Sunday, March 31, 2013

Once Upon A Time: Costumes

Once Upon A Time isn't on for a few weeks but I thought I'd share some photos of the costumes Disney has on display at California Adventure on the windows outside of the Animation Exhibit. The costumes were behind glass, so I will apologize in advance for the quality of the photography.

I love the costumes from this show. There is so much creativity and attention to detail.

Maleficent is one of my favorite Disney villains. Here is the top and the headdress to her outfit

Regina, the Evil Queen...check out the serious beading on this dress.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Psych Clue Episode Results

On Wednesday the gang from Psych had a special Clue game based episode and allowed the audience to vote for their favorite ending.  It seems the west and east coasts of the country voted differently. On the East Coast, the Butler did it, and on the West Coast, the author did it. It was a great episode and you can read more about it and the history of the Game of Clue here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Game of Thrones: Spring is Here, but Winter is Coming

Game of Thrones returns this Sunday on HBO and I can't wait to finally get back to the adventures of Westros. I've missed Tyrion and Ayra most of all.

This season we get to see Dame Diana Rigg (of The Avengers and Bond girl fame) join the cast as Lady Olenna, Queen-to-be Margaery Tyrell's formidable grandmother. Lady Olenna is also known as the Queen of Thornes which should be really fun to watch. Watch out Lannisters.

During the break, I confess I read the third book on which this season is mostly based. Don't worry, I won't give away any spoilers, but I will tell you that if the books are any indication, this season is not to be missed.

Even though spring is officially here, Winter is Coming.

Seasons 1 & 2 are available on HBO Go, or DVD.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Disneyland: The Way We Were

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by former and long-time Disney Archives chief, Dave Smith.  He showed photos taken when the park was built and told stories about what it was like in those days.

One of the stories he told was about how Walt hired Stanford Research (now called SRI) to find a location for Disneyland.  They came up with a few locations but determined the Anaheim location would be ideal because the new freeway under construction (the Santa Ana "The 5" freeway) would act as an important artery for traffic to the park.

One of the discarded locations was next to the Disney corporate headquarters in Burbank. Below is a fuzzy picture of concept drawing. They ultimately decided against this location because there wasn't enough space. You can read more about how SRI determined the location that became the Happiest Place on Earth here.

Once the location of the park was determined, Disney had to get 17 property owners to sell their land. Ultimately they all sold, but Dave told us that it wasn't easy.

Here's a photo of the Jungle Cruise while it was being built - this is the waterfall where you can see the fabulous "back side of water."

Dave told us that Walt modeled the Castle after european castles with one big difference. European castles were made big to impress and intimidate. Walt wanted his castle to make people feel welcome so he made it smaller. Dave suggested that making it smaller might have also been a little easier on the Disneyland budget.

The photo below is of the bottom of the Mark Twain Boat as it was being built.

And here is the rest of the boat in process...

Disneyland used to have a stage coach ride with real horses and a Mule Train ride with real mules. The Stage Coach was removed after a horse was spooked by a train whistle and dumped the attached stage coach. The mules were removed later because they were sometimes uncooperative and unpredictable. 

This photo is the start of the Mad Tea Cups. As you can see it's a Hidden Mickey.

Here is the Matterhorn. Seems a little odd that the started at the top and worked their way down.

Here's the Matterhorn today:

It was a great talk and I was glad I was able to attend.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Game of Clue and Psych

Tonight the TV show Psych is doing a take off of Clue, the movie which is of course, based on the game. Do you remember the movie? 

In came out in the mid-90s and starred Tim Curry, Eileen Brennan, Martin Mull, Lesley Anne Warren, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Mckean, Madeline Kahn, Coleen Camp and Lee Ving.  Big cast.

One of the best parts was that this movie had three different endings that were shown in different theaters. Psych plans to have three different endings tonight and there will be a live vote and the end to pick the best one.  I thought it was worth a heads up.

Now for a little more on the history of the board game...

Clue, originally called Cluedo, was invented in England in 1944 when World War II was in full force by a man named Anthony Ernest Pratt, a solicitor's clerk. He invented it to entertain his friends and family in-between german bombing soirees.

