Six Reasons Not to Hate Epcot’s “Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Tape Live!”

first_imgShare This!According to legend, as Walt Disney was lying on his deathbed, he stared at the ceiling tiles and mapped out his vision for Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, a forward-thinking community where people from all nations could gather together, share their culture and technological innovations, and enjoy classic pop songs performed by comic book characters. Okay, we’re pretty sure that last part wasn’t part of Walt’s original “Florida Project” plans, but that hasn’t stopped the modern-day Disney company from dropping Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Tape Live! into Epcot’s American Gardens Theater to entertain the summer crowds.This is far from the first time that World Showcase’s premier amphitheater has tried to beat the heat with vintage tunes; the Sounds Like Summer cover band concert series ran there for several years before being canceled in 2017. But this time around, Epcot’s entertainment team has cut out the middlemen by building their own classic rock group, and fronting it with two fan-favorite Marvel heroes: Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, and Gamora. The show’s paper-thin premise is that a Xandarian Chamber Orchestra has been sent to Epcot as cultural outreach ambassadors. Star-Lord soon arrives with a sword-swinging Gamora in tow to teach them how to play retro hits from his home planet Earth, instead of their usual atonal alien intonations.Epcot’s new ‘Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Tape Live!’ show may be the surprise sleeper hit of the summer.Despite their box office popularity, the Guardians of the Galaxy seem to be developing a history of making Disney diehards hyperventilate. The conversion of Disney California Adventure’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! was bemoaned by many… at least until the reimagined ride reopened, and quickly rose to the top of Disneyland Resort’s guest satisfaction surveys. Similarly, when Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Tape Live was first announced, you could practically hear the eye-rolling from old-school EPCOT admirers, who predicted the show would be the worst shoehorning of an intellectual property into World Showcase since 1994’s Magical World of Barbie.Well, get ready for a twist more shocking than the end of Infinity War, because it turns out that the Guardians of the Galaxy know how to throw a pretty great party. The thematic justification for the venue is vaporous at best, but taken on its own terms, Awesome Mix Tape Live turned out to be far more entertaining than anyone could have predicted. We’re not saying anyone should skip their Soarin’ FastPass just to see it, but if you aren’t on a tight touring plan, it’s worth stopping in for a performance while in the back half of World Showcase.Rocket Raccoon doesn’t appear on stage during Awesome Mix Tape Live!, but you might spot him in the sound booth.Here are six reasons why Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Tape Live is unexpectedly non-awful:1. The SetlistWisely, this show is all about the songs, and the selections include the cream of the crop from both Guardians of the Galaxy movie soundtracks. It kicks off with Blue Suede’s Hooked on a Feeling, whose iconic “Ooga-Chaka” intro is indelibly linked to the first film’s trailer; we were disappointed when the tune wasn’t picked as one of the random options in the Mission: Breakout ride, so it’s great to hear it here. That’s followed by Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” with “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 capping off the twenty-minute set. Every song is a certified crowd-pleaser, and there are no down-tempo numbers to sap the show’s momentum.2. The MusiciansDisney probably could have gotten away with a glorified meet-and-greet using pre-recorded music (like the Guardians of the Galaxy dance party in DCA), but instead they went all out with a six-piece live band, consisting