Tag: Anaheim

Souls sold to the mouse

Souls sold to the mouse

Anyone who follows my general social media feeds should know that I went to Downtown Disney with my Mom and sister today.

It was nice to get out of the house for a serious outing for the first time in at least a week, outside of that night where we went to dinner in Santa Monica. Not sure I’d count that as being a serious outing in the same vein as going to Disney, particularly the day after Christmas.

While I’m not exactly sure whether that proximate timing to the holidays is responsible for this portion of the experience, it was interesting to see a new metal detector/bag check station outside the entrance to Downtown Disney:

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Maybe it isn’t new and I just haven’t been there in a while. But either way a bit of the magic goes away when you have to think about the necessity of this sort of thing so early into the experience.

Luckily that magic is more than made up for by the wonders of Disney-branded capitalism. Everyone’s favorite kind!

My family was over in Anaheim looking into a present for my sister’s birthday tomorrow. After watching Wreck-It Ralph 2 a second time, she decided she needed one of the Disney Princess pajama shirts — particularly Tiana’s New Orleans’ themed shirt.

Obviously the best place to look for that sort of thing was the source, the Mickey Mouse clubhouse of infinite profit.

To make an extra long story short, we didn’t wind up getting that shirt. We also didn’t get the equivalent hoodie sweatshirt version.

Instead we spent a little more time at different stores around Downtown Disney. Like the LEGO store, which I have to admit becomes less fun the older I get simply because of how much more expensivethe sets get.

Also because they had this model of the LEGO store as a display within the store and it was 2 meta 4 me.

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It is cute, though.

While we were in that store I also made what I’m progressively considering to be a mistake by taking part in this ‘which LEGO mini figure are you?’ display:

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s a sweet little idea. You stand in front of the board, put your hand on the scanner and it gives you a (presumably) random figure. I can only assume the display is meant for a far younger age demographic because of how low it was to the ground.

But still I thought it could be fun. Found out that I am apparently a Buckingham Palace guard LEGO man.

The only issue is, now I’m 100 percent convinced that all of my privacy is officially gone. I’ve given up my fingerprints to the mouse.

If he didn’t already have them from when my Dad worked for Disney I suppose.

Thus I figured I had nothing left to lose. So we had lunch, then went back to the painting shop that we wandered upon first arriving. Our initial time through was the progenitor of this Tweet:

It was a funny ha-ha joke, but at the same time I was super serious. This painting strangely enticed me when we saw it.

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I guess it isn’t really that strange. Look at the thing, it’s god damn beautiful.

Gotta give a shout out to the artist, Brittney Lee, who works at the animation studio. Because you definitely made a fan of me today.

As well as a fan of my sister, who bought a print of hers featuring swing dancers with dresses based on different areas of the park.

But wouldn’t you know, she got lucky because it was her birthday and bought the ~$45 full-size print. I wasn’t quite as willing to dump $500 on the fully-framed painting.

Instead I got the post card version and bragged about it in a follow-up Tweet.

My friend Juan made fun of me for still supporting the mouse in spite of the fact that I was making taunting about not supporting him…

Which is true.

But.

Uhh…

I still really like this piece so I was willing. They already had my fingerprints, so why not?

Turns out my nostalgia totally can get gouged for all it’s worth.

That seems like as good a message to end this off with as any. No matter how strong you believe your spirit to be, always know that Mickey Mouse can and will find a way to pierce deep into the heart of your desires.

Merry day after Christmas, America.

Covering Barack Obama

Covering Barack Obama

 

Anyone else ever go to an event and then come home and pass out for four hours?

No? Just me?

Alright.

Well, that being said, I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media knows where I’m going with this blog post. I spent the day out covering former President Barack Obama’s visit to Anaheim, so I’m going to run through my experience real quick and log a couple of my more favorite live tweets from the Boom California Twitter account.

Consider this me attempting to just preserve that this happened today, since I’m still kind of in shock about it. But at he same time I feel like a pile of goo right now, so it’ll probably be a little sparse.

Just two days ago, I followed-up on a last-minute email that my professor and friend Dr. Sexton received about RSVPing to go to Obama’s event today. It was essentially a rally for a number of Democratic Congressional candidates in California.

