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Hello Dear Readers, are you ready for this week’s Pressing Matters? We have a ton of stuff to cover today ... here we go! • Disneyland has lost a friend • It’s A Bird! • Merchandise, there’s always merchandise • May the cookie be with you • Stores open with something sweet and something sparkly • El Cap & The Marathon • Martha Stewart gives you a free cookbook • Pressing Matters & Twitter

I don’t really like it much when I have to write about people passing away. Yesterday, we got the news that Disneyland lost a friend, and what a friend he was to both Disneyland and all of us! He was there for Disneyland’s beginning, and again for the 50th anniversary. I remember thinking that day, back on July 17th 2005, how terrific Art Linkletter looked and how great it was that he could be there, 50 years later, as he was on opening day. Art and Disneyland, you see, shared the same birthday, he was celebrating his 93rd that day although he joked that what he was really celebrating was the 50th anniversary of his 43rd birthday. (By the way, the photos you see here were taken on 5/5/05 at the park's launch event for the 50th.)

I pretty sure I can’t say it any better than D23 has, so I’ll leave it to them … Art Linkletter, star of radio and television who served as Master of Ceremonies for the opening day of Disneyland in 1955, died peacefully at home with his family on Wednesday, May 26. He was 97 years old. Read the rest of Remembering Art Linkletter at this link.

We have one more note of sadness … another friend of Disneyland has left us. You may remember the line, “It’s a bird!”  If you do, then you probably know who it is I’m talking about. The Golden Horseshoe Variety show ended at Disneyland in 2003, but I’m pretty sure anyone who ever saw it would never forget Luigi the Psychic Parrot who along with his sidekick, Dana Daniels, told hilarious jokes that were interspersed with pretty entertaining magic tricks.  Luigi and Dana spent 27 years performing together. Early Monday morning, Dana posted the sad news to his Facebook friends: It's with a broken heart that I share with you the passing of my little friend and partner Luigi the Psychic Parrot. He died of natural causes yesterday back stage at the Magic Castle in my arms.

You can see Dana Daniels and Luigi in action at Dana’s website, and for more information about the Golden Horseshoe Variety Show visit this site. Goodbye Luigi. I’m never going to hear the words, “It’s a bird,” without thinking of you, and I’m pretty sure, up in that great big Tiki Room in the sky, you must be smiling down at Disneyland and all the folks who loved watching you perform.

Alright, enough sadness. Let’s try to put away our hankies, shall we? We’ll talk about something sweet, how’s that sound? I walked by the Disneyland Candy Kitchen’s window on Saturday last and got a great big surprise. I mean I literally did a double take when I looked in the window. Not to downgrade the Candy Kitchen, they’re like wizards of sugar in there & I love the candies they whip up, but … for the last year or so, it seems like they’ve just stuck with the same old same old. Enough with the caramel apples, where’s the variety that used to be … the handmade pecan logs, the packages of little caramel squares that were oh-so-good (you know, caramel not attached to an apple)? I suppose caramel apples are big sellers or they wouldn’t churn them out the way they do, but really, the Candy Kitchen used to make so many different sugary treats that were truly special.

Well … in the window was a big pile of candy sticks. Great big fat, yummy, old-fashioned, candy sticks. My gosh, could this be a return to variety? I couldn’t believe my eyes because this kind of thing usually only exists at Christmas (in the form of candy canes) and then you have to stand in line for hours and hours to get one and hope that the person in front of you doesn’t buy the last two. They’re not exactly easy to make, you see, so the Candy Kitchen can’t churn them out by the thousands. Even though the Christmas candy canes are super scrumptious and the best tasting candy canes ever, I’ve given up on them because it’s such a test of endurance to buy them.

So … the candy sticks were sitting in the Candy Kitchen window. And yes indeedy, those wizards of sugar made them that very morning, exactly as they make the Christmas candy canes. But ... these were cherry & butterscotch-flavored. “So, what’s the deal,” I wondered. It seems the Candy Kitchen has a new manager & she wants to return some of the old-fashioned candy the kitchen used to make. Brava & huzzah! I cannot even begin to describe how excited I was to hear that.

