Friday, August 31, 2018

The Traveler's Report 7 - Salzburg

Part 7 of the Traveler's report, from Jamie:

"'The hills are alive with the sound of music.' Next stop took us to Salzburg, Austria where much of The Sound of Music was filmed and also happens to be the birth place of musical genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This is a much smaller of the locations we’ve visited but it’s not small on charm. After making the trek up to the fortress for an amazing view I headed down to St Peters Cathedral where I spent much of the afternoon."

The birthplace of Mozart. It’s hard to believe there is a grocery store underneath but people have to eat.

And I barely survived the climb to the top.

Inside St Peter’s Cathedral 

A view of the fortress from the monastery.

I had to act like a teenager for a minute and sign mine and Mitch’s name to the giant golden globe.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Small Town Discoveries: Ike Sewell, Pizzeria Uno, and Wills Point, Texas

Jamie and I got to talking the other night about foods that we loved and wanted to have again.  And Jamie brought up Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.

If you haven't had it, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza is a treat; a pizza with a deep, deep crust, creating a very thick pizza more resembling a pie than a flatbread.  A true pizza pie.  Because of the thickness and the cooking time (30-40 minutes), the toppings are often assembled backwards with crust, cheese, toppings, and then sauce on top.  When sausage is one of the toppings, it can often be present as a large single patty that covers the pizza, such that each bite has crust, cheese, sausage, and sauce.  It's a very filling, heavy meal, with often one slice per person being enough to satisfy hunger.

I know there is much debate regarding styles of pizza, but I'm not one who gets into pizza wars.  I'm not going to pick a side between New York-style and Chicago-style (or Detroit-style, etc. etc.).  I love all kinds of pizza and will gladly eat it in all its different forms.

My first trip to Chicago, I had one of the classic deep-dish pizzas at Giordano's, a Chicago mainstay.  This last trip to Chicago, Jamie and I tried Lou Malnati's.  And of the two, Lou Malnati's was a definite favorite.

While Jamie and I were discussing the pizza, I told her a little trivia fact that I knew about deep-dish pizza:  the first deep-dish  was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago with a Texan instrumental in its development.  Jamie wanted to know more, so I pulled up research on Pizzeria Uno.  Sure enough, deep-dish pizza was invented at Pizzeria Uno in Chicago in 1943, by Uno's founder Ike Sewell, though later claims suggest that the pizza chef Rudy Malnati (Lou's father) truly developed the recipe.  I then looked up Ike Sewell and discovered he was a graduate of the University of Texas and a football player from 1926 to 1929, who worked for American Airlines, but moved to Chicago in 1933.  Through this research I then stumbled on to a little factoid that amazed me.

Ike Sewell was born in Wills Point, Texas.

The godfather of deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza was born in Wills Point, Texas!!

Why do we not have a deep-dish pizza restaurant in town in his honor and why is this fact not publicized and celebrated? His birthday of September 9 should at least be celebrated in town with pizza.

Jamie was so excited she shared the information at school the next day.  I was just excited to learn of such a connection and wanted to share it here.

I've lived in Wills Point now almost ten years and am still discovering such interesting little bits of information.  And I'm sure each town has their own little interesting bits of history.  Like the connection Ginger Rogers had to Bessmay, Texas.

What interesting facts and connections about your town do you know?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

If I Were Disney CEO Part 19 - Shanghai Disneyland and the Shanghai Disneyland Resort

To all who come to this happy place, welcome!
Shanghai Disneyland is your land.

Here you leave today and discover imaginative worlds of fantasy, romance, and adventure that ignite the magical dreams within all of us.

Shanghai Disneyland is authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.  It was created for everyone, bringing to life timeless characters and stories in a magical place that will be a source of joy, inspiration and memories for generations to come.

Robert A. Iger
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company
Dedicated June 16, 2016


Shanghai Disneyland is the newest Disney resort.  Opened in June 16, 2016, it is the twelfth Disney theme park and one of the most interesting and unique versions of a castle park from initial build.  As indicated in the dedication plaque and speech above, the guiding principle for the park was and is "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese."  This translated into several unique features in the park like the Garden of Twelve Friends, dedicated to the Chinese Zodiac, a large garden between Mickey Avenue (replacing Main Street) and the castle, unique attractions, and a challenging ropes course.  Once full buildout is completed, it will have one of the oddest layouts of any castle park. This leads to new possibilities and new challenges in the park design.

