Disney March Maleness: The Causes

Did you know that in addition to picking the Prince Charming of the Disney Twitter community, Disney March Maleness is also helping to raise awareness for great causes? The winner of the Disney March Maleness contest can designate any non-profit he wants, and I will make a $100 gift to that cause in his name. So not only to we get to tell all these studs how much we love them, but we get to raise awareness and funds for a good cause.

Below is a list of the groups the men of Disney March Maleness are playing for.

Rob Yeo: Get Connected UK

Of course our hunky British babe picked a cause that helps UK youths with a variety of issues. Get Connected runs a 24/7 help line that offers support services to the under-25 crowd. Whether a young person is dealing with homelessness, bullying, suicidal thoughts, drugs, abuse, or anything else, there is a place he/she can turn for support.

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Disney Hipster Keith: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

I’m telling you, behind his gruff exterior Keith is really a lamb. He’s playing for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which raises funds for cancer research, provides support for cancer patients and survivors, and raises awareness about blood cancers through its many walks, runs, and survivor story videos.

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Joe Pardo, Mr. Brett Young, Tim Tracker, & Andy Tighe: Give Kids the World

Why is Give Kids the World so popular with our studs? Because it is an amazing organization, that’s why! GKTW is a 70-acre non-profit “storybook” resort in Central Florida, where kids with life-threatening illnesses are treated to free vacations. This is a company is a favorite of many in the Disney fan community, because it let’s them share their passion with those who really need that Disney magic.

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Lorenzo Tremaine: Make-A-Wish America

As a character handler in WDW, Lorenzo always let’s the kids from Make-A-Wish skip the line. It’s just part of the extra magic he likes to provide. Make-A-Wish grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition in the United States and its territories, on average, every 38 minutes. That a wish experience can be a game-changer. Vote for Lorenzo to grant wishes that change the lives of kids who need a little magic.

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Ricky Stump: Home for Our Troops

I love that Ricky has picked Home for Our Troops because it helps our veterans and creates jobs. Ricky just bought a house himself, so he knows what an enormous gift that is. He’s also a veteran of the US Navy, so if you have a yellow in your heart, Ricky is your man. Home for Our Troops provides mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans of post 9/11, enabling them to rebuild their lives. Their site features some amazing stories. Give them a look!

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Brandon Glover: American Heart Association

Well, this makes sense, since Brandon has my heart through and through. The American Heart Association funds innovative research, fights for stronger public health policies, and provides lifesaving tools and information to save and improve lives. We all need our heart to be strong and healthy, else how could we give it to the winner of Disney March Maleness?

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Dan (NJ_Tree): Seeing Eye

Just like Dan, seeing eye dogs are adorable, helpful, and loyal. Based in Morristown, NJ, Seeing Eye runs the oldest guide dog school in the world. Students—people who are blind or visually impaired—come to the campus to for up to 1 month to train with a new guide dog.  This organization has a rich tradition of improving the lives of the visually impaired by supplying them with a support tool that also serves as a lovable best friend.

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Guy Selga: Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital, Long Beach

I love that Guy chose a local cause. He’s the supreme Disneyland fan, so the Southern California crowd will love this choice! Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach provides specialized pediatric care for children and young adults, with conditions ranging from common to complex—as well as maternity care for expectant mothers—all under one roof. Only 5% of all hospitals are children’s hospitals, making them unique not only to children’s health care needs in the community, but across the region. Miller Children’s is one of only eight free-standing children’s hospitals in California.

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Turkey Leg Jeff: The Trevor Project

Young gay men are still the largest demographic to commit suicide in the United States. Though great strides have been made in the acceptance of homosexuality, The Trevor Project remains a cherished and essential part of the LGBTQ community. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. This is my contest and this is my cause and I strongly encourage you to donate.

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Kevin Quigley: Pine Street Inn

Another local organization, Kevin is showing his Boston pride by support Pine Street Inn. For over 45 years, Pine Street Inn has provided a full spectrum of services to men and women facing homelessness. They provide permanent and transitional housing, food, street outreach, and job training and placement services to Boston’s homeless population. This is a great cause, and, as somebody who was once homeless myself, I can tell you that these types of organizations are invaluable.

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Drunk at Disney: National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Remember when I told you that Drunk at Disney had a heart of gold? Well, here’s a tearjerker: his mother has multiple sclerosis, so he is choosing to raise awareness in her honor. I lost my father to multiple sclerosis, so I know how debilitating this disease can be. The National MS Society raises funds for MS research, provides resources to MS patients, advocates for MS-friendly public policy, and raises awareness about the disease and its symptoms. Great cause. Great guy.

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Kyle G.: Child’s Play Charity

Kyle loves gaming so this is a choice that perfectly reflects his interests and warm heart. Child’s Play provides toys, books, video games, and other fun items to hospital pediatric wings. If you’ve ever had your tonsils out as a kid, or anything more severe, you know how great it is to have these hospital playrooms to calm your nerves pre-operation. They also help you heal post-surgery too. What a great choice, Kyle!

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Jordan Ghastly: Good Mews

Meow is in the mix thanks to Jordan, who chooses to support Good Mews, a no-kill animal shelter in Marietta, GA. Over the last 25 years, Good Mews has found loving homes for over 7,000 cats. They offer a full range of veterinary services, making sure our feline friends are happy and cared for.

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Gregory Lane Nichols: Bert’s Big Adventure

Similar to Give Kids the World, Bert’s Big Adventure is an organization that provides a magical, all-expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families. This is a heartwarming company that puts a smile on people’s faces, just like Lane does for us.

