What scares you

I was standing around Ben's schoolyard the other morning talking with the first graders while waiting for the morning bell to ring, and one of them announced to me that they were afraid of squirrels (first graders are really cute with what will just pop out of their mouths) (She had been bitten by a squirrel a few weeks before apparently, so I can get behind that)

So I started asking the kids what they were all scared of -- I have a very mild fear of heights (more like I get dizzy), and Ben said "Ghost Galaxy!" (I think we'll come back to that), one little boy said people dressed as zombies, and another said spiders, but the one that tugged at my heart was the precious little girl who declared it was "Jesus"

I blinked rapidly.

"Um, honey, why are you scared of Jesus, he's supposed to be very nice and said everyone should be friendly to everyone else."

"Yes, but he's part of God, and God is very very very big, and we're like ants to him."


ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE: RECORDED ATTACKS: Another thing that scares me is the notion that book publishers are going to come into comics not having the slightest idea of what they're doing. This was proven to me with this volume from Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House.

I really really really liked Max Brook's WORLD WAR Z -- more for its scope of history and world building and just plain thinking about the impact of the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse on the whole of the world than about the zombies themselves; heck, I like it so much I even bought the audiobook version (truncated as it is, it has some excellent performances -- Alan Alda FTW!), so I'm pretty hip to the idea of a GN extension of that world. The premise is to show various Zombie attacks, all before modern times, and how other cultures and historical periods would have dealt with them (I'm iffy on the Caveman one, just from a Reasoning POV, but the rest are clever)

However, take a look at that cover. Here's a copy of it.

Notice anything odd about that?

Think about it a moment.

For the slow among you: Max Brooks is "just" a writer (at least as far as I know) -- and he certainly didn't draw the book. YET THE ARTIST'S NAME IS NO WHERE TO BE FOUND ON THE FRONT COVER (or spine, for that matter)

There's a little small line on the BACK cover about how the book is "illustrated by" Ibraim Roberson, but it's all just an afterthought in the marketing copy. Even in the indicia page (or whatever they call that page in proper books) Roberson's name is in a smaller type size than the ISBN number.

The weird thing to me is that this was apparently changed at some point in the production process -- here's the Random House website with the cover as it was solicited -- and Roberson's name is right there on the front cover where it should be. Some Marketing (probably) person made a conscious decision to remove Roberson's name from the book.

Here's the thing: in comics, there's no such thing as "illustrated by" -- the artist (or artistS, since penciller, inker, and colorist are all common components) is either an equal, or, in some cases, greater-than participant in the creative process as the writer. Especially in a book like this which has lots and lots and lots of silent sequences.

For all I know Max Brook's script is very very detailed, dictating "camera position" and exact details and everything so that "any" artist could have done exactly the same work... but from what I know about comics production, that seems pretty darn unlikely to me. In fact, in a lot of ways, the text seems a bit divorced from the sequential story-telling, almost as if Brooks just wrote some (very) short prose chapters and left it at that. I don't know.

But I do know that "comics" is "Words AND Pictures working together", and to not credit the artist on the front cover or spine is, in my opinion, horrifically disrespectful, and utterly screwed up.

The book itself is a low GOOD, being mostly vignettes that don't add together, and being, let's be charitible, outrageously expensive at $17 for a black & white paperback, which should be selling 10s of thousands of units based on the Author's cachet.


So far for three years running, Ben and I take an annual "father and son" trip; and, so far, each year we head down to Disneyland. Ben's an October baby, so we're always there for the Halloween decorations at Disneyland, especially the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay on The Haunted Mansion (which is 99 flavors of awesome, I got to tell you).

This year Ben was (finally!) tall enough to ride the Indiana Jones ride, and he DUG IT -- we went on it three times before the lines got too long to make it "worth it"

We go midweek on a week with no holidays or anything, hoping for the least lines possible, but this year it was absolutely packed. I'm thinking the "get in free on your birthday" promotion is REALLY working, because I saw a TON of people wearing "It's my birthday" pins. Also, there's a marked rush at about 3 PM, making me think a lot of locals have annual passes, and come by after school for a ride or three.

