Interview with a cranky guy talking about Disney, Epcot and American history

TDC Apparently it was a slow news week on the Disney front because Mrs. CollateralDamage had to resort to interviewing me for her podcast, Those Darn Cats. Mostly I talk about how Disney screwed up the telling of American history in the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot. Don’t tell anyone but I also say a few nice things about the House of Mouse, too.

Click here to listen or you can find it on iTunes under … wait for it … Those Darn Cats.

Los Lobos Goes Disney

Los Lobos goes DisneyThat is not a slight on one of my all time favorite bands* but the title of their latest release. On it they cover Roger Miller’s masterful “Not In Nottingham” (from Robin Hood), Randy Newman’s “I Will Go Sailing No More” (from Toy Story) as well as other great music from The House of Mouse. (And to think I scooped Mrs. CollateralDamage – who writes the Disney focused blog Broke Hoedown – on this. WOOT!)

This is not the first time that “Just Another Band from East LA” has done the Mouse. On the great compilation Stay Awake they performed “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, which was recorded for the movie by the great Louis Prima (and is included on LLGD). I bought Stay Awake on vinyl back in the day (1988) and highly recommend getting the CD. It also has Sun Ra (!!!) doing “Pink Elephants On Parade” and Tom Waits’ version of “Heigh Ho (Dwarf’s Marching Song).”

Stay Awake was one of several odd and wonderful compilations that came out around then. The other one I have is “Lost In The Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill” (1985). While it does have Sting doing “Mack The Knife” this is more than balanced out by the other tracks including Lou Reed’s “September Song,” Stan Ridgeway (of Wall of Voodoo) does a sublime and terrifying version of “Canon Song,” Marianne Faithfull’s exquisitely ragged “Ballad of the Soldier’s Wife,” Todd Rundgren doing “Call From The Grave,” and many other great ones. It’s out of print, which is a shame, and used copies are selling for $23 and up. C’mon over to my house and I’ll play it for you for free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In the ‘80s when people would refer to U2 as The Greatest Band In The World all I could ever think (and sometimes said) was “Did Los Lobos breakup?”

Still looking for that obnoxious Frenchman

Maybe it’s because I live in Boston where we set pretty good standard for obnoxious but after my third trip to France I have yet to encounter this mythical creature. Lest you think this is because I can pass for a native the entirety of my French consists of, “Pardonez moi, je ne parlez pas Francais.”

I love France and the French. Yeah they’ve got an attitude problem – but I don’t think Americans get to cast that particular stone. Because of the current political debate I was keenly aware that pretty much every non-tourist I saw had full health coverage. No one worrying about what happens if you lose your job or have a “pre-existing condition.”

I’m waiting for some company to rule that being born is a pre-existing condition. I really have never understood this insurance exception as anything other than a way for the companies to make even more money. I have flat feet and so am not covered for a podiatrist (well, in the past anyway). But the insurance still has to cover it when my knees get messed up because of my feet. Feh.

Mrs. CollateralDamage assures me there are obnoxious French people. She says they were all at Paris Disney, either employed as staff or paying to go there as guests. My anti-Disney parks stand pays off yet again!

Went to Chartres. Sat in the cathedral for like three hours. It isn’t for God, it is God. My  mother tells me I followed in family footsteps by doing this. Her father, architect Barry Byrne, went to Europe once to meet with Gropius and the Bauhaus gang. He stopped at Chartes and spent two weeks there.

Paris 09 273

No picture does it justice. Just go.

Disney displays the lighter side of The Force

Heaven and Mrs. CollateralDamage know I do not like a lot of Disney stuff – early movies, Pixar and their overall marketing expertise are pretty much the entire list. This display of posters past and present for their "Star Wars Weekends” probably falls into the last category. Even I who avoid The Mouse like it was carrying Aporkalypse Fever was thoroughly bemused by these. (BTW, Mrs. CD and CD Jr. had a total blast at this last year.)

vader trooper 3_2006   1_20072_2007 vader2

Hot flashes kill Jack Sparrow

It’s not easy being Capt. Jack, reports BrokeHoedown:

capt-jack-dadDisneyland management has fired the four actors who played pirate Jack Sparrow because officials were worried about young female park-goers flashing the swashbuckling actors late at night, according to one former cast member.

“They lost control when they saw Jack Sparrow,” said former pirate Brandon Pinto, who left the role after a dispute with management a year ago. “This is a sexy, rock-star pirate.”