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Bret (Schmoofy): Animal Coalition of Tampa

Cute and cuddly, just like Bret, the pooches of Tampa need a place for high-quality and affordable health services. Luckily there’s ACT, which provides those services. ACT really needs your help though. Last year they lost their headquarters in a fire, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Animal Coalition of Tampa is raising funds for a bigger and better space so it can continue to serve the animals of the Tampa Bay area.

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Steve Reid: The Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association works on a global, national and local level to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It is the largest Alzheimer’s advocacy network and has been part of every major research advancement of the last 30 years. I’m glad that one of our hunky Disney dudes is helping to raise awareness for this great organization. Bravo, Steve!

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Matt Hansen: No Kid Hungry

Behind Matt’s dreamy blue eyes is a heart hungry to end hunger. Matt is playing for No Kid Hungry. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority. A turkey leg for every child—that’s something I can get behind!

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Disney March Maleness Preview: Beasts Round 1

Disney March Maleness voting in the Beasts section of the bracket begins this Sunday, 3/22. Below is a preview of the sexy beasts that need your votes! To vote in these matches, just tweet your choice using the hashtag #DisneyMarchMagic anytime on Sunday. Be sure to @ mention the guy you’re voting for so he feels the Twitter love! The man with the most votes in each match moves on to the next round. Only one vote per prince per battle though!

Guy Selga vs. Turkey Leg Jeff

Guy Selga vs. Turkey Leg Jeff

Why You Should Vote for Guy: Ummm… he’s running against me, so you shouldn’t! Just kidding. What can I say about Guy? He’s my oldest friend in the Disney community, and I love him to death. He’s got a laid back attitude that draws you in. He’s open minded and gives everyone a fair shake. He married his high school sweetheart, which just makes me love him even more. Honestly, I can’t think of any good reason NOT to vote for Guy. Check out his blog and you’ll fall in love too.

Why You Should Vote for Jeff: Well, I’m single for starters. And seriously, if you are interested in a date, just e-mail me! No, seriously. My fragile self esteem has me dreading this contest, so buoy me with your expressions of interest. Don’t worry if you don’t live close; I love to travel.

Gaston Vs. Kevin Quigley

WDW Gaston vs. Kevin Quigley

Why You Should Vote for Gaston: No one makes love like Gaston. No one french kisses like Gaston. No one takes care of your grandmother while you’re at work like Gaston? Well, maybe not. He’s a jerk, but he’s a hot one. And this guy who plays him in the Magic Kingdom really melts my butter.

Why You Should Vote for Kevin: Easily the buffest of the beauties in the tournament, Kevin is also a really great guy. He’s got a billion interests, so you’ll never run out of things to talk about. He’s got A LOT of tattoos, so he doesn’t have commitment issues. Well, he also has a husband of 15+ years, so the commitment ship has sailed. Sorry. But let’s just say that if you are into gym selfies, muscles, Starbucks, and Spaceship Earth, Kevin’s brand of sexual thunder is bound to empty your rain clouds!

Schmoofy Vs. Mr. Brett Young

Bret T. vs. Brett Young

Why You Should Vote for Bret: Bret is always keeping us up to date with the lastest WDW #hubbub on his Twitter account. Schmoofy can often be found running from one photo op to the next. Could it be that he just hasn’t found a woman worth stopping for? Maybe, or maybe this playboy of the Magic Kingdom likes to make fireworks with lots of different ladies. We can all believe in the power of Wishes and hope he spreads a little love our way. Then all our wishes (wishes) will come true.

Why You Should Vote for Brett: Let’s be honest—if we are going on looks alone, Brett Young wins hands down. He is hot as hell. His inspirational weight loss story spawned the hashtag #GetOffTheCouch. But to be frank, I’d love to get on the couch, or the bed, with this Canadian dreamboat. He’s a teacher and a devout Christian, so you can bet he’s a nice guy. But as you can see from his picture, he likes to get dirty. Sounds like my kind of man.

Kyle Gorman Vs. Scott Barrett

Kyle G. vs. Scott Barrett

Why You Should Vote for Kyle: If I could marry one guy in this tourney, it would be Kyle. He’s cute, he’s nice, he’s adorably geeky, he’s smart, and he’s always got a smile on his face. Who doesn’t love that? He’s shacked up with the mysterious Mr. S, though, so alas, life has killed the dream I dreamed. This cute Connecticuter can drop in anytime for video games… or any other games he has on his mind!

Why You Should Vote for Scott: He’s the former co-host of the dearly missed BetaMouse podcast, but I know that he hasn’t slipped from your heart. Genuinely one of the best bros you’ll ever meet, he’s smoking hot too. What I wouldn’t give to cuddle up with him in a flying elephant or spend a little QT with him in a cave on Tom Sawyer’s Island. Alas, he’s straight and married. Seriously. Are there any single guys out there?!?!?!

Disney March Maleness Preview: Lost Boys Round 1

Disney March Maleness voting in the Lost Boys section of the bracket begins this Saturday, 3/21. Below is a preview of the studs that need your votes! To vote in these matches, just tweet your choice using the hashtag #DisneyMarchMagic anytime on Saturday. Be sure to @ mention the guy you’re voting for so he feels the Twitter love! The man with the most votes in each match moves on to the next round. Only one vote per prince per battle though!

Brandon Glover vs. Jordan Ghastly

Brandon Glover vs. Jordan Duncan

Why You Should Vote for Brandon: The smoky smile that fills my daydreams belongs to the one and only Brandon Glover. He’s cool as a cucumber even in the sweltering Florida heat. It makes you wonder what makes him burn, and the not knowing is the sexiest part about him. He’s a small business owner so you know he works long and hard to achieve his goals, whatever they might be. And ladies, I’m pretty sure he’s single. Sadly for my people, this sexy smoke monster is straight. Brandon is my personal Disney Twitter Crush Wrap Supreme. Check him out and he’s likely to be yours too!

