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June 14th, 2012
Every Time I Try To Get Out, They Pull Me Back In.
by Bruce |
I figured I wouldn’t, because I just don’t see myself going back to Disney World as often in the coming year as I have in recent years (Hi Tico!). But then I did the nefarious Disney math.
They say if you do a couple weeks or more you’ve paid for your annual pass. But tickets to the Disney Parks are on a sliding scale and that’s taking into account the longer stay tickets. Base single day single park ticket is $89. Lets say you do a week, seven days, which (as of my writing this) is $41.14 a day or $287.98. Twice in a year that’s $575.96. The annual pass is $611.31, but if you’re renewing it’s only $574.00 so that’s a break even for returning guests. But that’s the standard ticket price and there are options.
The base ticket gets you into one park for one day. But let’s say you want to visit one park in the morning, and a different one in the afternoon. Then you need the Park Hopper option, which for one day is $35.00 or (again the sliding scale) $8.14 a day for seven days. That brings you up to $344.96 for seven days and if you do that twice it’s $689.92 for that year. When I first bought my annual pass I could add the park hopper option for a little more, but it seems now you have to get the Premium Annual Pass to get that (which I upgraded to last year to get the water park option…I’ll go into that in a bit…). The Premium Annual Pass is $744.44 or $649 to renew. That’s still close to break even for new purchasers, better then break even for renewers. But then there is one more option. The water parks and Disney Quest.
Disney Quest is an arcade like thing located in Downtown Disney. I don’t bother with it because it seems more a kid thing. But I like doing the water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Water park tickets are $55.38 a day and there is no sliding scale for those I can find apart from being an option on the park tickets. Let’s say you want to do a water park some afternoons and wander one or more of the parks others. Three days out of seven if you buy the tickets separately and it’s $166.14 you add to the bill. Or you can just add the water park option to a seven day park ticket and it’s $8.14 a day which is only another $56.98…just a tad more then a single day ticket. Of course you want to add the water park option.
Dizzy yet? Oh but there’s more!
Transportation to the Disney Parks is very well organized along bus routes into and out of and within the parks, and there are monorail routes you can use depending on where you stay and where you go. In theory you won’t be needing a car once you enter Disney World. But if you bring a car along like I do, and you’d rather keep to your own schedule then the bus schedule, then you will need to pay for parking. Parking is free for all annual pass holders of all types. Otherwise that’s $14 a day but it gets you parking at all the parks for that one price for that one day. So seven days of parking is another $98. Parking at the water parks is free, so it’s possible to just do one day or more at a water park for $55.38 a day and get fewer days on the park tickets otherwise. But that sliding scale means fewer consecutive days cost more each. And you can’t get by with saving some of the days on your ticket for a later visit. The tickets expire unless you add the “No Expiration Date” option. I am not even here going to go into that one, but it isn’t cheap. In fact it’s the only ticket option that gets more expensive per day the more days you buy. Otherwise the tickets expire 14 days after first use. You buy a seven day ticket, you have two weeks to use it all.
Now…add it all up (not counting the “no expiration” option) and you are looking at something like $499.94 just for one week if you do the park hopper option, the water parks option and the parking fees. Twice in a year and it’s very nearly a thousand bucks you’ve spent and that’s not even getting you the hotel and your food. Now the premium annual pass seems like an outright bargain. Plus, annual pass holders get discounts on in park hotels.
Now let’s cost out one measly three day weekend shall we? The base three day ticket is $80.67 a day or $242.01 total (notice how close that is to the cost of the seven day ticket). Add the park hopper for three days at $19 a day and it’s another $57 which brings us to $299.01. Add the water parks, also at $19 a day for three days and it’s $356.01. Add parking for three days and it’s $398.01. Do that long three day weekend twice in a year and you’ve spent $796.02.
Verses $649 to simply renew my pass for an entire year.
Okay…whatever…I renewed the pass. It’s actually cheaper to get the pass even if you don’t go that often. And of course, having a year of access to the Disney World Parks means I might just go more often then not…and spend more once I’m there. If I didn’t so thoroughly enjoy being in Disney World so much I might get a tad pissed at how expertly they manage to get my wallet to open up. But I do love being there, so…
Bear in mind the ticket price gets you not just into the park but also onto all the park rides and attractions (some special seasonal attractions, like the Halloween party in Magic Kingdom for instance, are extra however). You don’t buy separate tickets per ride like in the old days. Once you’re inside you just go get on all the rides you want, as often as you can, if that’s your thing (I did the new Star Tours ride in Hollywood Studios about a dozen times in a row one night). Should you question the ticket prices in spite of that I strongly recommend taking the backstage tour. Trust me, when you get even a small glimpse of how much goes into the operation and maintenance of Disney World, and it is a massive operation, absolutely massive, you will wonder that the tickets aren’t lots more costly then they are.