Although the game was invented in 1944, they parent company couldn't get the right parts to issue it broadly until 1949 because of war shortages. So the game of Clue also did it's part for WWII. 


Clue as we Americans know it, is called different names in different countries: Cluedo in England & Australia; Detective in Brazil, and Mystery Game in Japan.

Original Weaponry

The original weapons included in the game were the axe, shillelagh, bomb, rope, pistol, hypodermic syringe, poison and the poker. I can't even remember the last time I threatened someone with a shillelagh, but a girl has to have aspirational goals, so shillelagh it is. 

Other Random Clue Stuff 

  • There are 324 possible solutions for the game. 
  • If you run out of the special Clue tracking paper, you can order more
  • There's even a Clue mobile phone app. 

While you're watching tonights episode you might want to try one of Cathy Zhu Chen's fabulous cocktails created for each of the Clue characters that can be found right here on Criminal Element.  

It doesn't get any more fabulous than that. 

p.s. - A Big Thank You to Kerry Hammond for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mystery Bling

Today's guest post is from Kim Hammond...

I have many passions in my life and reading mysteries is a big one. My daily commute tends to be over an hour each morning and if I didn’t have my audio books to engage me I am afraid you’d be reading about me on the national news, something like “Deranged Ohioan Goes Postal on Highway.”

Another passion I have is jewelry, or as my three year old daughter calls it, bling. I do not discriminate, I love ALL bling. I used to be a snob and only wore gold or sterling silver, but after becoming a “beader” myself and making some of my own pieces, I have opened my mind and now like and use all mediums. I know some people are allergic to base metals, but don’t let that discourage you. You can just use your own chain on a pendant and wear it longer so it rests on your clothing and doesn’t touch the skin.

Imagine my delight when I am able to combine two of my favorite passions in what I have dubbed Mystery Bling.  This is partly made possible by the fabulous Etsy website. If you are not familiar with Etsy, run, do not walk, to your computer and plug in Etsy is an online community of artists in all their glory. WARNING to your wallet: Etsy can be very addictive.

If you’re not crafty you can purchase items ready to use/wear. I will usually purchase something and then modify it with my own touches. I can’t help myself. I’ve always had great luck with my purchases and I’d like to share some great items from sellers that I have experience with.

First up is a seller named Pattie Tierney. Her store is called Ptierneydesigns. I stumbled across Pattie on the Dorothy L website (www.dorothyl.comthat is an online community of mystery lovers. Pattie posted a comment and had a link at the end to her Etsy store. That was several years ago and I’ve been admiring her wares ever since.  Pattie specializes in the most unique mystery related Shrinky Dink items I’ve ever seen. Yes, I said Shrinky Dinks.

Quick history lesson: Shrinky Dinks are a children's toy/activity kit consisting of large flexible sheets which, when heated in an oven, shrink to small hard plates without altering their color or shape. They reached the height of their popularity in the 1980s. Most sets are pre-printed with outline images of popular children's characters or other subjects, which are then colored in before baking. Shrinky Dinks were invented in 1973 by two housewives and the shrink plastic is still available from many retailers and can be used for anything from charms to pins. (Thank you Wikipedia)

Enter Pattie Tierney

She sells fabulously crafted pins, pendants, bracelets, earrings, and more.  Want to make something yourself, just buy the charms and try your hand and a charm bracelet. Need specific charms or want a certain book cover, send her an email. She’s worked with me on some specific pieces in the past.

Next up is a seller called Sparklelab. This fabulous locket is made to look like a vintage Sherlock Holmes book in a beautiful antique bronze color. This is one of the few items I left alone and wear as is and I always get compliments! I haven’t put anything inside it yet. I am thinking of inserting a Sherlock quote though. I just need to decide on the right one to suit me.

This pendant is from NaturaPicta

You could choose from different color metals and different length of chain. There are several different Sherlock pendants in their store. I purchased this one below and began adding my own charms. Nothing too major, but I do like my bling more on the busy side.

