Monday, January 17, 2011

Childhood memories remind me that Disney is Evil

I am convinced that our brain, especially when it comes to memory, is like a giant pot of soup, boiling and bubbling. As it boils and bubbles, various vegetables and/or chunks of chicken or beef float to the surface, remain visible for a bit, then sink back down into the roiling depths of the pot, only to be replaced by a different vegetable or piece of meat. Perhaps even a noodle.

I do consider my memory to be such an ever-churning pot of soup, and often times I find really old spontaneously bobbing up to the surface, hanging around for a while, then eventually sinking back down into the broth. We're talking old memories here, as in decades old, floating back into my conscious without even an identifiable trigger.

Recently I had the pleasure of recalling two incidents from my childhood, completely out of the blue, that in fact reinforce the idea that Disney is Evil. Read on, MacDuff.

Anyone who knows me even just a little is aware that I love to read. I find that reading expands your mind, sharpens your wits, increases your vocabulary, fills in knowledge gaps, and much much more. It may further not come as much of a surprise to anyone that I loved to read from a very early age, like around 3. I so impressed my dad that he'd go out and get his hands on any second-hand book he could buy and give them to me.

One particular batch contained A Christmas Carol, The Wizard of Oz, and Toby Tyler. What's Toby Tyler, you ask? Well you may ask! Toby Tyler is one of those cautionary "bad boy" stories. Boy is a problem at home, boy runs away convinced that his parents don't love him, boy gets into trouble, boy eventually has an epiphany and returns home, chastened and wiser, and is a good boy from now on.

The titular Toby ran away from his foster parents and ended up joining the circus. As an aside, don't you think Titular Toby would make a good name for a porn star? Anyways, Toby strikes up a friendship with Mr. Stubbs, a chimpanzee in the circus. In order to show that there are consequences to being a bad boy, there comes a point where said chimp has an unfortunate run-in with a hunter who has a rifle (Spoiler alert: chimp loses).

Now, this book really milked that damned chimp's death scene. Good Lord, did it tug at the heart strings. And I was just a kid, who still thought that chimps were cute and smart and wonderful, not the hateful, screaming, shit-flinging little douchebags that they really are. Which reminds me: I wonder how the New York Yankees fanbase is taking the fact that their team really hasn't made much progress to improve themselves over the off-season thus far?

But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes. Ventilated chimp.

Anyways, Toby is devastated, I was beside myself with grief, and even though the story ends happily (Toby learns the error of his ways, goes back to loving family), I was still shaking my head and going "Sure,it's a happy ending for everyone except Mr.Stubbs, who is DEAD!"

Well, enter the Wonderful World of Disney.

Sunday nights, NBC, 730 EST...the Wonderful World of Disney...IN COLOR! OOooooooooo! That was one of the big selling points of WWD. The show was in glorious COLOR! Yeah what can I say? It didn't take much to impress us in the 60's. I mean, come on, three network channels and a few UHF stations? Oh yeah. We were living the high-life, let me tell you. Then just when you thought the bar couldn't possibly be set lower, the 70's came along.

OK, where was I? Oh yeah, Disney and their Wonderful World of Technicolor Yawns. Anyways, WWD did a movie adaptation of Toby Tyler. And guess what? The damned chimp survives the hunter's gunshot! Yep, there's good old Mr. Stubbs with a big ol' gauze bandage wrapped around his mid-section.

Now, though a part of me was sort of happy at this "alteration", an even bigger part of me was all "Hey wait! That's wrong! The monkey died!" It really bugged me. These grown-ups...DISNEY of all people, got it wrong!

That's because the chimp is a cute (ostensibly) and cuddly (tchyeah right) creature, and thus cannot die. Had it been a parental figure, however, and ol' mom or dad would've ended up in a chipper/shredder for sure, with their disbelieving offspring witnessing the whole thing as the child was inundated with a crimson tidal wave of parental blood.

OK, that's not fair, I guess. Disney would never do that. No, Disney would just have already eliminated either and or both parents before the start of the story.

