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dreams to remember

After reading this, yesterday, I had a memory.

As a kid, I imagined that by this point in life I’d have a wealth of treasures to my name. At the top of that list were:

powerwheelsa) a set of Power Wheels; one for use inside and one for outside the house, since if Danny Tanner taught me anything, it was that your house will only be full of people who love and care for you if you keep it obsessively clean (read: 65% of all broken homes are due to muddy Power Wheels tracks in the foyer, not infidelity);

b) a Mazda Miata, because, apparently, my mid-life crisis came at the age of 9 (which I suppose means I’m now deep into the twilight of my years); and

c) three wishes and a monkey named “Abu.”

None of these have come true. The Power Wheels one came the closest to being actualized. The girl who asked my parents for my hand in marriage in kindergarten had one. I wasn’t ready to commit, but I dangled my bachelor status for those keys, yo, and “put out” for a few drives. I’ve always been a whore for new technology.

But why am I still waiting on my wishlist? Mostly because I have yet to amass the Scrooge McDuck-like riches I so poorly deserve. One day, I will get mine, but in the meantime, I’ll just judge people who get theirs and then blow it all away.

Case in point: Antoine Walker. After a basketball career in which he made an estimated $110 million over 12 years, he is now the newest MC Hammer protégé at $4 million in the hole.

Why?  An example:

And speaking of his mother, he built her a mansion in the Chicago suburbs, complete with an indoor pool, 10 bathrooms, and a full-size basketball court.

He built his mom a house with a full-sized basketball court. I’m sure she’s captain of her very own geriatric intramural league, but that still seems a bit excessive. A half-sized court would’ve been fine. But a full?

And 10 places to pee? None of which include corners, potted plants or dark stairwells? Ten bathrooms. Really.

Yet, here I am with no wishes and no Power Wheels. The world is uneven, kids. Uneven.

The only way to get back at the universe is to play its game. I’m going to scrap my childhood dreams for a wishlist of irresponsible proportions. It will be egregiously excessive and will probably include some of the following:

1. Lit’rally set money on fire.
2. Purchase 6, personality-disordered tigers from Bengal. Why with disorders? I dunno. Seems like it would make taking care of them more expensive.
3. Fill with water, and take baths in, my Bentley.
4. “Ride a white stallion from my bedroom to my toilet.”
5. Produce a musical based on The Smurfs, run it only in the off-Broadway wing of my house and make it everything Cats wished it was. Pay people to come.

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I tried, Maxie.  I tried so hard.  I tried so hard to find a way to say tigers are better than sharks.

Tigers are better than sharks… in cartoons.

I thought about every cartoon tiger I could remember because, as you all probably know by now, that’s how this brain I’ve got works.

I came up with

Tigger

Tigger

and

Rajah

Rajah

and

calvinandhobbes

Hobbes

I could really only remember one cartoon shark of any real import: Bruce, from Finding Nemo.

credit: Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios

credit: Disney Enterprises Inc./Pixar Animation Studios

I remembered Tony the sold-out-Tiger, but didn’t count him.  And so, honestly, even at a ratio of three-to-one, it was a tiger victory but not by a landslide.

And then I remembered Shere Khan.  Game; set; match.

We first met Khan in The Jungle Book

ShereKhan

and then later on TailSpin

KhanAnd you know what?  Supreme badass.  Khan is a perfect example of everything I actually respect about tigers: ruthless.

My favorite thing about tigers is that they can be “take names in the evening, eat flesh in the morning” animals.  A tiger could’ve been hunting you for days and you’d never even know it.¹  Actually, I’d be careful on that walk home.

Also, we always hear about shark attacks.  All this attention on them and the marine biology community still thinks sharks only attack humans because they stupidly mistake them for other stuff.  You know why tigers attack people, though?  Because they’re there.  Because it’s something to do.  Because it’s 11 am and wtf else is a tiger gonna do at 11 am?

And, finally, we all know how we’re supposed to defend against a shark attack.  We’re supposed to punch it in the eye.  They hate that.  But if we can beat them with a mere bar fight technique, well, maybe they need to toughen up a little.  And I think it goes without saying but good luck trying to punch a tiger in the eye.  Un. Stop. Puh. Buhl.

All of these features are in Khan.  Go ahead; look at him again.  Look at the suit.

Khan would feed you to his little tiger cubs in a heartbeat; just because you looked at him; even though his cubs aren’t teething yet and they could only gum you to death; and they would gum you; to death.

As a matter of fact, from now on, Chuck Norris is dead to me.  Hail Shere Khan.

_________
¹This “fact” has not been verified by the Discovery Channel or NatGeo. Wait for their verification, if you want. Wouldn’t recommend it, though.

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Remember the part in Aladdin when Genie laments his “phenomenal, cosmic powers” in an “itty, bitty living space?”

