Of Disneyland & Memory

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*Not all images belong to me.  For what I borrowed, thank you.  For what I didn’t, I’m sorry.* 

Disneyland is a polarising place.  For those that love it, it’s a magical obsession.  For those that hate it, it’s an overpriced land of extravagance. 

I am of the former persuasion. 

Having just returned from a two day, three night trip to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea I will submit the things I learned from my trip to The Happiest Place on Earth. 

Did you really pay 20 dollars for that? 

0520wall20of20hatsOne of the most amazing things about Disneyland is that they sell the most ridiculously overpriced novelty items, items that cannot be used without some level of embarrassment on the days following a Disneyland trip, and people buy them up like crack.  I saw endless items that were obnoxious to the point of being an eyesore but countless people dropped nearly 40 dollars for them.  I cannot remember a time in my life  that I saw a person wearing their ‘special’ Disney purchase outside of the park.  So you spent all that money on something you would love intensely for one day?  It’s like people become drunk on the Disneyland experience and cannot fathom their life outside the park.  Buying a bright orange Tigger hat complete with tail is not only normal, but expected.  They must wake up the next day feeling like an alcoholic, take one look at that ridiculous purchase and think, as many of us have at one point or another, “I am never going to drink again as long as I LIVE!”

This attraction brought to you by Tampax, for when you are riding your own Splash Mountain.

japan20900I understand how business and promotion works.  I am not, contrary to how this post will end, 4 years old.  It was still sad to see that every ride now has a sponsor.  I don’t know that the LA or Florida Disneyland’s are like this, but the Japanese Disneyland had a sponsor for every ride.  It was VERY subtle and you really had to be looking to see it, but when you got to the main sign for any ride, there it was.  “Space Mountain” and under it: brought to you by Coca Cola.  It made me think of Fight Club.  “When deep space exploration ramps up, it’ll be the corporations that name everything, the IBM Stellar Sphere, the Microsoft Galaxy, Planet Starbucks.”  

Disney at night is my personal heaven.

IMG_2710Disneyland during the day is always a bit congested and can feel really hectic.  When the sun sets and the lights come on it is a world of quiet tranquility.  This is an odd statement seeing as how there are roaring rollercoasters and shouting people just like during the daytime, but the night just seems more peaceful.  The night also brings on the light parade, the fireworks (in the current case it’s a projection mapping show too.)  The night time is when Disney becomes truly magical.

Disneyland engages all 5 senses like very few things can.

tumblr_m74w38a4x51ragq9ko1_500People who had one home they grew up in their whole life talk about how that place brings them back to being a child.  I had many homes, so I don’t know what that feels like.  I think it feels something like going to Disneyland for me.  Why?  Because Disney is amazing at engaging all five senses.  The magic kingdom layout is almost identical no matter which park you go to, thus the sights are familiar and comforting.  Then there is the lingering smell of caramel and the tastes of the  candies, the sounds of all the familiar jingles, even the feel of the railing, the faux wood they use in the lines for many rides, is the same.  I was half a world away from the place of my birth but, if only for a moment, I was back home.  Looking at the ride attendants in their familiar costumes and listening to all the songs and jingles I have heard so many times, I could have been back in California.  It was an amazing feeling.

Going with a 4 year old is like going with a schizophrenic

301054_429772953724432_2061724935_nTaking my daughter for her first trip to Disneyland was sensory overload for her.  She wanted to do everything, all at once, RIGHT NOW!  She wanted to buy everything in every store.  She wanted to touch everything.  She wanted to ride all the rides at once.  Except the ones that went into a dark place, those could go blow, until she got used to the idea, then she wanted to ride again.  NO, she was not going to GET OFF the ride.  She was going to ride it again, thank you. Daddy, tell that stupid person we aren’t getting off!  I was dealing with a person broken by joy.  But still…

Going with a 4 year old is pure magic

IMG_2748As insane as my daughter made the Disney trip I cannot image going without her now.  Her reaction to everything brought back the magic so many of us lose the older we get.  That is what Disney brings out in me, and it brought it out in my daughter as well.  The look on her face when she laid eyes on THE Mickey Mouse was akin to looking at the combination of a person who has just come face to face with God and a teenage girl who is kissed by her idol crush.  There was screaming, there was crying, there was twitching, and there was the idiotic smile only the truly joyous could possibly conjure.  Everything about Disneyland made her smile.  Watching the light parade with her brought me back to being 4.  All of it was amazing.  It’s a parade of lit up floats but to her it was 100% magic.  I could see it in her eyes.  My heart was full to burst with the joy she was radiating. 


