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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 office manager for an IT managed services provider, 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 Toy Story Theory (From The Guy Who Brought You The Pixar Theory)

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Last summer a friend of mine shared with me an article in which writer Jon Negroni explained his insane ideas regarding the connections between the films in the Pixar canon. I analyzed it and shared it here at PJ Lifestyle.

Well, it just so happens that Negroni is back – this time he has discovered the true identity of Andy’s mom in the Toy Story films. And this theory just might make some sense.

Negroni’s idea centers around Andy’s cowboy hat, which looks an awful lot like Woody’s hat, with one exception:

Notice anything weird about the hat? It looks nothing like the hat worn by his favorite toy, Woody. Why wouldn’t Andy wear a hat that was brown?

He makes the observation that we’ve seen the hat in one other place: Toy Story 2. Cowgirl Jessie wears an almost identical hat. The only difference? A white band above the brim. Jessie’s previous owner, Emily, had a similar, child-sized hat.

Emily, Jessie’s previous owner, wears that hat throughout the “When She Loved Me” sequence in Toy Story 2. The sequence clearly takes place in the 60s and 70s, as evidenced by the decoration and qualities of Emily’s things.

Negroni notes that, though Andy’s hat lacks the white band, there is a faded area on the hat exactly where a similar band could have been.

Are you tracking with me here? The perceptive Negroni notes another fascinating link between the first two films. Emily, Jessie’s first owner, looks an awful lot like a younger version of – you guessed it – Andy’s mom!

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Firing Back At The Global Warming Radicals

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Two winter storms in a three week period blanketed the South in snow and ice. Naturally, the Left couldn’t resist the chance to link these winter storms to “climate change.” Qualified scientists like Bette Midler and Politico‘s Roger Simon - not to be confused with PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon - have tried to tie this winter’s weather to an assault on Mother Earth at the hands of capitalism. (News flash: the only climate change causing these storms was the change from fall to winter.) One climate scientist with his fingers on the pulse of reality is fighting back against the climate change madness, and he’s stepping up his game.

Dr. Roy Spencer is one of the most renowned climatologists in the United States. His work for NASA and the University of Alabama at Huntsville over the past three decades has proven valuable to the scientific community. Most importantly, Spencer has become a leading voice against the fallacy of manmade global warming.

Spencer can barely contain his anger against the vitriolic language of the environmental movement – particularly the use of the word “deniers” to describe those of us who do not subscribe to the dangerous, radical, and altogether false premise that civilization and capitalism cause global warming. And he has declared that it’s time to fight back, using their own metaphor against them:

They indirectly equate (1) the skeptics’ view that global warming is not necessarily all manmade nor a serious problem, with (2) the denial that the Nazi’s extermination of millions of Jews ever happened.

Too many of us for too long have ignored the repulsive, extremist nature of the comparison. It’s time to push back.

I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.

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The Crisis You Won’t Hear About In The Mainstream Media: A National Clown Shortage!

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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In an era where problems abound – issues like the threat of a nuclear Iran, runaway federal spending, and an overreaching executive branch – it’s important to focus on the most urgent crises facing this country: a potential nationwide clown shortage! Fortunately, the New York Daily News is on top of it for all of us in this exclusive report:

As the “Greatest Show on Earth” returns to Brooklyn Thursday, circus folk fear a national clown shortage is on the horizon.

Membership at the country’s largest trade organizations for the jokesters has plunged over the past decade as declining interest, old age and higher standards among employers align against Krusty, Bozo and their crimson-nosed colleagues.

“What’s happening is attrition,” said Clowns of America International President Glen Kohlberger, who added that membership at the Florida-based organization has plummeted since 2006. “The older clowns are passing away.”

Membership at the World Clown Association, the country’s largest trade group for clowns, has dropped from about 3,500 to 2,500 since 2004.

Of course the clowning industry (and I can’t believe I just used that phrase) knows the solution to their problem – getting more kids and teens to consider clowning as a career.

“The challenge is getting younger people involved in clowning,” said Association President Deanna (Dee Dee) Hartmier, who said most of her members are over 40.

Kohlberger said that it’s difficult getting younger people who develop an early interest in the many facets of clowning to stick with it on the professional level.

“What happens is they go on to high school and college and clowning isn’t cool anymore,” he said. “Clowning is then put on the back burner until their late 40s and early 50s.”

Cyrus Zavieh, the president of New York Clown Alley, a group that boasts 45 members across the New York area, said clowns can pull in up to $300 for a birthday party — but that’s hardly a financial incentive for many young people.

“American kids these days are thinking about different careers altogether,” said Zavieh, 44, who has worked under the moniker Cido for nearly two decades.

