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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Evaluating Vacation Options - Where to Eat

I've already gone over the cost/benefit analysis for the Disney Dining Plan, but once that choice is made, you still have to decide where you're going to eat. There are two things that I do when on vacation. The first is make meals myself. I'm the cook in the family and we have a timeshare, which means we have a full kitchen available to us. So, I usually plan that we'll have breakfast before we go out for the day, and we'll have dinner there at least a few times.

Not everyone has that option, however, so we come to the second thing. I insist that we eat at some place that has, at most, two locations. The whole point of traveling is to experience new things, and the food is part of that. This is pretty easy to do when visiting Theme Parks, but even there I tend towards sit-down restaurants as the quick service tends to be the lowest common denominator in food.

Here are two recommendations that I have for anyone visiting Walt Disney World. Both of these are on the "must visit" list, and that's not so much for the food, which is good, but for the ambiance. The Liberty Tree is just slopping over with history. I'd be happy just to wander around and look at everything without ordering anything. Plus, it's front and center in Liberty Square, so it's convenient to a number of attractions.

The Sci-Fi Dine-In is almost the opposite. Again, I don't recommend it for the food, which is also good, but this is one where sitting down and taking it all in is better. There are cartoons and old movie trailers on a loop and your table is a car! This is a little hidden in Hollywood Studios, though, so you have to seek it out.

The Liberty Tree Tavern

The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

If anyone has any other suggestions, either at WDW or any of the other Orlando Attractions, I'd love to hear them.

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Top Ten Podcast Epsiodes

Taking a look back at the podcast last year, I had a definite plan of attack. I wanted to do "generational stories", and there were quite a few varieties that I covered. As a "greatest hits", here are the top ten downloaded episodes of my show.

10. We start off with Episode 15, where I did my best Casey Kasem and recounted 9 of my favorite Cartoon TV Themes. This must have hit a cord with people, because it got 429 downloads, even though it was an episode from 2015. It was also one that I really enjoyed putting together, since I love all of those tunes. These shows were a HUGE part of my childhood (well, not Gargoyles, but you get the idea).

9. Episode 16 was my wife's first podcast appearance, and we talked about The Muppets. This is a topic that both Michelle and I love. It's just not a road trip until we do the "Bear left. Right Frog." bit. Also an episode from the year before, it came into 2016 with 448 downloads. Not bad.

8. Luke Jaconetti (one of them thar Jaconetti Boys) was nice enough to come on for Episode 18, all about the movie Excalibur. As I said in the episode, this movie is what got me into all things Arthurian, which is a big part of my life and how I view the world. It's an ambitious movie, and does short cut a lot of stuff, but it is easily the best King Arthur movie ever made. We got a magical 489 downloads for that one.

7. My wife joined me on the next installment, which was Episode 23 and her second podcast appearance, covering the relationship of Henry Jones Sr. & Jr. Michelle is actually a bigger Indiana Jones fan than I am, so it was a fun discussion. If you want to hear our commentary for The Last Crusade, head over to the Patreon page and become a supporter at the $8 level. This got a decent 508 downloads.

6. It wasn't a generational story, really, but Andy Leyland and I FINALLY got together to talk about The Fall Guy on Episode 17, the first episode of the year. This is the show where I discovered Lee Majors, and I still think it's his best work. Like the conversation I had with Andy, it just seemed like Majors was have fun doing the show, which makes a big difference. This one came in with a respectable 638 downloads.

5. Dave Weter joined me for the episode in 5th position, and that was the Legends of the Superheroes episode for Daredevil. Both of us like this movie more than most, even though we know that it's flawed. I would recommend that people give it another look, if they haven't seen it in awhile. This garnered 741 downloads, making it #23 on the TTF hit parade.

4. My epic conversation with Scott Ryfun about the Skywalker Family (aka Episode 21) came in at the 4th position. We were all over the place on this one, even revealing some of our Star Wars Stories. With 747 downloads, that puts it at #22 on Two True Freaks for the year.

3. Episode 20, which was Part 2 of my conversation with Michael Bailey about Superman/Batman Generations, came in at #3 with 831 downloads. That puts it at the #12 spot for the Network in 2016. This was an unintentional two-part episode. Mike and I just talked so much about this series that I had to make it multiple parts or it would have gone on too long for my tastes.

2. The Buck Rogers Episode of Legends of the Superheroes, guest starring Darrin & Ruth Sutherland, came in at the #2 spot, with 833 downloads. It was also #11 overall at TTF for the year. This was the Sutherlands first guest spot, and I'm honored that they came on my show first. We had a really great time talking about the show and the cast, and coming up with better possibilities for Season 2.

Drum roll, please.

1. Coming in with 919 downloads, and in the #8 position for the entire Two True Freaks Network, is Episode 19! This was Part 1 of my coverage of Superman/Batman Generations with Michael Bailey. I love John Byrne. I love Superman. I'm also rather fond of Batman. So this series was right in my wheelhouse. I picked this up off the stands as it came out, so I was right there on the ground floor. And who better to talk about Byrne, Superman, and Batman than the Godfather of Comics Podcasting? We had so much fun that I really want to do Generations 2 with him at some point.