Frankly it was a bit of a moonshot to apply for press credentials. Boom California is an online-only publication now that focuses on issues and life in California specifically, so it doesn’t necessarily fit the bill of who might be going to the event. You know, the LA Times and CNN-type publications.

But then we got the credentials.

So I was up at 4:30 a.m. or so this morning, showering and preparing to head off to the Anaheim Convention Center. Doors opened for press to get their stuff checked at 7 a.m. after all.

Luckily I found that the drive was infinitely quicker than it usually is when I’m heading to Orange County for school. So I managed to make it over before they had even finished setting up a table to check press in. Left me with some time to kill.

Then once it was all together, I got this:

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Talk about a souvenir, am I right?

After everyone got their badges, they were ushered up to the third floor (where Obama and the others would later speak). We were supposed to leave our stuff up there to be checked out by the Secret Service.

At this point I met Joshua Nehmeh, who I spent a bunch of time talking with as all the major news outlets set up their stuff. He’s the host of a political talk radio show who I bonded with pretty quick because we were both caught off-guard by how easily we managed to get into such a high-end event.

Plus his show’s tagline is ‘A shot of truth with your coffee’ and it’s great. So check him out.

Around that time I also ran into Briggetta and Caitlin from the Daily Titan, who also got credentialed in for the local Orange County event, and my original news desk mentor Spencer Custodio coming in for the Voice of OC.

Got to hang out with him for a while after we all got kicked out, and that was cool.

When we were heading back to the Convention Center from Starbucks, there were two protestors standing out in front heckling a bunch of Congressional candidate volunteers who were waiting in line.

Spent a decent amount of time standing outside watching the back-and-forth, because it was so over-the-top that it was just kind of ridiculous and fun.

While I tweeted about these guys a bunch during the waiting period from my personal account, some of my favorite parts had to be these two sound clips I managed to snag:

Particularly the second one where he offered to be an executioner? Like. Holy shit dude. It was 9:30 a.m. and he was going so hard.

Most of what I had gathered from other reporters at this point suggested that Obama’s visit to Anaheim was very last minute. Almost nobody was prepared for it and even the staff at the event seemed disheveled and caught off-guard. Hell, one guy basically told me it was going to be a shitshow when I asked how the whole thing was going to go down.

I’m theorizing that perhaps one of the reasons for that unexpected nature in this event was to try and mitigate protests. Like yeah two guys managed to show up to yell at everyone about every cliché in the book, but there was clearly no big organized response to Obama’s visit.

That’s all speculation, however.

Eventually I had to leave that fun time so I could go back to the ballroom to get my stuff before the doors opened at 10 a.m.

Now, I’ll admit, I kind of underwent a covert operation at this point. We were told ahead of time that most of the press corp. would be put into overflow rooms across from the main room. In fact, when I had shown up early that morning, I was told I’d be in the overflow as well.

But when I went in to pick up my stuff… I just kind of didn’t leave. All I needed was my cell phone, since I was just live tweeting the event for Boom, so I was able to stand off to the side of the press box with my head down. Nobody ever came and told me to leave.

So I think I wound up sneaking my way into seeing Obama’s speech live.

Take that people who sneak into concerts.

Once everything began I shifted over to Boom’s Twitter account full-time. However, I didn’t have too much to do for a while.

Other than Eric Bauman, the chair of the California Democratic Party, I wasn’t really able to get a good grasp on the individuals who opened the event. Most of them didn’t introduce themselves in any specific detail because it seemed like they were just figures who Democrats would know well walking in. It was clear we were leaning toward a specific kind of audience at this rally.

To be fair, my friends at the Daily Titan had just as much trouble with this part, though they did a better job retroactively figuring out who the speakers were.

Mostly with the help of an email that came out like 10 minutes after everyone was finished telling us who they were.

Have I mentioned that the event seemed put together last-minute?

Anyway, after four-or-five speeches from people pushing for veterans and keeping the Affordable Care Act alive, there was a really long intermission.

Probably an hour’s worth of an intermission. I don’t know if we were just waiting for Obama to actually arrive, or if he was upstairs somewhere letting us marinate, but boy was it a long wait.

I was pretty much standing around the whole time, not really wanting to leave to go to the bathroom or anything because… Well… I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get back in.

But then. Like an angel. Obama descended upon our humble congregation.

