My First Disney Cruise: Six Revelations about Living on the Mouse’s Boat

When my parents were talking about taking everyone on a cruise, I did wonder what it would be like. I’ve never considered the idea of a cruise before. I’m either the kind of vacationer who likes to travel to a location or experience a location, I’m not the pampering kind of person. And that is how I imagined a cruise, me being pampered and lying down for a long time.

That is not a Disney Cruise.

Wait, let me correct that. I’m sure if people wanted to they could just lie down and eat all day. (There was sections of the ship “quarantined” just for adults and good food is everywhere), but I found the ship to be exciting with things to do every hour. The idea of lying down for more than an hour would feel like a waste for me.

From the 5K I ran on Castaway Cay (and I was pretty happy with my time) to the big slide on deck to the movies in the theater. A Disney Cruise is an adventure.

In typical Scott fashion, I have to get my thoughts about the experience down quickly, capture these great feelings I have about it… (Oh, and thanks mom and dad for the trip!)

Story vs. Celebration

Anyone who follows my blog, knows I have a thing about Disneyland. There is this post about my adoration for that little location in Anaheim, and this post that might be my favorite on the entire site about having a quiet moment alone in the park as it awakes. The reason for this love is very simple.

See, with Disneyland, I like to think that Walt found a new way to tell a story. The equivalent of the first person who decided to tell a story on a stage or put it on paper. He took stories from a sterile and controlled environment and put it around you. And when a ride (like Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion or an atmosphere (like Adventureland, Tomorrowland needs work) succeeds, it is as special to me as laying on a couch on a lazy Saturday discovering a great book for the first time.

With the cruise it is something different. It can’t be about a story, that would have been hard to pull off; what you get instead is a celebration of Disney and its history. Continue reading

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Halloween Redux

HalloweenI’m one of those nuts who thinks of Autumn as his favorite time of the years. Maybe this is a last gasp of Marching Band nerdness (Go Vikings!), but I look forward to the falling leaves, the smells, and the sheer panic we feel around our political system every two to four years. Ahhh… Fall.

My kids really want to get more Halloween decorations for our house, but I’ve never been impressed by the market. Usually everything seems plastic and loud. And I’m definitely not the type of guy to have anything giant and inflatable on my lawn. My line about this kind of stuff is Wayne Manor. “What would Alfred allow?” I ask.

The answer is usually not much.

Over the years I’ve written a bit about this holiday, which you can check out below in the links. I’ve also had the pleasure of reviewing some Halloween and horror stories on WKAR Current State. I thought I would include them as well if you are looking for something a little spooky to read this year. Also, they are fun to listen to because in a few of them I try (badly) to do a scary voice. Who doesn’t need a good and embarrassing laugh from time to time?

Boo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, February 2016

Sherlock Coloring BookHi readers! It’s good to be back. Sorry about the dust. I’ll try to clean up around here in a bit.

I’ve been off for the month, working on my latest novel, but now I am back and…

What is the deal with coloring books? Okay, this is a tangent, but recently I bought a coloring books for adults, based on the TV show Sherlock and I find it all very calming.

There I am, right next to my kids (while they work on their superhero or Little Pony books) and I am coloring a picture of a corpse hiding in some weeds. My daughter asked me “Who is that?” I replied, “Someone sleeping.” That was a lie, it’s a dead body! Yet, there I am coloring a picture of it. I’m feeling calm from doing it. It’s a freaking dead body and I am lying to my daughter too and I’m calmed by this and…

Okay, I really missed having this blog! Let’s see what else?

Oh, I introduced my eight-year old son to Monty Python! We watched Holy Grail. And, yes, I did fast forward through the naughty virgins scene, but the rest he ate up. Ever since then he has been quoting the film back to me, asking “Dad, do you remember when King Arthur asked if the monster was behind the bunny?” or “Flesh wound? He said it was just a flesh wound!” I can’t stop smiling about it. My son fits so nicely into my Monty Python world. Next up Flying Circus. Man, he is going to love the Spanish Inquisition. And spam! Who doesn’t love spam?

Man, did I miss venting here about things.

Deep Breath Scott, get your head back in the game and focused. Now here are the five things I am into right now. Enjoy! I’m off to color questionable scenes with Monty Python playing in the background. Bliss! Continue reading

3 Thoughts in November

Thought 1: In Paris

Eiffel TowerI was in Paris for only two days. This was at the end of my six-week European adventure, the stereotypical college graduate trying to discover himself and the world.

My trip had begun in London and I spent a majority of my time in England, but my flight to return to the states was from Paris. So (possibly because of bad planning) I ended up in the City of Love exhausted and broke.

