Friday, November 30, 2012

Fortune Friday: Your Baby Will Be A Criminal Mastermind

For Fortune Friday this week we have baby t-shirts that foretell your little one's future.
They come all wrapped up so you don't know what you are going to get. It's the magic 8-ball of the infant set. What a great shower gift for a mystery lover. The criminal mastermind shirt is fabulous but other options include: Mayor of Hoboken, Shrimp Boat Captain and Cruise Director . That will stop all the relatives from talking about the six month old becoming a doctor for a few minutes.

To get your a baby fortune-telling shirt from Mysterio, visit Henry Road.

You can read other Fortune Friday posts here.

Paula Smail at Henry Road developed the Mystery Playground logo. She has a fabulous store in Studio City, California and another one online at

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hidden Treasure - Bauman's Rare Books

On a recent trip to Vegas, I happened upon a beautiful little rare book store tucked inside the shops of at the Palazzo Hotel. It had so many wonderful old books displayed - first editions, signed, really splendid volumes, many of which are displayed in the shop. It is a serious book playground. The shop allowed me to take photos, so I've got a few below to share. I apologize in advance for poor photo quality.

This book isn't signed, so it is a steal at $4,500. It's a beautiful cover. 

Did you ever see the movie with Bing Crosby? My sister and I used to watch it whenever it came on when we were little.

$28,000 for Pooh Bear...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Lewis Carroll, although if you are going to have an expensive copy of a Lewis Carroll book I strongly believe it should be Alice in Wonderland.

The catalogue for the holiday season was filled with rare books goodness, including a first edition of Her Majesty's Secret Service, signed by Ian Fleming and first edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, unsigned. 

Bauman's Rare Books also has a store in Manhattan at 535 Madison Avenue, between 54th and 55th and another in Philadelphia at 1608 Walnut Street, 19th floor (they only see people by appointment at the Philadelphia store. You can see more of what they have at their website here. If you are near the Manhattan or Vegas stores, I'd heartily recommend stopping by. I've only covered less than a tenth of what they had on display. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Once Upon a Time: You Gotta Have Heart

This week's epsiode of Once Upon a Time was really all about heart.

Cora doesn't have a heart, so she collects hearts from other people. Then she turns those hearts into a zombie army to attack Snow, Emma, Mulan and Aurora, unsuccessfully of course, but still an impressive show of super evil. Sleeping Beauty (Aurora, which means the dawn) is showing signs of sluggishness. She gets captured, something that no self-respecting Princess would allow, and winds up imprisoned by Cora.

Then the handsome Captain Hook steals Aurora's heart -- literally, by ripping it out of her chest--- to use as trade bait with Cora. Yes, I know Hook is evil, but still he must know that Cora is no better than a crocodile. Now Cora can use Aurora to spy on Snow, Amma and Mulan and now Sleeping Beauty doesn't have a heart. That can't be good. And will someone get Aurora some more casual clothing? Seriously. I suggest a sturdy pair of jeans.

The meetings in the sleeping fire caves got too rough for Aurora and Henry, so they passed the 'torch' to Snow and Charming. Of course,Charming needed a sleeping curse to get there, which he thought a kiss from Snow could reverse. This didn't phase him because he and Snow always find one another. But his brave plan didn't work because Snow and Charming were in different planes or something, so now the Prince is asleep, waiting for his Princess warrior to make time in her busy fighting schedule to find, kiss and save him. I say it's about time for this reversal storyline. Well done.

It does make things more complicated in Storybrooke:
 1) Rumple and Regina are now both trying to be good and save the town from Cora, but without Charming/David how long can this last?
2) A sleeping Charming is a boring Charming. How long will he sleep?
3) Who goes into the sleeping curse fire caves next? I hope it's not Henry.

And is he stuck in the part of the fire nightmare where you get burned a lot? This could be a problem if it lasts for more than another epsiode...

There were hints at our group needing a mermaid to fetch something soon. Hello? Ariel, dahling? We need some help. Maybe we'll see that next week.

We have one more episode and then Once is on "winter hiatus" until January. I am not sure I like such a long break, but since I still have my heart in tact, I'll let this one slide. For now.  

And will we ever learn who Baelfire is?

