Friday, January 24, 2014

Harry Potter Expansion at Universal Orlando

I'm a Harry Potter geek, I'll admit it. So you can imagine how excited I was when Universal Orlando released their Webcast about the summer of 2014 opening of Diagon Alley.
Universal opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade in 2010 and it was a huge success. I have to admit I was surprised Universal did such a good job because up until then they're track record wasn't the best. But The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is fantastic. I went there with a good friend of mine a few years ago and we had a blast (Confession: we both used to work at Universal). We took a break from Hogsmeade and headed over to the original Universal park, only to discover it was as dead as Jacob Marley. A lot of changes had been made to the park and not for the better. It was really depressing.
But then Universal got a great idea. They decided to rip up the Jaws attraction and build Diagon Alley in its place. Genius. That gave them the ability to extend the Harry Potter franchise and get people into the original park.

So what can you expect this summer when Diagon Alley opens? I mean, besides a crush of people. You'll get a chance to:
Board the Hogwarts Express and journey between London’s King’s Cross Station (located in Universal Studios Florida) and Hogsmeade Station (located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure). The journey will be filled with views of London and the British countryside – as well as a few surprises. Park-to-park admission is required. <- class="Apple-converted-space" span=""> You see what they did? Give you a fantastic reason to pay to get into the formerly lame park.
Experience a groundbreaking new, multi-dimensional thrill ride, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, which will place riders in the middle of an incredible adventure as they navigate their way through the perils of the Gringotts vaults.
Witness the magical experience of a wand choosing a wizard at Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world’s premier wand shops.
Discover the darker side of magic in Knockturn Alley, the darkest of dark places that features Borgin and Burkes – a shop specializing in the Dark Arts that will offer a wide variety of Dark objects, such as Death Eater masks, skulls, and other sinister items. Awesome.

You'll get to explore some of Diagon Alley’s famous shops, including:
  • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, a vibrant shop featuring novelty items, magical jokes, and toys inspired by the books and films that will amaze the mischievous child in everyone.
  • Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions, where guests will find a variety of wizardwear from Hogwarts school uniform ties, scarves and jumpers, to authentic wizard’s robes and character costumes.
  • Magical Menagerie, which features a collection of plush animals, such as owls and Hippogriffs.
  • Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, where guests can grab wizarding essentials such as telescopes, binoculars, armillary spheres, compasses, magnifying glasses and hourglasses.
  • Quality Quidditch Supplies, offering a wide assortment of apparel and equipment including Quidditch sweaters, brooms, Golden Snitches, Bludgers, Bludger bats, Quaffles and more.
  • Scribbulus, featuring authentic writing implements and products such as feather quills, ink and inkwells, bookmarks, journals, parchment paper, seals, stationery sets and postcards.
Enjoy traditional British fare that includes favorite dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash and more at the Leaky Cauldron. No word if they'll have spotted dick.
Visit Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for frozen treats in a variety of tantalizing and unique flavors such as strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice-cream and many others.
Yes yes yes. Bring it all on. I can't wait.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Here Lies Love Returns to the Public Theatre

Here Lies Love  

Here Lies Love, the fantastic musical about Imelda Marcos by David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim, is returning to the Public Theatre starting March 24th for an open-ended run. My tip of the day is get your tickets now! Last year Here Lies Love was the hottest ticket in New York City and for good reason: it's terrific. Here's what the Public Theatre has to say about the show:
"Within a pulsating dance club atmosphere, David Byrne and Fatboy Slim deconstruct the astonishing journey of Filipina First Lady Imelda Marcos retracing her meteoric rise from childhood to her subsequent descent into infamy and disgrace at the end of the People Power Revolution. Here Lies Love is neither a period piece nor a biography, neither a play nor a traditional musical but a wholly immersive theatrical event combining songs influenced by four decades of dance music, adrenaline-fueled choreography, and a remarkable 360-degree scenic and video environment to go beyond Imelda’s near-mythic obsession with shoes and explore the true tragic consequences of power and responsibility."
I was fortunate enough to see it last year and loved every minute of it. It's a complete theatre-immersion experience. The space (The LuEsther) is set up to look like a disco and fewer than 200 people can fit in at one time. You stand the whole time but that's okay because you're dancing, you're shoulder to shoulder with the actors and you're having an amazing time.

And my friend Melody Butiu is in it and she rocks it.

You can buy the original concept album on iTunes. The cast album will be released this spring.

And here's a video from a benefit the cast did for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines a few months ago.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Free Bagel at Einstein Bros Bagels

Who doesn't like free stuff? Einstein Bros Bagels is giving away a free Thinstastic Bagel with Shmear tomorrow (1.15.14).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Escaped Prisoner Turns Himself In Because It's Too Cold

You know it's cold when an escaped prisoner calls the police to come get him because he's too damn cold. Robert Vick, 42, escaped from a minimum security facility in Lexington, KY on Sunday, but when the temperature dropped into the low single digits on Monday, Vick walked into a motel and asked the clerk to call police.

Wind chill temperatures were 20 below zero on Monday. So I'd say three hots and a cot looked a whole lot better than the frostbite he suffered.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

Another year is upon us and that means another round of resolutions are made. I read somewhere that only 8% of New Year Resolutions are successful. That's not a great statistic but it might not be the worst thing in the world. Think of the stress relief when you no longer have to succeed at a resolution. Take my resolution to write a post every day in 2014. Already broken. Boom. I now have 362 stress-free days.

There are, however, some really wonderful resolutions for the new year.  Here are some I found. Mashable has an article 7 New Year's Resolutions That Take 5 Seconds Each. I particularly like:
  • Keep in Touch With Your Parents. I have one left so I plan on keeping in touch with my mom as much as possible. She now has an iPhone so it's easy to text when we can't talk.
  • Learn Something New Every Day. The coldest temperature ever recorded is -135.8F. FYI: a witch's tit is warmer.
  • Help Someone Achieve Their Dreams. Crowdfunding sites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are hot. My friend Jane Lui did a Kickstarter campaign so she could record a kick-ass version of Waterfall. She met her goal in about an hour. Awesome.
The Daily Beast has 15 Achievable New Year's Resolutions. I fancy:
  • If you want to quit smoking: This year, no smoking and pooping at the same time!
  • If you want to eat better food: no meals from gas stations.
  • If you are someone who struggles,who messes up, who dwells on past mistakes, who tries to do right, who imagines they are a sham, and not the person they can and should be: Yes, me too, and every single other human being in the world. This year, just try to be 4 percent nicer and carry around antibacterial gel.
And here's the video my friend Jane made.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year. May 2014 bring you happiness beyond belief.

Here are some images of New Year celebrations from around the world.

WPTV-New-Years-Eve-2014-London_20140101070817_640_480New Year's Eve, London

cKXzSLdNew Year's Eve, Scotland

5-new-year-2014New Year's Eve, Moscow

kuala-lumpur-layasia-fireworks-2014New Year's Eve, Kuala Lumpur

victoria-harbor-hong-kong-2014New Year's Eve, Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

new-year-eve-fireworks-2014-new-yorkNew Year's Eve, New York

_h0_w628_m6_otrue_lfalseNew Year's Eve, Great Wall, China

New Year's Eve, Taipei