[Edited a tad...the renew price on my Premium Annual Pass was $649...the price I originally quoted $691.19 was the price plus Maryland state sales tax. All other prices come directly off the Disney World ticket pages.]
November 26th, 2010
Some Places Are Better Left Unbuilt Upon
by Bruce |
No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows
This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity. It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house; Hill House would stay as it was until it was destroyed.
-Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
I am not a superstitious person, but this abandoned office building has been creeping me out now since I first laid eyes on it last year on one of my trips down here to Disney World. It’s located right next to the Holiday Inn I’m staying at. A sign in front of it suggests that it was due to be converted into a resort/spa opening sometime in the spring of 2009. I’m guessing the money ran out and it’s just been sitting here ever since.
Ever notice those lost little spots in the commercial strips..the ones that never seem to make a go of it and repeatedly close, open again under new management, only to close again and repeat the cycle over and over until they’re finally torn down. Often the new place doesn’t do much better. It’s as though some earthly places are just bad spots to build on.
This was one of the intriguing concepts in Shirley Jackson’s haunted house story that really captured my imagination so many years ago. See…Hill House wasn’t a disturbed place because there were ghosts walking in it. The ghosts were there because the house was disturbed. The house was, as Jackson wrote, insane. Old Hugh Crain didn’t create an evil house, so much as unwittingly cause an evil house to be built. Perhaps I wondered, it had just been built on a very wrong spot. Maybe old Hugh, because he was such a wicked man, had been unwittingly drawn to it. But as Jackson wrote, the house had formed itself.
I am not a superstitious person, and yet like all of us I sometimes wonder. I see a house that, as Jackson wrote, is never off guard, always seeming to be watching, and it creeps me out. I let my imagination give it an appropriately despairing past, and fill its spaces with lonely ghosts to walk inside. I am human…I read a quote somewhere to the effect that ghosts were born the day the first human opened their eyes. It had never occurred to me before now, that a modern spandrel glass and concrete aggregate office building could give birth to a good ghost story. But there is one here to be written by someone.
It was a quiet out of the way spot on a road just starting to attract the attention of developers and big money financiers. Hotels were rising, strip shopping centers, discount stores, office parks. Somehow it had remained untouched in the rush to cash in. Eventually a particularly slimy developer laid his eyes on the spot and saw a quick fortune to be made. Financing was hastily arranged via his reliable network of equally slimy bankers. A magnificent office building was planned and pre-sold to an equally slimy corporation, whose board of directors were even more degenerate then the bankers and developer. It was dedicated in a glittering grand opening ceremony costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Within weeks of settling into their new office space, the CEO announced a sudden change of plans and moved his company out in a hurry. Suits and counter suits ensued. The building was put up for sale. Nobody who leased it ever occupied it for more then a few days. Turnover in the security guards hired to keep vandalism in check was high. Reports that vandals broke in at night, stealing some things and wreaking others, could never be verified because nothing ever seemed to be missing the next day. When questioned, former tenants all swore they had never, and would never enter the building at night to take things…or for any other reason.
Somebody needs to write this. I know a good place to go for inspiration.
September 13th, 2010
Eating At The MacDonalds In London…
by Bruce |
Atrios wonders about something I’ve been shaking my head at since chain store and restaurant shopping took over America…
I certainly don’t claim to have my finger on the pulse of the American consumer, but recession issues aside I’m puzzled by the apparent belief by developers and retail experts that when people travel to tourist locations what they really want to do, most of all, is visit the same shops that they can visit in any high end mall all over the country. Maybe they’re right. What do I know?
They’re right, but here’s what you know: if all you want from travel is what you already have at home, then all you’re doing is spending money, running out the clock on your life, and getting nothing at all out of it.
Back in 2002 in a post of travel notes I wrote, “You didn’t come all this way for another Big Mac.” Apparently a lot of people do however. They’re not just wasting their vacations, they’re wasting their lives. Several years ago some friends of mine took me on my first ever trip outside the country, to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and I will be forever grateful that they decided on staying in the old part of town and not the newer touristy one. Swear to god on the way into town from the airport I saw a Chili’s and my jaw dropped a little. What the hell does Mexico want with one of those??? But of course, it was the Yankee tourists who wanted it there. We ate at the Chili’s in Puerto Vallarta…it felt So Authentic!
Puerto Vallarta was Beautiful…
Just imagine all the fun I could have had, shopping at all the same stores I can shop in at home, and eating out in all the same restaurants I can eat at in the Towson Town Mall.
