Episode 51: Occasional Disney Fans

Beyond the Berm returns today with Episode 51! Check out all the interestingness of our latest episode.

Matt begins by mentioning something he saw in Steve’s Twitter bio, “occasional Disney fan.” Steve clarifies that a bit to be “occasional Disney parks fan,” and the most recent contributor to that occasionalness is the ticket price increase that went into effect on both coasts this week. Is Disney pushing away some of its biggest fans by some of their recent actions in the last few years? Listen in and see if you agree.

Steve then brings up the recent announcement of a new DuckTales series coming to DisneyXD in 2017. Will it be good, or will they take too many liberties with it? Here’s hoping that they leave most of the original DuckTalesness intact.

From there, we move into a discussion of the season finale of Agent Carter, followed by our thoughts about the second half of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season which starts next week. We had some mixed but overall positive feelings about Agent Carter, and we have high hopes for Agent Coulson and his crew. And all of that leads into a discussion of the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, too. Will the Marvelness continue to build?

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So how many times have we added -ness to a word to make a new word? That’s interesting! Be sure to listen in to our adventures of Episode 51!

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Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

If you listen to our podcast regularly, you know we often talk about the Marvel movies and television shows. Last night at around 10:30 our time, which would have been 11:30 PM on the east coast, Marvel dropped some major news (which you can read in its entirety here).

The first part of that news was that Spider-Man, one of Marvel’s most popular characters, would be appearing in one of the upcoming films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although in which movie Spider-Man would appear wasn’t stated, it is widely assumed that his appearance would be in the next Captain America movie, since it has already been announced that the movie would follow the events in the Civil War storyline, which features an important appearance by Spider-Man in the comic books.

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That news had been rumored for some time, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise. However, the next part of the announcement was even bigger, more surprising news, at least to me. As part of the press release, it was also announced that after Spider-Man’s appearance in a Marvel Studios movie, the next Spider-Man movie would be produced by Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team, along with Amy Pascal, for Sony Pictures. There has been talk for some time that Sony was planning to once again reboot the Spider-Man franchise, so that wasn’t surprising. But having Marvel Studios essentially make the movie for Sony to distribute is a really big deal.

After all, Marvel Studios, under the leadership of Kevin Feige, has a great track record with the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, including the movies featuring Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Avengers. They seem to have the golden touch these days. And who would know better how to make a Marvel movie than the people at Marvel?

If you aren’t aware, long before Disney bought Marvel, and even long before Marvel decided to make their own movies, they gave Sony the rights to the Spider-Man movies. So while Spider-Man and the Avengers characters, along with all of the other Marvel characters, regularly interact in the comic books, they have always been in two separate worlds in the movies. But now, their worlds are coming together, which is a pretty historic moment, considering that the movies are being released by two different companies. Of course, Disney still comes out ahead with its ownership of Marvel. Not as much ahead as if they were releasing the Spider-Man movie themselves, but they pass some of the risk off to others while still reaping some of the expected financial rewards. Also, the press release states that they are exploring ways to use some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe characters in the upcoming Spider-Man movies as well.

The timing of the announcement was interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, why make a major announcement like that when many people have already gone to bed? I have no idea, but I’m sure they had a good reason.

The second interesting timing tidbit is thanks to the inclusion of Amy Pascal as one of the producers. As you may know, it was announced last week that she is stepping down as the chairwoman of Sony Pictures, a move that is largely seen as a response to the recent data breach at Sony. And interestingly, she helped to bring the first Spider-Man movie to Sony Pictures back in 1999, so she and Spider-Man go way back. Plus, she has a nice place to land when leaving her current job. Spider-Man is good for everyone, it seems.

So this is an interesting turn of events for Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Are you looking forward to it? I know I am. Please let us know how you feel, too!

Episode 50: Interesting Observations

Beyond the Berm returns with its milestone 50th episode! Unfortunately, we don’t have golden cake and ice cream for everyone, but we do have an entertaining episode to share!

For starters, we discuss the news that Tom Staggs has been promoted to the number 2 position at Disney, that of Chief Operating Officer, which most see as an indication that he is next in line to run the company when Bob Iger retires. Is this a good move? Listen in to hear what we think about it.

Next, we talk about the upcoming Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, as well as wondering about what plans there are for Star Wars in the Disney parks. We discuss some of the rumors that we have heard while we wait for an official announcement.

