When our summer interns go on family vacation, we can’t send them off without an assignment. So our resident Star Wars buff, Kenneth, gave us a rundown of Star Wars Weekend at Disney World.
At the age when most children began watching Aladdin, Hercules and Beauty and the Beast, I was lost in a galaxy far, far away. From those days on, my obsession has only grown. So, as you can imagine, I went to Disney World’s Star Wars Weekends years ago before Disney bought the franchise. People have voiced their opinions, which range from: “They’re ruining the series!” to “They’ll make it too kid-ish!” The list goes on. Opinions on that aside, Disney has been doing Star Wars Weekends for a while, since 1997. From what I remembered as a kid, Disney did a great job — I know I had fun.
Coming back after all of these years, with knowledge and wisdom of the series I’d acquired over the years in mind, I walked into Hollywood Studios half asleep from getting to the park so early. Needless to say, it was far more than I could’ve ever imagined. Disney has always been known for its showmanship and they really came through for this year’s festivities.
Disney had an all-star lineup of characters from the films and animated series, and fans could get autographs and watch them in different shows throughout the day. Just to name a few: Ray Park (Darth Maul), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan in the animated series) Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), Warwick Davis (Wicket) and Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano from the animated series). The park also had dozens of other characters guests could take pictures with during the day. It was almost guaranteed that around every corner, someone would run into a character from the universe. Whether it was Darth Vader shrouded in Storm Troopers or Tusken Raiders, it was always a treat.
The party carries on through four shows daily Friday-Sunday and change slightly each weekend (this year, the event runs every weekend May 17-June 9). There’s always a show with the special guest of the week like Warwick Davis or Jeremy Bulloch — the talks were just interesting to sit in on. The master of ceremonies and host of each show was James Arnold Taylor, voice actor extraordinaire. He even demonstrated 200 different voices he could do. Impressive, I know. Taylor hosted a talk show as well, where he interviewed the visiting star and Ray Park each day. This could range from being hilarious to quite inspiring depending on the guest. Trust me on that, hearing a story of how Boba Fett messed up his lines on his first day is something to behold.
If a taste for stunts and action are up your alley, Ray Park had his own martial arts show where he went through different fighting styles with an array of weapons. This was also where you learned to loathe the children who got the chance to go on stage and do move sets with the master himself. I’m still seething from that.
Special merchandise could be found at the one stop Star Wars shop near the back of the park: the Darth Mall (clever title if I don’t say so myself). Collectibles, helmets, toys, Disney characters in Star Wars outfits — it was all there. Guests could truly lose themselves in a place like that. If you’re an unabashed fan like myself, you can’t help but spend oodles of money there. I went in wanting something small and spent more than $90. Needless to say, it was neigh impossible to leave without some form of paraphernalia in hand.
Now, to deflect, again, the opinions I may have about Disney buying Star Wars. I have to say, Star Wars Weekends are on par with some conventions I’ve heard of. When Disney gets a hold of something, they’ll flaunt it and make it something everyone can enjoy. These weekends are comparable to a sacred gathering for fans of the series. To see people who enjoy these movies as much as I do having as much fun as me was sublime. The energy there was almost tangible, especially during Memorial Day weekend. The park’s population swelled so much, it almost reached capacity. This weekend was full of characters, big name actors, festivities, themes snacks, souvenirs and ways to immerse fans in the universe itself. Guests could make themselves Storm Troopers — it was awesome. I digress, these weekends were nothing less than magical for me and, from what I could tell, those around me. Where else at this time could you see Boba Fett dance with Princess Leia in her slave outfit?
For this Star Wars fan, Disney did a great job setting the atmosphere of my favorite series. The entire park was flooded with Star Wars music until the park closed. The employees where all nice, the characters excellent and actors incredible, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. The fireworks show was impressive, too — Disney literally ended the festivities with quite a bang.
Go here to read part one.
Somehow Saturday morning Jeff and I woke up bright and early. Flavor Flav must have sprinkled some magic dust on us the night before, because we weren't our usual hungover pieces of shit, writhing under covers 'til noon. For this special occasion, we headed to the famous Loveless Motel & Cafe (8400, Tennessee 100, Bellevue), a comfort food mecca and Nashville landmark. Hundreds of country musicians and otherwise famous humans hung their hats here when it was a hotel and have stopped in for grub since it's been a restaurant (seriously, there are countless autographed head shots covering every square inch of the walls).
