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Chris Queen

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered church communications director, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.
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The 10 Most Overrated Disney Animated Films

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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For over 90 years, the Disney Studios has created some of the most memorable and enduring animated films of all time. But even a fanboy like me can admit that not everything Disney has released has been perfect. As much as Disney markets and hypes every animated feature as a classic, many of them are simply overrated. Here are the top ten.

My ground rules were pretty simple: I didn’t include Pixar’s output because they haven’t always been directly part of the Disney family. I also didn’t include the direct-to-video “cheapquels” that Michael Eisner made so famous, because they’re in a lower class all their own, and I left out the package features of the 1940s. Enjoy!

10. Meet the Robinsons (2007)

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Once in a while, Disney tries to throw a bone to boys to make up for the prominence of the princesses in animated films. While the idea is worthwhile and the efforts are valiant, once in a while the more male-oriented movies fall short. 2007’s Meet the Robinsons is one of the latter.

Meet the Robinsons had a lot of potential – a twisty, time travel story with a sweet adoption plot coupled with clever, stylized animation. Instead, Meet the Robinsons is dizzying, noisy, and just falls short. Part of the cartoon’s problem may stem from the fact that John Lasseter, newly taking over as head of animation after Disney acquired Pixar, suggested a retooling.

Whatever the reason, Meet the Robinsons just didn’t make the impact that it could have.

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Star Wars: Retribution Debuts July 5

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

A few months ago, I brought you the story of Chris Conley, a football star at the University of Georgia (my alma mater – Go Dawgs!) who was putting together a Star Wars fan film. The finished product, entitled Star Wars: Retribution, is set to make its debut July 5. Here are the trailers:

Conley’s production company will soon begin work on a new film, Volition, soon.

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10 Things Everybody Gets Wrong About The South

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that the South is the most misunderstood region in the United States. Everywhere I go (even sometimes here in the South!) I run into misconceptions about this area. I’m proud of the region I call home, and I wish everybody could know the South that I’ve experienced my whole life. So I’m glad to get the chance to clear up some of the stereotypes and generalizations. Here are the ten things that everybody gets wrong about the South.

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10. White Southerners Still Haven’t Gotten Over The Civil War.

There’s a notion that we Southerners still carry a grudge over having lost the Civil War. It’s a fascinating historical era and a huge part of our heritage (like it or not), but we’re not all sitting on our porch swings with sour grapes lamenting that it didn’t go our way.

We do tend to lionize our Robert E. Lees and Stonewall Jacksons – let’s face it, there’s a certain romanticism about that gallant and gentrified culture, the ugliness of slavery notwithstanding. And yes, you’ll see folks flying the Stars & Bars from time to time down here, along with the “heritage not hate” arguments that go along with that emblem, but those people are increasingly in the minority.

Even though we’ll never forget the Civil War — and Reconstruction — we Southerners have moved on. The South truly has risen again, and modern Southerners are vastly more interested in improving the present and creating a better future for our beloved region.

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More Star Wars Land Rumors Buzzing Around Walt Disney World

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I’ve reported in the past about rumors of a Star Wars land coming to Walt Disney World. Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, two attractions are closing in the near future, and these closings are leading some writers to speculate that Disney is making way for a Star Wars land at DHS.

Disney Dining is reporting that the American Idol Experience, which opened to much fanfare in 2009, will close in early 2015:

The close is not that surprising.  The show has never really gotten solid traction and it seems Disney is ready to pull the plug.

A statement was posted between the Walt Disney World Company:

“After more than five successful years, The American Idol Experience will be coming to a close at Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in January 2015. Our partnership with FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment has been a great addition to the park and we are very appreciative of the amazing cast and guests who have devoted their time and talent to make this experience special and memorable. We are incredibly proud of the more than 2,000 Dream Tickets that have given guests a chance to live their very own Cinderella story and audition for ‘American Idol.’”

Over at Disney At Work, sources report that the long-running Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular will close soon as well:

My sources also suggest that Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is also slated to close at the end of the year. All of this is happening to make way for the major Star Wars additions coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It will surround that end of the Echo Lake corner of the park, and supposedly extend further out as well, though in what direction(s) is uncertain. What is coming in remains to be formally announced, as the attraction is also being tied to a very anticipated follow-up series starting in 2015.

