"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Sunday, December 30, 2012

News Flash

I just read that Nixon's "I am not a crook" speech was given at Disney's Contemporary Resort. That is way cool.
That is all :)

Limited Time Magic

That's Walt Disney World's theme for this year. It means they will doing lots of short promotions, sometimes for a few weeks, sometimes for a few days. These can take the form of special events or celebrations or anything else they dream up. The first one starts January first and runs a couple weeks. It's a nightly New Year's Countdown dance party in Tomorrowland. It sounds fun, I'd go to it for sure if I were there, but it wouldn't make me want to plan a trip around it. This is going to be fun to watch, I think, to see what Disney comes up with throughout the year. The downside, as my friend pointed out, is that if they do something really cool, it will kill us to not be able to see it or participate. It will be kind of like Limited Time Torture for Disney Geeks.

Here's the link to the official Limited Time Magic web page, where the promos will be announced and explained. I know I'm going to be checking it out often. Even if that is torturing myself.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Coming Soon

I actually have four blog posts in varying degrees of un-doneness. I have been trying to finish them, really i have, but just can't right now. I REALLY wish I could, really WANT to, especially now, but so far, nope :(

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dickens Diary 4....Being Uriah Heep

It's getting close to Dickens Festival time, just two days I guess, and I'm finding myself nervous. I'm not worried about anything to do with the Fezziwig's Ball part, though it's much more important to many more people. We had another vocal rehearsal Sunday and I left more confused than I arrived, but that doesn't bother me. These are a very talented group of people and it'll come together and sound good once we get there and moving along. For my part, I feel fine singing along with the group now and there are plenty of people there who DO know what they are doing so I don't feel any personal pressure. The dance part will be great, I'm certain. This isn't a recital, either vocal or dance, it's an attempt to portray a workplace Christmas party in Victorian times. We aren't supposed to look like professional dancers or even Victorian-era socialites who dance every weekend.  We are Mr. Fezziwig's employees and employees' families. We are bookkeepers and salesman and stay at home moms and bratty little kids. We are people who may at most do this kind of dance maybe once a year, at Old Man Fezziwig's party. We are out for the night having fun with our friends and blowing off a little steam. We've all probably had a little too much punch, even the kids. So if we miss steps or turn the wrong way in the dance, it isn't a bad thing, it's part of the show. The songs are more important to get right because they are going to lead to a judgement of Brunswick Little Theatre in the eyes of many visitors (oops, "dance guests"), but I'm not worried. We'll sound fine. And our last song is Oom Pah Pah (watch a video here so you can learn the chorus before you come, it's easy) and will certainly be a crowd pleaser and have everyone leaving singing. I am sure of that one. The logistics of putting this thing together have been frustrating and the rules of the game have been annoyingly fluid, but it's nothing we can't deal with and have a show that works and everyone enjoys. No worries from me about Fezziwig's Ball.

Uriah from the movie I watched. Yep, cheated :)
Love this guy's expression. I need to practice a good sneer
I am finding myself getting very nervous about portraying Uriah Heep as a wandering character actor. I've said I love a costume and they tend to lend me confidence; I've said it'll be like a murder mystery party; I've said I'm anxious to open new doors and try my hand at something new. All these things are true, but they only go so far towards allaying my fear of leaving my comfort zone. They call it a comfort zone for a reason; outside of it may be rewarding in the end, but it's by definition uncomfortable getting there. From what I understand the other actors are actually practicing actors, even if amateur. The guy playing  Marley's ghost turned in a performance as Uncle Henry in Wizard of Oz last summer that was simply fabulous. Even the children will largely have done this sort of thing before, I think. I get that this isn't a contest, but I don't want to embarrass myself in comparison to these other people.