On March 15, DHL announced that $47 million would be invested in a new facility at its CVG hub. This new sorting facility will help meet international customer demands and add close to 300 jobs over the next 12 months. The date given for the facility to be operational is Nov. 2012.
DHL has been thriving compared to the downward spiral that is Delta. DHL has gone from 1,600 jobs to 2,000 in the span of three years and has invested around $105 million in the Cincinnati location since it was established in 2009. Not everything that happens at CVG is bad.
During my two years as a baggage handler I experienced a little bit of everything. From holding on to the wing of a plane to keep in from tipping during a wind storm, to seeing a drunk little person getting taken off a plane in handcuffs, to destroying a few bags. There is more to an airport than what passengers see in the concourses. Have you ever wondered where that guy in the orange vest was going when he disappeared behind a door? Ever thought about how your bag was being handled? Well, hopefully with a few of these stories those questions and more can be answered.
During my time as a baggage handler, I saw some incredible things. At the same time, there were weird events that took place. These would occur like lightning; they happened quickly and would never strike the same place twice.
One of those events is about a worker stealing. He wasn’t stealing from the company, but stealing from passengers’ bags, more specifically, female passengers’ bags. As baggage handlers, we would load the bags up into the cargo bins of aircraft. These bins were only big enough for one person, and at times that one person would be in the bin for extended periods of time. Normal workers would write random sayings on the bin walls, or play a game on their phone, but this guy did something different.
When he was up in the cargo bin, he would go through the bags until he found women’s panties — clean or dirty. To show the high caliber of intelligence some of the people at the airport had, he kept all the underwear in his locker at work. There was no attempt to hide anything in his car or house; the underwear was in a bag in the break room. I’m not one to call someone stupid, but he deserves it for this one.
Did he get caught? Hell yes, he got caught. When our supervisors went through his locker, sure enough, there was the underwear. His explanation of it is comical on its own. “It’s for my girlfriend.” His girlfriend, if he had one, fluctuated in weight a lot because the underwear was different sizes. This doesn’t reflect on every baggage handler but it shows there are some strange people touching your bags.
The job of a baggage handler is a dirty one. I came in contact with bags full of unwashed clothes, shook hands with people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom and cleaned out the restrooms. Ever wondered who cleans out the lavatory on an aircraft? Well, at CVG, that job falls to the baggage handlers. This task is worthy enough for Mike Rowe and then some.
When an aircraft needed to have its bathroom dumped, a handler would drive up next to the plane in the "lav cart." Imagine a blue electric cart that has never been washed, excrement has been spilled on it, it has a tank full of shit and the sun has been cooking its contents all day. I felt like I should have been wearing a Hazmat suit whenever I was around the damn thing. It made me throw up a little every time I was in the driver’s seat.
When a baggage handler dumps a lav, he or she drives the cart up to the aircraft, hooks up the foulest smelling hose to the aircraft and pulls a lever. What comes out, I’ll leave for the imagination. Once all the lovely contents are inside the cart, the “blue juice” is added, which is the liquid solution that you see when flushing an aircraft toilet.
Some handlers would dump a lav, not wash their hands and then go straight to loading bags. A person fresh from coming in close contact with human goodness would go right on touching, quite possibly, your possessions.
In the movie Fight Club the narrator tells of a policy about holding a passenger’s bag if it is vibrating. At CVG I never once saw a bag being taken because it was vibrating. What we did do was either slam the bag on the ground in hopes of shutting off the razor or toothbrush — not the smartest idea if it really was an explosive. Another way we handled a vibrating bag was to call the passenger down to the ramp where we would proceed to open it to find the cause of the vibration. If you have seen Fight Club you know what is coming next. Sometimes the bag would belong to a female passenger. When her bag would be opened a certain product would be rattling around on the inside. That happened to me once and while the passenger was red-faced, I had to walk away before I began to laugh in her face. Movies can teach you something every now and then.
There is a side to an airport that most people don’t know about. Sure, there are those zoo-like windows in the concourses that allow passengers to see outside, but that is just a glimpse. Does everyone want to know about what goes on behind those doors? Probably not. I’m not trying to scare people away from flying. In a way, an airport is similar to a restaurant. Taken at face value everything is great and everyone has a smile on their face, but behind closed doors disgusting, depraved and weird things are going on.
