Author Archives: mwhaskin

Disney’s Moana – Review

As obvious as it should be, this will probably contain spoilers. If you don’t want anything spoiled (even knowing the type of beer I ordered) you should turn back now. But definitely come back after you watch it and read my ramblings.

TL;DR – Loved it.

As I said in the 21st Amendment Brewery post, my review skills are not top notch. For most movies, if it entertains me I’ll give it a thumbs up. That being said, I’ll do my best to give my heartfelt opinion on things I thought went well and things that may have not lived up to the hype.With that, on with the review!

It’s Black Friday (or it was when I watched Moana) which means shopping galore! Well, not for me. I did go to the mall and look for some nice shirts but after I saw that a) the lines were 30 people deep and b) the shirts weren’t on sale, I opted against it. Quick aside, the shirts were online and on sale so I did that when I got home. Anyway, 3:30 rolled around so we drove from one side of the mall to the other side where the theater was. I wanted to see Moana but my sister wanted to see Fantastic Beasts. Her one sentence review was that it was really good and she loved every bit of it, but this is not about her review, it’s all about me!

Out of all the theater choices within driving distance, we opted for an AMC Theater because you get to reserve your seat. With the movie coming out yesterday, img_0488I was not about to show up and only have the front row available, no way. The only other time I had been to this theater was for Finding Dory, and that experience was not as great as I would have liked. It definitely made up for it this time though! I was in a different theater setup than the one for Dory so there was slightly more room for my legs. Oh, I should mention the theater has reclining seats, and beer. Nothing better than sipping my classy BudLight watching a Disney movie.

Beer in hand, the previews started to play. Man, there are some real winnings coming out soon. Sadly they didn’t play the trailer for Rogue One which is going to be my favorite movie ever. That is my official pre-review. Then the Disney short, Inner Workings, came on. It was a cute little story about a guy and, well, his inner workings. His different organs interact to decide what to do. img_0493He has a dead end job and is just really unhappy about everything. His heart yearns for adventure and excitement but his brain is a stickler for the rules and is afraid to try new things for fear of dying, or dying fat, or dying in a shark (hmm sounds like someone I know). His brain becomes self aware of his unpleasant situation and he goes out and lives life. He returns to his job a new man, reinvigorated and with a bright outlook on life. I’ll admit it, it got me a bit teary because it hit home a little too hard.

Now, for what everyone has been waiting for. Was Frozen really the last proper Animated Disney Princess movie? Surely, I must be forgetting something. For Disney movies, I like going into the theater with a very minimal knowledge about the plot. I knew it was about a Hawaiian girl named Moana and also starred the Rock. Lin-Manuel Miranda did a lot of music, and knowing how I feel about Hamilton, I was going to like it but had no idea what to expect.img_0497

I won’t go through the whole plot to save you precious time. Moana is a girl who feels this constant pull towards the ocean. Her overprotective father forbids her from venturing past the reef but her wise grandma knows she is destined to sail. This is a fairly simple plot point but Disney does it so well! They capture the problem that faces Moana and add in just enough tension to her decision to sail. Maui was not in the movie until a decent way through. That was a surprising move but I really liked it because the movie is focusing on Moana’s personal journey and having the Rock was just a bonus. Once we meet Maui though, his character is instantly likable. He is self-centered but Moana easily puts him in his place, not putting up with his shenanigans.

Then we get to my favorite part of the movie, the coconut pirates! I would pay to have a movie based solely around them. Sure, they are the Minions of the Moana-verse but they are great. I love their ship that turns into more ships. They are so weird but strangely adorable in a dysfunctional kind of way.

The weirdest part of the movie was definitely the crab. I don’t know how I feel about it yet. It was so strange and creepy. The song will probably get stuck in my head tomorrow so I should just go ahead and say it now, I’m probably going to like this part in the end. The animations were on point but it was still whacky. Fast forward to the end, Moana saves the day and everyone lives happily ever after. Like I said, I don’t want make this a retelling.

Now, music. With Lin at the wheel, it was destined to be good. A lot of the songs, especially “You’re Welcome” have a familiarity about it mostly thanks to all the times I’ve listened to Hamilton. Unlike Hamiton, the songs didn’t make me completely break down into tears (the word “Uptown” still triggers me) but they did get me to feel. On my next trip to Disneyland, I’ll probably pick up the soundtrack because the are pretty catchy.