Why You Should Vote for Jordan: Jordan is really into the paranormal, so he knows a few things about how to keep those haunts happy. He was an extra on The Walking Dead, so it’s pretty much a given that you can have a 3-way with Jordan and Andrew Lincoln. This scruffy stud puts the Hot in Hotlanta (nobody says that anymore) but with your help, you can make it HOTTERlanter. And if you’re into that sexxxy librarian look, check out those glasses!

TriggernelVSAnthonyLane

Triggenel vs. Gregory Lane Nichols

Why You Should Vote for Trygve: He’s like a Scandinavian sex god, but in central Florida. He’s got perfect Zach Morris hair and can always be found where fun things are happening. Really, Trig’s like a butcher version of Tilda Swinton. He’s a big Universal fan, so you know his standards are pretty low. That makes him an accessible dreamboat on the Sexy Seven Seas Lagoon of Lust.

Why You Should Vote for Lane: I’ve never met him, so I’m basing this on pure looks: Lane is super cute. Since I don’t know him, I’m going to paint a picture for you… It’s late at night and you’re lost in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You’re walking through the Maharajah Jungle Trek. There’s not another human in sight. It’s just you and the tigers. You’re scared that they will somehow get out of their pen and rip you to shreds. Suddenly you hear the sound of footsteps. You look up and there is a man with bright blue eyes and a scruffy beard. He says, “Baby, I’m here to rescue you.” An hour later you’re back at his hotel room—getting wild.

 Andrew Tighe B

Andrew Tighe vs. Dan

Why You Should Vote for Andrew: He looks like a young Ryan Gosling and he can sing. Do I need to say more? Also, maybe you’re a bit older and fancy yourself a bit of a Mrs. Robinson? How perfect, since Mr. Tighe is still in college. Get him while he’s young and unknown, ladies. But whether you’re young or old, Andrew is going to inspire dreams of canoodling, cuddling, and hitting the high C.

Why you should vote for Dan: Do you like your men big? No, I don’t mean heavy. Big. Tall, broad shouldered, with big hands. That’s Dan. He’s kind of a classic hunk. He’s got dashing good looks and he’s an all around nice guy. He works in Trenton and he STILL smiles. That’s what a positive outlook on life can do. Another in a series of tragically taken men, Dan is never far from his paramour, Justine. But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream…

Drunk At Disney VS. Jim Hill

Drunk At Disney vs. Jim Hill

Why You Should Vote for Drunkie: His skin isn’t the only thing that’s golden. Drunkie’s got a heart of gold and a Tervis Tumbler full of golden ale. But will he get the golden crown befitting the Prince Charming of the Disney Twitter community? I don’t know, but I can tell you this: when I found out that he was straight, I cried turkey leg tears of pain for hours. Then I found out he was engaged (he’s a newlywed now!) and I cried some more. There would be no drunken experimentation. No Rolling Rock rendezvous. No brewery bro jobs. Only a stud like Drunk At Disney could break my heart like that. He’s a class act, one of a kind, and we’re all inebriated with desire for our beloved Drunkie.

Why You Should Vote for Jim: I heard a rumor that Jim is a viking in the sack. But then again, one hears so many rumors these days.

Disney March Maleness Preview: Dapper Dans Round 1

Disney March Maleness voting in the Dapper Dans section of the bracket begins this Friday, 3/20. Below is a preview of the Hunky Brewsters that need your votes! To vote in these matches, just tweet your choice using the hashtag #DisneyMarchMagic anytime on Friday. Be sure to @ mention the guy you’re voting for so he feels the Twitter love! The man with the most votes in each match moves on to the next round. Only one vote per prince per battle though!

Nate Parrish vs. At Disney Again

Nate Parrish vs. @AtDisneyAgain

Why You Should Vote for Nate: Dimples. Dimples. Dimples. Nate is that studly jock from high school that was also surprisingly smart and nice. He’s got the looks, the charm, and… well, basically I can’t be objective here. Nate is hot. I mean, REALLY hot. He should pretty hard to beat, too. He’s the co-host of the popular WEDWay Radio podcasts, so he has legions of followers. I’m sure they, like me, would follow him anywhere. Maybe even straight to the finals of Disney March Maleness? We’ll see!

Why You Should Vote for @AtDisneyAgain: Well, I looked through all his Twitter pics and found none of him! Mysterious. But isn’t that a turn on? It seems he’s more comfortable on the other side of the camera; check out his fantastic photography. Here’s a big plus for Mr. Again—he’s engaged to the fabulous Melissa. Considering how awesome she is, he must be pretty singular to win her love. Unfortunately, though, that means he’s off the market. But then again, so is Nate Parrish.

Cory Disbrow vs. Ricky Stump

Cory Disbrow vs. Ricky Stump

Why You Should Vote for Cory: Another talented photographer, Cory drives the ladies and gaydies wild with his scruffy beard and sharp smile. He loves baseball too, so that’s a big plus on his side. Imagine spending a lazy summer afternoon with him in the ballpark while he shoots photos of the game. Then you can head home and “see what develops.”

Why You Should Vote for Ricky: If you like your man sweet and shy, then Ricky is for you. As friendly as they come, Ricky is on hand for all the major Disney World events. You won’t have to compromise your love for Mickey when you’re with Ricky. And just like a vote for Frank Underwood is a vote for America Works, a vote for Ricky is a vote for Stump lifestyle and Stump culture. In other words, you’re kind of voting for his wife, Meg, too.

