Biggs' Zone

A Gamer Geek's Cogitations, Conjectures and other Cortical Experiences

Disney and Galaxy’s Edge [Cont.]

There is nothing else more to say about Magic Kingdom or Epcot, other than masks it was very similar to my last visit. The one difference between then and now is the absence of Fast Pass. Let’s be honest though, you don’t want me to talk about those other parks. As an avid Star Wars fan, you want me to talk about Galaxy’s Edge.

It’s taken me over a month to write this post and its primarily because I don’t know what to say about Galaxy’s Edge. There is so much about it that I loved I just don’t know where to start.

The Rides

There are two rides, Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Rise of the Resistance is unlike any ride I’ve ever been on, when it’s operating. Apparently this ride breaks down a lot so I imagine there are often several disgruntled guests. It’s like they took Star Tours and made it more immersive. It’s probably one of the most popular rides at Hollywood Studios so getting on the ride is a challenge.

Falcon Cockpit (Pilot 2)
Falcon Cockpit – Pilot 2 – Lightspeed Controls

Smuggler’s Run also went beyond my expectations. It’s going to be better for anyone that knows The Clone Wars, otherwise the appearance of Hondo Ohnaka isn’t as exciting. This ride is like Star Tours but more engaging. There are 6 “places” for “riders” and you are IN THE FREAKING COCKPIT of the Millennium Falcon. There are spots for 2 pilots, 2 gunners and 2 engineers. My suggestion, be the pilot on the right; that person gets to make the jump to lightspeed!

It’s Really Immersive!

Disney Imagineers are amazing and they pulled out all the stops when designing Galaxy’s Edge. To put this place into context of the Star Wars universe, it’s a spaceport called Black Spire Outpost on the planet Batuu. Before the Empire and the invention of hyperspace travel, this spaceport was a popular place for travelers heading to Wild Space. Now it’s desolate and often forgotten. It’s kind of a Radiator Springs of the Galaxy’s Outer Rim Territories.

Door control in Galaxy’s Edge

To give the illusion that you are in a spaceport, Disney has speakers discretely positioned all around. These speakers are constantly playing ambient noises of a bustling spaceport. Everything from the manhole covers to the light fixtures and door switches are all styled to look like you’re on a planet from Star Wars. The cast members are trained to use esoteric vocabulary such as “credits” instead of “dollars”. Cast members that are in costume are also supposed to engage with guests to create a more immersive experience. Unfortunately, due to the covid restrictions, they could only stand and wave from afar.

This place felt so immersive that I could have sat at an outdoor cantina all day. I would feel perfectly happy just sitting there and watching the people, listening to the sound effects and drinking blue milk (which is delicious!). Of all the parks we visited, I took the most pictures at Galaxy’s Edge. I am working on a gallery where I will eventually post all the pictures.

Of course I built a lightsaber (with my daughter). It’s so fun and an amazing experience. It’s also a bit expensive which is why we did not create a droid during this visit.

I could go on but this post grows most verbose. If you haven’t been to a Galaxy’s Edge park yet, I highly recommend it. Especially if you are an avid Star Wars fan.

/MTFBWY

The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.

 

Movie Review: Mulan (2020)

Mulan

Directed By: Niki Caro
Starring: Liu Yifei, Donnie Yen, Jet Li

My Rating:

I know this movie came out over a year ago and it was not popular among Disney fans. They are complaining that it’s a terrible animated-to-live-action adaptation. I should know better than to listen to “fans”. These days the only thing “fans” do is complain (I’m looking at you alleged “Star Wars fans”). It wasn’t until my wife watched this movie on Disney+ that I finally saw it.

Unpopular opinion, I disagree with all the Disney princess fans. This is the Mulan movie we should have gotten back in 1998. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ming-Na Wen’s Mulan (who makes a cameo at the end), but it’s just another Disney princess love story.

