Disney

I’m so emo!

You ever get the tiniest sliver of a thought that gets stuck in your head and haunts you like a waking nightmare for months on end?

A feeling like you’re forgetting something or there’s something you neglected to do? Or there’s a song that’s driving you crazy and you can’t figure out why?

So there’s this little tune that they play on the radio every once in a while. I had to look up who it was and what the song was called. It was in that Twilight movie.

Anyway, there’s a part in it that sounded really familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. If you don’t want to listen to the whole song, you can skip to 2:35.

Man, that really sounds like something else… something I’ve heard before… many, many times…

Wait a minute, could it be?

That’s it! I finally remembered! Yay! I love when I can place something like that, when it’s been driving me crazy for so long.

Oh, and congratulations, dbags. You ripped off a theme park ride.

It’s tough to be a bitch

This is a story about one of the funniest things I ever saw. It warms my heart just thinking about it and I wanted to share that with people; to spread some love in this cold, cold world.

I was at California Adventure and me and my “friend,” Pickles, were at “It’s Tough To Be A Bug,” one of those 3D movies that has interactive features like water squirting at you and junk like that.

It’s cool and dark down there and though I’ve seen it 50 times, it’s always a nice change of pace from the hot sun and lack of shade found at California Adventure.

It was a fairly crowded day and the show was packed with kids.

Let me preface what happened with a disclaimer, as I’m gonna sound like a huge dick in a minute.

The Disney park-goer is a tad “conservative” in what they want their rides to be like. There was a great ride at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom called ExtraTERRORestrial Encounter where a monster escapes from its enclosure and stalks the riders in the dark.

It was really cool and genuinely creepy, but from peoples’ reactions to it, you would think Hitler came out and raped a baby kangaroo or something.

Seriously, people would complain and say things like, “I’m never coming back to your park again! You scared my poor child half to death!” Personally, I’d be cool with giving that brat the other half, but that’s just me.

For the record, it’s not that bad. A fake looking monster. Some hot air over your shoulder. That’s about it. It’s Disney. That’s the point: it’s never that scary.

But these people seem to be fantastical pussies when it comes to this shit. Even when there are warnings placed in the line and all that. God forbid anybody take some personal responsibility.

They went and changed the ride to make it about Lilo and Stitch and of course it’s awful now. Even those whiny bitches are like, “Jeez, well this is just fucking lame.”

Back to ITTBAB. So the show is going on and there’s this one part when these giant spiders come out of the ceiling. They kind of appear out of this fog that they shoot out at you. They have glowing green eyes and it is probably what I would call “mildly startling” the first time you experience it.

Well, for some reason (and let me state this is the only time it has ever happened), these kids went APE SHIT.

That was actually much more jarring than the spiders themselves. Everyone was having a good time, laughing and playing along. Oohing and aahing as we got splashed with water or it seemed like a bug was flying right in front of our faces! We could even feel the wind from his wings!

And then suddenly, it was pandemonium!

500 little kids started screaming in terror. You could see them jumping off their seats and trying to hide, putting their hands over their heads to shield themselves.

Well, if you know Pickles at all, he started laughing his ass off. And this, of course, got me laughing too.

Now you might say, “Wow, you’re an ass. Those poor little kids!” But you would be wrong. Trust me. I’ve seen this show 50 times at least. This has never happened. Some of the kids get mildly scared but that’s it.

Let me re-state that it’s really not that scary. It’s Disney, for chrissake! I think it was one of those group mind situations where one person’s actions effect all the other people and they just kinda go along with it.

There was a mad dash as parents grabbed their screaming tots and ran for the door. Tears everywhere.

But the absolute BEST part of all of it was this one kid, maybe 2 or 3 rows over from us, screaming like the rest of them, but mustering enough courage to cry out to his father in his little Martin Prince, high-pitched voice.

“Daddy! Save me!”

We lost it. Through my own tears of joy, I saw his dad glare at us as he shuffled past, clutching little Nancy in his arms.

No offense, I know you’re only six, but fucking grow a pair, bro.

IT’S DISNEYLAND.

You really think they’re gonna let anything happen to you?

You just go along with what everyone else thinks and does? Everyone else is scared and crying. so you do it too? That’s fascism, son. You’re worse than the Nazis. There. I said it.

I’m glad you got scared and pissed your pants. If you were my kid, I would have left you there. You’re a disgrace.

