The return of the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast

aatm-disney-podcastAs you all know, I am a huge Walt Disney World fan. I’m also an ardent member of the Apple ecosystem since forever. So it is natural that I’m also a podcast listener. One of my favorite podcasts on the topic of Walt Disney World was the All About the Mouse Disney Podcast.

It was a sad day back in 2010 when AATM went “off the air” as the two co-hosts decided that life had made it difficult for them to continue to bring out a weekly dose of Magic and Mayhem. Thankfully, just this summer, Bryan and Jonathan decided they had been retired from Disney podcasting long enough and came back better than ever, complete with a new website: All About the Mouse Central.

They’ve been back for about six episodes at the time of my writing this blog post, and each episode has had the same or better level of energy, professionalism, production value and fun as what I remember. Both Bryan and Jonathan have a lot of love for Disney and it shows. They segment their shows with a little banter, some Disney news, some interaction with their listeners, and then a highlight segment which consists of either reviews or interviews with notable folks in the Disney community. The episodes have been a bit long, but since I’ve got a long commute to work, one episode can easily fill both my morning and evening drives.

I’m a bit personally invested in this one because I had the honor of being “interviewed” during one of their episodes through a segment they call MouseCalls. They will randomly call listeners who have signed up and given them their phone number and ask them a series of questions about their favorite things at Disney World. It was a heck of a lot of fun, and I’d encourage all their listeners to sign up and give it a try.

Podcasting is hard. It takes a lot of work both to produce the episodes and to find your nitch and keep it. I’d like to see All About the Mouse continue for a good long while before the guys decide to retire again.

Welcome back guys. You’ve been missed.

RSM

 

Taking Your Children out of School for a Walt Disney World Family Vacation

I am trying to write a blog post about my thoughts on taking my children out of school for a family trip to Walt Disney World. My thoughts and feelings about it have shifted around as my children have grown and continued through school. Basically, I take them out as long as I feel they can make up the work. This is getting harder as they get further along in school.
I started with the following bulleted list of pros and cons. I thought I’d post those here to my blog as a sneak peek into my thoughts and also to ask for inputs from anyone who might read this.
 
Pros
  • Able to pick times with Lower crowds (potentially)
  • Able to pick times with potentially cooler temperatures
  • Might help to coordinate multi-family trips
  • Hard ticket special events: MNSSHP, MVMCP, WDW’s anniversary (Oct 1st), Walt’s birthday (Dec 5)
  • Educational opportunity
Cons
  • Missing class time, especially the first time teacher goes over something
  • Having to make up homework, classwork
  • No perfect attendance
  • Too much work to make up upon return (higher grades especially)
How to mitigate issues
  • Plan long in advance
  • Don’t pick the beginning of the school year when your child and the teachers are just getting into things
  • Let the teachers, school know long in advance of the trip and work with them to make up homework/classwork
  • Pick out dates that are best in terms of testing, homework, projects
  • know your child, Can they make up the work or will they fall behind
What are your thoughts? Send me comments and I will add to what I’ve captured above.

Thank you, Person of Interest

poi_100thEpiCelebration_01

It was a week of waiting for me, before I could watch the Final Episode ever of Person of Interest. My husband was out of town, and I just couldn’t watch it without him. While he was gone, I watched the last four episodes of season 5 with my children to get us all ready to watch the finale as soon as Dad got home.

I will write up my own thoughts and review of “return 0” in another post. This one is a post of thanks. Thank you to the amazing cast, writers, producers, and creators for giving me a series that touched my head, my heart and my soul. I will miss this show more than I can say, but it ended so perfectly, it feels not like I’ve lost it but just that I have reached an ending.

As The Machine learned in the finale, if we are remembered, if we are loved after we are gone, we never really die. Person of Interest, you will never really die.

Thank you,

RSM

This will hold my place – Farewell Person of Interest

PersonOfInterestThe final episode ever of Person of Interest (PoI) aired last night on CBS. My husband is out of town on travel for work and won’t be home until next week, so I haven’t watched it yet. Watching Person of Interest is something we’ve done together since the show aired its vary first episode. We haven’t missed watching an episode together yet. He told me I could watch it on my own, so I don’t have to stay away from the internet until next week but I don’t know that I can go through watching it alone.

I’ve never written about PoI on my blog. Mostly my blog has been Star Wars focused or Castle focused when I wrote about pop culture. The only reason for so few posts about a show I love so much is that I lacked the time to do the show justice. Person of Interest is a fantastic show, layered and poetic, so beautiful in its portrayal of broken people learning how to be better, to be heroes, with the help of a machine.