Matt Hochberg vs. Matt Hansen

Matt Hochberg vs. Matt Hansen

Why You Should Vote for Matt Hochberg: Who wouldn’t want to sail away to a tropical paradise with Matt, the owner of Royal Caribbean Blog? You probably know him best as the host of the popular WDW Today podcast, now on it’s 8 billionth episode. Whether you are cruising the Rivers of America or the Caribbean Sea with Matt, you are certain to be enthralled with his wide smile and witty sense of humor. Oh, and did I mention?: He’s always ready to snuggle up on the couch and watch some episodes of The West Wing. Good enough for me!

Why You Should Vote for Matt Hansen: Honestly, I don’t know much about this Matt, but who cares? Look at those bright blue eyes and that sexy beard! I’d ride the tea cups with him any day. The incomparable Guy Selga predicts he’ll win it all and he just might be right. Check out Matt’s work at the Tours Departing Daily site, where you can buy some snazzy Disney parks photos.

Tim Tracker vs. Matt Parrish

Tim Tracker vs. Matt Parrish

Why You Should Vote for Tim: For starters, I bet he’d let you touch his mustache if he knew you voted for him. Also, if you are into tattoos, then Tim has you covered. Plus, with over 50,000 YouTube followers, Tim’s not afraid to show off a bit. He’s a real GoPro pro, so who knows what he’s willing to film? But don’t let your imagination get too carried away. Tim’s already got a co-star in life: his lovely wife Jenn.

Why You Should Vote for Matt: Another Matt? Another Parrish? You might think it’s overkill, but don’t pass over this dreamy co-host of the WEDWay Radio podcasts. For starters, he’s a lot nicer than his hunky brother and one must never overlook a man in glasses. He’s a fan of the Tampa Bay Rays, which probably means he’s open to pity sex. This should be a pretty great match between two very well-known Disney Twitter personalities.

Disney March Maleness Preview: Greek Gods Round 1

Disney March Maleness voting begins tomorrow in the Greek Gods section of the bracket. Below is a preview of the cutie-patooties that need your votes! To vote, just tweet your choice using the hashtag #DisneyMarchMagic. Be sure to @ mention the guy you’re voting for so he feels the Twitter love! The man with the most votes in each match moves on to the next round.

Now let’s preview the first round matches!Disneyland Hercules vs. Steve Reid

Disneyland Hercules vs. Steve Reid

Why You Should Vote for Hercules: Look at that body. Also, I’m told he’s been voted Person of the Week in every Greek opinion poll.

Why You Should Vote for Steve: He’s a music teacher, which is pretty much the most adorable profession a man can have. Also, he brews his own beer, so you would save a ton of money if you dated him. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a guy with black hair and glasses. Lastly, Steve’s Twitter profile pic features him with a cookie. That’s really all I need to know.

Lou Mongello vs. Rob Yeo

Lou Mongello vs. Rob Yeo

Why You Should Vote for Rob: A British beefcake who has been know to take a few gym selfies in his day, Rob is also a very talented graphic designer. I own a t-shirt with his Maelstrom design, and it’s like he’s close to my heart when I wear it. Alas, gay marriage is legal in the UK, which sadly for us means he will be off the market very soon. Rob is getting hitched, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of him wearing a nice sweater and talking to us about turkey legs with a fetching British accent.

Why You Should Vote for Lou: Good things come in small packages, right? Lou’s a nice guy, who does lots of projects for charity. He brings members of the Disney community together at his many meet-up events and in the chat section of his live podcast streams. Also, that voice! Give him a listen and you might start wondering what sweet nothings he might whisper in your ear.

Disney Hipster Keith vs. Joe Pardo

Disney Hipster Keith vs. Joe Pardo

Why You Should Vote for Keith: As a co-host of the hilarious Disney Hipster Podcast, Keith brings a perfectly briny sensibility to everything he does. Think of him as a Nihilistic class clown with piercing blue eyes and a wit as sharp as Wolverine’s claws. He’s got a bit of the bad boy angle too, so really Wolverine is a good comparison. Don’t get your hopes too high though—this Disney hottie is married to his Disney Hipster co-host Jamie. And if I know Jamie, she’ll cut you if you get too close to her man!

Why You Should Vote for Joe: Joe is the guy who is the first to volunteer for everything. He’s a classic nice guy—always smiling, always ready to offer a warm hug. Really, he’s the Olaf of the Disney community. Joe hosts the Dreamer’s Podcast, which brings you inspiring stories of people chasing their dreams and overcoming adversity. It’s the perfect outlet for his boy-next-door personality. Plus, he runs marathons so you know he’s got stamina. But unfortunately, he’s taken too. But what did you expect? All the nice guys are taken, right?

Len Testa vs. Lorenzo Tremaine

Len Testa vs. Lorenzo Tremaine

Why You Should Vote for Lorenzo: This Brooklyn boy knows how to treat a lady like a princess! He should—he works as a character handler in WDW, so he spends a large part of his days with the princesses of the most magical place on Earth. Lorenzo is a bit of an Instagram celebrity, with over 4,000 followers. It’s clear that the masses are in love with his cool styles and model good looks. He’s straight and (I think) single, so be sure to let him know how you feel, ladies! Who knows, you might just get to experience the #FestivalOfLorenzo.

Why You Should Vote for Len: The man behind Touring Plans has got you covered—he’s a bona fide genius, an author of travel guides that have sold millions of copies, and one of the most generous guys around. Len is a man you’ll want to cuddle with in his palatial North Carolina estate. Forgive the fact that he’s a Steelers fan and create a touring plan of love with this entrepreneurial mensch. Just don’t get too cozy… Len is taken. Sigh. We’ll always have the All Star Resorts, Len.