Disneyland 60th

Matt then brings up the 60th Anniversary celebration coming to Disneyland this summer and the plans that have been announced for it. Did they leave you feeling underwhelmed, overwhelmed, or just whelmed?

We then close out the show with a brief discussion about Marvel’s Agent Carter, which we are both enjoying watching while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes a brief break. Have you seen the show? What are your thoughts? We would like to know.

Oh yeah, and we say the word “interesting” at least a few times. All of that and more in Episode 50 of Beyond the Berm!

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runDisney Shots & Thoughts

Episode 49 featured a good amount of detail about my experience during the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend.  I wanted to include a few select pictures of my trip around the world, in addition to a brief recap of my adventures the next weekend for the Star Wars Half Marathon.

WDWMarathonCastleOne of my goals was to run fast enough to get to the Magic Kingdom before dawn so that the Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle would still be lit and visible.  Running through castles is one of the best parts about Disney races.

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This was the first Disney race that I dressed up and the first that I stopped for pictures with characters.  Taking a picture with Mickey while dressed as Mickey was one of the highlights of the marathon for me.

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And I finished the race much like I had run it — with jazz hands.  Not sure why I feel like Mickey would run a marathon with jazz hands but I did.  It still doesn’t quite seem real to me that I ran 26.2 miles.  I might not ever run that distance again but I’m proud to say that I did it once.

Running a marathon almost makes running a half marathon seem like nothing.  Thirteen point one miles is still a good amount of mileage to run though.  The Star Wars Half Marathon was my third half marathon, having completed two Disneyland Half Marathons the previous two years on Labor Day Weekend.  It is easier to compare Star Wars run to those rather than comparing to the events of the previous weekend in Florida.

As a big Disney fan as well as a big Star Wars fan, I thought this would be the perfect event for me.  And while I enjoyed it, I think I preferred the Disneyland Half better.

Event pickup was the same — going to the bottom parking level at the Disneyland Hotel to get my bib and pre-purchased pin.  Having done this in the past, I’m now familiar with how it goes.  I was excited to see the Coast-to-Coast designation next to me name in the sign-in book and received my wrist band that allowed me to get my bonus medal at the end of the half marathon.

The pickup and corresponding expo had begun Thursday but I couldn’t make it down until Saturday, the day before my event.  There hadn’t been a lot of preview of the merchandise but what I had seen, I wasn’t that interested in.  The design of much of the stuff was done in a comic-book style, which didn’t do much for me for the most part.  The Disneyland Half has animated Mickey and gang and Avengers was well suited for this style but I didn’t feel it worked as well for Star Wars.  I’ve heard a lot of stuff had sold out early but it didn’t affect me much because I wasn’t that into it.  I was happy with my “free” participant shirt, which featured Chewbacca, and I picked up a Coast-to-Coast shirt I had passed on in Florida.  Seeing runners who had just completed the 10k with their medals around the neck made me wonder whether I should have done the Rebel Challenge though.

Race day started fine.  Got down there early enough and saw a little performance by the announcing crew and R2-D2 and C3PO before being told that we could head to our corrals.  With a different route than the Disneyland Half, we had quite a bit of walking to do from the staging area to the corrals.  Waiting for the race to start, they showed clips from various Star Wars movies, which was neat.

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I was in Corral B so I didn’t have to wait long after the race began to start my run.  I was surprised how slow the start was with supposed “faster” runners in the corral but it was an OK pace to start.  I had worked hard to get the better start time but perhaps it was a bit of a curse rather than a blessing.

During the Disneyland Half, the sun rises earlier in the morning and the course is run outside of the parks for the first couple of miles but in January, it remained dark for the first part of the race, which headed pretty quickly into the Resort.  Running backstage was done completely in the dark and they didn’t seem to have any floats or other things of interest on display back there.  There simply wasn’t much to see until we made our way into Disneyland.

I love running through the Disney parks and this race was no exception.  Having enjoyed stopping for pictures with the characters in Florida, I had intended to do so again if I saw anyone I wanted to take a picture with.  We headed down Main Street and into Frontierland.  The first photo opportunity was near the dock of the Mark Twain.  It was “Luke” and “Leia,” though they didn’t quite look like them.  I kept going into Fantasyland where there were some Stormtroopers near the carousel.  We ran towards Tomorrowland (no running through the castle … a big bummer) and a cast member was directing people to another photo op near the Matterhorn, though I couldn’t tell who it was (later found out it was Chewbacca).

