Saturday, May 31, 2008
Celtics logoWell how about that?! The Boston Celtics (for you non-Americans it's pronounced sell-ticks, not kell-ticks) are going to the NBA Finals for the first time in 21 years!!

And ... and they're playing against Los Angeles!

When I was in California (1998-2004) I was a Los Angeles Lakers fan - I'll admit it. But how could you not be - they had the three-peat in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

But not anymore. Especially not against Boston.

I'm sure we'll see this a few times in the media in the next few days, but right now Laker coach Phil Jackson has won nine NBA Championships - tied with Celtics legend Red Auerbach.

You really think that Boston can let Jackson get ten and pass Red?
posted by Josh at 9:19 AM | 5 comments
Friday, May 30, 2008
20071106_lost150.pngAs last night's season finale of Lost downloads, I have a few minutes to reflect on the week.

Actually I have ... "remaining time unknown"??? Awwww ... lots of time to reflect.

Well I'm not going to read anything on the internet about Lost, that's for sure. I'm kind of scared to even read Yahoo! Most Popular News for fear of a spoiler.

I did, however, read the sports page. Kobe Bryant and the gang knocked out the Spurs and are going to the NBA Finals. Check out the great photo of Bryant going all fierce over Tim Duncan.

I'm reticent to think it before it's set in stone - but a Celtics / Lakers NBA Finals? It'd be like the 1980s all over again!!

But I digress. Dubai. This week. Moving. We certainly kept busy the last few days. We had the mover come give us a quotation on shipping our books, clothes and artwork back to the States the other day. That was a disaster which I'll tell you all about later.

On Tuesday we took the two cats in to the veterinarian to get updates on shots and figure out what we need to get them into the country. As you might recall, Lilly is the cat Liz brought with her from Maine, and Kitty is the name of the cat Liz found here. Both are going back with us.

So each cat has a vaccination card, with dates of shots and treatments recorded on it. As we're ready to leave the vet's I look over Kitty's card one last time, just to make sure I understand everything, in case the border guards ask me questions.

On the fourth panel of the tri-fold card it lists the animal's name, date of birth, and make and model.

And under "Kitty" it says "Canine".

I look at Lilly's card.

Hers says "Feline".

"Canine"? Does this card say that Kitty is a dog?

Even if he was, what kind of people would name their dog "Kitty"?!

We ask the vet to change it, and also clarify the date of the last shots that were written "20/3/2008" - you know, in the British system. I can just imagine some border crossing checkpoint dude saying, "What's this? Your dog had his shots on the third day of the twentieth month? And his name's 'Kitty'? What's with youse? Please step aside."

Maybe I could tell him I celebrate the Mayan Calendar?

Which is funny, 'cause I kind of do (see Finishing up February with a Wayeb').

The funniest thing about "Kitty the Dog" is that it reminds me of my own formative years. Back in December of 1993 I was busy applying to colleges, filling out applications by hand (yes, kids, this was pre-internet) and sending out my high school transcripts. It was a mad-dash before Winter Break, but I got them all sent out.

And then I actually looked at my high school transcript.

Under "Gender" it had me listed as "F".


Obviously I was horrified.

But then I got to thinking, maybe they'd put me in a female dorm! All of a sudden images of a teen comedy movie flashed before my eyes (and yes, kids, this was pre-EuroTrip).

Needless to say, I had the guidance office change my gender, and Boston University put me with a dude Freshman year.

But Dubai. This week. Moving.

It seems like we're slowly chipping away at things that need to be done pre-move. And when it seems like we've been planning this forever, I think of Jack and my friends on Lost.

I tried to get this across back in March, but sometimes my words don't come out right (The End is in Sight).

But this week I realized what's scary about all of this. I've been looking forward to going home for so long, much like Jack and Kate and company. Leaving Dubai = leaving deserted jungle island.

What happens if we get home, and all of a sudden I want to go back? Like leaving wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be?

What if I start screaming, "We have to go back, Kate! We have to go back!"?!?

Now that's scary.

Only 6 hours and 52 minutes left on the download ...
posted by Josh at 9:54 AM | 3 comments
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Phil HartmanYesterday was the ten year anniversary of the murder of Phil Hartman.

In May of 1998 I had just graduated college and my brother and I were driving out to California so I could start at Disney Animation, and he could do a summer internship at Disney.

