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Sunday, June 19, 2011

future's so bright

So here we are.
Today we’re going to go to 1932. Things are bad there. Kind of like now, but without the iPods and cell phones. Let’s climb in our rented Wayback Machine and give people some hope for the future, shall we?
US: Hey there, pal, buck up, huh? It’s not going to be like this forever. It’s going to get better.
THEM: Sure doesn’t seem like it right now.
US: Trust us. It will. It’ll get way better. Then it will get worse, then better again, then really worse, but you’ll probably be dead by then, so you won’t have to worry about that.
THEM: How the heck you think things are going to get better?
US: Well, you’ve heard of Mickey Mouse, right?

THEM: Sure! Gosh, I do love that little guy. Heh heh... what a character...
US: And you know who Walt Disney is, right?
THEM: Can’t say that I do. He a Republican?
US: No... well, actually, yes... but no, see, he created Mickey Mouse. 
THEM: Created? 
US: Yeah. Drew him. Mickey’s an animated character.
THEM: He’s a mouse.
US: Of course he’s a mouse, but he’s not a real mouse... he’s animated, drawn.
THEM: I don’t know what he is but he’s a funny little guy.
US: He sure is. Now just imagine, if you will, that Walt Disney creates a whole bunch of other characters that are just as great as Mickey Mouse.
THEM: I dunno. I don’t like the cow so much.
US: Other than Clarabelle. There are lots of new characters, and longer films, too...
THEM: No kidding. I didn’t realize there were that many animals you could put clothes onto.
US: No, no, not just animals. He draws people, too, and eventually there are so many films and characters that Walt Disney decides to make a place where people can come and actually see Mickey Mouse and the gang. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
THEM: But I already see Mickey Mouse in the movies.
US: For real. You’ll be able to see Mickey for real.
THEM: You just said he was a drawing. I’m gonna go to some place to look at a piece of paper?

US: It’s not really paper, it’s a celluloid -- never mind. See, Mickey Mouse will be human-sized. It’ll be a big costume. You can take pictures with him and everything.
THEM: But if it’s a costume, then by definition doesn’t that make the big Mickey a fake?
US: No, no... you don’t understand... it’s a magical place where you pretend that the characters in the movie have all come to life.
THEM: So people actually go to this place to see someone in a giant mouse costume and think that it’s the real Mickey Mouse?
US: Absolutely! Not just Mickey, but all the characters! And there’s so much more than that! There are rides, and restaurants, and gift shops, and --
THEM: When did you say this was going to happen?
US: Well, the first one opens in about 23 years. 
THEM: First one? You mean to say this Disney fellow’s going to open more than one of these places?
US: Oh, yes! Several gorgeous parks, all over the world! California, and then Florida --
THEM: That’s hundreds of miles away from here! Why should I care about that?
US: No, see, people will travel there on vacation!
THEM: How are they going to afford to go on vacation? We’re in a Depression!
US: That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! Things are going to get better. You just have to get through the next war.
THEM: Wait, what? Another Great War?
US: It’ll help, I swear!
THEM: We have to fight another damn war so we can get to a point where it gets better enough to warrant building a magic place where you can take a picture with a giant Mickey Mouse that’s not actually the real Mickey Mouse?
US: It will be so worth it. The war culture will be fantastic, and post-war will be even better. You don’t even know. There will be so much money in the economy --
THEM: So, what’s it gonna cost to go to a place like this?
US: Um, it depends on what year you’re talking about. Because, you know, inflation...
THEM: No, I don’t know.
US: Yeah, um, there’s that. But seriously, it’s not as much as it sounds like.
THEM: Just spit it out.
US: In 1955, it’s just a dollar to get in. Rides cost extra though.
THEM: How much extra?

US: For three bucks you can go on about ten rides.
THEM: So that’s four dollars.
US: Yes. Of course, if you want lunch or a Pepsi or some popcorn, you have to pay extra for that, too. I bet you could take your gal for a great day at Disneyland in 1955 for oh, say, ten or fifteen dollars. Twenty if you get her some ears and stuff.
THEM: Ears?
US: Mickey Mouse ears. It’s a hat. It makes you look like Mickey Mouse.
THEM: Why would I want to look like Mickey Mouse?
US: ... it’s fun.
THEM: You know how much money twenty dollars is in 1931? That’s almost what some people make in a week! That’s 285 loaves of bread!
US: But not in 1955! It’s only 111 loaves of bread in 1955!
THEM: So people are going to give up all that bread to see a fake mouse?
US: And ride rides! And eat genetically-modified turkey legs as big as your head!
THEM: Come again?
US: The point is, things are going to get better! They’re going to get so good that yes, people will spend ridiculous amounts of money to travel across the country and see fake Mickeys and ride rides and eat overpriced food and buy mouse ears that they’ll never wear again except when they’re in the park, which means they’ll go back, over and over! They’ll bring the kids and the grandparents and the uncles and aunts! Even infamous Communists will want to go there, because it’s thousands of loaves of bread’s worth of magical fun! Thousands! Don’t you see? That’s a staggeringly better world!! Right?
THEM: And people love seeing a fake mouse, huh?
US: Yes. They do love seeing a fake mouse. And when times get bad again, they love it even more. They love the fiberglass facades and they love the old-timey things that are old-timey even to you in 1932 and they love standing in line for hours to watch robots who look like people while they ride in a little boat with total strangers. They’ll forgo all that bread just to eat ice cream in the shape of Mickey’s head. It’s one of the few things that make people feel happier in the future. Because in 2011, it’s just scary times. It’s a good thing you’ll be dead by then.
It is at this point of the conversation that we are interrupted by a mysterious stranger with his own Wayback Machine.
STRANGER: Hey pal, buck up.
US: Oh, I already cheered up our friend from 1932. 
STRANGER: I don’t mean him. I mean you, from 2011.
US: Huh?
STRANGER: Don’t worry, champ. It’ll get better. You’re going to live in a world someday where, for only fifty thousand loaves of bread, you’re going to be able to travel to the artificial moon! Isn’t that exciting?
US: Wait, all that bread and it’s not even the real moon?
STRANGER: Oh, the artificial moon is better. It smells nicer and there are slot machines and candy and free wi-fi! And you won’t mind that drinks cost extra, because they’re served in collectible tubes! They call it Virgin iMoon. And sure, the Earth’s surface will be uninhabitable by then, but once you get past that initial shock and get used to living in underground lairs, the ViM will be worth the wait. And your whole salary.
US: Really? Wow. I’ll be able to fly to the artificial moon soon.
STRANGER: Well, not fly, exactly.
US: Huh?
STRANGER: It’s not actually in space. It’s virtual. It’s better than real.
US: You’re telling me people are going to pay all that bread for an artificial moon that’s not even a real artificial moon?
STRANGER: No, no... you don’t understand...
THEM: Makes that big fake mouse park seem a lot less ridiculous, huh?
US: That’s the trouble with Wayback Machines. They make everything seem ridiculous.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.

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