You see those little boys in that picture? They might have Cabbage Patch Kids, but they’d never start crying because of a plastic spider. They were raised with honor.

When my dad left us alone in the woods when I was 8, we didn’t have time to cry because we had to make a campfire and get some food. You’re gonna make fun of my doll? Well guess what, asshole? I used that doll to beat a wolf to death.

That’s called real danger.

So forgive me if I’m a little tough on someone so unashamed to show weakness in public.

When you grow up like I did, you save that for when you’re alone, shivering with your little brother under a freshly-killed wolf carcass, trying not to freeze to death. Thinking about your parents, 300 miles away in your warm house. Knowing they won’t come back to get you for six more days. Constantly reliving the moment when you swung your best friend around by his ankles, hearing his plastic head smash against the skull of that rabid creature, right before it popped off and flew into the partially frozen river where it floated away, never to be seen again.

So I dedicate this blog to you, Ron Adolphe, my adopted son and fallen comrade. I’ll never forget you, buddy.

Why am I here?

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Seriously, why the hell am I here?

I don’t want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. Somewhere much better, that is far, far away.

Where, you ask?

Well just take a look above these words and to the right. See that white thing with the spikes coming out of it? Get it, yet?

Let me spell it out for you: Disney World. I want to be at Disney World.

See, here’s a little secret that you might not know about me: I hate real life. This isn’t a bit, I actually hate it. I hate having to get up early. I hate eating stale granola bars for breakfast. I hate the fact that I have to take a car everywhere because of the lack of available monorails in society.

I can barely keep it together. I am so miserable.

Look, you might think I’m crazy, but we can all agree that real life sucks, right? Maybe you’re not a fan of Disney World, but at least you can look me in the eye and say, “Yes, my everyday life is a nightmare.”

You don’t like your job. You don’t like your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband. You have kids? I’m sure you hate them too. You get up in the morning, work all day, for what? So you can have one or two days off where instead of going to your job, you run around like an idiot, doing errands? Maybe before you go to bed, you get to bang your wife for six minutes?

The only thing that keeps us all from blowing our brains out are the minor distractions we’ve come to mistake for happiness.

Your buddy sends you an instant message with a link to a Youtube video where a guy gets punched in the nuts and you have a brief chuckle. So then your day becomes about that 30 second video clip. You forward it to your other friends, you tell your co-workers about it in the break room, you sit and think about it when you’re taking a dump.

This is living?

But, don’t give up all hope. There is a place where things are different. A place where you don’t have to get up early, but you do, simply because you want to. Life is good. Audio-animatronics are in abundance. Monorail travel is free and plentiful. Fireworks are a nightly occurrence. Cartoon characters walk the street without fear of recrimination. Homeless people still carry bindles and are all too happy to caper about for your amusement.

Why? Because everything is great at Disney World. In fact, the only real problem with Disney World is that because it’s so great, everybody wants to be there and sometimes it gets crowded.

In the real world, when things get crowded, you sit there and endure it, because you’re trapped on a bus or the subway, silently hating everyone around you. At Disney World, when things get crowded, you go back to your hotel and swim in the pool which has a volcano in it. Or you take a raft to Tom Sawyer’s island and have some lemonaid.

From a very young age, I knew what I wanted in life.

When I was a kid, the Disney Channel wasn’t free, it was a premium service, like HBO and Showtime. I convinced my parents to get it, not because I wanted to watch a single program on it, but because they would air 30 second bumpers before and after those shows, that took place at Disney World.

So I would sit there and endure a bunch of awful, showbizy kids making fools of themselves on the Mickey Mouse Club just so I could get a five second glimpse of Spaceship Earth in the background.

While my schoolyard chums were buying video games and Garbage Pail Kids cards, I would take my extra money and buy Fodor’s Travel Guides and plan out imaginary vacations I would never go on.

Now, if you’re my mother and you’re reading this, I’m sure you’re protesting right now, “But Eric, we took you to Disney World at least 20 times when you were a kid!”

To which I say: NOT GOOD ENOUGH! NOT GOOD ENOUGH AT ALL, MADAM!

Say I spent a week per year at Disney World. That seems like a reasonable amount, right? Well, that’s 358 days a year spent NOT at Disney World. 359, if it’s a leap year.

