Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy All Saints' Day

Okay, it’s late, 10:55 PM to be exact, but we’ve had a lot going on today. After school we had practice for Future Problem Solving, a Halloween party for our 21st Century students, Youth Group at Belle’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church and I got my new iPhone 5. So, a full evening has been had by all. We are MAP testing in science tomorrow (11/1/12) and election time is almost here. At this moment I would really love to have an Elwood sandwich from the House of Blues. MMMMMMmmmm. Hot and spicy chicken with hot and spicy mayonnaise. I guess I shall just give you your excuses, hit the bed, and dream of eating in Orlando.

79 AD Pompeii was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. You need to get deep into the Italy pavilion in World Showcase at EPCOT. My son, Matt, was part of a living work of art exhibited by some of the World Showcase players on our last trip. It looked something like this:

Michelangelo lay on his back on a high scaffold and painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s art was first exhibited on this date in 1512. You can watch him at work in the tableau of Spaceship Earth. Look for some hidden Mickey action there as well. By the way, Spaceship Earth is the iconic geodesic sphere at the entrance to EPCOT but I bet you knew that already.

As if we didn’t already have enough love for EPCOT, today is Alfred Wegener’s birthday (1880). Wegener had this really cool theory that no one took seriously until way later, continental drift. Wegener said that all the landmasses of the planet rest upon plates that shift and move over time. In the past, the continents have been in various configurations with cool names like Pangaea and Gondwanaland. EPCOT rearranges the world for you without moving any plates at all and BONUS: Animal Kingdom also gives you several continents, as well as periods in time, all within walking distance.

Happy All Saints Day and always remember, your best excuse is: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Luke... no really... I'm your step? father...

This is no trick and, for many of us, it’s a treat that makes us wonder, “What is left?” Disney is purchasing Lucasfilms for a reported $4.05 billion. Star Wars has a new permanent home and my Darth Vader / Goofy pin may never be out of date. George Lucas has had a long association with Disney and Star Tours is a favorite (although I can only ride Star Tours once without a break… motion rides get to me, same with Mission Space) but knowing that Disney will have even more access to the Lucasfilm universe. As if that wasn’t enough, I received a text from D23 saying that Disney would produce Star Wars Episode 7.  Let’s sit back and see what happens.

Your excuses for today…

Mount Rushmore is completed on this date in 1941 and my favorite singer, Ian Hunter, name checks the occupants of Mount Rushmore on his latest song, “When I’m President.” So give a little love to George, Thomas, Abraham and Theodore. My choice for this one, The American Adventure in EPCOT. I’m not going to apologize for being patriotic, especially during the election season, and really, go listen to Ian’s song.

It’s Halloween. If you don’t go to the Haunted Mansion or the Tower of Terror on Halloween, what are you thinking?

It’s National Magic Day. This day celebrates professional magic, not only on Halloween Day but also on the anniversary of Harry Houdini’s death in 1926. Houdini is one of my heroes and his biography was probably the first full-length biography I ever read when I was in 7th grade. Just go enjoy the most Magical place on Earth.

Remember, your best reason is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Rain, rain, go away...

God bless the East Coast of the USA. Sandy is impacting us all, some way, some how. Locally, we are getting a lot of wind and rain and, perhaps late tonight, snow… possibly huge amounts of snow. This summer we were in WDW when Tropical Storm Debbie hit Florida. We arrived on Sunday morning, our usual arrival time, and rushed to EPCOT because my sons and his friend wanted to see DCI (Drum Corps International) bands perform that morning and later that afternoon. We were in a monsoon. The bands actually performed that morning and were wonderful, by that afternoon the weather was so bad that the bands backed out. 

We wandered EPCOT that entire day until we left for Chef Mickey’s that night but the entire day we were drenched. Chef Mickey’s was wonderful and, while we were eating, I asked our troupe how they had enjoyed their day. Their response: Best First Day EVER! You can have a great time at WDW no matter what the weather or circumstances. With this lousy, cold, wet weather from the combination of a hurricane and a cold, Canadian storm from the north, I’d rather be at Walt Disney World.

What is your excuse for today?

1873, PT Barnum debuted his “Greatest Show on Earth” and the world would never be the same. Make your way to the New Fantasyland addition and visit Storybook Circus. My son’s favorite ride from our first trip in 2001 is still there, Goofy’s Barnstormer. The story may have changed but it’s still the same great ride that thrilled my four-year-old son.

1938, Orson Welles panics the radio audience of America with his interpretation of “War of the Worlds.” People actually thought the planet was being invaded by Martians, especially the ones that tuned in mid-show and didn’t hear the disclaimers and tried to find out how to escape the Martian invasion. If the Extra-terror-estrial Adventure was still in Tomorrowland, I would recommend that (it truly terrified my son and daughter). Since it is not, let me recommend Buzz Lightyear. Hey, it’s like fighting off an alien invasion, and I know how to max out the score.

One of my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World is the Hall of Presidents and I recommend it at every opportunity. I am a science and social studies teacher and, I admit, a patriot at heart. In 1735, John Adams was born in Braintree Massachusetts. Adams was the second president of these United States and the father of President John Quincy Adams. While you are in Liberty Square, check out the Liberty Tree Tavern as well. It is one of our favorite meals on property.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...

