Tag Archives: Disney

December Column Michiana House & Home: Don’t Miss The Big Picture

In case you haven’t noticed, there is something special in the air this month. It’s being featured in nearly every television commercial and newspaper advertisement. It’s the theme of a diverse line of festive clothing not to mention a wide range of toys, games, home décor and other seasonal merchandise. It has its roots in an ancient religious tradition, is represented by a merry band of beloved characters and is the kind of miraculous event retailers began celebrating in July. Now with only a few shorts weeks to go before the big day, the buzz has built to a fever pitch. If I were being honest, I would have to admit that I too am caught up in the excitement.

After all, it’s not every day that a new Star Wars movie comes out!

Star wars nativity

Why am I NOT surprised someone has actually done this?

Yes, on December 18, The Force Awakens will be released in theaters and while few people would compare it to the Christmas holiday, I can’t help seeing the similarities: It cannot live up to the hype, will never be as good as the original and is just not as much fun without little kids in the house to share it with. Nonetheless, we will buy our overpriced tickets, wait in long lines at the concession stands and sit through an ungodly amount of previews so that two hours later we can convince ourselves it was the best flick of the franchise. (Remember when we thought that about Episode I?)

Why do we do this? We spend months preparing for and placing unrealistic expectations on an event that is over in a day and cannot hope to be as perfect as we would like it to be. We tell ourselves it will all be worth it to see old friends like Han, Luke and Leia again, but no amount of screen time can make us forget the long years we had to endure Jar Jar Binks. In addition, the awesome threesome is not as young as they used to be, probably won’t get involved in a lot of the hijinks, and have yet to tell anyone how long they plan to stay. Personally, I will be bummed if they take off before the first dogfight.

Don’t get me wrong, it was nice of the Disney Company and Lucas Films to think of us this year and bring us this wonderful addition to our collection all wrapped in a giant holiday bow, but I worry many will fail to accept this gift as it was intended and at face value, because they are too busy comparing it to the movies we’ve received before. If there is one thing that the new Star Wars movie and the holidays have to teach us it’s that when we get too bogged down in the details, we miss the big picture. And if we miss the big picture, then we lose out on a significant chapter of what could turn out to be the Greatest Story Ever Told.

May the spirit of Christmas (and The Force) be with you, always.

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December Column Glo Magazine: Aren’t You a Little Old To Be a Disney Princess?

She is the 59-year-old wife of a former Corellian smuggler, the mother of three, a politician, revolutionary and trained warrior. Although she is a far cry from the doe-eyed ingénue I first saw in the summer of 1977, when she returns to the big screen this month after a 32-year hiatus, she will become my favorite “Disney” princess for all time. She is Leia Organa of Alderaan.

Now, before you purists out there start sending in the hate mail disputing whether or not Leia qualifies as a true Disney princess, let me ask you this: Has she ever gotten lost in the woods? Is she missing at least one parent and have strained relations with the other? Does she have an assortment of cute, comical sidekicks? Does she have a rogue boyfriend? Does she sport a trademark hairstyle? I rest my case. Let’s move on…

Leia           I was five-years-old when I “met” the adopted daughter of Bail and Breha Organa and believe me, it was love at first sight. I was among that first wave of kids who stood in line to see Star Wars at the local single-screen movie theater back when there was only one movie and before George Lucas redefinied numerical order as we knew it. Like a lot of little girls I had been raised on a steady diet of traditional fairy-tale princesses who sang to woodland creatures and cleaned house until their prince came to carry them away but Leia was a princess for a new generation. She had the bravery of Merida, the moxie of Mulan, the beauty of Belle and understood difficult hairstyles better than Rapunzel herself!

Leia may have been a damsel and she may have been in distress, but her reactions to peril are anything but conventional. She had no trouble talking back to authority. She could take charge of any situation. She knew how to wield a weapon when necessary and Lord help the scruffy-looking nerfherder who got in her way. She was an iconic character who was everything I wanted to be when I grew up: strong, courageous, independent and vital to the storyline. She was the epitome of a feminist role model long before I knew what the term even meant.

Leia2          I find it interesting that my mother introduced me to classic “house of mouse” royalty such as Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but it was my father who first took me to see Star Wars. My dad gave me a princess who didn’t need a ball gown or a great pair of shoes to make an impression on those around her, but possessed a spirit and spunk big enough to outshine any fashion statement including buns, braids and even a metal bikini. She may have been a princess in need of rescuing, but throughout the course of the original trilogy, she does a fair amount of rescuing herself. Not only does she blast her way into a garbage chute in order to escape certain death, she co-pilots the Millennium Falcon twice, rescues Han from carbon freeze, kills the creep who objectifies her, and still manages to take down her enemy after getting shot in the shoulder. What more could a little girl want?

