Saturday, May 31, 2014

To all who come to this Happy Place... Welcome!

Getting ready to start my next 30 days challenge, this one focusing on DISNEYLAND! Seems it's only fitting to do this since in about 106 days I will be on the plane headed for Southern California for a week of Disney and FRIENDS! I haven't blogged much about the trip and I need to get it into gear and get going on it. I AM excited about it, I just haven't felt the inspiration to blog about it... I blame my Once Upon A Time obsession for sidetracking me. (Seriously, still not over it ha ha.)

It's getting close and so the excitement is ramping up. Erin and Wess have gotten their airfare (I did months ago as I used miles and the flights I originally wanted had filled up their miles quota so I had to find another set of flights that worked and I snagged them as soon as I could). I also talked my friend Aimee into going. She and Erin have the same birthday. I "met" Aimee online over 10 years ago when we were both blogging on GreatestJournal (a livejournal like blog site). We'd found each other through our Star Wars fandom, and then realized we had a lot in common. We both loved our pug dogs, loved Star Wars, obsessed over DISNEY... and a friendship was born. We've never met "in real life", but we always talk about meeting - and it's normally a trip to WDW that we assumed would be how we finally made it happen.

Fastforward to Christmas of 2013. Aimee posted on facebook a video of the Wonderful World of Color water and light show at Disney's California Adventure and she was saying how she so wanted to go to DLR but didn't know when it would happen - if it ever would (she lives on the East Coast). I popped on and said she should come with us for her birthday. She thought I was joking. But I said I was serious! We had the room booked and ready to go, all she'd need to do is get airfare and park tickets and she'd be set! It was 10 months away it was doable.

After staying up WAY past my bedtime (which means she TOTALLY skipped hers ha ha) I convinced her to at least THINK about it. A few days later she'd made up her mind, she was going to do it! She has her airfare now, so I say it's official. We are SUPER excited - and she and Erin have become buds online as well... so I think I'll end up being outnumbered here pretty soon! haha!

Anyway, Aimee's been doing a first timer at Disneyland Meme on her FB so I figured I'd do a Disneyland meme on my blog... thankfully this is NOT my first time so I know what to expect and how to get things done! ;)

 30 Days of Disneyland!

Day 01: Your Favorite Land
Day 02: Your Favorite Main Street Attraction
Day 03: Your Favorite Fantasyland Attraction
Day 04: Your Favorite Tomorrowland Attraction
Day 05: Your Favorite New Orleans Square Attraction
Day 06: Your Favorite Adventureland Attraction
Day 07: Your Favorite Critter Country Attraction
Day 08: Your Favorite Mickey’s Toontown Attraction
Day 09: Your Favorite Frontierland Attraction
Day 10: Your Favorite Extinct Attraction
Day 11: Your Favorite Disney‘s California Adventure Attraction
Day 12: The Attraction You Gone On Most
Day 13: Your Favorite Piece of Architecture
Day 14: Your Favorite Face Character
Day 15: Your Favorite Atmosphere (Fur) Character
Day 16: Your Favorite Parade
Day 17: Your Favorite Live Show
Day 18: Your Favorite Band/Vocal Group
Day 19: Your Favorite Fireworks Spectacular
Day 20: Your Favorite Restaurant
Day 21: Your Favorite Food or Beverage
Day 22: Your Favorite Shop
Day 23: Your Favorite Thing to Collect
Day 24: Your Favorite Disneyland Memory
Day 25: Your Favorite Picture from the Park
Day 26: Your Favorite Cast Member Costume
Day 27: Your Dream Job
Day 28: Your Favorite Time to Visit
Day 29: Your Favorite Aspect of Disneyland
Day 30: Your Favorite Walt Disney Quote about Disneyland

Thursday, May 29, 2014

30 Days of OUAT - Day 30: Favorite Season Finale

 Day 30 - Favorite Season Finale

I'm going to miss gushing about OUAT every day on here. Though there are other Once themed Memes I could do (I assume there are since I've seen one for Swanfire... maybe there's one that's JUST Neal? That'd be fun ha ha). Still, like all good things, there must be an end - or at least a hiatus (which is a very very very bad word in the world of OUAT).

My favorite Season Finale is still season 1's. Season 1 just had a lot of heart and a good beginning, middle, and end. Season 2 was all over the map and the finale felt more like an epilogue to me. Season 3 had two finales, the mid season, and the 2 hour movie (which was a whole lot of CaptainSwan messing up while SwanFire kept Emma going... which was a nice picture and all... but all it did was make me sad all over again once MRJ's final scene - and most likely final episode - came up. It's all about the tumblers).

