Jan 26, 2010

Disney's Wonderful World of Unfulfilled Promises.

Q: What is the definition of "sucker"? 

A: Me, in 1978, watching the opening credits of The Wonderful World of Disney.

Like every parent in history, I sometimes wonder: Will my children become emotionally stunted; having pretty much everything they want, whenever they want it? Perhaps. But they will never have to endure anything as heartbreaking as Disney's weekly proof that there is one born every minute.

As I remember, WWoD was sandwiched between Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (nothing says 'exotic fauna' like 'Omaha'), and The Beachcombers.

Those Disney guys were master puppeteers, and they knew how to hook kids with gorgeous imagery. Peter Pan? Herbie? Lady and the Tramp? Holy moly! This is going to rock! No pie for me, Grandma. I'll be in the living room!

Except, they never, ever... aired the good stuff. Jungle Book? Nope. Fantasia? Negatory. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? More like 20,000 Frames of Wasted TV. Up until The Phantom Menace, WWoD was THE greatest source of unfulfilled hype in the history of media.

And I fell for it. Every. Single. Week

Much like The Six Million Dollar Man, WWoD's opening was 500 times better than the show itself. Tinkerbell would wave her magic wand, and you'd glimpse technicolor marvels that were never once delivered. To make it worse, anyone in the room older than 25 would wistfully reminisce about seeing Cinderella at the Bijou for five cents (throw in a popcorn, and it was free!

Then, once millions of North American tots were properly stoked, Tink would shoo it all away, and you'd get... a sixty minute documentary on goose migration. Thanks, Walt. That whole Donald Duck thing looked kind of distracting anyway.

Now, to be perfectly fair, there's three things I should clarify.

  1. Bippidy... Walt Disney was long dead—or frozen, if that's your bag—and certainly had no control over TV programming in 1978. 
  2. Boppidy... If you used your brain, it was obvious that no animated feature could be aired during a one hour slot.
  3. Boo... Even a five-year-old should catch on to a bait-and-switch after the 176th duck-tease. Still, it was like being taken on a tour of Willy Wonka's factory and being served raw turnips in the commissary.
But someone's gotta take the brunt, and I say Walt is that man.

You know why?

Because in all the photos I've ever seen of him, Walt Disney has struck me as a meany. Like Monty Hall and Uncle Bobby, Walt Disney never looked all that likable, no matter how much he smiled. And even if you dismiss that whole anti-semite rumour, Disney apparently had no problem throwing some of his Hollywood buds under the career-ending bus that was HUAC .

So Walt, wherever you are, I hope that you're adrift on the sea of children's tears you created; floating on a pallet of pirated Snow White Blu-Rays. 

If it makes you feel any better, my daughter loves every single thing you've ever created. 

Jan 13, 2010

How are we helping?

The aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti brings up the same twisted feelings I get after every news-worthy disaster.
  • Pity.
  • Thankfulness (that my family is safe).
  • Guilt.
  • Concern.
  • Anger.
  • The need to vent words that I might regret in two days.
I've read a couple of stories in the paper, I've seen tragic photos. I donated some money. That's about all I can do right now. [edit #1: a friend has convinced me to start donating blood again. No argument there.]

The real question is: Did you care about Haiti before? (These people were not exactly pre-ordering iSlates iPads last week.) Will my money help anyone? I'm praying it does, and I actually think it will. I just hope people won't forget. The media will, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

How are those tsunami victims doing, by the way? I certainly don't know. How sad is that?

I tell you what I'm not doing...
  1. Changing my Twitter avatar to something that shows "I care". I did this wholeheartedly before (to support the Iranian people, who are choking under their government), and guess what? One day, like almost  everybody else, I sheepishly changed it back. To all appearances, I gave up on the cause. Been there, done that. Even a bumper sticker has more shelf-life. Bottom line? I'm pretty sure no one in Port-au-Prince gives a crap that I am "aware" of their problems [edit: or if we redecorate the CN Tower.]
  2. Flying to Haiti to help out. You want to help in a much bigger way? Donate your airfare (and the two weeks salary you'd be forgoing) to charity. Yes, it's hard to know which agency to trust, and probably not every single cent of your money will be helping those who need it most. But at some point, you just have to give something. Or not. It's your call.
  3. Taking more photos. The best guys are on it already. Don't let me dissuade you from a life-changing career-path, but it's true. [This is not to say you shouldn't use your camera to change lives, but maybe keep it local, and donate the profits? Also, you'd also be drinking water and eating food that that the Haitians need for themselves.]
Just venting, remember?

If you're looking for a way to donate, WorldVision is a good a place to start as any. If it's too Christian for you, there are plenty of others, like the Red Cross or Red Crescent. After that, we all need to make out own peace with it. There's always enough death and suffering to go around, and if you think about it too hard, you will be crippled with despair.

Is this blog helping? Just me. From the standpoint that I have a place to try to collect my own thoughts and reconcile why terrible things will always happen.

Maybe someone will write something that helps. Until then, maybe open your wallet and hit the blood clinic.

Jan 1, 2010

2010: The year we make Mulligatawny.

Everybody who tastes this amazing soup that I pilfered from the actual Soup Nazi (via Top Secret Recipes) wants the low-down. It's a total no-brainer that never fails to please.

4 quarts water
6 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock
2 potatoes
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cups eggplant
1 onion
1 cup corn
2/3 cup jarred roasted red peppers (or just use the whole jar)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup Italian parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
2 tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. curry powder (add more if you want to kick it up a notch)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Dice vegetables, put everything in a large stockpot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 4-5 hours until reduced by half. Serve with bread and a bad attitude.

Oh yeah, here's the clip.