True Crime is something I’ve been into since childhood, which I know is weird… but I promise I’m not a psychopath. I started watching Unsolved Mysteries around 8 or 9 years old and I believe that jump started my interests in mysteries and true crime. Around the same time, I became obsessed with Nancy Drew books, the crem de la crem of junior fiction mystery and crime solving. (Sidebar- I blogged many times about my love for Nancy Drew and even wrote a few book reviews. You should check them out because they’re awesome.) As I got older, I read several true crime novels and started getting into true crime documentaries.
Being interested in True Crime is becoming more and more socially acceptable, which in turn allows for more readily available content. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite True Crime documentaries and podcasts!
1. Mommy Dead and Dearest (HBO) – Whoa. Guys. This documentary is bananas. Munchausen by proxy, fraud, secret romance, and murder. GET ON THIS. (After you watch the doc, go listen to Sword and Scale podcast episode 49)
2. Amanda Knox (Netflix Original) – In 2007 Amanda Knox was an American student living in Italy. She came home from a night out to find her roommate’s door locked and blood in the bathroom. Amanda was very publically put on trial and convicted for the murder of her roommate. After several more trials, she’s now free and living in the United States, but many still believe she’s guilty. This documentary is awesome and has tons of great interviews with Amanda and the Italian police and prosecutors.
3. The People vs. O.J. Simpson (FX, now available on Netflix) – This miniseries was an interesting look into a case we all know about. When the trial was taking place I was old enough to know what was going on, but too young to fully understand the implications of the murders and trial. I appreciate how this documentary humanizes the attorneys involved in this trial.
4. Making a Murderer (Netflix Original) – Everyone has been talking about Making a Murder (especially lately due to some updates in the case) and with good reason. This series implies that Steven Avery, once wrongfully accused and imprisoned for a rape he did not commit, may be currently serving time for a murder he didn’t commit. While I’m not sure if he’s innocent, there’s DEFINITELY lots of small-town police corruption.
5. Who Took Johnny (Youtube) – This doc is super nuts due to the outrageousness of this case. Johnny Gosch was abducted in the 80’s while on his paper route. His mother, and many others, believe he was taken by a sex ring being covered up by prominent politicians.
6. The Keepers (Netflix Original) – I JUST finished this one. The Keepers is a docu series about the abduction and murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a young nun and teacher in Boston, as well as the abuse suffered by numerous teen girls by a priest at the same school. I can’t stop talking about this series! It’s SO interesting and frustrating and unbelievable.
1. Criminal – Criminal is uploaded bi-weekly and it’s the most interesting of all the podcasts I’m going to mention today. Criminal is hosted by journalist Phoebe Judge who takes a different look at crime. She’s podcasted about forensic divers, faking your death, identity theft, body farms, etc. Real interesting stuff!
2. Up and Vanished – Up and Vanished, hosted by Payne Lindsey, is an in-depth look into the disappearance of Tara Grimsted, a young teacher and beauty queen from Ocilla, Ga. While the disappearance took place a decade ago, this case has had real-time developments happening all year!
3. In The Dark – In the Dark is the first true crime podcast (other than Serial) that I really got into. Season 1 of this show focused on the 1989 abduction of Jacob Wetterling in rural Minnesota. This case went unsolved up until VERY recently, most likely due to law enforcement’s mishandling of the case. Season 2 is currently in production and I’m sure it’ll be just as compelling.
4. My Favorite Murder – My Favorite Murder is a weekly podcast hosted by comedians and writers, Georgia Hardstark and Karen Killgaref. Each episode they discuss 2 different murders (or “I survived” stories). This podcast is slightly more lighthearted than the rest I’m listing today. These girls are both really funny!
5. True Crime Garage – True Crime Garage is probably the most well-researched of all the podcasts listed. Nic and the Captain discuss a different death/disappearance/crime every week… and they drink beer in a garage.