I wanted my picture taken with Darth Vader and was excited to see him in front of Star Tours but the line was prohibitively long.  They were using the queue of the attraction for the photo line and I honestly thought maybe the ride was open it was so long.  It must have been at least a 20-minute wait when I went past so I decided to skip it.  I read at least one report about someone waiting more than 30 minutes for a picture — much too long in the middle (or rather start) of a race.

We headed through more backstage areas and out the front gates.  I heard my name called and was pleasantly surprised to see my mom.  I stopped for a quick hello and picture before continuing.  The Darth Vader breathing in the underpass between the two parks was pretty cool.

In DCA, there were some Jedi.  I knew that Boba Fett had been here for the 10k and I was interested in a picture with him but his line was at least 10 minutes.  Too long again to wait.  I did stop off for my picture with some Stormtroopers near a bug’s land.

SWHalf03I would have stopped for the characters from Star Wars Rebels, as I saw that they were there during the 10k, but I never encountered them.  I only saw one more group of Jedi before heading out onto the streets of Anaheim and Garden Grove.

One thing I didn’t think I’d like about this course wound up being pretty cool.  Part of Harbor Blvd. was used twice during the race — going and coming.  I didn’t want to run the same stretch twice but as I was passing Katella, the leaders were coming down the other side of the street towards the finish, which I thought was neat to see.  Had I been in a later corral, I wouldn’t have seen this.  Though, if I had been in a later corral, I would have caught an incredible sunrise inside the parks instead of on the streets of Anaheim.  (The lack of sunlight in the parks also led to horrible pictures from MarathonFoto, so I didn’t buy any).

During the Disneyland Half, I look forward to going to Angels Stadium and running the warning track but this course didn’t have that offering (there was a motocross event happening at the stadium so it was all torn up).  Unfortunately, that meant there wasn’t anything to look forward to during the last 10 miles of the race.  We just ran.  Honestly, it was kind of boring.  There were spectators throughout and one stretch had members of the 501st but I didn’t really get to appreciate their costumes as I ran by.

My knee held up pretty well, which I was pleased with.  There was some illnesses going around Kathy’s school the week before the race and I started feeling a little ill myself during the race.  I don’t like using the restroom during a run but after passing by a few port-a-potty stations, I decided I needed to take a bio break.  I felt much better afterward and was able to complete the course a lot more comfortably.

I was happy to hear my name from the announcers as I came across the finish line — the first time they’ve called my name.  Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention but I didn’t see any characters at the finish line as I was crossing.  Perhaps they were in the middle of a shift change?  I got my Star Wars Half medal and my Coast-to-Coast and was finished with yet another long-distance run.

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Reading others’ reports after the race, it seemed like quite a few people liked the Star Wars Half.  It’s not that I didn’t but I didn’t feel it was great and am not sure that I’ll continue doing it in the future.  I think the race brought out a lot of first-time runners and a lot of people who were more fans of Star Wars rather than Disney, which may account for some of that opinion.  There were a lot of intricate costumes worn and the event seemed lively from that standpoint.

I’m not a typical runner either, so I think what I enjoy from a run isn’t necessarily what the typical runner likes.  I’m not a fan of cooler weather and actually prefer the warmer temperatures of the Disneyland Half.  I like the sunrise a little earlier so that I can enjoy the setting I’m running in a little better.  A lot of people liked the course but I thought we entered the parks too quickly and left them too quickly for what would then become a fairly standard road race.

I had planned for the Star Wars Half Marathon to be the end of my running career (and it may still be) but I apparently am not quite done with runDisney yet.  I decided that I’d do the Disneyland Half again this year since it is the 10th anniversary of the event and they sometimes do special medals to commemorate (plus it’s Disneyland’s 60th so who knows if there might be more surprises).  Next year, my daughter will be old enough to do the 10k’s and I told her that I’d run the Tinker Bell one with her.  Perhaps I’ll do the Avengers event at some point too to say that I did them all.

