Celebrity deaths and vacation details

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a cave or otherwise completely inaccessible and unexposed to any type of news update during the last week, you probably know that Michael Jackson died recently.

Now, I know MJ was a great artist and dancer, but I also feel that he indeed was quirky at best as a person. Okay, fine, he probably was a pedohile (or at the very least had an extremely childish mind – way beyond the far end of normal, that is). Plus, his head in the recent couple of decades hasn’t been completely in the game, considering the plastic surgery and modifications (as I seriously doubt anyone has a chronic disease that permanently changes the color of your skin).

But now that he has passed away, I feel it’s time to forgive him for most of his quirkyness and remember him as the great artist, composer, choreographer, dancer and music producer that he was. I’m not saying we should let every detail go, but we should at the very least tone down the bad things about him for a while.

Just let his family, friends and fans mourn his passing in peace, mmmkay?

In the recent times, we shouldn’t forget that other celebrities have passed away as well; I’m of course talking about Farah Fawcett and Ed McMahon. Although Farah Fawcett wasn’t that big in Norway, and Ed McMahon even less known (bordering on unknown), I’ve seen references to the latter in other media (cartoons, movies, TV series and such). I know that these are all big names in the U.S. (and somewhat smaller in the rest of the world as well), and their passing should also be shown the same respect as if your best friend’s brother/sister/father/mother just passed away. In this entertainment-hungry world, big celebrity names might as well be just that close (as long as you don’t act on that closeness in a stalker-ish manner, of course).

On the brighter side of things, I’m lifting off in the direction of the U.S. of A. in a little less than 10 days and 17 hours from now. The first leg of the journey starts from the Ålesund airport at 10:40am (Norway time) Sunday next week, and I’m expected to land in Las Vegas (after an overnight in Orlando) at around 11pm the following Monday.

If you’re curious about the overnight in Orlando, it’s by my own arrangement and design, considering it was cheaper to book a flight (with return flight), first from Ålesund to Orlando, and then from Orlando to Las Vegas, rather than arranging direct flight routes from Ålesund to Las Vegas to Orlando and back to Ålesund. Here’s the full flight route, in case you’re curious:
Sunday, July 12: Ålesund, Norway – Oslo, Norway – Philadelphia, PA – Orlando, FL (total time: about 16 hours)
Monday, July 13: Orlando, FL – Denver, CO – Las Vegas, NV (total time: about 9.5 hours, 3.5 of them waiting in Denver – arriving in Las Vegas at 11pm)
Monday, July 20: Las Vegas, NV – Denver, CO – Orlando, FL (total time: also about 9.5 hours, and almost 4 of them waiting in Denver again – arriving in Orlando at almost 1am)
Monday, July 27: Orlando, FL – Philadelphia, PA – Oslo, Norway – Ålesund, Norway (total time: about 15 hours, arriving home at around 2pm the following Tuesday)

As you can imagine, it’s going to be a major bitch of travelling, but I’m trying to focus more on the fun I’ll have in the days between those long flights.

Some things have already been planned, some things are semi-planned (will do, but undecided on which day), and some things are yet to be decided.

As I’ve said previously, I’m staying at The Venetian in Las Vegas. Blue Man Group fans will already recognize that name from the fact that their Vegas show is at that very same hotel (which was also the main reason I chose that hotel). I’m planning on catching a show with them while in Vegas, and maybe even a show with Penn & Teller (I’m a bit of a fan of them too). No idea which day(s) that will be, though.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and want to hang out with a fat Norwegian guy, do let me know.

And as I’m staying at the Loews Pacific Resort Hotel in Orlando, I’m going to spend a few days at the Universal Studios Orlando park (I do have a few attractions I definitely want to catch while there). The hotel package I selected also includes a Blue Man Group show Wednesday evening (the 9pm show on the 22nd), plus the big fan meet is on Saturday, so those are the only things that are locked in.

And yesterday, I bought myself a ticket for two days at Disney World (I wanted to check out a certain selection of attractions at Disney Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom and Epcot – and yes, considering two days spread over 3 theme parks, I did add the Park Hopper option to my tickets), considering it’s a 25-30 minute drive from my hotel at Universal. I’m not really a rollercoaster guy, so it’s going to be mostly 3D movies, simulator rides and a couple of galleries and tours at both Disney World and Universal Studios. In particular, I’m at least catching the MuppetVision ride at Disney Hollywood Studios, the Simpsons ride at Universal and the studio backlot tours at both. I’ve planned it to a point where I have a specific list of attractions I want to check out (some of them even clearly marked out on a printout of the park maps found online). I’ve yet to decide which two days I’ll spend at Disney World, though, but I will have to find out when I arrive, as I have to let the Mears service know at least 24 hours before going to the Disney parks (I’ve already booked the attraction shuttle ride from my hotel to the attraction and later back to the hotel).

Not to worry, this painful planning process is only a rough outline on how to get the most fun out of every park hour available.

And so far, I don’t know about the quality of the Mears service, but I liked the way I could make my shuttle reservation (and payment) online and way in advance. The price wasn’t too bad, either – from the airport to my hotel (round-trip) cost me $29, plus $18 per attraction transport (two days to Disney World), a total of $65 for all the transportation I’ll need in Orlando. And I can even make adjustments to the whole itinerary until the day before my first arrival (judging by the time listed in my confirmation e-mail, I’d have to say about 12 hours before my first use of their service). All pre-paid and ready when I finally arrive. One less thing to think about. I’ll get back to you on how that went, though.

And before you start suggesting rental cars: I don’t drive. I don’t even have a license. For now, I’m using buses to get around in Ålesund (and the occasional taxi), and I’m doing just fine.

And again, if you want to hang out while I’m in Las Vegas or Orlando, just let me know.

I’m also on Twitter now, giving the occasional update.

I’ve also booked cell phone rental (actually just a SIM card, as I’m using my own phone) while I’m in the U.S., but I won’t know the number until next Wednesday (when the rental company starts shipping the SIM card to the Orlando airport hotel where I’ll have my first overnight stay). I’ll publish that number on Twitter when I know (and maybe here, depending on whether I remember doing it).