It’s About Culture (and Kicking Ass)

A key indicator as to whether I really like a film is if I’m looking up the trivia on IMDB to learn more. I did this for this movie. It wasn’t a surprise to read that it was a conscious choice to stay “true to Chinese culture and traditions”. This is why Mushu is missing, which fans also hated. He is essentially replaced with the phoenix, a significant symbol in Chinese culture. Also, the phoenix happens to be one of my favorite mythical creatures. Martial arts is also a staple of Chinese culture and this is a Disney princess martial arts film.

Ask anyone that knows me well and they will tell you that I’m a sucker for a martial arts film. It’s exciting to see Jet Li back in a “martial arts” film although I think he’s retired from martial arts. This is probably why we don’t see him perform much in the film. However Donnie Yen and Liu Yifei make up for that. In fact Liu Yifei is a trained sword fighter. It turns out she is in a movie called The Forbidden Kingdom where she “held her own” against Jet Li and Jackie Chan.

Listen. If you want to see a live-action version of the 1998 film, then keep waiting. This movie is not it. However if you want to see Mulan kick ass as a sword fighter and martial artist, then you need to check out this movie.

Disney and Galaxy’s Edge

Disney and Galaxy's Edge

As crazy as it sounds, we went to Disney World last month. I know, COVID!! When we bought the tickets and made all the reservations things were improving. We thought the only thing we would have to worry about were hurricanes. It’s amazing how much can change in three months but cancelling would mean we were out quite a chunk of change. So we bought masks and stocked up on hand sanitizer and we made plans on how we can be safe. I’m sure some folks are curious about our trip to Disney and Galaxy’s Edge so that’s what I’m here to talk about.

But, but COVID!!

Yes, the cases of covid and delta variant are rising and Florida, apparently, is one of the bad states. All but one of us were vaccinated; Bee isn’t eligible yet so we made sure she wore a mask most frequently. We have masks that breath well in the heat and I’ll be honest, it really wasn’t that bad. It only really sucked for pictures but if my 7 year old can do it without complaining, then so can I. Strange that a child complains less than most adults about masks.

Disney does enforce that masks are worn while indoors, in line and on all attractions. We wore our masks the majority of the time in the parks, even outdoors in the open air. In fact the only time we ever took them off is if we weren’t around a lot of people, or eating. Magic Kingdom seems to have the largest crowd. It’s the most difficult park to find sufficient open space to take the mask off, even for just a minute.

We are now beyond two weeks since we visited the last park and nobody is sick. I guess our precautions paid off.

Which Parks Did We Visit?

We planned for 5 days at the parks. However, our budget and scheduling only allowed for us to visit 4 parks. Epcot was our first park and our primary objective there was the World Showcase. We thought it would be fun to try different foods from each of the countries represented. About a third of the way through it occurred to me, I should be drying beer at each world, provided beer was available. A choice I should have made much sooner (and one I think I will do again).

We spent two days at the Magic Kingdom. It’s the bigger park and the one our daughter would enjoy the most. We splurged and did the “Be Our Guest” lunch in Belle’s castle. The food is pretty damn good and the atmosphere is great (despite the covid restrictions).

This was also my first time visiting Animal Kingdom. I’ll admit, I’m not terribly impressed. The Pandora section of the park is about the only thing worth visiting. We went on both rides which were OK. I’m not sure why the line for “Flight of the Avatar” is so long. I feel like this ride would be better as an actual rollercoaster. As it is, it’s essentially Soarin 2.0.

We didn’t go to Universal Studios this time, but we did go to Hollywood Studios; home of Galaxy’s Edge! More on that in Part 2.

WoW: Male Chauvinism is Disgusting

First off I would like to begin by apologizing for my gender. If you’ve been paying attention to the various World of Warcraft media sources I’m sure you are aware of the lawsuit that has been filed against Activision Blizzard. I don’t really want to get into the details because male chauvinism is disgusting and embarrassing. I’ll be honest, I haven’t read all of the allegations because I had to stop reading. It’s so gross and uncouth that I couldn’t bring myself to finish. That kind of sophomoric behavior does NOT belong in the workplace.