“They’re thinking about everything other than clowning.”

It’s up to this generation of parents to reverse this alarming trend. Instead of encouraging your sons and daughters to become doctors or lawyers or grooming them to carry on the family business, why not gently nudge them toward the noble art of clowning? We know from the clowning associations that it’s a challenging, multi-faceted, and rewarding career. Think about the joy you’d have as a parent watching your child entertaining thousands at The Greatest Show on Earth! Or imagine your pride as the clown you raised makes a little one scream and cower in fear.

None of us want to have to say one day in the future, “Remember clowns?” Don’t let these delightful entertainers become extinct. Don’t let clowning go the way of the Victrola or the black and white console television. Now is the time to ensure the future of clowning for future generations. For the children.

Unless clowns creep you or your kids out. In that case, never mind.

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Manufacturing Disney Guilt By Association

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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No one in the entertainment industry bears the brunt of ire like Disney. For decades, Walt Disney the man and the company he founded have taken hits from critics, reporters, and historians. 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.

Two recent stories in the UK’s Daily Mail signal this trend. In one article, a trio of would be child molesters work for Walt Disney World, while in the other, a Disney voice actor displays his anti-Israel hatred for the world to see. Disney has no direct involvement in either case, yet the authors of both pieces go out of their way to make the Disney connection in the headlines and in opening paragraphs.

Disney fired the Arabic voice of Donald Duck after he published an anti-Israel tweet:

Disney has dropped the voice of Donald Duck in the Middle East after he said Israel should be demolished.

Wael Mansour no longer works for the global corporation – whose founder Walt Disney was famously accused of being racist and anti-semitic – after he tweeted: ‘I truly wish #Israel is demolished, I hate Zionism, I have so much hate inside me with every single child they murder or land they seize’.

He insisted his message was ‘anti-Zionist‘, claiming Israelis were just a bunch of Polish / Ethiopian immigrants roughly 70 years old‘.

Note the dig at Walt in the second paragraph there – more on that later. Mansour sent the initial tweet in August of 2013, and he announced his firing earlier this month, also via Twitter.

He told his 5,000 Twitter followers: ‘Disney decided I am no longer the official voice of Donald Duck in it’s middle-east dubbed cartoons because of an anti Zionism tweet. Proud!’

His total has since rocketed to 30,000 followers.

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’70s Pop Superstars ABBA Reveal The Truth Behind Their Outrageous Signature Look

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Sometimes musicians make decisions that seem to run counter to rock and roll. Björn Ulvaeus, one of the masterminds behind the ’70s pop group ABBA, has revealed in a forthcoming book that their over-the-top fashion choices were not as much about looks as one might believe.

The glittering hotpants, sequined jumpsuits and platform heels that Abba wore at the peak of their fame were designed not just for the four band members to stand out – but also for tax efficiency, according to claims over the weekend.

Reflecting on the group’s sartorial record in a new book, Björn Ulvaeus said: “In my honest opinion we looked like nuts in those years. Nobody can have been as badly dressed on stage as we were.”

And the reason for their bold fashion choices lay not just in the pop glamour of the late 70s and early 80s, but also in the Swedish tax code.

According to Abba: The Official Photo Book, published to mark 40 years since they won Eurovision with Waterloo, the band’s style was influenced in part by laws that allowed the cost of outfits to be deducted against tax – so long as the costumes were so outrageous they could not possibly be worn on the street.

Complaining about taxes is as much a part of rock as partying and heartache – from the Beatles’ anthem “Taxman” to Adele’s rants about tax rates in the UK, musical artists have made public their feelings about paying high taxes for years. Ulvaeus’ admission ups the ante in a certain sense. Who knows? Maybe we’ll start to hear more admissions from musicians on what they’ve done to claim deductions and find loopholes. I guess in some ways rock stars are just like the rest of us.

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The 10 Things You Must Do at Disney World

Sunday, February 16th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Editor’s Note: This article was first published in November of 2011. It is being republished as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists of 2013. Wait… What’s a 2011 list doing in a 2013 compilation the sensible person asks? My excuse: this article is one of PJ Lifestyle’s biggest hits, in 2013 drawing more readers than many new lists published that year. It’s one of Chris Queen’s first pieces that demonstrated he’d do a fantastic job on the Disney beat for PJ Lifestyle. I’ve given it a a face-lift with some new images for the age of Instagram… Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months.

I’m a major Disney fan — I grew up on Disney, and it has been a key influence throughout my life. From films to music to television series there’s always been some type of Disney entertainment playing in the background. I can’t think of a period in my life without Disney.