Season 1's finale has Emma rushing her son to the hospital after he collapses from taking a bite of the apple turnover that his adoptive mother gave to Emma for her trip home. Emma is willing to leave Storybrooke to once again give Henry his best chance as she believes she's fueling his crazy ideas of everyone being fairytale characters. Henry takes the turnover to prove to her that he's not crazy. It's what finally gets Emma to realize it's all true. She beats the snot out of Regina and then the two of them go to get the thing that will save Henry.

Only Gold steals it from them, and they get a call from the hospital saying they need to come right away. By the time they reach the hospital Henry has died. Emma goes in to say goodbye and gives her son a tearful kiss on his forehead. The "twu love" rainbow airburst breaks forth and Henry awakens... as does the town. Now they know who they are.

And it cliffhangs right at the best part. They've found each other, and Gold has poured his "twu luv" potion into the well that restores all. A purple cloud falls over the town and... then we had to wait for Season 2 (which would open with a mystery man walking through NYC till he gets home and a dove delivers a postcard that says "Storybrooke, Maine" on the front and "Broken" written on the back... it's Neal, and August has kept his promise to let him know when Emma's done her job).

And, that's a wrap. I'm sure I'll be revisiting OUAT on the blog soon... but I think next up is Disneyland related... and hopefully MRJ will finally play nice and break radio silence with his new project. I WANNA KNOW! ha ha...

Only 120ish days till Season 4? I think?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

30 Days of OUAT - Day 29: Favorite Season Premiere

Day 29 - Favorite Season Premiere

I gotta go with the Pilot episode. It opens SO well, I mean from the intro to Prince Charming racing down the road towards finding his true love to awaken her with true love's kiss. Everything seems so much like what we know of the story... and then all hell breaks loose.

Season 2's premiere was nice, but at the same time the whole "Mystery Man" portion (aka Michael Raymond-James walking through NYC before coming home, losing his ipod, and getting a postcard with the word "broken") was just really annoying. Don't get me wrong, as an MRJ fangirl (now) I love seeing him, but it made NO SENSE! Especially since we don't see him again for several episodes and it just didn't seem to fit within the rest of the story (and I'm STILL not sure it does)!

Season 3's was somewhat of a let down (actually all of 3a feels that way), even though - once again - an MRJ fangirl gets some quality stuff out of the character of Neal (much more so than in Season 2's opener). There was just too much going on with Neal in the EF, Henry with Greg and Tamara finding out who they were taking orders from, and then the rescue party on the Jolly Roger (and all of the secondary characters back in Storybrooke). It was all just too convoluted.

But the Pilot episode had a beginning, middle, end... and a purpose. A real one, not just a "let's get back into this and introduce the new characters" kinda thing. Only thing that'd make it better is having MRJ in it, but we couldn't know who Neal was until Season 2... it wouldn't have fit the storyline... wouldn't have given us enough angst. We needed to work up to finding Baelfire... and besides we wouldn't have August trying to fool Rumple without us not knowing who Bae really was.

I had to get a few fangirl gush moments in, so sue me. Ha ha.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

30 Days of OUAT - Day 28: Best Actor/Character

Day 28 - Best Actor/Character

And no one is shocked, right? Though in all honesty I probably don't even agree with my pick (really for me it's a three way tie between MRJ, Robert Carlyle, and Colin O'Donoghue), but I keep coming back to Michael Raymond-James. I mean if you've followed along with the 30 days of Once so far you know how I feel about his character Neal Cassidy, and if you follow me on Twitter you know I've been quickly catching myself up on his work. (Well, for the most part... the idea of watching his True Blood or Black Snake Moan character terrifies me. LOL!)

I don't want to do a huge gushfest considering I've gushed pretty much non stop all month, but I do want to say that I believe MRJ to be a very underrated actor (at least to the general public). He's more than just a character actor (guy is totally typecast ha ha), he's very skilled at his craft. His style is very laid back and natural on screen and that makes his characters believable. It's his warmth and charm that makes Neal a likeable guy even after all we find out about him (which in the grand scheme of things I don't believe makes him all that bad a person... it's all totally forgivable, which is what Emma does... but I digress).

