Snow White’s Awesome Adventure

This is a long story, but you will enjoy it. What awesome parents this young man has, and what a nice thing the Disney World staff did for him!

By way of background, I should point out that our hero is autistic, he loves the Snow White’s Scary Adventure ride, and had ridden it literally hundreds of times when his family learned WDW was closing it to make way for new attractions.

Link to the first post. You can navigate from there. The excerpt below is from part 2. The website it is from is Shmoolok.com.

So there we were on Thursday night, just after 7pm and being led by Stacey and a couple other cast members to stand over in front of The Friar’s Nook. Ben was in a happy mood, but kind of pulling us back over towards SWSA. He was having the time of his life, and wanted to get right back to it. After a few short minutes of waiting, a door opened and out came Snow White herself to come talk to Ben. All of a sudden, Ben got a huge smile on his face and started laughing hysterically. He was positively transfixed. That Kodak moment that I warned Stacey not to expect? Oh yeah, it was there in spades.

Ben meets Snow White.

Snow White continued to talk to him as Ben very shyly took her hand, and then laughed some more. It was an almost drunken laugh, the laugh you hear from a baby when you play peek-a-boo for too long and they drift into that delirious-happy state. As Snow White talked to him about the ride, and about all of the dwarfs, Ben seemed to be absolutely glowing with joy. A crowd began to gather behind him, and I had to take off my glasses and dry my eyes. I can assure you that I am the manliest of men, and I am positive it was just allergies or perhaps a speck of dust that got in my eye. Whatever it was, it seemed to be spreading to everyone nearby. Not a dry eye in the house.

This went on for several minutes and Snow White never let up, never broke character even for a moment. She knew how many times Ben had been on her ride, she knew what his favorite moments in the ride were, and most of all she knew how to keep him engaged and joyously happy. Eventually she invited Ben to go on the ride with her, and he gleefully agreed…

The poor boy was fully twitterpated.

Snow White gasps as the Witch is struck by lightning. Ben was pretty stricken as well.

I first read about this on Boing Boing!

Moshi Moshi Moshi Monster Monster


Fellow dad Thriftshop XL clued me in to Moshi Monsters this morning.

I’m actually looking after a houseful of em right now and they’re jumping up and down in the living watching a video compilation of Moshi Monster videos on the media player. My 4yo daughter was introduced to this phenomena when my friends stayed over with their 8yo daughter. Mine was hooked and, after checking it out, we let her play it. You can pay to be a member or just sign up for the free stuff (I ain’t payin’) There’s plenty to do in there. It’s really child-friendly and great to sit down with your kids and solve puzzles, do up your house, collect pets, etc. Be warned though, there is a social element to it and you can contact (or be contacted by) other folks who can look at your profile (I like cookies, fave colour: Red, etc) other than that it’s a very appealing place. We let her play, supervised, 2 to 3 times a week for up to an hour. When I have time, I log in and do some of the games to earn ‘money’ so’s she can buy new stuff for her house. The stores here are FULL of Moshi Monster merch, from Jigsaws to backbacks and figures, right through to sticker albums, paperback books and annuals. There is a very catchy album called Music Rox from which some of the videos you have seen are taken. Moshi Monsters is the Brainchild of a British Tech startup called Mind Candy and has been running in the UK for a few years. Unlike a lot of these types of things for kids, they have had no negative publicity regarding online safety and seem pretty clued-up as to what makes a safe, fun environment for kids (and their keepers) to play.

Apparently half the kids in England are playing this game. Brits are hip. So it’s an online game, but there are also a bunch of these surreal children’s videos on youtube, along with a bunch of requisite Youtube trend obsession videos. I like the videos, but they are pretty intense.

While the vids seem specifically designed to shorten children’s attention spans,  Moshi Monsters creators do claim the game and site are educational. I didn’t play the actual games themselves, but they are supposedly “a series of fun puzzles that test everything from vocabulary and arithmetic to logic and spatial skills.” That said, I can’t imagine what exactly the videos are supposed to be teaching. Kind of fun and cool though! Woot woot! (pumps fist) There’s also a social networking component, which is supposed to be safe and monitored, but yeah- not yet, thanks.

