ours. Eric had never been, and I hadn’t visited in a fair few years. We were stuck with the yellow knight, who regrettably wath slain posthaste, but we cheered the hell out of him (and his horse) regardless. Any place where you can chug beer, eat half a chicken with your hands and yell statements as ridiculous as “I like your ponytail…I was being sarcastic!” (credit Eric Ferrara) I ok in my book.

All in all it was a fun week, and while we didn’t get to any bea
ches or downtown bars it was awesome to have Eric around, and I think he enjoyed himself as much as I did.

The Pirates Review Post

I was really determined not to let this movie be another Spiderman 3, where in I expect too much in some regards, and too little in others. Ultimately I think it was my preconceptions and expectations that made me not enjoy ‘spidey as much as I could have. About half an hour into At Worlds End, I stopped overanalyzing plot points and looking for more than was right in front of me, and decided to accept the movie for what it is; a swashbuckling summer movie and the latest sequel to one of my favorite movies of all time. From that point on I enjoyed myself thoroughly and welcome the movie into the ‘pirates trilogy. Sure there are little inconsistencies and a fair bit of unnecessary ‘twists’ (if you can all them that), but the main plotline and the big reveals were worth the wait and the action was top notch.

As a result of being the 3rd in a series of dynamic films; the movie suffers from too many Jack Sparrows. I don’t mean that in the obvious sense (I love the hallucinations) but more so, there are far more characters fighting for the audience attention than
one movie warrants. The main draw is (as always) Jack Sparrow, but Verbinksi has the movie waterlogged with too many fully fleshed-out characters to the point where killing them off is really the only option.

With Davy Jones being the most badass (and visually stunning) villain in a long time, I didn’t realize how much I missed Barbossa. Geoffrey Rush is the official voice of all things piratety. He could be telling you about his new ornate tea set and it would sound like he was telling you to walk the plank. The way he growls his lines sends shivers to me timbers and is more, than welcomed back into the story. In Jones’s defense his character is taken to a new level and Bill Nighy is as fantastic as ever. I loved the unnecessary Jerry-Bruckheimer-moment on Becket’s ship. I was half expecting a helicopter to fly in and explode, piloted by Nic Cage, while slow motion doves blossomed behind the ship.

The visualization of Davy Jones’s locker and the madness it ensues, as well as the amazing shipwreck fortress overcast the movie’s lower points (the Kraken explanation and Tia Dalma’s involvement- which, for the record Sarah and I predicted like a million years ago). And while I (along with everyone else I’ve asked) was quite confused as to who was double-crossing who, and for what end, the fact of the matter is that we are dealing with pirates. They backstab and double-cross all the time, and as long as they continue to plunder, cross steal and face off with ILM powered tentacles, I have no problem not knowing who’s on whose side.

The Broken Sarah Post

I feel like a bad boyfriend taking this long to comment on it; but Sarah not-so-recently, broke her collar bone when training for a triathlon. She broke it in two places after flying over the handlebars thanks to an ill placed pothole. She’s had the surgery (with apparently a very good looking doctor behind the knife) and is doing well. Occasional bouts of pretty rough pain, and a lot of limitations as far as movement and being allowed to do stuff outside of sitting still- but overall she is in terrific shape considering. She’s all bionic-woman at the moment with a pin through the bone, but she says that the bone is starting to grow back now, so all signs point positively. If you haven’t already sending her some well wishes would brighten her day I’m sure.

The 50th Anniversary Post

Made a surprise trip up to Virginia last-last weekend to be present at Nana and Papa's 50th wedding anniversary. It was a lot of fun to surprise them and spend some quality time with the family. We had a room reserved at Dante's in Great Falls which is a very nice unpmarket Italian restaurant with a terrific atmosphere. Andrew, Craig and Lel were there, as well as Ali and Bob. And with Jake and Sam out of school at the moment for the summer the whole family was there sans Stefan. It was a shame that he couldn't be there (he's in the second stage of paramedic training in Texas) but he managed to time a phone call during the dinner, and have a few words with everyone at the table, pass-the-phone style. Sarah his home at the moment too so it was awesome to get to see her (and her current ailment).