Disney March Maleness

I love March Madness. I love Disney. I love Twitter. I love hot guys. So let’s put all of that together and vote for our Disney Twitter Prince Charming! Over the next few weeks, I’ll be accepting votes on Twitter for a winner of the inaugural Disney March Maleness tournament.

It’s simple: I’ve taken 29 Disney tweeps and tossed them into a bracket with yours truly and a couple of hunky Disney characters. Each day on twitter, I’ll call for votes in specific matches. You can vote once per match. Be sure to use the hashtag #DisneyMarchMaleness when you vote! The winner of each head to head matchup moves on to the next round. Let’s take a look at the bracket:

Disney March Maleness BracketI can already see some tough decisions in the first round. Who will you pick to win it all? Choose wisely—the winner will have $100 donated in his name to the charity of his choice, so be sure to ask who each guy is playing for. As for me, I will be playing for The Trevor Project, which provides crisis management and suicide prevention services to the LGBT community.

The Squirrels of Vhuvutu

My situation was alarming.

I was harnessed into what seemed to be a giant slingshot suspended a few feet off the ground and facing the ocean. Between me and the waves was a great bonfire built before a very long wall of rocks, roughly three feet high. Gathered on either side of the bonfire were scores of chanting squirrels. They were praying. The group to the left of the bonfire faced me and were chanting “Efree Wee Lee.” The group to the right of the flames faced the ocean and were much more fervent in their chant of “Jay Su Ja Mess Reek Tair.” Perhaps the strangest bit to all of this was that far to my immediate left a quintet of enslaved chipmunks flutists played Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There” over and over again.

I had the distinct, unpleasant idea that the squirrels were intending to slingshot me over the stone wall and into the ocean. Clearly my trip to the isle of Vhuvutu had been most disagreeable.

***

The squirrels were a group of tribal sciuridae—something Fibro, my imaginary pet raccoon, had told me about at length when he was drunk and/or stoned—that had created an elaborate society here on the isle of Vhuvutu, which is located somewhere between North America and Near Nearington. The island was primitive, though the native squirrels had an odd affinity for the films of the 1990s, the only relic of modernity to be seen. That was particularly quizzical to me, as there were no televisions or movie theaters anywhere that I could see. There was no plumbing, no electricity, and nothing more than dirt paths from the beach up to the largest village, Cluthkootu. The squirrels of Vhuvutu wore face paint and feathers and the bones of their enemies. Totem poles stood at the entrance to each village, each about four feet tall and featuring the faces of once-fearsome squirrels, legendary heroes, and chiefs from their respective village. Each totem was inscribed with the phrase tikem roodu, dikem woohu, dikem chukchoo, dikem squiruhl—which roughly translates to “Tell stories, make music, make carvings, make babies.” The totem at Cluthkootu, though, stood a staggering 11 feet, and contained a carving of the face of every one of the Vhuvutu nation’s leaders, spanning over 100 generations. At the top of the mighty totem was the carving of the current leader, Eethippi.

I came to discover, in my brief time on the island, that Eethippi was not only the chieftain of the entire population, but he was also the high priest of the local religion, which seemed to be based on the film Free Willy. Indeed, at the exact center of Vhuvutu, was a large billboard advertising the film. The poster was faded, as if it had been there since 1993 when the movie first debuted. And for all I knew it had been there that long, as nothing in my upbringing ever made me aware of this tiny island. Each night at sundown every squirrel on Vhuvutu would come to their village’s prayer square, face the billboard, and chant “Efree Wee Lee Jay Su Ja Mess Reek Ter” for nearly two hours before stopping and continuing about their nightly routine. Church consisted of a weekly gathering in Cluthkootu (Vhuvutu was tiny enough that no village was more than a one hour journey from Cluthkootu), during which Eethippi would read the script of Free Willy, translated into Vhuvutuan, followed by a sermon in which he promised of a great whale who would one day come to Vhuvutu. His story about this great whale was the faith that the whole society seemed to be built upon: that when the whale came, the squirrels would be charged by their god, Jason James Richter, to release it back into the ocean. As a reward for their service, Jason James Richter would use his divine power to see that the squirrels of Vhuvutu would be plentiful in nuts and free of harm.

Until then, the squirrels of Vhuvutu were doomed to spend an eternity of nutless winters engaged in an endless war with the chipmunks of the nearby island of Cheekogovo—heathens, according to Eethippi, who practiced the false religion of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. In the one and only sermon of Eethippi’s that I witnessed, he animatedly told that the squirrels’ miraculous destiny was about to be fulfilled.

Destiny! The whale had come.

Destiny! It would be returned to the sea.

Destiny! Their winter would be plentiful in nuts.

Destiny! The vile chipmunks of Cheekogovo would be destroyed.

The fulfillment of this destiny, it would seem, is the predicament I found myself in on the beaches of Vhuvutu.

***

I rather resented being thought of as a whale, if I’m being quite frank. I had been watching my figure in the months leading up to my unfortunate detour in Vhuvutu, and I was rather proud of the 18.6 lbs. I’d lost. I hadn’t eaten a turkey leg that entire time, a fact that almost led me to change my name to No Turkey Legs Jeff. But apparently my attempts to slim down were unnoticed by the squirrels of Vhuvutu, who immediately proclaimed me the sacrificial and divine whale the moment they saw me. This was an annoyance, to be certain, as I was just trying to get home to East Elmhurst when I was shipwrecked on this unfashionable isle of rodents. Getting home was looking less and less likely, though, as my journey with Fibro—who I was mostly sure was dead at this point—had taken me on a convoluted loop through places and situations (like this one) that I would rather forget. And now here I was in a slingshot, helpless in the face of my fate of being flung into the ocean like a rejected fish. As both my feet and hands were tied, I was certain to drown unless some magical dolphins took pity on me and saved me. I didn’t like my chances, considering how my encounter with the dolphins of WowBigHappyFun ended.