Friday, November 23, 2012

After the Mayflower: The Good Ship Fortune

Now that you've had your fill of turkey and possibly tales of the first Thanksgiving, it's interesting to note what came a few weeks after Thanksgiving. And that was a ship called, Fortune, but really we never hear about the second ship because the Mayflower gets all the press. But here's the thing, the investors who sent the Mayflower to America didn't finance the journey because they were nice guys. They did it because they wanted to make money. So much so, they named the ship for the Fortune they were sure they would make.  

But good ship Fortune didn't really live up to it's name. By the time it reached Massachusetts with thirty-five people aboard, it was out of much needed supplies - for both passengers on the Fortune and the colonists of Plymouth who were still short on food because while Thanksgiving was a great meal, the hard living continued after the feast.

Of course the investors also sent along a letter demanding that the Fortune be filled with treasure and sent back to England immediately. It seems the boss is the boss no matter what time and place. 

According to accounts, the settlers rallied and filled the ship with what treasure they could - mostly furs. Then they got together to figure a way to buy themselves out of debt, but it took seven long years to achieve.  

So even after the feast, the Pilgrims had to work hard to get themselves out of a massive debt. Hmmm. It doesn't sound so different than the United States today. 

To learn more about the Fortune, visit

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rumplestiltskin: Grimm's vs. Once Upon a Time

Photo found at: Design work done by Paula Smail at Henry Road.

Once Upon a Time is not on this Sunday, so I thought it might be fun to post the original Grimm's Fairy Tale Rumplestiltskin (It's out of copyright and pretty darn short).  

How long has it been since you've read this story?


by The Brothers Grimm
translated by Edgar Taylor

Once there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he had to go and speak to the King, and in order to make himself appear important he said to him, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold." The King said to the miller, "That is an art which pleases me well; if your daughter is as clever as you say, bring her to-morrow to my palace, and I will try what she can do."
And when the girl was brought to him he took her into a room which was quite full of straw, gave her a spinning-wheel and a reel, and said, "Now set to work, and if by to-morrow morning early you have not spun this straw into gold during the night, you must die." Thereupon he himself locked up the room, and left her in it alone. So there sat the poor miller's daughter, and for her life could not tell what to do; she had no idea how straw could be spun into gold, and she grew more and more miserable, until at last she began to weep.
But all at once the door opened, and in came a little man, and said, "Good evening, Mistress Miller; why are you crying so?" "Alas!" answered the girl, "I have to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it." "What will you give me," said the manikin, "if I do it for you?" "My necklace," said the girl. The little man took the necklace, seated himself in front of the wheel, and "whirr, whirr, whirr," three turns, and the reel was full; then he put another on, and whirr, whirr, whirr, three times round, and the second was full too. And so it went on until the morning, when all the straw was spun, and all the reels were full of gold. By day-break the King was already there, and when he saw the gold he was astonished and delighted, but his heart became only more greedy. He had the miller's daughter taken into another room full of straw, which was much larger, and commanded her to spin that also in one night if she valued her life. The girl knew not how to help herself, and was crying, when the door again opened, and the little man appeared, and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?" The ring on my finger," answered the girl. The little man took the ring, again began to turn the wheel, and by morning had spun all the straw into glittering gold.
The King rejoiced beysnd measured at the sight, but still he had not gold enough; and he had the miller's daughter taken into a still larger room full of straw, and said, "You must spin this, too, in the course of this night; but if you succeed, you shall be my wife." "Even if she be a miller's daughter," thought he, "I could not find a richer wife in the whole world."
When the girl was alone the manikin came again for the third time, and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw for you this time also?" "I have nothing left that I could give," answered the girl. "Then promise me, if you should become Queen, your first child." "Who knows whether that will ever happen?" thought the miller's daughter; and, not knowing how else to help herself in this strait, she promised the manikin what he wanted, and for that he once more spun the straw into gold.
And when the King came in the morning, and found all as he had wished, he took her in marriage, and the pretty miller's daughter became a Queen.
A year after, she had a beautiful child, and she never gave a thought to the manikin. But suddenly he came into her room, and said, "Now give me what you promised." The Queen was horrorstruck, and offered the manikin all the riches of the kingdom if he would leave her the child. But the manikin said, "No, something that is living is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world." Then the Queen began to weep and cry, so that the manikin pitied her. "I will give you three days' time," said he; "if by that time you find out my name, then shall you keep your child."
So the Queen thought the whole night of all the names that she had ever heard, and she sent a messenger over the country to inquire, far and wide, for any other names that there might be. When the manikin came the next day, she began with Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar, and said all the names she knew, one after another; but to every one the little man said, "That is not my name." On the second day she had inquiries made in the neighbourhood as to the names of the people there, and she repeated to the manikin the most uncommon and curious. "Perhaps your name is Shortribs, or Sheepshanks, or Laceleg?" but he always answered, "That is not my name."
On the third day the messenger came back again, and said, "I have not been able to find a single new name, but as I came to a high mountain at the end of the forest, where the fox and the hare bid each other good night, there I saw a little house, and before the house a fire was burning, and round about the fire quite a ridiculous little man was jumping: he hopped upon one leg, and shouted -
"'To-day I bake, to-morrow brew, The next I'll have the young Queen's child. Ha! glad am I that no one knew That Rumpelstiltskin I am styled."
You may think how glad the Queen was when she heard the name! And when soon afterwards the little man came in, and asked, "Now Mistress Queen, what is my name?" at first she said, "Is your name Conrad?" "No." "Is your name Harry?" "No."
"Perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin?"
"The devil has told you that! the devil has told you that!" cried the little man, and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth that his whole leg went in; and then in rage he pulled at his left leg so hard with both hands that he tore himself in two.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Oz: The Great and Powerful