We did little this year that we didn't do other years -- I still can't get Ben to consent to the Twilight Zone ride, though we did get on Soaring Over California as our last ride of the day. Very impressive, but way not worth the hour in line that it ended up being (it was 25 minutes we we got in line, but I guess they had an army of "Fast Pass" people show up, because it took 65 minutes total)

Other than that was a new overlay on Space Mountain, called "Ghost Galaxy".

I had the vague thought that maybe they'd just replace the streaking lights with ghost shaped lights or something. Maybe change the sound track a bit.

You couldn't tell what it might be from the outside of the ride, since they couldn't be bothered to change the entry whatsoever -- and, seriously, walking through that 1970s edifice to futurism is about as unghostly as one might get. There WAS a sign or two that said "small children might find this frightening", but hell, Indy says THAT, and Ben was grinning and cackling through Indy.

Not on Ghost Galaxy. He was as white as a sheet at the end, and said, in a very quiet voice, "I never want to go on that again as long as I live, Daddy"

Dig that he LOVED Space Mountain last year, AND as a four year old too.

Ghost Galaxy basically just projects "gory" spirits up on the walls -- there's no blood, per se, but they're colored blood red. As an adult, it's utterly laughable, but it freaked the fuck out of Ben. It also sort of ruined the ride. Space Mountain is awesome because the ... well, I don't know what to call the moving lights... the hyperspeed effect, maybe?... really helped with the smoothness and the movement of the roller coaster part. Randomly projecting big square "ghost" portraits completely screwed up the effect. That's a ride I'll never ride again myself. AWFUL.


BLACKEST NIGHT BATMAN 1-3, and SUPERMAN #1-3: To me, the biggest sin of a crossover tie-in is to be "red skies". That is, where basically nothing really happens, except to take money from your pocket. And I kind of feel that BN crossovers are doing pretty much that -- zombies show up, get fended off, the end.

BATMAN was especially that -- there's nothing in there that "moved the needle" much, while SUPERMAN at least put up an "anti Zombie field" around "New Krypton" (that will also repel anyone else), which, I'm thinking, is going to explain why SUPERMAN: WORLD OF NEW KRYPTON is only a 12 issue mini-series. Of course, that will make WoNK a less satisfying read, perhaps, with "See something else!" as it's big conclusion.

Overall, neither was any better than OK.


The pounding in my head is starting again from all the drilling outside. Maybe THAT's what I really fear: street construction (And the loss of business from it)

What did YOU think?


Oh Disneyland, my Disneyland

It's a field trip report for those of you who care about such things... find it under the jump... (with some cute pics, as well!)

It was just Ben's birthday, and is my wont, I took him for a trip. Theoretically, these are "father/son" trips, but this year Ben wanted Mama to come along as well, and since it's HIS birthday, we went along with his plan.

Like last year, we headed south for Disneyland (but I'm not set on this being a Disney trip every year... taking ideas for next year already, folks!), but because Mama was with us, we made it a little more of a production number than last year.

Last year it was a "day trip" -- we went in the night before, went straight to bed at a motel, then spent the whole day at the park. THIS year, we left butt-early on Sunday, and came back on the last flight on Monday night, giving us two full park days.

Also, because Mama was with us, we decided to not stay in the cheap motel across the street (I liked the Park Vue Inn... it is a clean place to sleep, about 1/3 of the price, AND it is actually physically closer to the front door of the park), and instead stayed at the Disneyland hotel. The only real advantage there is that the Disneyland hotel has a MUCH nicer pool, with a huge model of Captain Hook's pirate ship, and some water slides (which, uh, Ben can't actually use because he doesn't KNOW how to swim [yet], and we can't slide down in tandem). We made a point of getting in an hour or two at the pool because of that... but it really isn't worth the triple price by itself.

I've noted Ben's affection for Ariel from THE LITTLE MERMAID, which, can I say, it sorta surprises me that she doesn't have a bigger Disneyland presence, as she appeals to both boys AND girls, and she basically single-handedly saved Disney animation in the 1980s...