I didn’t drink little coffees by the apartment of Hemingway, I didn’t travel the same paths of Fitzgerald. I may have visited the Notre Dame and the Louvre, but today I can’t be certain. For my memories might be nothing more than a picture I saw in a magazine or something from a show or movie. Yes, I might have stolen my memory of the city. I can say with certainty I didn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I walked past it, took a picture, and felt that was enough. It was like a box was checked in my head.

Honestly, I should have cared more. There is a lot of family lore connecting me to France. I can’t verify any of this but as the story goes through my family, on my mother’s side, I have French nobility in my blood. We were the ones that were smart enough to figure out that it wasn’t worth it to stick around during the French Revolution, scampering away to Ireland. Those very streets might have been walked by my ancestors! Of course, if they were nobility they were probably driven around in carriages and didn’t peer out of the windows at the riff-raff (which is exactly what I was as I stumbled around those streets poor and alone).

Instead, I spent most of my time sleeping on the bumpy bed (the bumps I remember) of the cheap hotel I had a room in. When I got up, after sleeping for 12 hours, I was starving. I was so financially spent by this point in my trip I was almost dreading my return to the States. My parents might be waiting for me at the airport, but I imagined also the credit card companies there as well with something the opposite of a hug. So when I wandered to the little restaurant under the hotel my choices were very limited.

Of course, everything on the menu was in French. And since France was not the big focus of my trip (England! Shakespeare! Authors! Venice!) I didn’t bring a French dictionary with me. I was, sadly, the typical dumb American tourist. I admit it. I ended up pointing at the one thing on the menu that had a word in it that I could translate: Ham. Continue reading

The Questions Around Arthur

ArthurI like to think of myself as a connoisseur around a few highly important topics.

Certain books and authors, sure. The Beatles, definitely. Classic jazz, I’ve taken the classes. Nerd films like Star Wars? I have three lightsabers in my house, thank you very much.

But here is the thing- over the last few years I feel like I’ve added a new one to my list.

PBS Kids.

Yes, I am now an expert on PBS Kids and I feel I have the power (nah, not just the power, but the knowledge) to back it up, to say what is working and what is not on the lineup of shows PBS gives to our little ones.

There are the shows I love (Wild Kratts [which I wrote an entire post about here], The Odd Squad, Word Girl, and Daniel Tiger [a post here]); there are shows I like (Curious George, Peep and the Big Wide World); there are shows I think that need a lot of help (Sesame Street, I’ve written a few posts about them, but I would like the writers to stop and consider this: parodies don’t work when the audience doesn’t know the reference; all you are doing is negatively impacted their future enjoyment of the work being parodied- mind blown, eh?); and finally shows I think are awful (Clifford and Caillou). I’ve seen them all. I’ve been to the mountain, climbed it and returned with my tale.

Yet, there is one show I truly cannot put my finger on. My opinion changes every time I watch it. Sometimes I feel love for it (real love), and others I shake my head wondering what the writers were thinking.

It’s like leftover night for dinner, when sometimes things taste great and other times you just wish you ordered pizza.

I’m talking about Arthur, based on the books by Marc Brown, one of the great mainstays of PBS Kids, airing now for over 20 years. A show that has grown so vast since it started—with characters, subplots, etc.—that an encyclopedia around the world would not be unheard of. That is the show Arthur, and honestly, I have no idea how I feel about the residents of Elwood City.

Yes, It is my television broccoli. Continue reading

The Pains and Conflicts in the Drop-Off

SchoolThis was a battle I walked away from.

To understand the gravity of this for me, you have to know a little about how my brain functions. Typically, I am not the kind of guy to lose an argument, surrender a point. I’m one of those who will hold on like a dog with a chew toy, and this is especially true if I know I am in the right.

And I definitely know I was in the right! So, so right.

Actually, to correct that, I should say left, since what we are talking about are car lanes.

To put it more bluntly, dropping my kid off at his school is a piece of hell. Let me repeat that, hell (devil, pointy ears and tails, flames, the whole bit).

I’m not talking about the emotional aspect of the separation, that was there for a bit (and always resides a little beneath the surface), but other less pleasant feelings than the accepted sadness in watching your kids grow up. No, I am talking about stress, frustration, and sometimes anger.

…And I know other parents feel that way towards me. Continue reading

The Penny in the Belly

Look for the penny!I was in the shower when this all went down.

There are two little kids in our family. My son is seven, my daughter is three. So it is fairly common for there to be a lot of noise in the house. Having shouts, arguments, and/or loud laughter (sometimes all at the same time) is the Southard norm. Actually, it has gotten to such a point that I get more nervous if things are quiet. That is truly when my parenting radar kicks in.

Silence terrifies me.

When I turned off the water and began drying off, my son was at the door, breathless. “She ate a penny.”

“Who did?” I asked confused.

The funny thing is that this penny wasn’t even ours. I can’t explain this but other kids always seem to be giving my kids stuff.

