Sunday, November 21, 2010

HP7.1, take 2

Yes, we saw it again last night.  Some friends who hadn't seen it yet really wanted to see it with us.  We didn't get to sit with them (assigned seating when ordering movie tickets online has its drawbacks), but they were pretty close, and it was still SO good.  And we didn't die on the freeway due to the blizzard on the way there or back.

Did I already say "ACCIO PART 2"?...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

I have seen it.  It was amazing.  I looked like this the entire time:  O.O
As much as I complained about them splitting it into two movies, this gave them a lot more time to really show more of the events of the book and develop these kids into the grown-ups they're being forced to become.  Gone are the days of Potions finals and Quidditch matches.  Harry and Co. are have much bigger fish to fry.  In past movies they were able to cut a lot of extra things that didn't really have to do with Harry directly, but in this book, just about everything centers around Undesirable No. 1, so it seems like the right decision to split it up into two (not to mention the obvious financial benefits to breaking your big finale into two huge cinematic events).

Yesterday to get into the spirit of things, I did this during some downtime at work.  It's not anything super special, but it's fun to try new things with layers and shading and gradients, and angsty Harry is always an interesting subject.

We had fun at my first-ever HP midnight showing.  The crowd was energetic but under control, and we had a fun time with the Lius, the Barbers and cousin Britney (we missed Elise and Jeff desperately).  I didn't even feel any overwhelming effects of sleepiness throughout the day.  I kind of thought it might hit me when the 3 pm wall came around, but it wasn't too bad.  Now, at about 11 pm, however...

Today I celebrated Harry Potter Day 2010 by basking in the memories of HP7.1 and by holding a personal iPod HP soundtrack marathon. 175 tracks, 8.5 hours of songs, 7 full (and/or enhanced) chronological scores, 4 different composers, 1 incredible musical journey


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Three Things I Miss:

My hair, my beard and my Lili.*  Fortunately at least two of these things are on their way back in full force.  As for the third, we'll just have to wait to be reunited, I guess.

Also, I kind of miss that Asphalt Pie.

* For those who don't know, my BFF and youngest sister Elise packed up her family and moved to Maryland a couple months ago.  This is a picture from the last time we had lunch together, just the two of us before they moved.  I've been meaning to post this for ages, but have only just now sat down and done it.  Drili 4eva.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

35th Dam Run

Jonny insisted we refer to this race by its proper name.  It's been going for 35 years, so "First Dam Run" is evidently no longer accurate (even though the 10K course does still technically go to the first dam).

Last weekend we (Dad, Mom, Amber, Katy, Brady, Melody, Jonny, Julia, Gabe and me and The Wife) joined Grandma in Logan for the weekend.  We had a fun night of watching more of Grandpa's old film reels, now on DVD thanks to Bree and those who contributed financially, and then went to bed to be nice and rested for the big race the next morning.

Julie and I decided at quite literally the last second to register to do the 10K instead of the 5K again this year.  We ran the 10K last year (our first ever) and had a good time, but we were worried we hadn't quite prepared ourselves enough this year.  We just decided to go for it anyway.  The course was nice and long, but the weather was cooperative and not too cold.  My iPod worked perfectly the entire time (not like last year), and it was a pretty nice run, rough, but not brutal.  Honestly, after the killer hill of the Hale race the week before, the slope up to the dam seemed pretty mild.  We both had slightly slower times than last year, but we both felt good about our pace and our performance.  I placed 19th overall, 17th in men overall, and 2nd in my age group at 45:11.5.

Katy was a great babysitter, and although none of us won the treadmill raffle, it was still fun.  Grandma, Dad, Mom, Jonny, Melody and I all won second place in our division, so we all were awarded matching red ribbons.
And here's the the 36th!  (Hopefully it won't cost quite as much next year.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Halloween in Provo

The weekend after our Disneyland trip was of course Halloween proper, and it brought a few key events.