What’s interesting about the closings is that nearly all the vestiges of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a “behind-the-scenes” park will be gone. Instead of the original park idea of a glimpse behind the magic of the entertainment industry, DHS is increasingly becoming a park about the movies, music, and television programs themselves. Do both closings point to a new Star Wars land? Of course, the outcome remains to be seen, but I’ll keep you in the loop.

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10 Free Ways to Have Fun at Walt Disney World

Thursday, June 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Let’s face it: a trip to Walt Disney World can cost a lot, but it’s absolutely worth it. But you may not know that not everything at Disney World is expensive. Resort guests can take advantage of several experiences that enrich the trip but don’t cost a thing. (Non-resort guests can take advantage of some of them too.)

Here are ten free ways to have fun at Walt Disney World…

10. Enjoy A Boat Ride Around Bay Lake.

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Guests know that transportation is a huge part of the experience at Walt Disney World. From classic trains and old-school ferryboats to innovative monorail and linear induction technology, getting around the parks and resorts is a big part of the fun.

Taking the boat that runs from the Magic Kingdom to the Contemporary Resort to Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness is a nice way to cool off with a breeze and take in the sights around Bay Lake. In addition to the resorts, check out the “ruins” of River Country and Discovery Island, both of which you’ll see along the way, and marvel at the road that passes under the canal between the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake, near the Contemporary Resort.

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The 10 Best Summer Songs You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

Saturday, June 7th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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This time of year, everybody comes out with their list of the best songs of summer, and it seems like most every list boasts the same songs every year. But there’s nothing like discovering new music, especially this time of year. So, here’s your alternative summer playlist.

A quick note: not all of the songs specifically mention summer or take place in summer, but they have a summertime sound or feel. Here we go…

10. Zac Brown Band, “Uncaged”

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With songs like “Toes,” “Jump Right In,” and “Where The Boat Leaves From” in their repertoire, Zac Brown Band just about has the market cornered on summer songs. As latter-day disciples of Jimmy Buffett, they’re the perfect band to kick off our countdown.

The title cut from their most recent full-length record, “Uncaged” extols the virtue of just getting outside and experiencing what the great outdoors has to offer. Who doesn’t want to escape the cages of the daily grind and take part in the excitement of nature? After all, isn’t that what summer is really about?

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6 Contestants To Watch On The New Season Of MasterChef

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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My favorite summer television indulgence is back! Season 5 of MasterChef made its debut on Memorial Day. And while the show promises the same excitement and inspiration as the previous four seasons, we saw some changes in the premiere.

First off, judge/host Graham Elliot showed off the results of 155 pounds of weight loss. Secondly, the competition began with the top 30 home cooks – no “audition” episodes. The format change dropped viewers right into the heart of the action from the start.

In the premiere episode, the judges – Elliot, Joe Bastianich, and Gordon Ramsay, whittled the competition down to 22. They eliminated two contestants during the cooking process. The first 17 chefs made the cut on the first elimination test, while four of the remaining nine had to endure another challege – with tighter rules and cooking alongside Gordon Ramsay – to earn their aprons.

The Top 22 come from all over the country (I enjoyed hearing so many Southern accents) and all walks of life – including one competitor who worked as a dancer in a “gentlemen’s club.” But a few in particular stand out to me – I claim these as six to watch throughout the season, because they promise to bring heart and drama to an already exciting competition. Take a look…

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Mary Blair: Unsung Disney Artist

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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She developed the unique color palette for many of the iconic Disney films of the 1950s. She produced some of the most evocative artwork from the Disney Studio’s 1941 South America trip. She created the characters for a beloved classic Disney Parks attraction. She outshone the men she worked with – including her own husband. Yet for some reason, Mary Blair doesn’t have the household name she deserves except among Disney aficionados.

With his new book The Art And Flair Of Mary Blair: An Appreciation, animator and historian John Canemaker hopes to change that perception. (I’ve waited nearly two years for this book’s release, and it was worth the wait.) Canemaker explores a woman with priceless talent who led a difficult, sometimes tragic life – an artist who has gone woefully underappreciated. As Canemaker writes on one of the book’s final pages:

The general public’s knowledge of Mary Blair’s name and her art is limited. Only one of her children’s books is still in print, and the hundreds of conceptual paintings she made for animated films are stored at the Disney studio or are in private collections.

Mary Richardson was born in Oklahoma in 1911, but her family moved to Texas when she was a young girl. The daughter of an alcoholic, she asked for money from the family budget to purchase art supplies because she knew that her father couldn’t then spend it on drinking.