Growing up in a family that’s nutty for Disney, Walt Disney World has always been our favorite vacation destination. My parents honeymooned there and they first took me as an infant. By my count, I’ve been to Walt Disney World 25 times, though others in my family think I may have been more times. Since my nieces were born, we’ve tried to make our pilgrimages at least once a year.

I love planning our trips to Walt Disney World almost as much as I love going there. Planning helps us build anticipation and makes our trips that much sweeter. There’s no greater excitement than the expectancy that comes with a Walt Disney World trip.

My whole family have become experts for our friends and acquaintances when it comes to Walt Disney World. People constantly ask us for tips and trip-planning advice. In fact, my sister and I have talked about opening a travel agency specializing in Disney trips.

So without further ado, here’s a list of ten essential Walt Disney World experiences. If you’ve never been or if you haven’t been in a long time, hopefully these tips will help you plan and know what to expect. If you’ve been many times like me, maybe this list can inspire some good-natured debate about what’s best at Walt Disney World.

Next: Heaven for the Disney collector…

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5 Attractions I Wish Were Still At Walt Disney World

Saturday, February 15th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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As someone who has traveled to Walt Disney World more times than I can count, I’ve seen attractions come and go. Disney closes and changes attractions for many different reasons – some rides become outdated, while others diminish in popularity or become too difficult or expensive to maintain. Other attractions go to make way for new ideas.

The Disney Dining site (a terrific site fill of great tips and fun list posts) recently produced their list of ten Walt Disney World attractions they wish were still around. While I agree with the spirit of their list, I didn’t agree with the placement of some of the attractions on the list, so I gave in to the temptation to create my own list.

Many of these selections stem from sheer nostalgic value, but I really do miss these rides. If you think of other attractions that you think should be on this list, feel free to share in the comments section below.

5. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (1971-1994)

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The submarine ride 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea captured my imagination as a kid. In typical Disney fashion, the attraction was set up to immerse guests in believing they were in the depths of the ocean even though they were only a few feet underwater. Disney closed the submarine ride in 1994, but they didn’t fill in the lagoon for a few years. Part of New Fantasyland sits in that space now, so I suppose it’s a worthwhile tradeoff all these years later.

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Paula Deen’s Comeback Payday

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Looks like Paula Deen is bouncing back from last year’s controversy. The beleaguered celebrity chef seems to have overcome the accusations of racism that a former employee leveled at her in a lawsuit last summer. Deen’s new project, Paula Deen Ventures, has picked up an investment payday to the tune of at least $75 million.

The money came from private equity firm Najafi Cos., based in Phoenix. A representative from Paula Deen Ventures says the company is currently speaking with several “TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners,” though curiously, Food Network is not one of them.

After a year in which she lost sponsors left and right, this new start is good new for Deen. Her fan support has barely wavered, especially in the South, where her Savannah, Georgia, restaurant, The Lady & Sons, continues to experience long lines and waits. Deen is aware of the groundswell of approval from her longtime fans.

She said she draws confidence from the “hundreds of thousands of folks who signed up on Facebook’s ‘We Support Paula Deen’ page,” adding that “hundreds of thousands of my fans sent me messages of love and support.”

Will this new start mean more success for Paula Deen? Anyone who has heard her story knows better than to count her out.

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Royal Role Models

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I have three nieces – ages eight, six, and four. Just like with the rest of our family, Disney plays a huge part in the girls’ lives. The girls love the Disney Princesses, and they want to emulate them. They dress like their favorite princesses, draw pictures of them, and pretend to be them. And I’m totally OK with it.

The Disney princesses have come under fire a lot lately, usually from feminist sources. One Canadian photographer composed a series of photos depicting the princesses in a cynical, despairing light, while another encourages moms to “set aside the…Disney Princesses” and dress their daughters as “inspirational” women (like Coco Chanel?).

Unlike these critics, I think the Disney Princesses are great role models for the moral values they teach, and I’m not alone. I recently stumbled on an article Mark Tapson wrote over at Acculturated back in October. In it, he took the words right out of my mouth:

Militant feminism has conditioned parents to reel in horror from the notion that their girls should aspire to be nothing more than fairy-tale damsels in distress, hoping for knights in shining armor to whisk them away from their Cinderella-like drudgery and live happily ever after in ball gowns at the royal castle. But this attitude stems from an unfortunate misperception about the Disney princesses, one that parents would do well to reconsider.

[...]

This isn’t the 1950s; American girls now grow up under the assumption that they can be whatever they aspire to. They don’t lack for role models in any profession one can name.