But yes, there you have it. Disney is evil; they modify classic stories so as to make them more palatable to young viewers, even though they won't hesitate to off a parent or two in the backstory.

The second instance of what I perceive today as Disney Evil, was the Coming Attractions for another episode of "Wonderful World of Disney". I never saw the episode in question, but after the eyeful I got, I didn't want to.

The episode was called something like "Minado the Wolverine". At least I think it was "Minado". Minado, Menudo, Mentos, Mindanao...something. So yeah, the episode was about a wolverine. OKay, fine. WWD would often do a program based on some animal's adventures. And these weren't cartoons; they were live-action.

So, in this episode preview, I'm seeing this animal that looks like an over-sized, de-striped skunk on steroids, and they show it relentlessly attacking this guy who's walking through the snow. The thing leaps at him, snarling, the man bats it away, it recovers, attacks again, the man bats it away, it climbs a goddam tree and jumps out of it and onto the guy's head and here's the poor sap trying to keep his footing in the deep snow, while battling a furry psychopath with a level of rage usually only achieved by being rogered by a cactus while being informed that your spouse has been unfaithful, and incidentally you're not getting a tax refund in fact you owe $20,000, and by the way your car spontaneously combusted and your auto insurance mysteriously terminated yesterday.

This wolverine didn't smoke cigars, address people as "bub", and have adamantium claws that went "snikt". No, this Lon Chaney Junior of the animal kingdom was a furry nightmare, attacking its foe with a crazed single-minded suicidal zeal that would make Osama Bin-Laden weep tears of envious joy.

As I watched this preview, as a child, I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Something was off. It took a few years of growing up and learning how programs are made to realize that a tv show has cameramen, sound people, a director, etc., all of whom we can't see, off-screen, making the tv or movie magic.

That's when it came together for me. Bear in mind, I was still a kid here: this poor sap was getting attacked by a psychotic wolverine and a whole crew of people didn't do a thing to help him! No sir, they just kept filming their stupid program while the fate of this poor sucker remained a mystery.

It took a couple more years for me to realize that it was all a show, and whatever happened, no actual humans were harmed in the making of that stupid-ass Disney program.

So there you have it. Two concrete bits of evidence that reinforce the fact that Disney is evil.

In a future installment, we'll have another look at Disney evil, as well as the very first time I read a comic book in which the heroes died, and the ensuing trauma to my psyche.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Years' Do T'ings..

Yes, it's that time of year when everyone staggers out of their inebriated state that was attained on the last day of the old year, and solemnly swears to undergo a series of life-changing goals, otherwise known as resolutions. Most of these resolutions will wither and die before the New Years Eve party food has negotiated its way through the person's digestive tract and has left the building (fact: that's three to five days).

That's why a lot of clever, savvy people like me (and, at the risk of starting a mutual back-patting fest) and most of the people I hang with, shrink at the idea of declaring resolutions. Usually they're a cliche for failure (the resolutions, not my friends!).

And yet, there's a certain logic, a certain order, a certain ease of accountability, in starting something on January 1st (or thereabouts). It certainly makes a convenient benchmark. Maybe it's the word "resolution" that's the problem.

I've tried coming up with some clever. I thought of "revolution", "devolution" (are we not men? We are DEVO!), "irresolution", "revelation", but alas, none of them make sense. That's why I have decided to incorporate a phrase that Carol and I use, called "do t'ings".

"Do t'ings" was culled from the hilarious video, "Pork Chop Sandwiches", a satire of a GI Joe cartoon. Soon, we started using "do t'ings" as a catch-all, plugging it in when we were unwilling or unable to come up with specifics. For instance, you could say, "At lunch time, we'll stop off at Wendy's, grab a bite, then for the rest of the lunch hour, I dunno, we'll do t'ings".

Clear now? Good. So, let's cover my New Years Do T'ings.

First of all, let's recap last year's Do T'ings. There was only one, and that was to reduce my body mass so that I would no longer be mistaken for a stunt double for the Hindenburg. False modesty aside, it was a raging success. Took a year, but I lost 60 lbs. Hooray for me!