Animation time. Wowzers, the water is amazing. Water is one of the hardest things to animate well and they nailed it. They did so many different things with the water and each was as jaw dropping as the next. The landscapes they designed were mind boggling too. They are really working the line between cartoony animation with a lifelike feel.

I loved the movie. I had no idea about it going in but that is the wonderful thing about Disney films. They are designed to be viewed by children and adults alike and everyone can jump right in without prior knowledge. Sadly, it will never dethrone Frozen from the number 1 spot (it resides in a special place in my heart for reasons I won’t go into) but it was good to know that Disney is putting out A+ princess movies. Please please please don’t make a sequel unless its pure gold, but by all means make a shoot off story about the coconut pirates. If I don’t see them plastering the stores in Disneyland next week I’ll be a little saddened. But, until then, keep adventuring!

21st Amendment Brewery – Adventure Showcase #6

And we are back! This may have happened on Wednesday but you can’t blame me for taking Thanksgiving off. With the holiday this week, Wednesday became basically like Friday which meant I could do something fun after work. With my sister back in town for the week, we went to the San Leandro 21st Amendment Brewery tasting room. This is the second brewery I’ve ever been too (official brewery that is, I am not counting restaurants who also make a small selection of beers.) While we didn’t get a tour, the whole factory is an open lay out. From where I was sitting, I could see pretty much every step of the beer making process which gives the place an amazing vibe.

They had a food truck parked out back with the biggest plate of nachos I’ve ever seen. From the reviews my family gave, they were pretty awesome too. Now, onto the reviews. Remember, I am in no way a pro-taster who can tell that something touched a piece of pine or a dash of cinnamon was mixed in. 025I’m more of a “ehh that wasn’t so bad, maybe I’ll have it again” type of person. Out of the beers they had on tap, these were the six I chose to test.

Brew Free or Die: A good IPA. My favorite of them all.

Blah Blah Blah: Another strong IPA. It was pretty good.

Good Things: This is where things took a turn for the worse.

He Said: Yikes. Not great.

Fireside Chat: This one was whack too. I don’t remember if it was this one or the He Said, but one tasted like Cola.

Watermelon Funk: Not horrible, but not my cup of tea. It tasted like the sour patch watermelon candy.

I may have also tried The Headless Hopsman, but it was not part of my official taster. If I remember, it was pretty good as well, but probably because it was similar to an regular IPA. 048

Now that the tasting was all done, I got to use my buzz (I may be a bit of a lightweight) to get a full pint of Brew Free and play some corn hole. Yeah… I wasn’t good at corn hole that night. I got better near the end but my technique meant the bean bags skipped off the board, losing me some valuable points. Thinking my skills would be better used with a ball, I turned my attention to Bocce. Nope, also overthrew every shot there too. I guess I don’t know my own strength.

Final thoughts: I am coming back. Perhaps I can convince some friends to come with me one night. I feel like with some training I can claim my place atop the fictitious corn hole throne as king of the party games! I will definitely keep buying the Brew Free or Die because it’s really good and reasonably priced.

 

SF 49ers vs New England Patriots – Adventure Showcase #5

What a weekend! Back to back adventures left be pretty dang exhausted, but it’s nothing like what’s coming soon (*wink wink nudge nudge*).  So my dad’s birthday was a couple weeks back, and given my financial situation, I have decided to treat my loved ones to a higher caliber of gift this year. For my dad, that meant something big, really big. As a combo birthday/Christmas gift, I got us tickets to the 49ers’ game against the Patriots at Levi’s Stadium. We both haven’t been to a football game since I was super young, and neither of us had seen the new stadium up close before. I got some very pricey tickets for the second row of the third deck which, as you can tell from the picture, had a pretty spectacular view.

Getting there was no trouble. He was smart enough to know to leave hours in advance which meant we got some prime parking. After that, we got through security no problem (but without my coffee) and checked out the booths where free stuff is given out. I’m actually looking at my little Foster Farms football stress ball right now. We entered the stadium and had one goal, to find our (his) brick.

When the stadium was being constructed, they offered for people to pay for a personalized brick to be displayed. We have one at AT&T Park and my mom got him one as a surprise. levis-brickNow, this sounds easy, and even looked easy from the map I had, but there are literally hundreds if not thousands of names and bricks. It took me a hot second to find it but there it was, for all to see.