I won't have nearly as much red hair as this Uriah, if I go that route :)
I don't know how you learn how to act. I know there are acting classes, and lots of them, but I haven't a clue what might go on there. I'm thinking it's pretty much pretending to be someone else well enough that what's in your own imagination transfers to the audience. Costuming is a tool to help with that, and I guess a really important one for the amateur like me. I'm fortunate to have a really good looking outfit, complete with top hat (I love hats). I just bought black shoes and socks today, so I think I'm complete. I learned how to tie the neck cloth correctly, too. It's funny, but this costume has been torturing me. I'm having a hard time knowing it's in the closet and not wearing it around. I'm weird that way, but rest assured since I got the shoes and the whole ensemble is together now, I'll be putting it on tonight. I am seriously thinking I'm going to try to dye my hair red as well. Uriah has red hair as a sort of trademark. I don't have the complexion for red hair, too dark, but Uriah is supposed to be ugly, so maybe that will work in my favor. I'm also going to sport a fine set of mutton chops. I've been growing a beard for a month now and it's satisfyingly thick, so I'm thinking the chops will be a nice addition. Funny thing, today, after a month, was only the second time a person (other than Lisa) mentioned my new beard to me. I wasn't expecting compliments, I don't get those on my looks, but I was sort of expecting at least some ribbing about it from friends and co-workers. Nuthin'. Odd, that.

I think that this being Victorian England, I should have some sort of accent. The problem with that is I fear an accent done horribly bad may be worse than none at all. On the other hand, Dick Van Dyke's in Mary Poppins is hilariously bad and it works just fine. This is one area where my inexperience will show. I think "doing" accents just takes practice. I've been listening to podcasts of the BBC RadioOne morning show and hoping that an accent will sort of accrue to me through some sort of audio osmosis. Hey, stranger things have happened. Worst comes to worst, I just drop all my H's :)

It would help to pretend believably to be someone else if you understand who that person is. There's a term for trying to "be" another person when you act, but I don't remember it. This will be an exercise in improvisation, I'm thinking, more than anything else. The "script" I have isn't so much lines to memorize as a rough outline of what makes Uriah tick written in the first person. I think I understand Uriah. He's a caricature, which makes things easier. Uriah, to me, is the Victorian equivalent of the Occupy Wall Street crowd in modern times. He had a rough time growing up and so he feels perfectly entitled to the fruits of other people's labor. He doesn't see what he does by way of embezzling or blackmail as morally wrong because he is simply taking what should be his in what he deems "fairness." His chosen weapon to help steal his way to what is his rightful station is insincere humility backed by extreme nastiness when he is confronted. He is created to be over the top with his humility and over the top with his venom when backed into a corner. He hates those better off than himself and really resents David Copperfield for becoming what he wishes to be and doing it within the rules of society and morality. I don't think you can over-act either his insincerity or his hate, which makes things easy on me. I'm not ready to act subtlety. Hell, I can't handle that  in real life.

So wish me luck in this new adventure. Give me the benefit of the doubt and a little extra help from your own imagination if you run across me this weekend. I'm hoping last night was the last anxiety dream I have about this, but I'm not counting on it ;)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dickens Diary 3....Great Expectations

I've never had them.

Ta Da. This stupid thing has caused untold confustication :(
Have I had high hopes? Yes. Dreams? Surely. I dream and hope and fantasize and wish as much or more than anyone I know, but expectations are a different matter. That's not to say I'm a slacker. I feel I've had a pretty good idea of what I'm capable of and have done very well with my skill set. I knew very well I could move here from PA and set up a life. I had Lisa with me and she makes me feel very confident. I knew we could have a forever marriage and raise a family. We're a great team and we both had very good role models in that regard. I took a job based 100% on commission because I've always known I will do what I have to do to bring home a paycheck. The big things I know I have under control and I am narcissistic enough to rarely ever doubt that I always will. Maybe it's because I'm so fortunate in the things that matter most that I don't expect much "icing on the cake."

 Great Expectations can lead to disappointments. One thing I'm NOT good at is sports. I tried a lot of them growing up with no success. My Little League baseball team never won a game, may not have scored, and the coach made fun of the way I ran. Our soccer team lost all of its games and I do remember we did score one goal in one game. I remember because I didn't even know it had happened until I asked what all the excitement was about. I tried basketball thinking my height would be an asset, but again, we never won a game and I sat on the bench most all the time. Not surprisingly, I was pretty much the last picked in gym class or the playground. It didn't really bother me, I'd just learned not to expect any different. I didn't expect my team to win, or score. I didn't expect to make any sort of contribution. Sports just wasn't my thing. I did still know what I COULD do, though, I was perfectly comfortable in the water. I was a fully certified SCUBA diver before I was old enough the drive.

