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24
Apr

recipe-make-a-starbucks-frappuccino-at-home-in-a-blender-or-vitamix-blendtec-whatever
 Recipe: Make a Starbucks Frappuccino at home in a blender (or Vitamix / Blendtec / whatever)

I use coffee to combat depression because I am one of those people who believes my brain is a product of my own situation that I should just work through. I might be wrong, but whatever here is a tasty recipe.

When they changed the recipe for the Frappuccino in 2008 I was no longer able to partake at Starbucks. The taste is now weird and it now makes my throat itchy. This is closer to the original recipe.

You don’t need a fancy blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. I just happen to have a Vitamix that I’ve named Jack Burton.

Fake Frappuccino Coffee Drink Recipe:

- A shot of chilled espresso (OR Instant coffee / Starbucks VIA / whatever)

- 1 cup of milk (cow’s / almond / rice / whatever you want)

- 1/2 to 1 cup of ice cubes. I used 5 1 inch cubes.

- 2 or 3 tablespoons of organic cane sugar (OR some coffee syrup OR regular sugar if you are less of a hipster jackass than I am)

Blend all of this up for like 30-40 seconds or until your blender makes it really liquidy. Don’t use too much ice or you’ll have to add more milk to make it blend right. I tried a version with a tablespoon of honey but honey doesn’t mix well in cold drinks.

If anyone works at a Starbucks and can shed some light on the real recipe, please comment. I just made this up based on a ton of other recipes and my own trial and error. I’m not like, Julia Child or anything.


22
Apr

star-wars-weekends-adds-jedi-dining-experiences-at-disneys-hollywood-studios-in-orlando-florida
 Star Wars Weekends adds Jedi dining experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.

Back when Disney bought Marvel and everyone on the internet was yowling about what this might mean I already knew the answer. Marvel Comics are going to get better movies, better merchandise, and better placement in stores.

The same is going to be true for Star Wars after Disney bought them.

Now that Disney owns Star Wars they have made many changes to their yearly Star Wars Weekends festival at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida. One addition is Star Wars Weekends Character Dining experiences.

These include:

- Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast! at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant (Stormtroopers, Jawa, Greedo, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader while Star Wars clips play on the movie screen.)

- Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine (Ewok Chip & Dale, Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and/or Stormtrooper Donald.)

- Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine with Fantasmic! Dinner Package (This includes a digital download of a photograph with Chip and Dale)

I want to do the breakfast, but it’s $47.99 per person or 2 table service credits on the dining plan. Holy crap, son. The waffles better be good.

This is going on from only from May 4 through June 15 only. Get the details here.


21
Apr

castle-blood-in-monessen-pa-to-kickstart-their-new-move-near-pittsburgh
 Castle Blood in Monessen, PA to kickstart their new move (near Pittsburgh)

Castle Blood is moving to a new location this year. I haven’t been to this one before but I had the chance to speak with owner Gravely Macabre about his haunt. This haunt is classic style with a lot of theater. I am interested to see what they come up with this year.

This coming season I hope to focus on haunts that I have not done before. These guys are on my list.


21
Apr

4-things-haunted-attractions-need-to-stop-doing-immediately-i-dont-care-if-its-just-halloween-or-a-butt-squirrel
 4 things haunted attractions need to stop doing immediately; I don’t care if it’s just Halloween or a butt squirrel

So yeah. I do this Haunted Attraction review thing every year. Here are 4 things that haunted attractions need to stop doing.

1. Overuse of chainsaws and clowns:

Chainsaws and Clowns are the Photoshop Lens Flare of Haunted Attractions. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Photoshop, I can explain. The Lens Flare feature is a feature that almost everyone used when it came out because it looked “big” and “cool”. It quickly became the demarcation for who was a terrible artist because so many people used it to make up for lack of creativity. Lens Flare didn’t help art, it became the focus of the piece and drowned out anything else about that piece. Today it’s generally laughed at. Don’t use Photoshop Lens Flare!

Chainsaws and clowns are only slightly different. They do scare some customers so I won’t say stop using them altogether. I will say that they should be used sparingly and that whenever I see them I refuse to respond to them out of my hatred for them.

I don’t knock people’s reviews down for having chainsaws and clowns but I do knock them down if they use them as a crutch or in a random and careless manner.

Good examples of clown usage are at Bates Motel and Hotel of Horror in PA. Bates went against the grain and used vintage 1930s clowns. That impressed me. Hotel of Horror encourages their scare actors to adopt personas. They have a clown in the haunt that clearly knows his character and executes it like no other. This also impressed me. These are great way of taking a tired concept and making them new and great again. (Read their respective reviews over at this page.)

2. Relying on startle scares at the expense of storytelling:

We get it. You are extreme. No, make that “X-TREEEEMEEEEEE”.

There’s nothing wrong with scares of all types but I really wish that more haunted attractions took the time to build their own story as well. Even a simple story is a way to evoke ownership over a scenario and immediately be seen as a name brand. Think about it – which would you remember better? A movie called “Zombie Man #54″ where no one had a name or a purpose or “Postman Joe the Zombie Face-Eater from New Jersey who likes The Sopranos but really hates Bruce Springsteen”?

