June 6th, 2010

excellent column at NYT by Blow about acceptance of The Gay

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/05/opinion/05blow.html

Really, really, really awesome column. Coverage of a recent Gallup poll on attitudes towards The Gay. A little discussion of what those numbers might mean. Some hilariously apropos sentences:

"It’s like being antigay is becoming the old gay. Not cool."

"They acknowledge some level of attraction to other men even as they say that they probably wouldn’t act on it, but ... the right guy, the right day, a few beers and who knows."

Heh.

Read it and feel _good_ about the U.S.A. For just a few minutes, before we go back to worrying about whether we're going to have any fishing industry left in the Gulf ever again.

counting! and eerie skill at whacks ball

This is a whacks ball:

http://www.amazon.com/Roger-von-Oechs-Ball-Whacks/dp/0911121013

It's a bunch of little plastic not-quite-pyramids with magnets in them that you can assemble in a variety of ways but the default organized state is a ball. The one at the register at Little Towne Toys (which we love) was partially unassembled until T. got to it. I had to wait a very brief amount of time after the transaction was completed and the toys were bagged for him to finish, but he was quick and methodical and completely unfrustrated. It was cool and amazing and awesome -- and it looked just like the picture when he was done. A picture I am uncertain whether he has ever noticed.

We stopped at McDonald's on the way home and I handed him the change to put in the little charity box in front of the register. He's always liked putting tokens into slots; this is just one more opportunity to distract him from waiting with an enjoyable pastime. This time, however, he counted each coin as he put it in. Very, very quietly, and accurately, all seven of them. He wasn't doing this to impress _me_ -- if he had, he'd have been yelling. When I told R., R. said he saw T. counting his fingers yesterday or perhaps the day before.

Weirdly, I think I find the counting more exciting than the whacks ball, altho objectively, the whacks ball is more impressive.

_Mousejunkies!_, Bill Burke et al

Subtitled: Tips, Tales, and Tricks for a Disney World Fix: All You Need to Know for a Perfect Vacation

This is published by Travelers' Tales; I had confused Travelers' Tales (which I don't think I've ever read) with Traveller's Histories (which I read the Paris book of and really loved). Oh well.

I bought this on the kindle last October and attempted to read it before our first trip to WDW. I failed. I really hated it a lot. However, after planning our return to WDW (which my regular readers would have rolled their eyes at my previous blogging about, with the excessive exclamation marks and all), I thought I'd give it another try. Also, I was feeling really down on the idea of reading more trashy fiction after the horror show that was the most recent Dresden Files (I'll be blogging a bit more about that, perhaps).

The author lives in southern New Hampshire and writes for Parenting NH, which I have read on occasion (picked up free at libraries and elsewhere).

Wacky peripheral commentary aside, the author and many of his Disney-obsessed and DVC-owning compatriots are adults who luuuuurrrrvvvvee Disney. Some of them have children, but were going to WDW frequently prior to becoming parents -- and in many cases, left the littles behind because they were too young for Disney. Also, to a large degree, their attitude is that the main attraction of Disney is the food, and while they are not completely unaware of quality, quantity looms large in their assessment of particular meals at particular restaurants.

Needless to say, that particular combination irritated me, both the first time I tried to read it (when it stopped me cold) and the second time. So why did I persist?

Well, I persisted in part because this is the first summary of the World (and the only really up to date summary of the World intended to be read through narratively, unlike the Unofficial Guide which is intended as a reference) I've read since I went. In part, I persisted because I noticed there were really useful nuggets of information buried between the paeans to caloric pleasures (particularly ice cream. You can imagine how that left me. I'd say cold, but, er, well, you know.). Here's an example: really amazingly effective air conditioning at the Magic Kingdom can be found at the Crystal Palace. _That_ is useful information. (I also got a chuckle over his idea about how to discourage someone from stealing a stroller -- but I was quite disgusted by the Jaegermeister joke in the description of Norway.)

_Mousejunkies!_ takes some interesting slams at the Unofficial Guide (not by name, but quite clearly the intended target), in part because most of the participants in producing this guide aren't willing and/or able to get up early in the morning, which drastically reduces the efficacy of Unofficial Guide touring strategies (it probably doesn't eliminate them). But it also seems that many of the participants had done the crazy let's-do-everything-twice-in-one-day touring style earlier in their Disney addiction and hit satiety. I knew from DLR that once you hit satiety, it is the theming that holds attention in the long run, and I think that's where all these people have wound up.

I'm not entirely certain who the audience for this book is. I don't know how much use it would be for someone planning their first trip (when I was planning my first trip to the world, it wasn't much use to me). Burke did a good organizational job in terms of devoting sections to adults-only, families, little-kid-oriented, golfers, etc. The chapter on Disney Cruises was detailed, but his experience really put an incredibly negative filter on it, and his focus was far more on the adult side than the kid side -- the input from other junkies on the kid side was older kids. There was a tantalizing reference to a refit for a toddler pool; I could have wanted a whole lot more.

_Mousejunkies_ puts zero effort into other Orlando area attractions or staying off property. That could be viewed as admirable focus or an irritating limitation -- I'm neutral.

In some ways, I think the book is probably primarily useful to other junkies (validation and tips), adults who are thinking of returning to the World, after having been as a child but not recently, whether with a child or without, and adults who know someone who is a mousejunkie and would like to understand the mentality, perhaps prior to agreeing to accompany a mousejunkie on a group trip. For any of these people, the survey of the attractions, lodging and dining options, and overview of what's involved in planning a trip is really useful. Hardcore controlly planners will probably prefer a reference guidebook such as the Unofficial Guide. Non-planners might find Mousejunkies an adequate standalone tool for planning a trip. People who fall in the middle can use the information in it to figure out just how detailed their planning needs to be (yes, _do_ make those dining reservations early including character meals if you have children), which decisions are really important (try very hard to go while school is in session) and general guidance (don't try to do everything, pace yourself and most important, don't pressure your kids into doing things that frighten them).

It's possible that a very experienced traveler in general might be able to make sense out of this if they've never been. *shrug*

Within its limitation, useful and moderately entertaining. It is a little tough getting past the gleeful gluttony.