Primary Goals:
  • Close the Gaps - Shanghai Disneyland has been built for crowds with massive walkways and large remaining expansion pads.  This is great for crowding, but currently means there are large, open vistas of land that make the park feel a little empty or underbuilt.  Additions need to be focused on creating a fuller feel to the park and then moving to some of the more crowded locations.
  • Stay Authentically Chinese - This should continue to be a guiding principle.  To focus on what is attractive to the Chinese audience.  This may lead to surprising results like not looking to build anything connected to Star Wars, as that has not ever really taken off as expected, but instead building Avatar or Burton's Alice in Wonderland, etc.
  • Try Out New Technology - Since the Chinese are not as tied to Disney nostalgia, the connection to certain ride types like the dark ride or omnimover is not there.  There is a desire for more cutting edge technology rides, so those should be a focus.  Again, Flights of Passage, Mission: Breakout, etc. would be desirable.
With these goals in mind, I'll walk through each land in the park and discuss the updates.  I'll be walking through the park clockwise from Mickey Avenue, to the Gardens of Imagination, through Tomorrowland, and on around to Adventure Isle.  This is generally the approach we take in visiting castle parks, so it makes the most sense to me to approach it this way in addressing the parks needs and changes.

Mickey Avenue:
One of the first noticeable changes is that instead of a very American Main Street, Shanghai Disneyland has Mickey Avenue, a Toon Town inspired entry.  Or at least half an entry.  From entry through the turnstiles to the beginning of the Gardens of Imagination hub, Mickey Avenue is nearly exactly half the distance of a traditional Main Street.  It's also an odd mix of buildings, with a train station entrance, with no train, and several different architectural styles combined to reflect the variety of films in the Disney library.  Beyond adding a couple of planters to the very wide entry way leading into the Gardens of Imagination, there is little that I could suggest to add.

Gardens of Imagination:
What would be the traditional back half of Main Street and the Hub is taken up by the large Gardens of Imagination in front of the castle.  This area includes the Carousel and Dumbo, in addition to the Garden of the Twelve Friends, with Disney characters representing the traditional Chinese Zodiac and a very traditional Teahouse of the Wandering Moon.

This area also includes character encounters and a viewing area for the castle shows.

There are so many open pockets in this section, but I would focus on one in particular for an addition.  A little triangle of land leading into Treasure Cove.  In this area, I would add a swings ride.  If the area is desirable for Treasure Cove, it could be a "wooden" swings fitting in the Pirates motif.  If not and the entry sign could be pushed back, this could be a traditional Victorian swing ride.  The vantage point would offer great views of the castle and the lake around Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle.

I would also push DisneyTown to connect more with this central hub.  This will be discussed more in the DisneyTown section, but could also involve dual purpose buildings, like a building with one end functioning as the "end" of DisneyTown (the part that does not require theme park admission), with the other side having a counter service window servicing guests in the park.  This would help build out the edge of the Gardens and incorporate the very visible DisneyTown into the park better.
Ideas for the much bigger central hub

Not only did Tomorrowland take the polar opposite location in the park, but with the Tron Lightcycle Power Run, it took on a completely new aesthetic. Instead of a skyline dominated by the traditional Space Mountain, Shanghai's Tomorrowland now has sweeping, curved neon as the central visual weenie.

I would focus on two proposed additions to this area.  First, in the current area where the Marvel tent exists and the empty plot across from it, I would install a Tron inspired Speedway/Raceway.  This would include a bridge going over the walkway that would serve as an entry portal to the land.  I feel this attraction is important for the visual appeal.  It would give a visually interesting entrance to the land, which could be particularly pleasing at night. The cars driving by the Jet Packs would also be a very appealing combination.  This is also desirable as the speedway could be easily replaced as the need arises.

Two proposed additions
I would further seek to add Mission: Breakout where the current Star Wars Launch Bay tent area is.  As stated before, Star Wars has yet to prove sufficiently appealing in China.  Marvel on the other hand has been very lucrative.  An assault the tower drop ride like Mission Breakout could complement the Tron coaster canopy and add a further visual draw to the back of the land.

Toy Story Land:
Toy Story Land is the most recent addition to the park, built after park opening.  And surprisingly, for a park that sought unique additions, this is a very copied land.

There is one prime expansion pad in the land, in which I would build Toy Story Mania.  Again, a heavy technology ride that could be updated with new ride variations, drawing people back to the park.