from the OZ website at

Disney is coming out with a new take on the OZ story, called Oz: The Great and Powerful.  This time it's the story of how the "small time circus magician of dubious ethics" found himself in OZ and what happened once he got there. After watching this trailer, I am really psyched to see this movie when it comes out in March.

The young faux wizard from Kansas is played by James Franco. The movie was directed by Sam Raimi. Take a look at the trailer. 

I wonder if this means they are going to update the Wizard of Oz section in the Great Movie Ride and Disney Hollywood Studios. I hope not. It's my favorite room in that ride, although to be fair I have adjusted to the Johnny Depp additions in Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean. 

The cinematography in the promo photos looks so beautiful, although it's obviously cgi. OZ looks wondrous. I can't wait until March 8th.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Fortune Friday: Telling Lies is Free Today

Today's Fortune Friday is about a free e-book for you. Cathi Stoler's book, Telling Lies, is available for free download today here on Amazon. Downloading free e-books is a great way to check out new authors.

Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

How many lies does it take to get away with murder?
Laurel Imperiole, Senior Editor of "Women Now" magazine is enjoying a much-needed vacation in Florence, Italy. On her last day in the city, a chance encounter at the Uffizi Museum brings Laurel to a startling realization: she’s just bumped into a dead man.
Jeff Sargasso, a former friend and art dealer, was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11 while concluding a private deal with Alfred Hammersmith, world-famous CEO of Hammersmith & Mann Investments. Sargasso was to broker the sale of what would become the world’s most expensive painting—priced at a hefty $150 million dollars. Hammersmith was acquiring the painting from an even bigger corporate shark, Miayamu Moto, of the multibillion-dollar MMJapan Corporation. Sargasso planned to leave for Japan immediately after the meeting to authenticate the painting and turn over the access codes to a Swiss holding account in which 10% of the asking price had been deposited.
Neither Sargasso nor Hammersmith made it out of 1 World Trade Center. Sargasso’s body was never recovered and it was presumed that the access codes to the $15 million died with him.
Could the man Laurel bumped into really have been Jeff Sargasso? Was it possible he’d faked his death to steal the $15 million dollars and had disappeared without a trace?
Calling on private investigator Helen McCorkendale for help, the women plunge into an investigation that leads them through a maze of murder and deceit, stolen Nazi art and the Israeli Mossad.
Searching for answers, Laurel and Helen thread their way through a sinister skein of lies that takes them on a whirlwind journey that could end in death.
"Telling Lies" is published by Camel Press.

You can read more about Cathi on her website.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Once Upon A Time: Red Riding Hood

This week's episode of Once Upon A time focused on Ruby and her journey to control her wolfy-side. It also marked the return of King George, Prince Charming/David's fake king father as a revenge-seeking murderer determined to destroy David. (You may remember that King George plucked Charming David from a life as a shepherder because he looked like the Prince who died. George needed an heir and someone to marry Midas' daughter. George was really ticked when Charming fell for Snow.) You can find a recap of tonight's episode here.