It’s not necessarily easy to do such long-distance events but runDisney does make them fun and accessible to a wide range of abilities with a fairly generous pace requirement.  They cost a bit more than the standard running events but honestly if they weren’t Disney-themed, I wouldn’t be doing them.  They’ve been a great way to challenge myself physically and I love the bling hanging from pegs on the wall of my office.  And like many things Disney, runDisney is highly addictive.  I don’t relish the thought of training for more events but I can’t help thinking which ones I’m going to do next.

~Matt

 

Episode 49: Matt the Marathon Man

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 49!

If you have been following our adventures here (and if you haven’t, why not?), you know that Matt has been preparing for the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland. And if he completes both, he earns a Coast to Coast medal as well.

This past weekend was the Walt Disney World Marathon. Did Matt complete the marathon? Wouldn’t this episode have been titled differently if he didn’t? And if that doesn’t answer your question, how about this:

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Listen in as Matt tells about his experiences along the run. Can running 26.2 miles actually be fun? It certainly sounds like it!

And best of luck to Matt and everyone else participating in the half marathon at Disneyland this weekend!

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runDisney Attire

On several podcast episodes, I’ve mentioned that I’ll be participating in the Walt Disney World Marathon and Star Wars Half Marathon. I’m often amazed at the creative attire that people come up with when running runDisney events. Usually, I just wear the tech T-shirt they provide as part of the event registration but this year I’ve decided to spice things up a bit and actually run in costume.

For the Walt Disney World Marathon, I’m running as the Big Cheese himself — Mickey Mouse. I’ll be sporting a solid black T-shirt, red shorts and yellow shoes. To accessorize, I’ve spray painted two buttons yellow and attached them to belt loops in my shorts. A pair of fuzzy white gloves and traditional Mickey ears completes the ensemble.
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For the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon, I bought a Darth Vader costume T-shirt with cape from Target and will be pairing it with black shorts. I bought a Darth Vader helmet with Mickey ears at Disneyland and am borrowing my daughter’s Mickey light wand to act as a light saber. Black gloves, socks and shoes help me fulfill my turn to the Dark Side.
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Neither of these outfits are particularly creative but are a fun way for me to participate in a runDisney event beyond simply running the distance. Of the two outfits, the regular Mickey is the most simple befitting the 26.2 miles I’ll have to endure while wearing it. I just hope the ears stay put, the 80-degree expected weather don’t make the gloves unnecessarily hot and the shoes turn out to be as much performance issue than just looking the part. The Darth Mickey will be more tricky with the rim of the helmet potentially striking my neck on every stride and the possibility that my light saber may be difficult to keep retracted. But as much as I’d like to pull decent times, I’m not running to win and these costumes will hopefully make the events even more fun than they already are.

~ Matt

A Review of the Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration

For many, many years now, it has been a family tradition to watch the Disney Christmas parade each year. It started way back when it was just the Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade and when it was broadcast live, way before it grew to the pre-taped show involving both Disneyland and Walt Disney World that it has become now.

This year, the show was called the Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration, trying to cash in on some of the Frozen hype that is still out there a year after the movie was first released. We don’t usually watch the show when it is actually broadcast, and this year was no different. So in the afternoon on Christmas day, the three of us along with my parents sat down to watch what we had recorded.

Here is the short review: We were all disappointed.

If you want the longer review, here it is:

Back in the old days, the focus was mainly on the parade, much like you would watch the Macy’s Parade on Thanksgiving. Joan Lunden and Regis Philben (or Alan Thicke way back in the early days) would give you a rundown of what you were watching. And then there would be some segments showing what was new in the parks for the upcoming year. Yes, it was a big two hour commercial for Walt Disney World, but it was a very well done commercial, one that would make me want to go back there as soon as possible.

The show has evolved over the years, including the previously mentioned inclusion of the Disneyland Resort and now even throwing in portions from Aulani in Hawaii and a little bit from Castaway Cay in the Bahamas, too. And if that were all that had changed, that would still be good. If it were done well.

But now, the main focus of the show seems to be one musical performance after another by a string of mid-grade musical entertainers, none of whom anyone in my family group that was watching cared anything about. Just one song after another, along with some try-to-make-you-cry segments about three different reunions at the Disney parks.

There were a few mentions here and there of upcoming things, such as Disneyland’s 60th anniversary celebration, but otherwise, there was very little focus on the parks and attractions. Oh yeah, they did show a few parade floats for a few seconds, too. But even with their editing, it still appeared that they brought out a few random floats and parked them to get some film footage, instead of actually showing scenes from the parade.

