Dec 9, 2006

Disneyland: The Sappiest Show on Earth

There are many things I love about Larry. One of them, is that he loves Christmas: the anticipation, the music, the fun, and the innocence of it all. Which makes me afraid of what kind of crash he's going to have come January. But we'll jump that land mine when we come to it.

Larry also loves Disneyland, for many of the same reasons. It's hard to find a guy who's still got some part of his heart that's not gone cynical. And I love that about him.

So it only made sense that we should go to Disneyland for Christmas. Larry's friend Bill gave us three free passes, so we invited our friends Michael and Rebecca to come with us. Even better: fun, rides, and friends.

We all had a great time. We enjoyed the holiday decorations, the rides, and most of all, a good solid chunk of time with our friends. It was Larry's and my First Disney Christmas as husband and wife!

As for ridese, we saw the New, Improved "Pirates of the Caribbean," which was basically a spruced up ride with a few effigies of Johnny Depp popping up at key points. I'm glad they preserved the old Pirates. On the other hand, they completely redo the haunted mansion every Christmas to look like the film, "A Nightmare Before Christmas." Tim Burton's dark vision troubles me, but I liked what they did with the ride. I can get wary of this stuff, but it helps having people like Larry and Michael to point out all the imagination and creativity that went into the making of these things.

All things being equal, why not be happy? That being said ...

I HATE PARADES. Maybe because as a child, the Rose Parade reminded me that Christmas vacation was almost over. Or because I had siblings in marching band, and I hated standing on some rainy street corner just to catch my sister playing four bars on her clarinet, wearing a geeky red suit and Cossack hat. I just don't like 'em.

A hundred years ago parades were great, because people didn't have access to music, so going out and hearing a live band must have been thrilling. Like hearing Beck at Burning Man. And, a hundred years ago, parading around and being proud of America was acceptable.

But today, what does America have to be proud of or parade around for? The fact we're fighting a losing battle in Iraq? Nothing against our troops, they're the bravest Americans out there. But what else can we be proud of? The fact we make up 6% of the world population, yet we eat up 50% of the world's wealth? The fact we export Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? No wonder the Muslims hate us.

Well the Disney Christmas parade is great for kids who want to see Tinkerbell. Or the Waving Snow Whites and Dancing Poohs and Gesticulating Jiminy crickets .... flailing in place on a float, or jazz-handing it while marching. But it makes me mad. The same way I get frustrated when I walk into a church and they're forcing loud rock worship on me. I can't manufacture awe or joy on cue. Especially on loud cues. Yes, encourage me but don't shove it down my throat.

We avoided the parade, but we made sure to see the fireworks show.

I LOVE FIREWORKS! Larry and I watched fireworks this past July 4th, while a band played patriotic tunes and Aaron Copeland, and it was glorious.

The fireworks at Disneyland are always incredible. The music? Uh, well ...
The lights dimmed, the music soared, and some old lady came over the loudspeaker to narrate. In a really warbly, achy-breaky treacle voice.
Warbly old Lady:

Does your heart hold the magic of the holidays?
Is it filled with warm memories, just waiting to be discovered again?!
Well now is the time to open your heart!
Believe in that magic! And remember those treasured moments.
Oh they're still there, deep within you; waiting to touch you once more
So come along! As the Magic of the Season leads the way!
What does it mean? "Warm memories, waiting to be discovered again? ... Believe in that magic?" Nothing. It's a circular, vapid, treacly, stinking pile of POOH!!!

Well fortunately the old lady shut up, maybe she had a coronary. So the music swelled and turned into the song. Here are the lyrics to "Believe ... in the Magic"
Can you remember
How Christmas makes you feel?

That special magic in the air and all your dreams are real.
Can you remember:
The smell of gingerbread?

Candy canes and sugar plums dance inside your head.
(blah blah, something about reindeer)
The magic lives when we believe.

Remember the caring
A season worth sharing.
Believe in the magic in our lives
Just open up your heart,
And re-live the feeling.
Just remember the magic
Yes remember the magic … one more time.


I thought I was nauseous when I got off Space Mountain.
Yeah, NOW I remember how Christmas makes me feel: manipulated!

Look, don't get me wrong: I love sentimental things. I choked up during "Soarin' Over California." No, it's not a ride about Kierkegaard in L.A. It's the ride that takes you over all these gorgeous vistas in our state. A glorious reminder of God's beauty.

And I love sentimental movies. "Elf" makes me cry, so does "A Christmas Carol" and "It's A Wonderful Life." But those films had a message based on something real: a character's soul was lost and needed to find its way back. Or an innocence that was believable and loveable.

I know children have a capacity to fantasize, and to believe in magical things. And maybe the fact we adults lost that capacity is a tragedy. But it's one thing to have a capacity for wonder and magic, and quite another to believe in a mythology of ... money. Consumerism.

I felt sad for all the little girls who came to Disneyland, dressed up in the Tinkerbell costumes their parents went into debt to buy. I saw them standing in line, eyes wide and waiting. But I was so afraid, what would happen when they got into the park. When the Big Parade came by with the REAL Snow White on the float ... Or when the "real" Tinker Bell came flying out of the Matterhorn and hovered over the REAL Cinderella's castle, I wonder if all those girls are girl going to realize the truth. "YOU'RE NOT TINKERBELL!"

Ah that's where I need Larry and his indefatigable love of innocence.

Larry: For one day you get to forget your troubles, you get to remember what's important in life.
Susan: Buying Mickey Gear?
Larry: No, the simple things ...
Susan: Like The New, Improved "Jack Sparrow-Pirates of the Carribean with Johnny Depp?"
Larry: No, things like friendship and joy and innocence.
Susan: Then why didn't we go to the beach?
Larry: Because the ocean is poluted.
He's right. Those are the things that are important. You can find the fun and joy and freindship at Disneyland. Or the consumerism at the beach.

I just don't like being forced to enjoy manufactured feelings, or believe some empty mythology. "The Magic Of the Season:" or "the Year of a Million Dreams." Don't rain a syrup bomb on my parade.

Check out the WHOLE Christmas fireworks show, with all the treacley talk, on You Tube

Warning to diabetics: You may go into a coma

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