And that’s the problem with a “vacation.” By design, it’s not enough time. It’s created to give you just a taste of happiness. Not the real thing. It leaves you wanting more, so that you’ll work your ass off for another 358 days to try and get another taste. It’s a trick. I didn’t want just another vacation.

As a child, I would sit in my non-Polynesian themed room, tears dripping down my cheeks and I would swear that as soon as I was an adult and I had my own money, I would go and live at Disney World!

If that child could see me now, he would take a look at my life, shake his head and jump off a goddam bridge.

I have betrayed all my deepest held beliefs and ideals. I am a sellout. You see a successful businessman and entrepreneur, I see a hollow shell of a man. A disgrace.

I am convinced that as part of the human condition, we do everything in our power to make sure we’re never truly happy.

I can’t go to Disney World because I have commitments to people I hate and who hate me, that I simply can’t break. I am altering the course of my own life, sacrificing my own happiness for people who wouldn’t even bother to piss on my grave, simply because they wouldn’t want to take the time to show up, if I were to die tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my old pals Mickey, Donald and Goofy are having a great time, wondering, “Hey, where the hell is that happy little kid who came to visit us all those years ago? He’s missing out on all the fun!”

That kid is dead. I killed him. The second I put on that suit and tie and took my first acquisitions job.

My signing bonus was a 9mm semi-automatic handgun which I used to shoot my childhood self in the head with, at point-blank range. And you know what he said to me, as I did? He said, “Do it.”

Because he knew that was a better fate than what he had in store.

Even now, his ghost is screaming in my ears. “Stop writing this stupid blog, you dumb pussy! Get on a plane and go to Florida!”

But kids are stupid. They don’t realize that there are more important things than being happy. Like over-extending yourself by buying lots of worthless shit you don’t need anyway.

That’s not fair. The truth is, there’s no easier way to over-extend yourself than by staying at the world’s greatest theme park and resort. All that happiness has a price. You think those delicious buffalo steaks they serve at Artist Pointe are free? I suppose they’ll just give you some goat cheese raviolis for being a great guy when you ride the elevator up to the California Grill? Of course not.

It’s not like they just hand you a free raft to go lazily floating down Castaway Creek! Well, actually, they do. But you have to pay to get into Typhoon Lagoon first.

But if I really had it in me, to be the best I could be, I would find a way.

By my estimation, it would take about 5 million dollars in cash for me to live out my life at Disney World. I wouldn’t go nuts. I wouldn’t need to stay in the penthouse or have fillet mignon every single night.

I would make conservative, long-term investments across a fairly diverse portfolio in order to balance my expenditures.

Who knows? They might even cut me a deal, give me a break on a room, since I’m planning on staying in the same one for the next 50 years or so. Probably not though, I bet they wouldn’t want to encourage that sort of thing, for fear it would turn into the private dominion of a select group of eccentric millionaires.

No, I think the Disney folks would want to keep it a place where the common man could come and catch a glimpse at a life worth living. They’re good people, those Disney folk. More charitable than I.

The irony of the whole endeavor is that the purchased land that makes up Disney World is so vast, precisely because Walt wanted to create a model city. Well, he never got his model city, but in the self-actualization of Eric Filipkowski, you have the model city, turned upside down.

The perfect place to live; not because the everyday life things that are needed for a city are improved upon, but instead, completely removed.

I’ve shared this side of myself with very few, but from experience, I know I’m going to get the kind of responses like, “You should get a job at Disney World!” or “Stop being a baby, if you went and lived at Disney World, you would get sick of it in five seconds!”

Wrong. I don’t want to work there and I won’t get sick of it. Trust me.

Just give me 5 million dollars and I’ll be out of your hair. It’s a small price to pay, if not for my happiness, consider it an investment so you can get your precious time back and go home and watch the big game and drink a beer and dream about molesting Britney Spears or whatever it is you people do.

Fast Passholes: Part 1

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“Excuse me, sir, would you like to take part in a hidden camera prank show?” I asked the man in the Hawaiian shirt.

He looked around him, as if he couldn’t believe his good fortune. “Me? Oh no, I’m not an actor or anything like that!”

I assured him it wasn’t an issue, he would just have to be himself. After some gentle cajoling from his wife and kids, not to mention me and my associate producer, Angela, he agreed.

We took him in the bathrooms behind New Orleans Square and wired him up with our tiny camera.