I’ll admit that I can have a pretty sophomoric mind at times. I will make rather off-color remarks to my guy friends. Emphasis on guy. I may make some pretty immature statements to guys I’ve known for almost 30 years but I would never make those same comments to a female. I would never say it, think it or type it. NEVER! I don’t think its ever appropriate in ANY context. “Boys will be boys” but we should know when to be gentlemen too. If I see or hear any guy making an inappropriate comment to a female co-worker, friend, gamer, even a stranger, I’ll record you and report you.

Will I Cancel My Sub?

The short answer is No, but I thought about it. I gave it some very serious consideration. Cancelling my sub could stick it to them where it hurts. On the other hand, if we all stopped buying their games and paying their subs, then hundreds of thousands of people would be out of a job. The gaming industry and gaming community has been a male dominated culture for years so it still wouldn’t stop this kind of thing from happening.

Then I saw this tweet from former Blizzard Developer Cher Scarlett:

Cher is spearheading an effort to collect witnesses for this lawsuit. You can read more about her and other devs in this Massively OP article.

I’m one of the good guys. I don’t treat women poorly. If I leave the game; if every guy like me leaves the game, then who is left? All that remains are the toxic, disgusting male pigs and the victims. I would essentially be abandoning the victims. My wife plays this game with me. Thankfully she has not been harassed, however if she had been, I would want someone to report it and stop it. If I leave, then I’m just turning a blind eye to it.

There is the old adage “If You See Something, Say Something”. While I have not witnessed any harassment in the game you can bet I’m going to be a lot more vigilant. I will have my Alt + Print Screen fingers ready. If I see or hear any player say something remotely offensive to a female player, you will be reported. Keyboard anonymity cannot protect you. Your avatar is tied to an account. Your account has a name and that name has a credit card number. Credit Card numbers have addresses.

You. Are. Not. As. Anonymous. As. You. Think!

What Do I Expect From Blizzard?

I’m expecting Blizzard to do something to make this right. They need to take some public action. Now! It’s time to clean house. The current president, J Alan Brack, needs to step down. I think it would be a great statement if he is replaced by a female. However it would need to be a qualified, zero tolerance female; not some token female just for appearances.

Also, any Blizzard employee mentioned as part of this lawsuit needs to be fired. Any former Blizzard employee needs to be prosecuted. Any of these employees that have been immortalized as an NPC (ex: Alex Afrasiabi) in the game, needs to be replaced/removed. This can be done with a hot fix or tomorrows maintenance.

To all the victims out there, I’m sorry this is happening to you and I am praying for you. I have been a developer for 20+ years and I have never seen this kind of behavior at any of the places where I have worked. If I did, I assure you I would have reported it. This makes me sick to my stomach.

Fitness Update; Beast Mode!

About a month ago I wrote a mid-year review of my 2021 intentions. In that time I have made some changes to my workouts and running goals. As I said in that post, I have a strategy for improving my daily run distance to 6 miles a day. I am officially running that distance. Granted it’s not quite 6.2 (i.e. a 10k), however adding two-tenths of a mile is a very minor adjustment.

I have not run 9 miles on my push day, yet. I am still calculating how I can achieve that distance given the geography of my location. My hope is to try to hit that goal by mid-to-late August.

Beast Mode Engaged

So this brings me to the pre-workout. There are two areas I focus on as part of my pre-workout; core and strength training. Three days a week my pre-workout focuses on strengthening my core. I tried a few exercises while attempting to keep the reps and sets within 15-30 minutes.

Core Strengthening Exercises

This is the pre-workout Core exercise routine that is working well for me:

  • 30 sec planks x 3
  • 10 squats x 3
  • 10 doorway rows x 3
  • 1 minute farmer’s carry x 2
  • 10 kettle bell swings (with a dumb bell) x 2

Strength Training Exercises

Then, two days a week, I focus on strength training. This is where I get a little intense. I initially started with doing push-ups, which I hate doing. Then I saw my sister and her husband doing burpees and I thought, well if they can do burpees then so can I. So I changed my push-ups to burpees.