There were three key parts to tonights episode as far as I am concerned:

1) Ruby's necessary adjustment to the return of her wolf-side now that magic is back. This was resolved pretty quickly as we went back and forth between the flashbacks to oldtime fairytale land and modern Storybrooke. We meet Ruby's wolf mom and pack and start to understand why Granny took Ruby away and tried to raise her as a human. As Ruby saved Snow in the flashbacks, David's trust that Ruby in wolf form won't kill him saves her now.
I have to wonder if this de-wolfing will stick.

2) King George is back and is really, really evil. He kills a poor pawn (Billy the tow truck driver/mouse) just to frame Ruby to get back at David. That's some complicated revenge.George also burned Jefferson's hat thinking that would separate David from Snow and Emma forever. Maybe Cora and George should start dating. They could hatch their evil plots together.

 Now that Gold & Regina seem to be kinder and gentler, and with Cora stuck in fairytale land, we need a baddy on the Storybrooke side of the fence.

3) The nightmares - Both Henry and Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) are having fiery nightmares. At the end of the show, they meet each other in a nightmare where Henry uses Gold's amulet to stop the fire and speak to Aurora. their conversation doesn't last long but it's enough for Aurora to report the conversation back to Snow, Emma and Mulan. (The nightmare reminded me of the Opera House dream from Battlestar Gallactica a bit - Laura Roslyn spoke to Deanna when they weren't in the same part of the galaxy.)

Overall, I thought the episode was a good one, although it could have used a little more Hook.

We have a two week break before the next episode. What did you think about tonight's episode? What's King George's next move? Will Ruby continue to be able to control herself during full moons?

You can read past commentaries on Once Upon a Time here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Disneyland's Esmeralda

On Fortune Friday this week, we talk about Disneyland's very own Fortune Teller who sits inside a glass box in front of the Penny Arcade on Main Street. For 25c she will not only tell your fortune, she will provide your lucky number and color. 

Seriously, Esmeralda has been lying to me for a quarter since I was seven. She has promised me no fewer than ten fortunes, three double crosses and at least seven more husbands than I have. She has changed my lucky color and number almost every time I've visited her and she is always willing to tell me more if I give her another quarter. 

This video shows Esmeralda in action.

Still, a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth just isn't the same without a visit to my old friend - questionable hippy head band, fortune telling skills and insatiable need for quarters aside. 

It's hard to say exactly how Esmeralda got her name, but is also the name of the fortune telling gypsy in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, both in the original novel by Victor Hugo (published in 1831) and the Disney movie. 

Our fortune teller loves social media, she has her own Facebook page, "Esmeralda's Fortunes" and her own Twitter account @DisneyProphecy. You can see a video of her in action above.

Of course, Esmeralda isn't the only fortune teller in Disneyland, her fortune telling brethren include Fortune Red the fortune telling pirate in New Orleans Square and Shrunken Ned in Adventureland, but we'll save their tales for another day. 

If you would like to read more about Fortune Friday, click here

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Five Mysterious Series to Put on the Netflix List

The brilliant thing about TV today is that if you miss an episode or an entire series, you can catch up online somewhere -- on Hulu or Netflix or iTunes. In the olden days if you weren't home on Friday night, you missed the Partridge Family (was it really on on Friday night? I don't remember.) Anyway, here are five Netflix crime series picks you might want to put on your list if you missed them.

1) Alias - Jennifer Garner plays Sydney Bristow, a spy who works for the bad guys but thinks she works for the good guys. Until she figures it out, but then she has to figure out what side her parents are on. The first two seasons are fabulous. You won't want to stop watching. The Rimbaldi thing gets a little strange as the show evolves.

2) Chuck - A campy spy story about a nerd that works at a Best Buy-type place called the Buy More who accidentally turns his brain into a super computer. And the pair of geek workers at the Buy More -- Jeff and Lester are too rich to be missed.  

3) BBC's Robin Hood - This take on the old robbing the rich to give to the poor classic is absorbing and at time's gut wrenching. The Sheriff makes a good enemy, Maid Marion is much more resourceful and interesting than in the original tale and I'd follow this Robin of Locksley anywhere.

4) Twin Peaks - A young teenage girl, Laura Palmer, is murdered in unique Twin Peaks and the murder is investigated but the most fabulous FBI Special Agent that ever lived. Or maybe he's just the quirkiest. The characters on this show are so different and unique, it makes this show stellar. You may or may not be pleased with how the series ends, but spending time with Special Agent  Dale Cooper and the Log Lady will make it all right.