It was a ridiculously hot summer day at Disneyland and the lines for the more popular attractions were an hour or more. Splash Mountain was over two hours, so we knew it would be perfect what we had in store.

As we tested the equipment out and he signed his release forms, we explained the premise of the show. Fast Passholes was an exciting new hidden camera prank show that took place entirely within the walls of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Well, Jim Connors, from Cragler’s Gulch, Ohio, was no dummy. “The Disney Corporation is allowing you to shoot a show inside its park with the word “asshole” in the title?”, he asked, in disbelief.

I explained that it was merely a working title and would surely be changed to something more family-friendly for broadcast. That was good enough for him.

We went over what he had to do. It was pretty simple: he would just take the Fastpass tickets we gave him and head to the front of the line of Splash Mountain. The camera hidden in the pin we stuck to his shirt lapel would record peoples’ reactions as he repeatedly skipped past the 2 hour line in the 100 degree heat.

The first couple of times nobody seemed to notice. Jim was a little wary that maybe he wasn’t getting us the best footage, which played right into our hands.

“Well, make them notice! Draw attention to yourself. Feel free to taunt people, remember Jim: you’re the show here!” The secret to good reality TV is to threaten people, but do it in an encouraging kind of way.

On his next time around, Jim hammed it up like a pro.

“Excuse me, suckers!” he announced as he passed a family of six.

People took notice. The rumbling started.

Jim’s fears of reprisal were assuaged by our enthusiasm for the work he was doing. He would report back to us each time, give us a quick synopsis of what had happened and then be back to the front of line within 5 minutes, confident in our assurances that he was doing a great job.

For good measure, we let him know that we had plants throughout the whole line, incognito Disney employees, who were ready to step in, should somebody confront him in a violent way.

It was about his eighth pass or so when things really started to go south. Everyone in the line was now watching as this prick would prance past them, holding aloft his Fastpass, as if to show them he was their better. We genuinely feared for his safety.

In case you aren’t aware, Fastpasses are a great tool for saving time by avoiding lines for the most popular rides, but they are pretty limited. You are only allowed to get one within any two-hour window, so the fact that Jim seemed to have an endless supply of them spoke volumes to these people.

“Disney corporate scum!”, yelled one angry youth, to the delight of his punk friends.

“C’mon, that’s not fair!”, pleaded a woman in her 20’s, who was standing there with several crying young children.

We had told Jim he really needed to rub it in these peoples’ faces that he was having the time of his life. People were pissed and we knew we were reaching the breaking point.

I explained to Jim that even though people wanted to kill him right now, as soon as they discovered they were going to be on TV, they would forget all of that. People loved to be a part of something like this. It would be a story they would tell their friends and family for years to come. They would have parties at their homes to watch themselves and laugh about how silly they looked, getting all worked up for nothing.

For the big reveal, we thought a song would be the perfect thing to really push people over the edge. And we were right.

Jim was now wearing a t-shirt we had given him that said, “I’m better than you” and as he strode through the line, he sang a jaunty ditty we had written for him, set to the tune of “America The Beautiful”. It was so effective, he only got through the first verse.

You will wait there in the sun
While I go on rides all day
It’s 98, but I stay cool
And plus your kids are gay!

Your family sucks, your family sucks
Your wife is way too fat
And while you stand there in that line
I’ll have sex with your cat!

This was simply too much for the crowd to take. Several men grabbed him by the collar and started shaking him, asking him if he thought he was funny. He looked around for help, but there was none.

Where were those secret Disney employees waiting in line to assist him?

Eventually, the regular Disney employees did arrive on the scene to break up the fight and take Jim to the infirmary. His face was badly bruised and he had a few broken ribs, but other than that, he was fine.

His wife screamed when she saw him hobble over to her and the kids, who were all crying.

Jim had tried to explain to the crowd that he was working on a Hollywood TV show. He showed them the Pirates of the Caribbean pin with the hidden camera in it. The one that wasn’t there.

He looked around for the lady with the clipboard and the tall, lanky guy who kept feeding him lines and Fastpass tickets, but they were nowhere to be found.

They did find some people who seemed to partly back up the guy’s story. They had been paid ten bucks each for their Splash Mountain Fastpass tickets, though they had all been told it was for the benefit of a group of kids with Leukemia who were visiting the park that day.

Nobody at Disney seemed to know anything about a television show.