Burpees suck as much as everyone says they do. They. Are. Hard. I changed my push-ups to burpees and I was doing that for about a week. Then someone told me about a similar exercise called the devils press, which is aptly named. It’s basically a burpee with dumbbells. Watch this short video to see how to do this exercise.

I changed my burpee to this exercise starting at 15 lb. dumbbells because my upper body is still a little weak. So this is my strength training routine:

  • 6 Devils Press (burpee) x 3
  • 10 Dumbbell Dead Lift x 3
  • 10 Dumbbell Row x 3
  • 8 Dumbbell Standing Curls x 2
  • 8 Seated Dumbbell Tricep Extensions x 2

By the end of the week, assuming I complete all of these routines and my 6 miles each day, I feel pretty good. My body feels like I’ve had a decent workout and I’m not too sore or too tired. My goal is to stick to this routine for a couple months and see how I’m feeling by the fall.

/cheers

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Movie Review: The Tomorrow War

The Tomorrow WarThe Tomorrow War IMDB Link

Directed By: Chris McKay
Starring: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons

My Rating:

I heard different things about this movie, but I generally avoid most reviews. Since the days of Siskel and Ebert nobody has come close to their caliber of movie analysis. Granted, I rarely agreed with Ebert who once said that a comic book movie wasn’t “realistic enough” … because comic book characters are real. Anyway, enough soapboxing about those guys, may they rest in peace.

This is a time travel movie and we all know how I feel about time travel movies, it’s rarely done right. However I really like Chris Pratt and I was very curious about this movie so why not check it out.

Quick Synopsis and My Review

A wormhole opens suddenly and armed soldiers come through. They say they are from the year 2050 and the humans are losing a war with an alien race. The population of the planet has been decimated to the point of extinction so they need to draft people from the past to fight a war in the future. The entire human race is at stake.

spoiler alert!!!

The following content contains spoilers for The Tomorrow War.

My father-in-law said this is “definitely a Matt movie” and I can’t argue with that. I did enjoy this movie and I may even watch it again some time. It does rely heavily on the suspension of disbelief and I will get to that in a bit. I cannot recall very many (if any) dramatic roles for Chris Pratt. I know the Jurassic World movies had their dramatic moments but those are more adventure driven than drama. However he’s always been Andy Dwyer and Starlord so this movie is definitely outside his typical range. In all honesty I think he did a pretty good job.

Also, J.K. Simmons is jacked in this. I mean, for 66 years old the dude looks like he could arm wrestle a grizzly bear. You may also recognize Hanna from the Dexter series.

A Paradox On Both Your Timelines

This is where the spoiler comes in so if you want to see the movie first, then stop reading. When Chris Pratt’s character is drafted and he’s sent into the future to fight the aliens his team is receiving their orders from a Colonel. It turns out that this Colonel is Pratt’s characters daughter, now an adult. In fact, not only is she a Colonel, she’s also an MIT trained bioengineer and she’s working on a toxin to kill the aliens.

When she creates the toxin she asks her dad (Pratt) to return to the past and synthesize the toxin and return to the future to eradicate the aliens. Things happen and he can’t return to the future, however they discover that the aliens have been on the planet for 1,000 years buried in ice in Russia.

This is where that suspension of disbelief comes into play. This movie creates a time paradox. Chris Pratt gets the toxin from biological material extracted from the alien in the future. Then he returns to the past and kills the alien using the toxin. So if he kills the alien in the past, how does it exist in the future to create the toxin in the first place? It’s a paradox but I think it’s just subtle enough that the suspension of disbelief works here.

Did you see it? What did you think of The Tomorrow War?

film_reel“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
– Stanley Kubrick

 

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