Brandon Pinto???? And I thought my name sounded fake.

Guess Billy Joel was right:

Captain Jack will get you high tonight
And take you to your special island
Captain Jack will get you by tonight
Just a little push, and you’ll be smilin’

He sounds like THAT?

For all of you wondering what I actually sound like (admittedly a number that’s probably in the low single digits) check out this week’s episode of the podcast Those Darn Cats. I bloviate about the propaganda cartoons put out by Disney during World War II — a subject I actually know something about. TDC is co-produced by Mrs. CollateralDamage (aka BrokeHoedown) and her adorable BFF Lisa. Thanks to Mrs. CD for making me sound so smart! BTW, if you want a funny and hip take on all things Disney this is the podcast for you! Damn they’re so cheerful over there it’s contagious!

The issue is settled: Hallmark selling gay marriage cards

You can’t get more mainstream than this.

The nation’s largest greeting card company is rolling out same-sex wedding cards — featuring two tuxedos, overlapping hearts or intertwined flowers, with best wishes inside. “Two hearts. One promise,” one says. … The Greeting Card Association, a trade group, says it does not track how many companies provide same-sex cards but believes the number is expanding. “The fact that you have someone like Hallmark going into that niche shows it’s growing and signals a trend,” said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the association.

Have to say since gay marriage became legal here in the Bay State the biggest difference I’ve noticed is … um … yeah … let me see … nope. Can’t think of one. I look forward to the American Family Association boycott of Hallmark. (My bad — it’s Concerned Women for America calling for the boycott.)

BTW, over on her blog Mrs. CollateralDamage has a most excellent post on First Same-Sex Civil Marriage at Disneyland. The couple is lovely and the fact that they got married at Disneyland puts the lie to the fact that only heteros are tacky. (Truth is I had to put in a snarky (and false) comment so I wouldn’t mention the fact that I got all choked up looking at the wedding pictures. I gotta protect my image. Don’t tell anyone I told you, OK?)

Photo by Chenin Boutwell.

C’mon now what marketer can look at a couple that is so happy and not think, “Damn, there’s money to made here!”

(BTW, this is the headline of the day: Gay misery continues with baton drop. Is that really all it takes to make the LGBT community miserable?)

High School Musical promo panties banned in UK

Mrs. CollateralDamage got the story:

Following objections by parents in Great Britian, Disney has stopped selling High School Musical themed panties for “tween” girls. The panties have the phrase “Dive In” emblazoned on them, prompting an uproar in the UK. According to Disney, the slogan is from the swimming pool scene featured in “High School Musical 2.”

That filthy, filthy mouse.

My favorite April Fools: Discovery of flying penguins

By Monty Python’s Terry Jones, no less!

A couple of other favorites:

Disney changing It’s A Small World to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”

There is probably no one Disney ride/attraction I loathe more than “It’s A Small World.”

It brings together all the worst of Disney & theme parks into one package.

In design terms it has a banality and mediocrity that makes it possible to forget these are the same people that brought us Oswald the Rabbit, Pinocchio, the early Mickey Mouse cartoons and a host of other wonderful works of real art.

It also has the problematic racial issues that litter the Mouse’s history: Song of The South, Epcot’s bizarre and historically inaccurate Eurocentric history lessons, an animatronic Native American village — (personally I was hoping Euro Disney would have an animatronic shtetl). In Small World the racial problem becomes that all the people of the earth who are not already Caucasian appear to have undergone a severe loss in melanin. Small World’s many deficiencies are wrapped in a song I can only compare to the aural equivalent of mixing Twinkies & Spam.

Given all this you would think it impossible to make the attraction* any worse. But NOOOOOOOO. In what seems to be a complete violation of Small World’s saccharine “we’re all alike” will now include a nice cuddly display of nationalism.

Mrs. Collateral Damage — aka The Queen of All Disney Media — quotes the following:

And in one of the most egregious and downright disgusting decisions in Disney theme park history, the gorgeous New Guinea rainforest scene, replete with some of Mary Blair’s most whimsical character creations (a crocodile with an umbrella, colorful birds hatching from eggs) and her drummer children with Tiki Masks on the opposite shore will be replaced with a Hooray for U.S.A sequence.

Now don’t get me started on the whole tiki masks thing and the gross condescension towards indigenous peoples — anyone surprised that we don’t get cute caricatures of any Christian religious images?