of a keyboard player, drummer, bass and lead guitarists, and a pair of horn players. That’s more instrumentalists than some Broadway touring companies employ these days. Better yet, this band really rocks, and their energy elevates what could easily have otherwise been cosplay karaoke. Kudos also go to the sound crew, who give the mix just enough bass to make you want to bang your head, without blowing out the vocals.3. The SingersThose vocals are delivered by a lead male vocalist with silvery cybernetic makeup; he’s backed up by a pair of purple females who do the heavy lifting by harmonizing, and occasionally take the spotlight. There are two rotating casts, and their vocal talents range for “pretty good for a theme park” to “why aren’t you famous yet?” In fact, actress Michelle Knight was in the Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, and starred off Broadway in Disenchanted. Legends like Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury are hard acts to follow, but this cast has the professional pipes to do their songs justice.4. The Production ValuesFor a short-term production, Disney apparently invested a surprising amount of money, starting with the wall of supersized LED screens behind the stage, which display adorable new animations of Baby Groot. Then there’s the pyrotechnics, which range from blasts of fog and fire to spinning sparklers and roman candles. And don’t overlook the movie-quality costumes and makeup for the cast and crew. Awesome Mix Tape Live has been dismissed by some as nothing but a quick cash grab, but the superior stagecraft suggests otherwise.5. The ActorsStar-Lord and Gamora don’t sing during the show, and they don’t do stunts, though Gamora gets in some martial arts acrobatics during a girl-power moment. But they do bind the production together with their between-song banter, and these performers do a fine job embodying their character’s cinematic personas. The actors playing Peter Quill have to work particularly hard, since their hairpieces are fairly hilarious – though vastly improved over the wigs used at previous meet and greets – but these guys manage to pull off Chris Pratt’s charming schmuck shtick to a T. And if you were a fan of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, you may recognize P.J. Gajda from his years playing Bill S. Preston in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.6. The WritingSpeaking of Bill & Ted, you might detect an echo of their banter in the back-and-forth between Star-Lord and cohorts. That’s because new Guardians show was written and directed by J. Michael Roddy, who was a writer for Universal’s parody show during the late 1990s. This show’s style will also seem familiar if you’ve had the good fortune to sail on a Disney Cruise with a Marvel or Star Wars day at sea, since Roddy has helmed the theatrical productions for those as well. Sure, the storyline isn’t exactly Shakespeare, but the dialogue does a credible job of capturing the characters’ voices without becoming inaccessible to viewers unfamiliar with the franchise. And Star-Lord manages to land a couple pop-culture punchlines that made us laugh out loud.Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Tape Live is currently being performed five times each day, and is scheduled to run through August 19. The first show of the day at 1:30 p.m. is the least crowded, followed by the last at 8 p.m. Seats in the front are shaded from the elements, but benches further back give a better view of the screens and stage effects.If you can’t see the show in person, we recorded a livestream of a recent performance that you can replay of below:Finally, if you’re still not convinced that the Guardians of the Galaxy belong in Epcot, our advice is to start getting used to it. Because as you can tell from this photo of their roller coaster’s massive new show building (as seen from the parking lot), you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future.Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster (some assembly required).last_img read more