The arts were another area I never developed any expectations of success. We had a downright evil art teacher in the latter part of elementary school that made sure I knew I had zero talent in that area. But it wasn't a disappointment because I had no expectations there. From the earliest days I was no good with the visual arts thing. My friends didn't want me using their coloring books because I scribbled. I couldn't stay in the lines with my crayon like the other kids, so I didn't even try. Playdough was for making snakes. Period. And I hate snakes. I was in the church children's choir but in the back and off to the side where I couldn't do any damage. I even joined the bell choir, but ended up being entrusted with only one bell and even then the director had to pause in her conducting and point at me when she wanted me to bong the thing; I was lost.  I took up the trombone in 4th grade after the band guy came in and gave an assembly showing us all the different instruments we could learn. I had meant trumpet, but wrote trombone. Whatever, I didn't expect to be able to do it, so what difference did it make? I was in a small class with two of us, me and Doug Miller. Doug was a musical prodigy. I struggled for about four months trying to learn three notes and then gave up. I eventually took a photography class in high school and that's been my "artistic" outlet ever since. Recently I've started mucking about with Photoshop and fooling myself that THAT is "art."

I don't mean to be complaining here, I have been perfectly happy living within what I know I can do and do well. Controlling expectations leads to minimizing disappointment, right? I don't get jealous of the people who can hit a baseball at the picnic (I struck out at wiffleball at a work picnic once), or sing or dance or play golf once in a blue moon and still score less than 120. I enjoy them for what they are and remain happy with what I am, in my comfort zone. That is until this year.

Munchkin Houses :)
I've written before about how our involvement with the Brunswick Little Theatre has opened new doors for our whole family. For the first time ever I am participating in "the arts." It's not a new thing for the rest of my family, Lisa sings in the church choir and John plays trombone (how fitting, huh?) in the school band, but it's new to me and definitely moving away from my comfort zone.  Whether it was on purpose or not I'll never know, but Jen couldn't have drawn me out more expertly. She played to what I knew I could do with the stage manager job. She was very vague about her expectations at the start and let me grow and learn my way into the role. It worked. On opening night she gave her director's pep talk and announced she was turning it over to her stage managers. She sat in the audience during shows, watching her creation in the hands of others. I was one of three stage managers, the other two much more experienced than myself. On that opening night, after Jen had taken her place out in the house, one of the other stage managers came to me and asked if Jen really wasn't going to be back stage, was this show REALLY all up to us now? She was terrified by the idea, and she has a degree in Theatre Arts and has stage managed many, many shows. And there I was, totally new and inexperienced, waiting to see a curtain open from the stage side of things for the first time in my whole life, and I was well within my comfort zone. That comfort zone had actually grown. I had grown. I had broken rules I had for myself for years and years. It's a small thing, a very small thing, but I had painted two of the three munchkin house roofs. Mrs. Dunleavey, the art teacher witch at North Wales Elementary, would have had a coronary. I had learned how to paint a set piece, not like a pro for sure, but well enough to be proud of, I think, because Jen's expectations are greater than mine. The houses started out as a part of our parade float. Jen wasn't at all happy with them. I thought they were fine, not because I'd helped paint them and was happy with my work, but because I figured it was an amateur production, it was a set for a scene full of little kids and I was as usual willing to settle for what was easy and quick and already done. Jen wasn't. She said we re-paint the Munchkin houses because they didn't look as they should. I took a deep breath, shut my mouth and tried again with the thatch roofs. Jen watched and corrected and watched and judged and set me to it again. She taught me like no one in my life had done before. She could have done it herself a thousand times better and much faster, but she didn't. She asked, well demanded, that I begin to learn how to use three colors of paint on plywood to make an audience see a thatched roof. It was the closest thing to "real art" I've ever done, and I am proud of it because it was finally good enough. It could have been better, but because Jen has real expectations, good enough is a compliment. There's a real lesson for me there, if my thick skull will let it in.

Now we come to the Charles Dickens Festival. After telling Jen I was happy to be involved with the theatre, but couldn't act, sing or dance, I find myself preparing to portray Uriah Heep, dance in front of an audience and help sing showtunes from Oliver! Once again, Jen drew me out of my happy place gently. She told me the character acting wasn't that much different than the murder mystery parties we'd done a few years back. She told me the dance was more walking around and clapping then really dancing. She just bluntly told me that I was going to join in the singing. A few years ago I'd have had no part in these things, especially trying to sing in front of people, but something's changed. I'm wondering if I don't set my bar too low. I'm wondering if I'm not just lazy. I'm wondering how much of a disservice I've done to myself allowing that laziness. It's been on my mind a lot this week.