The next stop was beer, right at the top of a really cool escalator. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures but it was covered by a huge array for blue LEDs. It felt like something you might find at an upscale Vegas hotel/casino. We got our cheap (only in quality, not in price) beers and made our way up and up and up until the escalators wouldn’t go any higher. The view of the surrounding city was spectacular from up there, and only gave me a slight bit of vertigo… Our seats were equally as spectacular.

Kickoff approached and the stadium slowly filled up with more and more Patriot fans. Tom Brady has the biggest fan club ever. For one, he is a local boy to the area. And two, some consider him to be one of the best QBs ever. The proportions between Patriot fans and SF fans was staggering to say the least. We got an air force flyover after the national anthem and then the game was on!

In terms of football, the 49ers held on much better than I though. They really only let things get away from them in the last quarter but still didn’t let it be the blowout I figured it would be. But, enough of that, this isn’t a sports blog, its a “listen to me ramble” blog. The thing that stuck out the most, and what made this trip a memory I’ll keep forever, was the rain. field-yes-rainHoly moly it rained and it rained and it rained! We were smart enough to pack ponchos which worked for a while. Even so, I was drenched by halftime. Nearly all the seats were cleared out as people looked for any slice of shelter from the cold and rain as they could find. We thought it would never stop raining. But I didn’t let that stop me from having fun. I pushed my sponges (shoes) to the back of my mind and I enjoyed the fact that I was lucky enough to be there. It will be a memory I’ll cherish forever.

All that heartfelt stuff aside, you can be dang sure that the second I got back to the truck I peeled the shoes and socks from my wrinkly feet and stuck them under the heater. Is there any better contrasted feeling in the world than that? Who knows where my next adventure will take me, but I know that I want to do more things like this.

 

Subpar Mini Golf & Roly Poly Ice Cream – Adventure Showcase #4

It’s a rainy day in the Bay Area but that isn’t going to stop me from having some fun! When you can’t do things outdoors, take it inside, to indoor mini golf. On the mythical island known as Alameda, there exists a gem known as Subpar Miniature Golf, and it really is a diamond in the rough. I accidentally learned about it when a semi-local glow in the dark course closed down. But before that, we popped into BurgerMeister for lunch. The food was delicious and the service was quick. I, once again, got a plain plain plain cheeseburger but Alyson got a normal meal with curly fries and boy was I jealous. The rain slowed down just long enough for us to make it to mini golf without being drenched.

The first thing you will notice when you walk in is the giant wind turbine, but more on that later. To the left, you will find a slot car track with more twists and turns than you could wish for. Who plays with slot cars anymore?! I don’t have an answer to that, but if you want to find out, you can go check it out for yourself. Now, back to the turbine. Notice I didn’t say windmill, this is much more than that. The best part about Subpar is the local pride. Every single hole is dedicated to a Bay Area landmark. The turbine representsimg_1487 the Altamont Pass. Next comes the Oakland Airport. Then a hole related to food trucks. Then the shipping port. Then…. you get the picture. The further you get into the course, the cooler they get.

The most iconic hole would definitely be the double loopty-loop Golden Gate Bridge. The thing is massive in person! Although, my favorite hole is Lombard Street which you can see in the video I posted. Other honorable mentions include the Bay Bridge, the MacArthur Maze and an homage to Wine Country. When all was said and done, I had my butt handed too me 51-65. My head just wasn’t focused on the game today. It was a fun round of golf and we got to finish it off by popping upstairs for some quick ski ball, complete with a loud parent/child duo playing PacMan.

The rain was still pouring when we left which only meant one thing, I had to go get the car. As winner, Alyson decreed that I had to go fetch the car while she stood under the safety of the dry overhangimg_1532. It was a pretty steady rain fall up until I got to the car, then it let up slightly. The original plan was to grab ice cream afterwards but we were both still full from lunch so we opted for ice cream but further away. How far to be exact? Try Fremont. There was a new store called Ice3 Creamery that opened up serving Roly Poly ice cream (as I will forever call it) which I just had to see. You pick your base, mixer, toppings and drizzle and they make it from scratch right there.

Alyson got a dual strawberry and mango base with pineapple mixer and strawberries on top. I swung for the fences. Start off small with a vanilla base and add an Oreo. When that is good and done, top with rainbow sprinkles and hit it with a shot of Nutella. That is how a mini golf champion eats, if you go by the highest points scored overall. Now, I haven’t explained how they make it yet have I? Well buckle in.