If you want to see him shine outside of OUAT, I highly recommend Terriers. It was a short lived (not even a full season) show that he was a co-lead on. It's a "buddy drama-edy" about two down on their luck type PI's who end up getting a case that's way bigger than they realize. It was on FX and just didn't get the ratings (I kinda remember the promos for it, but I never watched it when it aired. Wish I had). You can stream it on Netflix (which I do regularly) - it's 13 episodes and well worth the time to take a day and binge watch. If the pilot doesn't catch your attention, keep watching. I wasn't hooked until episode 2 or 3, even with it being MRJ (I'm not a fan of Donal Logue's acting, so it took a while to get over him being co-lead with Michael).

With Neal now dead and gone (with creators Adam and Eddy both repeating the OUAT mantra "Dead is Dead" whenever asked about a possible return for the character) Michael fans are waiting to hear of his next project. He tweeted a while back that after an extended vacation he was back to work on a project he's excited about. He ended the tweet with "Details soonish"... and THIS fan is convinced it's "soonish" and he needs to spill! Especially since he keeps popping up on twitter every few days to share his "pearls of wisdom" (the latest being on washing dishes).

Whatever the project is I really hope it's a good one. Not a couple episodes arc on an established TV show where he ends up dying or some other tragic storyline. I want to see him branch out and play something that we haven't seen much of in his filmography - because judging by his interviews, twitter, and the like... he seems like a fairly happy go lucky kinda guy. So, come on, dude! A little less depression for your fans, please?! ha ha!

Oh, and totally superficial/random/weird point - as a photographer I cannot get over his eyes. They catch light perfectly and make them just stand out and are soooooooo beautiful... and I don't normally say that about dark eyes. But dang.

Oddly enough, however, I don't think Neal is the best character on the show. As much as I'm obsessed over the whole "Quiet Minds" thing, and how much I admire the actor, the character took a while for me to warm up to (not MRJ's fault, the writing didn't make him all that likeable for a long time). No, the best character award most definitely goes to Neal's Papa, Rumpelstiltskin. Robert Carlyle is a sheer genius in this role (and I probably should've given him his due as best actor... but puppy dog eyes won out on that one ha ha).

Seriously this man plays evil to perfection, and he does it in a way that the character is still so sympathetic. Even though he abandoned his son - dropped him down a portal! - and murdered a mute maid because she found out his dagger is what controls him, you still feel for him as he searches for a way to reach Baelfire in the land without magic. You cheer for him when he finds love with Belle (even if the age difference and scales make it kinda creepy), and your heart breaks each time he "loses her"... and then Quiet Minds happens where his son tells him to let go and tells him he loves him with his final breath... and we weep for him. And during his sons funeral, while he's caged and Zelena's prisoner, he feels every painful shovel of dirt burying his son - forever separating them. And you just want his pain to end.

Rumple's relationship with his son is yet another reason why I really really hope that this is truly NOT the end of Nealfire, even though I know it is.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Funny River Fire - day 8 - in pictures

I spent most of the day at the church in full on VBS decoration mode. After finishing up I came home, grabbed my camera, and headed down to the beach. The smoke has become incredibly DARK - which has been explained as nothing bad, just the result of the fire crews doing "back burning"... whatever that is. It made for some pretty nice shots.

The current numbers are 176,069 acres, 670 personnel assigned, 0 injuries. No percentage of containment has been listed as far as I know. I'm sure they're waiting until the crews come back in. They're talking about relieving many of them as they've been going for a week now and are in need of sleep and actual rest. They have all been SO AMAZING and the community has really rallied around them. They are our heroes!

30 Days of OUAT - Day 27: Most Shocking Moment

Day 27 - Most Shocking Moment

Pretty sure this one ranks right up there. I had thought for weeks - really since the second half of season 3 began - that Neal was the one who sent Hook to get Emma. I don't know why, but I just thought that either they had both tried to get back to her and Neal had somehow failed to survive the trip (thinking to who could possibly be the character to die that they warned us about), or that he couldn't make it and knew that the Jolly Roger was the only way to get back to the Land Without Magic. Remember, Neal is probably the one who knows best how to travel from realm to realm (other than Jefferson who is a non-factor to the story these days due to the actor not being available).

However, after "Quiet Minds" where we see Neal essentially die in his father's arms (and get absorbed by him... still weirds me out), so I figured I was wrong. Because Neal had no knowledge past the flying monkeys being a signal that the Wicked Witch of the West was around what was going on with the Charmings ("You're acting like that's normal"). He didn't know Zelina had threatened them, or that no one but Emma could defeat her. That is, until "A Curious Thing" airred. There we find Belle and the others going to Rumple for help. He's locked away in his own castle with the madness that having his son in his body/mind keeping him from being controlled by Zelina. Belle asks him how they can defeat the witch and he riddles them with the answer - Emma.