But she's got a little statue by the (heated!) little kid's pool, so here's the first of the cutie-pie pics....

From CE

(let's hope that worked... thanks to Jeff Lester for putting the pic up and giving me the HTML...)

Anyway, we started the first day at the California Adventure park, the newer of the two parks on the complex. We did this because, mostly, we'd never been there before (either together, or singly). It's alright, and it looks and feels a lot more like a "traditional" amusement park -- it sure felt to me that there were longer walks between rides, and it doesn't have that super-compact feeling that, say, Fantasyland has.

We started the morning by beelining to the... well, I don't remember the proper name, it's something like "Grizzly Mountain White-water rafting", and it's your basic water-coaster, except that it spins a bit, like a whitewater raft. It's fun, but we probably should have done the "Flying over California" ride first thing, because by the time we got back there at the end of our day, the line was WAY too long to wait through. Oh well.

We went over to the pier area, and no one was willing to go on the Sky Wheel with me (chickens!), not even with the non-moving cars. Bah. We did some sort of rise-and-drop ride, which Ben liked, but I was bored with, and Ben couldn't go on the big coaster (height reasons), so we opted for standing in line for the "hot new ride", Toy Story 4-D. That took nearly an hour (ugh!), but it was nearly worth it, as it is a really clever updating of the Buzz Lightyear Astro-Blasters in dland proper. With a 15 minute wait, we'd have done it several times, it was that cool, but the line was really hellish.

Then Ben wanted to go on the Merry-Go-Round, so we did that (it was King Triton themed, about as close to Ariel as we could get), and the ride operator decided, unprompted, that Ben should be "Prince Ben", and he got a little crown and was announced to all of the other kids on the ride. That was nice for the boy, though I noticed when he repeated the ride (no line for a carousel!) that the operator wasn't naming a prince or princess on each go round, so not sure what the thinking was there. Still, nice surprise!

By then we're hot and tired, so its food time. Ugh, this is the real difference in staying two days -- you're basically eating three meals a day on dland property, and they are EXPENSIVE. Yikes, brutally so...!

(I thought Tzipora's burrito was horrific, but my Chinese Chicken Salad was pretty decent)

We then wandered over to the "Bug's Life" area (so much space devoted to such a minor movie!), which is okay-ish, but is really aimed at teeny kids. Ben will be too old for that next year, but this year he was fine with the gentle rides, and the joke of a bumper cars, and especially the "sprinkler park" (which purported to teach you about how irrigation worked in large scale farming, but was mostly an excuse for kids to get SOAKED). It was a hot enough day that by the time we walked to the next section, Ben was mostly dry.

I quite liked the "Hollywood" area, which has this GIANT illusion of a summer day, and a street receding into infinity down it. Must be 60 feet high, and Ben and I talked about how they do that kind of visual trickery for film, so it was almost even educational. Had we more time, I kind of wanted to go into more of the exhibits in the Hollywood area (how animation is done, that kind of thing), but the day was quickly creeping closed, so we limited ourselves to the Monsters Inc ride (a classic "Dark ride", which like all of them, doesn't make a ton of sense if you haven't seen the movie) (Ben hadn't... but wants to now), and the Muppets 3-D thing which is AWESOME. Seriously, that one alone is worth the price of California Adventure admission, and if we had more time, I would have gone through it a few more times. It was both hysterically and injokey, but it also had some of the best 3-D I've ever seen anywhere, as well as environmental things happening in the theater. Great great stuff.

I wanted to do the Twilight Zone "Tower of Terror", but neither Tzipora or Ben did, and I got outvoted, so we headed back to the hotel for some swimtime. Overall, the Hollywood area was the only part of the CA park that I actually *liked*. the rest was fun, but not stellar.

After swimming for a while, the family was bushed. We ordered in some room service (ugh, expensive!), and Tzipora and Ben crashed, hard.

