Category Reviews

It’s just reinforcing the class system of…horses…sitting on their high horses….sorry, I gotta go!

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A couple of years ago, Jason and I attended Cavalia, an equestrian and acrobatic show that’s essentially Cirque du Soleil minus the clowns and with horses, and I loved every minute of it. When I saw a billboard for their new show, Odysseo, I mentioned to Jason that I’d like to attend. The next day, he sent me a message: “Do we have plans for SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2014, 8 P.M?”  There was no way he hadn’t directly copy/pasted that from a ticket purchasing site, and I couldn’t play it cool for even a second. “No…are we going to the horse show?!” “No, I, uh, signed us up for a, uh…cross-stitching class.”

SURE.

I needled him about cross-stitching class constantly in the weeks that followed, asking about where it was, what we were learning, their flowing manes, but he stuck to his story, finally exhaustedly presenting me with the tickets on Valentine’s Day. Because nothing says “I love you” like the end of weeks of pestering. Little did he know that while it was the end of waking him up with a flashlight in the middle of the night to interrogate him about our supposed cross-stitching class, it was also the beginning of shaking him awake in the middle of the night to let him know exactly how many hours until horse show time. What I’m saying is, when his coworkers would see how wretchedly tired he looked, waggle their eyebrows, and say something coy about newlyweds, they really had no idea.

When the day finally came, we followed standard protocol and removed all cash and means of credit from my person, and not a moment too soon, as Cavalia has stepped up their merchandising considerably and moved it front and center, so within seconds of entering I was squeezing supersoft plush horses to test their fitness as a friend to Napoleon (verdict: ringing in at $100, they are much too fine for the ten minutes of ass-ripping they would endure in my household). They’ve also got DVDs of this show and the previous one, soundtracks, calendars, shirts, scarves, etc–the usual. What I didn’t see, and what no force on Earth could have stopped me from purchasing, were the SkyRunners, because I’ve got a number of bones in my body which have never been broken, and I’m certain they could help me remedy that particular problem.

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Our seats were pretty excellent; as we were off to the side a bit and angled to see the arena, there actually were no seats in front of us so I didn’t have to worry about the Jolly Green Giant sitting in front of me and blocking my view, which is what normally happens to me at every event. When I saw RoboGeisha in the theater, I couldn’t see the subtitles at all, so I essentially invented my own reasons for why someone might gouge out another person’s eyes with shrimp tempura. When I saw That1Guy recently, the tallest man I’ve ever seen in my life came in three quarters of the way through the show and pushed his way through the crowd until he was standing directly in front of me, and this was so inevitable that I only wondered what took him so long; maybe he lost track of time while shooting himself up with human growth hormone.

The show itself was amazing and beautiful, showcasing strength, athleticism, beauty, grace, and precision. The horses themselves are extremely well-trained, but they’re not forced to do anything they don’t want to do, and that gives the overall production a sense of spontaneity and wonder that it may not have if everything were clockwork. With their enormous screens, sets, and costumes, you’re transported from an enchanted forest to the African savannah, from Easter Island to space itself; woven throughout are the strands of companionship between human and horse, the appreciation of beauty in motion, and the joy of being alive. They incorporated all of the traditional dressage of a Lipizzaner show, but made it entertaining instead of godawful like an actual Lipizzaner show.

There’s a short intermission between acts, during which Jason asked me which part was my favorite thus far. “Every part. Every part is my favorite.” During said intermission, they send someone out in a mini steamroller to pack down the dirt in the arena; you can totally see him out there steamrolling behind the curtain in careful circles, making sure each part was packed down perfectly. The only suggestion I have to the producers is that they could turn the intermission into a little steamroller ballet–put a few of them out there, set them to music, and have them perform some of the same movements as the horses.

While both Cavalia and Odysseo were excellent shows, of the two, I prefer Odysseo, as it integrated the horsemanship and acrobatics more; at some points during the show, it felt like there was so much to see that I couldn’t possibly take it all in. They’ve got four more shows in Seattle before they leave: don’t miss it!

 

May the best man win: the mating call of the loser!

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Just like at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Orlando has a CityWalk outside: an area full of restaurants and shops designed to part you from your money before you even make it into the park. What separates it from nearby Downtown Disney is that at Universal Studios, they charge you for parking, too.  The walkways to the park lead you directly past Hollywood Drive-In Golf, a minigolf course that appeared entirely too spectacular to miss, so we vowed to go there at least once during our trip.

