Monday, April 06, 2009

The Economy On Ice

Let’s just get it out of the way upfront: I don’t like children. Sure, I love my own, and all of the children of my immediate friends and family, but that’s pretty much where I draw the line. All the rest are just annoying bags of irritating puss and misguided energy. I couldn’t be a teacher for anyone under the age of 16. I wouldn’t do well as a playground monitor or a child care supervisor, and I would probably get fired an amusement park for flicking kids in the backs of the their heads.

But, let’s take it a step further: I don’t think I like adults that much either, and I especially abhor parents. Now, wrap that up with fact that I spent Saturday afternoon with an arena full of them and you’ve got the background for today’s story.

There are certain things you do and don’t do in public. At least, that’s how I thought the world ran. You say sorry when you bump into someone. You clean up after yourself. You keep your hands to yourself. And most importantly, you don’t do anything to either cause inconvenience to your fellow citizens or do anything that is inconsiderate.

The funny thing lately is that, perhaps as I get older and more impatient to the shenanigans of the latest batch of malcontents that seem to have infiltrated every corner of society like a sour tasting jello- mold, I seem to see more and more inconsiderate people selfishly disregarding the civilized politeness that our grandparents promised us when they won World War II.

And most of them are parents (or at least court-mandated legal guardians).

Case in point: Disney On Ice presents “A Disneyland Adventure.” The tag line says: “Join your favorite characters on a trip through the park and thrill to “incredible” excitement when everyone’s favorites superhero family shows up to save the day!”

[As an aside here, I’m troubled by the awkward wording of the above tag line. I’m okay with a double predicate sentence and I’ll even let them skate—pun intended—on the fact that they’ve used an understood subject (you) for both verbs, but what bothers me is the way they used “thrill” as a verb. I’m not saying it’s wrong; I’m just saying that it is an archaic use of the tense and it makes the sentence awkward. They should have added “you will” before thrill.]

Anywho, the premise of the show was the story of the Incredible family (from the Disney movie The Incredibles) on their vacation to Disneyland, where they would suppress their superpowers and try to blend in with the rest of the crowd. Unbeknownst to them, and fantastically coincidental, was that Syndrome was also paying Disneyland a visit with the idea of taking over the Magic Kingdom and creating his own evil, yet profitable, them park.

Ninety-nine percent of the people that paid $15 a ticket to see the show arrived on time. The show was starting at 3:30 and we arrived in the parking lot just before 3:00. Already, there were substantially lengthy lines of jumbled people at all four corners of the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario waiting to get in. We had enough time to achieve a false sense of security by the people half-heartedly peeking inside women’s purses for IEDs and dirty bombs, to take a few pictures of the kids, to get gouged at the concessions stand for two bottles of $3.75 water (it is filtered through gold, I’m told) and to make our way to the polar opposite corner of the building from where we came in, of course. And, after all that, we still had 10 minutes to spare. Ten whole minutes to admire the steepness of the arena sides, the elevation we were at and how big the building is.

The kids settled. An announcer’s voice boomed through the arena announcing that the show will start in 10 minutes… then five minutes…. then three minutes. The seats in front of us remained empty as did the row in front of it. I thought, good, for once, I can watch a show without someone sitting on my lap because some Neanderthal with an oversized head and a 10-gallon hat decides to sit in front of one of the kids.

The lights went down, the ice glowed with a cool array of Disney-approved (and probably trademarked) colors…the show was going to begin. The little girl sitting in the row behind us and three seats down to my left excitedly kicked the back of the chair in front of her. She’ll stop. Don’t worry. Her mother will notice, or the girl sitting in the chair she was kicking will complain.

Just when I thought the seats would go unused, a family of five or six appeared through the darkness of our section’s access tunnel. The show had just begun. Mickey Mouse and friends had taken the ice, singing and skating to the sounds of Main Street, telling of the glories of Disneyland. The first family wasn’t too inconsiderate. They appeared as though they regretted arriving late, that there was an accident or some incident completely beyond their control. Okay, a head briefly in the way as you sit down two rows in front of me isn’t that bad. You’re reprieved.