Jim Connors had been had. The look on his children’s faces broke his heart as he told them, with tears in his eyes, that they had all been banned from the Disney parks for life. They were only on day one of what was supposed to be a 5 day vacation, but now they might as well go home.

Mrs. Connors, who was running low on sympathy, stared straight ahead as she drove them back to their hotel. She didn’t respond while her husband held an ice pack over his eye and recounted the events of the day and how it had all seemed so convincing.

As they parked, he asked her why someone would do this to them. She didn’t answer, she merely gathered up their sleeping children and told him he should probably get his own room for the night.

I remember reading about the Milgram Experiment as a college student taking an intro psych course and having a hard time believing the lengths people would go to, in order to please an authority figure.

I believe we, as a society, must be constantly vigilant against those who value obedience above all else, even at the expense of their human decency and common sense.

You can sit here and judge me, you can think that I am a monster, but who is the real monster? The monster or the monster who follows the monster?

If you’re really that willing to sympathize with Jim Connors, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your feelings about things like The Holocaust, because maybe those Nazis weren’t so bad? Maybe, like Jim, they were just following orders?

Fuck you.

Fast Passholes: Part 2

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I tried my best not to laugh out loud as I exited the park. Things could not have gone better.

My smile faded as I nearly walked right into Ted Stevens, the ABC exec who had greenlighted my original project.

I had pitched a few brainless sitcom ideas several months ago and to my surprise, a small bidding war had erupted for one called “Let’s Eat Dog Poo.” I ended up signing with ABC, who had given me $50,000 for my first draft, hoping to get something up by mid-season.

Well, instead of getting busy writing and furthering my career as a Hollywood bigshot, I decided to spend the money on 400,000 Hot Wheels cars. I honestly have no clue why I thought this would be a good idea or what I planned to do with them, but I remember that it just seemed too good of a deal to pass up at the time.

I quickly found myself out of money, disheartened and feeling little motivation to write. Not to mention the constant complaints I was getting from my neighbors about the 72 large wooden crates I had stacked up in my front yard.

Ted’s constant calls, inquiring about my progress, were getting annoying. I eventually got sick of lying to him and stopped answering my phone. To cheer myself up, I hatched this whole Fast Passholes scheme, thinking that nobody would ever connect the dots.

Basically, he was the last person I wanted to run into, especially right now, during what should have been my moment of triumph.

“Hey Eric, where ya been?”, he asked, as surprised to see me as I was him.

“Oh you know…” I trailed off.

“Not really. You don’t return my calls. I’m guessing the pilot isn’t going well? You missed your deadline.”

“Yeah, about that. I just… kinda… you know?” I couldn’t even look him in the eye.

“Look, Eric, we’re still really excited about Dog Pooh, it’s not too late. I can cover for you, we’ll think of something.” I guess he wasn’t such a douchebag, after all.

“Well, I’ve got some rough drafts, nothing final, though.” I wanted to give him something, even if it had no way of ever getting on the air. “Actually, I have this other idea. It’s a reality show.” I looked over my shoulder to see if any security-types were on my tail.

Ted looked past me, catching on.

“Hmm, this “idea” wouldn’t have anything to do with the disturbance in the park they just called me about, would it?”

“Probably…”

He grabbed my arm and led me over to a quiet corner near the entrance, away from the crowds. He told me to come clean and I relayed the whole story to him.

To my surprise, he laughed his ass off the whole time.

“You’re not mad?” I asked.

“Nah, fuck it. Screw them if they can’t take a joke! C’mon, let’s get some lunch!”

He treated me to a pretty nice meal at Club 33 and we talked about my ideas for future Passholes episodes. He told me that I really screwed up and made a lot of enemies at the studio, but he was going to smooth things over for me.

I thanked him for being so generous and he shrugged it off, telling me that he had been an intern for Don Simpson during the 80’s, so he was used to the eccentricities of us “creative types”.

We shook on a deal right there and he suggested producing might be better suited to someone like me. Someone who is too lazy to follow through on anything. I should stick with being the idea man and let someone else hash out the details.

Whatever, as long as it kept those fat ABC/Disney checks coming.

If you work in a bank or something, you probably don’t know that often times there is a pretty drastic transformation process that goes on from the time a show is conceived to when it hits the airwaves and Fast Passholes was no exception.

Prank shows were out. Quiz shows were in. The cost of shooting inside Disneyland turned out to be prohibitive and we moved to a sound stage. I was never a serious contender for the role of the host, so it didn’t bother me that much when they brought in some old coot from a morning talk show.

