Today, Akemi was surprised to learn that E.T. and Yoda are not related. “But they look so much alike!”she insisted.
She was further shocked to learn that Yoda was much, much – about 800 years? – older than E.T. “But E.T. moves so slow,”she protested, “and Yoda is so quick!”
“True,”I admitted, “but Yoda was in much better shape. He was a Jedi Knight and E.T. was just some gangly alien. It’s like comparing a slim old guy who works out a lot and a young, overweight guy who’s out of shape.”
She wasn’t buying it. “But Yoda is all – cha-ping! Cha-ping! Cha-ping!” Jumping around, miming a light saber duel. “And E.T. is all – ” Hunched over, index finger pointing, voice shaking: “A-ke-mi…”
Apparently, on a trip to Universal Studios Japan, she’d visited the E.T. ride – a bike and basket holding the loveable alien. After entering her name into a computer, she pedaled away and E.T. spoke to her. “But I don’t recommend Universal Studios Japan,”she said. “Shrek is always – ” And here, she bounded over, doing a fair approximation of the rotund green monster bouncing on the heels of his feet. “Ho ho ho!”
“What’s wrong wrong with that?”
“Shrek is disgusting! I told everyone I didn’t like Shrek and then he came to my side and tried to hug me!” Then added: “And Elmo always running away.”
“Running away? Why?”
“I don’t know. Maybe he is tired of getting his picture taken.” Beat. “Did you hear he was arrested?”
“I heard. Do you think that was why he was running away? Because he knew the police were on to him?”
“I don’t know but I remember trying to catch Elmo and Shrek chasing me.”
“Why was Shrek chasing you?”
“Not very many customers so dying for attention. Also maybe he understood what I said in Japanese and was angry with me.”
“And what happened? Did he catch you?”
“Yes,”she said, reflecting back on the unpleasant experience. “And I had to take a picture with him.”
It reminds me of Carl Binder’s story of his visit to Disneyland shortly after he’d written Pocahontas for the studio. He was there with his young daughter and wanted to take a photo with Meeko, Pocahontas’s racoon friend in the movie – only to be informed by Meeko that he was on lunch break. “I created you!”Carl informed the bewildered park worker. “Get over here.” Meeko complied and Carl got his photo.
And then there was the time his birthday party/trip to Disneyland was canceled when “the hippies took over Tom Sawyer Island”. But you’ll have to ask him the details on that one.
Oh, and since we’re on the topic of Disney…
On The Country Bears: “Anyway, the plot is that Beary, a young bear, is raised by humans. Talking bears and humans are friends in this reality, and he meets a broken-up rock band called the Country Bears. He helps them reunite, and I really can’t continue because a part of my brain just died.”
On Shan-Yu in Mulan: “So basically, it’s the ludicrously violent death from Naked Gun, only instead of being played for laughs, it’s the climax of a kids movie. Burning chunks of Mongolian fall from the sky, always kept barely off-camera or behind an explosion, as everyone below celebrates. Happy days, indeed.”
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The Ugly Guy Never Gets the Girl.
On Disneyland’s former underwear policy: “Up until 2001, Disneyland workers weren’t allowed to bring their own underwear when they were in character, because normal underwear tended to bunch up and become visible under the costume. Kind of like how some models don’t wear panties on the runway, except less “exotic and sexy” and more “destructive of your innocence and everything the concept of childhood represents. Instead, cast members were issued company jock straps, cycling shorts or tights, which they had to hand in at the end of every day to be washed with their costumes.”