March 6th, 2011


Disney memories, mine and others'

It's been too long since I've been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World.

The first times were when I lived as a single-digit-age kid in Southern California, where it's reasonably easy to get to Disneyland, which I did more than once. Last time was spring 1984. I went to Florida for the first and so far only time. Stayed in what was probably a cheap hotel well away from the Magic Kingdom, not that my 10-year-old self would've noticed it was cheap: Hey! New place to run around in! There was much Running Around, either metaphorically or literally on that trip: the car over, the near-military coordination of where people would park, the monorail with its operators in uniforms that were a nearly-indescribable Almost-Green -- Disney Imagineers would try to invent new colors, don't you think? Maybe that was a try -- and then the walking, walking, walking while gawking, gawking, gawking. Along with some of my earliest picture taking, because sometimes in EPCOT Center the family members let me hold and use the camera. (I don't remember taking pictures in Walt Disney World.)

I can no longer tell you how long that 1984 trip was. One day? Two? Three? We got to WDW and EPCOT, sometimes under blue skies and sometimes under consistent but not-too-thick cloud cover, and with the Florida version of the East Coast humidity that I was still only slowly adapting to. (I'd lived in Virginia since 1982. My first few weeks there in 1982, the air would make me ill. I really didn't handle it my best until the mid-80s once we settled in Northern Virginia. Now I feel lucky I wasn't sick for all my time living over there.) Thank goodness, it was overwhelming in a good, fun way.

This was, of course, back when Disney in Orlando was two things, Walt Disney World and EPCOT Center. With the benefits of success and 27 years of expansion it's become something that, were I to visit again, I think I'd want to spend maybe one or two weeks exploring...while perhaps getting hung up on what came and went at the parks in that intervening 27 years, the potential Disney experiences that I didn't have and now won't.

Or would I get bored, being there that long? Or would I get addled? I honestly don't know how I would react to Walt Disney World as an adult. Heck, would I want to start working there? Come to think of it, I've worked with at least one person who has worked at the parks; I should've asked them, when I was still working with them. That's a unique way to have a more immersive Disney experience.

Among others I'm acquainted with who have had the more complete and continuing Disney experience, by virtue of having had the chance to go the parks a lot, are Kathleen David, a.k.a. puppetmaker40, and her husband Peter David, a.k.a. Peter David, Writer Of Stuff. This entry was prompted by their family trip recently to Orlando, because I wanted to share what Kathleen David wrote about it (and what she'd written about it earlier). The Davids have history with the park, a lot of good memories, and they're adding to those. Heck, they've even worked for Disney, so they're there as employees, though of the corporation and not specifically of the parks. Ah, a happy byproduct of success: getting to enjoy Disney World. And both Kathleen and Peter write well about that.

Now I'm missing the parks. Get back to them one of these days, Chris...
Whale fluke

How does Animal House work? I don't really know, it just does!

Friday night? Possibly the first case of a Cort and Fatboy Midnight Movie having a streaker. Wearing a toga allows for easy access to nudity.

Even with Portland being cold and wet and with a good chunk of the usual Midnight Movie audience not even in Portland let alone the Bagdad Theater, thanks to Emerald City Comic Con happening at the same time in Seattle, plenty of people were there for Animal House, some in togas. Good. The film needs and deserves and rewards an audience, especially an audience of drunk pervs like us. Especially Oregon-proud drunk pervs happy that the film got made in our fair state. (Apparently the then-president of the University of Oregon had previously denied a film a chance to shoot at a college, and that film had been The Graduate, and he decided he didn't want to miss the chance twice.)

It's a funny film, it's a good film if you can handle how plotless much of it is, and it's also a satisfying film. The writers, director and actors were pitch-perfect in knowing when to underplay -- John Vernon sometimes acts without moving, and some of the real-world antics that inspired bits in this flick were apparently more extreme -- and when to do the big, more cartoony gestures (John Belushi on the ladder, Vernon's "You'll get your chance, smart guy!" or the fratboy who diverts the marching band). There's sex appeal for more than one audience; not even most sex comedies have this much nudity and sex in them nowadays. And as offensive as it is, and it is jaw-dropping at times (remember, kids! Statutory rape is funny! So's recreating the Kent State shootings!), Animal House stays endearing. You may cringe at what the characters do but you can almost see what they do as stuff that at least your good friends would do and tell hilarious stories about later. Maybe you would, too. Except for shooting at, well, near, a horse. Instead, you can live the awfulness vicariously through Animal House and be amused by it.

(Perhaps the closest the film comes to a tone-deaf misstep is how it handles racial tension in the bar scene, but that scene stayed in the film thanks to the intervention of Richard Pryor. True story: Universal Pictures President Ned Tanen ordered the bar scene cut because he thought it was so offensive it would cause race riots, so the director screened it for Pryor, who wrote "Ned, Animal House is f***ing funny and white people are crazy - Richard.")

This needs better explaining. Maybe letter. But Animal House holds up jussssssst fine, and needs to be seen in uncut R-rated glory.

The before-film clip show was a Belushi tribute: his original SNL audition, such SNL bits as the cheeseburger shop, "Samurai Delicatessen," the doughnut cereal and his EPIC Joe Cocker impression, singing that "Ev'rybody Needs Somebody" song at the concert in The Blues Brothers, and -- this played really well -- the teaser short he and writer John Milius filmed a full year before 1941, a movie they both were working on, came out:

Thank you, John Belushi.

And for more entertainment, here's the Animal House commentary track: Cort Webber, Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts, David Walker (damning director John Landis damn thoroughly), Mike Russell and Erik Henriksen marveling at the film. Sometimes they pause in the commentary just to watch and laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh.

P.S. The April Cort and Fatboy Midnight Movie: an encore of James Cameron's Aliens, this time for the film's 25th anniversary, because the 20th anniversary screening Cort and Bobby held in 2006 was famously bad and they finally have a chance to make up for it.