Monthly Archives: May 2015

Editorial: Updating the Carousel of Progress

“Tomorrowland” is probably one of my favorite areas of the Magic Kingdom, it’s also one of the most dated. There is no attraction more glaringly dated than “The Carousel of Progress.” The venerable theatrical ride is a veritable time capsule of early 20th century innovations that most of us take for granted, then suddenly it plunges 50 years forward to a “futuristic” (from a mid-90s perspective anyway) “alternate reality” version of 1999.

Don’t get me wrong. The information in the first three scenes is extremely important both historically and culturally. However, it would be a smoother transition if they substituted a few more modern scenes to make that final scene a lot less jarring.

1955 – Opening of Disneyland Resort in California. Script for this year does not exist, but they can move the existing third scene to this slot as no specific year for it is given (but is estimated to be somewhere in the late 40s-early 50s).

1971 – Opening of Walt Disney World, Baltimore Colts win Super Bowl V, Joe Frazier beats Mahammad Ali, Final episode of Ed Sullivan Show, Amtrak begins commercial rail service, Nixon announces trip to Cuba, and the Pittsburgh Pirates win World Series. A script for this year already exists (“The Medallion House”).

1985 – IBM releases first personal computer (1981), Macintosh releases first computer with “graphical interface” (1983), VHS wins home video wars over Betamax (1985), MTV launches (1981), John Lennon is shot (1980), Soviet Union boycotts Olympic Games in Los Angles (1984). A script for this decade exists (“The House of the 80s,” 1981) and can be easily modified for this later year.

1999 – Keep existing scene.

Categories: disney world, editorials, entertainment, florida, theatre | 1 Comment

Things I miss about Baltimore

Obviously, my recent trip back to Baltimore for the Maryland Film Festival didn’t go as well as I had hoped. It did remind me of some of the reasons I left Charm City so in that regard it wasn’t a total loss. However, for the sake of fairness, I’ve decided to compile a brief list of some of the things I miss about Baltimore.

 

  • Walkability – I could walk from my apartment in Bolton Hill to movies/theatre in Station North or restaurants on Charles Street. Not to mention coffee shops at both ends of UB and Light Rail/Circulator to downtown/1st Mariner Arena – sorry, “Royal Farms Arena” – and a quick walk to Metro Subway to get to the zoo.
  • Landmark Harbor East – Okay, so it was super expensive (like everything else in the neighborhood) and a pain to get to from Bolton Hill, but it was newer, cleaner and in far better condition than The Charles – plus they had a wider variety of indie/mainstream films (Orlando theaters only show mainstream movies).
  • Station North – Sure the already sketchy area has lost some of its artistic cache when two of its biggest draws – Everyman and Single Carrot theatres – moved out (the former to downtown and the latter to Remington), but this area is constantly growing and changing from the Maryland Film Festival to Annex’s “Chicken Box” to the upcoming Motor House theatre complex and the energy that comes from having both MICA and the Baltimore School of Design as neighborhood anchors.
  • Inner Harbor – Dining at Harborplace, coffee at the Barnes & Noble and movies at the Science Center – all without the crowds usually associated with downtown tourist traps. Okay, the National Aquarium is usually crazy but otherwise it’s pretty quiet…except immediately after an Orioles game.
  • Entertainment/Events – Pick a weekend and there is bound to be SOMETHING going on there somewhere – from daytime events SoWeBo Arts Festival and Olde Tyme Christmas to nighttime entertainment like “Final Fridays” and “Constellation Thursdays.” It was my JOB to cover them – all of them…which was why I had no life.
  • Connectivity – Like the first point on this list, Baltimore is easily assessable to other cities on the East Coast like D.C, NYC and Philadelphia via its convenient downtown Amtrak station. Going beyond the Eastern Seaboard? The city’s Light Rail line connects directly with BWI airport making getting into and out of the city a snap.
Categories: Baltimore, Bolton Hill, editorials, Inner Harbor, ramblings, Station North, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Saturday (part 2)

I got off the Circulator and walked back over to the Tent Village where I caught a shuttle to the Single Carrot Theater in Remington. I’ve never actually been inside this new building, but their new space was a LOT bigger than the architectural drawings I saw at their temporary venue on Charles Street made it look.

