Monthly Archives: July 2007

so sue me read the ends of books first.

[Waiting for the shock and confusion to subside.]

First, I should say that I don’t read a lot of fiction; my preferences run to sociology, psychology, history, and that sort of of thing. The fiction I do read is generally written by a small group of favorite authors: Rex Stout and Ngaio Marsh in particular. These are mysteries, and the authors are known quantities, so I don’t need or want to know the endings.

However, when I start reading a fiction book that’s an unknown quantity — say, a new thriller by Thomas Harris — then I want to know it will be worth my time. And by that, I mean I want to know that a primary character I’ve learned to care about during the course of reading won’t be dispatched in an ugly fashion in the last few pages.

Take the new Harry Potter book, for example. (And no, I am not going to give away the ending.) Why in the world should I devote 15-20 hours of my life to reading it if I know it ends with Harry, Ron, and/or Hermione splattered all over the walls of Hogwarts by a well-aimed Voldemort curse? My son and husband brought home a copy from a lovely midnight party held at Destinations Booksellers, and the next morning my son was kind enough to release it from his grip just long enough for me to read about half of the last chapter and the epilogue. Thus informed, I was able to make my decision about whether I’ll read the book.

You see, I read books for the same reason I go to movies: for diversion and enjoyment. (Yes, I find out the ends of questionable films, too, before I spend hard-earned money only to be devastated by an unexpected turn of events. Thank goodness for I do not read or go to movies to experience wrenching emotional moments or sob at the loss of a beloved character (or their child, or their pet). Some people find sad or otherwise emotionally overwrought books and films cathartic and speak happily about how much they cried after reading or seeing such-and-such (the movie Terms of Endearment comes to mind). All I have to say to that is, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Call me twisted, call me a wimp, but I like to know that all is well — in advance!

random thoughts on visiting Mickey Mouse day I want to visit Disney World in the off season — say, September or October — when we won’t spend the entire time feeling as though we’re about to melt into the pavement.

Despite the heat and crowds, Disney is still a cool vacation spot, where everyone is friendly and everything is colorful, clean, and fun.

The Disney Dining Plan is one of the niftiest ideas since sliced bread. We paid up front for all our meals, and (given the high cost of Disney food) spent a lot less overall than we would have if we’d paid as we went. Our total savings were something like $400.

If we go on vacation, one of our kids will get injured or sick. (Spring break, last March, was the first exception in years.) This year, our son has strep. Fortunately, the fever didn’t hit until we were on the way home. Unfortunately, that means we’ll probably all get it.

According to my husband’s pedometer, we were walking probably 6 to 8 miles per day for four days. This would explain why on our morning walk with the dogs today, the hills were easier to climb.

If you’re on a walk-intensive vacation with your 75-year-old mother, and she develops a mysterious back ailment, renting an electric scooter is an outstanding solution. The lovely folks at Walker delivered the scooter to our hotel; and for a very reasonable charge, my mother was able to accompany us throughout the parks, into shows, and onto rides.

If you’re going to Disney, it’s worth the price to stay in a hotel on the monorail system, which saves you a whole lot of driving and time. It’s also lovely to ride the little launch boats across the lagoon to and from the parks.

If I could have had one wish while touring the parks, it would have been for all the poor cast members dressed as Goofy, Mickey, Pooh, et al to be able to stand in the shade to greet hordes of fans. Dozens of kids and parents line up for hugs, autographs, and photos, and in almost all cases, the costume-entombed characters were standing in direct sun for long stretches of time. Ditto all the spritely folks singing and dancing in the streets wearing full cowperson regalia or turn-of-the-previous-century garb. My enjoyment of the entertainment was severely limited by my awareness of how incredibly hot they must have been, and my curiosity about how they avoid heatstroke.

Disney’s 3D technology is awesome. The glasses are sturdy and comfortable, and they aren’t red and green — the lenses appear clear. The Muppets and Mickey’s Philharmagic leap off the screen in full-bodied humor. Why can’t regular movie theaters use the same technology and glasses, instead of the extremely inferior version that gets tried every few years?

I can’t deal with rollercoasters because of the way the hills make my stomach feel. But I love speed and curves and dips. Thus my favorite ride is Thunder Mountain Railroad. This year I also went on Test Track at Epcot, which was wonderful; the high-speed outdoor track got going exactly the maximum speed at which I started to think “OK, I’d really rather it didn’t go any faster than this,” and then slowed down.

People who voluntarily submit to dropping 13 stories in the Tower of Terror are nuts.

The Haunted Mansion was closed for renovation, which made me sad. I hope they don’t mess too much with a good thing.

If you’re staying on the first floor and have a patio near the lagoon, and you make it clear that you have crackers available, you can attract as many as 21 ducks at a time, some of which will eat right out of your hand and others of which will nibble your toes in a tickly sort of way.

Most of all, it’s great to go to Disney with kids who have reached the age of reason (15 and 12) — meaning they don’t melt down from fatigue and hunger and start kicking and crying at random intervals. We saw a lot of kicking, crying, and other symptoms of worn-out kid syndrome. People had little babies with them, not to mention the zillions of toddlers who have an extremely limited capacity for heat and walking and won’t remember much of the trip anyway. I can’t recommend strongly enough waiting to visit Disney until your kids are old enough to more or less take care of themselves; able to communicate their needs and wants clearly; and ready to fully experience, appreciate, and remember the trip.