There should be an international convention that bars chain restaurants and stores from crossing boarders. I would be in favor of a constitutional amendment banning them from crossing state lines too.
April 7th, 2010
Accepting Yourself For What You Are
by Bruce |
So I went to Key West a few weeks ago, for a little vacation with some friends. I love Key West. I absolutely love the climate (at least the winter climate…I hear the summer swelter is a bit much…). Even more, I love its laid back live and let live attitude. It’s a place where people go, creative people, intelligent people, non-conformists, go to live lives away from the mainland mainstream. The t-shirts on sale everywhere there celebrate sex, drinking, cigars, smuggling, toking, Harleys, growing old and not giving a damn, being poor and not giving a damn, drinking, drinking, and sex. Levittown it ain’t. It’s San Francisco and New Orleans but more laid back. It’s Taos but instead of mountains it’s surrounded by a beautiful turquoise tropical sea and never gets below freezing.
The old town part of the island shelters dozens of historical landmarks and structures with history going back to the first Americans, embracing pirates, salvagers, smugglers, shipwrecked settlers, writers, artists, actors and presidents. Hemingway, Truman, Hunter S. Thompson, Tennessee Williams, Robert Frost and Thomas Edison called it home at one point or another. The locals call themselves Conchs and call their island home a nice little drinking place with a tourist problem.
In 1982 the U.S. Border Patrol put up a roadblock between Miami and Key West, and vehicles were searched for narcotics and illegals. The roadblock put a huge dent in tourism. The city council complained to the Feds and got nowhere. So Key West declared itself The Conch Republic, seceded from the Union, declared war on the United States (by way of the mayor breaking a loaf of stale Cuban bread over the head of someone dressed in a military uniform…), then immediately surrendered and asked for a billion dollars in foreign aid and war relief.
Well they didn’t get their billion, but the roadblock came down.
I love Key West. Ever since my first visit, I’ve thought often about moving there someday. I love its laid back, away from the mainland mainstream attitude. And it is a party town, at least around Duval Street. You practically can’t spit in any direction without hitting a bar, at least one of which, The Garden of Eden, is clothing optional. There are strip clubs, gay and straight and the dancers will walk over to customers to negotiate commerce, barely legal and possibly otherwise as well. A blind eye is turned to a lot of things as long as no one causes any trouble. For all its open sexuality and drinking, there is actually very little rowdiness.
You have to love a place where all this can be going on and yet it stays laid back about it all. I could love to live in a place like that. The ironic thing is, this trip to Key West really emphasized it for me that I am not that.
I have this love/hate relationship with my Baptist upbringing. Sometimes I feel like it made me grow up entirely too inhibited. Sometimes I am deeply grateful for it. There are values, moral values, I still hold to, and find ever more vital as I grow older, and see more and more of what a world without them looks like. Honesty. Prudence in ones financial matters. Earning your keep, and the trust of others. A regard for social justice, tempered by a little humility every now and then, when the urge to thump your pulpit strikes. But for every positive, I can find a negative.
I was never allowed to think of myself as beautiful or desirable. That was vanity and it was a deadly sin. Once when I was in my middle teens, mom, grandma, and a few other family members were at the beach. I had decided to wear the new swim suit I’d bought, which I knew might raise some eyebrows but I thought I’d dare it. It wasn’t terribly sexy by today’s standards, but it was colorful and showed my body off at a time when I definitely had one to show. I strolled out onto the beach with it feeling beautiful for one of the rare times in my life, and just loud enough for me to hear some of the folks made a few off color cracks about it…precisely aimed to embarrass the hell out of me. I must have blushed fifty shades of red and went back to the hotel. I never wore it again.
I’ve had trouble my entire life with being sexually inhibited, and it isn’t just the beating my psyche took being a gay adolescent. But there is inhibited, and there is reserved and it’s taken me the better part of adulthood to discover that my sexual reticence isn’t all the result of having the bible beaten over my head all throughout my childhood. It’s been like carving out a hunk of marble to find the shape within that is really me, and not the stone cast around me from an early age. I think I’m about down to it now, and swear I’d have thought the inner uninhibited me was a tad more footloose and fancy free then this. But…no.
My friends stayed in “Big Ruby’s”…a gay “clothing optional” bed and breakfast. I stayed at the Coco Palm, just around the corner. Let me tell you about that. Two of the guys I went down with are a couple. The other is a party kind of guy, and not to put too fine a point on it, he went down there for the sex. So this guy makes some arrangements for rooms at Big Ruby’s and the night before, he sends me an email asking if I wanted to share a room with him. I had a pretty good idea what he was going to be getting into down there and I didn’t want to be sharing a room with him if he was going to be bringing guys back to it. So I made a polite excuse…told him I’m an “only child” who always had his own room and I like my privacy…blah, blah, blah… The next day I learn he’d made arrangements for himself and my two friends at Big Ruby’s, but not me. So I guess “yes” was the right answer. But…NO.