We actually ended up going twice: once before Halloween Horror Nights and once on the last day of the trip as we had a significant amount of time to kill after we checked out of our hotel but before we had to go to the airport (enough to play 36 holes of minigolf, see Gravity, AND have lunch), and the amount of fun we had didn’t diminish upon replay. In addition to the fun themes, it’s actually well-designed so that skill plays a larger role than luck and balls can’t just go willy-nilly all over the place and get stuck like one particularly shitty course I’ve played.

They have two 18 hole courses: The Haunting of Ghostly Greens and Invaders from Planet Putt.

 

 

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IMG_2413This was my favorite tombstone: “So long together, I will always remember Wigglesworth, faithful tapeworm. I’m empty inside without you.”

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IMG_2469 Each course was super detailed, with sound effects, moving parts, and hilarious decorative touches. For instance, they had swamp creatures all around one hole. As you walked toward the hole, they’d spit water at you.  One was additionally positioned directly above the hole and would shoot a puff of air out at you as you bent over to pick up your ball. I went first and it startled a screech out of me.

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Incidentally, that scream that the golf course got out of me the first time we played was the only time I screamed that night, which was pretty sad since it was immediately followed by Halloween Horror Nights, the entire reason we waited until later in September to go on our honeymoon. Halloween Horror Nights Orlando was horrible.

 

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First of all, the scare zones were just zombies, zombies, and more zombies, which as you’ll see, contrasted with the maze’s themes of zombies, zombies, and more zombies.  Ugh. Cabin in the woods? Redneck zombies. Resident Evil? Lab zombies. Walking dead? Zombie zombies. Evil dead? Zombie zombie zombies! ENOUGH WITH THE ZOMBIES. Zombies have been played out for a long time, let’s try something new. Two of the non-zombie mazes were repeats: La llorona, and An American Werewolf in London (which essentially recycled all of the stuff from The Wolfman maze even if it wasn’t exactly the same), so the only two that brought something new to the table were Havoc and After Life: Death’s Vengeance. Havoc boiled down to army dudes yelling on a train; one literally yelled at me for not being scared. After Life: Death’s Vengeance was at least decent, as it was about the victims of a serial killer taking their vengeance on him after he was electrocuted–in 3D. The 3D effects made it visually interesting, but distracting, not scary.

Every few feet, there were zombie nurses selling shots, which I don’t remember from Horror Nights Hollywood. Maybe there’s a difference between the state’s liquor laws that allow for it in one park but not the other, but the only message it sent to me was that they knew the mazes and scare zones sucked this year so you’d need to be hammered to enjoy yourself. If we go back to another Horror Nights, it will be to Hollywood, it’s not worth the trip to Florida.

 

“I’m going to Disneyland!” “Really? Because I’m a travel agent and I’ve heard nothing but bad things.”

Our hotel was essentially right down the street from Downtown Disney, so even though we didn’t visit any of the Disney parks on our trip, they still got plenty of our money. Downtown Disney is essentially a Disney-themed mall, with restaurants, shops, an arcade, a theater, and blessedly, free parking. The main impetus behind our first visit to Downtown Disney was one of their themed restaurants, The T-Rex Cafe.

 

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The T-Rex Cafe is operated by the same company that owns The Rainforest Cafe, so if you’ve been to the latter, you know the schtick, except in this restaurant, they have a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs and there’s a meteor shower every twenty minutes instead of a thunderstorm. They also don’t seem to operate with the same slogan as The Rainforest Cafe, “Fun until it isn’t,” because our food was actually pretty damn good, lacked any sort of embedded hair, and they even had cocktails made with cotton candy which made Jason extremely happy. Actually, the restaurant is quite similar to Jurassic Fork; they don’t let you order your meat “medium roar” at The T-Rex Cafe, either. Luckily, they also don’t have any rules about feeding a hungry animatronic stegosaurus an onion ring so long as no one sees you do it.

 

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One day, Jason thought it might be nice to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 at Downtown Disney. I don’t want to point fingers, but this was, hands down, the worst idea he’s ever had. After we paid for our tickets and went into the theater, a herd of the world’s noisiest children flooded in and sat directly behind us, kicking our seats, screaming about whether they should get popcorn or nachos, arguing about the trailers, and doing everything in their power to drive me goddamn insane. We didn’t even make it to the movie proper before getting up and asking for a refund, which we were given without so much as an “I told you so” from the theater employee.  I was confused at this level of restraint and politeness from a Disney employee; one of the only things I remember from my family’s trip to Disney World when I was 11 is an altercation at Epcot Center. We’d stopped in the France Pavillion to split an eclair. All they had to drink was whole milk, and we were used to drinking skim, so my mom asked if they had any skim, to which the employee replied “You’re all already fat, what does it matter?” Very few things can put me off an eclair, but that’s one of them, even if that surly French teenager had a point.