Just when I thought I knew what was going on, they started making fun of Justin Bieber.

And paying tribute to Lady Gaga.

And then, while I personally find the one below amusing, I have to wonder what my 4-year old would take away from it. I prefer the funky un-ironic cuteness to the Happy tree Friends-esque cynical attempt to appeal to cranky pre-teens.

Perhaps I’m getting old. I need to stop now; my head hurts.

Potty Boot Camp: Graduation

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We’re concerned with the one on the right. Note to self: DUST MANTLE!

You may remember that not so long ago, we were in the midst of an intense potty bootcamp session and I was blogging desperately, asking for advice, almost certain my otherwise well-adjusted child would go to Harvard wearing Depends and baffling her therapist. The great advice I did get was:

  • Lots of food and water, treats,whatever fills em up!
  • Nice new undies.
  • Rewards. Lollipops, specifically Dum Dums worked for us because they are cheap, small, and not filling.
  • A few toys for poop rewards. DVDs and art supplies work too because you’ll be at home for a couple days!
  • Do not budge. Do not give them diapers. Let it happen. Whatever ‘it’ happens to be.

I won’t detail the entire series of events, but it was not very tough the final go round. We had to lay off and just remove the diaper, and say you can go on the floor/in your pants, my dear, or in the toilet. And be chill about it and help her in a non-judgmental way to do whatever she needs to do to get there. She basically had to decide it was time, and she did. Huge milestone. We went right into overnights without a single accident! Talk about being ready.

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The key to winning is FOCUS!

Anyway, thanks for all the tips!

What a lovely mom, a strong kid, a cool blog! This one’s a ‘must subscribe.’ Rock on CJ!

Raising My Rainbow

Give C.J. a theme and he will run with it.  This week had him running for five days straight.

It was the last week of school and the Orange County Mommy Mafia was out in full force giving each day a theme and a party and a sense of panic that had me constantly feeling like I was forgetting some important detail.  They scuttled about campus in their Lululemon yoga pants, clutching their stainless steel commuter mugs filled with the organic coffee they picked up at Trader Joe’s over the weekend while they were loading up on supplies for the class ice cream social, board game mixer, pizza party, beach blanket BBQ, popcorn and movie mid-day madness and bubble blowing farewell ceremony.  I watched them all from the comfort of my dirty car, while wearing my work pants that give me a severe muffin top and drinking yesterday’s coffee that…

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Film Review: BRAVE

OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG.

The new Pixar film is out on June 22, and it is called Brave, and it is wicked awesome. Wiki. I will attempt to tell you how awesome it is (‘review’ is probably a misnomer, since this is likely to be little more than lavish praise and gushing) but I really won’t spoil anything you can’t learn from the trailer or the cover of a new Brave coloring book now available at Target. Heck, I even picked photos that don’t reveal much. However, if you are a strict NO SPOILERS freakazoid, then don’t read ANY reviews until AFTER you see it. Just a suggestion. I won’t be blamed for your unhappiness.

My hero.

Last night I was privileged enough to catch an advance screening of Brave with my 4-year-old daughter. We were pumped, so pumped I didn’t mind relinquishing my cell phone. We are big Pixar fans, and all their releases (except that travesty known as Cars 2) are wonderful films. But even with such a high bar set by all those previous killer Pixar releases, I couldn’t have expected a film with this much depth, this many facets and which is successful on so many levels. In turns, and without seeming jumpy or forced, the film is mature, emotional, spooky, action-packed, hilarious, magical and gorgeous. It’s pretty impressive, all the things they managed to cram into this 93 minute movie.  But then again, this is Pixar. They are the best in the biz, right?

I predict an uptick in archery class registrations this summer.

Pixar films have always looked pretty sweet, so bright, sharp, and clean, but I knew something looked… different about this film, compared to the signature look of the older releases. It was realer. Smoother. Deeper. More natural. Better hair. Better facial acting, even. Turns out the studio totally reworked their hoosey-whatsis algorithmic thingys that make them there cartoon pitchers look real purty. As a result Brave looks incredible. The sound is stunning, too. Lush, pretty, and sometimes bone-shaking. The music adds an authentic feel, but it is not at all distracting. This is a flick to see at a quality cinema for full effect.