I was still awake enough (it was barely 9!), and Disneyland was open until midnight, so I left them sleeping and went on the prowl with myself. It's fun walking around by yourself in a park at night with your iPod giving you your own soundtrack, I have to say!

I tried to hop back over to CA, to do the TZ thing, but that park closes at 9. Um, OK. Dland it is, then!

Since I knew he was too small for it (4 more inches to go!) I made for the Indiana Jones ride. The first pass through was about a 30 minute wait, but after that a staffer said to me that the ride had a "single rider" option, and I could skip the line if I wanted to do it again. Which I did. Three more times.

Here's a good place to note this: most of the rides (in both parks) SUCK for three people. Why? Because most of the time most rides only seat two across, which meant one of us rode with Ben, while the other was stuck alone. And, OF COURSE, Ben wanted to do most of the rides with D-A-D-D-Y, leaving Tzipora as the third wheel. Not fun for her.

(Indy seats 4 across, which is why they can do single rider to fill in the holes)

So: go to Disneyland in multiples of two if you want to have the best time, is the lesson!

(And, ask for "single rider" on Indy, instead of standing in the line the first time!)

I also did the Haunted Mansion solo (twice), since I just love the Nightmare Before Xmas decorations this time of year.

I missed the fireworks, though, because I was waiting for Indy...

Anyway, we get up early on Monday to pack as much in as we can. Monday was the first time I'd ever personally experienced the Santa Ana winds. HOLY COW. Now I understand how those SoCal wildfires happen. Especially standing at the monorail station in "downtown Disney", it was like being inside of a shotgun, the wind was blowing so hard!

Once in Disneyland itself, it wasn't too bad, but man that monorail station was a rare form of torture!

Last year we went mid-week, and the lines were all pretty small -- except for last year's "hot new ride" (The Finding Nemo Submarine ride), which was at least an hour, and we skipped) -- nothing took more than, say, 15-20 minutes. THIS year we went during Columbus Day, so lines were AT LEAST twice as long. Another lesson learned! We did about 20-25 rides in '07, but this year I think we made a dozen?

Knowing my boy's taste, we stuck mostly to the Jungleland/New Orleans Square area in the morning -- Haunted Mansion (twice!), Pirates of the Caribbean (this is where Tzipora started to say "Wow, this is amazing!"), then Ben and I climbed around the Tarzan treehouse while Tzipora used the Single Rider trick to do Indy. (She was GLOWING after that one!)

Tzipora still wasn't done with indy when we were ready, so I talked the staff into letting me and Ben "do the line" for Indy. The line area is at least as cool as the ride itself, going through an "archeological dig", with runes on the walls, and spike traps and stuff, and even Indy's office in the back, where the normal line doesn't actually go (that's where singles and Handicaps line up). Technically, they were breaking the rules, but we got a personal tour of the Dig, and Ben was happier than a pig in shit, even without being able to do the RIDE. We got through it at about the same time as Tzipora did the ride, so we exited as a family which was nice.

It was hot then, and definitely Sit-Down time, so we did a no-line "Jungle Cruise" (Which Ben adored more than I would have imagined), and also did the Enchanted Tiki Room. It's easy to dismiss those kinds of rides as an adult, but 5 year olds really do seem to love them, plus they rested and refreshed us.

Off to Tomorrowland, where we did Star Tours, and Buzz Lightyear (twice!), and Space Mountain (Tzipora vows she'll NEVER do a coaster again, but Ben loves the mountain just like his Daddy, yes!). If the lines hadn't been so long, all day long, I probably would have tried to do Honey I Shrunk the Audience and the World of Tomorrow, but we were beginning to run short on time.

Tzipora, for some reason, was dead-set on doing Nemo, so I let her and Ben do that while I took a little chill-out time for myself, hurray. They said it was worth the 45 minute line, but I doubt that, myself.

Then it was the big one: Jedi Academy.

This is an outdoors, in-the-round kind of show, where a "Jedi Master" picked 10 or so kids to be "Padawans", and taught them how to use a lightsaber. They do this maybe 5 times a day, so only about 50 kids a day get to participate, out of the 10k+ that go through the park. Last year, I steered around it, but this year Ben was eager to try.