 

 

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These are some next-level candy apples. I can’t even get the caramel to stick to the damn apple!

Every evening we visited Downtown Disney over the course of our stay, they had live music in the streets, which definitely added to the overall festive atmosphere. Among the more entertaining performers was Dominic Gaudious, a guy who plays a double-neck didgeridoo and a double-neck guitar. I’m always impressed by didgeridoos, as my mom used to have one hanging on the wall and about the only thing I ever managed to make it do was slowly dribble my spit out the other end.

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We spent the better part of another day at the DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park, relishing in both its air conditioning and the unlimited play games. Their virtual reality games were terrible, with graphics, headsets, and controls straight out of the early 90s, and neither one of us could handle them for more than a minute or two. I made it all the way through Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride, but Ride The Comix was so horrendous that I ripped off my dorky helmet and walked out in the middle. Sorry teammates, but my laser sword didn’t work anyway, so it’s not like I could have helped you regardless.

 

Literally everything else was much more fun. They had a classic games area, a pinball machine room, skeeball, air hockey, a bunch of music game machines, even a bank of playable Fix It Felix from Wreck It Ralph! My personal favorite was a driving game I’d never seen before called “Dirty Drivin'” which involves some of my very favorite things: revenge, explosions, and customization. It would probably lose something in translation from arcade to console game with the loss of the steering wheel/gas pedal/revenge crank controls, but I would still buy it in a second. I would pay full price. What I can’t pay is $7700 for an arcade machine. $15,000 if I ever want to play with another human being. Please port it!

 

 

No, seriously, port it. Or my buddy Ralph and I are going to wreck you.

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“Behold the horrors of the slanty shanty! See the twisted creatures that dwell within!”

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This year at PAX, to deal with their PR problem, they’re adding a “Diversity Lounge”–a safe space where congoers who feel marginalized can go and congregate with the likeminded to talk about issues of diversity within gaming; a con within a con.

Diversity doesn’t just exist in a bubble, though. The solution for people feeling unsafe at the convention can’t be the removal of the people who feel threatened, that’s just further segregating and alienating the marginalized. Marginalized congoers don’t only want to talk about the lack of diversity in the industry, they want to experience the whole con. That’s the whole reason they decided to attend a gaming show like PAX in the first place. They want to walk the floor, play the games, and attend panels like everyone else. All they’re asking is to attend panels without one of the con heads saying he regrets pulling merchandise that poked fun at rape victims. They’re asking that the con management think twice before allowing panels that encourage the behavior of the lowest common denominator. You can’t create one small safe space and call the job done. You need to target the root of the problem to make the con safe and enjoyable for everyone. Granted, you’ll never be able to prevent all negative instances from occurring, like that one time I ran into a former classmate on the show floor who back in the day was quite vocal about his notion that he felt I owed him a blowjob for being female and in his vicinity, but you can at least TRY to implement working safe space policies that apply to the entire convention.

Unless the Diversity Lounge serves drinks. Then I’m all in.

 

“Well, if we’re looking for a shark we’re not gonna find him on the land. “

My most aggravating gift by far this year was an AirSwimmer Remote Control Shark. In concept, it’s awesome, and once you get it assembled, it’s fun to play with, but getting it to that point is an exercise in frustration. Special shark tape that didn’t want to remove from the sheet, poorly written instructions, and an infuriating counterbalance system that has you putting tiny pieces of putty into a receptacle on the shark and then digging it out again when you find it’s now too heavy except your finger is too big for the hole and then putting some back in when you find it’s now too light and then digging it out again and putting another tiny piece back in until you’re overwhelmed with the urge to punch a shark in the face…and then you discover it’s finally balanced at perfect punching height.

It was fun to fly around, though.

It’s scared the hell out of me twice now. Jason thought it was an awesome idea to store it in the bedroom unbeknownst to me, and air currents made it pop out of the bedroom right as I was walking down the hallway, eliciting a primo scream and an Olympic quality high-jump. For some reason (laziness, probably), we kept it in the bedroom in the corner, and at one point during the night I woke up and it was floating low directly over our heads on the bed. I smirked and decided that a good morning scare would be fine retribution for Jason…except the heat clicked on and it began swimming by itself through the room. Apparently the sight of a million year old predator gliding by itself in the dark overhead while I’m glassesless and vulnerable triggers some sort of primal fear mechanic and I clawed at the light on the table next to the bed, waking Jason up and shrieking “THIS FUCKING THING HAS GOT TO GO”…so that happened. Probably the day will come when I end up stabbing the shark in the middle of the night because I can’t take it anymore.