I love having people in my life who accept me as I am. I try to be that to others, to remind them that they are great just as they are. But lately I've been challenged to be more than I was. It isn't always comfortable and I fight it sometimes. I have dismissed high standards people hold for themselves and others as "perfectionism," and that was wrong. Comfort zones are for lazy people and I'm going to try to break that habit. And I promise to try to help others do the same in the future. It's a big switch for me, but I have every idea that given time and maybe a few reminders I can maybe bring others the gift Great Expectations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday.....Mickey Mouse

I'll keep it wordless in case my favorite blog/Facebook policewoman is watching ;)

Today's subject is Mickey Mouse, in honor of his birthday this week. Be sure to check out the other Mickey pics at Focused on the Magic's Wordless Wednesday page.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our Sad Attempt To Find Hidden Mickeys

We aren't the best Hidden Mickey hunters in the world. We love the idea, love that the Imagineers stuck little hidden tributes to Mickey Mouse all over the parks and resorts. We got the Hidden Mickey Field Guide for our friends last Christmas and I had a hard time not reading the whole thing myself before I gave it to them. They were heading to Disney World early this year and I thought they might have fun looking for Hidden Mickeys together. When they got they got back, Jen reported that they hadn't really looked much at all, everything just sort of got in the way and they really didn't have the chance. I got my own copy of the field guide and was sure we would use it; we were only three, we weren't chasing a two-year-old, and we could do this! Why not? Wrong-o. Just like Jen and family, we brought the book along, but always forgot to pack it into the parks. Sometimes I'd read up on the places we were headed and try to remember where the Mickeys were, but I usually forgot to even look in all the excitement of whatever we were doing.

I'm not too disappointed, it's one more thing to try to concentrate on  more next time. We did find a few, though, on this trip. I got pictures of most of them, and here they are. It won't take long to see them all :)

This is by far my favorite. This wasn't in the guide book, we just stumbled upon him in Rafiki's Planet Watch's petting zoo. It kind of made up for there not being any llamas. Almost.
This was probably in the book, but we hadn't checked it this day. This is pretty obvious, but we still felt proud of ourselves for spotting it, and the next one, in The Living Seas aquarium in Epcot. I waited for a shark to swim by because as we all know, sharks make photos better.
The other Living Seas aquarium Mickey. Without the shark. See, it's not as cool.
This one was done "by the book." I knew we'd ride the Rockin' Roller Coaster this day and checked the guide and remembered where the Mickey was. We waited for everyone to clear out so we could get a good look and there he was!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday--Disney Letter "G"

Today's Wordless Wednesday is all about the letter "G". I'll not label my pictures in the interest of "Wordlessness", but they're all "G" pics. Somehow ;)

Check out all the other submissions on Focused on the Magic's Wordless Wednesday page.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go

The Oak Island Geohound
We Stiteses are wanderers, goers, doers, seekers. One hobby we indulge in that plays to all those traits is Geocaching. If you've never heard of it, geocaching involves hiding and seeking containers of various sizes all over the world using a GPS enabled device and the geocaching.com web site. There is a great video right here explaining it all, if you are interested.

Geocaching has given us an excuse to wander more times than I can count, and when we are in new places, we always check for caches and often end up finding spots we would never have seen otherwise. I can go on and on about the joys and rewards of seeking tupperwares in the woods, but today I wanted to talk about my Geohound, who has been places I've never been even close to. Yet.

Not only do we geocachers travel from cache to cache ourselves, we also send proxies out to travel the world, called travel bugs. Soon after I found the hobby of geocaching, I ordered my first travel bug dog tag, that's the metal tag you see on the chain in the above picture. The tag has a number unique to itself that is used to track the item, in this case a Happy Meal toy my son gave me to keep me company in my car at work, as it is discovered by geocachers and moved by them from one cache to another. Cachers log the number on the geocaching web site and the tag's movements are recorded, along with comments and often pictures, on its very own web page (the Oak Island Geohound can be found here, complete with a map of his travels). Trackable items often disappear and get lost, it's just the nature of the game, but I really lucked out with the Geohound. I set him into the world on May 29, 2007 and he is still active and traveling today. I got an update on him just this morning, in fact, from Germany.