A Toy Story Land addition
Unlike other Fantasylands, this version is a very large and somewhat sparse Fantasyland, lacking many of the traditional anchors.  The only recognizable rides from other parks are an updated Peter Pan's Flight, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and perhaps most surprisingly the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

While there is potentially a lot of  expansion behind Fantasyland, I would focus on adding in places that would make the land feel more complete.  First, between the Frozen theater and the Tangled Tavern, I would add an entrance to a grand boat dark ride, potentially the Burton Alice film or perhaps one of the newer films if they hit, like the upcoming Nutcracker.  On the other side of the Tangled Tavern, I would add a Coco dark ride.  Coco was a big hit in China and has beautiful vistas that would be great for a ride.  Perhaps this could be paired with a redo of the Mexico pavilion.
Fantasyland additions
Across from the Tangled Tavern, there is a little outgrowth, where I would add a Chinese dragon caterpillar ride.  A small form attraction with a low height that will not block the view of the Voyage of the Crystal Cove.

There is one expansion pad that I would access, the section behind Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  This section had already been designed for a clone of Expedition Everest.  This would be a perfect addition for the Chinese park, tapping into a Chinese location and the mythology around it.  A great location for a roller coaster on the opposite side of the park from Tron, this area could be built out with a base camp restaurant on the large picnic ground plot neighboring Treasure Cove.  I would further build this section out with a Himalayan themed Haunted Mansion, continuing the tradition of moving the location of Haunted Mansion in every park.

Expansion pad with Treasure Cove small additions

Treasure Cove:
Treasure Cove is one of the lands that was truly nearly fully realized at the parks opening.  Shanghai split Adventureland in two with a land dedicated to pirates in Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle for the rest.  Treasure Cove has the most technologically advanced version of the Pirates of the Caribbean, a wonderful stage stunt show, and great places to explore.  

The only thing I would add is a market/gallery on the backside of the proposed base camp restaurant, with a shooting gallery for a little additional interactive component to the land.

Current rumors place an addition for Pandora: The World of Avatar behind Adventure Isle.  This makes sense as Avatar was a very high grossing film in China and Flights of Passage in particular represents one of the most cutting edge rides that Disney has built.

The blog with the news believes it would go into the hotel expansion pad truly behind it.  I think the land would more readily be added in between Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle.  Particularly as the Tarzan show that is currently blocking the space behind would seem to be most assuredly "temporary" in Disney terms.  The land is there, it would just likely require a little landfill and relocation of one backstage building, but this could be a very desirable location with easier access than the other pads.
Pandora possibility
Adventure Isle:
Adventure Isle is another land that is nearly completely built out.  A exciting rapids ride with giant animatronic.  A challenging ropes course.  And perhaps the most attended attraction in the park with Soarin.  There is not much need to add to this section.

Seasonal Overlays:
Like Hong Kong, I would not focus on seasonal overlays with the park, focusing more on opportunities to create multiple variations like Star Tours or Mission: Breakout.  This would seem to be a better investment in the park.

Parades and Nighttime Spectaculars:
Currently Shanghai Disneyland has no parade, neither daytime nor nighttime.  These would be great quicker additions.  In particular, a distinct night time parade (i.e. not Paint the Night).   In particular, a lighted Chinese dragon would seem to be a no-brainer for a "electric" light parade.

Shanghai has a current nighttime spectacular in Ignite the Dream.  This will continue to serve the park well for years to come.  

Magical Guardian and Cartoon Mascot:
For the magical guardian of this park, I would select Mushu from Mulan.  A Chinese dragon for an authentically Chinese park.  The time progression of Disney magical assistants has also been met.

For the cartoon mascot, I would choose Pluto.  This would complete the Fab Five/Six selection for the castle parks.

DisneyTown represents Shanghai Disneyland's separate shopping and dining district like Downtown Disney or Disney Springs, but with a twist.  DisneyTown essentially runs parallel to Mickey Avenue with its own entrance into the park for Shanghai Disneyland Hotel guests.

This creates a couple of unique challenges.  Essentially, this landlocks DisneyTown and preventing much if any expansion.  As discussed with the Gardens of Imagination section, I do believe you can push DisneyTown a little further beyond its current location, adding a handful of additional buildings.  This would allow for additional space in DisneyTown as well as allowing the "hub" of Gardens of Imagination to be build out further, potentially with things like counter service windows.

I think this would be desirable, as DisneyTown is fairly full.
Shanghai Disneyland currently has two resorts, the signature Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel.  Interestingly, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel went for an Art Nouveau design opposed to the traditional Victorian Hotel del Coronado look.

