My Disney Year: Top 10 Magical Moments

So, I did a tally, and I spent 20 days in Walt Disney World in 2017. 18 of those were in the park.

I had a lot of magical Moments but I thought I’d do my best to pick 10!

10. Mary is amazed by Chewbacca

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There are lots of moments with my family that I’d pick but our visit with Chewie was a HUGE deal and kind of sums up what I was looking forward to with them.

My sister’s face of pure wonder remains one of my favorite pictures ever taken of her.

9. Twirling with Snow White dressed as Snow White

My Snow White Dapper Bound was a true triumph of my cosplaying genius, if I say so myself. But when Snow asked if I would like to twirl upon seeing me I nearly swooned!

8. Truly being the 1,000th Ghost

The Haunted Mansion is my favorite ride. I rode it at least 10 times this year. But the last ride on my solo trip was incredible! I was the only one there and it was soooo creepy and fun.

7. “And May All Your Wishes Come True”

will watch “Happily Ever After” from the deck of The California Grill someday, and it will not ever compare with the moment of watching “Wishes” explode over Cinderella Castle with my family (And Meg and Dino) after completing a half marathon earlier during the day. It was such a magical moment I can barely think about it without my heart bursting like those fireworks.

6. “You can tell he’s a male because he’s alone”

Oh really? Is that why you can tell this elephant is male? OK, in reality, this wasn’t so much a magical moment as it summed up so much of what made my quick weekend trip with Tom so much fun, lots of laughing and enjoying the little things…or in the case of this male elephant…not so little.

5. “Let There Be Peace On Earth”

I tried really hard to not spoil any of the holiday entertainment because I really wanted to enjoy all of it fresh. I also don’t have many pictures of a lot of it, because I wanted to just be. And choosing which of the three viewings of “Illuminations” was my favorite was going to be hard, but it came down to hearing that Holiday tag, with my best friends, crying out eyes out. So beautiful.

4. Sometimes  you should meet your heroes.

I don’t really regret anything about my Disney year, except that it prevented me both financially and time wise, from getting to go to many Comic Cons in 2017. Granted, I always joke that with Disney Bounding in the mix, the difference between a con and Disney World is negligible. I spend too much money, wear a crazy outfit, get dehydrated and stand in lots of lines! And, on my November trip, when one of those lines LITERALLY ended with a meet and greet with a nerdy celebrity, that became even more true. Chatting with Ashley Eckstein and Ashley Taylor was so much fun and that Ashley remembered me was one of my most cherished memories. We nerd girls are a tiny corner of the world, but we are mighty when we stand together.

3. 15 Minutes

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It’s hard to pick a moment that I loved more in my trip with Tom than when we walked on to Frozen Ever After. It was amazing. Especially since we’d pretty much decided we weren’t going on that ride, and then poof! No lines.

2. The Wilderness Must Be Explored.

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My whole day at Animal Kingdom in November. THE WHOLE DAY. I loved it so much. It was something that I’d wanted to do for such a long time and I was so grateful to do it with my friends. If you want more details, check out my post about it, and Juli’s.

1. Running Right Down The Middle Of Mainstreet U.S.A.

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Obviously, number 1 was my race. Obviously. But which moment? The start? The finish? Countless little points in between? No it was smack dab in the middle. Running down Main Street USA, hearing my parents and Aunt and Uncle cheering for me, was so incredible I can barely think about it without crying. It was a really great moment.

I had an incredible year, and there’s more to come. (Trust me! I’m not ready to give up on Disney yet. I’m addicted.) But there’ll never be another year like this one and I’m so grateful for it.

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AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Guys, it’s been a while since I did a post like this, but it’s all I can think about and OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!

We’ve known theoretically that Captain Marvel was coming for a while, but there’s been like, no movement on what the movie was actually going to be. Well, that’s not totally true. We knew it had Brie Larson (YAY!), we knew that she was going to be fighting Skrulls. (YESSSS!) we knew that it was going to take place in the 90’s! (SUPER BESTEST BECAUSE KAMALA! And also the possibility of both Spice Girls songs or Meredith Brook’s “Bitch.”) But beyond that we hadn’t even gotten a post credits scene with Carol. (Aless and I have a policy of saving popcorn to throw at the screen each time.) And it sort of felt like it was never actually going to come.