What's cool is that the floor opens up and Darth Vader (and sometimes Darth Maul?) comes out, and "fights" the kids.

Long story short, Ben was lucky enough to be one of the kids picked (it prolly helps that he looks like a young Luke Skywalker... and that his dad was standing behind him waving HIS hands as well!)

Let me tell you, as an American male who was 9 years old when STAR WARS was released (and I saw it 2 weeks-ish pre-release, too, with the print we watched having the Biggs-on-Tatoonie scenes), there was nothing NOTHING that's given me as much as a thrill since seeing Ben BORN, as watching him fight Darth Vader! Yah, boyeeee!

Now you can thrill as well...:

From CE

Our day was approaching done, but we had time for ONE more ride, and we picked a (probably THE) classic Fantasyland ride: Peter Pan. I wanted Tzipora to see a "classic" Dark Ride, and I think we picked well.

Then it was time to start heading back (already?!?!), with us still not making it back to Toon Town for the second year in a row.

FOR SURE *if* we go back again it will be midweek (I'll pull him out of school, if I need to) for the smaller lines mean being able to do a WHOLE lot more rides.

I'd say we had a great time -- Ben certainly did, which is the important thing, and he got to be a Prince, speak to Jack Sparrow, and fight Darth Vader, which was more than was on his agenda in the first place.

Bringing your wife, staying on dland property, staying for two park days, all of that QUADRUPLED expenses from last year, but I have no problem working a little harder to give the little guy that much fun. Next time (IF), we definitely go back to doing it CHEAPLY, however.

That was my trip, and I hope you enjoyed reading about it.


(oh, and Virgin airlines? Very nice carrier. I'd take them again anytime, for sure)

The Happy Place

I was a little surprised how much I enjoyed Disneyland, actually. It probably was seeing it through the four year old's eyes, of course. A bitter old man like me? I'm generally cynical about those kinds of affairs, but Ben just was full of joy and wonder of the whole thing, that all of that cynicism kind of washes off.

We went down on Wednesday night, catching the "last flight in" -- well, from Oakland to John Wayne, at least. I think I've decided to never EVER catch a flight from SFO again, if there's an equivalent flight from Oakland, because Oakland is such a teeny little airport. We get to Oakland, via public transportation (of which the only kind of feh part is transferring to AirBart at the coliseum station -- pretty scummy at nighttime there), and we're outnumbered by attendants at the ticketing counter like 10 to one. This is VERY different from SFO, where there would be at least a 20 minute wait to get through the ticketing phase. Security? NO line. AT ALL. What joy, what bliss! And the plane is maybe half full, so we have the entire row to ourselves. Man, I'm a dumbass for EVER flying from SFO.

An hour later we're in Orange County at John Wayne, so we hop a cab (and to the guy who asked -- nope, I have no idea how to drive. Well, I have "an idea", but I don't do it. The last time I tried, I crashed the Capital City van into a parked car, and took that as a Sign) I tell the cabbie -- "Park Vue motel, please; they're at 1570 South Harbor, directly accross the street from the main gates of Disneyland." The driver replies, "OK. How do I get there?"


Maybe it is me, but you'd think a cab stationed at the OC airport would know where freakin' DISNEYLAND is. And maybe it is also me, but aren't most people hopping a cab from the airport people who don't drive, and, so, probably don't have a clear idea of the best routes from one place to another? He calls dispatch, and we get there, all good.

Roll into the Park Vue (not that one can actually "vue" anything other than the GATE of the park, but OK) about 10:30, check in -- it is neat and clean and fairly quiet (at least in the back where I asked to be put), and pretty much exactly what one wants from a travel motel. Especially at 1/3 of the price of the Disney Resorts. This works especially well for us because we're literally only there to sleep. Park opens at 10, check-out time is 11, so it's not like we're coming back after our 8 hours of sleep. Within half-an-hour, we both crash, but I let Ben have like 10 minutes of TV. I like the fact that when I turn on the TV, it's the Disney cable station, and not a hotel channel like you'd get at one of the national chains.