Her talent earned her a scholarship to the famed Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and there she met Lee Blair, whom she later married. The Blairs harbored dreams of becoming fine artists, but the obvious need for money led them first to Ub Iwerks’ studio, then to Harman-Ising/MGM.

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The Executive Behind Walt Disney World’s MyMagic+ Will Leave The Company

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Disney Parks has announced that Nick Franklin, who held the cool title of Executive Vice President for Next Generation Experience at the company, is leaving Disney after 17 years. Franklin spearheaded the massive My Magic+ effort and has served the longest on Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs’ Executive Committee.

“Nick let us know that after 17 successful years with Disney, he wanted to help other companies innovate in how they provide products and services to their customers, much like he did here in leading the development of MyMagic+,” Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty said. “We want to thank Nick for his tremendous accomplishments throughout his tenure with Disney.”

In 2009, Disney tapped Franklin, then the head of its global business and real-estate development teams, to lead a secretive project that was referred to internally as “NextGen.” That work ultimately produced MyMagic+, the many-tentacled technology project at Walt Disney World that includes a reservation system allowing visitors to book attraction times up two months before their trips and microchip-embedded wristbands that interact with sensors installed throughout the resort.

Franklin served as essentially a CEO for the MyMagic+ project, and his team grew from 35 to more than a thousand employees. The company has already hailed Franklin’s efforts as a success, despite rumors that the effort went over budget and took longer to implement than expected. Disney is looking to expand the program beyond Walt Disney World.

Although Disney executives have been hesitant to discuss MyMagic+’s financial performance, they say Disney World visitors are embracing the technology. The company’s chief financial officer, Jay Rasulo, told analysts recently that more than 75 percent of guests staying in Disney-owned hotels are now reserving ride times ahead of their trips, as are more than 25 percent of day visitors.

The company says that guests who plan more of their trip schedules in advance ultimately spend more time and money at Disney World, rather than visiting rival attractions. The project, which includes enhanced data collection, is also designed to make purchases easier and to give Disney more personal information about its guests, ultimately leading to more spending on food, souvenirs and other items.

Franklin also negotiated the deals that led to Hong Kong Disneyland and the forthcoming Shanghai Disneyland.

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Senior Yearbook Quote Nearly Gets Girl Banned From Graduation

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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The senior quote. You only get one chance to encapsulate your high school career in a few words. Do you go with something profound? Or funny? Do you make the Oscar speech you’ll never otherwise get to make? Do you quote a famous movie character or historical figure? Do you go with something clever and awesome, or do you just express your desire to party?

The biggest problem with the senior quote is that it’s forever. If you say something dumb, it’s right there in the yearbook for the school to remember forever. (For some reason, the yearbook staff inadvertently left mine out. I had gone all literary with a quote from Laurel Lee’s Godspeed*.)

Then there’s Paris Gray. The senior at Mundy’s Mill High School in Clayton County, just south of Atlanta, went with a little “nerd humor” for her quote, which wound up getting her in trouble.

Her quote? “When the going gets tough, just remember to Barium Carbon Potassium Thorium Astatine Arsenic Sulfur Uranium Phosphorus.” For those of you who aren’t up on your periodic table, the symbol for those elements translate to:

ywcgGBX

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What’s Wrong with Country Music Today?

Monday, May 19th, 2014 - by Chris Queen
Pretty boy duo Florida-Georgia Line exemplifies all that's wrong with country music in 2014.

Pretty boy duo Florida-Georgia Line exemplifies all that’s wrong with country music in 2014.

I’ve complained about the state of modern mainstream country music for a long time now. And clearly, I’m not alone. Singer-songwriter Collin Raye, one of the top country artists throughout the ’90s, recently took to Fox News to air his grievances at the state of country music today.

As a platinum-selling country music artist and, more importantly, a lifelong fan of the genre, I’d like to send out this heartfelt plea to the gatekeepers of the industry:

Enough already.

I’d like to think that I am expressing what nearly every artist, musician and songwriter (with perhaps a few exceptions) is thinking when I contend that the Bro’ Country phenomenon must cease.

It has had its run for better or worse and it’s time for Nashville to get back to producing, and more importantly promoting, good singers singing real songs. It’s time for country music to find its identity again before it is lost forever.

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Disposable, forgettable music has been the order of the day for quite a while now and it’s time for that to stop.