They basically changed everything around, leaving little from the original idea intact. They even removed my name from the credits, but I could care less. I was getting paid. Big bucks. Who the hell wants to be a millionaire when you can be a 17 millionaire?

So that’s how I made my dough. You have probably thought, “How does Eric support his extravagant lifestyle? He doesn’t even have a job!”

You’re damn right I don’t.

I’ve kept this secret from everyone only because I don’t want you jerks begging me for money and asking to stay at my house when you’re in town, but I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

The dispute I was involved in over syndication royalties got resolved and now I have enough money to hire an army of bodyguards to make sure I never have to set my eyes on the likes of you rabble.

In the end, that’s all that really matters.

DISNEYLAND: STOP THE DISCRIMINATION!

I never really felt that people had a right to be upset when other people or corporations took away their rights. That is, until it happened to me.

Most unfortunately, it had to happen at the one place in the world where I feel that a boy like me can be truly happy: Disneyland.

This is how the Disneyland website describes the Jedi Training Academy:

Feel the Force flow within you as your Jedi training begins. Hone your lightsaber skills as you and other Padawans learn techniques and moves from a Jedi Master. Then, put your training to the ultimate test as you do battle against the dark side. May the Force be with you!

Sounds awesome, huh? It gets better.

As a Jedi Knight Padawan, you will:

  • Take the Jedi oath
  • Master lightsaber skills
  • Learn moves such as the joust, parry and block
  • Battle the forces of the dark side, including Stormtroopers, Darth Maul, and Darth Vader

That’s right, you actually get to have a lightsaber battle with Darth Vader and Darth Maul!

“Oh my god,” you say, “this sounds like the greatest thing ever! Let’s go to Disneyland right now!

SCREEEEEEEEEEEECH!

What’s that sound? Oh that’s right, it’s THE SOUND OF ALL MY FUCKING HOPES AND DREAMS GETTING FLUSHED DOWN THE TOILET OF THE RV OF MY LIFE WHICH JUST CRASHED INTO A BRICK WALL MADE OUT OF DYNAMITE AND HORSESHIT.

Jedi Training Academy participants will be randomly selected from amongst audience members, aged 4-12, who volunteer to be part of the show.

Four to twelve? FOUR TO TWELVE?!?

What do four year olds know about Star Wars? I’ll tell you what: NOTHING. Even if you’re 12, that means you were probably born 5 years before Phantom Menace came out. That’s the worst one! Little shits like that came of age in a time where they could ask Santa for a Force Fx lightsaber of their own. The kind that sense motion and have realistic lights and sound.

What about us? The ones who had to use a goddam tennis racket or a wiffle ball bat? The ones who made the swooshing noise with our mouths? What do we get?

I’ll tell you what we get: FUCKED IN THE ASS!

Look, I understand that it’s probably really fun for the kids to get up and do this and I am also positive that introducing a bunch of grown men who’ve never kissed a girl into the mix is going to ruin things, but that’s life.

If your kid’s lightsaber skills suck and he gets poked in the eye, how is that my problem? I’m not saying this should be an all-out battle to the death, but it should be close. I’m sure there’s gotta be a good hospital somewhere near Anaheim. It’ll be fine, trust me.

So please, Disneyland, open up the Jedi Training Academy to everyone except Star Wars nerds who, for the sake of this argument, I will define as anyone who takes their love of Star Wars farther than me, because that’s when it stops being super cool like I am.

Because there is nothing cooler than a grown man in a Jedi cloak, with a plastic lightsaber, beating the shit out of some little kids.

Nothing.

Score one for “progress”

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Am I the only one?

Will no one else stand up to the tyranny of commercialism?

Today, I was deeply saddened to read that Disneyland will be removing the roller coaster ride from its beloved classic attraction, “The Matterhorn” (http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2291769).

“Oh no, they’re tearing down the Matterhorn?” you ask?

No, they are not. They are removing the ride and leaving the building intact.

And what are they putting in the building, you ask? A store.

Not just a store, a Disney Store.

Maybe I’m showing my age, call me a relic, if you like, but I actually like the Matterhorn.

Sure, it’s old and it’s corny when the abominable snowman lights up and growls at you, but what’s wrong with some good, old-fashioned, corny fun?