Wake up around 8 (that's way LATE for Ben, he was tired, but under his normal # of hours of sleep, since we went to bed so late [for him, WAY early for me] -- so I'm concerned how his energy level is going to be for the day), take a quick shower, then go check out, and go to IHOP for breakfast (literally next door to the Park Vue, literally across the street from Dland). I haven't eaten in an IHOP in like 20 years, but I'm STUNNED by the terrible quality of the food -- how do you make pancakes taste so awful? Are they frozen? Pancakes take SECONDS to cook, so I don't really get it, if so. I eat less than half of my breakfast, Ben eats all of the whipped cream and chocolate chips from his "funny face", and maybe two bites max of the food. Jinkies, no sleep AND no food, got to watch the kid careful all day.

There was no real indication in Anaheim that SoCal was on fire -- no wiff of smoke in the air, which I expected, just a hazy day. Actually, it was kind of cool, when we saw the morning sun it was a blood red sun, totally spectacular looking.

We buy the tickets to the park from the front desk as we check out, costing me, I think, and extra $2 per?, but I was there already, and had no idea what the line to buy would be at the park (5 minutes later I saw that I was stupid about it, there WAS no line, but you live, you learn), and what the hell?

We're on Disneyland property at 9:30, so not much for it but to get in line for the park itself. There looks to be a couple hundred people in the ten or so entry lines for Dland. Many MANY of them are adults-without-kids, which surprises me a little, I guess -- you'd think that the Hardcore Adult Disney people would have the kinds of passes that get them in for the "Early Entry" at 9, and while a lot of people are flowing through that gate there are still lots of adults around us standing in the Dilettante's line, who are covered head to toe in DisneyStuf, great gobs of it personalized, so I dunno how it all works.

Main gates shock me by opening at 9:45, but then I see they lead us into Main St., so we can stroll around there. This is fine, there's lots of stuff to see on the way there and Ben's all excited. Once you're on Main st, they cordon off the sidewalks for the "early entry" people, which is sorta despicable really. See, you're on the 1950's style-main street, with all of these cool little shops, and enticing window displays, and all of this, but you can't even get close enough to them to get a good look. Our spot in the crowd/line brought us in front of a candy-store, and they were making candy in the window, and Ben really wanted to see better, but the Early Entry Police swept in with "please don't get on the sidewalk". They were, Disney-style, very NICE about it, but it seems really awful to me to put children in a holding pen filled with enticing objects, then tell them they can't go near them!

Anyway, a minute or two before the speakers kick in with a recorded "welcome to Disneyland!" spiel, which just seems so unnecessary to me, this is DISNEYLAND after all, but there, I'm being cynical Adult. And there's a tiny countdown, and the bells strike, and Disneyland is open, and people start running (haha! Especially after they JUST told you not to) for rides, and Ben and I start off by trying to find exactly where the Haunted Mansion is, because the road to New Orleans Square isn't specifically marked, and I find a lot of the subtler details of the official map to be actually pretty confusing because the scale is so small. I really do think that some more general signage about which which part is which way would be a decent idea, at least at the front of the park.

Anyway, so yeah Haunted Mansion. Ben, as I have told you many times before, has interests that tend to run as obsessions -- first it was garbage and garbage trucks, then it became Mummies, and currently it is Halloween in general (with a sidebar of Pirates). He's going to be hating life come Novemeber 1st, poor kid. So all he has been talking about for weeks is the Haunted Mansion, and how that is what he wants to do.

We get there, and BEAUTY, there's literally no one there, we stroll right up into the front door, and the attendant is even able to banter individually with Ben a bit while he waits for enough people to start it, and he does it in this great Late Night TV Host kind of shtick, with puns and stuff, so there's a great start and all of my adult cynicism starts to wander away. The Haunted Mansion, during Halloween, is all decked out as Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, and holy freakin' cow is it an awesome little spectacle, full of life and wit and verve, and there's even the Danny Elfman soundtrack to go along with it, so it's a zipper of imagery and madness, hoorah.