Our beautiful, time-honored genre, has devolved from lines like, “I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday … holding Bobby’s body next to mine,” and “a canvas covered cabin, in a crowded labor camp stand out in this memory I revive. Cause my Daddy raised a family there with two hard working hands….and tried to feed my Momma’s hungry eyes,” down to “Can I get a Yee Haw?”

And the aforementioned Truck! “Come on slide them jeans on up in my truck! Let’s get down and dirty in muh truck, doggone it I just get off riding in muh truck, I love ya honey, but not as much as muh truck!” Oh and we can’t leave out the beautiful prose about partying in a field or pasture.

He goes on to lay the blame at the feet of the label honchos rather than at the artists or songwriters. “They have the power and ability to make a commitment to make records that keep the legacy of country music alive, and reclaim a great genre’s identity.”

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Watch Your Mouth In Neptune Beach!

Monday, May 19th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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These days, you can’t go too far in public without encountering profanity. From hip-hop songs blaring out of car windows to private conversations that aren’t so private to teenagers who don’t seem to possess more creativity than four-letter words, profanity has become increasingly prevalent. One beach town outside of Jacksonville, Florida may do something to try to stem that tide soon.

After a community Independence Day celebration last year that drew huge, boisterous crowds, David Sembach, Police Chief of Neptune Beach, is looking into an ordinance that would allow officers to issue citations for profanity in public when such language leads to violence.

Naturally, residents of Neptune Beach express divided opinions on the issue:

“There’s no place for that kind of stuff in a public forum,” beach-goer Ken Meadows said.

“I work with people a lot, so I kind of just ignore it when it’s unpleasant,” Kristen Nye said. “Just keep walking.”

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As expected, some locals don’t like the idea; they think Freedom of Speech should always reign supreme.

“It’s a waste of time and taxpayer money to try and do something like that,” Edward Spear said.

The proposal is still in the infancy stage. In order for anything to officially get on the books, City Council will have to approve it. It will be discussed at the next workshop on May 19.

Sembach wants to go further in what he sees as ways to make his town safer:

In addition to pushing for citations if the aggressive language leads to fights, Sembach is also urging for ordinances that would result in penalties for blocking public passageways.

Here’s the reality check: Neptune Beach’s mayor is against the profanity ordinance because she knows it’ll be damn near impossible to pass it. Nice try, Neptune Beach.

What do you think? Is the city right in criminalizing profanity and abusive language when they lead to violence? Or is Sembach stepping on free speech?

This post includes an image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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9 Questions On Music And Faith With Singer-Songwriter Melanie Penn

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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1. How long have you been interested in music? When did you begin singing and writing songs?

I sang my whole life. I sang to the trees in my backyard before I had any friends, growing up in Virginia.

I always wrote songs in my head, but I didn’t pursue it formally until my late 20s.

2. Can you share with us a little about your faith journey?

Yes, gladly. I was raised in a Christian home by wonderful, believing parents. Singing was the way I accessed church and I always sang in church services – from about the age of 6. So Christianity for me was really about being able to sing at church.

I lived in NYC during 9/11 and witnessed that tragedy first-hand. Experiencing death like that – on such a large-scale shook me out of a spiritual slumber I was in. I went to Redeemer Presbyterian Church after 9/11 and sometime in October 2001 I had a powerful encounter with Jesus during a Redeemer service.

The rest is still the journey.

3. What is the songwriting process like for you?

Songwriting for me is mostly agonizing, painful, and something I try to avoid. This is not an overstatement.

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Sean Astin Opens Up About His Faith

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Sean Astin has proven himself one of the most versatile and underrated actors of my generation. With a resume that contains such films at The Goonies, Rudy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and television shows like 24, Astin has transcended the typical life of a former child star and parlayed his talent into a career that has lasted over a quarter century. He currently appears in the new film Mom’s Night Out, and in an interview with Fox News on the movie’s release, Astin opened up about his Christian faith:

Astin, who is “technically Lutheran” after he, his wife and three daughters were baptized in the same church, never thought about defining his faith until he was asked in a live interview to share his religious beliefs.

“I thought, ‘Huh, I guess I have to have an answer’,” he recalled. “I consider myself a Christian. I don’t know if I’m a very good one but I’m praying the forgiveness thing is legit.”

