Monday, October 26

Tuesday, October 20 was the NCTE-sponsored National Day on Writing. NCTE had been touting its National Gallery of Writing ( for months and yesterday was the big unveil via webcast.

I thought periodically about contributing something, but could never decide on a genre or topic. I was quite wishy washy about the whole thing. But the other night I started thinking about writing in general and the kinds of writing that have influenced me and what popped into my head? Jingles and TV show tag lines. Then random lines from shows and songs. Yes, I’m a product of popular culture in many ways and on many levels. Herewith, in no particular order nor segregated by medium, a few of those influences:
GE. We bring good things to life.
Good to the last drop.
It’s the story of a lovely lady. . .
Just do it.
I’d walk a mile for a camel.
Out of the clear blue western sky comes. . . Sky King
Don’t leave home without it.
My bologna has a first name. . .
Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
Be all that you can be.
Have it your way.
It’s the real thing.
Mmm. Mmm. Good.
You got some ‘xplainin’ to do, Lucy.

The longer I thought about these, the more lines careened and crashed through my head which made sleep nearly impossible. So I tried to shift mental gears so I could sleep. Still, every now and then, I think of a few more choice lines or song titles and the parade of recollection begins again.

What to make of all this? I dunno. But I do know that I have not yet managed to tame the involuntary need to quote a line from a movie or a fragment of a song when someone says something that triggers that connection. My students, bless their undergraduate hearts, are too young to have any idea what I’m talking about most of the time, and that’s not just when I’m blathering about popular culture. When I mentioned Fleetwood Mac not too long ago, I was rewarded only with blank looks. Not a scintilla of recognition. And only a few have recognized lines from Princess Bride and I tell you, that is quite unacceptable.

I know I’m not alone in this quoting thing. I wonder if we Boomers just have more or better quotable stuff than these here young whippersnappers. I think so. Well, I’m not going to dwell on it, but it was fun to consider the things that make up “the fabric of our lives.” After all, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Thursday, October 1

Happy Birthday, Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World opened on October 1, 1971. I was there, sort of. I lived in Orlando and tracked the bulldozing of fields and the gradual development of what would become the Magic Kingdom.

Like so many other kids in the Orlando area, I soon got a job there. Disney paid above what was then minimum wage and the costumes were way cooler than what I was wearing for my job at McDonald's. Yes, the drive was further, but, well, it was the Magic Kingdom.

The magic wore off soon enough for me. I worked on the monorail when the drivers still gave the spiel ("I'll be your pilot from the main gate to the Magic Kingdom. Please remain seated at all times. No smoking, eating, or drinkin while on board.") and occasionally entertained guests in the driver's cone. After several months of the monorail, I moved to Main Street and retail, working in the stuffed animals department of the Emporium. Better costume though the work wasn't any less challenging. It's hard to work at a theme park where the expectations are that the employees love their jobs and serve the public with a cheerful, helpful smile. Even when they're being idiots. But there was an interesting camaraderie among those who worked at Disney and I like to think it was more than the fact that we knew where the tunnels were and some of the stories behind the magic, though I can't tell you how depressed I was to see the guy playing Donald Duck smoking a stogie on his break, Donald's head propped on a table. Sometimes it was hard to know that there was reality behind the magic.

I grew up with Disney. I remember watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights. I remember being enthralled by Disney extravangazas and still love Fantasia and Cinderella because I love the hopefulness and determinaton in "Bibbity Bobbity Boo." I know it's a silly song of nonsense words, but I cannot think of the song without seeing the small critters working so hard and with such love to create Cinderella's dress. That's a very powerful message that still moves me.

My favorite time at Walt Disney World was after the park closed. All the guests were gone and the streets were quiet. I remember walking down Main Street at 2A, the lights twinkling and my footsteps echoing against the storefronts. That's when I believed again in pixie dust and the magic of Disney.

So Happy Birthday Walt Disney World. May you continue to share those magical moments for years to come.