Got to see Lel's new apartment in Reston, which is very nice, and got a trip in to Potbellies soon after my flight touched down with Andrew (DOUBLE MEAT) and Craig. Jake and I caught Spiderman 3 again at Tyson's (much better the second time) and got to spend some brotherly time together which as cool. And I met with Jev, Kev and Alex at Champs and the Tap Room for a few beers to catch up. Had to bail on a lot of plans due to very limited schedule and no vehicle access, but I'm glad I got to fit as much in as I did considering.

Sunday, the Hunt's had a graduation BBQ for Sarah and Melissa so the whole family headed over there for some good grub. It was nice to get to see her family again and spend some more time with her.

The Bright and Early Post

Tuesday morning I had to drag myself out of bed at 2:45 for the Pirates shoot. I was quite excited about the whole ordeal so getting in the shower wasn't as hard as it probably should have been. Met up on the Disney back lot by the ride with the guys from work and went inside to set up our lighting. Being a Photoshop jockey I don't know much about the photography side of our company, but seeing all our gear and helping to get the scenes properly lit was an interesting learning experience. The actual shoot was a lot of fun, if not hectic and confusing. There were two teams of photographers shooting in different locations within the ride and a team of 3 character actors who were bounding back and forth between sets. The guys we had to work with were great, and definitely emphasize the character portion of their titles. Jack was right on the money and looks strikingly like Depp and has all the mannerisms and expressions to a tee. Due to the sensitivity of the project and strict Disney nondisclosure rules I cannot post any pictures or resulting work from the shoot. We got some terrific material though that I have been working with for a few days now. That and combined with the new film, I am in a Pirate's fervor.

Afterwards we hit the Polynesian Resort for some Tonga Toast, which was the most intimidating breakfast I've ever attempted to eat. Half a loaf of sourdough bread, hollowed out and filled with banana curd and whole bananas; covered in sugar and cinnamon; deep-fried; and served with sausage and eggs. Man it was good. Wasn't able to polish it off though. After the meal we headed back to the office to get to work on the new pirate projects. Ended up clocking in a 13-hour workday. I was pretty damn tired afterwards.

The 'I Forgot' Post

Many posts for me to catch up on. I've been busy recently and apparently too busy to blog about it. I'm sure that's not really the case, but the proof is in the posting I suppose. Anyway, I apologize for the lapse in updates.


The Gambling Cruise Post

This weekend, in celebration of Sue’s birthday, Buck, Laura and I joined the Wolfgang’s in Cocoa Beach for a gambling cruise. I headed down Saturday mid-day and met up with Buck and Laura at the hotel we’d booked last week. Small place, nothing crazy, but right on the beach which was awesome. Had the whole section of the beach to ourselves for most of the day. Once Sue and Arnold arrived we headed to the port and got onboard. The cruise was late to leave which had some of the more serious gamblers (Kim) irritated. I find the whole idea of sailing out to international waters so you can gamble a little silly, and don’t quite understand why people have to go to such great lengths to do so… but whatever. The ship was pretty massive and had loads of money eating machines and games tables set up. I promptly lost the measly stack of bills I had allocated for the trip and hung out with the rest of our group for the majority of the trip. Sue and Arnold’s sisters were there as well as Kim from the office, so there where a fair few of us onboard. I had a good time, partially due to the free drinks Sue was flagging down from the cocktail waitress for me while she and Arnold played craps. (If you are gambling the drinks come to you and are free). So in the end I walked away with an empty wallet, but I made out like a bandit with the drinks so I feel like a winner.

After the boat came back at 1:00 we headed back to the hotel, via McDonalds and called it a night. Next day I headed to Ron Jon’s to see what allot eh billboards were about. Turns out the store is exactly like the Ron Jon’s in Orlando so no big deal. But I wanted to check it out to say that I’d been there if anything (and bought the t-shirt). Sue’s family came back down and joined us on the beach with Hayden for a while which was nice. Then I headed back.

Oh and a word for the wise… don’t take pictures in a casino. Yeah they don’t like that. Turned a few heads with the employees there (as captured in an amusing little video). Lesson learned I suppose. I have some footage of the beach and the Cruise which I’ll post as soon as Premier decides to actually work.. till then here are a few shots.


The Clermont Retreat Post

This week Nana and Papa along with Lel and Craig came down to stay in Cromar’s Clermont house for a week. The plan was to move some of Lel’s furniture up to her new place in Virginia via U-Haul. They left this morning. It was great to get to see everyone and hangout. Its funny how fast I fall into ‘vacation-mode’ when visiting that house. Crazy to think it’s been 7-months since I was living there. Seems much longer for some strange reason.

