Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ghost saving

The details promised in my earlier post:

A while back, Disney made a limited edition three-box Haunted Mansion subscription available...once a month for three months, you get a box with various items related to the Haunted Mansion. Each item was part of an alternate reality game; you scan the items with a smartphone app, which then give clues to free the spooks and specters that had been trapped by a mysterious fog. Very cool, very well done.

The boxes included some neat memorabilia: ghost and ghoul card sets and spooky things you did with them to help find clues; a tea cup and saucer set with a subtle Haunted Mansion theme; a shadow box that used your phone to project the singing Grim Grinning Ghosts onto their graveyard busts; a little player piano that tink-tink-tinked the songs from the cardboard strips you fed through; a full deck of playing cards with skulls and ghosts and other eerie designs instead of hearts, spades, et cetera; newsletters written by the ghosts, messages revealed by wiping letters with damp towels or freezing the paper, a Ouija-style board that let you use a heavy bat token to talk with the trapped ghosts, lots of other fun interactive things. Will, Noelle, and I did the boxes together, boggling at the work it must have taken to make it all happen.

Disney also included an additional "in park" bit...with the app and bluetooth, you followed clues and interacted with things at the park. Esmeralda, the gypsy fortune teller, though marked "Out of Order", would talk to the right person (aka, someone with the app) and give them a special reading. She gave you special cards that led you to the trapped ghosts, three in total. One was at the Palm Reader, where you knocked, she knocked back, the curtains moved, and if you followed the pattern of her knocks correctly, she was released and you got to hear her thanks through the app. Another was trapped in a compass by the river; once you got the compass aligned, he too gave his thanks. The third was trapped in a nickelodeon music player in Frontierland...when you walked up, it activated and started playing a cacophony of drums, piano, cymbals, and so on. You raised your hands in front of the player to "get the ghost's attention", then had to wave your arms like you were conducting an orchestra; if you stopped, the music stopped. After a bit, the music changed to the familiar "Grim Grinning Ghosts" refrain, and presto, the ghost is now free.

The icing on the cake was that you got to go to the Haunted Mansion, show a cast member the proper screen on the app, and tell them that you were "a friend of Victor" (one of the ghosts). They hustled you to the front of the line, announced you to the next attendant, and you got to immediately head in. Once there, you were handed off to another cast member who led you right to special cars on the ride...these cars had audio of the happy, free ghosts thanking you for your help. Too fun.

And just yesterday, a final gift from Madame Leota arrived: a lenticular portrait that morphed between your face (using a picture you took when initializing the app) and a spectral creepy ghost/skeleton. A total surprise, and an awesome one (though if I'd known, I would have taken a much better picture when I first used the app four months ago :^D ).

When I first grabbed up the Ghost Post boxes, I assumed they were just standard "loot crates" with a Haunted Mansion theme. I had no idea they were going to be a full interactive experience, and it was a very cool surprise. There were only 999 boxes available, so were were lucky to grab ours, and we are very glad we did.

you take the good, you take the bad

Been a weird mix of yays and boos these past few months, which is partly why I haven't written anything in a while.

Still dealing with the trigeminal neuralgia; I'm having to face the uncomfortable fact that this is going to be a longer-term battle than hoped. Lots of stupid random shit has hit in a short time, things that wouldn't be a big deal on their own, but when piled into a short timeframe become extremely tiring. A friend going through detox. The SUV windshield getting hit by a rock on the way back from that friend's house and requiring a $3000 replacement. Finding out the windshield warranty sold as a "no-worry warranty" actually only covered the glass and not labor (sigh). A toilet leak (minor, but annoying). Needing glasses again because of the shingles and the corneal lesions it caused (blergh). Friends in pain and that helpless feeling that goes with. High water bills (in spite of having cut back by almost 50% over last year) because of "emergency drought pricing" and the water district using a "district-wide average" to determine allocation, rather than how some other water districts do it using per-location or per-neighborhood data. Flat tires (on trailers and cars and planes, including Will having a full-on tire blowout when landing at Columbia (the city, not the country)). Packages being mishandled. Weird drama from a flight instructor (their drama, not ours) that threw schedules into a tizzy. Early morning cat horking. Mid-day dog annoyances. Gophers and moles doing what gophers and moles do. Lots of "perfect storm" kerfuffles while getting my car clear-wrapped. Basically the whole "death by a thousand papercuts" thing...lots of low to middling issues hat hit in a compressed time, leading to brain frying and tiredness and a general "oh for fuck's sake, what now??" feeling.

And then there is the good. We found a giant five-foot long inflatable swan for the pool (heh). Cool Disney art found, acquired, and actually hung on the walls. My car is now wrapped and happy, and I found an awesome monochrome badge to replace the standard tri-color one on the hood. We managed to snag a couple of the Disney "Ghost Post" subscription boxes and had a lot of fun doing the alternate reality game that was part of it (including saving ghosts at the park...more on that in another post). Ducati North America asked Will if they could display his Superleggera at World Superbike at Laguna Seca (he did, it was cool). Got to drive a friend's military HumVee (and seriously contemplated picking one up at auction...luckily we don't have the room to store another vehicle). Will flew us out to Castle Air Force base for the "Open Cockpit Day" at the air museum there, and it was awesome...lots of history, cool stories, plus we got to walk through the interior of a decommissioned Air Force One. A drive up to Sonoma in the McLaren for our friends' "Live On, Drive On" car show (and I even won stuff at the raffle!). A successful test of a robotic vacuum (Neato brand) has led to a more consistently clean house (plus yay, robot vacuum!). Movies shared, laughs had, quiet times, exciting times, good times with good friends.

Speaking of good times: Disneyland! Whoo!! Took a long, long overdue trip to Disneyland with Will and Noelle. Will flew us down (huzzah for SevenCharlieSierra, our favorite Cessna 182) and much fun was had by all. Rides, food, walking (so much walking), relaxing mornings in the E-Ticket Lounge, dinner at Club 33 (that was an amazing time, made even better by the company), and the aforementioned "ghost freeing" (more details about that in another blog post).

So yeah. In spite of the grumblings and frustrations and the stupiddumbannoyingpainful neuralgia, life is still good. It would be nice to have the individuals highs and lows spread out a little bit, just for sanity's sake, but overall, I really can't complain. Well, I can (and do), but I also appreciate the pluses in the middle of the minuses...and am fortunate that the good outweighs the bad.