Skijorring outside Fairbanks
The Geohound was charmed from the start. His first trip was a long one, from Oak Island, North Carolina to Fairbanks, Alaska. He spent some time skijorring, which I had never heard of. Apparently, skijorring involves putting cross country skis on and tying yourself to a few sled dogs. It's like dog sledding without the sled. I can't wait to try it next time we get enough snow. Or not.

He went with the cacher who found him to St. Paul and then back to Alaska before being picked up and moved to Maine, where he traveled a bit before once again going cross-country and ending up in Washington State. He seemed to be having a fine time. He moved back and forth between Washington and Oregon for a bit then headed south for California. I started getting a few pictures from the beautiful Los Padres National Forest and watching him tour all over the greater Los Angeles area.
The North Fork in Los Padres NF

The Smallest Post Office in Wheeler, CA

This morning, I got word that my little Geohound had left the bounds of the good old US of A and landed himself in Germany, Niedersachsen, Germany to be exact. It's near Hannover. I think I have some extedned, in-law-type family there. 

In 5 1/2 years, this little stuffed dog has traveled 23,600 miles. I'm frankly shocked a Happy Meal toy has held up for that long. Following his travels, we've learned new things and been put in contact with new people from all over the country and now the world. I've checked out the places he's visited and added to my own "bucket list." Now I'm using Google translator to read the logs. As an educational experience, this really can't be beat. As a bit of arm chair globe-trotting, it is perfect. Even when we're sitting still, there's no reason to stay at home after all.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dickens Diary 2....Fancy Dress

I sometimes listen to a pop station from England on Sirius, BBC RadioOne. I love to hear the differences between England English and American English, and one of them struck me as perfect for today's Dickens Diary. In England, apparently, putting on a costume for a party, such as at Halloween, is called getting into "fancy dress." I imagine this could cause all sorts of confusion, as in the newcomer from London asking if he should wear "fancy dress" to an American party and showing up to a formal decked out in full zombie glory. That's something that could very well happen to me.

Yesterday was Fancy Dress Day at our Fezziwig's Ball rehearsal, in both the American and English senses of the term. Jen brought piles of costumes from the Brunswick Little Theatre stockpile (as an aside, I REALLY want to tag along on one of Jen's trips to the BLT storage units. It sounds like an awesome place), and everyone sort of shopped around until they found something they liked that fit reasonably well. It was loud and chaotic and lots of fun. And we look GOOOOOOOOD!!!!!!!

Lisa told me I had to smile. Uriah wouldn't smile like that
I love dressing up in costume and always have. I guess maybe it's the Halloween birthday thing manifesting. I've been very shy for most of my life, and even now am much more shy than most people realize. I don't enjoy large groups of people I don't know where I'm expected to socialize. But put me in a costume, and it's a whole different story, always has been. I'll say anything to anyone with no problem, because it isn't me doing it, so there's no pressure. If I screw it up, so what, it's someone else who gets the blame or the shame or whatever. That may not be actually the way it really is, I mean who doesn't know who it is under the costume, but in my head it works. I am confident when I'm pretending to be someone else. A psychologist could have a field day with that one.

I was really excited to see my outfit which will serve both for the ball and Uriah Heep. Jen told me she picked something out that was........."special" I think she finally came up with. It's an undertaker's costume from who knows what show, I forgot to ask. It has a jacket with ridiculously long tails and a white button- down shirt and a vest and a neck cloth (which I need to learn how to tie) and I found a huge top hat to top it off. I'm very pleased. I look good. Really good. In a serpentine, undulating, loathsome sort of way. Perfect.

Everyone else pretty much found something they liked. It was fun helping. One friend, Carolyn, just HAD to have a cape she saw hanging from a rack near the ceiling. That's where On My Toes keeps their costumes and we were welcomed to use them. I used a big stick to get it down and we found it came with a sword! Carolyn loved it even more knowing that. We found hoop skirts and pirate vests and magician capes and all manner of fantasical garments. I find I'm not the only one who likes playing dress up. The more I am around these theatre people, the more at home I feel. Even without a costume on.