A full 15 minutes goes by. Now, we’re introduced to the lip-syncing and skating characters of the Incredible Family, and we’ve got a plot (trip to Disneyland, incognito, etc., etc.). We have a vested interested in the outcome. We’re hooked. We’re enjoying it.

What appeared next through the darkness of the access tunnel was what looked like two families, at least three or four women and a half-dozen kids that came in two irritating waves. What wasn’t immediately apparent was that they were related—or at least knew each other—but what was immediately galling was that the first wave sat in their assigned seats, by the aisle, while the second wave, who followed right afterwards, had to slide their way past the first group to their seats.

This, of course, we predicated by three or four minutes of them standing in the aisle while they studied their tickets, collected together their children and spoke loudly in Spanish. All the while, we’re trying to enjoy the show. Sit down. Shut up. There are dozens of people affected by your lack of consideration, the fact that you couldn’t trouble yourself enough to collect your tribe together, leave your duplex, pack them into your oxidized dark green middle-90s Dodge Astro Van, find a place to park and herd them into the arena by the time the show starts.

Now, my $15 ticket, and the tickets of my family and those around me, are worth less because our experience has been suspended, my enthrallment by the magic of Disney, my “thrill to the incredible excitement” has be interrupted by your discourteous reality. Just sit down. Just shut up.

The dust settles. Everyone is quiet. The show itself is quite loud, masking those little irritants that plague me, so I’m not completely distracted by the constant talking, the little girl kicking the seat behind me, the kid in front cackling obnoxiously, and the rustling of food wrappers and toy packages.

Who buys that much stuff for their kids? I’m going to call it stupid-rich as the original phrase is offensive and doesn’t exactly apply here. They must have spent $200 to go see this show. They bought sodas, boxes and bags of popcorn, some sort of box full of something and a couple of those whirling lighted toys. The noise of a half-dozen people eating right in front of you is like a hundred nails on a chalkboard to me. Not to mention the two girls who went to get it.

I had never seen these two girls before. One was Mexican and the other was white, and if you had pushed either one, they would have easily rolled all the way down to the ice. They were loaded with arms of food as they plodded their way up the stairs. I assumed they were going to sit behind us somewhere because there was no room in front of us, and thank God. I would have had to of held Matthew up by his ankles to see around them if they sat next to each other.

Instead, they stopped at the aisle in front of us and unloaded all of the food. They stood their for a while, maybe a minute or two, chatting, before they went back down the stairs. Then, about 10 minutes later, they appeared out of the access tunnel to our right, on the other side of our section. They climbed the stairs to the row behind us and stood there for a minute or two, chatting, before making their way back down the stairs. Where they lost? Did they even have seats? Then, a few minutes later, they’re treading back up the stairs on our left, and I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to squeeze themselves into the row behind us to find their seats almost exactly half-way between the two aisles. For me, there as negative space for my knees, as they stuck out beyond the backrest of the seat in front of me, and if anyone wanted to pass, I would have had to stand on my seat for them to get by.

After that, all was mostly quiet, but I was plenty pissed. Then an intermission… and we got to start it all over again. Guess who didn’t have the courtesy to get back to their seats in the 15 minute intermission? That’s right, the family of the year.

So, if it wasn’t for the people, I would have had a wonderful time, which is why I now hate people, their children and any public event where either of the two might attend. People are selfish and inconsiderate; they need manners, lessons in the politeness of society and a freakin’ alarm clock.

When I own an arena, the doors will close when the show begins. If you don’t have the decency to make it on time, your tickets will be refunded and you will be told to have a good day, as we point to the sign that says “we refuse service to anyone.”

Meanwhile, as I was watching the show, I decided that the whole Disney On Ice is a parody of the economy and the current administration. To me, it became, “The Economy On Ice.”

Here’s how (you may not appreciate this, having not seen the show but I’ll do my best to explain):

Syndrome and his familiar round robot enter the scene and capture Mickey and Minnie (which upset Matthew most of all). Meanwhile, the Incredible Family is visiting various theme ride, like Pirates, Jungle Cruise and the train ride. But, all of these rides, including the details of Main Street, where styled like their were in the 60s. It was Disneyland of old, including valet parking (which I don’t think they even offer at DL, ever). Syndrome, who is a robot himself, has reprogrammed the animatronics on each ride to cater to his evil whims. But what about Syndrome, the robot? Who built him? Why? Where does he come from?