In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t stay there. My two friends got themselves a nice apartment room with a kitchen that we all used as a headquarters. We used the kitchen for making lunch and sometimes dinner too, and we all relaxed around the pool during Big Ruby’s happy hour. Since I wasn’t a guest there I couldn’t drink their booze, but the landlord was fine with my bringing my own liquor and sharing with the others. And as I walked in and out of Big Ruby’s, I got an eyeful of the stuff going on there and sometimes it was embarrassing. They had a hot tub… Walking past it was a real challenge. Part of me would be deeply embarrassed while that damn logical/analytical part of my brain was absolutely fascinated, full of questions. Don’t they have lovers…???
I watched several naked guys rise from the hot tub at full attention and I was not only unaroused, but actually turned off by the whole thing, and I swear the thought crossed my mind right at that moment that maybe I’m not gay after all. Later I tried to think of a situation where I would be aroused. Immediately one came to mind, but it involved not a group of guys but one…one special one…just him and me in the tub all by ourselves. The plus side of having the high intensity imagination I do is I can make myself all hot and bothered pretty easily.
Yeah, I’m gay all right. Just not the kind of gay guy who goes for casual hooking up in the hot tub with a bunch of strangers regardless of how gorgeous they are. While reading John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley I came across this saying: Cold Feet, Warm Heart. At the age I read it I kinda thought I knew what it meant, but it took years of growing up and passing through adolescence to really understand it. Yeah. That’s me. Cold feet, warm heart.
So I wandered for a time amongst the party crowd at Key West, enjoying myself very much, but coming to an understanding, finally, that I am not that. I am a quiet little romantic, who feels suffocated wherever people have to stifle themselves in order to survive. I’m a shy little homebody looking for his soulmate, who despises people who impose particular gender and sexual roles on others. I’m a gay man who understands intimately well how conformity kills the soul. I’ve watched it happen. I will not willingly live in that world. Even if I could pass for normal in that environment…I couldn’t. But I am not that.
June 10th, 2009
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jig…Goooood Evening J.R….
by Bruce |
So…I’ve been on the road for a few weeks. And I’ve not been updating my blog very much. And there’s a reason for that and it isn’t that I’m not talkative anymore. I’ve actually been very active on my Facebook account while on the road. And the reason for that is there is a handy little Facebook application for the iPhone that works…sorta kinda. There’s a lot it’s missing, but for basically updating your status, sending Facebook email and posting photos off your iPhone it works okay.
There is a WordPress app for the iPhone too, but I need to upgrade my WordPress software to enable it and as I have some customization in amongst my php files that isn’t a simple chore. I need to set aside some time for it. I could also enable email posting too I suppose…but again I need to set aside some time to experiment with it.
Anyway…I’m back at Casa del Garrett again, and I have lots to talk about in the coming days. But for now I need a rest. Here’s some quick stats from Traveler’s trip computer…
29.6 Miles Per Gallon Average
61 Miles Per Hour Average
111:04 Hours Driving
30.7 Miles Per Gallon Averaged Today (6-10-2009)
That last figure is from the time I started the car this morning in Vandalia Illinois to shutting it down just now in front of Casa del Garrett in Baltimore. That’s almost entirely highway driving with the cruise control on, which I did more to keep me safe from speed traps then for gas milage.
I’ll total up the money this weekend. I didn’t buy as much turquoise this trip as I usually do when driving through the southwest. But I got a couple of really nice pieces, and one very nice amber bracelet in Chinatown. Brother-Mine has promised me a custom jewelry box to finally give all this turquoise a nice home.
I’ve got tons of photos, which I’ll work on over the weekend too.
I love my native state, California. I often dream of living out there. That was the plan, once upon a time. But then I got the job of my dreams, and a nice little Baltimore rowhouse to go with it, and so Maryland is probably where I’ll spend the rest of my life too. But…it’s good to be home. I love to travel…I love the open road. But…it felt so nice to walk into my house a few hours ago. So very, very nice…
May 29th, 2009
by Bruce |
Yes…I haven’t been very talkative here lately. I’m on vacation and these days I try to keep the world at arm’s length when I am trying to rest and relax. I’m at my brother’s house in Oceano for a bit…then on to San Francisco and the Java One developer’s conference. At the moment, I just don’t want to deal with the world.