Now, who knows if the candy stick making will continue? I sure hope it does. Wednesday, the candy sticks were back in the Candy Kitchen window again. Leftovers from Saturday or new? I don’t know, but I sure hope we see some of the old candy variety coming back. The sticks are priced at $9.95 each, which seems pricey but they’re very large, they’re handmade (where else can you get that?) which means they are super fresh, and they’re delicious, so I figure $9.95 is not bad at all. To check on what the Candy Kitchen is up to - preparing candy sticks or caramels (maybe that’s too much to hope for), or whatever (the ubiquitous caramel apple), call the Candy Kitchen menu line at 714-781-0112

More sweetness at Disneyland ... The little shop in Fantasyland, nestled in between Village Haus and the Pinocchio attraction, that has been so many things, resurfaced Wednesday as Geppetto’s Sweet Shoppe. While the candy selection was pretty generic and kind of boring (it was the first day so I can’t hold that against the shop even though they were loaded up with ... yep, caramel apples), it was nice to see some action there again. The shop has some cute touches (toys and clocks and such on the upper shelves) and I hope it does well (and gets a little more variety candy-wise) because this shop is just a test really. I’ve been told they are trying it out over the summer and will then decide if the candy store will remain in Fantasyland.

Also set to return this Friday is the Jewel of Orleans jewelry shop in New Orleans Square. I’m Pollyanna and I’m glad they kept this shop, though it’s no longer an estate jewelry store, there will still be jewelry to be had there. The park notes that: Jewel of Orleans will offer accessories from designers like Tarina Tarantino and Classic Hardware, as well as handbags by Steve Madden and Dooney & Bourke, among other designers as well.

More merchandise news (we’ve got a lot this week) ... Have you seen the limited edition Mickey Ears I mentioned months ago? They’re part of the Happiest Memories on Earth – Since ’55 line and they’re at the resort now. The edition, limited to 1955, are a little different than your normal Mickey ears, they look a whole lot like the vintage Mousketeer ears I saw up at the Walt Disney Family museum last fall. The catch though ... they’re super pricey.  At $89.95, I don’t think they’re going to go flying off the shelves like I did when I first heard about them.

The ear hat replicates the shape, logo and fabrication of the original Mickey Mouse Club ear hat that was featured on the show in 1955. It comes with a limited edition woven label inside the hat, a matching hangtag, and its own vintage-style hatbox with velvet lining. You can find them at the Disneyland Resort in Disney Showcase and World of Disney. And if you can’t get to Disneyland and are still dying to pick up a pair of these beauties, just call Merchandise Guest Services at 800-362-4533. They’ll be glad to help you.

Other merchandise I like ... There is a new summery antenna ball that looks like a big old smiley Mickey sun wearing oh-so-cool shades, and not so new but still worth a mention because it’s super cute, poseable plush Mickey Mouse in non-traditional Mickey colors, bright oranges, blues, pink! Mickey is priced at $19.95, the antenna ball is around $5.00.

The DCA Food and Wine Festival is about to come to an end  and I’m going to miss it (last day is May 31st). One of my favorite additions this year has been the olive oil tasting over by the tortilla factory. I love cooking with good olive oil and Lucero has some great flavors to choose from. My faves? Basil, Ascolano, and Lemon. I used the lemon to whip up a bundt cake from the recipe I learned at the Baked Sweet Sunday (a future Pressing Matter topic). It was divine. Even better, Lucero’s Wild Cherry Balsamic Vinegar. This stuff is so good you could slurp it up with a straw!