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A Big Toy For Grown-Up Boys

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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The 2014 Chicago Auto Show offers the largest selection of production and concept vehicles of any auto show in the country. Like every other auto maker, Ford is serving up some exciting vehicles, including a reimagined 2015 F-150. But the absolute coolest truck at Ford’s show space in Chicago is bound to bring out the little boy in all of us guys: the Ford Tonka F-150.

Based on an F-150 Lariat powered by a 5.0-liter V8, it gets mechanical upgrades that include a six-inch Pro-Comp lift kit, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a Quiet Tone exhaust system. That’s all well and good, but this truck is all about the style, and it has plenty of that.

It features chunky new bumpers, side cladding, step bars, and a redesigned tailgate all embossed with the Tonka logo; stainless steel billet steel inserts on the grille openings; fender vents;  and to top it all off a bulging ram-air hood that’s just short of being cartoony. More Tonka logos are applied to the interior, and the bed is finished with a hard tonneau cover and heavy-duty carpeting.

The Tonka F-150 is available in any color as long as it’s yellow, because anything else would just be wrong. Prices vary by participating dealer, but the conversion listed on the show truck is $22,282 on top of the $50,078 truck it’s built on for a grand total of $72,360.

Ford is collaborating with Tuscany Motors to produce a limited run of 500 Tonka F-150s. The companies produced a handful of the trucks in 2013, and the response to them led to this year’s new run. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but if you can afford to relive your childhood in the coolest possible way, wouldn’t you?

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The Stars Of Disney’s Frozen Performed The Film’s Songs And Score Live

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Leave it to Disney to find the coolest way to promote one of its Oscar-nominated films. The studio recently hosted an exclusive evening at a Bel Air jazz club in which the cast of the animated megahit Frozen performed songs from the movie while the composer of the film’s score conducted a small contingent of musicians.

“Apparently Disney didn’t realize they have a concert (hall) named after them so we’re here at this Bat Mitzvah venue,” joked Josh Gad as he kicked off an evening in which the cast of Disney’s Oscar-nominated “Frozen” performed songs from the animated hit live inside Bel Air’s’ Vibrato Grill on Sunday night.

The tribute to the songs and score from the film, which has passed the $900 million mark at the global box office, included Glad performing “In Summer,” while Menzel ended the evening with the Oscar-nominated “Let It Go.”

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Kristen Bell, in particular impressed the small gathering with her live performance of “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” during which she also sang the younger versions of her character Anna from the film, sung by others on the film’s soundtrack.

Bell was elated on stage to have been able to work on “Frozen” and become a Disney princess, a dream of hers since she was five years old.

[...]

Attending the event were “Frozen” co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, the film’s songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar president Ed Catmull, and thesps Darren Criss, Jane Lynch and Ariel Winter.

With Frozen raking in major box office and garnering two Academy Award nominations (Best Animated Feature and Best Song for “Let It Go”), the studio billed the evening as a “love letter” to those who worked on the production. One could also see it as a test run for a forthcoming stage production, which is in the works. The timing couldn’t be more fortuitous, as Hollywood is in the height of Oscar campaigning season. Did the tactic turn the heads of Academy voters? We’ll have to see.

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PETA Wants A Memorial In Georgia To Honor Auto Accident Victims

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Gainesville, Georgia, about an hour north of Atlanta, has earned the reputation as the “Poultry Capital of the World.” Thousands of chickens make their way through Gainesville on their way to and from the processing plants throughout Northeast Georgia. With so many chickens in transit, there was bound to be an accident involving a chicken truck at some point. On January 27, a truck carrying live chickens overturned on a highway in Gainesville.

When humans die in automobile accidents, we often see makeshift memorials at the crash site. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has begun placing state-approved memorials at sites for a $100 fee at the request of family members. PETA has stepped in, petitioning GDOT for a memorial to the chickens killed in the January 27 crash.

The drivers of the chicken truck and the other vehicle involved were not seriously injured in the predawn crash on U.S. 129 near Gainesville, but “dozens” of the truck’s cargo were apparently not so fortunate, according to the local PETA member who filed the request for a “giant tombstone” to be erected in memory of the chickens.

“Although a relative of the deceased is usually required to fulfill requests for roadside memorials, I hope you will allow a concerned citizen such as me to suffice in this case,” Sarah Segal of Atlanta wrote in her application to GDOT. “These chickens, who spent their entire short lives … on a factory farm before their agonizing deaths, have no known living relatives.”

A spokeswoman for PETA has stated that the memorial will serve as “food for thought” to Gainesville’s residents and travelers in the area. Of course, with the poultry industry employing thousands of residents in the region, Gainesville is likely to view the monument as an object of ridicule and the publicity stunt that it really is. There’s no word yet on the state’s response to the request.