Here’s some images for you, until the talking feather comes back my way again…
May 24th, 2009
by Bruce |
…still in it…
In Grand Junction…The Rain In Maryland Has Apparently Followed Me…
by Bruce |
I decided to abandon my plan to go into lower Kansas and from there into the Rockies and take a small scenic side road though them up to I-70. The weather here in the four corners states is horrible…all socked in with clouds and rain. And it looks like it will be that way for days to come. I suppose in some of the desert areas they appreciate getting rain, but this seems a tad much and the Colorado river is all floody now. I drive over it and it’s almost up to the bottom of the road deck on some bridges now. This throws my plans into some chaos since it means some of the scenic side roads I wanted to travel down might get washed out. I don’t want to get stuck driving down a small side road in the Utah canyon lands only to have to turn around and drive hundreds of miles back the way I came because the road in front of me got washed out. Or worse, get stuck because now the road behind me is washed out too.
So when I got to Oakley Kansas I drove US 40 for a while in the plains and then just let it take me back to I-70. Now I’m here in Grand Junction after going through some serious elevation changes that seriously stressed my out of shape 55 year old body. Around ten thousand feet I started noticing my heart pounding and my face getting all flushed out. I stopped at a rest stop at ten thousand six hundred feet and tried to get myself stabilized and just kept being on the edge of too dizzy to drive. Crap. I guess I my sitting down all the friggin’ time job has left my circulatory system a tad weakened. Or maybe I just have my mom’s side of the family’s bad heart gene. So I guess going up the volcano to see Keck is out of the question now…
It’s memorial day weekend, which I wasn’t aware of when I planned this thing out (I’m a software engineer…I am oblivious to the regular work week of most folks…), so I’ve been watching warily the parking lots of the motels I pass along the way, trying to judge how full they’re getting. I don’t normally make reservations on these road trips because I want the freedom to adjust my travel plans as I see things along the way. But this puts me at risk of entering a town tired at the end of the day and wanting to stop now, and all the motels are full and then I have to keep driving and hope the next town over isn’t full too. That’s happened to me.
So I freaked when I drove past Rifle Colorado and saw all the motel lots jammed full. When I got to Parachute I hit the first little motel I saw and asked for a room and they gladly gave it to me, which should have set my alarm bells off. But I was just releaved to have a room for the night. The room was around back and while it was nice the neighborhood behind the room was scary. I sat in the room for a while looking out the window and thinking I’m driving a Mercedes-Benz and it’s going to stick out like a neon sign around here telling everyone who looks at it that there are probably things worth busting out a window in that car for…and breaking into the room it’s in front of…
So I freaked and got back in the car hoping that Grand Junction wouldn’t be full when I got there. I shouldn’t have worried. But once I got here I made a reservatin online via Travelocity for Kayenta, my favorite place to stay near Monument Valley.
I’m off now to try and see what I can see in the Utah canyon lands. Given propsition 8 I’ll try not to spend much money while I’m there (Kayenta is in Arizona). But the weather may make my trip through here a bust this year and that’s really bringing me down today because I don’t think the price of gasoline is going to allow me to do this for many more years. This may be my last trip through the four corners area for a long, long time. And it’s getting rained out.
May 22nd, 2009
On The Road…Topeka, Kansas
by Bruce |
Truckhinge – Topeka, Kansas
May 19th, 2009
by Bruce |
Tomorrow morning around now, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I should be on I-70 headed west. The Institute is sending me to the Java One conference in San Fransisco the first week in June, and I am taking vacation time to do another small road trip across the great plains, and the Rockies, and a little of the southwest. I want to do this while the price of gasoline still makes it possible. Last year at four dollars a gallon plus I simply could not do it.
Lane Wallace, posting on Sullivan’s blog yesterday, put up this image from a current MOMA exhibit titled, "Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West". I have a similar image of my own that I’ll post later today for comparison, taken on at the northern approach to Monument Valley down Utah highway 163. Images like these capture the allure of the road trip for me perfectly…
Dorothea Lange, The Road West, New Mexico, 1938
Escaping The Gravity Of Home
There’s a moment in every long distance road trip that I think of as escaping the gravity of home. Like the Apollo astronauts who escaped the earth’s gravity to go to the moon…there is a threshold you cross on a long distance drive where heading back home to your own comfortable bed is no longer possible, even if you push it bleary eyed into the night. You must bed down somewhere else. Keep going and its two nights. Then three. You’ve left the safe comfortable orbit of home. Now you’re traveling among the planets. At some point, and for me it’s usually the middle of the second day, comes the awareness that no matter what happens, you’re not getting back home any time soon. You and your car are a self contained capsule, scooting down the highway, looking for whatever it is ahead of you that you’ve never seen before…
Friday May 24, 2003
To really get to know planet Earth you have to travel across it. Not over it in an airplane. A train comes closer. But you need a personal, private mode of transit to really get to know it, see its many different faces. You have to have your hands on the steering wheel, your feet on the pedals, feel your vehicle respond to the road. Then you are one with the land you’re traveling across. You should feel the sun and wind on your skin, be completely free, untethered. Then you can stop whenever, wherever. Get out of your car. Feel the land under your feet. The wind plays with your hair. It came from over that horizon. Look. It’s telling you that there is something over there you should go see.