Aligning Theft Prevention with Changes in Criminal Behavior and Business Needs

first_imgToday’s shoplifters are becoming more brazen than in the past, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation. This disturbing trend is putting enormous pressure on retailers that want to both prevent loss and keep associates safe. Additionally, some of the industry’s most enduring loss prevention strategies have now been rendered less effective.“Shoplifters are bolder and not afraid of setting off alarms at the door,” explained Robb Northrup at siffron, which manufactures retail merchandising fixtures and displays. “They know that if they can get to the exit, they are as good as gone.”Because trying to stop theft at the store’s door places employees at substantial risk of harm, retailers have largely resigned themselves to watching thieves—and their merchandise—run off. This feeling of powerlessness is reflected in the results of the 2019 National Retail Security Survey, which found that the average retailer made six times fewer shoplifting stops last year than in 2015. There has not been the same decline in losses from shoplifting, of course.- Sponsor – This problem has left stores searching for answers. “We’ve seen several retailers moving back to locking product away in high-theft stores to stop the flow of merchandise being stolen from those locations,” said Northrup. “But that isn’t progress.”According to Northrup, while locking away product may cut certain types of shrink, it also cuts into profit—up to 80 percent for some product categories. Limiting access to high-theft products discourages legitimate customers from accessing merchandise, driving lost sales, and frustrating customers.Understanding customers’ pain points and knowing current trends in store theft, siffron has been moving loss prevention away from the exit door and back into the store. siffron’s LM Tag™ combines a light sensor and a motion detector and alerts store personnel when the product is both in motion and concealed in a bag, under a coat, or in a pocket. Store personnel are directed to the point of concern inside the store, rather than after merchandise has been carried into the parking lot.siffron’s SONR loss prevention line alerts store staff of shoplifting at the point of theft. SONR includes a battery-operated hook with an anti-sweep design and an echo box that emits an “activity beep” each time the integrated label is lifted to remove items, one by one. Instead of notification at the door, the solution creates awareness of activity while there is still time—time for staff to address a potential offender safely with standard service practices and time for a potential shoplifter to feel pressure to change his or her mind.Don’t lock up your merchandise. Reduce shrink while increasing sales with intelligent loss prevention solutions from siffron!“The idea is to simplify the process and initiate notifications at the display level,” explained Northrup. “While offenders are more prone to dash once they reach the doors with existing solutions, they still are generally risk-averse. When attention is drawn to them at the display level inside the store, even with something as simple as a beep upon product removal like we have with the SONR system, offenders are more likely to leave that merchandise alone as attention is drawn to them and their activity.”But does it work? Northrup acknowledged that some LP practitioners are not immediately convinced that using audible cues can be an effective theft deterrent. However, the idea that environmental cues can be used to influence behavior is well documented.Research studies illustrate how subtle cues can push people toward honest behavior. In a ten-week study by the Evolution and Behavior Research Group (University of Newcastle), employees paid for cafeteria drinks on the honor system while a poster of a person’s eyes hung on a nearby wall; for an additional ten weeks, they paid for drinks under a poster of flowers. Astonishingly, people paid 2.8 times as much money for similar products when the poster of a person’s eyes watched over them, showing how subtle cues of authoritative observation can prevent adverse behavior. Studies of music and other auditory cues have similarly demonstrated a significant ability to influence moral decision-making and deter people from unethical and counterproductive behaviors.Many LP retailers are drawn to the simplicity of siffron’s effective approach. Northrup noted that some solutions in the market have gotten highly complicated, cumbersome, and difficult to use – such as requiring external power sources, specialized installation hardware, and complex wiring and electrical cables running through fixtures. Wireless and easy to install, siffron’s loss prevention solutions not only deter criminals, but they also adhere to today’s demanding business needs.“Retailers need solutions that are as plug-and-play as possible,” he explained. “With the ever-changing retail environment, retailers need to be nimble in their display approach and able to adjust their planograms on the fly as much as possible.” LP teams also need to target problem areas or SKUs, while some high-cost security solutions and equipment cannot differentiate between low- and high-value SKUs.Ultimately, LP professionals are convinced when they see concrete results from this new approach to security, said Northrup. “It’s when they see their shrink numbers decrease, sales increase and the ROI proves itself out in months, not years.”   Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

Innovation/SaaS: As Software Evolves, Where Will it Take Us?

first_imgIt’s hard to keep up with the daily web technology trends and announcements, much less try to extrapolate where things will be five or ten years from now. But Timothy Chou, former President of Oracle on-Demand, tries to do just that in an Informationweek’s Optimize magazine by predicting four lessons for the future of enterprise software.1. Keep it Simple. Google is an example of a company that has become great by keeping their focus and providing a service that is simple and easy to use — information search monetized by targeted ads. Chou sees a future of software composed of very many highly-focused services from many vendors delivered on-Demand.Infrastructure costs will continue to plummet. And platforms like Amazon’s EC2 will make it easy for vendors to deploy on-Demand services. The foundation is in place to encourage the growth of thousands of specialized on-Demand services.On-Demand services will be very low-cost and sold at high volume. Traditional software sold in the range of $100/user/month. Software sold as SaaS is now being sold more on the range of $10/user/month — a drop of a factor of ten. Chou thinks that in the not distant future that those costs will drop by yet another factor of ten.For non-business use we’re already seeing costs plummet to nothing. Google Apps offers an introductory business bundle for small companies that is free. Zoho Office offers database applications, documents, and project planning for free or nominal costs.2. Software as a Commodity. The focus of computers has moved from hardware to software over the years. Chou sees another transition where software becomes more of a commodity and the value to consumers will center on information.3. Business software to become more game-like. Games have historically excelled at state-of-the-art graphic presentations and interactivity. On-line global multi-player games are experimenting with new elements of group collaboration. Business software can learn much from game software capabilities in the areas of graphics and collaboration.4. Software will be more service-based than product-based. Increasingly software companies are relying more on service dollars rather than dollars stemming directly from products. From 1996 to 2005 services revenues grew. For example, Sun Microsystems shifted from 0 to 40 percent, and IBM moved from 30 percent to more than 50 percent.last_img read more