June 2017 Favorites:Growing cacti – Early this year we moved most of our cacti and succulents outdoors. They just didn’t seem to be getting enough light in our sunroom. Guys, they’ve been flourishing! Several have had beautiful blooms over the last month.
Rainy Days – the beginning of June was extra rainy this year, which lead to a few slightly cooler days and greener grass.
Staying Home – Our spring was filled with trips and events, which were all wonderful… but in June we actually had several weekends in a row at home. We were able to sleep in, recover from the work week, get chores done, and be overall lazy. It’s been very relaxing!
The Jeep – Guys, we were a one car family for a very long time. We made it work, but it wasn’t always easy. Finally, this month, we purchased a second vehicle. We took our time, saved money, did research, and ended up buying a new-to-us (but with very low miles) Jeep Cherokee!
Lavender and mauve nail polish – These two colors, in various shades, have been my jam!
T-shirt dresses – Lately I’ve been LOVING easy casual tshirt dresses. I can dress them up for work or down for the weekends. They’re so comfortable and cute! My favorites are the jersey swing dress from old navy (currently on sale) and the lularoe carley (here’s a link to my fave consultant).
Lemon Lara Bars – For the month of June, I was on a restrictive eating plan (very similar to the Whole30) to try and relieve some fibromyalgia pain I’ve been experiencing. There weren’t a lot of “grab and go” type foods I could eat, BUT I could have Lara Bars! Lemon is my favorite flavor and apple pie comes in close second.
Coconut Milk – I’ve been drinking coconut milk with my coffee lately and really loving it. It’s very summery!
Riverdale – Ray turned Riverdale on a few weeks ago while we were eating dinner, and after one episode we were both hooked! Riverdale is based off the Archie comics, but it’s not just apple pie and boy scouts. Riverdale takes a slightly darker approach to the beloved Archie characters. It’s awesome and you should definitely check it out.
Mommy, Dead and Dearest – Mommy, Dead and Dearest is an HBO documentary featuring Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who killed her mother after living her life being the subject of her mother’s Munchausen by Proxy. I love true crime and this case is so bizarre and interesting.
Animal Kingdom’s Pandora: World of Avatar
Several months ago I read a rumor that annual passholders might get an opportunity to check out Pandora before it officially opens. A few days later, someone in a facebook group I’m part of posted that preview sign-ups were up on the website. I quickly reserved my spot for a day Ray and I were already planning to be at Animal Kingdom. Within the next 30 minutes all the reservations were accounted for!
Last Sunday Ray and I were at Disney World spending time with our family and celebrating our cousin’s graduation/birthday (more on that trip to come). We spent the morning at Animal Kingdom riding Everest, the Safari, and Dinosaur. After a break at our hotel, we made our way back to Animal Kingdom for our 6pm Pandora reservation.
Walking into Pandora was an incredible experience. It truly felt like I was walking into a different world. Here’s the breakdown:
Valley of Mo’ara
So, let’s start with Pandora’s most obvious and breathtaking feature, the Valley of Mo’ara. The landscaping is stunning and intricately detailed. Every view is a photo opportunity… waterfalls, alien vegetation, oh, and floating mountains. FLOATING MOUNTAINS. The details are bananas. Glowing sidewalks, native weavings, tiny bioluminescent flowers… I could go on and on. The theming extends to the ride queues, which I always appreciate.
Na’vi River Journey
The Na’vi river Journey is an evening boat ride through Pandora. It features glowing plants and Pandoran animals. Disney has created some new magic using video screens, projections, and tradition 3-dimensional sets. I have no idea how all of this works together, but the outcome is beautiful. The ride concludes with the Shaman of Songs (I had to look that up) which is hands down Disney’s most life like animatronic. Its arms move so fluidly it’s hard to remember it’s actually a robot.
Overall this ride is relaxing and beautiful. The queue, while mostly unairconditioned, is beautiful. It’s a must see.