While Astin’s answer is confident now, his road to faith was a winding road. Raised by his mother, actress Patty Duke, and father, “The Addams Family’s” John Astin, in what he describes as a secular home, Astin was exposed to a variety of religions before coming to his own faith.

“My mother was a Catholic who had been kicked out of the church at one time and she put me in Catholic school in sixth to eighth grades and I wanted to become a Catholic then,” he said. “But my father, who was an atheist because his parents were a scientist and school teacher, later discovered Buddhism.”

In addition to his exposure to Catholicism and Buddhism, Astin’s oldest brother “went to India, shaved his head and lived on an ashram and became Hindi.”

In 2003, Astin decided to “embrace Christianity” and develop his own “relationship and understanding with God.”

Astin admits that, while he doesn’t choose his projects along faith-based lines, he will turn down a role “if I feel it has zero moral redemption.” He laughs at the idea of being pigeonholed as a Christian filmmaker after taking on roles in films that appeal to a Christian fan base. He admires a new generation of Christian directors and producers who try to get messages based on timeless biblical principles into the marketplace in fresh ways:

“Hollywood is antagonistic to Christian films because of forces that are hard to describe, but Christians have made things difficult for themselves by the way they approach the outside community,” he continued.

Astin said people need to forget about those “who grab the microphones and yell the loudest.” The fact is, people are hungry for family-friendly, faith-based entertainment and studios are finally starting to listen.

“The Christian ground game is presently revolutionizing marketing in filmmaking,” he explained. “It’s not a subtle thing, and it’s a great thing and it’s not owned by the Christians. They are just getting there first because they’re tired of not being able to get their product into a wide marketplace.”

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Jack’s Back! 5 Reasons to Get Excited About 24: Live Another Day

Friday, May 9th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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For eight seasons, 24 kept viewers on the edge of their seats as counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saved the world one day at a time with the help of a cast of terrific characters including computer analyst Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub). The real-time, 24 hours-a-season format kept us on the edge of our seats and made for innovative television. In 2010, Sutherland and the producers mutually agreed to end the series after its eighth year, but like nearly all good things, 24 came back — this time as a limited, 12 episode season called 24: Live Another Day.

The season premiered on May 5, and based on the first two hours, we’re in for quite a ride. I’ve thought of five reasons to get excited about 24: Live Another Day. Check them out…

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The Frozen-Tangled-Little Mermaid Triangle

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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As an avid Disney fan (geek?), I’ve seen quite a few theories that connect various Disney and Pixar films, TV shows, and properties. It’s no secret that Disney’s animators love to throw in references to other cartoons along with Easter eggs for observant viewers, but some theorists spin elaborate and sometimes over-thought narratives linking movies together. Among the most extreme sits Jon Negroni’s loveable yet wacky Pixar Theory – Negroni also devised the less outlandish idea that Jessie from Toy Story belonged to Andy’s mother years before Andy took ownership of her.

Over the weekend, my brother brought to my attention an intriguing theory that links recent hit Frozen with Tangled and even The Little Mermaid. The theory stems from the screenshot above from Frozen. Who does newly crowned Queen Elsa greet, but post-haircut Rapunzel and Flynn/Eugene? Rapunzel and Flynn’s cameo in Frozen could be no more or less than a clever Easter egg reward for us observant Disney nuts, but this theory suggests more.

“What if the king and queen of Arendelle were on their way to Rapunzel and Eugene’s wedding when their boat sank, and that’s why Rapunzel and Eugene felt the need to come to Elsa’s coronation ceremony?”

Frozen doesn’t tell us much about where the king and queen of Arendelle were heading, just Elsa asking, “Do you have to go?” and Anna sending them off with, “See you in two weeks!”

[SPOILER ALERT] We don’t know where Anna and Elsa’s parents were going, but we know what happened to the ship – it sank.

Elsa’s coronation takes place three years after the shipwreck. Know what else is three years? The time between the theatrical debuts of Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013).

So how does The Little Mermaid fit in? Turns out Ariel swims around a shipwreck – a shipwreck that bears a bit of resemblance to the ship belonging to the king and queen of Arendelle. (Yes, I admit that part’s a stretch, but bear with me.)

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The Ultimate Disney Parks Collectors Item Is Now On eBay

Monday, May 5th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Check out what I came across on eBay. This is the real deal. It’s the front car of Monorail Red from the Mark IV line, which ran at Walt Disney World from 1971-1989. Can you imagine what a cool conversation piece this would make for the front yard? Unfortunately, I can’ t get my hands on $189,000 for it – or a way to get it from Florida to Georgia, for that matter.