Yes, I know my example here is ridiculous, but the point is the same – the second one is memorable. The first one is only stupid and the same thing everyone else does. No matter how good, bad, or simple the story is the best haunted attractions find some way to create narratives within their work that make them stand out from the others. I wish more people would do this.

I don’t care if you are so extreme that you are pulling a squirrel out of your ass. That squirrel had better have a story even if it’s a simple story like, “This is a Butt Squirrel”.

Even haunted attractions that aren’t scary can be amazing if they create a fun theatrical experience. I want to see their world and their creative process.

3. Copying the other guy:

The one time I bothered to engage in a haunt owner community I ended up face-palming at how much copying is out there with no other justification than “The other guy near me did it so I should, too”.

Some people are great at set building. Some are great at acting. Some are great at extreme experiences and the safety issues that need to be thought of when doing them. I am seeing folks who are not great at certain areas deciding that they should attempt those areas to cash in. Having had an unsafe experience at a haunt a couple of years ago where I was hit in the face with splinters thanks to the usage of a live hatchet – this scares me in a not funny way.

If every copycat used the energy on thinking up a new idea we’d have more cool places to go to. I like new ideas even if they don’t totally work. New ideas take balls to try. I like balls.

4. Fighting with each other:

Seeing haunts fight with each other infuriates me but it’s also kind of why I started blogging about haunted attractions and why people trust me. The reason I started doing this was because I became aware of some haunts sending their scare actors to comment negatively on other haunt owner’s review pages. I hate dishonesty. I pride myself on being extremely fair, descriptive, and honest in what I write. Otherwise there’s no god damn point to waste my energy. It’s actually not easy to do this every year with this level of quality.

Business 101 says that a thriving industry benefits everyone. If there was only 1 place in the world that sold burgers it would be weird for anyone to go get burgers. Since we have a lot of places that sell different burgers we have a thriving market where customers can partake of many different burgers everywhere. It’s a normal thing to get groups of friends together to get burgers or do burger tours. Haunted Attractions are the same. Any haunt owner who wishes for their competition to go away wishes for their own demise as well.

On the bright side, the more these idiots keep up with the dishonest shit the more people come here where I don’t put up with that shit. So thanks for the free advertising?

So this is my take. What things do you wish haunted attractions would stop doing?


17
Apr

marriage-tips-on-my-10-year-anniversary
 Marriage tips on my 10 year anniversary

Today I have been married to Harknell for 10 years.

Here are the best tips for marriage that I can think of in my personal opinion:

1. Don’t get married for the wrong reasons and settle for a jackass.

There are a lot of bad reasons that people get married. Concerns over being too old, concerns no one better is out there, or simply idiot rutting in a night club. These situations ultimately lead to relationships that aren’t sustainable.

You have to be on the same page for what you want in life and be ready to fight for whatever that is together. Your spouse should be just as good of a best friend as a spouse. When I am working long hours he’s doing our laundry and making dinner. When he’s working, I make dinner.

(I don’t do laundry. I ruin laundry. Trust me. I’m not allowed to do laundry anymore.)

Harknell and I each have the exact same priority – to help each other become better and to make art and events that help people. We also really like theme parks.

2. Looks aren’t everything.

Let’s be honest, guys. Everyone farts. Everyone gets sick. If you can’t bear to look at your spouse when they aren’t wearing $700 jeans or in a full face of makeup or whatever then that’s really the opposite of my reality.

3. Realize that you can’t change anything so you’d better love it.

One of the things we used to argue about was organization. I am very neat, Harknell manages his work with piles of paper from hell in boxes that I hate. After a certain point I didn’t get mad about it and it actually became something that made me laugh. It’s one of the reasons that I tell him that he, “…is a shit.”

Which he’s now adopted this phrase for me because I leave my shoes all over one area of the hallway.

Next thing we know we somehow turned the word “shit” into a term of endearment.

I realized that this was him. It wasn’t changing. Here, have your own area for your box piles and just keep it away from mine. These kinds of “annoying quirks” that I see some people focusing on in their relationships actually became bits of us that we use as an excuse to act like 5 year olds. Which brings me to my next point:

4. Argue well.

Harknell: “Move your shoes from the hallway.”

Me: “That wasn’t me, that was you.”

Harknell: “No, it’s you!”

Me: “No, you!”

Harknell: “No, you!”

Me: “No, you!”

Harknell: “No, you!”

*LOLZ*

We never argue because the way that we argue is so stupid that neither of us can take it seriously. It’s really hard to get mad when someone says in a funny voice, “You is a shit!”. In fact, usually laughter is the first reaction. Zero times would either of us do something mean to the other person unless you count passing loud gas in the middle of a conversation.

You basically have to love not just the good parts but the stupid parts.

Marriage isn’t about the good times. It’s about loving stupid shit.

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