28 Dec

Disneyland has been so crowded this week that they had to shut down ticket sales, twice. I was there on Christmas Day, and we left the park right before the sales were halted. For what it’s worth, it was crowded, but still quite tolerable as long as you were willing to just stroll around and enjoy the park, or if you used the new FastPass system to get on the rides. But if it was your one day at the park, and you wanted to do all the rides, well — you were pretty much SOL.

The last time Disneyland halted the turnstiles was during the waning days of the popular Main Street Electrical Parade in late 1996, (a park spokesman) said.

The funny thing is that I was there then, too, in September 1996. At the time I read online that the day I was there was the third-highest attendance day in Disneyland history. I vaguely remember hearing the number 80,000 bandied about, but I’m not sure.

At any rate, it was darned crowded, both in September 1996, and in the last week. But we had fun. The “snow” on Main Street after the fireworks was really wonderful and magical — much neater than I’d expected. The Cast Members were very nice and friendly despite the crowds. The FastPass system worked great. I’m just disappointed I didn’t get around to riding the Matterhorn this time.

14 Dec

Remember how we fought to save our house from being torn down to build a library? Here’s a follow-up. They chose the Wells Fargo site instead, and now Wells Fargo is leaving Beacon Hill because of it. (I don’t think they tried very hard to find another site. Certainly the old library site would be a good, central site for a bank branch.)

08 Dec

20 years ago today I was on the phone with my friend Dave Wright, talking about god knows what (probably our pirate radio aspirations), when he interrupted the conversation: “Oh my God, I juest heard John and Yoko got shot.” I ran in the other room and asked my parents if it were true. They hadn’t heard anything about it yet, but about 30 seconds later, the news flash came through. Dave had gotten a garbled version of it; John was shot. (John Lennon, for you youngsters.)

At first there was still some hope that he might live — all they had said was that he was shot, that’s all. But the news came along pretty quickly that he was dead. I went upstairs to my attic bedroom and flipped the radio dial. “Imagine” was everywhere. If it wasn’t “Imagine,” it was the new single that had just come out to mark John’s return to the pop world, “Starting Over.” And if it wasn’t that, it was the seasonally appropriate yet sadly incongruous”Happy Xmas (War Is Over).” Every station, up and down the dial. Stations that didn’t normally play pop or rock, stations that didn’t normally play music
programming stopped to pay tribute.

The next day I wore my Beatlemania shirt to school, because it was black. Eric Oberg read the morning news on the school’s closed-circuit tv station, and he was crying. I think those of us in high school then were among the youngest people to really care about the Beatles that much. Remember that in 1980, the Beatles had only been broken up for 10 years — it’s been 10 years now since the Gulf War; does that really seem like a long time ago? In 1980, tenth-graders like me had heard the Beatles from birth, if not sooner. Now I have students who were born after John Lennon died, and the Beatles have been broken up twice as long as they were together.

To this day, “Happy Xmas” makes me cry.

06 Dec

Ever heard a theremin? If you don’t think you have, think of the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” — the weird science fictiony “woo-ooo” noises in that song were made by a theremin, an electronic musical instrument. Theremins aren’t something you see every day, but if you’ve always wanted to try one, now there is a virtual theremin, in both Mac and Windows formats.

06 Dec

Sorry I haven’t been posting lately. Between spending a night in the hospital (appendicitis scare, turned out to be food poisoning), moving the web server to a new machine, and grading papers, not much else has gotten done. (Oh yes, packing rubber stamp orders. Can’t forget that.) I actually had a site I was going to post a link to here today, but the site seems to be down now, so that will have to wait. *sigh* Oh, well, stay tuned.

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