From the press release: Dewey Lucero, his father, and grandfather, represent three generations of olive oil innovation in Corning, California. What began with Grandfather Anthony’s hand press is now a high-tech mill. His passion for olive oil has remained a family trait and is evident in every one of Lucero’s award winning products. If you can’t get to the Food and Wine Festival to try Lucero’s olive oil & balsamic vinegars, don’t despair, you can order it on line. Mention the code 15OFF at check out and receive a 15% discount. For more information visit: www.lucerooliveoil.com

I have a couple more cooking things to tell you about but let’s take a break from that for a minute and talk about toys. Who wants to see Toy Story 3? It’s been a while since we last hung around with Woody, Buzz, and the gang. Need to refresh your mind on the saga? The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood is running a Toy Story Marathon June 17th from 3:00 pm to 11:30 pm.

From the press release: We will be showing all three movies in Disney Digital 3D, and you'll be the first to experience the Toy Story 3 Fun Zone! The experience includes reserved seating for all three films, a special commemorative credential, popcorn and drink, sandwich meal with drink, and an ice cream treat and drink. Plus, trivia, prizes, giveaways and special guests! Tickets are on sale now, for more information call 818-845-3110

Ever visited Toy-A-Day? I’m charmed by it. What it boils down to is, little paper versions of characters you know and love. There’s everything from Harry Potter to Jack Skellington, to Iron Man, to lots of Disney characters, to the latest Toy-A-Day ... Lotso, the huggable bear from Toy Story 3. Absolutely free, you just download a PDF of the toy, print it out, cut out the toy and put it together and voilà, Toy-A-Day! For more information visit (and don’t forget to check the archives for all the toys that have gone before Lotso): http://toy-a-day.blogspot.com/

Okay, let’s get back to the food. Now ... imagine Lord Vader is about to knock down your door (you know what to hum while you’re reading this right?), are you terrified? Noooo! You’ve got cookies to sweeten up that man in black. He can chomp Yoda’s ears off. That ought to make him happy.

Star Wars fans, listen up! You want to head to Williams-Sonoma right now. Get in your car and drive there. Make sure you have your wallet with you. Head to the Star Wars display. Buy the cookie cutter. From their catalog: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a Jedi master chef used the Force to create dynamic gear for the kitchen. These amazing tools, known as “cookie cutters,” had the power to transform ordinary cookie dough into a delectable cast of galactic characters. $19.95 for 4 cookie cutters, includes Darth Vader, Yoda, Boba Fett and stormtrooper. For more information visit their site.

I believe the official start of grilling season begins this weekend, doesn’t it? Martha Stewart has a free grilling cookbook for you. From the press release: All of the acclaimed chefs and experts participating in the first-annual Martha Stewart Living Radio Grilling Hotline contributed their own recipes for Martha Stewart Living Radio’s Summer Grilling Cookbook, a free online cookbook created for SIRIUS|XM especially for the occasion. This collection of recipes and tips covers everything from delicious sides, salads and starters to savory burgers, steaks and chicken, desserts and summer drinks. To find the Martha Stewart Grilling cookbook in downloadable PDF form visit: http://www.sirius.com/marthastewartlivingradio

That’ll wrap it up except for one last thing. Pressing Matters is now on Twitter. You never know what you’ll find there, food, museums, shopping, Disneyland! Follow me along as I search for the latest Pressing Matters: http://www.twitter.com/pressingmatterz

And that should do it for this week's...

If you'd like to submit something to be considered for the column, please send it to both Sue and Al at the following email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected] with the words "Pressing Matters" in the subject line. Due to our already extensive email loads we won't be able to acknowledge each submission, but those under consideration may get a note from us asking for more details. Representatives from the items chosen are invited to answer questions from readers at the forum linked at the end of each column.

FTC-Mandated Disclosure: As of December 2009, bloggers are required by the Federal Trade Commission to disclose payments and freebies. Sue Kruse and Al Lutz did not receive any payments, free items, or free services from any of the parties discussed in this article. They pay for their own admission to theme parks and their associated events, unless otherwise explicitly noted.

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2010 Sue Kruse