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Jeopardy! Champion Generates Controversy With His Unorthodox Tactics

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Arthur Chu

A 30-year-old insurance company employee and freelance voice actor took to the Jeopardy! stage with a burning desire to win and a dominant style of play. Along the way, he has won $102,800 so far and has picked up a reputation as a sort of villain to the show’s most ardent fans. And Arthur Chu doesn’t really care what the haters think.

Chu’s strategy consists of “bouncing around” the board, grabbing higher-dollar clues to shut his opponents out and hunting for valuable Daily Doubles. He often cuts host Alex Trebek off if he knows the answer before Trebek finishes the clue, and he caused a firestorm for betting a mere $5 on a sports-related Daily Double and cutting the host off to admit he didn’t know the answer. Some have called Chu’s strategy unorthodox, but he says it’s all been done before:

“I’ve told many people already that the first thing I did when I found out I was going to be on ‘Jeopardy!’ was sit down at my computer and literally Google ”Jeopardy!’ strategy’ and see what came up. The game’s been around for 30 years, and there are these communities of people like the J! Archive which has fans writing down the clues and the results from every game of “Jeopardy!” in history, ” Chu told FOX411. “Or the J! Board, which has some of the best champions and most devoted fans in ‘Jeopardy!’ history sitting down to discuss strategy and game play.

“What I would say is that what you can learn from my success on the show is that success is often not about being original or groundbreaking – it is about being willing to study from experts, learn from experience and commit to doing what evidence has proven works.”

Chu defends his strategy to fans of the show, saying it isn’t “something to apologize for,” but he admits that he fears frustrating Trebek.

Even the host couldn’t hide his irritation when Chu rattled off answers while he was still speaking.

“The crew, the production team and Alex, they want you to take the clues in order. That way, Alex doesn’t have to go hunting around for the right note card when he has a clue,” Chu said. “I hope he wasn’t too mad. I don’t want to antagonize Alex. Alex is a national treasure.”

Though Chu calls parts of his strategy “a jerk move,” his unusual tactics are legal – and they’re paying off. Can he continue his winning ways now that his methods are under scrutiny? We’ll see February 24, when his next appearance on the show (already in the can) airs.

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Designing A Monorail And Kidnapping A Vice President

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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The monorail systems at both American Disney theme parks serve as testimony to Walt Disney’s exciting futuristic vision. Monorails played a central role in the urban utopia of Walt’s Florida Project (and later on at Walt Disney World, of course), but many guests may not know that Disneyland has had its own monorail system since 1959.

Walt had wanted a monorail for the opening day of Disneyland, but his team had a difficult time finding a feasible plan for one. It took a trip to Germany for inspiration to strike.

During a visit to Europe in the Summer of 1957, Disney’s engineering group examined the experimental monorail developed by the Alweg Corporation, near Cologne, Germany. After further investigation, the group reported to Disney that this design appeared to offer the best prospects for economy, stability, and all-around practicality…

Walt asked Alweg to build a monorail for Disneyland, and he tapped Bob Gurr, an Imagineer who had worked on nearly all the other vehicles at the park, to work with the German company. Walt was pleased with the result and greenlit the Disneyland Alweg Monorail System, which opened June 14, 1959.

 This “Highway in Sky” featured two trains, each with 3 cabins and the now-iconic bubble top in front. Walt Disney’s hope was not only to provide a scenic journey above Disneyland, but to create a solution for mass transportation needs all around the world.

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The Better (Snow) Angels Of Our Nature

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Last Tuesday, a winter storm made its way to the Deep South and paralyzed cities like Atlanta and Birmingham for 30 hours. Atlanta found itself woefully underprepared when hundreds of businesses and school systems closed at nearly the same time. Motorists became stranded on crowded interstates as commutes ground to a halt. My own family experienced the harrowing “winter hell” – to use the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s term. My cousin had to spend the night in his truck in conditions so cold that the screen on his phone shattered, and my sister-in-law ventured out Wednesday morning to encounter other drivers stuck in a day’s worth of traffic.

There’s plenty of frustration all over Atlanta as a result of the storm. Abandoned cars sat for over a day, out of gas and left behind on highways and side streets alike. Students spent the night at schools when school systems chose not to allow buses out in the worsening conditions. City and state officials have played a sort of blame game (even as Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed whizzed past jammed motorists in the emergency lane en route to a Weather Channel interview), and citizens, members of the media, and officials at all levels of government struggle to figure out what went wrong. Some conspiracy nuts have mused that the government created a fake snowstorm to paralyze the South.

