Saturday, March 24, 2018

Review: Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt's Dream Spotless

Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt's Dream Spotless Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt's Dream Spotless by Ken Pellman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'll admit, I'm predisposed to loving all things Disney, being born into a family of Disney fans, as I was. And it's true, I'm predisposed to loving all things related to keeping things clean, having OCD and mysophobia*, as I do. Still I think this book is fascinating to nearly anyone who is at all curious about theme parks in general, Disneyland, what it's like to be a Disney Cast Member, or wondered how the parks maintain that exterior shine of glitter and pixie dust when you just know people are puking after riding teacups, and that many of those thousands of little kids brought in every day are still pretty darn inept at using the potty.

Enter the Janis! Not Janis, like the Muppet, but Jani-short-for-janitorial. Plural. They see all, they know all, and a lot of that is recorded in this book. I resisted opening it up to the chapter containing all their grossest stories to read them first, but when I finally got to that roller coaster ride full of "oh my god"s and a few moments that might make you need to put down the book and go wash your hands, I found myself wishing it was longer. This book is just fun. The authors do a great job of bringing you into their experiences in a way that makes you feel like you belong, like you're right there behind them trying to keep up as your broom and pan (metal, if you're lucky) knock against your knees. It's your first day doing what they do, and you're feeling lucky to get to do it.

The book definitely could have used an editor, or at least a proofreader. If you can overlook the editing errors and typos, the writing is very good and the content is fascinating. I loved this book, it's one of the best books I have read all year (365 days, not just January), and I hope that they will get together with some cast members from Walt Disney World to produce a follow up. If they do, I'd be honored to be the one to proofread it, pro bono, just to get to be the first to read it.

*That's germs, not mice. I love mice! Very clean mice.

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Friday, March 23, 2018


In the shower yesterday I had the serendipitous luck to hear this story about a couple of authors coming to the area who have had obsessive-compulsive disorder slither its way into their work, much as it has into mine. If you get a chance, please visit this link to the story. I'll definitely be checking out their books.

One topic they touched upon briefly that made me "hell yes"-out-loud was how common it is for people to say, "Oh I'm so OCD about" X or Y. This is something that makes me cringe on a regular basis, and not just because of the grammatical problems it creates. I don't want to be hypersensitive about it, but on the other hand it trivializes something that is anything but trivial for the people who live with it. So please, unless you honestly mean that your brain torments you with fears that prey on everything you care about most, and that X or Y are legitimate clinical tics that compel you to publically repeat often-humiliating behaviors that you wish you could stop doing like you wish you could keep breathing, please don't say you're "OCD" about it. #OCDIsNotAnAdjective

Anyway, I've been meaning to post some more sample poems to my site for a while, so I'm taking this as a nudge to share one on this topic today. First published by Open Minds Quarterly of Sudbury, Ontario, I hope you like it.

High Functioning

Mr. Hughes, or may I call you Howard?
I’m sure we know each other well enough, living
in the same disturbance as we do, albeit
at opposite ends of the century.  Me, obsessive, you
compulsive, and also the other way round.

We’re grifters, you and I
flashing a series of parlor tricks, one furtive tic
and then another. Artists of escape, slipping
out of handshakes, turns of doorknobs, disappearing
into the safe small sterility of hotel rooms
and other dark, yet shiny places. Even there our most delicious
cravings are coated in terror that drops
into our laps in the quiet late at night like a flat, ovoid
cockroach losing its grip as it crosses the ceiling. Infected?
Syphilitic movie starlets? MRSA creeping hot and silent
into the divot of another scab irresistibly gouged
by frantic fingers desperately digging for the clean, fresh
untainted flesh beneath the platelet crust of our own mortality?

We hold the world together with cellophane tape
and a ton of excuses. It’s a nonstop sideshow
trick, pulling a never ending rope, hand over hand,
even as the fibers fray apart. Knotting faster than the human eye
can see. The imperfect spaces terrify me, the same as you. The truth
we hide beneath forcibly-slowed breaths is that
we can never be sure. Are we hallucinating or are they blind?
It’s still unanswered, Hughsy, and we’re both held
captive by that question, in the same dark cell.
Our fears crossing hand over hand through time.