Microsoft Brings LinkedIn to Windows Live Messenger, Hotmail

first_imgThe Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tags:#Microsoft#news#social networks#web frederic lardinois Related Posts A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditcenter_img Depending on where you are in the world and what profession you are in, Windows Live Messenger is either a professional tool you use every day to keep up with your colleagues or something only teenagers would use. Starting today, Messenger – which Microsoft is already positioning as a social networking client – will become more appealing to professionals, as Microsoft is introducing a deep integration with LinkedIn in the U.S. Thanks to this integration, Messenger users will not just be able to send status updates to LinkedIn and view your colleagues updates, but your Messenger and Hotmail contacts will also be kept in sync across the Windows Live and LinkedIn platforms.In addition to the Windows Live desktop and web apps, Microsoft’s Messenger app for the iPhone will also now offer support for LinkedIn. Microsoft’s Mission: Integrate the Best Products – Don’t Reinvent the WheelAs Dharmesh Mehta, Microsoft’s director of product management for Windows Live, told us earlier this week, the company has no interest in building its own social network when tools like Facebook (which is already integrated in Microsoft Messenger and Windows Live) and LinkedIn perfectly good alternatives. Instead, Microsoft is not focused on integrating these services into its own applications. For the most part, these integrations are built on top of open APIs and standards, though the LinkedIn integration also includes some “custom coding,” as Mehta described it. Besides the ability to see LinkedIn updates in your Messenger and post them directly from the application, the most important new feature that this partnership introduces is the unified contacts list that allows you to easily send an email to one of your LinkedIn contacts from Hotmail, for example. Thanks to this, your LinkedIn contacts are now also available in other Windows Live apps like the Photo Gallery. Due to the nature of LinkedIn, you probably don’t want to send a lot of photos to your LinkedIn stream, but, as Microsoft notes, this allows you to easily tag a photo with a contacts name so that you can “put a face to a name.”Of course, you can also use the Windows Live web service to push updates to LinkedIn, though it is probably best to remain vigilant about which updates are appropriate for LinkedIn and which should go to Facebook instead. In addition, you can also syndicate your LinkedIn to your Windows Live feed, so that your friends who are not on LinkedIn can see your updates there.Bonus: More Hotmail UpdatesEarlier today, Microsoft also announced a number of new features for Hotmail. Among these, is the ability to send very large attachments (up to 10GB) by uploading the content to SkyDrive, in-line video support for Dailymotion and Justin.tv, as well as the ability to see the status of your US Postal Service, UPS and DHL packages right in your mailbox (assuming the tracking number is in the email). Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro…last_img read more