After a couple of hours the chanting ended abruptly when Eethippi motioned for silence. He began a strange series of dance moves—which I eventually realized was the choreography of C+C Music Factory’s “Things that Make You Go Hmmm…” music video—assiduously accentuating each motion with extreme concentration. During this strange dance, I felt myself being pulled slowly backward. This was it. I was about to die.

My life flashed before my eyes: fried chicken, pizza, pork fried rice, egg rolls, ice cream, turkey legs, Fibro. FIBRO! I hoped that damn imaginary raccoon was still alive so that I could kill him with my bare hands the next time I saw him! I closed my eyes and imagined throttling that beady-eyed stoner. This gave me calm as I rested in the remarkably comfortable slingshot of death. I opened my eyes when I felt myself stop moving backwards. Eethippi was doing the moonwalk. He finished with a twirl and screamed out “EEEEEHEEEEE!!!!” He then thrust right hand in the air.

The slingshot was released and I was flung swiftly into the air. I careened over Eethippi and the squirrels of Vhuvutu, at least 50 feet in the air, and out over the ocean. At the same moment a large and magnificent airship swooped in from the right side of my vision and cast a net out below its bilge, into which I safely landed. The net, with me in it, was immediately reeled upwards toward the deck of the flying vessel. From my vantage point, I was able to see the shores of Vhuvutu below me, where a massive battle was taking place around the ceremonial slingshot between the squirrels and what I can safely assume were the chipmunks of Cheekogovo. Eethippi was jumping up and down in extreme anger and shaking his fist in my direction.

It seemed, from my perch, that the squirrels were outnumbered and being cornered between the sea and the mighty battalion of chipmunks. They had failed Jason James Richter, and so it seemed that their doom had come at last. I felt sad for them in that moment; I had quite enjoyed Free Willy as a child and could see how one might re-interpret it into a tribal religion.

***

I was hoisted up and across to the center of the deck of the airship, a marvelous craft the likes of which I had never seen. The wooden rails around the deck were affixed with golden fastenings, and inlaid with silver. Each of the seven propellers holding the ship up were made of pure gold and hummed nearly silently as they whirled around at a dizzying speed. On the forward end of the deck was a towering red sail. As I looked at it from behind I could tell that there was something embroidered on the front, though what it was I could not say for certain. Perhaps a horn of some sort? Magnificent cannons lined the deck, each made of solid platinum and etched with swirly brass patterns. The flying barge was larger than any cruise ship I had ever seen, and far more grand. I was unceremoniously dumped in the middle of the deck and as I looked up I found myself in the center of a ring of rhinoceroses. They looked like an unpleasant group and I immediately began to wonder if I’d just gone from the frying pan and into the fire.

Looking around the circle, who should I see but that damnable raccoon Fibro. I lunged for the overgrown rat.

“I’m going to kill you!”

“Whoa, dude! Calm down! What the crap, man? I just saved your life!”

His words fell on deaf ears, though, as I chased him around the circle of rhinos (quite aware that they were all laughing at us), snatching at his ever just-out-of-reach tail.

“If it weren’t for you, my life wouldn’t NEED saving!”

“Dude, chill! Chill!”

“ENOUGH!” came a roar from the aft of the deck. The rhinos parted and I saw an enormous rhinoceros stomp toward Fibro and I, just as I had caught the scalawag and had my hands around his throat. This rhinoceros was quite clearly the captain, and obviously female. Her full-length red leather jacket was studded with precious stones, as were her over-the-knee red leather boots.

“Fibro, is this the human?”

“Yes,” he gurgled out.

“Turkey Leg Jeff, welcome to the Golden Camembert. I am Captain Matilda Paddington-Jones and you and the raccoon are my prisoners. Guards!”

And with that, Fibro was yanked from my grasp and both he and I were aggressively hauled to our feet and dragged away from Captain Paddington-Jones.

“We had a deal, Tilly!” Fibro screamed as we were pulled down a staircase into the dark lower decks of the Golden Camembert.

Tipsy Ducks in Love: A Romance

I was recently in the China pavilion of EPCOT’s World Showcase, when I spied a most heartwarming site: tipsy ducks in love. I came to know them and found their story quite sincere and worthwhile…

Lyle was not your ordinary duck. For starters, he was an accountant. He was an accountant who worked for the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation, a company that specialized in Doing Business with money and firm handshakes. Lyle had to wear a tie to the office, and because he was the point person on many things that had to do with money and business, he had many Important Papers that required him to carry a briefcase. He was always busy stamping Important Papers, affixing his signature to Important Documents and The Contracts for the Big Money Clients, giving firm handshakes, and Being Serious. Some days he might spend 12 hours at the office Being Serious. Lyle was very well respected by his superiors, and was generally seen as the finest example of a gentleduck.

Despite its name, the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation was owned and operated by rabbits. Rabbits, as you know, are the most businessy of all the animals in Far Farthington, Near Nearington, Away Awayington, North Northington, Isle Islington, and all the vast reaches of the Animal Kingdoms that reside across the Blue Space. If you did not know that, it means you have a great deal of reading to do about the Animal Kingdoms. There is no shame in that, but as the rabbits like to say, you best get hopping. Just to give you a quick primer, though, I will tell you this: rabbits are very businessy and they do not like to get into business and money things with other types of animals. So you see, it was not at all common to see a duck work for a rabbit. Rabbits, to be quite blunt, don’t like ducks, as ducks are mostly carefree, preferring to shake their tail feathers and quack and quibble their days away while eating crackers and joyously looking for their next thrill. Thus, to re-iterate: Lyle was not your ordinary duck.