But now we have a picture. And it’s perfect.

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I love her 90’s hair! And I love that the suit is Kree Armor (though if she’s not in the Red, Gold And Blue by the end of the movie, I’m going to be a bit disappointed.) But OMG! You guys, it’s real. It’s happening. We have the Captain!

The Second Ball

There’s flirting, goodbye, and some worstiness. #MarinaChronicle

The Marina Chronicle

There was already another coronation ball planned for tonight, but now it was also a welcoming ball for Prince Eric. I was sitting beside Annalise, The Prince on her other side.

I glanced across the room and caught William’s eye. He’s trying not to look angry at me, or look me at all, I think.

“You’re quarreling with a lover?” I glanced over my shoulder and saw Lieutenant Lestoff. I blushed. “That guard, he’s yours then?”

“No,” I said, “not anymore.” He smiled.

“A shame,” he said, “for him, I mean.” I nodded. “I want to apologize, I believe on our ride here, I startled you.”

“I think it’s worth saying that your presence in Cammadan startles me Lieutenant,” I answered. He nodded. “You mentioned offending me, by bringing up my Sight.”

“It isn’t polite to discuss magic back home,” he explained. “We tend speak frankly about it because of…

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Victoria Series 2: Episode 3 &4: “Warp And Weft” and “The Sins Of The Father”

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It’s time for our second round of recapping for Victoria. We’ve entered full on soap opera-ville, leaving history in our shiny shiny wake for at least one plotline, but we’ll get there!

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Luckily the mathematician and Lord Melbourne induced jealousy is over, and our royal couple are pretty stable. Now their conflicts are smaller and a bit sadder. Victoria receives a request from a silk weaver, explaining that inferior foreign goods are hurting his trade.

Victoria is eager to help the tradespeople of Britian and proposes to Peel and Albert that they levy a tariff on foreign silk. The men dismiss it. OF COURSE. Lord Alfred, however, comes up with the idea of Victoria making it socially mandated to use English silk rather than imports. Victoria throws a lavish costume ball to launch this social plan. It uh, isn’t well received, but it’s still a nice symbol I guess. She gets Albert to come around to the idea by having him dress as Edward III, getting his own crown for once.

Also, when she has the second baby, the baby who will be King Edward VIII, known now as Bertie (HEY! That’s also what they called his son. I watch too many period dramas…) she gets some serious post partum, which isn’t helped by Albert going back to Coburg when his father dies. This is the first times they’ve spent a night apart since they were married! (Awww)

While in Coburg, Albert regrets not lending his father money and he and Ernest get drunk, and it’s wonderful. Before that though, Uncle Leopold goes full on Gothic villain, lurking in shadows and claiming to have had an affair with Albert’s mother right before he was born.

Now, look, I can roll with some ridiculous a-historic shit. But suggesting that Leopold, King Of The Belgians was actually Prince Albert’s biological father, THUS DELEGITIMIZING THE ENTIRE ROYAL FAMILY, is asking  a lot from me Daisy Goodwin. It’s almost enough to make me put down The Fortune Hunter, your novel, that I am currently reading. (I won’t because I’m enjoying it. And I’m a compulsive person who needs to finish things.) This causes Albert to spiral out a little, I am interested in how this Jon Snow-in-reverse style revelation effects the show. But wow, seriously?

Also, Dash dies. And I am devastated. So does Lord Melbourne and that is also sad. But mostly, the image of Victoria cradling Dash’s lifeless body is absolutely horrible. She does get a new puppy though! Hooray!

Other Fancy People Who Are Not Victoria And Albert

Lord Alfred and Robert Peal’s secretary are in love and OMG GAY VICTORIANS! We met Ada Lovelace, if we’re doing gay Victorians are we going to meet Oscar Wilde? Or at least mention the man? Anyway, Secretary is getting married, so Lord Alfred decides to move on to poor sad Wilhelmina Coke.

Wilhelmina is sad because Ernest went home to Coburg and she can no longer stare at him and sigh while he plays the piano, but hey! Now a gay favorite of the queen is hitting on her! YAY! (Not so yay for her, but we’re going to get some fun stuff out of this I bet.)