The most aggravating gift I gave Jason was the touchable bubbles…which are totally fun until you realize they stain absolutely freaking everything in the house. I threw a shirt that was a bubble casualty into the wash (after a vigorous pre-washing) with some sheets and now the sheets are stained, too. Christmas is definitely more fun when you don’t have to clean up the messes you make.

A Christmas Carol Recap

At some point in your life you’ve been exposed to A Christmas Carol, Dickens’ story of a Libertarian man who believes in self-sufficiency and desperately tries to keep his uneducated entitled workers from sucking him dry, but has a series of nightmares one night and goes completely insane, flinging money away like the free market wouldn’t take care of the poor already if they were deserving and completely forgetting that helping people won’t teach them the importance of bootstrapping. It’s been made and remade approximately half a million times, and you’re sure to find someone’s version playing on TV in the month of December–one year, I recall falling asleep in front of the television with the Lifetime channel on (shut up) and woke up to no fewer than three different versions, my own version of three mediocre made-for-TV spirits which immediately made me regret the mistake I’d made: paying for cable.

For all of the existing versions, Disney realized there was a hole in the market: no version existed that was so definitively creepy that it would haunt your very soul…especially not one made for children, and they’re not one to leave a cash cow unmilked. Today, I’m recapping this version for you. Merry Christmas.

A Christmas Carol: Disney Makes You Fear For Your Soul

The movie opens on what’s probably the cheeriest of all Christmas scenes: a dead scowling body being held together with a tube sock and change to keep you from seeing the maggots swirling around in the eye sockets. Even Mr. Stiff Crotchett doesn’t want to see that, which is why his glasses are perched up on his forehead instead of, I don’t know, in the garbage, because it’s not like he’s ever going to use them again. It makes me wonder if Guy Fieri will be buried with sunglasses perched on the back of his head.

A crusty Scrooge leans over him, decrepit and scraggly in a way that you just know that his breath is putrid. You can see it escaping him in a little cloud of limburger, garlic, and seventy one years of refusing to pay a visit to the dentist.

It smells so disgusting that it’s making the funeral apprentice woozy, even causing a few of his pimples to burst and ooze. After he blacks out, we cut to a scene of swooping over London rooftops and through the city streets to show you just how awful it was to live in the Victorian period regardless of what a steampunk enthusiast might tell you.

For example, child jails had yet to be invented, so wretched little orphans used to heckle hard working citizens through their window grates, after breaking out all of the glass (the better to heckle and let all of the heat out–were they born in a barn?)

Poisoned giblets are flung out in the street in the hopes of clearing out some of the child riff-raff, but the mystery meat is scooped up by Zuul, the gatekeeper of Gozer the Gozerian, for some reason that’s never explained but probably involves summoning some ghosts for later in the movie.

This child is expressing what we all feel at the moment, but hold onto your butts, people, we’re only six and a half minutes in, so you may as well grab a drink and settle in.

Seven Christmas eves later, and we can clearly see that Scrooge has not washed his hair once in this entire time period, making him officially even more frugal than the stockpiling moms in Extreme Couponing. What they don’t show is him scraping off his natural foot oils to use as chapstick, as he considers himself quite the lady-killer and wants to keep his lips moist and dewy for heavy makeouts at any time.

In another brilliantly frugal move, Scrooge has hired an illegal immigrant from the Planet of the Apes to do his books, thus saving him a significant amount in labor costs and payroll taxes. Its fascination with fire, however, does cost him some man-hours.

Mr. Darcy drops in to brood by the fire and to let all of the pining ladies know that not only has he aged terribly, he now also dresses poorly as well, layering coats like a hobo.

The monkey man, however, is still quite turned on by the presence of the Mr. Darcy and leers at him from across the room, basically eye-jungle-trysting him. Mr. Darcy knows it and doesn’t exactly discourage the behavior, enjoying playing the temptress.

Scrooge is immediately jealous as he feels his position as the Alpha Sex Male is threatened, and he in turn threatens his monkey man with a savage beating with a ruler. Love triangle!

“I loved you first” Scrooge whispers to Mr. Darcy, leaning in ever closer, pursing his foot chapstick lubricated lips and fluttering his lashes. I should probably tell you that Jim Carrey was my first ever crush and aside from all of the questionable stuff he’s done lately, this movie is doing an excellent job of killing whatever attraction I’ve ever had. Seriously. I used to have a scrapbook of photos that I’d swoon over, and when I was about fifteen and my family was traveling to California to visit my grandparents, I wrote him a letter and invited him to have Easter dinner with the family, like he’d drive down from Los Angeles, pass the potatoes and fall deeply in love with me in a non-pedophilic fashion and vow to wait until I was 18 so we could get married and say our vows by talking out of our butts at one another, Ace Ventura style. My mistake was not in sending the letter, but in telling my family that they shouldn’t be surprised if we had an extra guest at dinner, and on April first, my grandfather called me over to the phone, excitedly saying “Oh Melissa, it’s Jimmy Carrey on the phone for you!” when in reality it was my aunt holding her nose, pretending to be his secretary and turning down the dinner invitation. My family is nothing if not cruelly hilarious; I may find it in my heart to forgive them sometime in the coming decade.