Being on the road and immersed in our CD collection (yes, kids, this was pre-iPod) we didn't even hear about Hartman's death until we called our parents to check in. We were in some motel in the Southwest.

As teens in the early 1990s, my brother and I soaked up Saturday Night Live - back when it was Carvey, Myers, Farley, Sandler, Spade, Rock, Garofalo, Meadows ... and of course, Hartman.

He wasn't our favorite - that would have been Spade and Farley (me being Spade, my brother Farley) - but he was always so consistently funny. Precise.

He only got funnier as Bill McNeal on NewsRadio and as the duo Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure from The Simpsons. Those are some of my favorite shows.

It's too bad to wonder what more he could have done.
posted by Josh at 11:06 AM | 2 comments
Oh crap!

You know, I never did trust her, what with that extra "A" in her name ...
posted by Josh at 12:18 AM | 1 comments
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Skype LogoIt appears that Skype isn't working in Dubai anymore.

Well, the popular VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) program hasn't worked in greater-Dubai for a while, but now it's not working in Dubai Media City, either.

And, as I've mentioned here before, at our apartment we get our internet from Media City - which is a free zone.

Or, at least, it was a free zone until April 14, when internet / phone company du started blocking websites that are not "consistent with the moral, cultural and social values of the UAE".

The other phone / internet company, Etisalat, has always blocked the web for the rest of the city. Sites like Flickr, YouTube, parts of Wikipedia, and Skype don't make the cut.

Thankfully we in Media City can still get Flickr and Wikipedia.

But apparently not Skype anymore.
posted by Josh at 11:04 AM | 4 comments
Monday, May 26, 2008
So our "legitimate" newspaper in these parts, Gulf News, really outdid themselves with this headline today:

Yeah, like what, until November?
posted by Josh at 9:47 PM | 0 comments
So today's Memorial Day in the States, a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the nation.

Memorial Day always reminds me of the mid-1980s when I was a kid in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Each year we'd march in the local Memorial Day parade. The Veterans, or at least the active Veterans, were all from WWII and the Korean War. They were all older, grandfatherly. Lord knows where the Vietnam veterans were. But anyway, when I think of "Veterans" I think of men in their 60s and 70s.

The VFW Post is around the corner from the house where I grew up. It's a huge, menacing cinderblock building next to the baseball field where we used to play little league. I remember five or six years ago when I was visiting home from California I drove by the sturdy VFW building and wondered if it was even necessary any more, as the veterans from WWII and Korea were passing away at a rapid rate and, again, the Vietnam folks didn't seem to be too active.

You probably can guess where I'm going with this.

Did I telegraph it too much?

I'll try not to get too political here, but the website reports that 4081 Americans have died in the Iraq War since March of 2003. (Of course that's only a fraction of the estimated 42,195 Iraqi civilian deaths since March of 2005, but let's not go there today).

And those are the men and women who died. Think of all of the new Veterans we're making with this new war. (And with the first Gulf War, as well).

I know we have a Veterans Day too, but I today let's not forget either the living or the dead.

Even if we think this is an unjust and illegal war.

(Oops, that was kinda political ...)
posted by Josh at 3:58 PM | 0 comments
Sunday, May 25, 2008
If you haven't heard about the new Adam Sandler movie there's an interesting article about it over at the New York Times.

Hm. I kind of doubt this movie will come to Dubai.
posted by Josh at 4:35 PM | 1 comments
Friday, May 23, 2008
Scorpions Platinum Collection CD CoverAwww! I just saw that the 1980s rock band Scorpions was in town last night playing a show at Dubai Festival City.

Bon Jovi on Wednesday and Scorpions on Thursday?

Dubai must be setting up Dubai Bad 80s Rock City ...
posted by Josh at 9:20 AM | 3 comments
So that there talking-picture Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened in Dubai yesterday.

I'm thinking Harrison Ford is a tad old for the part, though:
George Hall as Indiana Jones

Naw, just funning.

This is really the guy from the The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.

Harrison Ford looks waaay older.
posted by Josh at 9:01 AM | 0 comments
I like the people who leave really poorly worded, grammatically shaky and all-around spelling impaired comments here. I generally don't approve them, but I like to know the nutjobs are out there.

So the other day this the dude wrote to me about BASE jumpers, telling me not to judge people whom I don't know. Okay, fine, I think, and go to click on his Blogger profile.

It's not available.

There's a certain amount of irony in there.

posted by Josh at 8:34 AM | 4 comments
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Art Barn LogoSo nine years ago my brother and three partners formed their own art, animation and web design company.

art-barn was born.