Wow! October is almost over. The kids have an academic team meet Tuesday night; the same night the community is having Trick or Treat. All of this is contingent on Sandy not dumping 12 inches of snow on us. Snow in October, unique for here, for sure. The election is November 6th and the kids get November 5th off as well; I have a doctor’s appointment on the 7th and an academic team meet on the 8th. After this, one week of school and we are off for Thanksgiving. Wow! Time flies and we just keep moving. I have some friends who will be in WDW for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to hear what they have to tell, all the new stuff at Fantasyland, the new test track and any food we’ve not eaten before. There is always something new at WDW and it seems almost like an entirely different place since our first visit in July 2001.

And now… the excuses:

In 1811, the first Ohio River steamboat leaves Pittsburgh for New Orleans. Of course, this means travelling down the mighty Mississippi River, stomping grounds of the great Mark Twain. So go to the Magic Kingdom and rider the riverboat, experience the sights and sounds of riding the river in the 1800’s. Call it off… mark twain!

1971, NBC-TV ran a special program, The Grand Opening of Walt Disney World. Fifty-two million people get their first view of Walt Disney World, filmed over three days with many celebrity appearances. What was there at the time? The Polynesian, the Contemporary and the Magic Kingdom: hop on the monorail and visit the original turf at WDW.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sedentary Saturday at the Casa del Hammond

After a week of illness, academic team, character counts week and a house full of teenagers celebrating Halloween, it was nice to wake up this morning to a fairly silent house with only a few random children on the chaise, the couch and the recliner. A nice, cool, damp fall Eastern Kentucky day, a perfect day to stay in but we have church at 7 PM. Our monthly business meeting and our annual election of officers. I have already submitted my monthly treasurer's report, Matt is copying study material for my academic team students and I wanted to give you your daily excuses a little earlier today.

The daily excuses are not comprehensive, they are just a sampling of the interesting events each day that I think you could claim as motivation for a day at Walt Disney World. I am committed to at least 365 days and, as you can already see, far more than 365 excuses. I want to thank those who have commented on the excuses and I invite you to comment as well. Leave me a comment in the comment section or e-mail me at I look forward to hearing from you.

And now... the excuses.

I love Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Literature on this date in 1954. I visited Hemingway's home in Key West a few years ago and got a bit of an education in the life of the man as well as petting and playing with several polydactyl (six-toed) cats on the grounds. I want to go back. We were there as the first stop on our Disney Cruise in 2008, our 20th wedding anniversary. Hemingway loved Key West and Cuba. We were within five miles of Cuba during a latter leg of the cruise. Do yourself a favor, in honor of Hemingway and all the others whose hearts were broken in the Cuban Revolution, go to Bongo's in Downtown Disney and eat some great Cuban food. Have my favorite Papa Rellana, it's like breaded mashed potatoes stuffed with spiced beef and covered in gravy. This is just the appetizer, remember, calories at Disney don't count.

1943, Randy Newman was born. I remember the Randy Newman of "Short People" fame but he has become the go to guy for Disney and Pixar for the great songs in their movies. You know a Randy Newman song the second you hear it, this drives some people crazy, but I don't mind. If I want to hear something different, I'll listen to someone else until I get sick of the things they do that make them sound like they do. My favorite Newman song is, "When She Loved Me," written for Toy Story II and performed by Sarah McLachlan. Sometimes you want that sad song to just push you through a blue time and this is the song for me. The scene in the movie where Jesse's owner gives her up is one the saddest scenes in any movie, period. Any movie. There's a lot of things that you could do and a lot of places at WDW you could visit to celebrate Randy Newman but how about a quiet moment at Port Orleans Riverside just enjoying the fact that sad and happy can balance in life and the fact that "You've got a friend in me." I couldn't resist.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dreams to come true.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I've come here for an argument. No you haven't. Yes I have.

There are a dozen extra children in my house tonight. My son, Matt, is having a Halloween Party. Matt is 16, and he’s a good kid. I have two good kids, of course Allison, who will be 21 in February, is getting out of the kid phase but, truthfully, they’ll always be my kids. Heck, my mom is 81, I am 51 and I am still her kid. She did for me like I do for mine. I still remember her taking me to see the first “Star Wars” movie because I didn’t have my license yet. Many years later we took mom with us when we went to see “The Phantom Menace.” She had a great nap and hardly snored at all. I can’t say much, “The Pokemon Movie” was my first $5.00 nap at the local Cinemark. Matt, probably five at the time, thought it was a masterpiece.

On to the excuses…

John Cleese is one of my heroes, along with the rest of the Pythons. Cleese always seemed so refined, insanely refined. Completely manic under a veneer of reserved dignity. When he said or did something completely out of place it always seemed even odder because it came from him. He has so many connections with Disney and general coolness and, since it is his birthday, let’s just pick one and run with it. In honor of his narration of the 2011 edition of “Winnie The Pooh” hit the Magic Kingdom and visit Pooh, especially poignant since he also served as Mr. Toad’s lawyer in “The Wind in the Willows.”

1858: Teddy Roosevelt. Plush, buy something plush in honor of the trust busting president. When Teddy refused to killed a bear that was trapped and staked out for his hunting pleasure, the act became a definitive moment in his presidency and led to the creation of the “Teddy Bear.” So get on over to Mouse Gears or World of Disney or the Emporium and load up on plush in honor of Teddy and his bear.

Remember, your best excuse is always: waiting for your dream to come true.