Thursday, March 10, 2011

Angels on wheels

One of the basic tenets of the United States is the First Amendment - freedom of speech. That doesn't mean that you can say WHATEVER you want, WHEREVER you want, WHENEVER you want, but for the most part, it means that you can say things that are offensive and objectionable and hurtful and despicable. Awww, the First Amendment is the proverbial double-edged sword. It protects not just your right to free speech, but it also protects the free speech rights of those who are the polar opposite of you in any kind of thinking.

Polar opposite of good taste, decency, humanity - that's a good description for the so-called Westboro "church", who find it appropriate to protest against homosexuality at the funerals of military personnel killed in the line of duty, as well as other high-profile funerals. They're pretty much media whores. Which is fine in itself - there are lots of media whores in our society. But I can't imagine how hurtful their signs and chantings and disruptions are to the families of soldiers who are having a hard enough time saying goodbye to sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, comrades, good friends.

The courts recently upheld their right to do such protests. While my heart breaks at the thought of them being given the right to spew their hate and rub salt in the wounds of those already mourning the loss of a loved one, my head understands that it's the correct decision, that EVERYONE's right to free speech must be protected.

Today, a friend posted a link to a video of a group called the Patriot Guard Riders who have taken it upon themselves to do something about these protests. They are invited to military funerals and set themselves up as a curtain to protect the families from seeing and hearing the hate being spewed by the protesters. God bless these people for what they're doing.

You might need a tissue, or two, or a box. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I don't have the ability to embed the video, so here's the link to click to watch the video.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tapestry of Nations - once was all it took

In November of 1999, the husband and I made our first visit to Walt Disney World. We were already big fans of Disney and regular visitors of Disneyland, so it was kind of weird to be in Disney parks that were so completely new to us. We had a lot of friends who had been to WDW before, so we asked them for some opinions and recommendations.

We knew that we wanted to see Illuminations at Epcot, and one friend gave us a suggestion on where we could have a good view of the show without having to stake out a spot for hours beforehand, so we took his advice, and it all turned out really well. (Loved Illuminations, btw, still do.) Another friend had suggested that we see the parade that was running at the time at Epcot's World Showcase - Tapestry of Nations. It sounded interesting, but we weren't sure we'd really be able to fit it into our schedule on that trip. As we sat in the Mexico section of World Showcase, waiting for Illuminations, I got my first introduction to Tapestry. The parade was on the other side of the lagoon, which is huge, so I never got a very good look at the floats and puppets (giant puppets, for lack of a better description), but what really got me was the music, which was played over the speakers. I was mesmerized by the music and the narration. The husband and I decided then and there that we had to MAKE time in our schedule to see the parade on another day.

We sat in the U.K. section of World Showcase, just after the step-off point of the parade. And seeing the parade itself was even better than just being able to hear the music. I remember sitting on the curb and watching as the gorgeous and beautifully-colored puppets walked by me. The puppeteers were amazing, and the crowd was just loving the interaction with them. Some might know my affinity for drums and drummers, so you can imagine my reaction when the giant drums rolled past me. The husband said I was just staring at them in awe.

I'm a big fan of Illuminations, and Fantasmic at Disneyland, and numerous fireworks and shows and other parades at Disneyland. But I think Tapestry of Nations is definitely in the running for my favorite Disney entertainment ever, which seems odd considering I only saw it that one time. But it just really touched me. If I'd been living anywhere local to Epcot at that point, I would have been at Epcot on many nights to watch Tapestry and then Illuminations.

We didn't return to WDW until January of 2007. I knew that Tapestry was long gone and was sad that I wouldn't be able to see it. We went to the same spot to watch Illuminations, and after the show was over, the husband and I stood around talking to friends that we were there with. And then I heard it. At first, I didn't know where it was coming from or if it really was. And then I was sure - they were playing the soundtrack of Tapestry over the speakers. I knew the music well because after we'd seen it on our first trip, we bought the WDW CD that had Tapestry and Illuminations on it. We weren't near a speaker at that point, so I ran over to where there was one and I stood there and listened to the whole thing. Yeah, I'll admit, I completely abandoned the husband and our friends. He did tell them the story of our Tapestry experience, and they completely understood me being engulfed by the music.

Currently, the music to Tapestry (minus the narration) is played as the third song of the exit music set after the conclusion of Illuminations. When we were at WDW last month, there were 3 evenings when we were at Epcot, twice to see Illuminations, and once at dinner, ending just after Illuminations finished. All three times, we stood there and listened to the exit music, including the entirety of the Tapestry music. No, it's not like that's the only place I can hear it - I can (and do) pull out the CD to listen to. But it's a completely different experience hearing that music as you're standing in World Showcase looking out at the lagoon and the various pavilions of different countries.

A few months ago, the husband found an amazing video compilation of Tapestry. It doesn't really do the parade justice, but short of seeing it in person and letting the entire experience and music wash over you, nothing really can. I love being able to watch the video and re-live that particular moment of sitting on the curb, soaking in those amazing performances. I hope you enjoy it as well.