Take one Oreo and pulverize it to a dust. Pour on some mystery liquid (probably vanilla cream) and it starts freezing thanks to the special cold work service. Mix and mash it untilimg_1528 thoroughly combined. Give it one more set of Karate chops before smearing it out into a flat square. Let sit, and roll. They use this spatula to roll the ice cream up into tubes.  It’s like if Cold Stone took it one step further and turned their ice cream into a burrrrrr-ito. I am terribly sorry. I had to reach my one pun quota for the day and it was just begging to be made.

Anyway, toss those little roly poly ice cream things into a cup, add the toppings and presto, you have a fancy dessert. Alyson’s was far more presentable than mine, but mine was so so so good. img_1534The amount of ice cream you actually get per cup is really surprising. It might not look like much but we were both stuffed when we left, and Alyson could finish the last couple bites. Fair warning though, it’s sugary as all hell. It is definitely a sweet treat you could share between two people if you had just come from a meal. I only have two negatives about this place. 1) They have two work stations which was fine for Alyson and I, but only because we were alone in the store. If there was a line, you’d be waiting at least 20 minutes just because each one is custom made right then and there. 2) The price is not cheap. I believe our two snacks cost upwards of $15! This is another reason to share it with a friend. You’ll cut your wait time and price in half. Luckily the place was a ghost town since it’s the opposite of ice cream weather outside. Would I go there again? Definitely.

Well I think that wraps up today’s adventure pretty well. As always, feel free to watch the video on YouTube if you want to see the course or ice cream making in action. I’ll talk to you guys in the next one!

 

What Have I Done?!

I have officially lost my mind. Some many months ago I thought I went off the deep end when I signed up for the Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon. This was someone who couldn’t even run around the block without some number of body parts falling off. Sure, I’ve done a 5K before, (a couple of times actually) but that’s only 3.1 miles. Add on an extra 10 miles to that and you’ll hit a half marathon. I’ll say it again, what have I done?!

Well in the months following signing up, I learned some valuable lessons. I still have no idea how to run and anything about 5 miles is a looooong way to go. Despite that, I kept at it. I followed my beginners training plan as closely as I could and made it work for my life. I started running at work during lunch twice a week and things seemed to be improving. I might actually be able to do this thing!

merida

From my birthday trip during the summer. Notice how sane I appeared back then. Little did this version of me know that I was destined to lose my sanity.

Now, being a race through Disneyland, the focus is not going to be on getting a good time. I signed up for the experience, not to set some new world record. The course is filled with characters and music and photo opportunities which will all take up time to soak in. If I can beat a 3 hour time, I’ll consider it a victory. Once I finished the race, my running career would come to a close. I would spend the next day at the park having a blast and encase my shoes in resin and never move more than 4 mph again… or so I thought.

I did something bad, I did something very bad. The Disneyland race is only half of a two part series. This is the Light Side and Walt Disney World hosts the Dark Side. Having never been to Florida, that seemed impossible. Heck, I already have to take 1.5 days off to survive the Disneyland race, and that’s with having been to the park a double digit number of times this year. The focus will be on the race, not trying to also ride every ride like I would at Disney World. My curiosity got the best of me and I checked to see if they had any more slots open. If it were sold out (like I thought it would be) I would have no problem telling myself I tried my best and it was not meant to be.

It wasn’t sold out.

Sure the pins and buttons and extra goodies you can buy were gone but the race itself still had spots open. My brain went into a tailspin. It’s too expensive. But it would be an incredible experience. Florida is so far away. But that’s what planes are for. They have 4 parks to visit. Yeah, so do it and do it big!

And so I did it. I signed up. I put logic aside and hit submit. I am officially a crazy person. On the upside, I’m going to get the coolest medal for completing the Coast-to-Coast Kessel Run Challenge. This is about me doing something I thought I could never do, and proving to myself that a bit of hard work is all that is required to make the memory of a lifetime. If all goes according to plan, I’m going to be sleep deprived but have a week of non-stop excitement. Plus, I’ll finally get to ride the People Mover!

Catching Up: Showcases #1-3

Some quick first notes:

I’ve had this blog for all of 20 minutes and it’s already time to fill in the missing pieces. But before that, I should probably explain what needs filling in.

