Carbon Freeze Me!

This will be one of my last blog entries as my days of jetting around the galaxy smuggling Jar Jar action figures to France finally caught up with me today as I was captured, accused of crimes against the Empire, and frozen in carbonite.

Against all odds, the carbon freezing facility is located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

My wife has thoughtfully recorded some pictures of the freezing process, as well as a video of the final results to share with you all. At some point, when they drop the slab…errr…me off, she’ll be able to post a photo of that, too. Hopefully I’ll get unfrozen in 200 years or so for good behavior, although when I don’t have much to do, my mind does tend to wander to thoughts of Twi’lek dancing girls and Slave Leias.

See the photos on Google+

Keith in the carbon freezing chamber.

Video of the final results of my carbon freeze.

Edit 07/09/2012:

You can see pics of the final result in the Google+ album. It’s actually a very nice resemblance. The slab itself was pretty dusty, though. Going to have to give it a nice soft brush off.

Oh my! They’ve encased me in carbonite. I should be quite well protected…if I survived the freezing process.

Boo To You and Kungaloosh!

My wife and I went to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party yesterday, and had a fantastic time. We dressed up as Hathaway Browne and Natasha nee Samantha Sterling of Disney’s dearly departed Adventurers Club, may it rest in peace. Little did we know the bonus our costumes would net us in our candy safari.

People kept trying to guess who we were.

“Amelia Earhart?” I heard multiple times.

Grasping from my pilot costume, Natasha got, “…and another…pilot…?” numerous times.

But 10 lucky people during the night did, in fact, give us high fives or club salutes (“Kungaloosh!”).

The best one was at the candy station in Frontierland. We walked up to one of the hosts handing out the candy, bags out, and he said, “Let’s see…what are you? Don’t tell me…let me guess…”

Thinking he looked young enough to be a new Cast Member or a College Program intern, I pointed to the Official Club Pin on my tie.

“What’s that?”

His eyes got bigger than Mickey’s in a cheese shop.

“Oh my god! BEST COSTUMES OF THE NIGHT!”

We shared club salutes.

“Oh…oh, wait a second.” He turned from dumping the handful of candy he had into my bag to the candy barrel. “I need to take care of my fellow adventurers!”

He then took a giant armful of candy and dumped it into my bag.

I held the bag up to gaze into the path to diabetes he had dumped in.

“Wait, wait, I’m not done with you yet!” He turned the path into the highway to diabetes.

“Oh, oh…Samantha! Fantastic!” He followed up with a similar highway for my wife.

“I so mourn the loss of that club,” he said. We commiserated. Everyone mourns the loss of one of the most unique and fun places on Disney property.

But the spirit lives on. As one of the performers said, “You guys have to take care of each other. When the club is gone, and we’re gone, all you’re going to have is each other, your fellow adventurers.”

So the spirit of Kungaloosh lives on in all the high-fives, shouts of “Hathaway!” and “Samantha Sterling!” and “Kungaloosh!”, and two gigantic bags of candy we got that night.

Disney to Release “Toy Story Midway Mania” as Wii Game, No Need To Go To Disney Anymore

When I first rode “Toy Story Midway Mania” a few months ago, I was really underwhelmed. I mean, it’s a good ride, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t get off going, “Wowee zowee! That was something I’ve never seen before!” You know that feeling — when you step off say, “Mission:Space” at Epcot and you’re like, “Holy CRAP! I’ve just been in friggin’ SPACE!” And at the time, I said to a lot of people, “It just feels like a Wii game.” And now it is one.

From Midway Mania

Yes, I like Wii games, but I don’t go to theme parks to play them. When I go to a theme park I want to have that “Mission:Space” or “Soaring” experience, where I get to do experience something, I get to have a rush of emotion and experience I can’t possibly recreate at home. “Midway” just feels like an annoying way to play a video game — what with the spinning and long waiting in lines with sweaty tourists. If I wanted that, I’d wait an hour to play Wii Sports with my air conditioner turned off and a packet of liverwurst open in front of me. And then when I played I’d have my wife spin my recliner in random directions between levels.

Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the folks who put together these rides. It’s hard and it’s expensive. There’s no question in my mind that it’s an incredible challenge if you’re trying to make something a game and interactive and entertaining and also make it a big enough experience that people walk out thinking, “I may never do that again in my life. That was incredible.” And maybe Midway isn’t meant to be that kind of experience. But it’s hard for me to accept that you would build anything nowadays in a theme park that wasn’t that for someone at some level of thrill.

My suggestions? For Midway — it needs a better story. The game is fun, but where’s the “Buzz has been stolen by the evil carnival owner and the only way for me to get him back is to score high on these games and win him!” And then where’s the total twist on that, where’s the point where I won Buzz, but the evil carnies realize what I’m up to and I have to throw baseballs and pies to escape the carnival before we’re all caught. Just a blue-sky, not perfect. But I really feel like there needs to be a more emotion-grabbing resonance somewhere. The story that comes first and engages me in the game.

Maybe they’ll give away some liverwurst free with the Wii version.

Adventurers Club — When You Go

During the final Hoopla, the actor playing Emil Bleehal absolutely brought down the house with his rendition of this Jonathan Coulton song, “When You Go”. It’s a beautiful song, and this was an amazing, deeply heartfelt performance. I’m not ashamed to say my eyes were welling during this song, and still do a bit now. I looked around during the song and I could not find a dry eye anywhere. What a performance!

How much do we fans love the folks in the cast from the Adventurers Club? They were unique, incredible talented, and I can’t wait for when I get to see them all again in starring roles somewhere else.

