Grumpy Mouse

20 November 2001

The Mouse has lost me.

I was not a fervent Disney supporter in the first place. I haven't seen "Pocahontas" or "Mulan" or "Hercules" or whatever else they've put out recently. I became moderately bitter when they gave "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" a happy ending, but Victor Hugo is not my favorite French Romantic, so I didn't pitch too big a fit about it. And I was the only one in this household who had been to any of the Disney theme parks, and the only one who advocated taking small children to any of them. (The only one in this household, not the only one in my whole family. The Mormor, I imagine, will want to take the kids to Disneyland. To say nothing of the future great-grands.)

Ohhh, but yesterday. Yesterday I was doing research for "The Grumpiest Place on Earth," and as a result I was looking at the Disney homepages. This was possibly a bad idea. I rolled my eyes at the Tarzan Treehouse, formerly the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, because, "Kids can monkey around in an interactive play area filled with shipwreck toys." So they didn't even do a good job of not making it the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse any more. But I had no real emotional attachment to that movie -- it was the one you watched when you'd been sick for more than a few days, that's all.

Then I saw it. At Epcot Center, they have an attraction known as "Cyranose de Bergerac." Remember how I said Victor Hugo is not my favorite French Romantic? Edmond Rostand is. And they "put a comedic twist on an old French love story." Ah. We can say that this upset me a good deal, yes? That they couldn't even leave Cyrano de Bergerac alone? Totally unnecessary. Not acceptable.

I think Disney generally gets too much credit for what they do to fairy tales. It's pretty clear to me that the Victorians got there first, that Walt Disney himself was working with sanitized source material. I mean, did your first version of Sleeping Beauty involve Prince "Charming" impregnating SB while she still slept? Did she only wake when she had her kids (and "Charming" had left town)? Then you got a cleaned-up version, too. Sometimes (often) Disney annoys me -- the happy endings, the refusal to let anybody heroic actually do the killing. Did you notice that? The villains always do themselves in somehow. Falling over cliffs and so on. But at any rate -- Disney didn't start the trend of "cleaning up" fairy tales, and his heirs won't be the last to do it.

But why can't they leave books alone? There are plenty of folk and fairy tales in the world. Why do they have to mess with books that were written for the first time by known human beings? Why do they have to give movies that aren't even trying to be faithful to the book the same title? They're Disney. If they wanted to sell a movie called, "That Story You've Never Heard Of," people would still show up and bring their kids and buy the merchandising. So leave the French Romantics alone! What's next, Disney's "Crime and Punishment?" Oh, I know, "Arrowsmith," where Martin Arrowsmith thwarts the mean ol' evil-doers and learns that it's really satisfying to lead the suburban life. Gahhhhh. Disney didn't really start this, either, but very few people still remember the Lamb Shakespeare; its influence has been pretty minimal. Or I'd like to hope so.

Ah well. At least it got me in the proper frame of mind to write "The Grumpiest Place on Earth," which should go out by the end of the day. Along with the rewrite from Saturday's happy rejection and the agent query package, again.

Oh, before I forget: a belated happy birthday on the fifteenth to Gavin Thomas Orser, 8 pounds 7 ounces! And a happy birth day to his momma, Heather. And congratulations to his dad, Dave, and his big sister, Miss Siri. It's funny -- when I wrote to my mom with the news, she said, "I'm sure Tom and Sandi [Heather's parents] are thrilled." Her immediate identification is now with the grandparents. Whereas I'm still getting over being freaked out that I have friends roughly my own age who have two kids. I freaked over one. Then I thought I was done, I was okay, I had settled into people my own age having kids. Well, no; I'd settled into people my own age having a kid. Two is something else completely.

Whew. Two kids.

Anyway, I can't wait to meet young Gavin. I'm sure Miss Siri will keep him hopping as soon as he knows how to hop.

Thanks to everyone in the Bay Area who wrote with tapas suggestions. We will have many nummy Spanish or pseudo-Spanish appetizers before we can pick our favorite, but I'm sure I'll rave if we find one I particularly like.

Yesterday afternoon, Mark and I went out for malts at the soda fountain in downtown Hayward. I believe I complained about this place before -- it's never open. It's closed evenings, weekends, and holidays. The worst part of it, we now know, is that it's good. The malts were really tasty, they serve espresso and tea, they have booths, and it looks like they're used to people sitting in the booths for long periods of time. So if it was ever open, it'd be a great place to go. Sigh. We'll just have to plan ahead.

You know where else would be a great place to go? A grocery store that stocked garlic. I'm just sayin'.

So anyway, I'm going to pay bills, clean up the kitchen, work, and read Sheckley's The Status Civilization and Notions: Unlimited, borrowed from David in an omnibus volume. Right now I'm a bit annoyed with The Status Civilization: the satire of our society that would have been crisp in a short story is kind of windy and belabored in a longer work. But the Notions: Unlimited segment of the book is all short stories, so I look forward to that. And to leftover gumbo for lunch, and to many other things. Anticipation is a happy thing. Lately I've been too focused on worry and not enough on anticipation. I'm trying to fix that.

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