RIP Stephen Hillenburg

I named my blog Holographic Meatloaf when I couldn’t think of anything else and because I’m a fan of SpongeBob SquarePants. The domain was available and I went for it.

Years later, even if I don’t blog as much as I used to, I keep it named to honor the show that made me laugh from its inception.

And today, the world got news that the creator of the show, Stephen Hillenburg, passed away at 57 after a battle with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

It’s a sad day for fans everywhere. While the show had to evolve with the times (HD and whatnot), the classic episodes will always be some of the funniest and craziest shit I’ve ever seen. Next to The Simpsons, SpongeBob SquarePants is the most quotable show that still has a daily impact on my life.

Ann and I started watching from the beginning in 1999 and when our son came along, he eventually began watching and still loves it — and the memes it has since spawned (he’s a teenager now).

And with a blog named after Plankton’s favorite (or not) meal, I would be remiss in not acknowledging the show’s creator.

Thank you, Stephen Hillenburg, for your gift to the world. You will be missed.

The Disneyland VIP Experience

To paraphrase the Walt Disney quote, it was all started by a text.

On Friday afternoon, Ann received a text from longtime friend Colleen (pseudonym). She said she was in town for the week and had a question for her: would you and the family like to join us at Disneyland on Saturday?

We immediately thought, “With what money?” Ann got another text explaining that it was complimentary. Then another stating it would be 100% free. With every text, Ann asked if this would cost us anything.

The conversation ended with Colleen texting, “Ann, I don’t play.”

She also mentioned that it wasn’t just a trip to Disneyland. Colleen had booked a VIP Tour Guide for the duration of her family’s trip. For those who don’t know, a VIP Tour Guide is a Disneyland Cast Member – they wear a blue-and-red plaid vest – who escorts celebrities and other dignitaries around the Park so that they can get immediate access to all attractions.

Meals would also be included. We would pay nothing.

Our jaws dropped. In this, the third day of the new year, we’re getting some incredibly awesome news. This was bigger than getting my picture printed in the newspaper. Big, I tells ya.

Ann confirmed that we would go then asked about parking.

We would park in the valet of the Disneyland Hotel and charge it to Colleen’s room. Well, okay then…

Ann called Colleen ahead of our arrival so that she could meet us at the hotel. By the time the car was taken by the valet attendant, she was waiting for us.  She said that her family was still eating breakfast and asked if we could wait which is exactly what we did. Once finished, we met them outside the hotel and wandered over to Disneyland.

It was a horrible trip: maybe a quarter-mile walk through Downtown Disney. The Monorail, adjacent to the hotel, could have taken us but it was down for temporary maintenance. I wasn’t complaining.

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Why Grumpy Is Grumpy

In accordance with Ann’s Mother’s Day wishes, we spent a good portion of the day at Disneyland today. We all had a good time.

I also found this…interesting souvenir in the gift shop. It’s a Grumpy antenna topper (although I say “holder” in the video), but check out the clip to see why it’s so…uncomfortable?

Ouch. And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there 🙂

Disneyland Shooting Gallery Goes Nuts

We got to Disneyland at 8 a.m. on Sunday so we could enjoy what we thought would be a relatively “quiet” day in the Park.

And for the most part, it was. Hey, I got to sit in the front seat on Splash Mountain and there was no line, either. In fact, while walking through Frontierland I decided I’d stop to take a picture of the shooting gallery. I figured that since there was not one person playing the game and it’s usually pretty crowded otherwise, this would be the perfect opportunity to get the shot.

So I stood there, took aim and pressed the shutter. And that’s when it happened.

At the firing of the flash, every animated object every sound was triggered. Every owl animal was howling, every horn on every bull’s skull was a-spinning. Thinking it was rather comical, I grabbed my other camera* and shot this clip:

The whole thing reminded me of episode of The Simpsons when the family goes to Itchy and Scratchy Land and the robots go crazy with the camera flashes. Now, I could have stood there and throughly entertained myself for hours on end but hey, The Kid wanted to go see Jack Skellington’s Haunted Mansion Holiday and I can’t blame him for that.

A few passersby were also getting laugh out of it so I wasn’t the only one being entertained by the shenanigans.

So the next time you go to Disneyland/Disney World, give it a try. Just, you know, make sure there are no Disney Cops around when you do.

* A rare occasion. We usually only take one camera.

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Achievement Unlocked: 30G Awesomeness

The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and our Sunday officially began. One after another, we took showers and readied ourselves for our busy schedule. By 7 a.m. we were out the door and drove that familiar 12-mile stretch down the one single road from home that leads us to our usual Sunday destination.

Were we on our way to church? Pfft. Don’t be silly; you guys should know me better than that.

No, today was a Disneyland Sunday. Duh.

So we got there early enough to park only a few spaces from the tram, got in at 8 a.m., split a cinnamon roll on Main Street for breakfast, and then made our way to our usual attractions.

After the usual Jungle Cruise and Haunted Mansion stops, we headed to Pirates of the Caribbean which is another one of the family’s favorites.

And that’s where I finally achieved personal photographic awesomeness.

You see, for years and with various cameras of both the digital and film variety, I’ve been trying to get a shot of that damned skeleton at the helm of a ship inside the ride. You know, the one in the middle of a “rainstorm” with the “thunder” and “lightning”? Yeah, that one.

But I didn’t want to use a flash for fear of looking like a dickish tourist blowing the illusion of the ride nor did I want to cheat and take multiple shots. This had to be a one-shot deal in which he was only illuminated by the strobe light.

And after umpteen years, I finally got my shot. Check it out:

Click to embiggen

It’s in focus, it’s illuminated only by the strobe, and it’s my new desktop wallpaper. Sorry about the watermarks but hey, I’m damn proud of this and want some credit if peeps rip it off. Meh, I still have the hi-res version saved locally so I really shouldn’t care too much. But either way, I. Effing. RULE.

Ahem. Anyway, a good time was had by all and by the time we got to California Adventure, we handed the DSLR over to The Kid (as per his request) and let him take some shots:

Click to see Flickr set

Click the image to see the entire set

With the way he loves his music, we always thought he’d be more inclined to play an instrument when he got older. But after seeing how much he loved shooting today and how serious he was, I think we need to reconsider. Just check out the phone-cam images of him within the set and you’ll see what I mean.

Oh, and we finally got to ride Toy Story Mania after all this time and it was incredibly fun but not worth waiting over an hour as is usually the case. But we only waited 5 minutes because I guess it helps when your brother is working the ride. Shhh.

Enjoy the pictures, and I hope you had a great weekend. It’s back to biking to work tomorrow now that my arm no longer feels like a rabid gorilla slugged me as a result of the tetanus shot I got last weekend.

But hey, the good thing is now I can step on all the rusty nails I want for the next 10 years 🙂

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