Just a quick note and reminder, Leopold is claiming to be Albert’s father and this is ridiculous.

Poor People Have Lives Too, You Guys

Nancy’s in big trouble! She told the real Eliza Skerrett about the ghost, and she sold the story to a newspaper and now Albert is all, “FIND THE LEAK OR I’LL FIRE EVERYONE!” Even worse, Baroness Laizen thinks that Mr. Francatelli is the one who did it because he all of a sudden has a bunch of money and fancy things. (This better come back and be explained.) So, Nancy comes clean to Victoria about her ruse, and shocked, Victoria fires her. Albert talks her out of it. (Phew!) Because now that he’s learned he’s actually the son the of Leopold, he is sensitive to keeping secrets. (Seriously…this is his new logic. Guys this new detail really sucks.) Whatever, Nancy stays!

Also Albert gives all of the servants a raise, because of reasons. But they’re all pretty psyched about it.

Politics And Stuff

Victoria’s ball doesn’t go over at all well, but she also points out that silk weavers, unlike farmers, don’t have landlords in the house of lords to lobby for them, which is why her idea to tariff cheap silk, like they do foreign corn won’t work. She’s doing her best.

Hey, I wonder how the fact that Albert might be Leopold’s bastard would go over politically? Probably not great. These were light politics episodes, what with the dying dogs and post partum depression and soap opera paternity reveals and all.

See you next week!

30 Books In 2018 & The Epic Project: War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I DID IT! I made it through my first epic with 10 days to spare. (And it would have been longer…trust me.)

So, I was getting antsy not sure if month 1 of my reading project was going to get completed, as I’d left my kindle on the plane on my ride home from Colorado, and I knew I couldn’t go however long it took for it to come back without reading anything, I trotted down to Barnes And Noble Sunday morning. $80 later, I have at least a months worth of reading material (plus my next two epics…) and an edition of War And Peace, so that I could finish it up.

And finish it I did.

This book was a challenge, though not as much of one as I expected. It’s incredibly long, but not overly difficult to read and has a charming love story at it’s center. (It’s even a triangle! WAAAHHHTTTT!!!) Although I would often put it down and think, “wow, everyone in this book is an asshole!”

Natasha is an asshole. Andrei is an asshole. Nicholas is an asshole. The entire Kuragin family are assholes. Pierre is definitely an asshole. Sonya might not be…Sonya is good.

And Andrei isn’t here…

But an entire cast of unlikable characters didn’t wreck this book for me. In fact that enhanced it. It’s a story of imperfect people caught in a whirlwind of history. Also a lot of diatribes about the nature and philosophy of documenting history. This is like the whaling stuff in Moby Dick, but way more interesting to me. There is some inevitability at play here, the society that these assholes move in is doomed (in a larger sense than even Tolstoy knew when writing the thing…) by the destruction of Moscow by Napoleon’s forces, so the petty society movements that are almost Austen-like in their frivolity take on a melancholy air of running out the clock.

Switching translations partway through was only confusing for a moment while I figured out the differences in naming conventions. (It’s a complicated Russian novel, everyone has like, nine different names.) Also, I was thrilled to learn that I can still read French pretty well. I could always read better than I could speak, but it’s been years since I’ve even tried and I only had to go to the footnotes for the French dialog in this book a couple of times. Yay! 

I’ll probably read at least one more book before January is over, and February’s epic is Dune by Frank Herbert. (And now for something completely different!)

For now though, I’m glad to have kicked off with something considered as challenging as War And Peace, I think it’s given me some confidence moving into the rest of this project. I’ve also decided, even when I get the Kindle back, I’ll do actual physical versions of the epics. 11 epics & 27 books to go!

30 Books in 2018 #2: Sisters First by Jenna Bush Hager & Barbara Pierce Bush

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I kind of love the Bush twins.

Just like I love Megan McCain.

And I love Chelsea Clinton.

And I love Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy.

And will probably love Sasha and/or Malia Obama should they ever decide to live life publicly again.