There are at least four expansion pads for additional hotels.  One each on other side of the current Shanghai Disneyland Hotel location, one behind the Toy Story Hotel, and one at the gate of the resort, across from DisneyTown.

I would start with the location right at the gate.  Here I would place a distinctly Chinese hotel, using the Disney Grand brand.  The Disney Grand Mandarin Hotel.  This would seem to be the most desirable location.
Resort expansion possibilities
I would then focus on the two pads on each side of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, here adding an ultra-modern hotel and an adventure themed hotel.  I would leave the last pad behind the Toy Story Hotel for long term development.

Second Park and Beyond:
There is room for at least two additional theme parks, which have been identified in early planning documents.  There is one pad directly adjacent to the current park with another on the other side of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. Rumor has placed the second park as an EPCOT style park and the third as an Animal Kingdom style.  I think it is far too early to discuss additional parks here.  I would focus on building out the first park and the infrastructure instead.

There is a lot of additional land particularly around Wishing Star park and lake for other options, like concert venues.  I would look to build out this land with several distinct types of entertainment offerings.

There is a lot of opportunity for exciting development.

As always, thanks for reading.  That completes the existing parks in the Disney portfolio.  Next in the series, I'll discuss potential additional parks and locations beyond the existing resorts.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Proverbs for a Digital Age

I'm currently working through the Proverbs for my daily reading and am nearing the end of the chapter.  In doing so, you do notice several patterns in the the text.  The wisdom against the adulterous woman.  Warnings against foolishness and folly.

And while there are certain proverbs that seem very specific to the age in which they were written, over the past few days, I've noticed several proverbs and sayings that seem tailor made for this digital age.

For example:

"Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared."
Proverbs 22:24-25

The quickest way to find yourself in an internet flame war is through friends that bring you there.  Carefully choose your internet "friends" just as you would your true friends.

"Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words."
Proverbs 23: 9

Two thoughts - no one wins an internet argument and never, ever read the comments to online news articles.

"Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'"
Proverbs 26:18-19

Just because you add a "jk" or "lol" at the end of a statement, does not take away its impact.  The sting is still there and more often, such a statement seems to reveal true feelings (or at least plants a doubt as to your true feelings).

"Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down."
Proverbs 26:20

How often do Facebook quarrels go on and on because everyone wants to pile on?  Or mis-information keeps being circulated because someone else has to pass it on?  Social media seems to have just thrown gasoline on gossip and spread it wide.

"Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider and not your own lips."
Proverbs 27:2

Social media can also encourage bragging (or at least give that appearance) and resulting ill effects.  Commenting to take someone down a peg.  Depression due to comparison of our lives with the best of what is put on social media for others.  A great reminder to keep perspective on how you talk about yourself online.


The book of wisdom is well worth attention and is a great reminder for how we conduct all aspects of our lives.  Even the online version.  I pray for wisdom and guidance in how I conduct myself through this blog and all other platforms.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Maverick, Legacy, and Remembrance - Updated

Senator John McCain passed away Saturday, August 25, 2018, at the age of 81 from complications from aggressive brain cancer.  Nicknamed "maverick" McCain was a known iconoclast, someone who would step across the aisles and vote his conscience regardless of party direction, a trait which has gotten him praise and derision.  A decorated war hero, long term senator from Arizona, and presidential candidate, McCain's legacy and life has been celebrated and remembered over the past few days by his rivals and contemporaries.

President Obama offered his thoughts and condolences through a statement released on Twitter.

Likewise, President George W. Bush released a statement through his Presidential Center.

"Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended.  Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them stilled.  John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order.  He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country.  And to me, he was a friend whom I'll deeply miss.  Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies to Cindy and the entire McCain family, and our thanks to God for the life of John McCain."

A contemporary and a rival, both of whom offer statements of condolence that are heartfelt and personal.  They check the boxes that we expect for etiquette and class.  The statements put the focus on the life that is being remembered, they speak to commonality, they speak of appreciation of the life lived, and they offer their condolences and sympathy to the family.

It is apparent why both former presidents have been asked to eulogize McCain at his funeral.

There is a different response that has developed over the weekend.  A specific contingent online that has responded to the news of his death with near glee.  Who have added their comments to every news announcement calling McCain a traitor or worse, ostensibly for his votes against the Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare and opposition to the president.