We go out the exit, and Ben's eyes are like saucers, and he has this wide grin on his face and he exults "Daddy, let's do it again!!". No problem, boss, that was fun, and there ain't no lines, let's go!

We come out the second time, and again "Daddy, let's do it again!!". This becomes the common refrain for the day! I punt this time, explaining there are LOTS of rides here, so let's go do Pirates. "OK!"

Virtually no line at Pirates (under 3 minutes), and Ben gets another set of thrills. I watch Pirates and I'm somewhat amazed that this is in a DISNEY park, and is meant as a ride for Children. Murder! Pillage! Arson! Drunkenness! And the crowd goes wild! Well, Ben does at least: "Daddy, let's do it again!!" So we do, and he loves it as much the second time.

Then Ben wants to do the Haunted Mansion a THIRD time. Well hell, why not?

Its starting to get late enough (Park's been open an hour or so) that I say to Ben we should go try something else, maybe Winnie the Pooh or Splash Mountain, and someone passing by says they've just come from Splash Mountain, and they kicked everyone out of line and said it would be an hour before it reopened. Well, let's go to Pooh anyway -- it's time, I reason, for something a little slower/more innocent for the boy.

Now we hit our first line of the day -- all of 10 minutes or so long, but a line nonetheless. I start the many of "we're in line, eat some food!" exercises, and he nibbles on carrots and pretzels. Get on Winnie, and its, geez, 3 minutes long maybe? I also really see here the limitations of the "Dark Rides", and that it is actually difficult to create a coherent narrative in that kind of presentation. Scene just cuts from scene to scene, but there's nothing pushing the narrative besides the movement of your vehicle. Ben is disappointed in Pooh as well. "That's too short, and there wasn't any spooky stuff!" I would have thought the hallucinatory Hefalump scene would be pretty close, but what do I know? First ride he DOESN'T want to go on again. Actively so.

Pooh is across the street from Splash Mountain, and it sure looks open, and the line is basically nothing at all, so I ask the boy if he's ready for his first roller coaster? It might be scary, y'know, it goes really fast and there's big scary drops. "I won't be scared, Daddy!" he says, fixing me with a look that says What Kind of A Child Do You Think I am?

I'm worried because Ben just had his annual checkup, and his official height was 39.5", and most of the Rollers have a 40" minimum. But, ha ha, the soles of his sandals pull him just over the min. He gets called out of line at every ride with a min to be checked, of course, but he's good to go.

Ben LOVED Splash Mountain -- it fact, I was a super-softy and decided to splurge the nearly $20 for the 8x11 glossy of the picture of the drop because the look on Ben's face was this one of absolute joy and rapture that only a four-year old can have, and it certainly wasn't something I could ever capture on film while I was riding with him.

Here's how I know Ben had an excellent time: Sometime around now, he looked at me very solemnly and said, "Daddy, when are we going to go to Disneyland?" Uh, what, Ben? We're AT Disneyland. "No, I mean, when are we going to go AGAIN?!?"

He wants to ride Splash Mountain again, but at this point the lines look like 20-30 minutes to me, so I said lets go to the Pirate Island. "Cool!". Well, it used to be Tom Sawyer's island, but now it is pirates. Generic ones, too, not branded ones, so even better. Stuff for him to run around and explore things and play a bit, after standing in line and sitting and riding. I had thought this would be a lame idea, but its perfect for a 3-10 year old really, and we spent 45 minutes there, and I pretty much had to drag him back to the rides, he could have stayed another hour. Were we at the park for more than 1 day, I would have indulged him. One bummer: there was supposed to be a meeting with the pirate Captain to say a pirate oath and join his band and get some treasure, but the Captain was on his lunch break, and it would have been another hour.

By now its getting hot, and Ben's looking tired. We find a water fountain, and sluice ourselves. Ben says, "Oh, my clothes are getting wet!" So? They'll dry, it's warm, and, besides, your head feels all refreshed now, right? "Yeah, Daddy!" (if we HAD been there for two days, this is the point I think we would have gone back to the hotel for a break of an hour or two. But we had a plane to catch in 6 hours, and no hotel room any longer, anyway, so we'll go on. Ben's looking fine now that he's cooled down, and he wants to do as much of it we can.