But as I said before, Lyle was very well respected by his rabbit superiors, and for that reason they had decided that he should go to talk about Important Things with the Potential Business Partners who the QQQC hoped would Do Business with them. The Potential Business Partners asked that Lyle meet them in Disney World, for Very Specific Reasons. Neither Lyle nor his rabbit bosses seemed to know what the Very Specific Reasons were, but since they all wanted to Do Business, they didn’t care.

And so, Lyle found himself on a bench in the China pavillion in Epcot, waiting to meet the Potential Business Partners. That bench was where he met Clara.

Clara was your ordinary duck. She was a free spirit, carefree, and always looking for joy. She never focused on the ullage of life, but rather on its amplitude. She loved nothing more than to sit on top of a calm lake and eat crackers all day, quacking contentedly with friends, and napping in the sunshine.

“Hello there? Hello, darling? Darling? Is this seat taken?” Clara asked as she approached the bench that Lyle was sitting on, indicating the spot to his left.

“Oh no, ma’am,” Lyle replied as he scooched over, giving Clara more room.

“Ma’am? Oh don’t be silly! We’re the same age, I bet! Don’t call me ma’am. I’m Clara and I am just the most fabulous person you’ll ever meet!” She said this with a little flip of her bill and a wink that perplexed Lyle. Who was this duck?

“Umm…” Lyle felt utterly perplexed by this seemingly loquacious duck.

“I think this is where you tell me your name,” Clara suggested.

“Oh, uh, my name is Lyle.”

“Lyle? Oh how perfectly droll! Lyle Lyle Crocodile! Though your teeth don’t look menacing at all, darling. Not like those fearsome crocodiles that they have in some of the waters around here. Oh, they’re just dreadful! I was out in a lake somewhere near Tampa—St. Petersburg, Pinellas—oh who knows? Florida all looks the same doesn’t it? Sunshine and palm trees and what was I saying? Oh yes! Crocodiles! Well I was out on a lake and there was this other duck sitting there just a few feet away—a real waif of a thing, probably hadn’t had a cracker in weeks by the look of her—and this crocodile came along and just gobbled her whole. Oh now isn’t that just awful? But you aren’t like that, are you darling? You’re not a Lyle Lyle Crocodile at all. You’re a Lyle Lyle Adorable Duckling. Well, darling, I’m Clara and I am just the most fabulous person you’ll ever meet, but I said that already, haven’t I? Oh, jellyfeathers! I’m just a fantastical mess, aren’t I? It must be this stunning little drink they concocted for me over at that tea stand. Would you like a sip? Oh, but you must try it! It’s just divine!” And with that Clara shoved her drink right in Lyle’s face.

“Now, no. No! Listen here, ma’am—”

“—Clara! Clara St. Quack. I’m just the most fabulous—”

“—Clara. It was lovely to have met you, I’m sure, but I must be on my way. I have to Do Business and most certainly cannot partake in the drink.”

“Do Business? What are you? Some sort of rabbit?” Clara laughed. “Oh. Oh, now I see that you are. Or at least you think you are, with your adorable little briefcase and your oh-so-sensible glasses. Oh, Lyle darling, you’re just the living end! What a pair of cat’s pajamas we are. You’re all rabbity and I’m just… I’m just ducky!”

“Yes, well, ducky indeed. Good day, Clara. I must be going.” He got up and took a few steps.

“Oh but don’t go. If you leave, I’ll be all alone here on this bench with nobody to enjoy the view with!”

Lyle turned and looked at Clara. “I don’t really see how that’s my problem.”

“Problem? Well who said it was a problem? It’s no problem at all to sit on a bench and look at a lovely view alone. But… well… it’s no problem, but it’s no solution either. The world always looks better when there’s another person blocking part of the view, don’t you think?”

Now for whatever reason, this caught Lyle’s attention. Lyle, who was so often focused on work, never had time for friends and certainly no time for dating. He looked at Clara and saw her for the first time. She was quite beautiful. Her brown feathers looked so soft, and her long black trail after her eyes wrapped all way back around her head. Her tail feathers were perfectly straight. Clara was lovely, Lyle realized, and he slowly re-approached the bench.

“I’ve never had anyone to block my view,” Lyle said softly. He found that as he said this he was a bit sad about that fact.

“Never? You’re pulling my paddle!”

“No, I’m not. I spend all my time Doing Business and I just haven’t found the time to…”

“Well, jingo jambo, you really are a rabbit! Oh, Lyle honey, why don’t you sit down and have a look around? Everything here is so fabulous. Listen to the music! Oh, I just love the music in this pavilion. It is the most divine thing in the world.”

Lyle sat down next to Clara and listened to the mandolin music playing in the background. He looked out across the lagoon and realized that it was, in fact, a beautiful day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the bright sun gleamed appealingly off the metal railings all around the water. He breathed in the clean air.

“See? Isn’t it great? Here, try this!”

“What is it?”

“They call it a Panda Blaster. What a silly name, right? Well, it’s coffee, tea, milk, chocolate sauce, and bourbon. It’s just the whisker’s wiggle! Go on, try a sip. Just one sip.”

Lyle was a bit unsure about having a sip of something with bourbon in it at 11 in the morning, especially when he knew that he would have to Do Business later. Clara, though, was having an intoxicating effect on Lyle. He found her to be a delightful and a buoyant spirit. He found her thoroughly irresistible, actually. He took the Panda Blaster from her hand and took a long swig.