And the condolences from our current sitting president seem to reflect their continuing feud.
The official White House tweet is a picture and the dates of his life.  There has been no official statement to date.
His Instagram post is even more interesting version of his tweet.

A picture of Trump instead of any image of John McCain.  Condolences and sympathies only, no recognition of John McCain's service of any kind.  And this among reports that President Trump nixed issuing any statement from the White House that praised the heroism and life of McCain, telling senior aids he preferred to issue a tweet.

The feud between McCain and President Trump is well documented, but this kind of response seems petty, even for Trump.  We bemoan the death of civility, but this seems to speak volumes of where we are as a country.  Now, I'm not one that claims you cannot speak ill of the dead.  If someone was an unrepentant monster on earth, they do not magically become praiseworthy because of their death.  No one is looking to praise Hitler, in other words.  But we generally do recognize the works of a person's life when they pass.  We evaluate and point out the good they have done.  We recognize that though we may have disagreed with them on certain other things, we can still point to the good, the positive in a person's life.  And there was much that can and should be recognized in John McCain's life.

In light of all the circumstances, perhaps it is better Trump's response was brief and expressed direct condolences.  It is preferable to the other vitriol that has been spewed over the weekend, truly representing the worst of our basest instincts.

But it should make us stop and think:  how do we want to be remembered?  And how do we remember those who go before?  Can we all come together in recognizing the abhorrent responses and comments that have arisen over the weekend as unacceptable?  And shouldn't they be unacceptable in most any circumstances, not just in the wake of someone's passing?  Will we ever be able to disagree with each other without demonizing the other side?

McCain will be remembered well and this unpleasant response will be but a blip in history.  He will lie in state in the Arizona Capitol building and in the United States Capitol Rotunda, an honor bestowed on fewer than three dozen people.  He will then be buried at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery.  There are also proposals to rename the Senate Office Building after him, with the recommendations coming from leading Democrats.

Rest in peace, maverick.  You've earned the rest.


President Trump released the following statement, Monday evening, August 27, 2018:
"Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain's service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment.

I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday.

At the request of the McCain family, I have authorized military transportation of Senator McCain's remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy.

Finally, I have asked General John Kelly, Secretary James Mattiss, and Ambassador John Bolton to represent my Administration at this services."

A farewell statement from John McCain was likewise released:
"...We have acquired great wealth and power in the progress.  We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe.  We weaken it when we hide behind walls rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.  We are 325 million opinionated, vociferous individuals.  We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates.

But, we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement.  If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country, we'll get through these challenging times.  We will come through them stronger than before.  We always do. ..."

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Rest In Peace Neil Simon

Neil Simon passed away today at the age of 91. A legendary playwright, his contribution to the stage through such masterful comedies as Barefoot in the Park, The Sunshine Boys, The Star-Spangled Girl, and The Odd Couple, just to name a few, forever impacted comedy.

I feel a connection to Simon’s work that has impacted my life more than the average playwright.

One of the great pleasures that Jamie and I had in our early marriage was playing Paul and Corie in Barefoot in the Park. Simon’s dialogue truly brought you into the lives of this young couple, so in love and yet with so much to discover about each other. And the situations that Simon could envision to bring forth comedy were so relatable and yet so hysterical. Plus, I still owe Jamie for changing the stage Scotch out for real Scotch.

 I’ve also talked about how one of the greatest theater experiences we have had was seeing Dick and Jerry Van Dyke in The Sunshine Boys at Casa Manana in Fort Worth. To see two masters of comedy work with such fine material was truly a blessing and something that will stick with me for a lifetime.
So in honor of the passing of a legend, we dim the footlights and celebrate his works.

 Rest In Peace Neil Simon. Thank you for the years of entertainment.

 Tomorrow, thoughts on another of today’s passings.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Televisions Shows

Coming back again to a Top 10 list.  A bit of insight into my likes and my personality.  And as a child of the 1980s, television was and is a huge interest.  I've seen a lot of great television and I've seen a lot of bad television.

What follows is a list of my ten favorite television shows.  Some shows that I feel represent the best that television has to offer, and some shows that simply represent my guilty pleasures.  And I fortunately have a knack for picking brilliant but cancelled shows, so several of these did not get the full release that they should have.