My grand plan idea for this site is to document my adventures with thoughts and images that may not make it into a video (or might not make for good video). Luckily, my life is not super exciting (yet) so there isn’t much you’ve missed. This will be a modified version of what I expect a normal post would entail, less pictures and only general thoughts.  I would love feedback on the tone, feel, look or anything else associated with these posts.

Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39 and Orion Griffiths – Adventure Showcase #1

My first adventure was to Pier 39 in San Francisco with my friend Alyson. We went to the aquarium, puttered around the touristy areas and watched a street performer. My overall review (another thing I might want to try out in normal posts) was that it was a good time, but felt short. While the Aquarium of the Bay is a great aquarium, I remember it being much bigger from what I was a child. Having become a grown adult (only in appearance though) it took much less time than, say, the Monterey Bay Aquarium. This is great for the casual tourist who’s only goal is to hit as many landmarks as possible in a short time frame, but left me feeling like there should have been some more. That may also stem from the fact that the internet has desensitized me from anything awe-inspiring so it takes quite a lot to impress me. That is more an issue with me than it is with anywhere I go or anything I do.

Below is the embedded video that goes along with this post (or what a normal post would be).

SF Sightseeing Part 1: Bay Area Science Festival – Adventure Showcase #2

This was part 1 of a 2 part series where I went to San Francisco (again… I know) with my friend Joey. As a giant science nerd, and a nerdy Giant’s fan, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go check it out because it was free. I went in knowing that it was probably designed for children and I, a child-less 25 year old male, would probably stick out like a sore thumb. I have never been more correct about anything.

The process of getting to the park itself was more about exploring than it was about efficiency. Instead of driving directly to the park like a normal person, we took BART in and then walked from downtown SF all the way there. Sure, we could have taken MUNI or UBER or a cab or something, but where is the fun in that? I got to check out some amazing views of the waterfront which, despite being able to see it from my work, I never really visit. (I use the term “see” very loosely because I can see pretty much the whole peninsula from my work). Once at the park it was pretty cool. There were thousands of people walking around and checking out various stations set up everywhere. Some had hands-on projects, some had giveaways and some were just about knowledge. As I predicted, I was the exact opposite of the target demo but it was still a good time. I would not have felt right waiting in line to show up some 5 year old with my amazing knowledge that “stuff” is “matter” or that how energy is conserved. Seeing as we didn’t want to get lunch in the park, we went to…

Below is the embedded video that goes along with this post.

SF Sightseeing Part 2: Wandering and Chinatown – Adventure Showcase #3

… Momo’s right across the street for lunch. This is where the real fun of the trip came into play. There were no more tiny screaming kids to trip over, and there was beer! Being a plain person, I ordered a plain cheeseburger and a Bud Light (because I’m classy like that). This might be a theme with any showcase I put out so I’ll say it now, I am not huge on “fancy” food. Give me a burger or a pizza and I am totally fine with that. Heck, a good portion of my dinners are chicken and veggies. I really want to drive this point home, my choice in plain meals has no reflection on wherever I eat. I went to the Blue Bayou in Disneyland and ordered a plain jane steak and rice instead of the more upscale meals they offer. I can talk about why I’m so boring in another post if it comes up, but that is for a later dates.

Back to my point. Momo’s had a menu with a ton of delicious sounding meals. It would definitely be on my to-eat list if I were that kind of person. Post-meal, we wandered up through the city in search of Chinatown. There was no real method to our madness, just looking for something to kill a bit more time. It was a bit further, and a bit more uphill that I expected which was no bueno on my legs after my 8 mile training run earlier that morning. Once again, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Nothing screams “I don’t belong here” than a 6’4 bearded white guy walking into a Chinese corner store. I’m sorry I am fascinated by looking at knick-knacks, but that’s what I’m gonna do. Joey and I parted ways and I headed back home. Despite the main goal of the trip (the science thing) only being a portion of the day, it was an awesome day. I could walk around a city with no real purpose and call it a successful trip, and that may be what a portion of these showcases are.

Below is the embedded video that goes along with this post.

Welcome

Welcome one and all to what will surely be a month-long dive into the world of recording my adventures, followed by months of neglect. Only then will I realize I want to do it again and start over from scratch…
Who knows? Maybe I can keep at it!