You can read Kim's other posts here.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Mystery of Time Travel

Time Machine
When to shall we wander today?
Seriously. Scientists at Cornell University have created a real hole in time, a temporal cloak of sorts, just like the invisibility cloak in Harry Potter. It’s a place where objects are invisible and events are un-recorded. Sure, no humans went in the hole and it only lasted 50 trillionths of a second, which isn’t long enough to do much of anything, but it’s still pretty cool.
This set my mind to wandering—if we can create the invisibility cloak, can Hermione Granger’s time turner be far behind? This led me to think about time travel in crime fiction and how much I love it.  Almost anything can be done or undone in the world of limitless time travel—it’s all about imagination, control and of course, timing. It’s a criminal’s dream.  And if you mess up, you can almost always go back and try again.

I look for three things in my time travel fiction:
  1. There have to be rules that govern the time travel– I don’t care what the rules are, but they can’t change in the middle of the story.
  2. The world has to be expertly rendered so I can suspend my disbelief.
  3. I have to have someone that I want to root for.
With that in mind, here are my favorite crime stories with time travel.
The Eyre AffairJasper Fforde’s, Thursday Next Series, starting with The Eyre Affair
In Jasper Fforde’s wonderfully witty Thursday Next series, the protagonist, a woman called Thursday Next is a special agent. Her job involves traveling in and out of books to protect great literature from bad characters who attempt to destroy it from within.  Her father, a member of an elite time travel team called the Chronoguard, truly travels through time to stop crime. If you haven’t read any of this series, I strongly urge you to start with the first one, The Eyre Affair, where Thursday is charged with protecting the classic novel, Jane Eyre.
ABC’s Once Upon A Time
The Evil Queen in ABC’s Once Upon a Time was able to get an entire town full of fairy tale characters to travel through time to the next generation and into a town called Storybrooke, Maine. Now that’s some serious time traveling. This feat enables this super criminal to control everyone’s lives without their knowledge. But is the Evil Queen really the most dangerous person in this tale? So far this season, Rumplestiltskin has managed to commit murder, arson, kidnap a child and sell stolen goods. There’s no telling what’s next.  
The RevisionistsThe Revisionists by Thomas Mullen
In The Revisionists, an excellent book by Thomas Mullen, good agents and bad agents alike go back in time to either protect the timeline or prevent bad events from happening with weighty ethical consequences for both groups.  Saving a life in the past can alter the future—but does it alter it for better or worse?
Stephen King’s 11/22/63
What if you could go back in time to stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination? That is the premise for the Stephen King novel, 11/22/63. Stephen King and time travel, do you need another reason to read this book?
The Map of Time, by Felix Palma
Felix Palma’s book, The Map Of Time, makes a protagonist out of a reluctant H.G. Wells to investigate potential incidents of time travel in Victorian London. Arthur Conan DoyleBram Stoker, and Henry James also live among the fictional characters in this fun, steampunk book.
If you are looking for more time travel fiction, you can check out this wonderful article from The Atlantic on the Brief History of Time-Travel books, from Charles Dickens to Stephen King.
I’m sure I missed a few good ones. What are your favorite time travel stories?
steampunk time machine image from Second Life

This post first appeared on Criminal Element. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Operation Paperback

Looking for something to do with all those wonderful paperback books you've already read? How about sending them to an American soldier with Operation Paperback...

Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization that helps get gently used paperback books to American troops overseas as well as veterans and military families here in the U.S. 

Since 1999, Operation Paperback volunteers have shipped more than 1.9 million books to soldiers and their families all over the world. That's many wonderful hours of reading that can make overseas assignments go more quickly and provide a much needed distraction at times. 

Volunteering is easy. You sign up on the website, gather some books, request addresses based on the type of books you've collected, box them up and ship them out. 

It's a great way to thank our soldiers for their service and clean out your bookshelves at the same time. Afterwards, you'll have room for more wonderful books. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Star Wars: This is Madness

"As much as I hate now, vote often and vote Vader."

The folks at Star have started a show down to determine the fan's favorite Star Wars character in bracketed March Madness fashion. 

It looks like Obi Wan and Hans Solo will face off fairly early in the voting. Take a look at the brackets here to see if you agree with me.  R2D2 and C3PO also face off in the first round and I predict an upset by R2D2. 

Of course, social media maven, Darth Vader has already started his trash talk negative advertising. You can see his first ad above. It really is madness...