Well, that was pretty much the only Do T'ings for 2010. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), there's more for 2011. Read on:

Do T'ings #1. Let's Finish The Job!
OK, so my weight is down to around 160. Supposedly, I should be at 150. So I still have 10 lbs to go. Do T'ings number one, then, is to lose that last 10 pounds or so.

Do T'ings #2. We Are Here To Pump ::Clap:: You Up!
OK, so I lost 60lbs and my legs are gorgeously muscular to behold. You know what is NOT? Upper body. Sure, I'm wiry and can run fast and long, but when it comes to muscle mass, it's almost an embarrassment. Fortunately, there's that gym membership that I have, and have been availing myself of solely to use the treadmills so that I may continue running even when we get rogered by New England's ever-lovable winters. Time to work out, build up upper body strength, etc. So, that's Do T'ings number 2...building up muscle mass.

Do T'ings #3. The Removal Of An Altogether Different Kind Of Fat
The Department Of Statistics Designed To Make You Feel Bad reports that the average American has about $25,000 in non-mortgage debt. Well, this is the year that Carol and I decide that any debt, excluding said mortgage, must shrink if not go away altogether. So, Do T'ings number 3 is to reduce and shut down sources of credit.

Do T'ings #4. Spending More Time With My Kids
The problem with listing this as a Do T'ing is that it may imply that I have to force myself to spend time with my own kids. After all, whether you call it a resolution or a Do T'ing, it usually means that you're forcing yourself to do something that, while ultimately good for you, is something you'd rather not be doing. Well, that's not the case here. See, I see my kids just enough that it's not like they're not in my orbit at all, so it's easy to just sort of coast when they're around. I'm talking here about going out of my way to have more one-on-one time with each of them. I can get lazy and just take for granted that they'll always be around and able to do stuff whenever the mood strikes me. That's not the case. Nothing lasts forever, and the chances to, well, do t'ings diminishes over time. So, Do T'ings Number Four is to go out of my way to have more one-on-one time with each of my kids. I really don't get the chance to see them enough for my tastes.

Do T'ings #5. It's Blog, It's Blog, It's Big, It's Heavy, It's Wood.
I do enjoying writing like this, but a lot of times, I get too lazy and instead burn off time playing Bejeweled Blitz or some PC game. And I do think I have some good things to say sometimes. I should post more blogs. So, that's Do T'ings #5. Blog more.

Do T'ings #6. The Most Frightening Do T'ings Of All
I have three, count 'em, three novels in various stages of completion. At least two of them are over half done. But therein lies the problem. I work on one, everything's great, I'm humming along, then I stop because I have another great idea, so I start another novel, then that one comes along nicely, then I stop because I get yet another good idea, and so on, and so on.

Problem is, I know myself too well. I know what I'm doing here. And in true "pour your heart out because you're blogging" style, it's confession time.

I'm afraid of rejection.

Oh Hell, afraid nothing; I'm TERRIFIED.

See, if I'm working on a book, I can have that nice warm feeling of "Ooooo, this is GOOD!", and no one can refute that. But as the book gets closer to completion, I start to realize that inevitably, others will need to look at it. And they may not agree with my assessment. Do I really want that? Sending the book out to be judged may end up shattering my preconceived subjective notions as to its goodness!

Hell no! Let's start another book! Yeah! OOOO, this one is GOOD! Yeah baby!

I realize I'm being ridiculous. I understand that there's a lot of people that I know who think my writing is all that and a bag of chips. And there's some who think it's at least on par with a lot of other stuff out there. But...but...what if THIS particular thing sucks? What if all those people who like my stuff are wrong???

So, in essence, I need to grow a pair, finish one of the damned things, and start shopping around for an agent. Period. Fish or cut bait. Crap or get off the fence. Yes, I know I mangled that phrase. It was intentional.

So, New Years Do T'ings #6: Shop around ONE completed manuscript.

Will these Do T'ings get done? I have to admit that losing 60 lbs has done wonders for my feeling of "I can't fail". It'll be interesting to see if it holds up to a challenge. Stay tuned throughout the year!