I plan on purchasing the last episode, as a backup in case our DVR died sometime between now and next Tuesday. I might be able to make it until my husband’s return to watch it, I might not. In either case, I wanted to put something up on my blog about Person of Interest, before it’s gone.

Open letter to the Show Runners of ABC’s Castle

If there is no Kate Beckett, there is no Castle.  Period.

Several years ago, I used to post pretty regular reviews/summaries of episodes of Castle on my blog. So regularly that I’ve made a tab at the top of my blog to link to them. I’m a Nathan Fillion fan, and fell in love with his ruggedly handsome Richard Castle character from the first episode of this mid-season replacement show. While Nathan may have gotten me to start watching, it was the Beckett-Castle relationship, embodied by Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion that got me to stay. From the very beginning, their chemistry was amazing, add to that the fact that the show took what is typically a male dominated profession and instead gave us the amazing Detective Kate Becket and I was hooked.

 

I stopped writing reviews and summaries because I grew unhappy with the direction the show was taking. It focused on a lot of dark stuff. Betrayal. Miscommunications. At it’s heart, it’s a hopeful, zany show with shenanigans wrapped around the serious murder-solving.  Along the way, the show runners forgot that, and made things too dark. Dark is fine. Dark has its place. Castle is not dark.

The season leading up the wedding of Castle and Becket seemed to remember what the fans of the show loved, and gave it to us in spades. Then the show runners traded hands, and the entire tone of the show changed. The ratings have reflected that. For me, I never returned to writing reviews, but I have never stopped watching the show. I used to have to watch it the day it aired (after our children fell asleep) but now I might go a couple of weeks before catching up. I find that telling. I still watch, it’s just not as fun, so I don’t rush to the DVR.

I’ve just read news that neither Stana Katic nor Tamalia Jones will be returning *IF* Castle is renewed this fall. ABC has not announced what will happen to the show going forward, and news is out that the show runners have filmed three different endings, depending on whether the season ender is also a series ender or not.  I do not know whether one of those endings results in Kate Beckett’s death, but if it does, I am done. Here and now. I am done watching this show.

There is no Castle without Beckett. No Beckett without Castle. Sure, I love Ryan and Esposito, and I love them with Castle, but the heart of this show was the two leads. The romance. The love. The teamwork. The episodes were always their strongest when Kate and Richard worked together to solve the crimes. That became painfully evident this season, as the characters underwent a “fake breakup” to throw off some bad guys.

At this point, if ABC has decided that it’s not worth keeping Stana, then I have decided it’s not worth continuing with this show. If the finale doesn’t let Castle and Beckett ride off into the sunset then I am not interested in watching anything further. I won’t watch even a shortened season without Beckett.

The fans deserve a happy ending. The fans deserve Castle and Beckett growing old and catching bad guys. Let them have babies, and save the world. Let us know they will be living the happily ever after that this couple was always meant to have.  Show us a healthy relationship where the wife can continue her career and she and her husband can work together as partners.

But I am not even sure I’ll continue watching to see.

I am beyond disappointed ABC. Whoever is making these decisions has no idea why the fans watch this show. Nor do they appear to care. I know it’s about the money. I just wish it were also about the storytelling and the fans.

I won’t even start my rant about how they are letting go of only the women on the show.

RSM

Searching for my people

This post was something I wrote about 4 months ago right after having seen The Force Awakens. For whatever reason, I never scheduled it to post. I “bleeped” out the swear words of the person I was quoting. Insert your own swear words as you read it in your head.  I thought I’d post it now to time it with the release of the movie on DVD, blu ray and digital download:

I’ve spent the time since seeing The Force Awakens searching for others out there who, like me, didn’t like the movie. I’ve found them, and by and large they dislike it for the same reasons.  Here’s a quote I found today that made me smile.

“My real problem? This movie makes many of our core, classic heroes look like *bleeping* quitters and/or *bleep*. They ran into trouble between movies, and almost all of them (save Leia and Threepio) decided to *bleep* quit in response and go cry in a corner.”

 

 

More thoughts on Han in The Force Awakens

Now that I’ve watched The Force Awakens on digital download on my iPad, I wanted to touch back on my thoughts about the characterization of Han. This post is inspired by a conversation I was having with my Mom on my Facebook page. It will be short and sweet because this was only a few sentences. For the record, she completely agreed with me. We were not arguing. She was very nicely listening to me vent for what seems like the 100th time.

To the character of Han, let us start with our beginning with him. We start with A New Hope. Han’s got a cargo hold full of money from rescuing Leia, and he turns back straight toward the death star to rescue Luke.