April 1st, 2009
The Kid I Used To Be…Who I’d Forgotten About…
by Bruce |
I was wandering through Disney-MGM Hollywood Studios yesterday when I saw him again for the first time in years. I almost didn’t recognize him. Then I knelt down and gave him a great big hug and told him it was all okay…
The Hollywood Studios park entrance way is playfully similar to the Main Street U.S.A. walkway everyone must pass though on entrance to the Magic Kingdom…only this is Main Street Hollywood, circa 1930s and it is as if you’d traveled back in time to when everything was art deco. For someone like me who adores the art deco style, in part I am sure because in my early childhood there were still a lot of buildings standing that were like that, it was like a kind of paradise. For like, the upteenth time here in Disney World, I could only just wander around with my jaw hanging open.
There’s a plaque in central park that explains what they were trying to accomplish with Hollywood Studios, but by the time I had walked up to it, I already knew…
This is similar in kind to the poster for Tomorrowland which reads: The Future That Never Was Has Finally Arrived.
I entered a replica of Gorman’s Chinese Theater and took a ride through the movies. You get on in a old sound stage set and a cast member dressed up as a 1940s stereotypical Hollywood talent scout hops on and informs you that you’ll not only be taking a tour through the great Hollywood films, but actually go inside them. And then you’re off…first through a Busby Berkeley dance film and then into Hollywood gangster land where the talent scout is chased off the ride by a gangster who informs you that he’s taking over the ride and oh by the way, please had over all your valuables. It goes on like that for a while and I won’t give it all away…there were the usual Disney animatronics, but of a better quality then the older Magic Kingdom rides…there was a trip through the Alien movie and for a moment you’re completely socked in a fog bank waiting for the beast to jump out at you. Eventually you end up back at the soundstage where a voice yells "Cut…that’s a wrap…" and you get off the ride and go back out into Disney Hollywood…which is not all that different from Disney Tomorrowland. It isn’t real. And yet, for the moment anyway…it is.
I am not one to be easily amused, and yet the whole time I am thoroughly enjoying myself…and I find my whole attitude is different here. I’m smiling at people. I’m patient with idiots. Small screaming children don’t irritate me. Morons who block the road as if they own it don’t bother me (When did America get so goddamned fat?) I just walk around them and the happy little smile never leaves my face. I’m living in a world that never was, that’s finally here. I can be a happy little nerdy kid here and It’s Okay. In fact, it’s Expected of you. All those relentlessly cheerful Disney cast members who are nowhere and everywhere with their perpetual smiles and earnest desire to make sure you "have a magical day" aren’t annoying me nearly as much as I was afraid they would. In fact they are a blessing. They’re my barrier between me and the world not two feet from the gates here, that voted last November to cut my ring finger off. They’re here to keep it off me for a little while. I wish I could give them all a great big hug.
And now the kid I used to be long ago, the one who smiled at everyone, the one with the big imagination, who wore his heart on his sleeve never thinking that people would take that as an invitation to cut it to ribbons, who trusted the world and in the goodness of people, has come back out of me. At least for a while. I thought he’d been beaten out of me in junior high school.
March 30th, 2009
Lite To No Posting This Week…(Updated)
by Bruce |
I’m in Orlando, visiting Disney World, and the damn Comfort Inn here charges for Internet which I refuse to pay (I’m posting this on my iPhone right now). So, expect very little posting here until I get back.
I’m already having a great time here in the park…but some journies are worth the trip, just to see someone smile.
[Update...] My bad… There seems to be no charge for the Internet after all. At any rate…I’m using the Motel wireless now and I didn’t have to plug in a credit card number like you usually do for Internet access when they’re charging. Just for kicks and grins I plugged in to see what the charge was, and instead of being taken to a buy it now page I got my Internet right away. Nice.
But posting will still be infrequent, because I am on vacation and I am trying to tune out the world for a while. Also, Motel Internet is seldom reliable.
December 29th, 2008
Back From Stroudsburg
by Bruce |
I just took a small overnight to Stroudsburg to visit an old friend from way Way back, and drop off tons of my old computer stuff. It was good to give that all stuff to someone likely to make use of it. I hate the thought of all the electronic stuff we generate just getting dumped into landfills because it becomes obsolete every few years. I managed to wrest a promise from him that he’d come visit Casa del Garrett sometime soon. It would be good to have some company here, even if it’s only for a day or so.