Getting back to the film in progress, the monkey man is also impressed by the next visitors, the founders of the Extreme Facial Hair Men’s Society, one of whom’s eyebrows are attempting to escape from his face in shame. They’re soliciting donations for facial hairplugs for men who can only grow sad little sex-offender mustaches; little do they know that they’re barking up the wrong tree as Scrooge has been saving his pennies for decades in the hopes of implanting his own facial jungle, so they’re flung out on the street without so much as a “no thank you”.

The workday complete, Scrooge heads home for a night of getting hammered and digging through couch cushions for change, only to have his doorknob turn into the Ghost of SuperCuts past. “HUMBUG!” Scrooge cries. “You might as well have grown it out for free rather than wasting tuppence on that hack job!”

By making a world-class series of kissy faces at it, he convinces the spectre to go away, working better than any “excorcism” the bros from Ghost Adventures could ever attempt.

Scrooge then settles in for his Christmas eve activity: mixing and eating a bowl of cement to coat his intestines to prevent him from absorbing any holiday calories so he can stay trim and still fit into the designer clothes he thifted from Ye Olde Victorian Goodwille when he was twelve.

“I can’t believe it’s not butter!” he exclaims.

Suddenly, there’s a surprise delivery from UPS! Who knew they were working this late on Christmas eve?

“WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?!”

“Why yes, I’d be happy to do my Liza Minelli impersonation!”

“I’m not saying it’s not good, just that I’ve seen better.” Enraged, the UPS man goes on his way.

At one in the morning, Scrooge wakes up with heartburn and realizes that the cement mix must have gone off as he hallucinates his face onto a candle. He can’t help but note with a smirk that even his hallucinations are turned on by his animal magnetism…he sees the little sprig of mistletoe the candle just happens to be holding.

Sure enough, Waxy Buildup Scrooge swoops in for some heavy petting action. “Too soon! Too soon!” Scrooge The Person cries. “You haven’t even bought me dinner yet!”

Still, his touch is magical, and Scrooge The Person is suddenly so filled with infatuation with Waxy Buildup Scrooge that he feels that he could jump from the rooftops and fly. “He’s got the touch! He’s got the power!” Scrooge The Person swoons.

Sky rockets in flight! Afternoon delight!

Look, kid, I know you’re still emoting what we’re all feeling at the moment, but there’s still 2/3rds of the movie left to go, you may as well grab another drink.

After tiring of spying on children, the lovers find themselves late and underdressed for a performance of Riverdance.

Michael Flatley boots them out and they decide to spend the rest of their evening together skydiving.

“That was a hell of a dream,” Scrooge muses. “The skydiving bit must be when I fell on the floor. This will be a fun nugget to share at the office tomor–oh blast, the office is closed. I HATE CHRISTMAS!”

Suddenly, the sitting room fills with light and Scrooge enters to find Scrooge Jesus perched atop a tree in Hugh Hefner’s robe.

Scrooge Jesus is full of the holiday spirit of Christmas mockery, supposedly laughing at Scrooge but mainly laughing at the audience for being fools so easily parted from their money. “You’re only half done, assholes!” he cries. “There’s still plenty more of Uncanney Valley Jim Carrey to shudder at; since we’re paying him a fortune, we’re going to use him as much as possible!”

Scrooge Jesus turns Regular Scrooge’s mansion into a glass bottom boat and gives him a tour of the city, known as the “Point and Laugh at Everyone” tour. Scrooge Jesus also points out all of the places he’s given positive reviews on Yelp. “Their bread? HO HO HO! Five stars! But a child was screaming at the baker through the window so I knocked it down to four.”

We learn that not only has the Monkey Man taken a human bride, but he’s also fathered a freakshow’s worth a children. Here is is with his gargantuan daughter. They breathlessly exclaim that they hope one day that they might be able to taste a turkey, which is how you know they are poor indeed, to be lusting after the Saharan sand of meat.

The human bride, regretting being outcast from her parents’ home for her choice of husband, gets drunk and starts railing about politics at the table, embarrassing everyone.