For some pictures of rehearsal featuring costumes and dancing, but not at the same time, check out Pooh Stick's album

Monday, October 29, 2012

Goodbye, HMS Bounty

This is the Captain's cabin on the HMS Bounty and it's off limits to visitors. Just so happened the crew member watching the entrance wandered off. It took about half a second for Misty and I to decide to slip under the rope and enjoy the good life of Captains of the Ship.
This morning the HMS Bounty, a replica of the famous "Mutiny on the" ship, sank off the North Carolina coast while trying to sail around Hurricane Sandy. She carried 16 crew, 14 of whom are safe ashore as I write this. One crew member, Claudine Christian, died and her body was recovered. The ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, remains missing as of Monday night. I pray for the safety of Captain Walbridge and for the family and friends and memory of Claudine Christian. CNN has a good story with a bit of video that is the most up to date info I could find as I write this.

I understand the human tragedy here and I guess some would think this terribly missing that point, but I'm going to write about losing the ship. If that bothers you, stop here, or bear with me and maybe you'll see where I'm going with this. The Bounty wasn't a person, she had no soul (in the religious sense) and no family (in the genetic sense) and she shouldn't be mourned as if she was a person. But it's not wrong to mourn her, I think, not wrong to feel a real sadness that she rests now at the bottom of the Atlantic, never to sail again. I do feel that sadness, a sense of loss. I think that woman next to me in the picture, our friend Misty, feels it too, and without assuming to speak for her, I'm going to try to explain why we do.

There's a reason ships are called "she" and not "it." Ships, especially sailing ships, evoke emotion in sailors and would be sailors. They represent much more than wood and hemp and canvas. They represent freedom. They represent escape. Or maybe it's more to the point to say that they represent......possibilities. That's the crux of it for me, I think. I already feel very free and I have nothing to escape from, my life being pretty damned good, and yet I'm drawn to a ship like the Bounty on a very basic level. Misty is as well. We HAD to go see her, and we HAD to go see her together. We did the same thing when the US Coast Guard's Eagle came to town. We walked around these ships not saying much but both thinking the same thing, "What if....?" What if I had her for my own? Where could I go? What could I do? How would it be to wake up in the morning to the sound of water running against a wooden hull and know I had the whole of the ocean open to me? We joked about stowing away, but neither of us wanted that and soon it turned to imaginings of flat out piracy. We didn't want to just be on the ship, we wanted to have the ship, to be a part of her and her of us and to go where we pleased. When I was on the Bounty, I could feel all of that inside of me. Possibility, pure, unadulterated possibility, seemed closer. Just being aboard her did it.

And now she's gone and I'm sad.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dickens Diary

We had our first rehearsal for Fezziwig's Ball, our part of Southport's inaugural Charles Dickens Christmas Festival, yesterday. I wrote about taking part in this a few posts ago, and figured I'd follow the experience along on Pooh Sticks, you know, because it's my blog and I want to ;)

We were experiencing a "tropical weather event" yesterday, and from the sounds of it outside right now today as well. There had been some concern as to whether or not practice would go on, but it turned out to just be rainy and the show, such as it was, went on. We had a good turn-out, I thought, and I was happy to see some friends from our Wizard of Oz experience again. The associate pastor of our church and his wife also turned out, at the insistence of their grandson. I was really happy to see that, they are two of the nicest, most down to earth and fun people we know and I can't wait to share this with them. They are looking to expand their horizons, something I can totally relate to. I love to see people opening new doors.

We signed up for shifts at the party, requested costumes and volunteered to help with refreshments and decorating. We worked on our dance and I think learned it fairly well. It's very close to something I did during a rather unfortunate phys ed class in college. We laughed and danced around and bumped into each other and tried not to step on the toddlers weaving between our legs all the while. It was the kind of experience we expect from this group, and we loved it very much.