Well, I imagine that’s what it’s like being vertically challenged; not short, mind you, but really, really short; like, maxing-out at under four feet. You’d probably have all these physical ambitions, yet such physical limitations.¹

Most of us have at least some urge to exert self and define personal space and keep people out of it. Some of us want at least a ten-feet radius, though others love even strangers and offer hugs like the Newsies offered papers: to anyone within earshot.

So I guess it’s only inevitable that some really, really short people would want to protect their space, too. It’s natural.

But I was still surprised when I saw that an episode of The Little Couple on TLC would feature the couple for which it’s named taking a self-defense class.

*Bad person alert*

Self-defense? From, uh, what, exactly? Substantially taller people?

This wasn’t a weapons class or a “get to know and use your personal attack dog” class. It was a “how to kick and punch with actual hopes of vanquishing oncoming attackers” class.

Let’s think about this for a second.

You’ve got a hankering to commit a robbery. You’re at least 5’4″ and possibly even as tall as 5’10” or so. You want the [insert valuable property] of someone who is 3’10” with shoes on. How much time do you spend worrying about an unarmed counterattack? How much damage could be done? Would knowing that this person had taken a self-defense class deter you in any conceivable way? Would anything stop you from simply picking the person up and moving him/her out of the way?

Your answers to those four questions should be: “None,” “None,” “Don’t be ridiculous” and “Of course not.”

Sure: maybe the classes are just for self-confidence. But if so, that confidence seems, eh, a little false. So maybe it’s for general fitness. I hope so. Otherwise, that self-defense instructor is just stealing their money.

_________
¹ Not that they can’t be overcome, or that this post isn’t one big joke. Just saying.

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DAgangFull

Where is my Launchpad
where is my Darkwing Duck
where are Timon and Pumbaa
where have all the cartoons gone?
Where are my Gummi Bears
where is my Kit Cloudkicker
where is my Uncle Scrooge
where have all the cartoons gone?
¹

After an award-winning Saturday night, Miss Bianca and I started our Sunday recovery at Wendy’s… around 4pm.  Our local Wendy’s has televisions they tune to some Wendy’s-supported channel that previews upcoming movies and features current TV shows.  Most of the movies and shows are targeted at kids.  “Targeted” fits so well because it makes me think of weapons and I imagine watching any of the shows pushed on kids these days is about as fun as getting shot.

Where have all the cartoons gone?  We had so many iconic shows as kids.  The list is too long: G.I. Joe, ThunderCats, He-Man, DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, The Smurfs, Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Doug, David the Gnome, Muppet Babies, Animaniacs…

They don’t even have The Disney Afternoon, anymore.  They, don’t even have, The Disney, Afternoon, anymore.

No wonder our neighborhood kids are firing bottle rockets into traffic, during the day, on July 1st.²  I went to ABC’s site, hoping to find that there was some awesome cartoon line-up I’ve just been missing.  Nope.  Not only could I find no line-up at all in the after-school block, but this is what I found for the what-used-to-be-sacred Saturday morning spot:

The Emperor’s New School
The Replacements
[isn’t this a movie with Keanu Reeves? they give the kids Keanu Reeves?!]
That’s So Raven
That’s So Raven
[again?!]
Hannah Montana
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Power Rangers: RPM
Power Rangers: RPM
[they repeat two shows in one 4hr block?!]

I know I have no control over any of this… travesty.  I’m like George Costanza: I have no hand.  So no open letters to industry execs — unless you’re reading and in that case: put the cartoons back where you found them — and no petitions or any of that actually-do-something-about-it way of living.  All that’s here today is some good old fashioned complaining.  Congratulations, cartoon-broadcasting channels of the world.  You have all won f.B’s Worst in Industry Award.

_________
¹ Special thanks to Paula Cole for not knowing I appropriated her “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” for my own purposes.
² After writing this sentence, I realized how much I felt like Dennis the Menace’s neighbor, Mr. Wilson, but I don’t care. Damn kids.

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b: Oh, hi, Soul.  It’s been…

s: hey, Brain… weeks, months?

b: Right.  Wow.  How’ve you been?

s: crushed

b: Yeah?

s: by a house from Kansas

b: A house from Kansas?

s: i’ve had great plans for you…  but every time i get at all close, it seems, i get crushed by the unimaginable… by some absolutely impossible happening, like a house from Kansas that was somehow lifted clean from its foundation by a tornado and then dropped squarely on top of me, in a galaxy far, far away

b: That makes no sense.  You’re neither wicked nor witchly.  And was that a Star Wars reference?

s: maybe

b: Look, I still believe in you.

s: you have to say that

b: Of course I do.  But what would happen if I didn’t?  Fact: there’s no exchange policy for souls and brain transplants scare the cerebrospinal fluid out of me.

s: so what do we do?

b: Let me worry about building you protection from houses from Kansas.  You stay focused on dreaming, whatever fears may come.

s: and if i fall?

b: You get back up.

s: but what if i can’t?

b: That’s only ever true once.  And I’ve heard you’ll know it when you feel it because it will be the first time you’re not afraid of it.

s: so just keep swimming

b: That’s much more like you.  Yes.  Just keep swimming.