First, on Utah Halloween (Saturday the 30th), we started out with a 5K in Orem--Highway to Hale, sponsored by the Hale Center Theater.  We ran their winter race earlier this year, and were looking forward to their fall offering, when costumes were encouraged.  We decided to go with modified versions of our Harry and Hermione costumes, and met Mom and Dad for a great morning.  The weather was perfect and the crowd was great, and there were some really creative costumes (among our favorites were two guys dressed as Slinky Dog from Toy Story).  Mom and Dad came dressed as...  Mom and Dad, I guess.  It's a pretty fun course, but has a fairly brutal hill at the start of mile 2, but then levels out for the last half mile or so.  According to the results website, I placed third in my age group and 5th overall with a chip time of 22:01 (and a gun time of 22:39).  I was awarded the medal for 1st, since the overall winners were in my age group and they gave them different awards.  Woot!  Julie did great and was in the top 20 of her age group, Mom was in the top 4 of hers, and Dad placed 1st.

And no, we didn't run with our scarves, wands or Snitch.
Go, go, Gryffindor!!!
But yes, I did run with my glasses on, though I didn't realize it until about halfway through, and by then they weren't really bothering me anyway.
Later that day (after a sorrowful, but necessary haircut), we were getting ready for the stake trunk-or-treat, and we were excited to try some new costumes this year.  Usually we go with the tried and true fallback of Harry and Hermione (see above), but last year Julie had a last-minute brainwave and this year we followed through.  So, without further ado, I present to you...
Captain Hammer and Penny!

Stand back, everyone, nothing here to see.  Just imminent danger, in the middle of it: Me.

Will you lend a caring hand?

(If you're among the poor few who still don't know what Dr. Horrible is, by the way, find out.)

Gathering the costume pieces (at least for mine) was something of a labor of love, but we were glad it all finally came together.  We spent a little time at the stake activity and then to the party a friend and her roommates were hosting, and it was gratifying to be recognized in relatively obscure costume choices.

The next day, which was actually Halloween, we celebrated by having Lacie and Leland over for a pumpkin feast, including Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin, Pumpkin Whoopee, a little pumpkin ice cream and of course, leftover pumpkin trick-or-treating candy.  It was delicious (and so were the leftovers).

Almost The Wife is persuading me to like this Halloween thing.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Halloween at Disneyland

For the first time ever (that I can remember anyway), I have finally visited Disneyland during one of the major holidays.  Halloween at Disneyland is a much enhanced experience, featuring a couple pretty major ride overlays and a significant amount of decorations.  Kids are even encouraged to dress up in costumes, as you can see from Marissa as Snow White in a dress that Julie's mom made years ago, and both Julie and Marci wore when they were very young.  We've been planning this trip for several months, determined to get as much of Julie's family as possible to attend as a sort of family reunion.  We were very excited when it was confirmed that Mom, Marci and the kids were making their way over from Missouri, and of course when Tyler, Sarah and the girls confirmed they would be joining the fun as well.

Julie and I left on Thursday morning, made great time (without the slightest incident with the local highway patrolmen), and were at our hotel by mid-afternoon.  The others were traveling from Arizona, and with four kids, so they were running a little later than we were, so we checked into our hotel room to rest a little.  We stayed at a favorite of Sarah's, the Del Sol Inn, immediately (and I mean immediately) across the street from the walkway to the esplanade and entrance to Disneyland.  We had two rooms for the whole group, and had been informed that each room only had one bed (Julie and I had brought the air mattress), but were surprised to find spacious rooms with two beds each!  The air mattress turned out to be a big hit with the little kids though, so bringing that ended up being a good call anyway.  We met the rest of our group when they arrived in town at Huntington Beach.  It was a little later than we expected, so we just caught sunset and a pretty much deserted beach at nighttime.  A couple of the kids had "never seen the sea," so that was pretty exciting for everyone.  The water was warm and lovely, but it was night, so we just rolled up our jeans and waded in the shallow water and chased the waves.

The next day started our two-day Disneyland Halloween extravaganza!  I will illustrate highlights by way of bulleted list:

  • Spending time with Julie's family!  As much as we love to do Disneyland as a couple, it's sometimes fun to go to Disneyland with kids--A couple of the kids were pretty new to Disneyland, but a couple of them are old pros already.  Julie and I were glad to serve as runners for fastpasses and to check on wait times and ride closures opening back up.  It was fun to have a bigger group for rides that take your photo, like the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, and to switch it up with who you sit next to on each ride.  Having so many people was a different experience, we knew before going that it was going to have to be a lot more fluid and flexible, and we didn't do everything we might usually do, or as many times as we usually do, but we did a lot of other things we don't usually GET to do, because we're just two, so it was a great time.  We even had seating for dinner and Fantasmic, which was unusual and delightful.  (Now if only that new dragon would ever be up and running when I go there...)  Plus, Sarah's love of and history with Disneyland rivals mine, so it's fun to go with her in company so we can swap stories and share secrets.  We even met a young couple vacationing from Canada on their first-ever trip to Disneyland while we all waited to order our Dole Whips in the queue area for the Enchanted Tiki Room.  We gave them some tips and ideas to make the most of their trip despite the crowds.
Rapunzel was in there!  You can tell because her hair is coming out of the tower!

