Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy birthday to the big cheese

Walt Disney was born on this day back in 1901. From what little information I've been able to cobble together, he was involved somehow in the animation industry.

When I was but a lad of 14 or 15, I put a joke in a story I was writing. It had nothing to do with the story itself but served to illustrate the kind of wiseacre the character was. In truth, I figured I'd never get to use it in real life, and like I did with most of the jokes that I never expected to use, I stuck them in stories.

A month or so later in my biology class, my teacher was talking about cryonics, and how when he was young, there was a rumor that Walt Disney was frozen after death and was chilling out under the Pirates of Caribbean ride.

It was a weird sense of deja vu; at first I thought it had happened before, but then I realized that it was the set-up I'd written in my story. So before I missed the opportunity, I piped up with the punchline from the back of the room:

"Disney on ice!"

I thought it was clever and original when I was 14 -- cut me a break, okay?

My brother and I preferred the Looney Tunes shorts from Warner Brothers, but we were still excited when word came there was going to be a whole channel of Disney stuff. No longer would it be only the Sunday night Wonderful World of Disney.

Sure enough, in April of 1983 (I was 8 and my brother almost 4), The Disney Channel premiered, and our TV schedules quickly expanded to include "Good Morning, Mickey," "Donald Duck Presents" and reruns of "The Mickey Mouse Club."

Like Batman, the channel has a tenuous relationship with the word "The," and is currently the-free.

It is also devoid of classic Disney cartoons, even though it has a spin-off channel called Toon Disney. It sounds like dumb programming to me, but I'm the moron who buys the DVDs, so you decide who's smarter.

For me, The Disney Channel = Disney cartoons, movies and of course, "Mousercise."

For my son, Disney Channel = "The Wiggles," "Jo-Jo's Circus" and (alas) "The Doodlebops." The 'Bops, by the way, have been challenged by the new mini-show "Johnny and the Sprites" for most annoying thing I have to endure on the Disney Channel.

Over at Jim Hill Media, there's a cool article that outlines some of the shows in the original lineup, including "Contraption," which some of my friends said I made up because I was the only one who watched it, I guess.

The Modesto Bee, where I work diligently every day, has a mascot named Scoopy. What does that have to do with anything? Well, good old Scoopy is here via today's birthday boy, Walt Disney.

Just goes to show you -- it's a small world after all.

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