The Disneyland they depicted in the show represents the good life. As always the good life is without trouble, lacking worry and is completely carefree. It is a good economy, happiness, a low interest mortgage within the buying means of the general populous. It is the one-income family with two cars in the garage and good jobs aplenty. Mickey and Minnie represent the mortgage companies, dare I suggest it fits to well with Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac… but it does. They’re borrowed money. We go to Disneyland to see Mickey and Minnie, to experience the lifestyle they have built for us there.

Meanwhile, along comes Syndrome, a soulless robot bent on destroying the happiness provided by Disneyland by sabotaging Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, abducting them and taking over everything for his purpose. Who is Syndrome? Hedge fund buyers, AIG, SEC? Any organization that made money on the inappropriate home loans.

We introduce The Incredibles, a family of superheroes that is above the law. They go on the rides and do things that nobody else is allowed to do (like break the rides, for example, and become the grand marshal of the daily parade). They’re Congress, a mostly self-appointed heroes that seems to be there for the good of the common people, fighting evil, etc.

But who else happens to be at the park that day too? Why, it’s FroZone, one of the last superheroes left, and the best friend of Mr. Incredible. Interestingly enough, he swoops in periodically during the climax of the show to “save the day,” but really doesn’t do a whole lot except for come up with witty lines and fancy skating. He’s Obama.

Now, we’re at the climax of the show! Mickey and Minnie are prisoners of Syndrome and an epic battle is about to commence between him and the Incredibles. At Syndrome’s command, all of the Storm Trooper look-a-like soldiers from Star Tours are fighting the Incredibles, and they just can’t seem to win. The economy is getting worse. The soldiers keep coming, and Syndrome is howling manically. Congress isn’t effective at fighting the worsening economy, and the happiness of the people and their money seems doomed. In skates Obama for some pithy remarks and some fancy skating. He suggests that the people in the audience, the average citizen who has paid for the privilege of seeing the show (let’s not discuss how many people snuck in without paying), do something about it. We have to fight the soldiers. We have to sacrifice and take action to make the soldiers behave. Congress can do nothing. The problem is too big for them, and Obama can only come up with a hare-brained scheme that involves us pointing to one side of the arena and then the other side to confuse the soldiers. We’re supposed to confuse the economy into behaving, which is a lot like spending money when you are getting taxed heavily.

Meanwhile, after the soldiers are abated, Syndrome is still at large, and the Incredibles go in for the final assault… but they really do nothing but skate around in circles and complain how difficult it is. In comes FroZone, who immediately assesses the situation without having to talk to anyone about it. Again, another idea. He doesn’t suggest that the Incredibles actually do anything, nor does he suggest that they try a different approach. He turns to the audience.

Obama doesn’t ask Congress for a different level of spending, nor does he suggest that Congress adjust the way they normally operate. He turns to the people to again burden the load. Obama suggest that we all wish really hard for the economy to get better. We get mentally taxed to wish that Mickey and Minnie will be released, that home prices will rise and that the dollar will gain in value.

It’s not bad enough that we had to take the effort to battle the economy with no help from Congress, but now we have to bailout all of these companies too. We have to become The Incredibles and destroy Syndrome because the real Incredibles and FroZone were unable to do the job, one that we relied on them to complete.

So, here we are at the end of the story. And you know what is especially upsetting? Once Mickey and Minnie Mouse were set free, who got the credit for saving the day? That’s right, the Incredibles, when all they were capable of was some aptly timed remarks and some fancy skating.

Thanks Congress for the fancy skating. How much money does Syndrome want from us to go away this time? And who is to say he won’t return? All FroZone did was freeze him, which Obama will find out, frozen things will eventually thaw out in time for our kids to pay for them.

Nice show.


Ryan or Kara said...

And the highlights of the show/day?

Yard Sale Princess said...

Gee, Ryan, your brain works on a level that I have never known. It is fun to be your friend because otherwise it would have just been Disney on Ice! The world is more colorful and has many more layers when you interpret it. I love to see it through your eyes!


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