Leia 3            How about a princess who knows how to age gracefully? That’s right folks, according to the latest trailer for Episode VII, it appears that the good people in charge of the Star Wars universe have decided not to give Leia a Disney makeover. Based on the footage I have seen it’s obvious that after 40 years, the clock is well past midnight, the glass slipper no longer fits and it’s OK to be a little older, a little wiser and yes, even a little grayer. While all of the other princesses have been restored, remastered or digitally enhanced so that they look as good as they did when they first arrived, Leia proves you don’t have to look as you did a “long time ago” even if you do live in a galaxy far, far away.

Although I initially struggled with the idea of Disney owning the rights to the Star Wars franchise and making new movies, I’ve made my peace with it. I am even OK with Leia taking her rightful place as a Disney princess. She is one of the most well-written female characters of all time and no doubt she paved the way for people like Hermonie Granger, Katniss Eberdeen and even Mia Thermopolis (The Princess Diaries.) She is a personality who stands the test of time and proves over and over that she is still a “force” to be reckoned with.

Welcome back, your highness. It’s good to see you again.

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Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: The Celebration Chronicles by Andrew Ross Ph.D.

Celebration   One of the very first articles I ever worked on during my internship at a local magazine was about the concept of new urbanism. My editor told me about a place in Florida that had spearheaded this movement and subsequent communities that had piggybacked on the idea including “Celebration” the Disney Company’s town within a town. I was told that Celebration was the backdrop for the movie The Truman Show and that the idea behind this place was that folks could live, work and play in one area and create that small town America feel.

I was pretty excited about this piece because I love the thought of an idyllic lifestyle as much as the next person and I was happy that there was a development in the world locally that was capitalizing on this concept…but then I discovered where it was and how much it cost to live there. It suddenly hit me that perhaps what these communities are creating is a rich person’s ghetto…an insulated place where the upper crust can live without ever having to go outside their bubble and into the “real world.”

So…after watching a documentary about this Disney community, I learned that Ross had written a book about it. Ross lived in Celebration for a year and experienced all that this seemingly ideal community had to offer. To play fair, it was a Disney conceived town and we all know Disney doesn’t do things half way, but he also uncovered a lot of unrest about living in a community with and over the top HOA, a failing school system, problems with leadership, etc. There are a lot of other things mentioned in this book as well, for example: how Disney makes it “Snope” from the day after Thanksgiving until New Years Day, the ice rink that materializes in the street, the smallish lot sizes that encourages the use of public parks, and all of the things that made people want to live there that didn’t turn out the way they envisioned them.

Keep in mind that as of this writing Disney is no longer in charge of Celebration (they were not supposed to be involved long term) The AMC movie theater has shut down. While there are some people who are still thrilled with their decision to move to “the Bubble” others are not as happy with the end result. This book offers an interesting look into the ideal community and the high price of living “happily ever after.” Borrow it if you have ever been curious about this place.

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Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: Have Courage, Be Kind the Tale of Cinderella

CinderellaSeveral months ago, I read an amusing post on Facebook which said in part: “If men buy drinks for women in bars, why can’t they buy books for women in a bookstore?” I always thought that would be the most original pick-up line in history and when my husband said “I’d like to buy you a book,” how could I choose anything but a fairy tale? LOL

Brittany Candau’s volume based on the brand new movie is a TREAT! Seriously, I don’t say that often. First of all, this book FEELS good when you hold it (book nerds will totally get that statement.) It’s got a texture that is a cross between leather and velvet, the pages are thick and are filled with fun illustrations (though shots from the movie would have been even more delightful- but I’m not complaining.) The best part is the book READS like the movie, exact dialogue and everything! How often does that happen? (Answer: Never) I have read many novelized versions of movies thinking it will tide me over until the Blu-Ray or DVD comes out, but they are always such a disappointment. They have to invent scenes that aren’t in the movie, try to hard with narrative that it’s not worth the time or effort. I guess since this movie is based on a story to begin with and they have to elaborate on the story because it is too short, the novelized version doesn’t have to deviate too much from the retelling (or something complicated like that.)

My point is, this book is fabulous and one that can be shared with a child, read by a teen who appreciates a great looking book and a timeless tale or an adult like me who reads just about anything that trips across her desk. Buy It, Buy It Buy It!!!

