Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rebel Rebel

I thought this picture was pretty funny.

It's me in 1985.  I can just hear my Mom saying "It's okay run over to that rock and sit down, now look over here."

This must have taken awhile because my Dad ran back to get this set up shot.

Two camera family, classy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Confession: I have not seen Avatar.

I think big budget CGI films are what is wrong with the film industry.  There is a "forget the story, this looks awesome" mentality and most people buy into it. (I'm looking right at you Transformers.)  Disney has even admitted that with tent pole films the plot doesn't really matter.

Having said this, let's talk about Avatar land in Animal Kingdom. This seems to be Disney's solution to Harry Potter World at Universal.  Harry Potter is a time tested franchise,  it's a world wide phenomenon.  Avatar is the biggest block buster of all time, I credit this to the film being released in 3D and Imax, where your ticket price is going to be $30 a person.  The general consensus I hear about Avatar is "The story was kind of dumb, but the special effects are awesome."  This is a terrible way to describe a film.

I don't think Disney needs to rely on third party franchises to base their attractions/lands on.  It worked well with Star Wars, but that is also a time tested franchise that people cannot get enough of. (Even when George Lucas keeps screwing them up)  Does Avatar really have the following of Harry Potter and Star Wars, or was it so hyped up that people went to see it?

Back to Avatar land.  If they build it at Animal Kingdom I won't really care.  The closest I ever get to that park is eating at Boma.  So keep your  movie themed land in your worst park,  I'll meet you at Epcot.  Still, is this something that 6 years from now will have to be remodeled and renamed because no one cares?  (This time I'm looking at you American Idol Experience!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Brer Rabbit Defense

This morning I was looking at a list of "The 26 Most Disturbing Children's Films."  The list consisted of movies like, Willy Wonka, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Bambi, and Dumbo.  The majority of the films listed were ones I grew up watching, then I noticed Song of the South.  Here was the description:

All the ingredients for a happy-go-lucky kid flick are there: The rabbits are cute, the foxes are adorable. You and your kids could watch the whole thing and sleep an undisturbed sleep. But later, maybe days later, it strikes you: "My sweet Jemima, that movie was racist!" I don't mean kinda offensive, but so racist it will make your eyes sting. Realizing that you and your kids consumed nearly radioactive amounts of antiquated stereotypes hidden in the Trojan Horse of fluffy anthropomorphized Disney animals — now that's scary.

While you let that sink in, I'm going to give you my personal Song of the South history.  I first saw Song of the South during the 1986 re-release, I was four years old.

What I remember of the screening was that I was in Florida at the time visiting my grandparents, the theater was full, and Bobby Driscoll's character was hit by a bull (spoiler alert).  Six years later Splash Mountain opened and all the memories of seeing the film in theaters came back to me.  I wanted to see it again, but where was it?

We had just come back from a recent Disney trip and I was telling one of my Mom's friends about Splash Mountain.  I said I wanted to see the movie again and she told me that was impossible.  Why, I asked?  She said Disney would never release it because of its repeated use of the N-word and other racist scenarios.  Since I had very little recollection of the film aside from the bull and Brer Rabbit, I took her word for it.  I believed this for almost the next 10 years.  During that time the only access I had to Song of the South was a VHS tape of Disney sing-a-long songs that featured the final Zip-a-dee-doo-dah sequence.

I became obsessed with trying to find a copy of the film to see if it was really as bad as I had heard.  I would look on ebay for PAL versions (British VHS) but they were almost $80.  Then finally after almost 10 years of wanting to see the film again a friend of mine bought me a PAL version for Christmas.  I had to take it to a video tape copy company and have them transfer it to VHS.  The picture was awful and the sound was even worse, but I finally had a copy.

I popped the tape in and started watching.  When it was over I was confused, did I have an edited copy?  Where were the N-bombs, where was the racism?  I would consider the film more boring than it was racist.  The animated scenes are some of the best Disney ever made, but the story itself is lacking, it  is really just a vehicle to get you to the animated sequences.  I would show it to my friends and they had the same reaction.

So, back to the description above, did this reviewer even watch the film?  I know the standard response now is  "The film is insensitive" and thats why Disney will not release it.  Instead of defending the film, Disney refuses to show it to the (uninformed) public which only make it seems worse than it actually is.  Uncle Remis is the hero of the story, he is not a slave because the film takes place after the civil war.  The black characters are the most likable ones in the film.  What is so racist about that?  

We live in a very strange time where an album like Tha Carter IV will sell over 1 million copies in a week while simultaneously  being one of the most vulgar and offensive records I have ever heard.  films that depict gratuitous sex and violence make hundreds of millions of dollars, but Song of the South will sit on a shelf collecting dust forever.  I can guarantee you that if it was not made by Walt Disney it would be just another film no one gave a second thought about.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tales From The College Program: The Angry Lemon

It has been a while since I have written on of these, so I decided to go with one of my favorite stories from my time in the College Program.  I have always been fascinated by angry people in the parks.  I know its hot, crowded, expensive, and you've spent the entire day waiting in line, but would you rather be at work?  Well, what follows is my encounter with one of these individuals.