Which I only say because the tweet I put out about Obama’s arrival was the biggest ‘lightning in a bottle’ from this whole event.

As of my writing this blog post, the tweet has been seen over 7,000 times, has 400+ likes and nearly 200 retweets.

That’s actually insane to me. Watching all of this attention roll in throughout and after the event made me sit there and realize that I did that.

Truly the power of social media can be insanely captivating, for as much as I tend to avoid it.

Everything else I tweeted out got very minor attention comparatively, but there were still some great things I feel I captured at the event.

I also got this great three-part Tweet chain describing Obama’s Disneyland story that he opened with. Basically, he told the audience that the first time he went to Disneyland was his first time in the mainland United States, while the second time he was kicked out for smoking with his friends.

But still told to “come back anytime” by the officers. Because Disney.

His whole speech only went on about 15 minutes after that multi-hour build-up. When it was over, everyone started to trickle out and I split. After all, my whole job was to live-tweet Obama.

Dr. Sexton seemed really pleased with what I did, and honestly so am I.

It’s a little awkward live-tweeting events because you wind up having to focus more on the tweeting than the event itself. But even with that, I have to say… Obama is just a fantastic speaker.

Like all politics aside, it’s hard not to see why (most of) America fell in love with the guy and kept him in office for two terms. He’s just a charismatic guy.

That’s kind of the tone I think I want to leave this off with, because the rest of my story would just be going home and passing out for four hours.

I’m super grateful that I got to do this. Like yeah on a basic level it’s a great resumé builder to say I covered Barack Obama live. I’ll even be updating my blog here to reflect that I did this, archiving a couple of the best-attended tweets.

But even deeper than that, it led to me having a bit of an existentially reflective moment.

When I got home it really hit me that I got to be in the same room as a President of the United States. With press credentials.

That’s just crazy to me.

I’ve had some moments of doubt over the last couple months about my place in the world and the work that I’m doing, to be completely honest. But my promotion at Gladeo and the opportunity to attend this event really turned that around.

I’m excited to see what the next big thing I’ll be doing is!

 

October 16, 2017 Articles Published

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but it’s very rare that I get the pleasure of seeing my two passions – video games and journalism – meld so nicely together at this stage in my career.

So I really enjoy the times that they do come together, like with this review I wrote about the Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga remake.

After a couple of long, rough weeks dealing with a mass shooting and some crazy local fires, it’s been a blessing to have a game to unwind with recently, particularly a game that holds such a strong place in my heart.

Seriously, re-experiencing Superstar Saga has been an absolute joy, even if the whole time I feel like I’ve been focused more on deeply examining what’s different, both the good and the bad changes. That kind of critical eye did make it easier to pull things apart for a review, but it has certainly made the actual act of playing a whole different animal for me.

Oh, and pull things apart I did, as I focused this review much more on how things differ compared to the original game than I did on the game itself, since I figure that’s what should be done for something like the review of a remake.

While I did have a great time with Superstar Saga (and I’m not quite done yet – I’ve beaten the main story but I haven’t yet finished collecting everything 100 percent, and I’m still working my way through Bowser’s Minions), it isn’t perfect by any means. It is vastly improved upon compared to the original in almost every way imaginable, but there is a lot that feels like a backpedaling as well.

I try to address some of those points in my review, but the chief complaint I had with the game really boils down to the battle system. Compared to the original game, this remake has gorgeous sprite work that lends itself to really complex and over-the-top character animations, which are nice but make each action feel longer. On top of that, the battles are easier than I remember them being (much like the rest of the game in all honesty) and the music contributes to slogging battles down and making them grow to tedium faster by sounding far slower, seeming more eclectic within itself and has more synthetic tones.

If that makes sense. I’m not much of a music reviewer, but that feels right in my head.

Despite this issue, the game is still hilarious, beautiful and sounds great by all other accounts, and I’d highly recommend picking it up if you have experienced the story or if you haven’t before. It’s just too bad that the system you spend 90 percent of your time experiencing is arguably the worst part.

Oh, and when I say the game feels way easier than I remember, I’d say take the comment with a grain of salt. There are a lot of gameplay functionalities which have been vastly improved upon to streamline aspects of the experience, and those improvements do make the overall experience seem easier… But at the same time I also had the entirety of this game memorized like the back of my hand before walking in, so it might not be that much ‘easier’ for someone who’s never heard of the game before.