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July Column for Glo Magazine- Decisions, Decisions

Rapunzel       Although I am a decisive woman, I hate to make decisions. Oh, I can handle simple things like what to have for dinner, what outfit to wear or determining which show to watch on TV, but choosing a paint color? Picking a fabric? Determining who is the greatest rock drummer of all time when John Bonham, Keith Moon and Neil Peart are among the semi-finalists? Forget it, I can’t do it. Whenever the options seem too vast or there are both pro and con arguments for each, I become racked with uncertainty and usually avoid making a choice altogether.

Never was this more apparent than when I started planning my recent wedding. One peek into a bridal magazine the size of War and Peace and I knew I was in trouble. The options were mindboggling. How in the world was I supposed to choose one dress out of 3,000? Did I want to carry roses or lilies? Did I prefer a nosegay, cascading shower, or a “tussy mussy” bouquet? (I’m still not sure what that last one is exactly, but trust me it’s one of 19 options for bridal floral designs.)

white-bridal-bouquet-roses-hydrangeas-calla-lilies-real-touch-silk-wedding-flowers-vintage-lace-base            Don’t get me wrong. I may not know if I am a trendy or traditional bride, but I know sensory overload when I see it. I had no desire to lose my mind over centerpieces, tablecloths, hideous bridesmaids dresses, or who should be invited to the main event. I knew I had to do something to get the selections down to a reasonable number unless I planned to remain single for the rest of my natural life.

Hence, the Disney Fairytale Wedding. No, I am not a Disney freak (no more or less so than the average person) but I knew it would be a top-notch affair and once I set the budget, the options were laid out in front of me. I had a choice of three venues, (one of which was the last hotel I stayed at with my mother making this a no-brainer,) six bouquet options and 12 musical selections of which I was supposed to choose three. To make this even easier, they had the tunes categorized based on bridal party entrance, bride and recessional. Can’t beat that!

grand-floridian-hotel-001            It took less than 20 minutes to plan the whole thing. (The wedding coordinator was most impressed.) I’m not kidding when I say that planning the wedding was a piece of cake compared to scoring reservations at the Be Our Guest Restaurant or finding a Fast Pass to meet the Frozen princesses. Word to the wise: Anna and Elsa’s Fast Passes are booked six months in advance and the stand-by line is roughly five hours…it’s best to “let it go.” (Pun intended.)

I don’t know if the wedding gods took pity on me or if they just wanted to save everyone’s sanity, but somehow I not only managed to get the Rapunzel dress of my dreams on sale (it was a sample), I also found a great pair of white shoes on a clearance rack in the middle of February and I wrote my wedding vows inside of five minutes thanks in part to the lyrical talents of Robert Plant, Freddie Mercury and Jon Bon Jovi.

When I am not overwhelmed by choices, I am actually quite speedy in my decision-making process. That being said, when I do make up my mind about something, that’s what I want. I don’t tend to waiver on my decision and I don’t like being offered alternatives. Do not show me something else. Do not tell me that it’s no longer available and don’t try to offer me something “similar.” If I have gone to all the trouble of wasting time and brain cells on an issue, that’s what I want. Don’t try and talk me out of it. Trust me, if I start second guessing myself…nothing will get accomplished.

 

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Fabulous Fridays: Seven Special Memories of Walt Disney World

Last year, I did a FF post about my favorite experiences at Walt Disney World and I thought that I would do it again in commemoration of my latest sojourn to the Happiest Place on Earth. So here are the seven most magical moments of my trip:
Disney wedding       1. My Wedding: Getting married at the Grand Floridian Hotel (the last hotel that I stayed at with my mother) was a wonderful experience made even better by the presence of my oldest friend in the world, Robi. I often joke that I have only known my parents longer than I have known her and she is truly one of my BFFs because when you go through as much as we have been through together…it’s the kind of friendship that is birth to earth!
wedding 3        2. The Castle Photo shoot: For some brides, the pinnacle of the wedding day is the reception, the cake, or some other big splurge and I am no different. However my big splurge was a castle photo shoot. To my surprise and delight, we not only took photos at Cinderella’s castle, but also the fountain behind it, at the Be Our Guest Restaurant and in other areas of Fantasyland! (This entry is tied with my wedding reception which was held at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian and was attended by Cinderella and Prince Charming.)
It's a small world   3. Celebrating “It’s a Small World’s” 50th Anniversary: Yes, it’s a cheesy song and if you aren’t into little marionettes, it’s probably not the kind of ride for you, but it is historic and in my opinion, the kind of ride you have to go on…it’s a true Disney classic
Mickey Jedi   4. Jedi Mickey is a Doctor Who Fan: While at our “Fantasmic” dinner package that coincided with Star Wars Weekend, we spent a little time with the Mouse who not only started pantomiming the actions of a Weeping Angel, when he realized how much my youngest son looked like Tom Baker, I thought the poor rodent was going to come out of character! We campaigned hard to get a TARDIS in EPCOT (Mickey agreed with us, by the way) and Mickey even asked us (in his own non-verbal way) where a certain “scarf” was. He also indicated that he thought bow ties were cool….now, some may say I am crazy, but in looking at the photos, I can’t help noticing that Mickey’s smile grew a little bigger after he made the connection between my kid and the Guy from Gallifrey.