I learned a lot this trip.  The joy and freedom my daughter felt being at Disneyland reminded me why I love it so much.  It is also the very reason why so many people buy the stupid Tigger hats.  Because Disneyland is a place where you are supposed to just be happy.  It’s a place where you are allowed to be 4 as well, even if you’re 90.  No one judges because we are all in it together.  It’s a huge playground and the age requirement is 4.  You can’t be older to ride that ride.  So we buy our stupid hats and we breathe in the sweet smell, hum all the silly jingles and wave like idiots at Mickey when he waves at us… or even when he can’t see us.  It is a place of unparalleled freedom and happiness.  As adults we resent the prices and the crowds, we curse the lines and get frustrated at how stupid some people are.  In the end, if you choose to focus on these things, you may well come to hate Disneyland.  For me, I will never be able to see anything but the joy and nostalgia it holds for me.  I picture myself as an old man, sitting with my grandchildren watching the light parade that I watched as a child and remembering that there will always be a place, if only for a day, I can be a kid again. 

When our trip came to an end I was carrying my daughter to the train.  She was strung out from two days of the ultimate high and ready for sleep, but then she saw a huge picture of Mickey Mouse waving goodbye to everyone, saying, “Come Back Soon!”  The fuse was ignited one last time and, screaming Mickey’s name in my ear, my daughter let the magic erupt one final time.  I couldn’t help but smile like a big, dumb idiot.  She waved at Mickey with all her four year old might and shouted, “Mickey, bye bye!  Thank you, Mickey!  Let’s play again!”  Knowing then that her time at Disneyland was really over, she buried her face in my shoulder and cried. 

So did I.

Thank you, Mickey, for everything. 

Of Blogging and Followers: Blogging 101

This is part II of assignment 9 for Blogging 101. 

The assignment for today was to build a post off of a comment that we made yesterday.  In thinking about that it got me thinking about comments in general and some of the things I have learned in my month on WordPress.  So I made you a list.  Here we go:

1 – There are a lot of fishers out there.

People who follow your blog just to get a follow back.  They haven’t liked or commented on any of your work.  Chances are very high they didn’t read a word of what is on your blog.  All they want is the guilt follow.  I give these people the benefit of the doubt and read through their blog until I find something that inspires me to comment.  If you don’t take the time to reply to the comment, or even worse, don’t take the time to at least like the comment (however inane it might be) that tells me you don’t really care if I am reading your stuff or not.  You tell me why I am going to keep reading.  Are you Kurt Vonnegut?

2- Building real followers is like building a friendship.

Along those same lines, I have found that the people really worth following are the ones you know pay attention to the people following them.  Why?  Because you make real followers the same way you make real friends.  Just because I am following your blog doesn’t mean I am going to buy your book or care about what you are talking about.  I can delete emails really fast.  If you don’t engage your audience the chances are high that they are not going to care about what you are talking about, no matter how well you write.

3 – Authors who muse are annoying to me.

Being an author to some people means that everyone should care about what you are writing because you are good at it.  Writing is your skill.  That is why you are here.  Here is the problem: that is why we are all here.  Why should another writer care about your random rambling?  If there isn’t a point or a lesson to be learned from your musing than tell me why I should care?  Because you are good with words?  Guess what?  Most of the people on this site are good with words.  Find another way to stand out or stop rambling.  Make your words count.

4 – Everyday posters who post multiple times a day are often not worth following.

One of the objects of Blogging 101 is to post something everyday and I know that many of us are struggling to keep up with that, and good on you for it!  Here is what I have learned though, if you don’t put enough thought into what you are going to post then it isn’t worth it.  There are some theories out there that say that no words are wasted, but here is my counter argument: Your posts go into the email inboxes of your followers.  Do you want to bombard them with 10 emails a day of your random thoughts?  I call these people Facebook/Twitter bloggers.  They are treating their blog like it’s a social media website and thus a place to post any random thought that pops into their head.  If you have something meaningful to say, think it out, type it out, read it, then post.  Don’t just post to get views.  It’s not really helping your cause like you think it is.  I feel this is as good a way to lose followers as it is to get/keep them.