Continue on with Empire Strikes Back:  When Luke doesn’t check back through any of the entrances to the rebel base on Hoth, Han goes out into the night, against the recommendations of all of the other rebels around him, to rescue Luke. Later on, as the Empire finds them on Hoth and all heck is breaking loose, instead of leaving to settle his debt with Jabba, he rescues Leia and plans to get her to the rebellion, keeping himself in danger.

Then in Return of the Jedi, he volunteers to lead the Endor moon raid to take down the shield generator to keep his friends from harm.

He’s a hero plain and simple and those who think he’s just a smuggler/rogue who would return to “what he knew” when times get tough were simply not paying attention.  This, above every other misstep in the storytelling of The Force Awakens did more to disappoint me and throw me out of the movie. They got it wrong. I will never stop saying that, because it is true.

Worrying about an Ahsoka/Vader showdown

As I’ve made perfectly clear, Star Wars: Rebels is currently my favorite Star Wars property outside of the original trilogy largely because of my love for Ahsoka Tano.  I’ve enjoyed watching this season’s episodes because of her addition to the cast of characters, but that enjoyment has been one of hesitance.

Ahsoka was Anakin’s apprentice, assigned to him by Yoda during the Clone Wars. She started out young and reckless, like a couple of Skywalkers we know and love. Her relationship to Anakin is the one thing for me that made his descent toward the dark side real and painful (not his relationship with Padme). Their relationship was more than best friends and something deeper than romance. Yes, Anakin loved Padme, but he had an admiration and protection and deep respect for Ahsoka. When she left the Jedi order, it devastated him.  A new Anakin/Ahsoka preview has been released that beautifully captures their relationship in devastating brilliance.

When she survived the Clone Wars (I cheered!), I knew it was a matter of time before she’d have to face Vader. We know from A New Hope that the Jedi are all but extinct, so her fate has always been one of speculation of when, not if, she would die. We were meant to believe that Obi-wan was the last remaining member of the Jedi Knights. As the Empire Strike Back showed, “all but extinct” probably covered Obi-wan and Yoda. I contend that it can also mean Ahsoka (and Kanan and Ezra for good measure).

As you know, I’ve had enough of the death of major characters in the mythos I enjoy. If the audiences these days have an affinity for death, I wish they’d get their fill from things like Game of Thrones and Daredevil and leave my stories alone. In Star Wars, I want my hope. Yes, characters might die, but you all already got Han Solo. You should be satisfied. That’s more than enough to last for the rest of the Star Wars movies as far as I am concerned.

Count me firmly in the camp that believes Ahsoka does not have to die in order to maintain the established history of the state of the Jedi as told in A New Hope. Technically, she’s no longer a Jedi. She left the order. She’s just a rebel with Force sensitivities now.

Anakin/Vader senses her, and we’ve been shown in the Rebels season 2 mid season trailer that the two of them will meet. I firmly believe that it would be great storytelling to have Vader be unable to defeat her, not because she bests him, but because in his heart, he cannot kill her. Luke knew that there was still good in him. Having him spare Ahsoka’s life should give us a glimpse of it.

The one hour season finale is, rumored to be entitled Twilight of the Apprentice I and II. This could mean that David Filoni has filmed what will be Ahsoka’s last episodes, or twilight could mean something else entirely. I’m hoping that it is a bit of misdirection.

In my opinion, Ahsoka should live to provide continuity and proof of the light side of the force still within Anakin Skywalker that Luke knew all along. And because Star Wars is supposed to be about Hope.

 

MTFBWY

Star Wars Rebels: The Shroud of Darkness

Star-Wars-Rebels-Shroud-of-Darkness-Featured-03012016Star Wars Rebels, oh, I am loving it so much and so terrified at the same time. The Jedi are my most favorite thing in the Star Wars universe. Not the arrogant Jedi we saw in the Prequels or the Clone Wars, but Obi Wan, Luke and Ahsoka.  Especially Ahsoka. She’s been a favorite of mine since she sprung onto the mythos with her “sky guy” antics as the Padawan assigned to Anakin by Master Yoda. I love her character development from precocious preteen to the strong and wise woman she’s become.

This week’s episode, The  was very Jedi Heavy. In the Shroud of Darkness, we see Ahsoka, Kanan and Ezra return to Lothal and enter the Jedi Temple they visited in season one. Here, the three of them have their own visions through meditation with the Force, that offer glimpses to their future and their path.

My heart broke for her in this episode, when she finally learned what had become of her Jedi master Anakin; learned what she already knew with her head but didn’t want to accept with her heart. The guilt at having left him when she left the Jedi order and wondering whether she might have been able to prevent his fall are heavy burdens. Yet, I believe she can handle that weight, because ultimately we are all responsible for our own choices. She knows this, more than most. I am so proud of her. When she stood outside the Jedi temple on Lothal and wouldn’t open it with Kanan and Ezra because she’s no longer a Jedi I had ultimate respect for her. She lives what she says.  I always felt that for all his faults, Obi wan did the same. (I’ve a special place in my heard for old Ben).