The show started on time and without issue. Unfortunately, I had a very loud dry cough for most of the week (it was what woke me up both times at yesterday’s screening) and about midway through the show I checked my pocket and discovered I was out the cough drops I put there before I left. I had no choice, I pulled my bag out and as I carefully fished a few out trying to make as little noise as possible and just as I had a few in my hand I could feel a HARD slap against my left knee.

“WOULD YOU QUIT MAKING SO MUCH DAMNED NOISE,” the woman in front of me said in a low threatening growl with her waving finger shoved an inch from my nose. “I’M TRYING TO WATCH A DAMNED MOVIE!”

Apparently, she knew that I wasn’t even though I was, but it’s okay as her act of aggression was completely justifiable because, well, I’m me and abusing me is somehow okay. Me treating someone else like that is NOT okay, but those are the “rules” and I’m not allowed to object to them. I never have been, and today wasn’t a good idea to do to try it.

“I’m getting a cough dr-“ I said quietly, my knee still hurting from her assault on it.

“SHUSH,” the woman next to her said. “NO TALKING DURING THE FILM!”

I never even got to put the cough drop in, but the good news my cough went away. I spend the next 35 minutes feeling that hand burned into my knee as the people around me shouted at me in my head. If I wasn’t seated in the middle of my row I would have left 20 minutes ago, but now it was impossible without enflaming people anymore.

The movie finally ended, and the director led a somewhat dull Q&A which the angry finger pointing lady didn’t stay for. I won’t spoil the film for you as well, but I will say I already told you the most interesting part of this screening.

My next screening was also at SCT so I took the opportunity to attempt to gather up my thoughts on the movie itself – not on the screening just on the movie itself…but I couldn’t. My knee stung like hell, and I kept worrying someone was going to recognize me from the show and punch me too.

An hour passes and I went back into the theater, once again I was near the middle of my row. Fortunately, this film was much better, even if that damned cough did return about a third of the way through.

There was another dull Q&A afterwards, and then I took the shuttle back to MICA. I tried getting a slice of pizza at Two Boots, but the line was too long so I took the train back to Baltimore Street. When I got off, I realized it was almost 7:30 and I hadn’t eaten since noon so I got a 6” sandwich and a cookie before heading back to the hotel.

When I got to the lobby I could see people getting off the elevator I had been on earlier and to my surprise it took me to my floor without issue. I opened the door to my room, threw my bag on the bed and prepared for a shower. As I took my shorts off, I noticed the seam had split slightly at the crotch so I threw them away making room in my bag for the item I didn’t buy. Whatever, I’d worry about that in the morning, but first I have a pair of reviews to write…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Saturday (part 1)

Having learned my lesson yesterday about the quality of the hotel’s “complimentary” breakfast, I left the room around 11am and pressed the down button on the elevator. A minute later the door opened and I went in. The elevator descended five floors and then opened as the woman with wooden clipboard got off.

However instead of closing the elevator doors stayed open, and when I pushed the button to “close” all I got was an extremely loud “RRRRRRRTTTTTTTTTZZZZ” which repeated several times before the doors finally closed…and then again when they reopened a few seconds later just to reclose and reopen. This time, I get off and wait for the next operational elevator to get to my floor while the one I got off continues to malfunction without me.

I take a leisurely walk down St. Paul Street towards the Gallery and have lunch in their food court. I was extremely disappointed that they replaced those classy wooden booths with cheap metal picnic tables that rolled backward when I sat down in it and forwards again when I leaned in to eat so that in neither instance was it even with the adjoining table.

I take the escalator down two flights to the Starbucks kiosk on the second level. I order an iced decaf Macchiato and the young black barista at the other end of the counter calls over something about “break” or “breaking” followed by “did you get all of that?”

The white girl at the register looks at me as if that was my cue.

“She wants permission to go on break to go on lunch?”

The white barista looks at me, shakes her head and with a forced smile says “sorry, I didn’t get that. Could you repeat that?”

“I said: ‘She wants permission to go on break to go on lunch?’”

Now they’re BOTH staring at me.

“What the hell are you talking about,” the second barista asked shaking her head incredulously.

“I said – for the THIRD time – YOU asked her if you could go on break to get lunch.”

Like I asked in my previous post: how the hell do I keep ending up in situations like this?

“Um, no, I said ‘we don’t have any ‘decaf’ available, you’ll have to wait until I make a new pot.’”