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10 of Chris Queen’s Greatest Hits

Sunday, May 4th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Editor’s Note: The internet is not a very friendly place. The anonymity the medium provides makes it real easy for arrogant bullies to spoil everything with their own cynicism and self-loathing rather than focus on celebrating the good, innocent aspects of life. Editing Chris Queen for more than 3 years now has been like taking a regular booster shot of Southern sunshine. He always brings a smile to my face with his articles celebrating the “great, big beautiful tomorrow” that’s coming. Here’s how he concluded the ninth article in this collection:

 ”Cynics will always find something negative to look to about the future. The world around us can make us jaded about what may be in store for us. But when I walk through the gates of Walt Disney World — especially Epcot — I sense a palpable excitement about what can be in the future. Give me the optimistic futurism of Walt Disney over cynicism and grimness any day.”

Over the years at PJ Lifestyle Chris has covered and researched Walt Disney the man and the company he founded. Future collections of his work will highlight some of his intriguing discoveries. For now, please also check out the previous best-of collections published last weekend: 10 of Walter Hudson’s Greatest Hits10 of Hannah Sternberg’s Greatest Hits, and 10 of Kathy Shaidle’s Greatest Hits. For more great articles, also check out the list of PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013. - Dave Swindle

October 30, 2011:

1. The Ten Things You Must Do at Disney World

By my count, I’ve been to Walt Disney World 25 times, though others in my family think I may have been more.

December 5, 2011:

2. Walt Disney’s Five Greatest Innovations

Today marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of the 20th century’s greatest visionary artist and entrepreneur.

April 12, 2014:

3. Ten Books Every Disney Fan Should Read

You won’t really understand Walt Disney until you start reading…

January 4, 2012:

4. Five TV Shows That Didn’t Get the Chance They Deserved

Maybe Netflix can resurrect some of these?

February 24, 2012:

5. The Ten Biggest Academy Awards Blunders

Oscar’s Only Human…

April 23, 2012:

6. Ten Bands That Define Southern Rock

Freebird!

July 16, 2012:

7. Five Scenarios You Can Always Expect on Hell’s Kitchen

It’s RAW!!!!!

May 3, 2013:

8. Walt Disney’s Fascinating Political Journey

The Man Behind The Mouse underwent a political transition from naive socialist cartoonist to staunch conservative mogul.

June 7, 2013:

9. Walt Disney’s Optimistic Futurism

“I say believe in the future, the world is getting better; there are lots of possibilities.” — Walt Disney

July 16, 2013:

10. Hollywood’s Terrible Southern Accent Syndrome

So where do all the bad dialects come from?

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15 Questions About the Challenge of Finding Mr. Righteous

Friday, May 2nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Since I read and reviewed Finding Mr. Righteous last week, I’ve had the privilege of developing a friendship with the author, Lisa De Pasquale. I’ve been asking her questions about the book as well as her views on relationships and faith.

1. Chris Queen: Where did the idea for Finding Mr. Righteous originate?

Lisa De Pasquale: One Saturday I was crafting an email in my head to reach out to one of the guys in the book about some religious questions. The questions were real, but I wasn’t sure if they were coming from an honest place. Was I using a man to get religion or using religion to get a man? Then the title, “Finding Mr. Righteous,” came to me. I went to my computer to see if the title had been used before. It hadn’t! Even www.findingmrrighteous.com was available! I bought it and started making a few quick notes, which later became an outline, in my iPhone.

2. CQ: How did you develop the idea of telling the parallel stories of your romantic relationships and your faith journey?

LD: I wanted to write a book that all women – not just Christians or conservatives – would read. I thought the best way to do that would be through a chicklit-type book about dating. I went into the book with a loose outline, but a lot of the experiences in the book were happening in real time. There were at least three men in the book I had no intention of including or didn’t know at the time I started the book. I thank God for wrapping this story up in a nice bow. When I started writing the book I didn’t know how it would end. It was more poignant than I ever could have imagined!

3. CQ: How nervous were you at the thought of baring your soul and the details of some of your relationships?

LD: There were some moments when I thought “Should I really repeat some of these things?” but ultimately I thought the message was important enough to put it out there. I also thought that the only way I could truly connect with other women is by being completely honest about my ups and downs. I couldn’t tell a true redemption story without discussing my sins. I started the book with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that my friend Liz Neaton posted on Facebook one day. I think it gave me armor for telling my story. He said, “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.”