I'm not sure about the exact date of this tale, but it was around fall/winter.  I know this because all of the unpleasantness was the result of buying a hoodie.  My co-worker, Dan and I were at the Emporium looking around when we came to the children's clothing section.  It was there that we found a girls hoddie that came in baby blue and pink that said 'The Princess Club." On it was a picture of all the Princesses (Snow White to Jasmine).  We thought is would be funny to wear them when we went to the parks.  I bought the baby blue, and Dan the pink.  We went with the largest size they had, (XL) which was almost big enough to fit us.

Fast forward a few weeks later, Dan, myself, and Dan's roommate, Rickli were at MGM/DHS (whichever you prefer) waiting in line for Tower of Terror.  We had reached the end of the queue and were standing on our numbers waiting to board.  I noticed the woman beside kept turning to look and me and Dan in our Princess Club hoodies.  Then she would nudge to her kids, give a head point, they would all turn, stare at us, turn back, and laugh out loud.  She had 3 kids all elementary school aged.  Now, I have done some silly things in my time, like this hair dye job:

So, a Mom and her kids laughing at our children's hoodies did not really phase us.  Then the woman turned to us and in a tone like she was the most clever person on the planet said "Did you guys lose a bet!?"  I was kind of surprised that this Mother of 3 would decide to insult some strangers she was going to spend the next 7 minutes with, but before either of us could answer, Rickli came to our defense and said "No, did you?"  Ordinarily a comeback like this be as insulting as "I know you are, but what am I?", until you hear the description of this woman.  She was short, portly and from head to toe in  yellow.  Tank top, fanny pack, shorts, you name it, it was yellow.  She looked like a lemon.

You could tell that Rickli's comeback was not what she had expected.  She gave us a loud "hurumph", cocked her head back like the Queen of England and quickly turned her back to us.  The elevator doors opened, and the three of us put the incident behind us, unfortunately she did not...

At the completion of the ride I had all but forgotten about the incident with the Lemon.  As we were about to exit the gift shop we heard someone behind us "What kind of person wears a shirt like that, must be a real smart-ass?!"  It was the Lemon, she was referring to the shirt Rickli had on that said something like "Take your 26 rings and shove them up your ass."  (It was in reference to the Red Sox having never won a World Series at the time.)  She then attempted to scurry past us with her kids, but Rickli was too fast for her.  He countered with "What kind of Mother curses in front of her small children?"  She did not like this comment one bit, but she was out of ammo, she kept on moving then yelled out something along the lines of "You have no future/ You will never amount to anything"  which may have been followed with some more curse words.  Rickli cheerfully called out "I go to Harvard, I think I'll be alright."  Which was a lie by the way.

She took her group towards Rock n Roller coaster, while we headed towards One Man's Dream.  By the time we left One Man's Dream the park was about to close.  We decided to run back to Tower of Terror to see if we could get one last ride in.  On the way there we passed the Lemon and her gang who were sitting on a bench in the little area around the ToT and RnR entrances.  She of course shot the three of us dirty looks.  We made it to The Tower to see that they were not letting anyone else on.  Our only choice was to leave the park.

Pop Quiz: If you are at the Tower of Terror how many ways are there to exit MGM?  That's right, one!

We started walking down Sunset Blvd.  Before we reached the bench where the Lemon was sitting, she saw us, grabbed her kids and started walking.  She kept looking back in terror like she was being followed by a serial killer even though we were in a sea of hundreds of people trying to leave.  Her power walking had put her pretty far ahead of us, but as we approached the park exit there she was, talking to security and pointing at us.  I can only imagine what she was saying, but I doubt it was "See those guys in the baby blue and pink hoodies, well I insulted them in line and when they defended themselves I kept at it, now I'm afraid they are following me, along with these thousands of other people."  I knew security would believe whatever she said over three guys in their early 20's so I suggested we go into a store for a few minutes.  While we were inside security waited for us outside, when we left they said nothing, just looked us over.  Finally we thought, no more of the Angry Lemon.

We decided to skip the tram line and just walk to our car.  As we walked down the sidewalk a tram pulled up next to us and by some awful final coincidence our walking was in perfect sync with the Lemons row of the tram.  We had not planned, or were even aware of this until I looked over in time to hear her scream "Security's got your number buddy!!"  I looked at Rickli and laughed "What number, 26?"  With that the tram pulled away and we never saw her again.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Future is here...If you can afford it.

If you're a Back to the Future fan you have probably already heard that Nike has released the self lacing shoe Marty wore in Part 2.

If you have not heard...guess what?

That's right kids, they're finally here!

Now let the soul crushing begin!

Yes, the shoes exist, the catch though is that only 1500 were made.  Every pair is being auctioned off here to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Google and Nike are also matching up to 50 Million dollars to help the cause.  Obviously this is great for the foundation and people suffering with Parkinson's Disease, it's not so great for the majority of us that cannot afford $4,500 shoes.  Get a good look now....

In case you were wondering, No, they do not lace themselves.

Let's hope that when they start making hover boards they produce more than 1500...