While the South revels in its frustrations with the storm and other areas of the country have some fun at our expense, Snowmageddon 2014 has given us some shining examples of the better side of human nature. Southerners cared for each other in the freezing cold, some of them in clever and ingenious ways.

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Disney Parks From The Air Over The Years

Thursday, January 30th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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By now, most people have heard the story of how Walt Disney initially came up with the idea to open a theme park. When he took his daughters on daddy-daughter trips to amusement parks around Los Angeles, he sat on a bench while Diane and Sharon rode rides and lamented the lack of activities for the entire family. The original idea for a small “Mickey Mouse Park” across the street from the Disney Studios has grown to two huge resort destinations in the United States, one in Europe, and two in Asia with a third coming soon.

Aerial photographs show us in a fascinating way how much the American parks have grown over the years. Take Disneyland in Anaheim, California, for instance. The original Disney theme park opened in 1955 on 160 acres near sleepy orange groves and is now 300 acres in the heart of Southern California’s bustling metropolis.

The photo below contrasts Disneyland in 1955 with today. Notice how undeveloped the area around the park was, and compare it to the urban sprawl that even in the late 50s bothered Walt and led him to build Walt Disney World in Florida. You can also see how the parking areas have moved to make room for hotels and additions to the park – including a whole new theme park, Disney’s California Adventure, which we’ll look at next.

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Disney initially built Disney’s California Adventure Park on 67 acres at the southern end of the Disneyland property in 2001. The company retooled the park and expanded it six years later. The photo below shows the growth of the park between 2003 and today. While the growth may not look that drastic, you can notice in particular the growth in the southeastern part of the park as well as the major expansion of the Grand Californian Hotel at the center left of both images.

California Adventure

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Southerners Read The Bible More Than Any Other Area Of The Country

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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The American Bible Society has released its second annual list ranking 100 American cities by their embrace of the Bible. An overwhelming number of the top cities are located in the South.

“What we do is we take down all 100 cities in the U.S. and we take the top, take the bottom and everything in between,” Geof Morin, Chief Communications Officer for the American Bible Society, said. “It’s a combination of not just readership … but engagement, which is a language term for does the Bible get its fair shake in folks’ lives?”

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“In the southeast, you have a strong penetration of the Bible in churches, as you would imagine, but in these cities — the ones that made the top 5 in particular — if you look at them, it’s not just church attendance that stacks up here. It’s personal engagement with the scriptures, it’s small groups of people who gather together and, in some cases, some community-wide efforts to invite people to engage, to read and live out the Bible,” Morin told Fox News Chief Religion Correspondent Lauren Green.

The top five cities on the survey are Chattanooga, TN, Birmingham/Tuscaloosa/Anniston, AL, Roanoke/Lynchburg, VA, Springfield, MO, and Shreveport, LA. Among the top 25 cities, only three – Charlotte, Nashville, and Dallas – have populations of one million or more households. Conversely, many of the cities on the bottom of the list are located in the Northeast.

“There’s churches and lots of folks involved in religious activity, but the penetration of the Bible, the means by which people can personally engage it and find ways to live it out are encouraged to do so, has dropped, which puts these folks at the bottom of the list,” Morin said.

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4 Quick Observations from the Grammy Awards

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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I almost didn’t watch the Grammy Awards. The last few years, I’ve debated watching — largely because my music tastes have become less mainstream over the years but for other reasons as well. But, since I’m a sucker for the awards themselves, I wound up watching Sunday night’s ceremony. I walked away from the telecast with these four quick observations:

1. Beatlemania Is Alive and Well.

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The 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival on U.S. shores takes place next week, and it’s clear that Beatlemania is still a force to reckon with. Ringo Starr performed “Photograph,” and he sounded pretty good. Paul McCartney performed “Queenie Pie,” a quirky, Beatlesque song off his new album, with Ringo on drums. Additionally, Sir Paul picked up a pair of awards at the ceremony. CBS will air a special on February 9 to commemorate the 50th anniversary. As a longtime fan, all this Beatles love makes me happy.

2. Daft Punk’s Costume Shtick Doesn’t Translate Well to an Awards Show.

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French Electronic duo Daft Punk picked up four trophies, including the the two biggest prizes: Record of the Year and Album of the Year. They took the stage three times to accept awards and once to perform. The group is famous for their costumed performances, part of their attempts to maintain their anonymity (which I understand), but their futuristic robot getup didn’t work so well on the awards show stage.

Each time they entered the stage after a win, one of the featured performers had to give a speech for them. Each one began with, “I guess the robots wanted me to say…” The speeches were some of the most surreal moments of the night (even in light of Katy Perry’s performance.)