Brave         5. Meeting new friends: I love a good character and Lord knows Disney is full of them. It’s always nice to get pictures of some of your favorites, but it’s even better when you get to see some friends you haven’t seen before! During this trip, we were able to meet the Beast, Woody and Jesse, Pocahontas, the Mad Hatter, Buzz Lightyear and Merida from Brave! (I love her hair.) I wanted to meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen, but after hearing that their Fast Passes were booked six months in advance and the stand by line was five HOURS, I decided to “let it go.”

EPCOT people6. The People: Disney does their job like no one else in the world and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the numerous men and women who made our trip so special. From our housekeeper Norma who left me flowers and other little gifts throughout our stay to the monorail gentleman who told us how John Lennon signed his “Beatles break-up” contract at the Polynesian Hotel and the woman in Ariel’s grotto who was born in the same hotel as Paul McCartney, it is so cool to meet people from all over the world and learn more about them. Trust me on this…if you are in Disney World, take the time to strike up a conversation…you never know who you might meet.

Be our Guest            7. The Be Our Guest Restaurant: I managed to book a reservation for this place on a last ditch effort at 2 a.m. a few days before we arrived. This is the only place in the Magic Kingdom in which you can meet the Beast and I am here to tell you…it’s impressive. The dining room looks just like the ballroom from the famous animated movie and the food is fantastic! I think it may have been the best steak I have ever eaten. Desert is included with the Disney Dining Plan and I highly recommend the Grey “Stuff”…it really is delicious!

What do you like best about Walt Disney World? Share your special memories below!

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Fabulous Fridays- Top Moments of 2013

I’m sorry to see 2013 go. Last year at this time, I vowed that it would be the best one since 1986 and I have to say, in the end…2013 is going to be a hard one to top. On New Year’s Eve, I was at dinner contemplating what the best moment of the year was. I had to be the only one at the table with a true Top Ten list but I couldn’t help it. It was all so amazing! So with no further ado…here are some of my favorite moments from what has truly been a spectacular year!

Ann     Seeing/Meeting Heart. It’s always exciting to go to a concert, but it is even more exciting to see your favorite band, meet them and listen to them do a 30 minute encore of your OTHER favorite band. Top that off with an exclusive interview with the lead singer and a press pass for the show and you have a recipe for an unforgettable life event!

grad     Getting my masters degree. I firmly believe that education is the key to making all of your dreams come true and it was incredible to be able to complete my masters program in a year and to secure my degree with a 4.0 GPA. It seemed like such a long journey but in the end, it was well-worth it. Hopefully in 2014, I can secure a teaching position at a local college or university and enter into a new phase of my already amazing career!

 

EPCOT     Going to Disney World. I don’t take vacations, so after completing my degree I decided that the Monkey and I would take off for the Happiest Place on Earth and trip the light fantastic for an AWESOME week. The Disney people do not disappoint, I must say. Everyone was so pleasant and accommodating and I literally cried when I had to leave and go back to the real world. Getting to spend that vacation with my teenage son was also fabulous, especially when I asked him what the best part was and hearing him say, “Meeting the mouse!”

Idol      Singing on the American Idol Stage. OK, it was the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but still…I had to go through a blistering audition process, impress the production people and give the performance of my life in 90 seconds. Hands down that auditorium had the best sound system I have ever encountered and even though I didn’t take home the Golden Ticket, having some of my “fans” come up to me afterward and want their picture taken with me made me feel like a rock star!

Vika     Attending the Western & Southern Open. I am a tennis junkie. I admit it. I love the sport and there are a lot of top players worthy of watching. It had been years since I attended a live match so what better way to spend your birthday than to go to Cincinnati and see the top players in the world. Seeing Venus, Roger and Vika was so wonderful and having one of them wish me many happy returns was even better. Can’t wait to go back in 2014! (I’ve got my eye on you Andy Murray!!!)