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The Revolutionary Spies Of TURN

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I wasn’t looking to get hooked on another series, especially a period drama about a historical era with which I’m woefully unfamiliar. But I tuned in to AMC to get ready for the season premiere of Mad Men and caught the last five minutes of the second episode of TURN, a new program about the exploits of the real life Culper Ring, a small network of spies on Long Island during the Revolutionary War. After just a few minutes, I had programmed my DVR to catch up and became a fan of the show.

TURN centers around four spies: young farmer and magistrate’s son Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell), Anna Strong (Heather Lind), wife of the local tavern keeper, himself jailed for treason against the Crown, and militiamen Ben Tallmadge (Seth Numrich) and Caleb Brewster (Daniel Henshall, and Australian actor with the best pan-Celtic accent I’ve ever heard). The four are tired of the mistreatment at the hands of the occupying British, and they manage to pass information back and forth unscathed (so far), risking their lives both on the battle front and in a Loyalist-friendly hometown.

The show has challenged the way I think about the spy game. As one who grew up on James Bond, it’s always been difficult for me to get away from the quips, technology, and hot women and see espionage in a more realistic context. The visceral, realistic rush of TURN is a far cry from 007′s high flying adventures. As I’ve already written over at The Macho Sophisticate:

Instead of cool gadgets, these spies rely on standard weapons. Rather than fire off witty quips, this crew must keep their wits about them. Where James Bond has the backing of a massive government organization, this group counts on clandestine rendezvous and elaborate signals involving hanging laundry to pass on information. And their escapades are just as fascinating as anything Ian Fleming could devise.

Each of the spies has his or her own problems that complicate their roles. Abraham Woodhull must contend with his father, a loyalist judge, and Anna Strong fends off lusty British soldiers. Ben Talmadge must deal with a commanding officer who threatens to court martial him over his interrogation of a British captain, while Caleb Brewster fights nature and his own enthusiasm for the patriot cause.

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The Associated Press Attempts More Disney Guilt by Association

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 - by Chris Queen
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Are Disney and its guests responsible for Orlando’s homeless population? The AP seems to suggest so.

Back in February, I wrote about a phenomenon I call Disney Guilt By Association, a particular type of disinformation in which members of the media attach Disney to negative news stories where the company has an incidental link. In my original article, I wrote:

On far too many occasions Disney has come up against agents of disinformation trying to tarnish its founder, and the company at large finds itself the target of media hatred. From the antics of its former child stars – as if the studio could be responsible for their personal behavior – to the recent attempts to deface Walt Disney that seem to come from out of nowhere, members of the media try to attach any scandal they can to Disney, manufacturing a type of guilt by association.

The Associated Press has published an article documenting the plight of the homeless in the Orlando area (“In Disney’s Shadow, Homeless Families Struggle.”) (The piece even includes the tag, “Homeless in Disney’s Shadow,” as though this particular phenomenon warranted repeated investigation.) The article, which lists no author, chronicles several families who have moved to Orlando seeking a prosperous living, only to find themselves living in seedy motels.

The problem has created a backlash among the mostly mom-and-pop businesses, with some owners suing the county sheriff to force his deputies to evict guests who haven’t paid or who have turned their rooms into semipermanent residences. It also shines a light on the gap among those who work and live in this county that sits in the shadow of Walt Disney World, and the big-spending tourists who flock here. On any given day, tourists pay nearly $100 per person to get into Orlando’s theme parks. There, they may be waited on by homeless parents. From their hotels, they jog past bus stops where homeless children wait to head to school. They buy coffee at Starbucks next to the motels that have become families’ homes. [...] “The fact that we’re the happiest place on Earth and No. 1 travel destination is good news, but this service-based economy is actually creating a dynamic of homelessness,” [consultant Catherine] Jackson said. Many of the county’s homeless moved here to find jobs in the tourism industry, so they lack the social networks of family or churches, Jackson said. (emphasis mine)

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Breaking Disney Parks Rumor: Is Soarin’ Getting A New Film?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Anyone who has visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland knows how cool Soarin’ is. In an earlier post on the 10 things you must do at Disney World, I referred to Soarin’ as “a feast for the senses” and “an engineering marvel.” The uniquely immersive attraction opened at Disney’s California Adventure in 2001 and at Epcot in 2005. Both attractions use the same incredible film highlighting sites up and down the state of California.