I find people who had political childhoods fascinating. Particularly women who have come out interested in telling their own stories and the stories of other. Which is why when I opened the copy of Sisters First, the memoir that Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush wrote together on Christmas I squeed and clapped my hands. (My sister received a copy of Chip and JoAnna Gaines’s book, The Magnolia Story, “This,” in Mary’s words, “is the difference between us.)

The book is slight, just over 200 pages, written as a series of essays, alternating between the two women, talking about their rather exceptional life, which was documented by outside sources from the beginning and yet somehow very private and as normal as was at all possible. But normalcy is impossible when The AP Wire has pictures of you within minutes of your birth.

We hear about their “wild party days,” (mostly a few fairly normal college bar hops) Jenna falling in love with her husband, (he was a young volunteer on the ’04 campaign) and the confluence of events that lead to Barbara starting her foundation. (It’s meant to be a sort of global version of Teach For America for health care providers. I find it fascinating and will be reading more.) Not to mention countless notes, emails and antecdotes from their father and grandfather. (The emails from HW are fascinating. They are adorable and kind of bonkers, and I definitely read them in Dana Carvey’s George Bush voice…)

While well written and creatively put together, I didn’t feel I came away from the book knowing either Jenna or Barbara much better than I do from their public personas, although I’m compelled to read much more about Barbara’s work, and about Barbara Bush, wife of George HW Bush. This makes the book something of a failure as a memoir. I didn’t expect any kind of deep expose on the Bush family, but some deeper insight into these two presidents and the women around them beyond, “Gampy likes fishing, and we sure were surprised when Dad started painting,” would have been nice.

There are glimpses of that, the note that W sent the girls on the eve of the Iraq invasion and the talk he had with them about his alcoholism after they got visibly drunk at a family function are deeply moving, and Jenna’s recounting of interviewing her grandfather on his 90th birthday shows flashes of something more, there’s just not enough there, there.

Still, the book made me cry a few times, if only because I’ve been missing my sister, and clearly these two love each other very much.

Victoria Series 2: Episodes 1 & 2: “A Soldier’s Daughter”

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Yesterday morning as I got my act together to get back into the swing of normal life after a wonderful three day weekend in Colorado with Mary and Joe (more on that to come!), I decided to find a recap of the season 2 premier of Victoria, which I had watched a day late after getting home.

Last year during season 1, both The AV Club and Vulture covered the show.

This season? Not so lucky. (Also if anyone DOES know of somewhere recapping Victoria I’d love it if you sent me a link) Anyway, I decided to do what I started this blog to do in the first place. When I see a gap in coverage of things that I like…fill said gap.

I loved series 1 (I’m switching to the British now) of Victoria so much that my 30th birthday masquerade costume was switched from a long held concept (Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina) to Queen Victoria.

Me and Mom

I was very proud of it. Mom is Grace Kelly in To Catch A Theif

(For more on that party, check out Juli’s blog post about what she and Dom wore!) And after The Crown, which though I loved it, is very heavy, I was looking forward to Victoria’s lighter touch. Also, after The Crown I had rewatched series 1, so everything from that season is plenty fresh. (Also, frankly, if this sticks, I’ll go back and watch it again and recap.)

So, 2 episodes are airing a week. I’m going to recap both episodes in one post, usually on Monday, though this week on Saturday. Cool? Cool?

Victoria And Albert-land

So, if there’s one thing that both Victoria and The Crown have taught me, it’s that being married to/while being a queen is difficult. Victoria has just give birth to Princess Victoria, and while she’s struggling with confinement and some feelings of disconnection, Albert is managing the royal duties, including the war in Afghanistan, very well.

But it’s not just the baby blues and the continued meddling of their Uncle Leopold, and her mother sighing at them all the time, that may cause problems for Vicky and Al. Victoria isn’t sure she wants more children. (HA! 8 more coming!) Not because she doesn’t actually want them, but because she worries about losing her authority as queen as people think of her as mother. Oof.

Albert meanwhile, tries to find the correct balance between protecting Victoria and allowing her time and space to recover, without usurping her power or overstepping his bounds. He doesn’t always succeed at this and it makes her mad.