Last year, while my son was in kindergarten, he had a friend who was always giving him little things. He would come home each day with a new marble or little plastic army man. It got to such a point that I asked my son to tell his friend in no uncertain terms:  “Thank you, but please stop giving me things.”

It didn’t stop. Just a few days ago, another friend of his gave him 50 cents. My son was thrilled by this and happily asked if he now had enough to buy a Disney Infinity character (he is dying to get a Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy). The answer was of course no. Continue reading

Flashback Monday: “Disneyland’s Silent Gift” from ME STUFF

ResortThis is the eighth and final entry in my Flashback Monday series. I created the series to showcase some of the posts you will get if you pick up my new book Me Stuff, which contains 40 different quirky tales from this site! You can check out the other Flashback Mondays here, herehere, here, here. here, and here.

I always knew I wanted to end Flashback Monday with this entry. Some might roll their eyes seeing Disneyland in the title (or if you follow the site, not surprised I am writing about the park again), but there is a reason why it is here. Why? Well, I really love the writing in it because for me it captures a magical moment with my family and in my life, that even then I could tell was slipping away.

There is this time when you are staying at the Disneyland Resort Hotel when you can have it all to yourself.

It’s quiet, with the faint hint of music playing in the hotel lobbies in the background. I first discovered it when I offered to grab my wife one early morning a coffee at the shop in the hotel. But the moment I exited the elevator (and the haunting overture from The Jungle Book was playing in the speakers), that I realized I had discovered something unique.

It was still dark outside and I was alone.

I walked along the pool, passed the Tangaroa Terrace restaurant (with its fireplace still ablaze). There is a smell to Disneyland that I have yet to put my finger on, but the blossoms around the hotel and the restaurant added to its intoxication.

It was so peaceful that I almost felt a tinge of regret when the coffee shop finally opened at 6 AM and I had to make my purchase and return to the room and the excited kids. Dawn was approaching, a new day of adventure. Holding sweaty palms, wondering about bathroom breaks, and taking a lot of pictures.

That pre-dawn walk became a little ritual for me during my stay, and I picked up a coffee for my wife every morning at the same time. She always said thank you, but she didn’t need to.

It was for both of us.Me Stuff, front cover

You can read the rest of the post here. Or, better yet, you can grab a copy of ME STUFF which contains 40 editorials like this one and it is super cheap-o.

The eBook version of the book is only $1.99 (here on Amazon) and in print for only $8.99 (here on Amazon).

The Trials Over Sofia the First

The Dreaded PrincessMy wife and I had this all so perfectly worked out.

Our kids were allowed to watch a show in the morning (while we are making lunches for school or breakfasts) and they were stuck watching what we have classified as “morning shows.” I, at one time, had a list; yes, I made it even with cute pictures.

Technically, these are shows that are friendly, not overly exciting, and emphasize some kind of a lesson (numbers, reading, nature, etc.). Usually we draw from two stations, PBS and the Disney Channel. And each have their greats—for example, Wild Kratts (which I wrote about here) and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse—and then okay shows (Martha Speaks, the soundtrack on this show drives me crazy and not in a good way).

I have always found that these kind of shows in the morning help get everyone warmed up for the day, the mind working. A nice little nudge towards more lessons later.

A great little parenting plan, right? And it might have even lasted well for a few more years, if it wasn’t for the doings of a certain princess.

For those that don’t know the Disney show Sofia the First, it follows the misadventures of a new Disney princess. We made the mistake of opening the door to this show as a coveted morning show because it is from the Disney Channel, but in one swoop it has left our morning show plan in rubbles. No, Sofia the First is not a morning show. There are really no lessons on the show… unless you are a princess and you are lucky enough to have the world revolve around you.

Who needs the alphabet when you are a princess? 

For someone with an adoration of Disneyland and a lot of Disney films, it isn’t easy for me to say this but, yes, I have a beef with Sofia the First. Continue reading

Putting Away My Disneyland Stuff

25_forwebWhen you get home from a trip, sometimes you slowly, slowly empty your suitcases as if a part of you doesn’t want to admit that the trip is over. It’s a thankless task as you have to decide what to keep as a treasure, a memory, or what would be better left thrown away. This decision is especially difficult after a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth, especially if it dares to have the name “Disneyland” printed someplace on it.

That is where I am right now, doing my best to get back to normal life. Just look at last week on the site! To prove everything is back I wrote two articles on the art of writing. Two!

(By the way the art of writing is something I worked hard at NOT thinking about when I was on the trip.)

So… now that I am home and the suitcases are empty, as a final little bit of goodbye to that time, I thought I would share the links to some of the articles I have written on Walt’s park below. After this I am going to take a break from the mouse and Fantasyland (even though normal life can sometimes feel so boring without rides and jungle cruises).  I hope you enjoy them.