5 – Shameless pluggers should be paraded around for their whoring.

I have had a mess of people comment or message me because they want to promote/sell me their book.  Please refer to point 2.  Why do I care about you?  If all you are coming at me with is, “here is my book! Buy it!  It’s totally awesome!” I will delete you and never speak with you again.  This is like walking up to a random person in the bar and saying, “here’s my naked self!  Let’s do it!  I’m great!”  Can you at least buy me a drink first?  Tell me your name?  Ask me any stupid thing about me, then we can talk about you and all your shameless self promotion?  Go away already.

All this being said, I will share my thought process on this site and how it works best if your aim is to expand your readership:

  • The basic tenant should be: Do unto others.  If they like something of yours, go read their site and like something back (really read it though.  Don’t be lazy and like the first thing you find).  If they comment, comment back.  If they follow, follow back… with stipulations:
  • If someone follows your site, click on their name, go to their site and read something of theirs.  Comment or like it depending on how well it suits your taste.  If all you ever get is a follow and no other communication over the course of a few weeks, they didn’t really like your site, they just wanted another follower. 
  • Same thing goes with likes and comments.  Bloggers should care enough about their readers to pay attention to what they are writing too.  Too many people are just on this site to write things and have everyone love them and read their fabulous words.  If they don’t care about you, ask yourself what about their site attracted you in the first place and if you want to keep reading it even though they have no time to address you.  Unless this is Neil Gaiman we are talking about, they have time.
  • Along those lines, if someone takes the time to comment on your work, comment back.  I would even say to go a step further and go to their site and find something to comment on.
  • I have 30 WordPress followers at this point but I only consider about 5 of them real followers.  These are the blogs I will read anytime I get an email and comment on right away.  Why?  Because I know that when I post something they will do the same.
  • Why is this a good habit to form?  It depends on why you are blogging.  My aim is to build relationships with my readers so that, if or when the time comes, I will have a base of readers to work from if I do ever publish my work.  I can then send it to them knowing that I have fostered a real relationship with these people rather than just spamming random people I have never spoken to about this awesome thing I wrote… and PS, I’m naked!

I would love to hear from the rest of you now.  What has your experience with this site taught you?  What is your impression of blogging?  You know what happens now if you don’t comment… and if you do 😉 

Side Note:  Really taking the time to read through blogs is very rewarding.  I read through nearly two hundred last night and found 3 that I really liked.  I posted about them and ended up breaking my site view record by over double.  I also doubled my number of visitors and gained 4 new followers… just for suggesting other sites that were good. 

The logic is, if you find something truly good that means you probably have good taste.  If you have good taste than it’s probably a good idea to follow you as well. 

This is evidence that the homework Blogging 101 is giving us is absolutely worth it.  Follow it and it will lead you in the right direction.

Disney Princess Battle Royale: An Opinion Piece

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Welcome to the Disney Princess Battle Royale!  This will be my first opinion piece so your comments are greatly appreciated.  I would love to hear what everyone else thinks as I am sure there will be disagreements. 

This will be a round robin style tournament featuring 10 contestants.  And the contestants are…

Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, & Anna. 

There is a reason only these 10 were chosen and I will explain a bit about that at the end.  The quick answer is, some of the exclusions you are probably thinking of were not, in fact, princesses but merely female lead characters in a Disney animation movie.  This is a princess only battle (sorry Elsa). 

Why do this?  Because I love Disney movies.  I am not going to lie.  I am a 36 year old bearded ruffian who likes animated musicals.  So?  That and I got into an argument with my 4 year old daughter last night about who would win in a fight between Cinderella and Belle and I feel that she did not fully appreciate my reasons for why Cindy got her butt kicked.  So I am bringing my keen logic to all of you fine people. 

Enough now with the preliminaries, let the first round begin! 

Round 1:  Rapunzel versus Snow White!  FIGHT! 