The main thing I noticed is that all but one had guests on them. Maybe I should keep up this trend. Heck, even Michelle, who doesn't have a podcast, got two episode on this list.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sherlock Holmes and The Super-Monkey

I have quite the range of tastes in entertainment, and it's rather interesting where they intersect. One instance of this occured last month when my wife and I watched "The Six Napoleons", an episode of "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" starring the great Jeremy Brett as the great detective. In this we have someone breaking plaster busts of Napoleon Bonaparte, for no obvious reason. The culprit, and spoilers for those that haven't seen the episode or read the story, is described as:

" alert, sharpfeatured simian man with thick eyebrows, and a very peculiar projection of the lower part of the face like the muzzle of a baboon." - From the text of the original story

This man's name is Beppo, which is an unusual, but not unheard of, nickname for the Italian name Giuseppe.

This got me to wondering, what this the origin of the name for Beppo the Super-Monkey? Did Otto Binder read the Conan Doyle story and use that as part of his creation of Beppo? I don't think that we'll ever know the answer, but this is what my mind does when watching things like this.

Also of note was that the episode also had Mirina Sirtis in a small role, so you get Superman, Sherlock Holmes, and Star Trek all converging. My kind of show.

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Top 10

I recently pulled out my trades for "Top 10" and reread them. This was one of the series that was recommended to me by the owner of our FLCS years ago.

For those of you not familiar with the series, it's basically "Hill Street Blues" with superpowers. Our POV character is rookie Robyn Singer, aka Toybox, who is starting at Precinct 10. The series takes us through several cases in the city of Neopolis, which is where all of the "Science Heroes" live.

This is right up my alley, as I love police procedurals, but I'm especially fond of the type that gives you all layers of the force. Here we have patrolmen, detectives, a sergeant that's an intelligent dog in an exoskeleton, everything I could want. So, of course I like it.

If this sounds at all intriguing to you, I'd recommend picking up at least the first twelve issues (see the link above). There are offshoots of those, and I like what I've read, but the original issues give you a really nice story that has a beginning, middle, and end while still leaving it open for more stories to be told. Kind of unusual in comics, which might be another reason that the series appeals to me.

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Santa and his Mechanical Reindeer

One of our family traditions every December is to watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode for "Santa Claus", a lovely little Mexican film that pits Santa against his anagram, Satan. There's a whole lot of nightmare fuel here, but Mike & the Bots do a really good job with it. Enjoy!

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Evaluating Vacation Options - Where to Stay

Where to stay when going on vacation to Orlando can be a big question. For us, the answer is simple, we have a time share*. No, we're not members of the Disney Vacation Club (mainly because I'm an idiot), but we have the ability to stay a week in Orlando for <$200. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

However, we are going to be staying "On Property" for the first time this trip, even if it's only for a couple of days, so I want to go into how we decided which hotel to pick.

The first thing I did was consult the experts, and by that I mean Scott & Scott from "Earning My Ears". Both of them are huge Disney fans, Walt Disney World in particular, and they frequently stay on property. So I laid it all out for them and got a couple of recommendations.

Obviously, the Value Resorts are a viable option. They cost the least, but are in no way "cheap" hotels. Heck, Scott Gardner works at one of them, so it must be good, right? ;-)

What they suggested, though, is to try for a Moderate Resort. Yes, they cost a little more, but they are more than worth it, according to the guys. They actually recommended the "Port Orleans - French Quarter" as one to check out, so I did. Not only did I read up on it on the WDW website, but I found several YouTube videos where people showed the rooms, lobby, pool, etc. Watching these pretty much clinched it, and that's where we're going to book.

All that being said, one day I'd love to be able to stay at The Contemporary Resort. Not only is it one of the two resorts that opened when WDW did, 45 years ago, but the Monorail runs through the hotel! How cool is that!?!?

* If anyone would like a good deal on purchasing a time share, let me know. I'd much rather sell this and buy into the DVC. Not that I'm unhappy with what we have, but with the amount of time we're probably be going to be spending at Disney over the years, DVC would just make more sense for us.

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

I was finally able to watch Captain America: Civil War recently, since life got in the way when it was out in theaters. I'm not a fan of the comic series, since it was really heavy handed about forcing views on the characters just so that they would serve the story, rather than having them naturally come to that decision. So, I wasn't really thrilled with the announcement of the title of this movie.

That being said, I did like this. It's not going to replace The First Avenger as my favorite Cap movie, but it handled the whole registration issue in a very well thought out way. The best part of this was that I could see both sides of the argument and could agree with Steve or Tony alternatively. Both had very valid points and Tony, as well as T'Challa, was able to revise his position based on new information.

Add to that the fact that this had the single best live action Spider-Man that I've ever seen, and I would have to say that this movie succeeded on most levels. (It gets deducted for shaky cam.)

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