“That’s… that’s…”

“Isn’t it just the best thing you’ve ever had in your life! I’ve never tasted anything so sensational ever. I could drink them by the gallon. Here, have the rest of mine! I’ll go get another one!” And before he knew it, Lyle was on the bench alone with a Panda Blaster, watching Clara waddle back over to the tea stand as fast as her little feet would carry her. He loved the way she walked, with her tail feathers swishing furiously and her had turning from side to side. She let out little quacks of excitement here and there. She was beautiful.

As he waited for her, he looked at the many people walking around. None of them were alone. There were families with little children, groups of friends around Lyle and Clara’s age, and older people too. The older people were all couples. He wondered how long had they been together. They all seemed so happy. Lyle continued to drink his Panda Blaster. It was so good. Perfectly cold on this warm day. Sweet, just like the color of the flowers next to him. Lyle wondered if Clara liked flowers. He wondered if Clara liked these flowers. He wondered if Clara would like it if he picked one of these flowers and gave it to her when she returned. He decided that she would like that very much and was just about to bend down and pluck a petunia when his phone rang.

It was The Potential Business Partners. Lyle immediately answered.

“Lyle J. Duckbill here.”

“Mr. Duckbill, this is the assistant of The Potential Business Partners. We are ready to Do Business with you. You must come inside the China pavilion immediately.”

“Oh, um. Well, my friend just stepped away for a moment. As soon as she returns, I will come inside. It shouldn’t be more than a minute or two. I’ll be right there.”

“A minute or two? That is not acceptable. The Potential Business Partners want to Do Business right now! They are ready to give firm handshakes and discuss Important Things. You must come immediately.”

“But my friend will not know where I am, and she will be worried if I have suddenly gone missing.”

“This is unimportant to us. You must come inside now, or else we will not Do Business with the Quacky Quack Quack Corporation.”

“Then you will not do business with QQQC. That is that and that is my final word on the matter. Goodbye.” It was unlike Lyle to think of anything other than Doing Business, but strangely the words came out of his bill before he could really comprehend their magnitude. He didn’t care about Doing Business. He only cared about Clara. He had decided she would like one of the lavender flowers next to the bench and so he bent down and picked one. He looked at it closely. It was a lovely flower, Lyle thought. It was the first time he had ever thought about the beauty of flowers, but he thought that maybe thinking about beautiful things should be a more important part of his life. He smiled and it was something his face was unaccustomed to. It felt marvelous.

“Well look at you! All smiles and sunshine today, Lyle!” Clara exclaimed as she returned with not one, but two, Panda Blasters. “Here, I got you a full one. I figured you would just guzzle down the other one while I was gone and boy howdy, looks like I was right. Lyle, I just might make a wonderful lush out of you yet! Here you go!” she said as she pushed the drink into his hand.

Lyle grinned and realized that, sure enough, he had finished the first Panda Blaster—and he wanted more.

“Bottoms up!” said Clara with a smile, as she raised her cup.

“To beauty,” said Lyle as they toasted. He took a long gulp of his drink and let the sweet chocolatey liquid fill him.

“Beauty? Well, Lyle, it looks like the rabbit in you might be fading away. But you’re right. Isn’t it just ravishingly beautiful here?”

“It is beautiful, Clara, but not nearly as lovely as you are. Nothing I’ve ever seen has been. Not even this flower. Here, have it, Clara. It’s for you,” Lyle said sincerely as he handed the little lavender flower to Clara.

“What’s this now? Oh, Lyle! It’s just lovely. I do love lavender. It looks so nice against my brown feathers. How sweet of you to think of me like that. Now look. Does it look nice?” she asked as she tucked the flower into her breast feathers.

“You look like a dream.”

And so their day together started. Clara and Lyle drank their Panda Blasters and talked all day. They sat on that bench for hours, mining the depths of each other’s life, soaking up all there could be to know about the other. They kept refilling their drinks and as the day wore on, they decided it would be nice to stroll around the lagoon and visit all the different pavilions. They listened to drums in Japan, sipped wine in Italy, and watched the little movies in France and Canada. They talked about how they wanted to visit the different countries, and planned dreamlike escapades along the way. Clara wanted to see if the Loch Ness Monster was real, and Lyle wanted to lay in the sun in Cancun and drink pineapple juice and rum. They had a lovely dinner of crackers and cheese sitting on the side of the lagoon in the France pavilion. Lyle bought champagne from a little cart and they watch the day turn into twilight and then to night, toasting to life.

They continued their little stroll around the showcase until they found their way back to the tea stand and the bench in the China pavilion, where the day had started. It was nearly 9pm.

“Oh, Clara,” said Lyle. “This day has been so worthwhile. I feel like I’ve never felt before. I’m thrilled and tingling with vivaciousness. I feel like the wind is blowing straight through me and that the only way to stay upright is to dance with joy. I feel lightheaded and gay as a daisy in May. I feel… I feel…”

“Tipsy!” laughed Clara.

“Yes! Tipsy! Oh, what a sensational word that is, Clara! I do feel tipsy and spritely and… in love. Do you hear that?” he shouted. “I’m a tipsy duck in love! I’m a tipsy duck in love and I want everyone to know it!” And with that, he grabbed Clara and kissed her, just as the first of the night’s fireworks went off overhead.

“I love you too, Lyle,” said Clara breathlessly, when at last they pulled away from their long, passionate kiss.

And as they sat, hand in hand and watching the fireworks, those who passed them couldn’t help but smile at the sight of these two tipsy ducks in love and be curious about the strange drink that they shared while the show in the sky illuminated their little kisses. They wandered over to the tea stand and asked about the ducks and what they were drinking. “I’ll have one of those tipsy ducks in love drinks,” they would say, and the staff knew exactly what they wanted, because after all, everybody wants love.