Pork-themed festivals are plentiful in Cincinnati, but this weekend marks the first ever Queen City Sausage Festival. Friday-Sunday, head down to Newport on the Levee to fill your belly with brats, metts, coneys and more creative sausagey combinations. To ensure a great time for all, Hudepohl and Christian Moerlein will be serving up brewskies and there will be live music, games and kids activities. Go here for festival hours and more info.
Looking for a fest with a little more history behind it? Schutzenfest is "Zinzinnati's" oldest festival, celebrating all things German since 1866. Enjoy different types of authentic German music and performances at the Kolping Center Friday-Sunday. Don't miss the opening parade and the crowning of King and Queen Sunday afternoon. For directions and a full event schedule, go here.
This weekend's Cincinnati Boutique Sale brings every fashion-savvy gal's favorite independent shops together under one roof - the space formerly occupied by Anthropologie at Rookwood Commons, to be exact. For a suggested donation of $5 (benefiting the Karen Wellington Foundation for living with breast cancer), you can browse clothing, shoes and accessories from top local boutiques such as Soho, The Wardrobe, Sara Benjamin's and more. Go here for all the details.
Laughter is good for you. The act of laughing can lower blood pressure, make your body more resilient and even work muscles in your face and abs. So say goodbye to that double-chin and beer belly with the help of comedian Steve White, who performs at Funny Bone on the Levee through Sunday. You may recognize White from several Spike Lee films, '90s television gold (Martin, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, need I go on?) or comedy clubs across America. Check out our interview with him here.
How about a little roadtrip? The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus is an engaging space that celebrates visual art, music, performance art, film and everything in between. Open Saturday and Sunday during the summer, the space's galleries are currently showing three sexually-charged multimedia exhibits. Read all about them here and make the trip soon - these exhibits end July 31. In addition, Wexner's Contemporary Screen series continues Friday and Saturday night. This series promises area and regional premieres, international film festival favorites and all kinds of flicks you certainly won't find at Showcase Cinemas. This weekend you can check out The Arbor, based on the life and autobiographical writings of the late British playwright Andrea Dunbar. Be sure to check out the Wexner Center Store because, well, museum gift shops are always sweet as hell. Go here for directions, hours and ticket info.
At Sunday's OTR Pool Party, you can enjoy all the fun of dumpster diving minus the empty pizza boxes and risk of hepatitis. Back in 2009, hipsters in Brooklyn gained attention by turning unused trash receptacles into little watering holes and it wasn't that gross because the dumpsters were cleaned, sealed and covered with pool liners. And although Cincinnati's always behind the times, we're finally catching on to the trend. With a $50 donation to Chris Seelbach's City Council campaign, you can get your swim on, enjoy free grilled grub and an open bar, get framed by the fabulous photoboothers at Framester and dance to tunes spun by the almost-too-sexy Diamonn Gurr. It's sure to be one of the biggest parties of the summer, so go here for all the deets and here to register and donate early so you can skip the line Sunday.
This is just a taste of all there is to do! Go here for all of our weekly recommendations.
On July 21, the Roadshow will make a stop at an area venue (not yet announced) and hopefully make a few locals a little bit richer (but just a few — it's honestly more fun to watch when people's precious collectables aren't worth jack).
I like to think I'm always up on the gossip, but some newsworthy items slip under my radar, like 98 Degrees' Jeff Timmons (my childhood fave - sorry, Nick) being a Chippendales performer! Chippendales at The Rio in Las Vegas features the Cincinnati boy as their hunky headliner all summer long, extending his stay (eyebrow wiggle) several times.
So, if you like combining the most homoerotic performance ever to be marketed to middle-aged women with prepubescent boy band fantasies, and who the hell doesn't, get your ticket soon! Jeff will only be flexing his "Hardest Thing" (sorry) through Labor Day.
Or just watch this painfully awkward video of him posing for pictures!
Speaking of former child stars-turned-desperate, orange juiceheads, Baywatch alum and current Celebrity Rehab-er Jeremy Jackson has also made a bow tie-and-cuffs appearance. Some reports say he's addicted to fitness and would make excellent eye candy, so I'm guessing they haven't seen his stint on the VH1 show. Dude's addicted to German cattle steroids and cancer patient meds.
And if he's worried chemicals in bottled water will turn him gay, he clearly needs to give his Chippendales contract a second read.