(You’ll catch at the end of this that Sugar Snapp, the maid, was the next performer up onstage. With this incredible act to follow she was absolutely perfect, performing her fun “Grey Squirrel” song and reminding us how fun and happy a place the Adventurers Club was. I know I’ll miss it because I never, ever had a bad time there. Sugar reminded me of that by bringing me right back up and making me laugh!)

The Final Adventure

It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, that Adventurers Club has finally closed. I’m sitting here right now, capturing the video from my DV camera from many nights of adventure, listening to the familiar sounds of the Radio Broadcast, and the Balderdash Cup. Remembering at every line just how amazing the current cast was. There wasn’t a one amongst them I didn’t enjoy watching and find hilarious. Natasha and I actually spent the day Sunday quoting lines back and forth as they giggled forth.
The last day of the Adventurers Club was really an amazing experience. Fans camped the club starting at 8AM that morning. Natasha and I got there at 5PM and were 195 or so in line. Just close enough to get us inside, thank goodness. Many, many people didn’t make it in the doors.

From 20080927AdventurersClub

While we were waiting, some of the servers and cast showed up and looked absolutely floored by the number of people in line. They took pictures, they chatted, and they pumped up the crowd. This was going to be, as Hathaway would put it, “AWESOME!” I really wanted to ask one of them what it felt like to be the cast of Star Trek.

From 20080927AdventurersClub
From 20080927AdventurersClub

Before the official opening, the characters came out, and we got he huge surprise that Sutter Bestwick, one of the adventurers who hadn’t been at the club in a while in the flesh, had actually showed up for the final show. It was awesome that the characters came out to get us all ready for a final Kungaloosh!

From 20080927AdventurersClub

I admit it, I welled up a bit during the first new member induction. Natasha and I were standing there on the center balcony, wrapped up in the rally as Pamelia and Fletcher led us through the handshake and creed, and I just had a moment, where I felt it all rushing up. It wasn’t sadness or depression, it really was this welling up of all the happy moments, this tidal wave of visions of how many times I’d been through the induction, or been in the Radio Show, or gotten to be a part of the show.

From 20080927AdventurersClub

A friend of mine and I have often discussed the idea of books or movies that we like being places we like to be. Those are the books that you go back to, you read over and over again, and you love getting lost and surrounded by the emotional and artistic landscape. That was the Adventurers Club for me — a place I loved to be. Natasha and I would fall into bed after a good night there, pass out, wake up the next morning creatively energized, having spent a night full of phantasmagoric dreams and visions. I remember how many nights I dreamed about giant mansions full of secret passages, and being on safari in strange places full of magic. How can you not love a place that gives you visions?

If it all sounds a little strange, just chalk it up to being a relatively safe form of absinthe.

From 20080927AdventurersClub

That night we went to the Balderdash Cup, which proved what a weird, experimental theatrical experience the club was. The show pits Otis T. Wren, Hathaway Browne, and visiting Junior Adventurer Emil Bleehal against each other in a battle of adventurous tales. The story structure is meant to lead the audience down the garden path of voting for Emil, the innocent and underdog, and not to vote for Otis, who was cheating to win. But this night, methinks there was some Internet collusion going on because Otis (played by an actor who is a fan favorite for his amazing ability to chew the scenery in an amazingly funny way) got a standing ovation and won the cup!

From 20080927AdventurersClub

This is not supposed to happen, right? Wrong! That was the whole point of the club. You never knew what was going to happen. The audience was involved in almost everything, and that means you never know what’s going to happen because the script is advisory. It’s the critical path through the story, but that’s not what we’re there for anyway. We’re there for the twists and turns. We’re there for the adventure of not knowing what’s going to happen next.

From 20080927AdventurersClub

I voted for Emil, I admit it. Not very creative, but Emil performed the entire show in an amazing, amazing duet with Emil Sr., his dad, who was portrayed by one of the actors who opened the club 19 years ago. Both of them are amazingly funny people. But the real trick is, Emil Jr. has this way of digging straight to the emotional core of a scene. Otis runs out with the cup, hooting and hollering, and the crowd sits there in smug satisfaction, and Emil looks at the crowd and says something like, “How could you? I wanted to win it for my pappy!” And I think just a few of those smug people had a big moment of regret, thinking, “I was just fooling around. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone,” as they squirm in their seats.

From 20080927AdventurersClub

And he took it to the Hoopla, too. I thought I had it all under control, and he sang this beautiful Jonathan Coulton song, When You Go

Only a moment ago we had nothing but time
Everything lasted forever and you were all mine
Only a dream I know
Thinking you’d never go
Tearing off pieces of myself
Just for the time it buys me

Fold my heart up small
Or break it into pieces
Find somewhere and keep it there
Take it when you go

And he sings it to the Adventurers Club. To the place. To the place I want to be. To the place, which as he said, was the bookshelves and the masks and the walls. But unsaid was the true thing that it was also the people, the actors, the audience, the crew, the bartenders, the Imagineers that built the place and decorated it, and the writers and directors who imbued it with characters and show. And I loved it.

From 20080926AdventurersClub

Kungaloosh Forever!

Listening: Adventurer’s Club / Jonathan Coulton Mashup

Jonathan Coulton is an absolute favorite of mine for his geeky, funny, and sometimes incredibly touching songs. Mash him up with one of the sparkling performers from the Adventurer’s Club at Disney, and you get a total tear-jerker of a funny, romantic, nerdy song. We saw this performed just the other night and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house afterwards, it was sooo sweet. As we were walking away from Pleasure Island that night, I heard these two girls talking about it in a tone of voice reserved for back-rolling, tail wagging, head tilting puppies with giant eyes. “Oh,” one said, “That robot army song was sooooo touching.”

How many times are you going to hear that said?! Bravissimo to Emil, and thanks to Jonathan Coulton for writing the song. Enjoy, but keep a hankie handy.