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Are Obama’s Economic Policy Failures Part of a Strategy?

Monday, January 27th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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We on the Right may find ourselves tempted at times to look at the failures of Obama’s presidency and think that we’ve won. We may think that we’ve proven, once and for all, that stifling statism and stealth socialism cannot prevail in America.

Have you stopped to think that what we think of as failures may instead be part of a grand radical strategy? Former Florida Congressman Allen West has, and he shared his thoughts on Fox News:

West, a Republican, said he recently reread the Cloward-Piven strategy, proposed by two sociologists and political activists in 1966. The purpose of the strategy, offered to Democrats at the time, was to overload the welfare system so that people could be given “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.”

Obama’s economic policies may be intended to do something similar, West hinted during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News Channel’s ”On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”

“We’re seeing an incredible growth of the welfare nanny state; we’re seeing the poverty rolls explode; we’re seeing the food stamp rolls explode; we’re seeing more dependency on government largesse and programs,” he said. “We’re seeing a desperation and a despondency out there that’s being created by this administration.”

Authors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven proposed a plan to end capitalism quickly by overloading bureaucracy with dependents so that the system would collapse under its own weight.

They proposed a “massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.”  Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces for major economic reform at the national level.”

Their strategy involved a radical tactic known as community organizing (sound familiar?) to whip the poor into a frenzy and drive them on to welfare rolls. Voting-rights drives and a push for a “living wage” factored in to the Cloward-Piven strategy as well. Cloward and Piven were also reportedly behind the controversy in the 2000 presidential election.

Does all of this sound far fetched? Bear in mind that, like President Obama, Cloward and Piven were disciples of Saul Alinsky.

I sure hope I’m wrong, but if Obama’s policies thus far are part of a Cloward-Piven styled strategy, 2014 is more crucial than ever in terms of stemming the tide of stealth socialism.

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How I Lost 25 Pounds without Having to Run

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Over the years, I had made halfhearted attempts to lose weight and get in better shape and never seemed to have much luck. I had spent money on fat burners and tried diets that I couldn’t keep. I even joined the new gym in town hoping it would be the answer to all my problems. But on September 13 of last year, I made a commitment. I was going to lose weight no matter what it took, and I set some goals to try to prevent losing weight from becoming another losing battle.

As of last Friday, I’ve lost 25 pounds, reaching my first goal. (I wish I had before-and-after pictures, but I didn’t take one at the beginning.) I managed to lose this weight during a period that included vacation, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, so it wasn’t always easy. I can tell a definite difference in the way I look. My clothes fit better, and I feel great. Several people have asked me what I’ve done, and my answer turns into a long one, because it’s a combination of factors that have helped me.

The caveat to my weight-loss strategy — I refuse to run. My sister and brother-in-law began training around the same time for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, and while I’m proud of them for it, running just isn’t my thing. So, here are three actions I’ve taken that have contributed to my weight loss.

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Fruity Cereal Flavors? Yeah, They’re All The Same

Friday, January 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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My childhood is ruined. Well, not ruined, but I have to admit a little part of me is disappointed at the findings on fruit flavored cereals. The folks at Relevant broke the news:

Your favorite breakfast cereal is nothing but one, big lie. The crushers of childhood dreams over at Foodbeast.com recently conducted a blind taste test to determine if consumers could distinguish the difference between the brightly-colored rings of sweet goodness found in Froot Loops (note: most likely for legal reasons, they can not be referred to as “fruit” loops), and found that each color was actually the same flavor. Not content on just ruining Froot Loops for generations to come, they also used the same methodology to discredit the disguising colors behind Trix and Fruity Pebbles. All of those glorious blues, eye-catching greens and bright-like-the-rising-sun reds are nothing but sugary lies …

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The End Of The Extra Point?

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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My first post for PJ Lifestyle nearly two and a half years ago dealt with the nanny state mentality in the league office of the NFL. Back then, I wrote about the ideas that stem from Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office that don’t always sit well with players and/or fans. This week, in an interview with NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, Goodell mentioned an idea that is sure to generate controversy: getting rid of the extra point.

“The extra point is almost automatic,” Goodell said. “I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd (attempts). So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.

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Extra points — with a 99.1 percent success rate since 2004 — have become an afterthought. Unless you’re up against Lawrence Taylor in Tecmo Bowl, there’s virtually zero drama attached to the point after.

Goodell has an ally in New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who has argued for abolishing the extra point for years:

I would be in favor of not seeing [extra points] be an over 99 percent conversion rate. It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players. It was a lot harder for them to do… I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic.