When I go to Disneyland, it’s not to ride the latest thrill rides. If I want to go on a roller coaster that’s 500 feet tall and goes 120 miles an hour, I’ll go to Six Flags. That’s also where I go if I want to get stabbed, but that’s a topic for another time.

I go to Disneyland to relive my childhood. I walk under the train station and onto Main Street, USA and I am a kid again. Everything is safe and fun and the world makes sense. I see limitless possibilities laid out in front of me. Life is good.

Do I believe those are real elephants in the Jungle Cruise? No, they look fake as hell. Am I scared by any of the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion? Fuck no, asshole. I’m no pussy. Do I think I’m really in “the world of tomorrow” when I walk past Space Mountain? I’m not even going to answer that.

It’s called “willing suspension of disbelief” and to all those people out there who lack an imagination: you should try it. If you can’t take 10 hours out of your day where you pretend you’re not a miserable son of a bitch, then I truly feel sorry for you.

When I would get in line at the base of that big, white mountain, I would look up at its peak in awe. Since I don’t believe in vaccinations, I’ll never get to travel overseas and see the real Matterhorn, so this is as close as I will get. I stand there by the pine trees and breathe in their scent. The sound of yodelers fills my ears. I close my eyes and I’m in Switzerland.

The ride is old, I understand that. According to the article, that’s the reason they gave for closing it.

“‘Popa granda’ is a Swiss word for ‘grandfather’ and we believe the Matterhorn is the Popa Granda of Disneyland. Unfortunately, it just got to the point where it was no longer cost-effective to keep repairing the track, but it was important to us that we kept the spirit of the Matterhorn intact,” said Sharon Mullcahy, Senior VP of Attraction Development.

They plan to “keep the spirit of the Matterhorn intact” by continuing the Swiss mountains theme of the original ride inside the store. Whoop dee doo.

The article goes on to cite the cost of several major refurbishments in the past few years and it does seem prohibitive, I will give them that. I remember visiting Disneyland many times and seeing a big white wall around the entrance to the ride as the Imagineers fixed it, yet again.

When you ride it, it jostles you around and you’ve only got an old, frayed seat belt holding you in. It is definitely a “blast from the past” and I feel that’s why it needs to be saved. You can’t find rides like this anymore. I, for one, would be willing to take a bump in admission price if it meant saving the Matterhorn.

But, like I said earlier, this isn’t about old rides getting phased out. This is about the tyranny of commercialism. I might even buy the Disney Company Line, if not for the fact that they’re replacing my favorite ride of all time with a store.

Tear it down, make a new ride – even that would be less objectionable. Screw it up by making it “The Emperor’s New Groove Presents: the Matterhorn”. I would take all these options over the one they have now.

The last thing Disneyland needs is more shopping. May I remind the executives that this is not a mall. It’s a theme park. I understand the need for merchandising, but not at the expense of the visceral thrills that draw you to the park in the first place.

That should always be the focus of a great theme park, everything else is ancillary.

In the past, this has always been the Disney way, but now, I fear they’ve taken that model and flipped it.

If the Matterhorn Disney Store is a big hit, what’s next? “Tom Sawyer’s Nike Emporium Island”? “Peter Pan’s Magical Flight Through the Apple Store”? “Pirates of the Caribbean starring characters from the motion picture starring Johnny Depp”?

Doesn’t seem so crazy now, does it?

Today, I met Steve Guttenberg


Actually, I thought it was him, but it wasn’t. Today I went to Disneyland for the first time in 2 years. I had been to Disney World plenty of times (actually, 26 times in 15 months) but it’s just not the same.

For the uninitiated, Disney World is not just a bigger version of Disneyland. They are entirely different. I’m not gonna geek out and list the reasons why, but I will just say that I now like Disneyland better.

If you know me, you are aware this is an abrupt, about-face from my earlier position on the subject. Maybe it’s the result of certain changes in my life. Maybe it’s the heart surgery I went through. Maybe it’s 9/11. Maybe it’s the fact that if you go to a place 26 times in 15 months you get sick of it.

You want to know the real reason? It’s the bread bowls. Namely, the lack of these wonderful inventions at Disney World. Whether this is indicative of greater problems relating to supply and demand, globalization, the internet in modern classrooms or what, I don’t know.

All I know is, it’s unacceptable that you would pay 60 bucks a day to enter a place that only has plastic recepticles for any soup you would wish to eat.