Towards the end of the episode - after Zelina finds out that the Charmings have re-enacted the dark curse to get back to Storybrooke and find a way back to Emma - Zelina comes with a memory potion for Rumple so that he can retain his memories - should he so choose. Rumple contemplates taking it, and just as he puts it to his lips an unseen force throws him back against the wall. He struggles and then that all too familiar and creepy bad CGI melds two faces together - the same two faces as in Quiet Minds. Neal rips through his father's body taking the potion, saying they aren't the ones that need to remember - Emma is. He rips his shirt, writes a message, calls a dove (some say that's proof he's a Prince(ss)) and sends the message to Hook.

Some say this shows him out of character - because he trusts Hook. Neal has only ever not trusted Hook where his father was concerned. Post Neverland, I don't even think he much cared/worried about that. Yes, he saw Hook as a rival for Emma's affection, but even towards the end of that part of the season Neal was willing to "let her go" if that's what made her happy. But NONE of that was what was being done in this scene. It was not his "blessing" for CaptainSwan to happen. Neal knew his fate in that moment (and would've known it in Storybrooke had they had their memories of the year in the EF), he needed to have someone as desperate as he was to get back to Emma get her the message. He knows Hook's capabilities (probably better than most anyone else still alive on the show). He TRUSTED him with the most important task.

Like Neal said in Quiet Minds - he hadn't forgotten all that Hook did for him (yes there was a betrayal, but Neal knows better than anyone the regret of betraying someone you love and care for). Neal did what he had to do. Neal gave up his fears, wants, desires, needs to give Emma the best possible chance she had to save her family. To, once again, come back home. He needed to know that his son and the woman he has always loved would be SAFE. Hook could give him that.

What made this shocking to me - since "I called it" - is the fact that I was RIGHT. And how it was done. As devastating as the story is in this scene... it made me happy. Not just to be right, but that because we got to see MRJ once again. We'd see him one final time in Season 3 - in the season finale. These scenes were wonderful, but ripped open the fangirl wounds all over again. I've "self medicated" by binge watching the short lived Terriers (which they really need to have clips of on Youtube!)... Britt Pollack is Nealfire in the 11 years between leaving Emma and getting found in NYC I just know it! lol

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Funny River Fire - day 7 - evening pictures

As of 1pm - when the last numbers were given - the acres burned are 156, 041, I cannot find an update on the containment percentage. There has been a significant change in fire patterns and how they are fighting is and it's no doubt MUCH larger now. Today they evacuated much (if not all) of Funny River Road on both sides of the road. With the winds changing direction the fire seems to be moving the opposite direction and has begun to jump the Kenai River near the Kenai Keys area in Sterling.

The officials are reluctant to say that it's jumped, but there are many small fires popping up on the other side of the river. If it hasn't jumped it will. It's a matter of time. They're also not acknowledging that cabins were burned, but reports from those that have cabins in the Keys and were evacuated are reporting otherwise. I typically do not go with something that is unconfirmed, but those reporting it I trust. So we will see what tomorrow holds newswise.

This fire is now, most likely, the largest in state history. If it isn't, it most likely will be soon.

Rain is forecasted to hit sometime Monday night, but most likely not until Tuesday at the earliest. Keep praying.

30 Days of OUAT - Day 26: Most Heartfelt Moment

Day 26 - Most Heartfelt Moment

This is not the most heartfelt, but it's definitely one of them. I love the scene where Rumple is dying in his shop, Emma and Neal are desperately trying to protect him from Regina and Cora... but it's not working. The protection spell is weakening, and Rumple is succumbing to the poison (Nightshade courtesy of our beloved Captain Hook). Rumple says he's dying, Neal frustratedly disagrees with his father and sits on a stool to pout (because, lets face it, Neal is sometimes more that 14 year old Baelfire than the adult Neal). Rumple asks Emma to let him call Belle, who is in the hospital cursed with her curse memories (after being shot by, you guessed it, our beloved Captain Hook).

Rumple's phone call to the amnesia patient is touching, and heartfelt. Full of love. Emma and Neal both hear his words, and we see Neal's demeanor soften slightly. Remember, this guy has been running from his father for over 200 years at this point, and has been haunted by his father abandoning him for all of it. There's centuries of hurt and shame that he's not dealing with.