It's gone through some changes in the last nine years (hey, who hasn't?!?) but it's still kicking.

Happy Birthday!
posted by Josh at 4:02 PM | 0 comments
We bought oregano the other day, and I think we got the fancy kind.


"Origanum"? What the hell?

Reminds me of the episode of the Simpsons called El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer. The one with Johnny Cash as the "Space Coyote". It's one of my three favorite episodes.

Anyway at one point they're at a chili cookoff, and Marge looks at a spice rack.
    Marge: Eight spices? Hmm, some must be doubles.

    (Picks up one that says "Oregano")

    Marge: Or-uh-gahn-o? What the hell?


Anyway, I think the label should read "Robertson's - the FANCY PANTS spice people".
posted by Josh at 4:01 PM | 0 comments
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Man, this story is crazy on so many levels.

Apparently yesterday a British dude BASE jumped the Burj Dubai, the tallest man-made structure on earth.

At some point before dawn he got onto the construction site, climbed 150 flights of stairs and jumped ... all without being seen by security.

Well, they saw him at some point on his parachute down, as the article says he was arrested soon after landing.

Ya think they'll throw a whole book of laws at him? I do. They won't go lightly on this nutjob.

The whole article's over at 7Days:
posted by Josh at 3:16 PM | 0 comments
Oooh! I love dubunking things! Especially in the morning!

Here's a post at the Wall Street Journal that debunks the standard myth that one quarter of the world's construction cranes are in Dubai.

This guy checked with the sales rep for a crane company in the Middle East and the trade magazine Cranes Today, so it appears sound.

Check out:
posted by Josh at 6:45 AM | 0 comments
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Things like this scare the pants off of me:
posted by Josh at 9:35 PM | 1 comments
So this has been concerning me since last week. In class on Wednesday one of the other students said he wouldn't be present this week because he was going away on a business trip. That actually happens all of the time in the Masters program, what with all of the busy working students. What concerned me is where he's going.

He's going to the States.

Now, I've known this dude since my first semester here, he's an incredibly nice guy. Shoot, I even wrote about him here a year and a half ago, about how some American scientists had genetically engineered pig genes into corn (see GMOs and Muslims).

See, my friend is a very devout Muslim. I mean, in all of my years of studying in groups I never had a a friend take a break from studying to go pray ... until I was in a group with him. (Muslims, as you know, pray five times a day at certain times). In no way was it disruptive, I don't want to give that impression at all. He just said, "I'm going to take five minutes to go pray." I mean shoot, my undergraduate friends spent more time outside in front of the building on cigarette breaks each day then he probably spends praying. Plus it honestly seemed like his concentration was a little more focused when he came back to the group.

But what concerns me is his view of the States.

Now, honestly I don't even know where he's from. I'd guess Lebanon or Palestine, but it could possibly be Syria or Jordan, I guess. I'm always a little reticent to ask people where they're from when I meet them, even though that seems to be the norm here. I guess I don't want people to think that I'm judging them before I know them. Plus I think our president has said some mean words about some of the places where these students are from. Heck, my country has even invaded and bombed a few of these people's homelands. Still are, in some cases.

Plus as one of the few Americans in the program, I sometimes stick out a little. Sometimes by design, sometimes simply because I'm the only native English speaker in the room. I would hate hate hate for anyone to think of me as the "uppity American". I'm a little paranoid about that, actually.

I guess I'm feeling protective of my friend, you know? While this is his first trip to the states, no doubt he's been inundated with images and ideas from America since birth. Everything from sitcoms to movies to celebrities are exported to the far corners of the globe, for better or for worse.

Of course it doesn't help that he's visiting Dallas and New York City on his trip. I've never been to Dallas before, but I kind of picture it as a place populated with clones of the Rich Texan character from the Simpsons. You know, the guy in white cowboy hat and bolo tie who is always pulling out a pair of revolvers and firing them into the air while yelling "Yee Haw!"

That guy.

And then New York City. Hm. I've been there on several occasions, and each time seen things that made me blush. And I lived in Hollywood for six years. I saw some messed up stuff out there.

But New York City is like ... well I was going to say "Mecca for the weirdos" ... but invoking a holy Islamic city might not be the best thing right here. It certainly is a magnet for the freaks, though.