Dinosaur eggs came in many colors—just like birds’

first_img By John PickrellOct. 31, 2018 , 2:00 PM Can you pick out the dinosaur egg? It’s the textured gray fossil on the far right, surrounded by (clockwise from bottom right) a green cassowary egg, a blue-gray emu egg, and a white alligator egg. Small corvid eggs surround the larger eggs. Dinosaur eggs came in many colors—just like birds’ Jasmina Wiemann Bird eggs have been admired since ancient times for their many hues and patterns, from the vivid blue of American robin eggs to the deep green-black of emu eggs. Now, a study shows these colors and markings are even older than we thought—they may have graced dinosaur eggs some 150 million years ago or more.“[This] is a true discovery,” says Mark Hauber, an ornithologist who studies the evolution of bird eggs and brooding behaviors at the University of Illinois in Urbana and was not involved in the research. Until now, most experts thought colored eggs evolved more recently, in various groups of modern birds, and that the earliest birds laid pure white eggs like crocodiles, he says.Research in the past few decades has shown many traits once thought to define modern birds, including feathers, wishbones, brooding behaviors, avian-style lungs, and hollow skeletons, evolved first in their dinosaur forebears. And last year, molecular paleobiologist Jasmina Wiemann of Yale University published the first evidence of dinosaur egg coloration, using chemical analysis to detect two pigments—blue-green biliverdin and red-brown protoporphyrin—in the eggs of a 70-million-year-old parrot-beaked oviraptorosaur called Heyuannia from China.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To find out whether colored dinosaur eggs shared an evolutionary origin with those of birds, Wiemann and her colleagues amassed well-preserved fragments of fossil eggshell from 15 Cretaceous era dinosaurs and extinct birds, as well as eggshell from living chickens, terns, emus, and alligators. Instead of using the chemical analysis they developed for the 2017 study, which required grinding up fossil specimens, they turned to an innovative technique for studying fossils: something called Raman microspectroscopy. The method requires no destruction of fossils, instead bouncing a laser off the surface of the eggshells to betray their molecular makeup, including whether they carried traces of the two pigments known to color modern eggshells.The team found fossil eggs of many colors and speckling patterns. A relative of Velociraptor called Deinonychus laid eggs with blue-green color; the lightly built carnivorous troodontids had eggshells of blue-green, beige, or white; and the eggs of the Chinese oviraptorosaur Heyuannia previously tested were deep blue-green. Maps of protoporphyrin accumulation across the surface of many of the eggs, including Deinonychus and some troodontids revealed darker speckling patterns on top of the background color.As the researchers write today in Nature, the fact that they found colored eggs in so many carnivorous theropod dinosaurs that are closely related to birds—and exactly the same method of eggshell pigmentation—means colored eggs evolved “deep within the dinosaur tree and long before the spectacular radiation of modern birds,” likely more than 150 million years ago.Tinted shells probably camouflaged dinosaur eggs from predators, as do the shells of today’s birds, whereas distinctive speckling patterns may have helped parents distinguish their own eggs from those of cuckoolike dinosaurian nest parasites, Wiemann says. Birds with white eggs today, such as ostriches, parrots, and some domestic chickens, must have later lost the trait of coloring their eggs through evolution, she says.Traditionally, dinosaurs were thought of as reptilian-style breeders that dumped their eggs and left. But because egg color in birds is associated with complex nesting behaviors, this—along with existing fossil evidence—signals such advanced parental care may have also taken place among dinosaurs. Egg coloration as camouflage likely evolved soon after dinosaurs switched from burying their eggs to building open nests, Weimann adds, because from that point on, they needed to hide them from predators.No hint of pigment was detected in the eggs of several herbivorous long-necked sauropods or a duck-billed dinosaur Maiasaura, suggesting these species—which are on more distant branches of the dinosaur family tree—had white eggs that they buried in the ground like modern-day turtles.David Varricchio, who studies dinosaur reproduction and brooding at Montana State University in Bozeman, says that because the authors used a novel technique, others will want to test its veracity. But, he says, the fact that we are even beginning to discuss the color of eggs more than 66 million years old is “pretty dang amazing.”Wiemann plans to increase the dinosaur sample size to see whether she can pin down exactly where and when within the carnivorous theropod group of dinosaurs (which also includes birds) colored eggshells first evolved, and what color came first. Given the analytical methods from other scientific disciplines now available for work on fossils, “It’s an amazing time to be a paleontologist,” she says.last_img read more