Craig and I caught Spider-man as well as hit the local comic book store on “Free Comic Day” which was a holiday I had never heard of before. We snagged loads of free stuff and got some awesome deals on some Spidey/Venom comics (I’m in that sort of mood these days it seems) and got to meet Bob Rollings, the creator of the Little Archie comics. Personally I had never heard of the guy before but he was announced to us as ‘the living legend’ by the cheery store clerk when we arrived. ‘Living’ was a bit of a stretch… the guy barley seemed to know where he was and had an attendent spell everyone’s name for him so he could do autographs. But either way, an unexpected bonus to meet a quasi-celeb and snag a limited edition autographed comic at the same time. Even if it is Little Archie.

During the week we got in a few trips after work to Carrabbas and Outback Steakhouse which was terrific, and I had everyone over for dinner chez-Jamie one night which worked out pretty well (and heavy on the Wii). Spent the weekend relaxing up at Cromar’s and hanging out. Loading the table and boxes into the U-Haul was a bit of an adventure in itself but we manage with little fuss and sent them on their way up to VA. My kitchen is now finally equipped with plates, bowls and glasses for more than two people thanks to some generous donations from Lel and Nana and Papa, which gives them the title as Best Guests Ever. It was great to see them all, and I’m looking forward to surprising Nana and Papa in a few weeks by showing up at their 50th Anniversary party. Shhh don’t tell them.


The Spiderman 3 Post

First off I have to admit that my experience with Spiderman 3 was tainted by the morons that graced the same cinema with their presence. Not a punch was thrown onscreen without some idiot yelling ‘daaaaaaamn!’ or ‘oh no he di-ent!”. Not an emotional shot without raucous laughter, or an important plot point without some jerk doing a voiceover of the previous line. Basically I didn’t get to enjoy the movie.. that being said I plan on going back and seeing it again with Jake in a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be able to give a better review then. Until that point I’ll do my best to ignore my unfortunate circumstances and give you an honest opinion:

I liked it. I didn’t love it, and man did I ever want to. I’ve been counting down to this film for weeks and now that its here I find myself a little under whelmed. You can tell where all the money has gone (the effects, the actors and the sheer amount of film used in this 2.5 hr monster), but was it well spent? This movie does everything the other Spidey’s have and makes it all bigger. Better?...no not really. There is definitely a feeling of ‘this has been
done before’ about a lot of the movie's plot points, and it hurts the film. The dance number was embarrassing and quite inadequate, and Kirsten Dunst singing was unnecessary the first time…let along the second. All offences did little to further anything.

The villains were awesome. Sandman was superfluous in everyway however and New Goblin/Venom combo would have more than sufficed. I have the feeling that Marko was left in the film even after Venom was added out of spite if anything else. The sheer amount of Spiderman material they tried to cram into this film really didn’t help things either. Fan favorites wernt given the lip-service they needed, major players become one line wonde
rs, and the heavy hitters were reduced to tag team battles. My main grevance is that there are so many obstacles and issues that Peter/Spidey needs to tackle in this film, yet he only deals with one at a time, and when the problem isn’t taking up the screen he seems to not care on any level that the previous issue was ever a problem. It just gives off a broken feel as far as the script and the plot progression go. It feels like it’s a 3-act play more than a single film.

But all that aside this movie has got: Venom, $3 million in cool effects, amazing cinematography, the entire original cast from the first two, some terrific fight scenes, loads of action and more of all of the above than you can shoot a web at. If you look at it
as a movie it’s not that strong. But look at it as good summer entertainment, then you are in for a fun if not flawed ride.


The Office Embarrassment Post

Dawn and Susan had their birthdays today and as usual we celebrated in the office. However being that this was Dawn’s 40th we went out of the way to make her feel particularly old, and decked out her office like an old lady’s home. Complete with cobweb covered rocking chair (with diaper pad), a walker, dozens of pictures of cats, old fashioned frames, ragtime music and an assortment of pills and denture supplies. The whole room looked quite the part and we got a good reaction out of her. Her cake was pretty terrific too, featuring an embarrassing picture taken from yesteryear. Bruce and I took Susan out to the Ale House for lunch which was good, and Dawn’s parents came in for the cake cutting. Fun times. Thanks to everyone who let us borrow a frame, rocking chair or various senior supplies, it turned out great.