I'm thinking about everything from his prayer schedule to his eating meat that's not halal. And pork! Dude, they sell hot dogs on streetcorners in New York! Don't eat them!

I guess I'm not crazy, I guess I just want him to have an enjoyable time and maybe understand my land a little more. (Not that I really have any claims on Texas ...) And obviously I hope nobody is rude to him because of his religion or home country (whichever one that it is).

So Texas, please don't mess with my buddy. Youse guys in New York, too. He's good people, just like us.
posted by Josh at 5:06 PM | 2 comments
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Atkins LogoI just read an article online called "Atkins designs super slim tower in Dubai".


I thought it was a joke.

See, I was picturing the whole "can't eat bread" low-carb diet fad of the early 2000s. That Atkins.

But it's not.

It'd be funny if it was, though, you know, because the tower is "super slim".

Get it?

But no, the 1240 foot, 81 story, P-17 Tower (what a horrid name) is being designed by UK-based architecture and engineering firm Atkins.


It's going to have offices, apartments, a 14-level parking garage, a five-star hotel, pony rides and cotton candy for everyone.

Okay, maybe not the last two.

But it will, and I quote, "have the illusion of constantly changing its appearance with the movement of people and the sun".

Ahhh, so it's magic.


P-17 Tower
posted by Josh at 8:51 AM | 0 comments
Thursday, May 15, 2008
So today would have been the 100th birthday for Joe Grant, who passed away a few years ago.

Joe is a Disney legend - on a couple of levels. And I am proud to have worked with him for a few of his years with the company.

See, Joe joined Disney animation in 1933 as a caricature artist for a cartoon called Mickey's Gala Premiere.Though, after a fight with Walt - as in Walt Disney - he left the company in 1949. We should note that 1955's Lady and the Tramp was his idea.

In the 1990s, well after Walt's death, Joe returned to Disney animation to work on Beauty and the Beast and most of the movies up until his passing.

In my several short years at Disney I wouldn't say that I knew Joe well. I helped him pin storyboards and make photocopies, you know, general Production Assistant work. I copied more lightbulbs and candles for his "Candle Power" idea that never made it anywhere. I'm sure by now is part of the Animation Research Library. It's sad that those sketches will never see the light of day. (Excuse the bad pun).

But in my time there I was always very much in awe of him. Why, I don't know, he was just a friendly old man. Maybe because he knew Walt, but more than that he was one of the few people to defy Walt and not give in. Animator Ub Iwerks left Disney in 1929 but returned in 1940. Roy O. Disney (Walt's brother) reportedly spent almost a year not speaking with his brother, all the while co-running the company with him. Story artist Bill Peet left Disney in 1964, but he was a bit of a rabble-rouser, and he didn't really have time to go back to Walt before Disney passed away in December of 1966.

But Joe - Joe left. He started illustrating books and cards and made a whole new career.

The thing is, Joe always struck me as such a nice guy. So probably Walt was a real jerk - even though the books all make him seem all happy and joyous.

Joe was always grandfatherly to the artists, too, a kind of resident guru. They all looked up to him like the living legend that he was. Sadly, most of the "creative executives" treated him quite poorly. I'm sure part of that was because they were idiots, but also I would assume part of their motive was to not validate this animation God that every single one of the artists so revered.

Luckily now with the Pixar merger all of them were canned.

The Pixar guys loved Joe, too, they always sent him tons of toys and books and swag from their movies. One day, in January or February of 2004 a few months before I left, I was in his office dropping off some copies or a book or something. Among the goodies in his office was a wooden apple from Disneyland. Disneyland was opening a new stage show based on Snow White and that was the invitation to a pre-opening party. I said, trying to hold back my awe as he showed me this wooden apple, "Joe, didn't you work on that movie?"

He laughed, "Yes. And there aren't too many of us left who did."

Because Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937.

I always wanted, somehow, to figure out just how many people who worked on the movie really were still alive. But then, I don't know, the color copier broke, or one of the creative executives needed some crappy script copied, and I never got around to it.

I bet he was one of the last ones though.

So Happy Birthday, Joe.
posted by Josh at 11:33 PM | 0 comments
So Gulf News has some good photos of the fire yesterday, which they say was in Dubai Internet City, not Dubai Media City.


Luckily no casualties were reported.

But you know, that thing was still smoking three hours after I took the photos ...
posted by Josh at 9:47 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I just looked out my window, Dubai's on fire.

Must be a Wednesday.