 

Doctor Who2     Meeting “Doctor Who.” There is something truly exciting about helping your kid reach a goal of meeting one of his idols. It’s even better when you get to interview that idol as well! For my young “whovian” there was nothing as special as meeting Peter Davison even though when I asked him about his top moment of 2013…Doctor Who surprisingly didn’t make the list. LOL

book cover 2    Releasing FAMOUS FACES of WTTV-4. I am always honored and proud to release a new book, but this one was extra special considering that the subjects of the book were the television heroes of my childhood. I was thrilled when “Janie” came to the launch along with the Puppet Master Brian Reynolds, and Commander KC. We were able to Skype briefly with Peggy of the “Popeye and Peggy” show and the book has received some wonderful reviews on Goodreads!

 

FMOF     Signing the FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME contract. At long last my first novel is coming out and I could not be more excited about it. I am so appreciative of Rocking Horse Publishing for taking a chance on MonAmi’s madcap journey into manufactured superstardom and I can’t wait to beef up the buzz as we approach our 4/1/14 launch date!

 

As for what is coming in 2014? Well if you know me, there will be plenty of weekly book reviews and Fabulous Fridays. I plan to start an “Author Spotlight” feature and of course, don’t forget to check out MonAmi’s Tour Diary which is the companion blog to FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME and full of sneak peeks, deleted material and whatever MonAmi feels like sharing. I guarantee there will be plenty of the unexpected along the way and I can’t wait to share it all with you. Let’s rock the new year!

Julie Young

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Fabulous Fridays: My favorite cult movies

Everyone has a movie that they are inexplicably connected to…and most likely you are not alone. Cult films are a unique breed of cinematic achievement in which the actual movie is less-than-Oscar-worthy, but over time the fans create a following that over time, dubs the movie a “classic.” So…in honor of all of the cult classics out there, I present my favorites:

RHPS      Obvious Honorable Mention:  The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is the movie that started it all. Were there any cult movies BEFORE this one? While I believe RHPS deserves a place on anyone’s list, if I am truly honest, the be-all and end-all of cult movies leaves me a little cold. I like the concept, but I’m not a horror movie person. I never subscribed to the British fascination with men in drag and aside from the “Time Warp” and “Hot Patootie/Bless My Soul” I can do without it.

 

Newsies-Poster    Number 5. Newsies. I remember going to see this at the theater during its original run when I was younger and being unimpressed. The film features a very pre-Batman Christian Bale and Ann Margaret and I thought it had a bit of an Annie-esque quality. I hadn’t realized that the show gained a cult following, until I heard that someone brought it to Broadway, but I would love to go to a midnight show and see the audience singing to “I’m the King of New York.”

 

The Wall     Number 4. The Wall. Pink Floyd’s grand concept film played every weekend at the Eastgate General Cinema theater for I don’t know how long. I was never permitted to be out so late at night so I did not get to experience it in the theater setting. I was suck with MTV’s eventual commercial-filled presentation and a VHS tape.

 

Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same DVD (1976)    Number 3: The Song Remains the Same. Led Zeppelin’s epic concert film from the Houses of the Holy tour was a must see on my teenage itinerary. I’m too young to remember this ever being shown in the late-night runs, but I have been told that it was. My first experience with it was during MTV’s Led Zeppelin weekend in the fall of 1985. I fell in love with the band, the music and everything even though I would learn in time that there was better footage of the band in existence. I love the inclusion of the fantasy sequences highlighting the band’s “inner personalities.”

 

Christmas with the Kranks     Number 2: Christmas with the Kranks. Now, I admit-most people would not consider this a “cult” movie…but if you were around my house from Thanksgiving to Christmas, you would realize that this particular film has achieved that status for no other reason than we seem to watch it every day, we can quote the dialogue and we seem incapable of turning it off if we happen by it on TV. Though it may only have a following of a select few at the moment…it’s only a matter of time before the Kranks hit it big!

 

jesus-christ-superstar-1974-film-soundtrack       Number 1. Jesus Christ Superstar. What’s the buzz about this movie? Well aside from being the Greatest Story Ever Told, JCS rocks! Like many of the others on my list, it only found its following in the late night show, but I am fairly convinced that the main character is OK with getting his audience wherever he can. (Isn’t that the whole point of the show anyway?) I loved the 1970’s movie, have seen Ted Neely and Carl Anderson reprise their iconic roles on stage and I own a number of updated versions of the show as well. The O2 performance from 2012 is very impressive…but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the original flick. “Everything’s all right…yes, everything’s all right…”

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