In this swirl of marital difficulty also comes, the charming, pretty and brilliant badass that is Lady Ava Lovelace. I actively squeed when she was addressed by name, because OMG! Ada Lovelace! An OG Nerd Girl! (We mostly trace our beginnings to Lady Lovelace and Mary Shelley) But of course her charm and brilliance totally freaks Victoria out, because Victoria’s education was you know, not great, and Albert is super academic.

So, who does Victoria turn to in this moment of marital insecurity? Lord Melbourne!

Lord M is not Prime Minister anymore (now it’s boring but nice Robert Peal. Albert and Sir Robert get along very well.) but Victoria misses him and his speeches about how she’s the best (I AGREE!), so she invites him to a dinner, and runs off to Brocket Hall a few times. Including when she finds out she’s pregnant again and Albert is off at the University talking math with Ada Lovelace and can’t be there for her.

However, Albert is still wonderful and they make up, and are getting ready for the new baby. (WHO’S READY FOR KING EDWARD VII?? It’s amazing to me that Victoria lived so long that William and Harry are only 4 generations removed from her.) (Also, this show makes me wonder how she’d feel about her Great-Great-Great-Great Grandsons’ choices of wives.) (I think she’d like Kate) (Maybe not so crazy about Megan)

Other Fancy People Who Aren’t Victoria And Albert

Ernest is back in England, THANK GOD! Because what is a British Period Drama without a brooding sarcastic sibling milling around? (I’m looking at you Lady Mary Crawley & Princess Margaret.) Due to the Duchess of Sutherland, who he was flirting with going home to her husband he’s allowed to stay! YAY! They do see each other at Princess Victoria’s christening and it’s so melancholy and beautiful. Mostly though he sits around playing the piano sadly while new character Wilhelmina Coke (who is totally adorable) watches him and sighs. I think this is a storyline I’m going to like a lot.

Speaking of Adorable Wilhelmina, her aunt, is Victoria’s new Mistress Of The Robes, and is played by Dame Diana Riggs, and mostly sits around talking about how nothing is as good as it used to be. You guys, The Queen of Thorns is back on ma TV, and I am very happy about it. She doesn’t do much, but it’s still way fun.

Victoria’s mother, Uncle Leopold and Albert’s father are still whispering about how great the Coburgs are (I mean, they are pretty rad, as Dynastic Families go. I’m still partial to the Romanovs, because you never love anyone as you love your first) and Leopold already has plans fro Princess Vicky, which as Victoria points out, is 100% out of line. SHE IS A BABY, and for the moment the heir to the throne of England. Get it together Leopold.

Poor People Totally Have Lives Too, You Guys

The servants aren’t exempt from drama! Victoria’s head dresser has gone home to Wales. (I mean, Victoria is nearly 40 years from founding Torchwood, so I don’t know why, she went. Also, I have a fun head cannon where she is Gwen and Clara is posing as Victoria and they’re protecting Buckingham Palace from aliens.) (I don’t know what Jack and The Doctor are doing.) (No you get a life!)

Anyway, she left and Mr. Penge is deeply put out about it, but much more put out that the knew chef is a kind of a dick and is serving weird food that the queen doesn’t like. Nancy/Skerrett is promoted to head dresser (YAY!) and Mr. Francatelli left because she rejected him. Victoria begs her to talk him into coming back and she tries but he says no. Eventually Lord Albert manipulates the situation to get him back. He’s not thrilled but, “There are worse things than being the queen’s favorite, I guess.” (Not worse than working alongside your ex, who’s true identity you are also hiding.)

They hire a new assistant dresser who is a Catholic (SCANDAL) and there’s a little orphan boy running around stealing the queen’s underwear! (THE HORROR) I’m curious about the new dresser and perhaps her connection to this little ghost, and how it’s going to turn out. If it turns out.

Politics And Stuff

The British army disastrously pulls out of Kabul, and Albert doesn’t tell Victoria about it. (Adding to their marital woes.) In the end everyone dies except on person, but Victoria is sure Britain is going to bounce back. (SPOILER, it will)

Also, everyone is convinced that Victoria’s continued friendship with Lord M is unconstitutional. Since they’re mostly talking about her personal life I don’t think it is, (neither does she) but I get the worry. I frankly, don’t pay as much attention to the politics.