The one thing you might not hear about out there in the wide world is that Dubai has more than its fair share of construction fires. Granted, there's a lot of construction, but there also aren't many firefighters. (Rethinking that firefighting Corvette much?)

Here's a photo from about 2:30 pm. Note the two Chrysler Building rip-offs, those are the Al Kazim Towers.

Dubai Media City Fire

Fire's still going, Lord knows when it started ...
posted by Josh at 2:45 PM | 1 comments
Saw this in the grocery store this weekend, almost threw up. Had to share:

Heinz Macaroni Cheese

Note it's "Heinz Macaroni Cheese" - no "AND".

All around odd.
posted by Josh at 1:53 PM | 5 comments
The Germans are coming, the Germans are coming!

Actually it's just their heritage and artwork. The other day His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai announced that three German museums are launching in Dubai.

One day it's new theme parks, the next? New museums.

The Berlin State Museums (Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin), the Bavarian State Picture Collection (Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen) in Munich and Dresden State Art Collections (Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden) will take part in Dubai's Universal Museums project - or what I plan on calling "Dubai Museum City".

Apparently they're going to call these museums 'universal museums' with the "aim to consolidate the world's treasures into accessible and comprehensive collections that illustrate the world's collective cultural wealth in the spirit of a world community".

I think this all has to do with Sheikh Mo's "Dubai Strategic Plan 2015" where he outlines what he wants for Dubai and they go do it. He's all, "2008 - add museums." And they're all, "How about the Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen and the Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen Dresden?" So he's like, "Are they famous? Is it exclusive? Expensive?" "And they say, "Yes, quite, and very much so." "Good, buy them!"

Dubai's also going to add some culture as part of the Strategic Plan 2015. They plan on building:

    - 72 new cultural icons
    - 10 museums
    - 9 public libraries
    - 13 theaters
    - 1 opera house

And a boatload of theme parks, too.
posted by Josh at 1:50 PM | 1 comments
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Walt Disney Imagineering logoJust saw an article over at Jim Hill Media about Walt Disney Imagineering - the people who design Disney theme parks - and how they're being negatively affected by Dubailand.

Check out Why WDI is looking for a few good freelancers.

Crazy stuff.
posted by Josh at 4:32 PM | 0 comments
So yesterday the Burj Dubai broke another record - the world’s highest glass panels installed.


Looks like they finally hit Level 141 - 1680 feet - with the glass and aluminum cladding, and nobody's ever put windows that high.

I've got to get over there and take some more photos someday soon, but I might not get too close to the base. It was before my time, but I've certainly heard stories about Boston's John Hancock Tower's windows.

posted by Josh at 8:41 AM | 0 comments
It's tough to keep up with all of the Dubai news out there, and sometimes these stories fall through the cracks. Take this seemingly benign story from LA trade publication Variety from last week - Mideast eager for Hollywood business

Here's one paragraph that's particularly interesting to me:

"Rumors out of Dubai also suggest that officials there are holding talks with Disney execs about the possibility of establishing a multimedia fund that will include making coin available for Pixar features based on Middle Eastern-themed stories. Those talks are still at an early stage, and it would likely be months before any deal is formally inked or announced."

So they want Middle Eastern-themed Pixar CGI movies?

I bet, if negotiations are really proceeding, that someone here (in Dubai) wants a Disney park for Dubailand, and that's what they're offering.

But, as we've discussed a dozen or more times, these days Disney requires majority ownership in all theme parks. They don't own Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo DisneySea, they only license the name. And franchising like that isn't nearly as lucrative as owning a majority stake.

But of course in Dubai local companies own everything. Six Flags, SeaWord, Marvel Comics, DreamWorks - all of the parks we've talked about will be owned outright by Tatweer, Nakheel, or whatever local company is developing the property.

And that ... that's the rub.

But you just know it irks the hell out of Dubai that they won't have a Disney park. You just know it.
posted by Josh at 8:31 AM | 2 comments
Monday, May 12, 2008
So the big news in Dubai this week was going to be the Mariah Carey concert and the Fergie concert. The back-to-back Thursday and Friday shows were billed as the 'Divas in Dubai' event.

And now they're both cancelled.

The promoters said the reason was "the extremely compressed time frame along with unforeseen logistical complications."

"Logistical complications"?!?

Most likely? That those two are HUGE freakin' divas.

Ten bucks says that Mariah wanted a gold plated camel, or her own palm island or something.