Now, I know what some football fans are asking: what about two point conversions? Goodell brings them up:

“There’s one proposal in particular that I’ve heard about,” Goodell went on. “It’s automatic that you get seven points when you score a touchdown, but you could potentially go for an eighth point, either by running or passing the ball, so if you fail, you go back to six.”

With a two-point conversion success rate of 47.9%, it’s an interesting perspective. But what do kickers think? My friend Rex Robinson, former New England Patriots (and University of Georgia) kicker, weighed in on Facebook:

I would move the PAT back 10 yards before I eliminated it…it is a gimme play now-a-days.

What do you think? Should the NFL eliminate the extra point attempt? Should teams get a choice of an automatic seven point touchdown or “going for two” and risking losing a point? Should the league make the PAT more challenging? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

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New Photos of Challenger Disaster Emerge

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Twenty-eight years ago next week, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded a little more than a minute after launch. I’ll never forget that day. I was in 7th grade, and we were out of school because of an extreme cold snap. The Teacher in Space program which put Christa McAuliffe made this launch special. As the day unfolded, we recorded news reports and tributes on the VCR, and my parents still have the tape even though they threw their VCR out years ago. For my generation, the Challenger disaster held the same sort of legendary status as the Kennedy assassination did for my parents – at least until 9/11.

As we get ready to mark another anniversary, new photos of the disaster have emerged from an unlikely source.

Last week, Michael Hindes of West Springfield, Mass., made a timely discovery:  Twenty-six previously misplaced photos of the disaster. To his knowledge, the photos had never been published before this past Tuesday.

While searching through the belongings of his grandmother, who had recently passed away, Hindes was looking for photos to display during the memorial service. Lo and behold, an amazing find. “I just happened to get the box with the Challenger pictures at the bottom, which was kind of special for me because I am the biggest NASA fan in the family,” Hindes wrote in the Reddit post where he first displayed the photos.

“As I [went] through them, I’m watching the shuttle go up and up and up,” he told KTAR. “Then I see that iconic cloud.” Hindes said his heart sank when he realized what the photos depicted.

Hindes’ asked his grandfather, who had worked as NASA electrician, about the photos. His grandfather explained that another electrician, one of his coworkers, had taken them and given him a set. Unfortunately, in the three decades that have past, the photographer’s name is, sadly, lost to history.

Honestly, the photos don’t reveal anything more that the hundreds we’ve seen since the day of the explosion, but the sequence shows the explosion unfolding in real time. Hindes has reached out to NASA offering to donate the photos, but he has not heard back from them. You can see the gallery in a slideshow on weather.com.

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Abigail Disney Doubles Down On Disinformation About Her Great Uncle Walt

Friday, January 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Just days after Meryl Streep’s brazen attempt to smear the name and legacy of Walt Disney with disinformation, the three time Oscar winner has backup from an unlikely source – Walt’s great niece, Abigail Disney.

Abigail, the granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, took to Facebook in the wake of Streep’s remarks to express her support for the actress’ smears.

That morning, Abigail, whose grandfather Roy O. Disney was Walt’s older brother and co-founder of The Walt Disney Company, posted: “I hadn’t heard a word about this Meryl Streep/Walt Disney flap till this morning. Funny how no one mentioned it to me…. Like I was living in some kind of information bubble and nobody wanted to hurt my feelings or something. But if anyone is going to have mixed feelings about a cultural icon, wouldn’t it be a member of the family??? More than anyone else???

“And if you are going to have mixed feelings about a family member (and we all do) take it from me, you really need to be as honest as possible about those feelings, or else you are going to lead yourself into many a blind alley in life!! … Anti-Semite? Check. Misogynist? OF COURSE!! Racist? C’mon he made a film (Jungle Book) about how you should stay ‘with your own kind’ at the height of the fight over segregation! As if the ‘King of the Jungle’ number wasn’t proof enough!! How much more information do you need? But damn, he was hella good at making films and his work has made billions of people happy. There’s no denying it. So there ya go. Mixed feelings up the wazoo.”

(Let’s face it, nothing lends credibility to your statement quite like the use of hella and wazoo.) But she wasn’t done.

Abigail posted again 10 hours later: “I feel I have to clarify. I LOVED what Meryl Streep said. I know he was a man of his times and I can forgive him, but Saving Mr Banks was a brazen attempt by the company to make a saint out of the man. A devil he was not. Nor an angel. That’s the point and if you read ALL her remarks you’ll know that’s exactly what she was getting at. She said exactly what I said about how in spite of it all, his vision was amazing and he brought joy to so many around the world. So I say Brava Meryl. I don’t believe in bashing for bashing’s sake but whenever we see a misplaced attempt at hagiography we need to speak our minds!”

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