Flight of Passage
Flight of Passage is the most technologically advanced ride I’ve ever experienced. It’s a flight simulator of which you ride on the back of a banshee (but why aren’t we just calling them dragons?) through the planet’s different environments.
Because we went to a preview viewing of Pandora, we walked through the fastpass line for this ride which is MUCH shorter than the standby queue. I’ve read that if the entire queue is full it’s about a 4 or 5 hour wait. Thankfully, the theming is very well thought out and at least half of the queue is air conditioned. You walk through the jungle, some rocks, and a laboratory. Once you make it through the laboratory, you’re taken into a 16 person room to get the background story of the ride and prepare for your flight. A video plays, it talks about your consciousness, blah blah blah. Honestly, this part was rather boring to me but I know it’s what they needed to do to set up for the ride. You’re then led into a room with what almost looks like stationary bikes or motorcycles. You’re handed 3-D glasses and told to “mount” the seat. Once you’re seated, back and leg restraints deploy.
To start the ride, the room goes dark, there’s a flash of light, the screen in front of you disappears, and suddenly you’re immersed into the world of Pandora. You fly up, down, and around experiencing the various landscapes. Oh, and you can feel the dragon breathing beneath you. The video is beautiful and well synched with the ride vehicles. You truly feel as though you’re flying!!
Apparenlty, if you have large calves or a larger middle, you may not fit on the ride. There have been tons of reports from people not being able to experience Flight of Passage due to the size of the ride vehicles. That’s a super bummer. When we went there were no test vehicles outside the ride, but hopefully that will change soon because waiting hours for a ride, then not fitting properly is a truly un-magical experience. Also, while I felt fine, there is potential for motion sickness during Flight of Passage.
Pongu Pongu is currently the only refreshment kiosk in Pandora. It offers several drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and a few snacks. Ray and I ordered a Night Blossom and a Mo’ara Margarita.
The Mo’ara Margarita is a mix of strawberry and blood orange flavors and topped with boba balls. It was good, but nothing special. I probably wouldn’t purchase this again.
The Night Blossom is a mix of limeade, apple and pear, and topped with passion fruit boba. This drink was delicious and because it’s non-alcoholic everyone can enjoy! Also, it’s very instagram-worthy. Definitely get this on your next trip to Animal Kingdom! Satu’li Canteen
The Satu’li Canteen is a great change to the Disney parks. This “fast casual” restaurant offers primarily healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. At the time of our visit, Ray and I only saw the lunch and dinner menu so that’s what I’ll be talking about. There are two main options on the menu, bowls and pods. For the bowls you choose a protein (slice grilled beef, chopped grilled chicken, fish fillet, and crispy tofu), base (quinoa salad, red and sweet potato hash, mixed rice, and romain and kale salad), and a sauce (onion chimichurri, black bean vinaigrette, and creamy herb dressing). Ray chose sliced beef over rice with the chimichurri sauce. It was DELICIOUS! The pods come with two options, cheeseburger and vegetable curry. I ordered cheeseburger pods, which were also very good but I wish I had tried the curry. We also ordered the beautiful, yet underwhelming blueberry mousse dessert.
Things of Note:
Windtraders is a unique store in Pandora. We were only inside for a few minutes, so I can’t give a real review, but it sold tons of interesting and pandora-like objects. Also a banshee adoption center.
One of the best parts of the theming Disney incorporates is scent. To me, most of Pandor smelt like jalapenos, which I loved.
We visited Pandora during the late afternoon before it was dark. The Valley of Mo’ara is supposed to be beautiful at night, all light up with bioluminescent plants. I can’t wait to see it!
Find the moss wall. Take an instagram. #mosswall
I’m coming clean and letting you know i’ve never seen Avatar. Honestly, I’ve never wanted to. But guess what… I still LOVED Pandora : World of Avatar. If you haven’t seen the movie OR if you didn’t like the movie, don’t let that stop you from going!!!
We had such a wonderful time and I can’t wait to go back!