(That girl behind me was actually really annoying.)

  • Speaking of which, the crowds were great on Friday, and pretty good on Saturday morning.  By Saturday afternoon and night, it was pretty crazy, but we know how to work a busy park.  The weather was fantastic the entire time, I wore long sleeves and was perfectly comfortable with an overcast morning at Disneyland.
  • I came prepared with dramamine this time around.  I am sorry to say that these days I start to get a little queasy after a few of my favorite rides, so I decided I would take something to take the edge off, even if it meant being a little drowsy.  I would rather be a little tired at Disneyland than nauseated at Disneyland.  It worked pretty well, and we even found a kind that was non-drowsy.  Brilliant.
Silly Symphony Swings!  It's like the Orange Stingers ride they used to have, except now it's Disney-themed.  We had to go on it because it's new, but maybe we won't again for a while because it made us feel really dizzy.

  • Club 33!  Thanks to the generosity of a family friend, we were able to get our entire party into lunch at Walt Disney's super-exclusive restaurant above New Orleans Square that most park guests don't even know exists.  Julie and I had eaten there on our honeymoon, and we were excited to share it with the rest of the family.  Although the reservations had been available in two separate groups, at least they were only 30 minutes apart and we sat in the same dining room.  The lunch buffet was amazing as ever (crab claws!!!) and the entrĂ©es were excellent--Tyler even declared his chateaubriand was the best steak he ever had.

  • Halloween Festivities!  Most notable of course is the Haunted Mansion Holiday.  How many years have they been doing this, how many years have I been hearing about it and longing to do, dying with jealousy at all the friends who have gone and seen it?  Too many!  No more!  It was amazing!  The entire Haunted Mansion is re-themed as if the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas have taken over, and it's a perfect cross-over.  Running from early October to the new year, it's still the beloved Haunted Mansion, but it's an explosion of Halloween, Christmas, the Haunted Mansion and Jack et al.  Amazing.  We rode it once on the first day, and then Julie and I rode it three times in a row the next morning.  I would loved to have gone a few more times (just SO much to look at!), but by mid-day the line was insane, and it didn't let up.  Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy was a fun change for the beloved roller coaster, featuring a new spooky soundtrack and several projected instances of an eerie ghost/alien/creature/comet thing grabbing at you and chasing you.  Main Street was decked out with carved pumpkins and yellow and orange banners, as well as a giant Mickey jack-o-lantern at the entrance hub.  Unfortunately the Halloween Screams fireworks show has been relegated to the twice-weekly, separate-entrance-fee Mickey's Halloween Party trick-or-treating event (along with the costume cavalcade parade), so we were unable to see that (hosted by Jack and featuring flying Zero!!!), but they're only fireworks, right?  Maybe one day.

  • WORLD OF COLOR!!!  So it's been running since June, but this water/light/color/laser/music/film projection show was nothing short of amazing!  The screen of water is enormous, and the dancing colors and lights can only be compared to the Bellagio light show in Las Vegas, but just so much more.  It's hard to explain, but it's incredible.  You can find videos of it on youtube, and while I recommend checking those out to get the idea, you really just can't get the idea of the scope of the show without seeing it in person.  The wait for fastpasses and crowds were unexpectedly pretty minimal, and our view from the bridge to Paradise Pier were perfect.  I've been singing the theme song (alternating with themes from The Nightmare Before Christmas) almost non-stop since.

It was a great two days, and I'm thinking we just have to make our next Disney trip to the southeastern coast...  It's just been too long for me, and it's been never for Julie.
Much thanks to Sarah for capturing perhaps our best jumping photo to date.

So there you go!  A fairly concise trip report by my standards, I think.  You can find more pictures on facebook, which are very entertaining.  I feel so fulfilled to have checked off all of my top priorities for this trip, a couple of them things I've been looking forward to seeing for years.  Lily even declared that she loves me as much as Disneyland, and if you know Lily, that is really saying something.