This is a no brainer for me.  Rapunzel as a character was cute, funny, and original.  She is a bit of a ding bat, but in a charming way.  She also go in there a bit with her frying pan.  Go Punz.

Snow White?  If you look past even how dumb she is in the movie to the actual book version of this character she is legendarily stupid.  She was told three times by the dwarves NOT TO SPEAK TO ANYONE.  And everyday the dumb butt took some new gift from a shady looking person she didn’t know.  Hello?  Stranger danger?  That, and I hated the old school, “I am going to sit around and brood about wanting a prince,” character.  Ugh.  Goodbye Snowy. 

Rapunzel wins! 

Round 2: Merida versus Aurora

Again, no brainer.  Merida would shoot Aurora in her sleepy face and walk away.  To be fair and explain this like a big boy though, who, developmentally as a character, is Aurora?  She’s a pretty girl who was locked away in the woods that spends her time singing about…. again… wanting a prince to come along.  Then what does she do?  Fall in love with the first boner that shows up.  Then what does she do?  Fall asleep for the remainder of the movie.  She has zero actual substance as a character.

Merida has some drawbacks and they went a bit overboard trying to make her into a not-girl-girl, but I really liked that film.  She never got a prince.  It was nothing about her needing to fall in love.  It was all about her and her mother needing to understand and appreciate each other.  It wasn’t a princess movie in the sense of having a love story.  And there were huge bears in it.  And they had Scottish accents.  Did I mention she also shoots arrows? 

Merida wins! 

Round 3: Belle versus Ariel

I know for a fact I am going to catch hell for this one.  Nevertheless, here we go.

Belle.  She loves books, this, for me, is a clincher in itself.  She has ambitions to do something better with herself than just be pretty, and despite being so pretty she never let herself turn into a ditz.  She could have been one of those girls, you all know them, that live off their good looks, but she didn’t.  She did develop a serious case of Stockholm’s, this is true, and that takes her down a notch.  However, not low enough to lose to….

Ariel.  The poster child for teenage rebellion and foolish idealistic love.  This whole movie should have been titled, “Daddy said no, so I am totally going to do it anyway.”  She went off and met a shady octopus witch, who everyone knows is a bad character – LOOK AT HER FOR CHRISSAKE!  – and makes a deal with her, even though the witchy woman showed her what she does to people who fail in their deals with her.  Really?  All because daddy said no?  Really?  Every time I watch this I want to make my own version where Triton comes up at the end, the part when Ursula has Ariel and Ursula offers to let them swap, and says no.  Ariel has made her decision and he will not allow the entire sea to suffer for his daughter’s immaturity.  How irresponsible was Triton?  Seriously?  All this not to mention that Ariel feel in love with the biggest Disney Douche of all time.   Uhhh, is your name Mildred?  Really, you jacka- –

Belle wins!

Round 4: Jasmine versus Cinderella

This was a tough one. 

Jasmine was a bit whiney for me.  I used to love her the most when I was younger but as I grew older I realised she’s a bit too self-centred.  Luckily for her the main character in the movie is actually Aladdin and the Genie is number two, so her part in the story is drastically reduced.  This also makes it a bit hard to root for her at times.  She’s not bad but she’s not awesome.

Cinderella.  She went through a lot of BS.  If you read the story as well she went through even more than she did in the movie.  Her mother and father both died and she was left in the hands of a bunch a nasty old bitches.  Excuse my language.  She is the poster child for rising above it.  She kept a good head about it throughout as well.  She never got nasty or bitchy, she just dealt with it.  I like the story version of her better because she sends her little helper birds to peck the eyes out of the stupid hags who gave her crap and I am all about vengeance, but that is not the Disney way.

Cinderella wins!

Round 5:  Anna versus Tiana

Okay, so I have to admit that I really didn’t enjoy The Princess and the Frog.  I know why it was made the way it was but for me it felt like Disney making caricatures of African American culture built on stereotypes rather than reality.  I don’t know.  I’ve never spoken with anyone else about it so I don’t know how everyone else feels, but that is not the point.  Tiana for me was a bit boring.  She wanted to be a chef and she had her memories of her dad and all that, but she spends most of the movie being a boring ass frog.  Ribbit.