When Rumple ends his call, Neal tells his father he believed him incapable of such feelings. Rumple tells him he's full of love. Neal truly is Baelfire in this scene, as he confronts his father with the point that Rumple broke their deal (of all the deals Rumple's made the ONLY one he goes back on is the one with his son). Rumple apologizes to his son, asking his forgiveness... and then my favorite part of the whole thing... Rumple reaches his bloodstained hand out to his son asking him to take it. Neal looks down at it and says ever so quietly (and in a voice that would fit more as a boy than a man) "I'm still angry." It's once again Michael Raymond-James acting to perfection (seriously Robert and MRJ together is magic).  There is so much being said in those three words.

Watching Neal fight his pain, his anger, his mixed up emotions and finally take his father's hand and reconnect breaks my heart. I'd always felt a sense of joy that they were reconciling when watching this scene before... Season 3b ruined that for me. Now my heart just breaks (seriously, MRJ owes me my happiness back... I blame him as much as I do Adam and Eddy for ruining my life! LOL).

Thank you, Michael Raymond-James. I'm sorry it took me so long to fangirl! You're an amazing actor, and I can't wait to see what's next! (Seriously, it's been soon-ish! Dish on your next project!)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Funny River Fire - day 6 - evening pictures

As of 9pm tonight the area burned has grown to 106,871 acres with still 20% containment. Good news is rain is on the way, bad news it won't be here until the very earliest Wednesday. The winds have picked up again, but it's a steady wind, not like the unpredictable gusts from last night that prompted the evacuations. They don't expect to be evacuating anyone tonight, but everyone is on high alert. Attention/concern has shifted a bit from Kasilof to Funny River as the winds have changed direction.

The smoke cleared here in Kenai this afternoon. No more week old campfire smell for us. Hopefully it stays away as it was unnerving waking up in the middle of the night smelling thick smoke in the house. Not that our little inconvenience is anything near as stressful as what those in the way of the fires have dealt with.

The water bombers are still taking off and landing here in Kenai. They're using both water and retardants now. They're not expecting a big increase in acres over night like we had last night. But things can change. It really depends on the wind.

30 Days of OUAT - Day 25: Favorite Storybrooke Business

Day 25: Favorite Storybrooke Business

Not that we've seen many for more than a couple of glimpses, so that makes the choice rather simple. It was either Gold's or Granny's... and I like Gold's more. There's more to look at, explore, and wonder about meaning. Many hidden treasures are in there - not just signifying who might be in Storybrooke, but how they might all be connected... or better yet, what's coming next. So many scenes happen within the shop that you can't help but love the place.

Watching it be destroyed (along with Henry's book!) when Regina reversed Pan's curse was pretty devastating (well... until the rest of this season happened... now I wish I could go back and just relive that moment as being the worst ever).

Funny River Fire - day 6 - morning pics

The smoke has settled in Kenai. The whole house smells like a campfire. I'll take that inconvenience though over the horror that's playing out on Funny River and Kasilof. Friends were evacuated from their homes last night, but told they could return around 1am today. They're still under evacuation advisory meaning that at a moment's notice they need to be ready to leave again.

The local power company shutdown one of their transmission stations when the fire got too close for comfort resulting in a short power outage - and the radio stations are still trying to get back up and running.

Last report has close to 79,000 acres burned with 20% containment. So the fire's progression has slowed considerably, but with the winds being unpredictable it made for an interesting night.

We still have NO rain in the forecast.

These photos were taken at 6:30am at my house. It's so gross outside.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Funny River Fire - Day 5 - in pictures

I spent most of the day working on Vacation Bible School decorations (we have about a week left for preparation), so I didn't get out to take pictures until later in the evening. The smoke clouds are back as the winds have shifted a bit. Because of the smoke cover they don't have updates on acreage, the last numbers were from this morning at 67,084 with 15% containment. The Pollard Subdivision in Kasilof is under evacuation awareness - meaning they need to be ready at a moments notice to get the heck outta there, but latest reports say they don't expect to have to give that warning soon. We'll see. With the shifty winds anything is possible. Praying they keep it under control. People's lives and homes are at stake.

30 Days of OUAT - Day 24: Favorite Quote

Day 24 - Favorite Quote

And storybooks are based on what, imagination? Where's that come from? It has to come from somewhere. You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution for their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.--Jefferson

Jefferson's quote has been my favorite since my first viewing of episode 17 of Season 1. To me it sums up how I view fairytales/Disney perfectly. It's also probably when I was for sure hooked on this show. It's the heart of the show - I know people say it's Hope, but, let's face it... that idea has been very controversial this season! Ha ha!

Sebastian Stan is great in the role of Jefferson/Mad Hatter. Still holding out hope that he'll make another appearance some day on Once Upon A Time. He doesn't need to just be Bucky Barnes forever, right?