Their most pathetic child, Little Timmy, has made himself sick with trying to heal his parent’s marriage and stop his mom’s drinking problem, and in one moment he decides he cannot take it anymore, but attempts to cover up his despair with a treacle-y toast. “By god, I hope this glass is full of poison,” he prays. Scrooge Jesus says that if nothing is done to alter this timeline, Little Timmy will get his death wish and kill his parents with guilt.

Regular Scrooge ponders and realizes what he must do–climb the clocktower and take out Little Timmy himself.

Scrooge Jesus pulls apart his robes to reveal that he’s been breeding an army of scrawny Gollums to do his bidding, and Scrooge is so impressed that he forgets all about the clocktower business and Little Timmy. These two are named Ignorance and Want– Pestilence, Complaining, Itchy, and Honey Boo Boo are all off on a field trip somewhere.

Suddenly, all of the meat lover’s deep dish pizza Scrooge Jesus has been eating rushes straight into his heart and he collapses and dies, and god dammit, he’s left the caretaking of all of his monstrous mouths to feed to Regular Scrooge.

“La la la, there must have been some mistake in the will and if I don’t heeeeear you I certainly won’t have to spend the rest of my summer vacations and discretionary income at EuroDisney.”

In a stroke of genius, solving his own personal problem and a major problem of the city’s, Regular Scrooge invents child prisons and wipes his hands of the whole matter. “I’ll be back. You can’t keep the Liberals out of the House of Parliament forever. And when they get in, I’m back on the streets, with all my criminal buddies!”

On what is to be forever remembered as the Night of Too Many Drop-In Guests And Seriously Have They Never Heard of Calling Ahead, Skeletor pops by to loom ominously and chat about the fate of He-Man.

I’m beginning to think that this movie should have a subtitle. “A Christmas Carol: Scrooge’s Upskirt Shots”, perhaps, as they seriously never miss an opportunity to show you up his nightgown. I get it, I get it, scrawny old man legs.

Or maybe “A Christmas Carol: One Hell of a Bad Acid Trip”.

After what feels like twenty more minutes of Scrooge upskirt shots, Skeletor finally shows Scrooge something of import: his grave. Scrooge is appalled at the poor kerning and mourns not developing a better relationship with his typesetter. “Can this future not be changed? Can we not find a better font than Comic Sans?” Skeletor laughs and shoves him in the grave.

Scrooge awakens in yet another strange position and thinks “Hot DAMN this will be a great story to tell at the office toda–DAMN IT, I keep forgetting the office is closed today! I guess I’ll have to go bore people at their homes with stories of my dream interpretations. You see, the flying is representative of my hopes and aspirations, and the grave is clearly my insecurities about my knobby knees and…”

After yelling at a child to go buy the biggest turkey in town, Scrooge smiles with joy. It’s so easy, winning the love of the poor! Once he stuffs them full of Tryptophan, knocks them out, and drinks their love and admiration filled blood, he’ll live forever! Foolproof plan!

Someone other than the audience gets an upskirt shot for once, and from the looks of her face, she got an eyeful of the twig and berries and will be filing a sexual harassment claim as soon as Human Resources is open again.

However, Scrooge sees the lawsuit in her eyes and threatens to pull out her remaining front tooth, Chompy, if she dares to tell a soul.

Scrooge takes his newfound madness out into the street and tells the founder of the Extreme Facial Hair Men’s Society that as soon as he gets an opportunity, he’s going to slice off his skin and wear it as a mask so as to relieve his facial hair shame. But not today, because he’s got to go force his company upon his long-suffering relatives.

Suddenly, the monkey man steps out of time and becomes a narrator of things yet to come. “No moral, no message, no prophetic tract: Just a simple statement of fact. For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own; for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to The Twilight Zone. Also: It was Earth all along.”

Merry Christmas to us all, every one!

“Oh look what you did! Now I’ll have to go get my cold cream gun.”

In July, Jason and I took a trip to Vancouver for IMATS (the international Makeup Artist Trade Show). We had plans to attend the previous month’s event in Los Angeles as LA is by far the bigger show, but it unfortunately fell on the same weekend that Jason was committed to being in a wedding so it didn’t work out. However, the next LA IMATS is in January, which is right around the time that I start losing my mind in the cold, dark Seattle winter, so it will be an ideal time for a trip to a place where the sun peeks through the smog.

Vancouver is essentially a cleaner, friendlier Seattle, with better candy AND Plants vs Zombies scratch off tickets!

I wasn’t interested in the push and shove aspect of the trade show floor–I love makeup, and I love discounts, but it has to be a hell of a discount or a product I cannot purchase otherwise to make me want to deal with crowds of people elbowing one another to get the last item–I’d rather pay full price AND shipping and never have to deal with a human being. What I was interested in was the student creature competition, the makeup talks, and the makeup museum.