I really think Disney should go the whole way with this redo and insert a display of gross nationalism for every nation. Then they could have a follow-up ride called “It’s A Small World War.”

BTW, the headline is a quote from one of my favorite Disney attractions: Muppet*vision 3D.

Kermit the Frog: We will also see a rousing finale from Sam the Eagle. What’s it called, Sam?
Sam the Eagle: It’s called “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”.

*or is it a ride? that’s one of those distinctions that the Disney-centi are very particular about.

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J.K. Rowling sues festival for constructing physical version of an imaginary place

KOLKATA, India (AFP) – Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is suing organisers of a religious event for constructing a replica of her imaginary Hogwarts Castle in an eastern India city, officials said Thursday.

How do you make a replica of something that’s imaginary? If I build a recreation of Yossarian’s tent from Catch-22 can I be sued by Joseph Heller’s estate? Doesn’t the whole basis of this law suit put the entire Disney empire at risk? I’m suing over Cinderella’s castle. It infringes on my idea of what the thing should look like. No, wait, Mrs. CD won’t let me. Bad husband. No suing The Mouse. Baaad.

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Single male orangutan seeks tattooed blonde female

orang-utanSibu the orang-utan has miffed his Dutch keepers by refusing to mate with females and showing sexual interest only in tattooed human blondes. … Sibu fancies his female keepers, especially blondes. That, [said a spokeswoman for Amsterdam’s Apenheul Primate Park], was common for orang-utans but Sibu has a fetish for tattoos, harking back to a heavily tattooed keeper who reared him.“Orang-utans have special interests in special subjects. Sibu happens to like tattoos,” said the spokeswoman. (Unfortunately article DOES NOT mention hair color or skin decoration of said spokeswoman.)

All of which means Mrs. Collateral Damage now has a potential suitor who is hairier and cuter than I am and can rip my arms off. I’m soooo glad we’re already married.

What would the Librarian at the Unseen University think of this?

Ooook.

(Picture of Mr. Pratchett’s Librarian by Paul Kidby. Go check out his site. Now.)

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1200-year-old Mickey Mouse discovered; Disney claims copyright

mouseThe world’s most hidden Mickey has been found in Uppåkra in southern Sweden. Archaeologists there found an iron age version of Walt’s favorite rodent. The 1200-year-old item is believed to have been a woman’s brooch. Why am I not surprised that Mrs. Collateral Damage has Swedish blood in her? I am looking forward to the discovery of prehistoric Hello Kitty.

Pirates of the Caribbean marketing event

Yeah, I went to the official pre-release of the trailer for the next POTC movie on Sunday. I got some swag and saw the first movie again on the big screen for free. I also got to see Mrs. CollateralDamage and Collateral Damage Jr. dress up like pirates. That’s always a good thing. Mrs. CD has a complete write up here. As far as the trailer goes: That movie is going to stink but it has Chow Yun Fat in and will make a bazillion dollars. And the CD family will be there opening night. If for no other reason than to see Johnny Depp and Keith Richards together on the screen. (And I love Chow Yun Fat — he makes Clint Eastwood look like a Sensitive New Age Guy.)

Year of the (capitalist) pig

So Chinese New Year was last month but … here are a few ways in which Communism vs. Capitalism vs. Superstition is working out in the most populous nation on earth.

  1. Chinese state television is censoring advertisements featuring pigs in order not to offend Muslims in the Year of the Pig. Biggest Western companies to be effected by this: Nestle and P&G.
  2. Retailers are doing big business in gold pig jewelery and knicknacks. This year is considered particularly auspicious as, according to the Chinese zodiac and fortune tellers, it is a “golden pig” year that falls once every 60 years.
  3. Disney hopes the great swine can come to its aid. Its Three Little Pigs characters were featured prominently in New Year’s celebrations at Hong Kong Disney. Also Mickey, Goofy, Donald et al. wore traditional Chinese clothing during the festivities wrapped up last week. “The pigs are part of a marketing campaign aimed at shoring up the park’s reputation which was tarnished last Chinese New Year when overcrowding made officials lock the doors, barring scores of mainland tourists with valid tickets from entering.” Gee, I sure wish I was married to an obsessive Disney fan who could find out how this year’s New Year’s went at HK Disney and blog about it. Oh, wait. I am. UPDATE: The pig pays off for Disney.