Traveler is getting crusty with road salt and I need to take him to the wash soon. Tomorrow weather permitting. In the meantime I’m back to work on clearing out the house of old stuff that isn’t needed anymore. The homeowner exempted naturally. I think I’m still good for a few things. But yesterday and this morning my friend and I were both complaining about stiffness in various joints and muscles and all I could think was Damn…we’re all getting old, the class of ‘72. At least he managed to have himself a love life of sorts.
So far this holiday season hasn’t been as dire lonely as I’d feared. Probably because I’m busy with the house. You’ve heard of comfort food? Housekeeping is my comfort work. Which is not to say it looks like a Martha Stewart showroom here because it doesn’t. I am busy living in my house and it shows. But I try to keep it uncluttered and comfy. Best complement I ever got about the house was from Peterson who told me he and a mutual friend who’d been here both agreed my place was the best geek house they’d ever seen. Maybe one of these days I’ll post a tour of the house or something. Maybe a few YouTubes. I’ve been thinking about posting a YouTube of me drawing one of my cartoons.
November 26th, 2008
The Way Tomorrow Used To Be
by Bruce |
I was only five minutes out of Disney World and moving down the Interstate when I decided to tune in OutQ on the car’s Sirius radio, and happened to get the hourly news, and hearing about the ongoing fight over Proposition H8 was all it took to make me angry, livid even, all over again.
You know…there was more to growing up with Walt Disney’s Wonderful World on the TV then the cartoons and the Disney-esq storylines. There was a sense to much of what Disney did, that, yes, it’s a small world after all, that the future was bright with promise, that technological progress was a thing to be embraced and that the study of science was good for us, part of a well balanced education.
I spent most of my time in Epcot, but a little also in Magic Kingdom, in Tomorrowland. There was a cute little Tomorrowland poster at the Main Street U.S.A. entrance to the Magic Kingdom, that read The Future That Never Was Is Finally Here. Tomorrowland is one great big nod to the retro-future of the 1950s and 60s. But at its core is this almost childlike sense of progress, grounded in knowledge, leading to a wonderful tomorrow. It was the sense of the future I grew up with. And I’m here to tell you, after eight years of George Bush and the religious right and their Republican enabler’s cultural war on reason, knowledge and science, it was exhilarating to have it served up to me again, unselfconsciously and unapologetically….like it was just everyday common sense.
I rode the Spaceship Earth exhibit at the entrance to Epcot. You get on a set of moving carts that work pretty much like other Disney “people mover” technologies. The step-on station is a platform that moves along with the carts. The carts never stop, but the access platform moves along with them so it’s a simple matter to get onto one. Once in the cart you sit in front of a touch screen video display which asks you for your language and place of origin, which it uses to tailor the narrative guide specifically to you. Each seat in the carts has its own set of speakers, and you only hear your own guide. The ride chronicles the progress of human communication, and the sharing of knowledge, from the stone age to modern times. The most soul-satisfying moments of my stay at Disney World, where those moments spent seeing the grand arc of the human story laid out before me as a great adventure, without concession to fundamentalist demands for biblical correctness. Time and again I walked through Disney World stunned, absolutely stunned, that here in the United States of America in the 21st century, kids are more likely to see in an amusement park then in their own schools, archeological and scientific facts not only told truthfully, but the pursuit of those truths seen as a great and wonderful adventure. I don’t think it’s just Disney’s gay friendliness that has the fundamentalists pissed off.
Sniff at all the staff (excuse me…Cast Members…) walking around the park in character costumes if you like. But that It’s A Small World After All mentality pervades everything in Disney World and after so many years of relentless scorched earth republican party assaults on tolerance and diversity, it was wonderful to stay for a while in a place where those things were just taken as a given. There was no preaching of diversity, it was just always there in the background, especially in Epcot. But even in Downtown Disney, which is more like a shopping plaza then a park, there was a holiday display that showcased all the different ways different cultures celebrated at this time of year. Yes, there was also “Christmas” everywhere. I went to “Micky’s Christmas Party” in Magic Kingdom Thursday night, a special event with a Santa parade and a spectacular fireworks display over Cinderella’s Castle (see below). But it was more a celebration of the holiday spirit, and believing in your own dreams, then any particular religion. There were in fact, no references to religion at all. Anywhere. Except to acknowledge, respectfully, even cheerfully, that different people have different beliefs. It’s A Small World After All. James Dobson would have hated it. He’d have joined hands with Maleficent onstage to try and tear it all down so that people won’t believe in their dreams anymore.