The student competition was broken up over the course of two days, with beauty on Saturday and creature on Sunday; I only attended on Sunday, and I was impressed by the quality of the work I was seeing. I wish self-taught people like myself could compete, but unfortunately it’s only open to makeup school students.

The makeup museum, though small, was also very cool, featuring mostly work by Toby Lindala (keynote speaker, creator of SFX for X-files, Supernatural, and V, among others) and Todd Masters (featured speaker, creator of MastersFX, SFX on Big Trouble In Little China, Predator, Underworld, True Blood, and more). Questionably, however, they also included submissions from various local schools, some of which were so bad that I was embarrassed for the artist and the school. Everyone has to learn somewhere and everyone works to the best of their personal abilities, and hating on someone for trying is the height of uncool…but showcasing pieces that aren’t ready to be shown do a disservice to both the student and the school. It’s why you don’t see macaroni necklaces in the Louvre.

Taking a photograph of a video camera videotaping a video feed. The only thing that could make this better is if someone behind me took a photograph of me taking a photograph of a video camera videotaping a video feed.

Both Todd Masters’ group and Toby Lindala struck me as likeable, humble artists with a genuine love for their craft and fascinating stories to tell, and their speaking time went by far too quickly. If MastersFX still had a Seattle studio, I would beat down their door for an opportunity to work there, to observe, to help, to sweep their floors…but sadly, it is no more. The only thing that stuck in my craw about the event in general was that the floor was full of tons of women (and some men, but predominately women), but nearly all of the speakers were men. Where are the women, and why don’t they rise to the top of this craft? More women learn to use makeup than men, so how is it that the most notable figures in the business are men? Is it the glass escalator effect? Surely there are women who are just as talented…so where are they?

Halfway through the day, we decided to take a break and head to a nearby pub for lunch rather than suffer through convention food, and there I learned two important things. One, there are vampires actively prowling Vancouver:

and two, I learned an important lesson about Canadian light and how it interacts with steak fibers. At the time, I was on a restrictive diet and could only eat carbohydrates one day a week, so I’d been eating/preparing/ordering a lot of proteins and veggies. I ordered a medium-rare steak with veggies while Jason ordered some carbtacular dish that I remember being insanely jealous of at the time. What I received was a completely well done steak, and even though I’m the sort of person who haaaaates sending anything back to the kitchen, I flagged down the waiter and told him that it was far too well done while apologizing profusely for bothering him. He disappeared with my plate and came back twenty minutes later with….another well-done steak! He disappeared before I could cut into it, and when he came back around again to ask if this one was better and I responded negatively, he said “Oh, I know what your problem is” and grabbed the fork off my plate and poked at the steak. “Yeah, that’s medium rare, I can tell. It’s just that you’re sitting by the window and the light is what makes it look brown. It’s why steakhouses are so dark inside, so you can’t see that the meat is actually brown when you expect it to be red.” HUH. It’s fascinating to learn that the Canadian visible light spectrum is missing the color red! You’d think that I would have heard about that before, read it somewhere, seen it in a documentary…SOMETHING. I didn’t think to look while I was still in Canada, but does this mean that their national flag is actually a brown leaf and they’ve been too (typically Canadian) polite to inform the rest of the full light-spectrumed world that we have it wrong? Because, and I don’t mean to boast, I have cooked and eaten many a steak within the borders of the United States in both darkness and in light, and they’ve always been a varying shade of red inside. So it must be Canadian light, right? I refuse to believe that an actual Canadian could have lied to me just to get me to shut up and eat an overcooked, shoe-leathery piece of meat.

The next time I burn the hell out of dinner, I’m going to tell Jason that we must have had a Canadian air front sweep through the kitchen, but not to worry…even though it looks and tastes burned, that’s just a factor of the air, and it’s actually the most succulent thing he’s ever had in his mouth. Thank you, Canada!

“Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow! Bright Blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow!”

Now that The Hobbit is in theaters, I’m sure there will be some new omission to complain about (although with a book so short spread across three films, I’m fairly certain that even Tolkien’s toast crumbs on the original manuscript will appear in at least one of the three films, and maybe even have a starring role!), but there are some among you (nerds, mostly) who have never gotten over the fact that Tom Bombadil never appeared in the Lord of the Rings films. Well, prepare to have your elfin hair blown back, nerds, because in my pre-Hobbit rewatching of the trilogy, I caught a flash of…something out of the corner of my eye:

TOM. MOTHERLOVIN’. BOMBADIL. On his way to bore your tits off.