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… a long time coming.¹

disney-introduces-first-black-princess-tiana-in-_the-princess-and-the-frog_-washingtonpostcom

Disney finally has its first black princess.

Her name is Tiana.  I’ve seen all of her predecessors’ stories.  We’ve had Snow White, Aurora, Cinderella, Ariel and Belle.  And if you expand the “princess” category to include any animated lady in a leading role, then there are also characters like Alice, Megara and Mrs. Incredible.  We’ve even had leading ladies of color with Jasmine, Esmeralda, Pocahontas and Mulan.  In other words, we’ve seen everything but a black princess from Disney.

But I’m not going to wallow in the fact that it’s been 72 years or why it’s been that long or why the gist of Tiana’s story includes:

She must journey into the dark bayou to get a magical cure from a good voodoo queen.

Why?  Because “the implied message of Tiana, that black American girls can be as elegant as Snow White herself, is a milestone in the national imagery.”  That’s why.

As a kid, when I thought I was going to be an animator, I actually dreamed about this moment.  I even drafted characters and a story-line to send to Disney that featured black characters at the helm.  So I’m just going to enjoy this moment and get ready to pre-order my movie tickets.  I’ll worry about “what the story means” after I see it.

Thanks, universe.  Just when I was beginning to feel concerned, this is a genuinely good way to start the week.  In a world where children learn that even the little things, like “flesh-colored” band-aids, imply some shade of beige is the standard, I’m grateful we’ve got a new story to tell.

_____
¹Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come. Listen here.

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It was somewhere around 4pm yesterday that I remembered the photo I had snapped the day before.

If you’ve ever been aboard Metro’s red line between Gallery Place and Metro Center, you’ve noticed that the inner walls of the tunnels feature fragmented, flip-book-like advertisements. There’s a series of still-shot posters that appear as moving images when you pass them at high speeds.

The picture above is what happens when your speed comes to a halt.  We were just sitting in the tunnel, frozen, mid-commute, waiting for something magical to happen.

It was kind of like a scene from The Incredibles.  Mr. Incredible, Bob, returns home one day.  The day before, he had done so and his frustration from work got the best of him, led to him dead-lifting his car above his head and shocking a little boy on a tricycle who just happened to be pedaling past the Incredibles’ driveway.  Bob’s super-identity was supposed to be a secret.  He wasn’t wearing his super-suit.  He was wearing his work clothes: a short-sleeved button-down and slacks.  Overwhelmed, he broke character.

When he returns home the next day, though, he’s too distraught to exert.  And so this exchange happens:

the-incredibles-2004-memorable-quotes

On Wednesday, I was doing the same thing from my office at work: waiting on something amazing.  I realized the concept of the workday was quickly redefining itself as just “the day.”  I realized I was going to have to break an after-work promise to three very cool people¹ because, well, there wasn’t going to be an after-work phase of the day.

As the clock ticked forward, pages of the calendar flipped backward.  I struggle with telling people “no” or “I can’t” when I’m the only one who’d be inconvenienced.  So changing the plans of others leads to a huge sense of disappointment for me.  But once I hit send on an email I didn’t want to send and canceled dinner, what was really bothering me was just how accustomed I’d become to being overpowered by the day.

I haven’t been on a vacation in almost ever, it seems.  I’m sitting there, trying to think of when during my adult life I’ve had a week somewhere and I’m drawing a blank.  I’ve just never let it happen.  Or maybe it’s that I’ve never wanted it badly enough.  I was the high school kid putting in 96-hour weeks as of age 13.  College didn’t change that.  Law school exploited that.  Work embraces that.

I’ve had a small handful of scattered three or four-day getaways. But I haven’t packed to disappear for at least 7 days since before the new millennium.  Today, I’m declaring this era is officially over.  I’m on the verge of burnout and aside from all that means in real life, it also makes for boring posts.

So, to come full circle, we all know what my happy place is: it starts with a “Dis” and ends with a “ney.”  So, I registered for “the most magical birthday present of all:” free admission to Disneyland on my birthday.

I’ve been coaxed by Miss Bianca to do this for months now.  But can I really take a week in early November?  What if this; what if that?  Well, I’m punching “this” in the throat and telling “that” to simmer down because I’m going.  And I’m not going with the safer, closer-to-home pick of Disney World, a place I’ve been a bunch of times, but Disneyland, out in California which just so happens to be near my best friend I’ve seen way too infrequently over the last decade.

In addition to not taking “no” for an answer, I’m not letting Disney’s corporate peoples stop my shine.  I noted this small print on the bottom of the page:

walt-disney-world-what-will-you-celebrate

That last line reads: “Disney does not condone the release of balloons into the environment.”  Well, Disney and environment, I love you both dearly, but I will be flatly ignoring your concerns.  I will let loose a fleet of balloons unlike any one person should be able to acquire.  And I will do it while wearing Mickey ears.

_____
¹You know who you are.  I owe you.

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