Walt Disney was a man of his times, and his magic kingdom was born after the second world war and at the beginning of the first American space age, when we were just learning how to launch humans into space and bring them back alive. There was so much we were going to do, and that we still haven’t. So much Walt Disney wanted to do too. Epcot wasn’t originally planned as a theme park. It was Walt’s Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow. Having finally had my first hand look at what he accomplished with his theme park, I find it tragic he didn’t get a chance to realize his original dream for EPCOT. Cigarettes killed him before he could. But I think he would have done it had he lived.
And…thing of it is…had he accomplished EPCOT…so many many years ahead of its time…it would be a city today, perfectly, absolutely perfectly positioned to withstand the impact of rising energy costs. Here (in three parts) is a film that Walt produced to get investors to buy into his planned city of tomorrow. The quality on this copy is not wonderful, but it gets it across. These days you hear a lot about making cities and communities “walkable” and investing in more and better public transport. In EPCOT as originally planned, the pedestrian was going to be king. Various Disney developed “people mover” technologies were to be employed to get you from one place to another. The only reason you’d need a car in EPCOT, would be if you wanted to go visit someplace else.
“…their schools will welcome new ideas, so that everyone who grows up in EPCOT will have skills in pace with today’s world.”
I haven’t heard anyone seriously talk about schools and ideas and living in today’s world like that since Reagan began putting the knife into the New Deal. I was fortunate to enter school sometime just after Sputnik scared the hell out of the U.S. and suddenly giving kids a good science education was a vital national security thing and to hell with the fundamentalist vote. I grew up in a world where science and rationality and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding had respected and valued places in school and in society and in our dreams of tomorrow. It was either that, or let the Soviets plant their flag on the moon, and in effect, declare their ownership of space. You know…that place where all the missiles fly on their way to our cities.
Maybe it wasn’t all do-able exactly the way it was envisioned back then, but the spirit of the times is what matters more then its vision of what tomorrow would look like. Tomorrow is always different then you imagined it. But once upon a time we were all allowed to dream about making tomorrow better then today. We could envision a better world someday. The fundamentalists hate that dream. They want to take it away from us. All of us…not just gay people. We can’t be allowed to dream that dream. Because their dream is about the world coming to an end.
So I spent a while in Disney World. I saw Cinderella’s Castle and Micky and Donald and the Genie and I rode Spaceship Earth. I saw planet Earth float over the world showcase lagoon while its continents told in pictures the story of life, and the human journey from African savannas to the seas…and then the skys…
We can see a new horizon
built on all that we have done
and our dreams begin another
thousand circles ’round the sun
And I rode The Carousel of Progress…
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of ev’ryday
There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away
…and I was able to remember the old dream once again. Sniff at the Disney-esq sentimentality all you want…I used to…but I swear I won’t anymore. I have lived through decades of this culture war and it is precisely this sentiment that the fundamentalists want to make us all forget, kill in our hearts forever, so they can get back down to the business of bringing a world they have always hated to an end.
I am so glad I went. And not just because I got to see a certain someone I haven’t seen face to face in decades. Got to see him smile too…
November 21st, 2008
by Bruce |
A couple shots from the Late Night Christmas Special I went to last night at the Magic Kingdom…
That’s how they had the Castle lit up for the Christmas Special. Apparently they have to hang those lights every night the hold the special, after the park normall closes (which is early…5PM I think…), and have them ready for the special event reopening at 7PM.
There was a Christmas Parade down Main Street, then at 9:30 there was the most amazaing fireworks display I have ever witnessed around the Castle. Here’s a wee taste from inside the crowd…
There was a light show, On the Castle walls, which kept changing color. There was music piped over the crowd by tactfully hidden loudspeakers which must have been everywhere because the music and the narrator’s voice (it was Jiminy Cricket), was never too loud in one place, nor too quiet in another. The sounds just seemed to come at you out of thin air. And everything, Everything, was precisely timed to the fireworks display, which was massive, and tightly choreographed. They literally painted the sky around the Castle with multicolored fire.
I’ve never seen its like. Fireworks were shooting From various Castle ramparts, and bursting in the sky behind it, while animated images were being projected on various parts of the Castle walls, and the walls themselves were constantly changing color. Lots of really good booms rang out, timed exactly to the music. Things were flying up into the sky from all directions. At one point, an acrobat dressed up as Tinkerbell sailed overhead from the top of the highest Castle turret. Every little thing about the display was perfectly done, which was amazing because there was so much going on. And you don’t just sling around powerful fireworks like the ones they were using. Those explosions and bursts of light were Not small. The uber geek in me was impressed. Actually, it made my jaw drop.
More later. I’m off now to use the voucher for a free game at the Fantasia Miniature Golf area.
Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com