Peter Jackson, we never should have doubted you.

“We fixed the glitch. So he won’t be receiving a paycheck anymore. So it’ll just work itself out naturally.”

Earlier this year, I aided with some makeup and SFX work on a project that I couldn’t really talk about. Now I can: that project was Glitch, and they’ve just released their pilot episode to the general public–they should be releasing new episodes biweekly. I was not involved with the pilot at all, but some sort of Mellzah Dildarian credit should pop up in future episodes…so there’s my immortality, eh? I may also be visible as an extra in a scene or two, but hopefully not, because I am the worst actress in the history of acting–my tongue is jammed too firmly in my cheek to ever be anything other than embarrassing to watch. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, apply makeup…or something.

Aside from helping to fund the city of Seattle by receiving multiple parking tickets while on the job (How do you block an unmarked crosswalk? IT’S UNMARKED! Next you’ll be telling me I didn’t stop for the invisible stop sign!), I helped get the actors camera-beautiful and aided where I could around set. Some days, I was powdering noses. Other days, I was creating wicked-awesome scars and helping to transform (young and beautiful) Brian Sutherland into a variety of different old men. I even did a bit of wig-styling, from which the wig will surely never recover! And I’m not the only one who thought I did a good job! From the desk of the director, Tyler J. Hill: “Mellzah Dildarian needs also to be thanked, for her help with the makeup, who brought some FX wizardry into the mix and pulled some stuff off that had worried me until she arrived. But also, Mellzah was just there, so much, giving her time and energy and helping out wherever she could.” I’M A WIZARD, HARRY!

I had tons of fun working on the show, I met a lot of really incredible people, and I feel really fortunate to have been looped in on the project. I hope that it gets picked up for a second season, selfishly, to give me more work, but unselfishly because everyone worked really hard and I think it’s going to be a fun show–I’ve never seen a script so I have no idea how the whole thing is going to turn out…I’ll be finding out along with you! So far it seems to be a great big love letter to nerd culture, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

While we wait to learn the fate of Glitch, Samus, and Wyatt, I have a few behind the scenes photos and a video of makeup that I worked on that I can post. Enjoy!

“Bring me my legs.”

This year is turning into “the year of the movie in the theater” for me. Usually, my drive to see a movie is lower than my drive to avoid being surrounded by humanity and their cell phone lights and rustling wrappers, but not this year: Avengers, Cabin in the Woods, Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, The Expendables 2, The Hobbit, Snow White and the Huntsmen…and Piranha 3DD. This last one I had fully intended to see on Sunday when I discovered that it was not playing in a single theater near me. And not “not playing in the theater five minutes from the house” near me: not playing within 80 miles of me. Not playing at all, anywhere in this state. All in all, Piranha 3DD is only playing in 75 theaters nationwide. In order to see Piranha 3DD in the theater, I’d have to grab a passport, hop on a ferry, and watch it in Victoria B.C.: Canada coming through where the United States has clearly failed me.

Now, I almost considered it–a ridiculous trip for what was sure to be a ridiculous movie, plus Canada has delicious candy, but I also took a moment to investigate any other options. If I had Comcast, I could watch it via OnDemand, but Jason and I both think it’s stupid to pay for cable tv when it’s mostly comprised of wretched made-for-TV movies, 30 year old movies with anything remotely interesting edited out, home shopping, commercials, and infomercials. I could pay to watch it through Facebook or YouTube, but watching it on a relatively small screen with notifications blinking at me felt less than ideal. Then Jason discovered that we could stream it through Xbox Live: WE HAVE A WINNER.

It was worth every second of hassle. I truly don’t understand why it’s getting such negative reviews–yes, critics are practically required to hate horror-comedies because the genre doesn’t beautifully depict the human condition via a plastic trash bag blown to and fro by a capitalist wind, but that’s not the job of the horror-comedy. The horror-comedy’s job is to beautifully depict the human condition via the juxtaposition of blood and fake boobs. Sex, death, and fart jokes: the holy trifecta.

Piranha 3DD hits every single one of its targets–ridiculous monsters, great gore FX, delightfully stupid people, and a number of moments in which I was desperately sad that we weren’t watching in 3D as this is a movie that hearkens back to classic 3D tactics, none of this tasteful Avatar 3d where “You forget that you’re watching a 3D movie.” NO. This is campy magic, and I’m sure it’s even more magical when it’s thrust into your face. Riotously funny, at one point I commented to Jason that I was having difficulty deciding whether this was the movie of the year or the movie of the decad-BAM. Annoying child decapitation: MOVIE OF THE CENTURY.