The wandering characters were discussed a bit and I asked about a script for Uriah Heep, but he hasn't got one yet. I'm very excited about that part of the Dickens weekend, but I have to say it reminds me of a thought I had in Disney. We were watching one of the parades go by, I think it was the random one we happened upon while trying to leave the Magic Kingdom on our last day, and I saw Terk, the gorilla from Tarzan. I got to thinking about how many people saw him and thought, "Who's the monkey?" I mean, Disney's Tarzan is a fine film, but not one of the classics or most popular by any stretch. I wondered how the guy inside there felt when he excitedly shared his news that finally he was going to be a "head character" in the parks (in a parade even!) with his friends and they asked who he was going to be. Would he be Donald? Goofy? A relatively minor character like FroZone or Mr. Smee? "Nope," he would say proudly, "I'm Terk." I wondered at the expressions on his friends' faces. Would they be so rude as ask who the Hell Terk was? Or would they congratulate him and wait til later to hit Google?
Terk. Know him, love him :)

In my case, I had only a vague idea of who Uriah Heep was myself when Jen brought up the idea of playing him, so when I tell people who I'm going to portray I always explain who he is. I have some rather more literary than average friends, so they catch right on. Don't misunderstand, I'm very happy with Uriah. I would pick a bad guy over a good any day, and playing someone less familiar takes a lot of the pressure of "getting it right" off my head. I'm not an actor, so that is a very good thing. But still, it reminds me of that guy in the monkey suit on the Disney parade float. I am sure it didn't matter to him who he played. He was at Disney World, he was in the parade, he was portraying a character that animators and writers spent months breathing life into. That's awesome and exciting and something to be extremely proud of. I knew who he was, after all, and when he went by I hollared out a "TERK!!!!". I really hope he heard me :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting It

We saw more "bad behavior" on this Disney trip than any before. We saw a physical fight over parade watching spots narrowly averted by a cast member our first night in the park. The next day we witnessed a man jump off the Walt Disney World Railroad train while it was going regular speed between two stops. He'd apparently dropped his cell phone. He was almost thrown from the park, saved, we assume, by his pre-school daughter wearing a princess costume. Groups of foreign tourists speaking loudly over the narration of attractions was the norm rather than the exception. We noticed an unusual number of parents screaming at kids, and often kids who seemed to be doing nothing wrong. We saw 8, 10, maybe even 12-year-olds attached to dads with leashes. I don't know if we were just more sensitive to this stuff because we ourselves were so relaxed and happy and paying a lot of attention to everything going on around us, but on this trip all three of us picked up on many people who just weren't getting it. It made us feel really lucky to not be one of "those families," and coming home, I've become very happy to be surrounded by people who really do "get it."

We are a Disney Geek family. We all three see the Disney Magic as something real and valuable and important. I'm not shy about my love for Disney, as evidenced by this blog and it's accompanying Facebook page, and neither is the lovely Miss Lisa. This has led us to some good natured ribbing, of course, but also to discover some other Disney Geeks in our daily lives. I've found that others in the salesman community are as enthusiastic about Disney as myself. We can go on for hours in the back room of a grocery store discussing the latest discounts, the pros and cons of renting Disney Vacation Club points, character meals, crowd levels and all other aspects of trip planning. We use so many acronyms, I doubt anyone else can understand what we're saying. Lisa works for our town government and has found a cadre of dedicated Disney Geeks in charge of our police force. One officer sent us down with pins to trade and when we brought him back a Mickey sheriff's badge pin, he went to brag to the Chief, who already had one of his own of course. They proceeded to try one-upping each other with Disney collectibles they owned. The pastor of our church is another Disney-phile who made a point to tell me how much joy he gets out of the pictures I post and assured me that the experience our son gets on a family trip to Disney World is worth much more than any money we spent. Disney Geekery is everywhere.

I wrote before we left for our trip about how much fun I expected to have sharing our memories upon our return. What makes that sharing fun, and rewarding, is having people who "get it" to share with. Going through the Disney parks with Lisa and John is pure heaven for me because we all three appreciate it, nothing is forced, no one is just going along to see the others have fun. When Walt spoke in the movie shown at the end of "One Man's Dream" about wanting to build a park where parents and children could enjoy a place completely together because that's what he wanted for himself and his daughters, Lisa teared up. She understands what makes the magic. It's love, pure and simple. Behind all the corporatism and licensing and money, is the love one man had for his family and the world at large. That's why Disney works, why it's different. It's enough to move anyone to tears, anyone who get's it anyway.