THAT I could handle, and when I explained my order again she just said “okay” as if that was suddenly a non-issue. It took about 15 minutes to drink my coffee as I decided to take the opportunity to write out some of the day’s nonevents in my notebook.

It was as I left the Gallery to wait for the Circulator to my first show that I remembered that I had originally gone into the mall looking for something. Well, whatever, it was one less thing to cram into my already jam-packed bag…

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Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 2)

I got to the light rail stop on Baltimore Street around 4pm and when I got to the ticket vending machine I could hear an old black man singing Bob Marley slightly off key to himself coming up from my south. As I’m putting my money into the machine I can literally feel him breathing on my neck.

“Do you mind? I’m trying to do something here.”

“Ain’t no-one gettin’ yo way, I just here to collect my change from dat ‘chine chu at.”

“Could you at least find somewhere else to stand?”

“Wha day hell wrong wit chu, boy?”

Perfect, now I have to explain a disease I was never officially diagnosed with to someone who more than likely only “asked” that as an insult. I collect my ticket AND my change (since I had to get back somehow) from the tray and crossed over to the northbound track as my “friend” ranted on.

“Bah,” he said waving his hand dismissively as he continued up the street. “Nah wooomah nooo cryyyyy.”

The train arrives. I get off at Mt Royal and head into the Barnes & Noble where I accidently insulted the barista working there while trying to make small talk. I try to come up with a way to apologize and/or explain when the manager appears, and asks what I want to drink. When I tell her, she cuts me off with a giant smirk saying:

“Decaf? Oh darn, we are compleeeetely out of decaffeinated beans. Looks like you’ll have to go SOMEWHERE ELSE for your beverage! Sorry about that, have a nice day.”

“Yes, I will,” I said ignoring her retaliatory display.

We BOTH knew there is no such thing as “decaffeinated beans,” but I might as well let her think she “won.”

Besides, my film was in 20 minutes, I could just head to the venue and find a seat…which was a pretty good idea as said screening was nearly sold out (something I take partial credit for). Fortunately, it was only an hour long and I found myself in the shortest Chipotle line I’d ever encountered in Baltimore.

With that formality out of the way, it was time to get back (yes, the room was turned this time) and hammer out my thoughts on my second film and rewrite the review from this morning. This was going to be a long night…

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Bolton Hill, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, writing | Leave a comment

Film Fest 2015: Friday (Part 1)

Note: I missed the first full day of the Maryland Film Festival due to a delayed flight. I was supposed to see my first show at 7:15 that evening, but I didn’t land at BWI until 9:45pm so my coverage is a tad abbreviated – particularly since it was cheaper to leave on Sunday (actual last day of the festival) rather than Monday.

 

I found the tent village at 10:05am after dealing with a disappointing breakfast in the hotel restaurant and a particularly demanding – and entitled – homeless woman at the Circulator stop on Fayette St. If I had time, I would have stopped at the McDonald’s next to the village and gotten a REAL breakfast, but I was there to get tickets not to eat.

Tickets prices have gone up since my last visit from $10 up to $12, but there was a “3 for $30” promotion that I didn’t notice until after I already purchased my FOUR tickets. Though I will say the volunteer at the festival tent was friendly even if I had to explain to her the times and venues to her so she could explain them back to me. How do I keep getting into these stupid sitcom-like situations anyway?

I arrived at the Walters Art Museum about a half hour before my first movie was set to start and took 15 minutes to write down everything that happened to me today before putting away my notebook and heading inside to the auditorium…just to find the film would be “delayed” (not the word I wanted to hear) due to “minor technical difficulties.”

The program, started about 10 minutes behind schedule, but since there was no “host” the film started immediately. I won’t get into my thoughts on the film here, but I fell asleep twice during its 104 minute runtime.

I walked down Charles St towards the Inner Harbor looking for someplace to have a nice lunch. I didn’t want fast food or a food truck, but an actual sit down meal so I was disappointed when the time on the check from Pizzeria Uno was only “1:37pm” – I still had nearly three hours until my next movie!

I took the Circulator back to the hotel, but the room wasn’t turned yet. I considered going down to the pool while waiting for housekeeping for come by, but it was too cloudy/breezy to swim so I stayed put and struggled through my first review until it was time to leave for my second screening.

Categories: adventures, Baltimore, Charm CityCirculator, festivals, Inner Harbor, light rail, movies, Station North, writing | Leave a comment

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