So in no particular order...
  • The Twilight Zone - I'll start with what I feel is one of the best examples of television ever aired.  Serling used the Twilight Zone as a morality play for the masses.  To take science fiction and address the biggest social issues of the time.  The show is a masterclass in short fiction and storytelling with some of the greatest writers ever assembled.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer - One of the first shows I followed with dedication.  Every episode, as it aired.  Again, a use of genre to address much larger topics.  And several episodes that break so many conventions.  Hush, The Body, and Once More With Feeling.  It gets a little weird toward the end with the switch to UPN, but a great show with a lasting impact.
  • Pushing Daisies - I love what Bryan Fuller does on television.  His vision for set design and color and how that all contributes to the mood is incredible.  And it was all incorporated so well into Pushing Daisies.  Such a unique concept, a forensic fairytale about a piemaker who can touch the dead and wake them for a minute.  Charming and whimsical, gone far too soon.
  • Freaks and Geeks - Speaking of gone too soon, a one season show that really launched so many careers.  For all the shows that have mined the 1980s for nostalgia, this one got it so right.  For anyone who was not in a popular clique at the time, this really resonated.
  • The Good Place - One of two current shows on the list and one of the smartest shows that I've seen in a long time.  While not the best on theology, the exploration of morality and philosophy is excellent and the premise and show is genuinely funny.  Great characters and truly charming.
  • Agent Carter - While Daredevil is arguably a better Marvel show, this remains my favorite of the Marvel offerings.  A great setting for both seasons in 1940s New York and Los Angeles, and a great British Avengers set up with Jarvis and Agent Carter.  Hayley Atwell is a great lead, and again, its a shame the show did not last longer.
  • Coupling - Before I knew the series name, I searched for this show.  When I first went to London and Scotland, I remember watching the episode The Girl with Two Breasts with Dad the night before we returned home and laughing harder than ever before for a television show.  The title is a reference to a misstep in translation and the episode was split into two versions, one showing the events from the English cast and then one showing the same events from the Israeli girl who was the object of Jeff's affection.  For the longest, I could never find the name of the show, but thankfully stumbled across it again on BBC America.  After watching every episode of the series and seeing such other great episodes as The Man With Two Legs, I still say, this is the funniest show I have ever seen.   A bit bluer in discussion than American television, but otherwise similar to an American sitcom.
  • Sherlock - Brilliantly cast, excellently adapted to modern times, great writing by Moffat, Gattis, and Thompson.  Each episode is really a new movie.  And the fourth season really better be the last, because it ended in such a perfect way.
  • Stranger Things - the first show that we had to binge the whole season once we started.  Excellent cast and another great nostalgia trip.  It captured the feel of those great "kids on a mission movies" from the 1980s.  While there are bits that feel stretched in the second season, it's still a nail-biter and we are still anxiously waiting for season three next year.
and finally...
  • The Golden Girls - I don't care.  It still holds up and if I'm feeling down, there is nothing else I'd rather watch.  I want to picture Sicily in 19-whatever, be regaled with stories of Saint Olaf, and do thank you for being a friend.   I'll claim this one for a lifetime.
That's my list.  A weird and eclectic mix.  I'd love to hear some of your favorites.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The Traveler's Report Part 6 - Vienna

Part 6 of the Traveler's report, from Jamie:

"After our lovely stint in Budapest we traveled to Austria’s capital. Vienna was my personal favorite of the tour. The food, the music, the history was all amazing but nothing beats the people. Though the city boasts over 1.7 million people it is very laid back and chill. No one seems to be in a rush. There’s time to stop and smell the roses so to speak. It didn’t hurt that our tour director Amir was born and raised here and had such joy in showing us around either. My most enjoyable time in this city was getting to experience the concert, The Sounds of Vienna, where they played the classics of Mozart and Strauss. That was a surreal moment for me."

I love these pictures driving into Vienna. A promise of more good things to come.  There are sunflowers for days on this drive. This is my favorite picture of the trip and it’s of Gods glorious nature. I just want to run through those sunflowers and soak up the early morning light.

This is the most refreshing lemonade I’ve ever had though I’m not quite sure why it’s labeled lemonade since it also has lime, orange and mint. I need one of these to beat the Texas heat.

St Charles Church built to give thanks for the passing plague. I love the Baroque spheres on either side.

Vienna State Opera House, one of the top Opera houses in the world with over 50 operas and ballets produced a year.

Our Opera stop for the evening.

Loved the chandeliers!!!

Intermission outside on the veranda.

History museum. I wish I had more time to spend here.

Inside St Stephens Cathedral

Schönbrunn Palace gardens

Belvedere Palace

Down in the basement for tonight’s dinner.

Apple Strudel. Delicious!