That, my friends, is a ripoff.

(Oh, and yes that’s a picture of me and my cousin on the Buzz Lightyear ride and yes, she’s kicking my ass, but then again, every six year old in the joint was kicking my ass. I suck. I had heart surgery, it’s not my fault.)

The worst thing that happened in 2005


Looking back at 2005, I see a lot of hardships but I have a lot to be thankful for. You would probably think I would list “aortic arch reconstruction surgery” as the worst thing that happened to me this year, but you would be wrong.

Ironically, the worst thing that happened to me in 2005 occurred at Disneyworld. You might recall I referred to Disneyworld as “self-actualization” camp, but even I didn’t know how prophetic that would be. I thought I was going there to merely live my dreams. Little did I know, I would be forced to re-examine my whole life and endure a painful process of rebirth and reinvention that would ultimately culminate in a whole new Eric Filipkowski.

The incident I speak of that sparked all this soul-searching took place at EPCOT. A theme park unlike any other. Where the future meets the cultures of the world at a giant Christmas tree underneath a gleaming monorail.

I was on day seven of my journey. I had spent 3 or 4 days at EPCOT already at this point and had seen pretty much everything. I said pretty much. Remember that, it will be important.

So anyway, I was there with Bordo, Violet and Yury and we were all pretty tired at that point. I remember the exact time. It was 6:58 pm on Sunday, December 18. We had been around to most of the countries and Yury and Bordo had ridden Mission: Space. They had gotten a Fastpass ticket to return to Test Track at 8:05 pm so we were killing time in Future World so they could ride that, right at their allotted time and then we could all run over to Japan for our 8:45 dinner reservation at the Teppanyaki Dining Room.

Anyway, we were outside the Imagination Pavilion and I thought, “Great, let’s all go watch ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Audience’ before Test Track.” Seemed like a good plan, no? Well, my “friends” decided they would take a “smoke break” before we watched the movie, in what would ultimately prove to be a fatal error.

You see, most of the pavilions in Future World close at 7 pm. I think you see where this is going. They keep the big rides open til closing but “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” is no longer quite as popular as it used to be. So while my nicotine-addict friends were getting their “fix”, I strolled up to the entrance and was informed that the ride was now closed. If they had been with me, the guy would have snuck us in for the very last viewing, but of course, they were hundreds of feet away at the designated smoking area in front of the Land.

Now I know what you’re thinking, I could have gone in alone. But I didn’t go to self-actualization camp to ride all the rides by myself. Well, actually I did, but that all took place on Cartmanland Wednesday. Sunday was a time for friends to hang out together and experience things as a group. Apparently the only group they had in mind was the one where you all get lung cancer.

I walked away, dejected and ran into my friends. “Let’s go watch the movie!” they said. I kept walking, right past them.

“Where are you going?” they asked, confused.

“Forget it, it’s too late.” I said.

They called after me and I was forced to explain the situation to them. I had missed “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience”. I was devastated. I knew at that moment how alone I truly was in the world. How alone we all are. I thought I could count on my friends but they had let me down. Apparently my dreams weren’t important to them. Not as important as getting cancer, anyway.

There are a million what-ifs that run through my brain as I try, in vain, to fall asleep each night. I attempt to comfort myself with the thought that I can go watch “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” at Disneyland when I get back to California, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the terrible ten minute Kodak Commerical/Pre-show featuring those awful kids singing “True Colors” by Cindy Lauper.

And sure, I could just have gone to see it the next day or go with my family when I return to Disneyworld in January, but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is I went to Disneyworld to realize my true self. And sadly, I did.

My true self is not the carefree, swingin’ free spirit, beloved by all. Generous of spirit, sound of body and mind. I know this is how you all see me, but it’s a charade.

I am a sad, lonely, broken man who has come to realize that life is meaningless and that we are all alone in this world and that even at the Greatest Place on Earth, we can be betrayed by the ones we trust the most. Sold out for some simple pleasures of the lining of the lungs.

Well guess what, world? You win. Fuck you. I give up. I’ll get my three-piece suit and my 9 to 5 job on Wall Street. The house, the wife, the kids. The entry-level European luxury sports sedan with x-Drive and On Star standard for the first 3 years.

Are you happy now? Cuz I don’t even know what that word means anymore.

I’m broken and this time the best surgeons in the world couln’t rip open my chest and fix me again.