Anna:  Hello Rapunzel’s clone!  Nice to meet you!  Anna was a shameless attempt to recreate the magic that was Rapunzel.  Her whole demeanour and style screamed Rapunzel.  As such she loses points for being totally unoriginal.  Outside of that she was, as her better version was, cute and sweet and funny at times.  I am uncertain as to why she wasn’t allowed outside when Elsa went all shut in, but that is just how the movie world goes.  She also did that uber stupid Disney move of, “let’s fall in love with the first man who is nice to us… or speaks to us… either is fine. “  Still, as a Rapunzel copy she was bound to be better than the froggy chick.

Anna wins! 

Now for the championship rounds: 

Our winners were:  Rapunzel, Merida, Belle, Cinderella and Anna

The losers bracket is:  Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine and Tiana

Losers first:

Snow White versus Aurora

This would be a toss up in my book.  At least Aurora didn’t prove how dumb she was by eating food from strange people.  And there was a dragon in her movie.   Aurora wins!

Ariel versus Jasmine

Teenage angst versus selfish stubbornness:  Jasmine wins!  Sorry, I really don’t like Ariel.  (and that is my wife and my sister’s favourite character… uh oh.) 

Tiana versus Snow White: 

The frog beats the apple munching dumb dumb.  Tiana wins! 

Aurora versus Jasmine

Jasmine had an actual character.  Aurora was a singing, sleeping bimbo.  Jasmine wins!

Tiana versus Ariel:

Okay fishy, you can have this one.  Ariel wins!

Tiana versus Aurora:

Frog.  All day.

So our losers bracket shakes up like this: 

10) Snow White

9) Aurora

8) Tiana

7) Ariel

6) Jasmine

Now for the winners bracket. 

Rapunzel versus Anna:  I did this on purpose.  One is the original version of this character and the other is the copy.  Copy loses.  For the first time in forever, you learn what it feels like to get whooped.  Rapunzel wins!

Merida versus Cinderella:  I am a sucker for girls who kick ass.  Merida wins.  It’s close though.

Belle versus Anna:  Belle is a brainy book lover.  Anna is a pie in the sky dreamer who falls in love with a total douche because, immaturity.  Belle wins

Cinderella versus Anna:  Who has a fairy godmother, a magical pumpkin carriage and keeps her head up no matter what those hating bitches say?  Say it with me now, Cinderella.

Rapunzel versus Belle:  Rapunzel.  All day.  She’s too cute and funny.  She also had by far the best Disney prince.  Belle has a thing for beastiality.  Yuck.

Belle versus Merida:  Again, arrows.  So many arrows.

Cinderella versus Belle:  Brains and books beat out the ‘nuthin’ gonna get me down’ girl.

Rapunzel versus Merida:  Oh, this hurts.  I can’t do it.  I have to though.  Rapunzel.  I can watch that movie over and over again.  She had a good heart and she’s so much fun to watch.  I love Merida too though.  Her accent and the bow and arrow, she’s a great character but Rapunzel was just a bit better.

So the winners bracket shakes out like this:

5) Anna

4) Cinderella

3) Belle

2) Merida

1) Rapunzel

Who got left out and why?  Pocahontas, Mulan, and Elsa (I am sure there are more, these are the ones I can feel complaints coming for.)  Starting at the end, Elsa is the queen.  Not a princess.  It’s different.  The movie is also more centred on Anna (unfortunately).  Mulan, also not a princess.  She may or may not get married to Shang at the end, but he’s just a general.  Not a prince.  Pocahontas.  Oh, the history major in me wants to tell you of all the hate for that film… but I will leave it at, she also was not a princess.   She was the daughter of a chief, sure, but it’s still a stretch to make that into ‘princess’.  It’s a different culture.  Live with it. 

Thank you all for playing.  Tune in next week for our next battle.  Who am I going to throw into the ring next? 

***AMENDMENT***

Upon further reflection I have come to realise that I gave Rapunzel the cup based on the strength of her movie more than the strength of her character alone.  Rapunzel’s movie is better because of Flynn Ryder – aka: The Animated Han Solo.  Merida would be my winner and Belle would be in a toss up with Rapunzel.