5) Life on Mars - A story about a detective who time teleports back to the 1970's. There is only one season from ABC that was shown in the states and the end was hastily put together after it was cancelled. Even with all that I loved the episodes they did make. Just watching Detective Sam Tyler trying to figure out 1970s technology is worth it. The UK version is also very good. (Jason O'Mara currently stars in the CBS freshman show, Vegas on Tuesday nights. I can't wait for each new episode. You can read my review of the season so far on Criminal Element here.

What are your favorite old series that I may have missed?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Once Upon A Time: Emma, Hook and Trust

This week's episode of Once was all Emma, with a little Hook on the side (recap can be found over at Entertainment Weekly). We learn the details of Emma's checkered past and met the guy that we suppose is Henry's father. Turns out he didn't want to desert Emma, but August/ Pinocchio convinced him that it was the 'right thing', because of her DESTINY. 

Note to self: if Pinocchio shows up trying to talk you into something, maybe this isn't a good thing. He means well, it's just he has a habit of lying... and the whole nose growing thing is just a metaphor, so you can't see it. Geppetto and Figaro forgive him, because that's who they are. But Emma and me, we're different. It's a big bean stalk jungle out there and a girl has to be careful. 

Granted, even I know that meeting a guy when you are trying to steal a car and he has already stolen it is not the best way to find your life partner, but still.

What else did we learn in this episode? Emma has gotten smarter over the years. Leaving Hook with the Giant for a ten hour head start was genius. The kind of genius not often seen in TV land. Emma, like you and me, is familiar with the Peter Pan story. We know Hook's MO. Despite the fact that this Hook is off the hook good looking. He is still a centerpiece of the Disneyland Halloween Villain Crew, which means he is not your friend, regardless of the photo opps and the occasional appearance at character breakfast. 

Granted, she would had have been SMARTER if she had given herself, Snow, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan more than a ten hour head start. (Did anyone even believe that Sleeping Beauty thought for a second that she was the best choice to climb the bean stalk? Really? Girl needs some traveling clothes at the very least. And where are these fairy godmothers that we have heard so much about?) 

Despite all of this, I am ready to nominate Hook for his own TV show.  We'll call it, "Hooked."

What did you think of tonight's episode? What do you think Cora is up to? And, with all of this Hook action, where is Tinkerbelle?

Next week, the previews tell us that the story will again focus on Red and her wolf issues. Seriously, she is the only person who is better off without magic. I say we throw her over the Storybrooke city line. She could use the memory scrub, especially if it means she is de-wolfed.

What do you think? Are you watching? Would you watch the new Hook show that I just made up? 

Previous episodes of Once Upon a Time and ABC recaps can be found on the ABC website.

We do love the good Captain...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Darth Vader and Mickey Mouse

Disney bought Lucas Films this week and I think it's grand.

Disney has already done an excellent job of integrating Star Wars into the parks - with Star Tours in Disneyland and Hollywood Studios and with Star Wars Weekends in Orlando. Indiana Jones is also ingrained in the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland. The merchandise tie ins have been very successful. It's good for Disney because it lets them extend and build on existing investments and it's good for Lucas because his properties will live on for generations.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fortune Friday

It's Fortune Friday. Well, every Friday is now Fortune Friday since we're starting a new feature running every Friday on everything having to do with the word Fortune for the next 52 weeks. 

Webster's Dictionary defines the word fortune in this way:


 noun \ˈfȯr-chən\

Definition of FORTUNE

often capitalized : a hypothetical force or personified power that unpredictably determines 
events and issues favorably or unfavorably
obsolete : accidentincident
a : prosperity attained partly through luck : success
b : luck 1
c plural : the turns and courses of luck accompanying one's progress (as through life) 
<her fortunes varied but she never gave up>
: destinyfate <can tell your fortune>also : a prediction of fortune
a : richeswealth <a man of fortune>
b : a store of material possessions <the family fortune>
c : a very large sum of money <spent a fortune redecorating

We'll be interpreting that definition pretty liberally talking about everything from stories of fortune making and breaking to the business of fortune telling from cookies to magic 8-balls, with a little luck thrown in. 

It's more about the lure of wanting to predict the future than it is actually telling anyone's future. 

After aren't all stories really just the turning of Fortune's Wheel?