We’re now hearing a rumor that Soarin’ may get an update. The folks at WDWMagic, one of my favorite sources for Disney Parks news, rumors, and gossip, reports:

The use of the film from Disney California Adventure was felt by many as a temporary stop gap until Disney could shoot a movie specifically for the Walt Disney World edition of Soarin’, or a new version that could include both the east coast and west coast. We are now almost 10 years since opening, with the same California based film playing.

Well now it seems we are closer than ever to a new film for Epcot’s Soarin’. In the next month, film crews working on the new film are planning flights over Walt Disney World, and specifically Epcot. It is speculated that this new footage will be part of a Soarin’ over the World, which will include sights from around the world, including Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

Keep in mind that we haven’t heard anything remotely official from Disney yet, and also that rumors of updates to the attraction have been around for years. WDWMagic even admits that speculation has been around almost since Soarin’ opened. But wouldn’t it be cool to see new footage? If you’ll indulge me to dream a little, wouldn’t an experience that changes every time you ride Soarin’ – like the new Star Tours – be so much fun?

What are your thoughts, Disney Parks fans?

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Finding Mr. Righteous: A Single Christian Guy’s Perspective

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I approached Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous with some trepidation. Ann Coulter referred to it as “a true Christian story disguised as racy chick lit.” The reader reviews on Amazon contained phrases like “gets to the inner workings of the mind of an insecure young woman” and “as [if]  she was writing about my loving and sexual past.” Our own David Swindle called it “a time bomb waiting to explode.” I thought, ohhhhhh boy. But when David personally recommended it to me, I figured it must be a good read.

Lisa didn’t disappoint. It seems a little weird to refer to her by her first name, since doing so goes against everything you learn about how you’re supposed to write, but after reading Finding Mr. Righteous and talking to her a little about it on Twitter, I feel like I’ve known her for a long time.

Finding Mr. Righteous jumps in to Lisa’s romantic and sexual life with gusto. She never pulls any punches when it comes to her experiences. Situations get steamy from time to time, but I never felt like I was on the verge of being offended. This is no creepy confessional or salacious tell-all — it’s a memoir of a mature woman telling it like it is, warts and all. More often than not, I’d finish a chapter thinking, so that’s what women think about men.

Lisa is a keen judge of human nature as well. She provides astute glimpses behind the facades of the men she’s dated. She offers plenty of fascinating observations like:

Chris was a cat person. But having one view wasn’t enough for him. He had to denigrate the opposing view. Chris’s cat versus dog views were like his views on religion. It wasn’t enough to just accept that some people are religious and some people are not. You had to be an atheist or true believer. And if you were a true believer, you were ignorant.

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Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 6: ‘A Living Blueprint Of The Future’

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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We’ve made it to the end of our series on the 1964-65 World’s Fair and Disney’s influence on it. If you’ve missed the rest of the series here’s where you can find the rest:

Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’
Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’
Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’
Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’
Part 5: ‘It Says Something Very Nice’

In this segment, we’re going to look at the legacy of the Fair on Disney’s theme parks. As we discussed in the first week of the series, Walt Disney used the New York World’s Fair as a sort of testing ground for an East Coast Disneyland concept. The success of the Disney-designed pavilions convinced the company that their secret land purchases in Florida would pay off. As Jeff Kurtti noted in Since The World Began, his (sadly out of print) account of Walt Disney World’s first 25 years:

Ninety-one percent of the guests at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair attended at least one of the Disney shows. And although critics scoffed at Disney’s creations, their popularity convinced many in the Disney organization that the theme park concept was fundamentally reliable, regardless of geographic location.

Since the Fair, Disney has opened a resort with five theme parks in Florida, expanded Disneyland to a second theme park, opened a two-park resort in Tokyo and single-park resorts in Paris and Hong Kong – with a resort in Shanghai set to open in late 2015.

Each of the four pavilions that Disney designed and built for the Fair have left their mark on the Disney brand over the past 50 years. It’s A Small World, with its inimitable spirit and charm, has made its way to all five Magic Kingdom-style parks and has been consistently popular since its Disneyland debut. That attraction also inspired and informed the spirit of World Showcase, the half of Epcot in which various nations show themselves off to guests, living in harmony along World Showcase Lagoon.

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