And Fergie, well, she's so stupid she doesn't realize that she's ticked to about 14:53 on her fame clock. Seven more seconds and she'll be working the Taco Bell on Lankershim in North Hollywood.

"Leeeettt's ... get the chalupas started ..."

Luckily a week from tomorrow Bon Jovi rocks Abu Dhabi, if people in the area still want freakishly overpriced concert tickets ...
posted by Josh at 4:24 PM | 0 comments
Found a neat photo over at the LA Times of the Burj Dubai made out of LEGO bricks.

The Burj Dubai is now the tallest man-made structure on earth - has been for about a month - since it passed the KVLY-TV Mast in Blanchard, North Dakota.

Apparently LEGOLAND California's model team built the 17-foot 9-inch model, which took 1,342 hours to research, design and construct, and over 140,000 LEGO bricks.

LEGO Burj Dubai

Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California
posted by Josh at 4:14 PM | 0 comments
Friday, May 9, 2008
Quiznos LogoThe other night I bought a Quiznos sandwich at the Mall of the Emirates. And it made me miss my brother.

You might laugh, especially those of you who know him, that food of all things made me miss him. But I did.

I have a specific reason that this sandwich triggered the effect, though. It was back when I lived at home, three years ago. Every Monday for a year, or at least 24 weeks, I stopped at Quiznos on my way home from work and took it to him while he running his now-defunct coffee shop, and we'd watch the television show 24.

And that was back when 24 was still good. You know, like, three season ago.

Anyway, while I've been in Dubai I've kept a pretty regular schedule for talking to my parents via Skype - pretty much two or three times a month. The eight hour time difference between the East Coast of the US and Dubai is pretty rough, but we try and make it work on Sundays.

But on the weekends my brother is usually busy, and then during the week he's working, or at least when I am available to talk he is. So we rarely chat.

Sure, we instant message occasionally - for a while it was fun when he was at the coffee shop late and I was up early (the next day) we'd IM.

But not lately.

And it's sad, because we're actually quite close, both in age and in interests. I'm sixteen months older than he, which is just old enough to think I know more than he does, but young enough that we used to be confused as twins. Especially since we're so damn cute.

True, ever since college he's grown his hair out on his head and on his chin (his goatee can pretty much touch the collar of his shirts, if he ever wears a collared shirt, that is). And as you know I've gone the other direction and buzzed all of my hair off - speaking of, it broke 110 degrees here today. Happy first week of May.

Walt Disney World LogoAnyway, it doesn't help that my brother and parents went to Walt Disney World the other week, and as you know we Edwardses (Edwardsii?) are pretty fond of the Mickey Mouse.

I talked to my folks mid-vacation, and had a minute to talk to my brother, but it wasn't the in-depth theme park discussion that I hoped for.

And then since then we just haven't found the time.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I miss my brother. I'm really looking forward to seeing him in July (right before his birthday, no less!) and hopefully spending some quality time with him eating sub sandwiches and watching Kiefer Sutherland.
posted by Josh at 3:44 PM | 2 comments
A little more about LEGO and LEGOLAND, which I talked about yesterday (see LEGOLAND in Dubai).

Currently there are four LEGOLAND parks in the world: LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark, LEGOLAND Windsor in England, LEGOLAND Deutschland in Germany and LEGOLAND California outside of San Diego, in the US.

There are also three indoor LEGOLAND Discovery Centers - one in Berlin, one in New Jersey and one in Schaumburg, Illinois.

The funny thing is that the LEGO Group actually doesn't own the LEGOLAND parks anymore. An investment company called the Blackstone Group bought them in July of 2005. Actually the deal spun the LEGOLAND parks off into a new company, called Merlin Entertainments Group, and LEGO got something like $457 million and a 23% stake in Merlin.

So the LEGO company owns about a quarter of the parks.

To tie it in to Dubai, the investment arm of the Government of Dubai, Dubai International Capital (a subsidiary of Dubai Holding), owns a 20% stake in Merlin Entertainments Group, after selling Madame Tussauds (yes, the wax museum people) to Merlin in March of 2007.

I touched upon this last year (see LEGOLAND Berlin).

And ... and ... the Blackstone Group, who owns the other 50-something percent of Merlin, also owns half of Universal Orlando Resort. They bought out the original developer back in June of 2000 - back when the resort was known as "Universal Studios Escape".

As you know Dubailand is also getting a Universal Studios theme park. Although this one will be wholly owned by Tatweer, another a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, under a licensing agreement.