Yes, I know that “parade” is now nowhere in the title any more, and I’m actually fine if they don’t include any of the parade at all. But perhaps a more accurate title would be “People Singing Christmas Songs and Other Songs at Disney Parks.” Because that is about all that was.

As I mentioned earlier, for its entire run, the main purpose of the Christmas program has been to be a big, long commercial for the Disney parks. To make you want to experience all the fun that they have. To make you want to go there.

And this time, for me, it failed.

Disney on Turner Classic Movies

Last night, December 21, 2014, saw the premier of the Disney programming block on Turner Classic Movies (also known as TCM). Included in last night’s programming were some short cartoons; two episodes of the Disney television show; The Reluctant Dragon; Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier; The Vanishing Prairie; and Third Man on the Mountain. There was also a good bit of discussion about each of the shows with host Ben Mankiewicz and Disney film historian Leonard Maltin.

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Due to the programming starting while we were at a church activity and running well into the night, I didn’t see the start or the end of it all. But that’s okay, because that is why DVRs were created. Actually, I didn’t set the DVR to record The Reluctant Dragon, because I have that on Blu-Ray now. But after watching what I did watch, I almost wished that I had recorded that one, too, just to make sure I didn’t miss any of Leonard Maltin’s comments about it.

The main thing that I did watch live last night was the end of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and the beginning of The Vanishing Prairie. Davy Crockett has always been a favorite of mine, and I like to tell people sometimes that the area where we live in Tennesseewas once represented by Davy Crockett in congress. Although obviously I wasn’t around to vote for him at the time. It was great to see his adventures in high definition. It is amazing how those old movies can still look so good all these years later.

I didn’t stick with The Vanishing Prairie all that long, because it started just before midnight for our local time, but I had forgotten how interesting those old nature documentaries actually were. I’ll have to watch the full show sometime in the near future.

Also, I thought it was interesting that The Disneyland Story, the first of the television episodes shown last night, included the Laughing Place scene from Song of the South. Later on after Davy Crockett, Ben and Leonard explained the context for some of the Native American stereotypes found in that movie. Could this new programming, complete with contextual explanations, mean that Song of the South could be shown in one of the future blocks? That is probably just a dream, but it would certainly be nice.

I am glad that they included Leonard Maltin in this, too. He is obviously a Disney fan as well as a historian, and his comments help the understanding of the casual viewer who may not be as familiar with Disney as some of us are.

TCM hasn’t yet said when the next Disney movies and shows will air or what they will be, but I am already looking forward to seeing what else they have in store for us. It is great to be able to see some of this classic Disney content once again!

Episode 48: Best and Worst of 2014

Welcome to the Beyond the Berm Christmas Extravaganza! Also known as Episode 48.

Christmas is almost here, and the year is winding down to a close, in case you haven’t noticed. So for this episode, we discuss some of the Best and Worst of 2014 in several different categories, some of them Disney related, and others of them more general. Listen in to see if you agree! And share some better ideas if you have them!

Matt also gives an update on his two upcoming runs, the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon, which are just a week apart from each other. Be sure to send him some encouragement, too!

Steve also mentions the first block of Disney programming on TCM, which is this Sunday, December 21. Be sure to set your DVR!

All this and more in Episode 48 of Beyond the Berm!

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Episode 47: This, That, and Some More

Welcome back to Beyond the Berm for Episode 47!

What did we talk about in this episode? Perhaps the better question would be what did we not talk about in this episode! We covered lots of ground, moving from topic to topic with some pretty interesting transitions. The new Star Wars trailer, Big Hero 6, the live-action Cinderella movie, Into the Woods, Frozen and its amazing year, Frozen stuff at the Disney parks, new life for The Great Movie Ride, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. updates, Marvel  and Moana movie casting news, and so much more!

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And we even threw in some history bits about Memphis Wrestling, too. Who is this Flex Kavana guy, and what does he have to do with Disney?

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Find out in this episode! And that rumor about the Matterhorn replacing Harold the Abominable Snowman with a Wampa and the bobsled vehicles being changed to gutted out Tauntauns? Pretty safe bet that you won’t hear that anywhere else!

All that and even more is in Episode 47 of Beyond the Berm!

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