Plus the endgame still has a big difficulty spike when going through Bowser’s Castle in my opinion, so there’s always that.

Either way I certainly don’t mind an easy game here or there, if nothing else that ease helped this be a wonderful stress relief and trip down memory lane for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t want to burden my editor Sarah with too much in regards to putting this article together (even though the 900 words I have can already easily be considered overkill), so much of what I wrote out in my drafting process got left on the cutting room floor.

Luckily this blog seems like the perfect place to rectify that. So, if I have the time, expect a more complete unabridged version of my thoughts on Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions sometime here in the near future. It’ll be long, it’ll be hella involved, but that’s the magic of a personal blog. It offers you a place to shout your endless opinions into the void.

At least, that’s how I like to use it anyway.

If you want to see my article in it’s entirety (the theatrical release version at least, as I like to put it), you can see it here. You can also see my full catalog of articles for the Daily Titan over on the right!


Turns out, the game review wasn’t the only thing I wound up getting published today. It was going to be, but then we decided to run an update on the Anaheim Hills Fire, and I got slated to work on that.

So, since I already had the entire gaming part written up early (shows me for trying to be ahead I suppose), I figured it’d be worth adding this portion to the bottom here.

I don’t really have a lot to say necessarily, this story was more of a straight-forward deal. I pulled together some tweets from the Anaheim Fire & Rescue department that gave the most recent updates on containment of the blaze, as well as some information from the California Department of Transportation talking about a local highway that was partially reopened on Friday.

Then, once I had those basics down, I got in touch with the Orange County Fire Authority, where I was directed to the Public Information Officer for the Canyon 2 Fire, Mike Yeun. The guy was real nice, more than willing to chat even while he was driving, and he gave me a bunch of good information to fill out my story. It definitely made things much stronger than the basic 200 word short update I had before.

For anyone curious, the fire was 75 percent contained as of 7 p.m. on Oct. 14, and authorities are expecting full containment by Oct. 17. Things are well on their way thanks to the effort of apparently over 1,600 firefighters at one point at least.

If you want to see that article in it’s entirety, you can check it out here. Or, once again, everything I’ve written for the Titan is over on the right, so you can check that out too if you want.

October 9, 2017 Article Published

I’m so used to waiting for the day a story is in print to post one of these blog posts that I totally didn’t even think about the fact that this article went online only yesterday. We put out a special weeklong financial issue Sunday night, so the rest of our content has been exclusively on the Daily Titan website this week.

It’s been really nice having a break from producing a paper, though my internal schedule has been thrown all out of whack as a result.

So… Happy day after article published post, everyone.

California has been burning pretty seriously recently. The Anaheim Hills, specifically, has been close enough  to have a very visible effect at Cal State Fullerton:

The cloud of smoke filled the sky throughout the afternoon yesterday, making it more of struggle to breath alongside already hot, windy weather. So while we had reporters covering the fire (My co-editor Brandon and one of our photographers Bailey went out near the blaze and did some amazing work), I was on campus getting some information about how the smoke might be affecting students.

The conversation I had with the Student Health Center’s interim director and chief staff physician Richard Boucher wound up being one of my favorite interviews so far this semester. He’s a real nice guy who was very interested in small talk before and after our business was conducted, and he had plenty of useful information for us to use without it taking a lot of extraction work.

I can definitely see myself talking with him more in the future.

The part of the interview that stood out most to me was his repeated advice to try and stay indoors as much as possible and avoid heavy exercise while air quality was poor. Not exactly novel advice or anything, but it felt poignantly ironic to me that he gave that advice after I had literally just crossed almost the entirety of campus three times over while setting up the interview.

Really I think that might be the first sign that this job is going to kill me one of these days.

Not that I can complain too much about that, since like I said we had reporters out next to the fire actually putting themselves somewhat at risk to do some awesome reporting. My portion of the article isn’t quite as exciting as the portion covering the fire itself, but I still like to think it’s information that’s important to spread for our audience. It fit well as a part of the overall package, and we got some praise around campus for the quick work and fancy online layout we tried out for the story.

If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here. You can also check out my full archive of writing for the Daily Titan over on the right!