This is all very interesting to me ... but maybe I'm just turning nerdy with all of the business studies.
posted by Josh at 2:44 PM | 2 comments
Thursday, May 8, 2008
LEGO LogoWe've got another addition to Dubailand! Yep, next to Six Flags, DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Marvel Comics, Restless Planet and the world's largest mall Dubai is now getting a LEGOLAND theme park!

The article doesn't specifically mention that it's outdoors, but I bet it is. But won't the LEGO bricks melt? What's the heat rating on a LEGO brick? It gets really warm in Dubai. I know that they don't melt in LEGOLAND California in San Diego, but they do fade like all get out ...

Did you know that, for six months in the year 2000 I worked for LEGO? Yep, I left Disney Animation on July 21 (my brother's birthday) and went to the newly formed LEGO Media Santa Monica. There were five of us in a sub-let two room office in the swanky Water Garden office complex in swanky Santa Monica (well, 26th Street - on the less-swanky end).

We were responsible for the Galidor television show. You've never heard of it. It's probably better that way. It had a character named "Allegra". I'm so surprised we never got sued for that. The other names were worse, though. The main character's last name was "Bluetooth". Oooh, techy. The bad guy was named "Gorm". Ugh. The good guy's super-power was called "glinching". Seriously.

Anyway, here's the article about LEGOLAND:

Building in Dubai
By Paul McLennan
May 07, 2008

Dubai is to get its very own Legoland - the first such park to be built outside North America and Europe. Scheduled to open at the end of 2011, the three million square-foot theme park will have more than 40 rides, attractions and shows - as well as Lego models of all shapes and sizes. Legoland in Dubai will also offer building brick challenges, rollercoasters, and live music.

Other Legoland parks, based on the famous Lego building bricks, have gone down a storm in Denmark, Germany, the UK and the US. The Dubai version will be built on the three billion square foot Dubailand complex, by Merlin Entertainments and Tatweer. Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments, said: “Legoland Parks are well-known throughout the world as the ultimate destination for families with young children.

“Choosing this location for the new park reflects the fact that Dubai is becoming a major holiday destination, not only for the region, but also for visitors worldwide.” Saeed Al Muntafiq, executive chairman of Tatweer, said: “The global reputation of Legoland Parks for interactive rides, shows, attractions and its appeal to families with young children adds further value to Dubailand.”

A 17-foot 9-inch Lego replica of the Burj Dubai was unveiled yesterday to launch Legoland in Dubai. Legoland California’s master model designer Eric Hunter created the miniature version of the world’s tallest building. A team of model builders spent 1,342 hours researching, designing and building the replica, which is made from almost 140,000 Lego bricks.

The model is the first of many of Dubai’s landmarks that will be recreated out of Lego bricks for the new theme park’s ‘Miniland’ attraction.

© Al Sidra Media LLC

legoland logo
posted by Josh at 11:47 AM | 0 comments
United LogoAnother airline from the States is getting in on the Dubai action!

I just read an article that said United Airlines is planning a new daily service to Dubai from Washington-Dulles Airport on October 26.

Oddly that's the same day Emirates Airline is going to start daily flights from San Francisco (see Dubai to San Francisco non-stop).

That is, as long as Emirates can get all of their Airbus A380s. I also read an article yesterday that the planes are delayed again - and Emirates is upset because they ordered something like 58 of them ...
posted by Josh at 11:26 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Camel Crossing SignTime to answer some fan-mail on the photo yesterday (see Traffic Jam).

Yes, we really do have Camel Crossing signs in the UAE. I don't have any photos of one, sadly, but here's what it looks like.
posted by Josh at 1:01 PM | 0 comments
Made of Honor movie posterWe almost went out to dinner for Liz's birthday last night, but at the end Liz switched her mind and we went to the movies instead. We saw that new movie Made of Honor. But we went to the fancy-schmancy "Gold Class" theater at Mall of the Emirates, where you get cushy recliners and waiters and stuff (for the Mainers in the crowd - it's kind of like Chunky's/Smitty's).

The flick stars Maine's own Patrick Dempsey, better known to the ladies in the crowd as McDreamy on Gray's Anatomy. Overall it was cute enough, but if you've seen My Best Friend's Wedding you get the idea, although it's not really as clever (Bob Mondello of npr said it was full of "formulaic lo-jinks" - get it? Not 'hi-jinks'! 'Lo-jinks'!).