We head to Tomorrowland next, and hit Star Tours first. Its one of those motion simulator things, which I generally find to be limp, but Ben loved all of the Jerking and explosions. "Daddy, let's do it again!!", but I demurred this time.

Then we did the Buzz Lightyear ride, while is a simple Dark Ride, with the twist that you have laser guns and are shooting at targets along the wall, which is pretty darn awesome. You rack up a score, and at the end of the ride the picture of you in your car shooting and your score can be emailed to any email address. Very cool! "Daddy, let's do it again!!" OK! Ben improved his score by 40% on the second go round. I only managed 10% better!

Next up we did Space Mountain, which has been VERY upgraded since I last did it 30-something years ago. Wow, it is dizzying now! My memory sez it was like a black curtain with little pinpricks in it to simulate space back then, but now it was like actually flying through space. This was the longest line we waited in -- nearly 20 minutes, but it was totally worth it. "Daddy, let's do it again!!" Well, I wouldn't have because... 20 more minutes in line? but I didn't have to make the decision because JUST as our car pulled in at the end of our first run an announcement came out that they had to stop the ride for some reason, and everyone currently riding it should be patient, and it would start again soon. Wow, that's the LAST ride I'd want to have the illusion broken by stopping in the middle, and (maybe?) having to be walked off in the dark! As we left, I noticed that they were kicking everyone out of line who had already been waiting. Sucks!

We had some horrible overpriced pizza in Tomorrowland (Disney just RAKES in the cash in the park, it's kinda scary really), then moved on to Fantasyland. Ben was starting to get a little pooped, but he didn't want to rest -- he wanted ice cream! Hah, well, sure after we do the last patch of rides, so that kept his interest up.

Did the Matterhorn, which, sorry, is WAY scarier than any of the rest of the roller coasters there, since it seems so old (seriously, there's rust everywhere), and one gets the feeling that sooner or later a car IS going to jump the tracks. Knock wood against that though. Ben did want to do it again, however, but I passed in the interest of hitting more rides.

Did the Tea Cups, which he loved (what 4 year old doesn't love spinning), but he didn't ask for again; then the flying Dumbo ride which amused him (he wanted to stay in the "up" position, however), but didn't want to ride again. Then we did a sweep of the "dark rides", Pinocchio (horrifically dull), Peter Pan (pretty astonishingly good, actually -- did they upgrade this recently? they really hid the tracks well, and there was a strong sense of flying, even without swooping or anything), and Snow White's Scary Adventure, which we saw 7 year girls coming out of in tears, but Ben just laughed and laughed about and thought was cool. Little boys, eh?

We completely missed Mickey's Toon Town (no time)

We go for the Ice Cream on Main St, and split a Hot Fudge Sundae while sitting on the sidewalk, and the hour is growing late. I decide that, if we haul ass, we have exactly enough time for one last ride, and Ben opts for Star Tours. Alright, then, we scramble back to it, get a very minor line, but still make it through quickly, and I scoop Ben in my arms and start the jog back to the entrance. We've got a car scheduled for 6:20 (yeah, we had to go early enough to miss the parade and fireworks and stuff), and I make it back to the hotel at 6:22. Car's stuck in traffic, they pull up at 6:25, we're at the airport about 6:50. Again, no one there, breeze through ticketing.

At Security, I pass through fine, but Ben sets off the machine. Ha Ha! He had too many metal studs on his clothes. Still, they had to to the whole wand procedure with him, with his arms out. Ben thinks it is all funny funny. Then, they do the whole run with me, as well, since I'm his guardian. Ben thinks THIS is funny too, I am less amused.

Then we flew back home, and dreamed happy happy dreams, and promised to make this (or maybe just a trip just the two of us somewhere, not necessarily Dland) an annual Father & Son trip.