Mérida, self-rescuing princess.

Pixar folks must be taking some cues from their buddies over at Ghibli, because this protagonist is no swooning princess, but a feisty, independent young woman with nerves of steel. Meet Kelly MacDonald as Princess Mérida, the feisty redheaded you’ve seen in all the promos. You will likely get to know her well this summer as she grins at you from the side of your beverage cup. Well, this is one NEW kind of Disney princess. One of those self-rescuing princesses. And she really is not looking for a Prince right now, thank you very much, and she could probably kick my butt, and yours. Plus she’s funny, charming, brainy, a free-thinking progressive, a good sister, and a knockout with amazing hair.  She actually might not want to be a princess at all, because it interferes with thundering across the mist-drenched, gorgeously mystical looking Scottish landscape on a Highland Pony and loosing arrows with deadly accuracy at stuff.

Da fam.

We also have Mérida’s loving and impressive family, lead by one of those huge Pixar Dads (more of a mountain than a man, but a nice, funny ginger mountain), King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and an impressively together Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who is a bit severe and controlling for a young woman of Mérida’s tastes. She also has three hilarious non-speaking toddler prankster redhead brothers, who are responsible for a considerable amount of the hilarity, mayhem, sight gags and slapstick humor in the film. The cast is rounded out with three Scottish Clans filled to the brim with hilarious character types,  Mérida’s erstwhile Highland Pony Angus, an old wise woman, a scary monster of sorts, and of course, Scotland itself in a leading role.

Clan leaders! Haw!

Things open up with a young Princess playing with her loving mother and doting father on a gorgeous day in a sun-drenched field. It’s a glorious memory, really, a day which it turns out will live in legend, as a massive bear rears up to attack toddler Mérida and her fearless father throws himself between them and saves her life. In this, the first of many acts of bravery in this film, King Fergus loses a leg, and he is ever after locked in an Ahab-esque, life-long pursuit of the beast. Of course, the bear image recurs throughout the film, and we see the monster again before the film’s end.

Cut to the ‘present’ day 10th century, and Mérida’s parents applying pressure, as parents do, for her to make good and marry one of the appropriate suitors. Standard stuff. Mérida resists, which is no surprise, running off after a fight with moms. A rift in the family and a subsequent transformation lead to a surprising, moving, sometimes uproarious, pretty much jaw-dropping series of events. I cried four times, I think. I don’t think that’s saying too much in the way of spoilers.

A Wisp!

We also have a lot of neat details- the really cool recurring motifs of Will-O-The-Wisps leading our heroine to realize her destiny, haggis, Kilt jokes, Highland Games, stunning magic, and tons of mist. There is also a requisite stone circle, impressively ancient looking already in the 10th century, that figures in the story in a really creative way. All of this stuff is played in a way that feels authentic and natural. Even the kilt jokes, which are usually so stale, work fine. There are like 4 “nothing under the kilt” gags and I didn’t mind a bit.

This film is destined to be elevated to a spot near the top of Pixar’s cannon, which is no mean feat. Do yourself a favor and see it in a cinema with digital picture and sound this summer. You will be glad you did!

Deighvid and Danyol: Cartoons and Fine Art

Here are some cool pieces of art which are inspired by cartoons and animation characters.

These Adventure Time vs Studio Ghibli mash-up illustrations are by a 17 year old artist named Deighvid (aka David). (From Movielicious.)

Kiki’s Delivery Service, with Finn and Jake as Kiki and Jiji.

Princess Bubblegum as Ponyo.

Beemo as Noface!

Jake actually COULD be the Catbus… if he wanted.

I met another artist, also with a phonetically spelled name, this weekend at Bootie SF. Danyol (aka Daniel) also dabbles in pop-art appropriations. Here are a couple of his charming pieces based on vintage cartoons. He also gave me a piece of Sanrio inspired art, painted on a travel map of Israel, which we’ll be getting framed for Stella’s room.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast (Danyol, 2011)

Exit Stage Left (Danyol, 2011)

Squrrrl Installation Piece (Danyol, 2012)

Art is cool.