But the weirdest part was at the end of the movie, after the lights come up and the theater starts to empty. Who was in the back row but four mid-30s Emirati guys in full dishdashes.


Can you imagine that conversation? Because I can:

Guy #1: "Ooh! It's Tuesday! Let's go to the mall."

Guy #2: "Dude, we always go to the mall."

Guy #1: "What if we go to the movies??"

Guy #3: "Yeah! Iron Man just opened!"

Guy #4: "Iron Man!"

Guy #1: "Welllll, I was thinking more Made of Honor."

Guy #4: "Sweet, I love Patrick Dempsey. He's awesome as McDreamy."

Guy #3: "What?!"

Guy #4: "I mean, Michelle Monaghan is kind of cute, too."

Guy #2: "I'm on her Wikipedia site now. Huh, I don't remember her in The Bourne Supremacy."

Guy #3: "You're thinking of The Bourne Ultimatum. Let's go see Iron Man."

Guy #4: "It's known that 90% of people confuse The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum."

Guy #2: "Ooh, Made of Honor was written by Josie and the Pussycats' Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan ..."

Guy #3: "Um ... is that supposed to sway me? I still vote for Iron Man."

Guy #1: "But Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said the on-screen appeal of Dempsey and Monaghan "is always more than pleasant to experience". Isn't that a nice compliment, if poorly worded and confusing?"

Guy #4: "It's known that 90% of Kenneth Turan's sentences are worded poorly."

Guy #3: "Dude, stuff blows up in Iron Man. Let's go see that."

Guy #2: "Weird, Michelle Monaghan's birthday is exactly a week before Josh's."

Guy #1: "Josh who?"

Guy #3: "Josh who?"

Guy #4: "Josh who?"

Guy #4: "It's known that 90% of us don't know Josh."

Guy #3: "What? Isn't that more 75%? One in four? Who cares. Let's go see Iron Man."

Guy #2: "Did you know Michelle Monaghan was supposed to be in Syriana but her scenes were cut?"

Guy #3: "ARGH!! Iron. Man."

Guy #2: "Oooh, and Kadeem Hardison is in it!"

Guy #1: "Kadeem who?"

Guy #3: "Kadeem who?"

Guy #4: "Kadeem who?"

Guy #2: "And they have kilts."

Guy #4: "It's known that 90% of Scots wear kilts."

Guy #3: "Kilts? Okay. I'm in."

And we're done.
posted by Josh at 12:59 PM | 0 comments
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
May 6¡Hola amigos!

Okay, okay, I don't speak Spanish, really. But today is the day after Cinco de Mayo ... also known as Liz's birthday!

That's right, it's my better half's birthday today.

¡Feliz cumpleaños a mi amor!
posted by Josh at 7:54 AM | 1 comments
We're back from Al Aqqa!! Had a good time, went snorkeling, got relaxed, didn't get too badly sunburned - photos soon (once I get them developed - yes, I'm sticking with film, call me crazy).

We did get one fun digital photo on the way home that I wanted to share, though. We actually were in the emirate of Umm al-Quwain after a quick stop at the world-famous Barracuda Beach Resort (see The Barracuda a/k/a Rum Running in the 21 Century) when we ran into a ... camel traffic jam!

camel traffic jam

Seriously, a dozen camels, taking their sweet time.

What can you do?

Take pictures, I guess ...
posted by Josh at 7:36 AM | 0 comments
Friday, May 2, 2008
So we're both feeling much better now, just an odd little 24-48 hour virus, I guess. Good thing, too, we wouldn't want it to hone in on our long weekend. Yep, we're about to head out to Al Aqqa, to return at some point on Monday.

We'll have an update then, or at the very least on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!!

Map of Al Aqqa
posted by Josh at 11:13 AM | 0 comments
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Mr YukUgh. So last I left you at 10 am yesterday I was doing okay. Not great, though, my stomach was a little gurgly. But sometime around noon my condition began to deteriorate a little more rapidly, and by 3 pm I was losing my lunch, even though I hadn't really eaten anything all day.

Liz got home shortly after that, and she fell into the same routine.

I felt bad that perhaps I gave it to her, maybe something went wrong with the Coconut Curried Chicken Stew I made the other night?

But it turns out that something was going around Liz's office, and she gave it to me.

Either way we both lose, and so do you - no big updates today. I'm going back to the couch.
posted by Josh at 3:14 PM | 0 comments