Lisa's doorknob pic
my doorknob pic
My family is lucky to have another family who sees Disney in exactly the same way. Adrian and Jen and their boys Max and Milo are exactly the same kind of Disney Family as we are. They recently returned from a trip to Disneyland and the sharing of our two experiences has been a true joy. The similarities in the way we take in the parks is uncanny. We all try to capture the magic on camera, we have several thousand pictures between us, but I was amazed at how we all saw the same things as interesting or noteworthy. I've gotten used to pretty much sharing a brain with Lisa, so when we found we'd taken pictures of the same doorknob we weren't the least bit surprised. We shot lots of "detail" picture, ones we laughed about no one seeing us knowing what the heck we could be taking a picture of. Well, Jen would have known. While I took a picture of the light fixture on the ceiling of the WDW Railroad passenger car, Jen took one of the light in her room. Lisa took tons of door pictures, Jen has several of the inside of an elevator. Jen and I both took pictures of the entrance to Adventureland that aside from being from opposite ends of the country, could be the same shot. It's just really funny to me, and heartwarming. It's nice to have kindred spirits out there.

light on the train

A door in Norway
Elevator in the Disneyland Hotel
A faucet in Disneyland Hotel

Disneyland Hotel light
 It's not just the pictures, though. I mean how many people take the time to set down in a blog the joys of waiting in line? Back in February, I did, and here's a part of it:

"We aren't opposed to waiting in line, though, for something we all really want to do. Two hours is a bit much, but even for an hour and a half we have been known to suck it up and wait. It's really not the end of the world. There's lots to do in line. Disney has spent a tremendous amount of time and imagination and money making even the queuing areas of its attractions interesting. That's not even to mention the people watching opportunities. I pity the people who never wait in line and as a result miss out on mocking the other Disney guests' dress, hairstyle, accent, mannerisms and child-rearing skills. What do you people talk about at dinner? Even if you are sickeningly nice and don't get snarky and mean about strangers, you could spend time in line talking to your family. Imagine that! You are on vacation and the children, if not the adults, are probably close to sensory over-load. Talking about what you've done and seen and what adventures are yet to come make passing the time in line rather enjoyable."

Jen wrote on her personal blog yesterday all about waiting in the Radiator Springs Racers queue in Cars Land at Disneyland for two hours while they got the ride working again. She wasn't complaining, she was celebrating one of the best parts of her trip. Not only did she and Max take the time together to just be together, she experienced the joy of seeing her son get it while he pointed out Imagineering details to her. I couldn't have expressed it better myself, though I did express the  very same experience from our trip. Here's a bit from Jen's blog:

 "It didn't really matter....because even though, all told, Max and I stood on that queue for almost two hours, it was so very enjoyable.  At no point did he whine or complain (that would have made me get out of the line immediately, and he probably knew that!), and he tried his best to entertain the people in line around us (yeah, you know he did).  Even better, HE kept pointing out all these amazing Imagineered details to ME, and I loved how observant and interested he was.  We talked and we laughed and we shared an overpriced water bottle that a costumed cast member wisely started hawking to his captive audience, and we giggled over the texted photos of Milo enjoying A Bug's Land, and we imagined and we planned and we enjoyed each other.  There was no laundry to be done, there were no emails distracting me, there was no need to do school work, there was no Milo hanging on me....just two hours of Max and Mom time, doing something purely for fun."

That's what I mean by "getting it." It's what made Lisa get emotional at a movie. It's what makes me write this blog. It's magic, the real thing.

Just after we got home from Disney and a day or so before they left for their trip, I was dropping something off at Jen and Adrian's house. As I was leaving, Max came over to give me a hug and said, "I can't wait to get back so we can get together and share our stories!"  A seven year old looking forward to getting home so he could relive his experience with his friends. He gets it. That's what keeps the Disney Magic alive.

Walt Disney World's Adventureland entrance

Disneyland's Adventureland entrance

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(Relatively) Wordless Wednesday---Disney Attire or Costuming

It's Wordless Wednesday time again at The Focused On Magic. Today's topic is "Disney Attire or Costuming" so I've chosen three pics of one of my favorite Disney characters. One is nekkid and the other two sportin' some fine duds. Head over to the blog hop and check out everyone's pictures, there are some really great ones today!

  For more Baloo, check out this video of the Jammin' Jungle Parade

For more pictures from our recent trip to Walt Disney World (and lots of other fun stuff), check out the Pooh Sticks Facebook page