So my terror comes from my worry over her fate, and the fate of Kanan and Ezra. We have always assumed that there no other Jedi when we meet Luke and Old Ben Kenobi in a New Hope. Lucas intended that aside from Obi Wan, there were none left. That is why Luke was so key to the building of hope to overcome the darkness. So, these three force users can’t survive past the next four years or so (assuming Ezra is Luke’s age at present ~ 15 or so, and we meet Luke at aged 19 in ANH). I can’t believe they’d kill them off on what is arguably a children’s show, so their fates might be decided in something off Rebels like, perhaps, Rogue One coming out this year. Or as a fellow in my office says, they all end up on Alderaan with Bail Organa when Governor Tarkin says “You may fire when ready“.

(As an aside, I am happy with the fact that this show is staying what I would call appropriate for children immensely. Much as I ended up liking the tv show The Clone Wars, it was decidedly not for kids and neither my son nor daughter watched it much past its first or early second season. I want Rebels to stay kid friendly.)

In this week’s episode, Shroud of Darkness, I found a lot of Jedi goodness. The whole temple scene could have played as either real (meaning Yoda reached out through the force and was actually talking to Ezra and waving goodbye to Ahsoka) or something mystical produced by the force. Sort of a spirit walk based in metaphors. Kanan’s encounter with the Temple Guard who turned out to be the grand inquisitor made me cry. I haven’t been his biggest fan, but watching him finally understand the power of not fighting and acceptance of the way things are (something I struggle with) and then being knighted a Jedi was really beautiful. Unlike some others on the internet who see “descnet into darkness” wherever they can, I interpreted him picking up the red lightsaber to add to his blue one when he was battling the Temple Guard as a symbol that to bring balance to the force, we have to accept both the light and dark within us all. We are all neither completely bad nor completely good. At least that’s what I think the new helm of Lucasfilm is trying to say with the mythos they are setting up.

I think I need to talk to, send an email/open letter/desperate plea, to David Filoni and tell him that I, too, adore Ahsoka and he’s can not kill her off! And yes, while a showdown between her and Darth is inevitable and will be really awesome, I do not want her to die at the hands of her former master. Instead I want him to be unable to kill her, allowing us a glimpse of the conflict, the good, that Luke knew was in him all along.

I want to be able to wear my Ahsoka Live t-shirt from Heruniverse for many many years to come.

May the Force be with You.

Something I love: Star Wars Rebels

star-wars-rebels-season-2-keyart-1536x864-531987300980I thought I’d add a post to my site that was Star Wars related, but wasn’t another one of my diatribes lamenting the mischaracterization of Han and Leia in The Force Awakens. If you can all accept that I’m right and JJ Abrams got those characters wrong, I can accept that TFA (changing the Han and Leia stuff) is welcome in the Star Wars canon. Really that’s all I am asking.

This post is about another post George Lucas Lucasfilm addition to the Star Wars saga, currently airing on Disney XD: Star Wars Rebels. I cannot tell you how much I love Rebels. I immediately fell in love with it on its very first episode of its first season. Now in season two, this show feels like A New Hope, in a way that The Force Awakens tried to but failed (in my mind). It had the courage to show us new characters, and earn our love for them before introducing us to previously established characters (something  The Force Awakens almost did – those first 30 minutes were almost there, and then they ruined it with dead bead Dad Han).  And when Rebels did an episode that followed the beats of rescuing the Princess from the Death Star from A New Hope and using a stolen Imperial shuttle complete with codes from Return of the Jedi, it did so on the small screen with winks and nods that never felt forced (no pun intended) unlike another recent Star Wars property on the big screen.

This season, my favorite former Jedi (Ahsoka Tano) has joined the cast, and I am completely in adoration of her character arc. She is hands down my favorite character to come out of anything outside of the Original Trilogy and I was overjoyed when her creator, David Filoni, spared her from the slaughter of the famous Order 66 at the end of Season 5 of the Clone Wars. I am firmly in the camp of folks who love her so much that we never want to see her killed off. Since she’s no longer a Jedi, I don’t see any conflict with existing canon in having her survive the events leading up to A New Hope.

This past week’s episode, The Shroud of Darkness, was a particularly Jedi heavy one and is perhaps my favorite of the series so far. Since this post is getting a little long, I’ll post my thoughts in my next blog post.  If you haven’t started watching Star Wars Rebels, I’d catch up on DVD, iTunes or via the Disney😄 app, and join the fun.

Until my next post,

May the Force be with You.