Disney By Blog: The Buena Vista Social Cult

I can now officially say that I’m part of the Buena Vista Social Cult. You know. The cult of Disney. I’m certainly guilty of purchasing all the dresses and pixie wings that my daughter has “needed” over her 6 short years…

Now in the ultimate culmination of what they want us to do we’re going to Disney. Headiing out later this year but had to be booked many months in advance otherwise we’d not get a table at a hip $300 breakfast with the Princesses.

Yes that marketing machine that was borne out of Uncle Walt and imbued into our pop culture with the goal of strategically poisoning our children in a controlled manner over decades has brought us to this end game.

Me vs. the Dis.

Just the basic trip planning has been maddening…but thankfully my wife is the one who’s toughed it through all the Mickey Mouse blogs, and Ear Savers and Big Ear Chat pages to find out the best times to zig when everyone else is zagging…My love for her for simply taking on that challenge grows ever deeper…

The prep has been crossed, and now the adventure will begin. I’ll try to make a few Disney by Blog entries when we’re away!

Ancient Civilizations Lego Day

Star Wars
Image by MoonSoleil via Flickr

When I was young Lego was the be all and end all of all toys. My brother and I would build all manner of spaceship or boat, and play for hours. We used Lego to supplement our Star Wars figure fun…no Landspeeder? No problem, Lego will solve it all. Of course many years later the union between Lego and Star Wars would take on a new life with co-branded and co-themed video games delivered by Lucas Arts, and Star Wars themed Lego sets.

But my brother and I were first…at least in our own minds–no sets, no models, no instructions. We were old school Lego-maniacs!

The thing that stuck with me through our Lego play was what I learned from playing with that toy is that we could solve any problem, and build any replacement part or piece or item for any activity. I’ve built table legs, propped up beds, Landspeeders, X-Wings, and even a Death Star. I’ve used my imagination to build things I couldn’t see, I couldn’t touch, and that I couldn’t remember.

Later in life I would go through uni and earn a Mechanical Engineering degree, and those key skills I learned from my Lego days helped me through: problem solving, basic engineering, physics, efficiency (using the least number of pieces to achieve one’s goal), and design. As with all things I suppose I grew older, and Lego lay mostly forgotten until February of this year when I seized the opportunity to run the Lego club at the local library. I work with 40 kids in a single day (2 sessions of 2 hours with 20 kids a piece) every couple of weeks, and it’s nothing less than re-living my greatest childhood achievements–yes they all had to do with Lego and what I could build, and nothing to do with academics or sports.

A couple of weeks ago I picked Ancient Civilizations for the Lego club’s theme. Standard fare is to show a short presentation on what Ancient Civilizations are, and then Ancient Civilizations themed scenes or items created with Lego. After that mandatory first 10 minutes we set the kids loose and leave them to decide what they’re going to build. One 11 year in my older group decided to recreate The Sphinx on his own from a 1″ x 1″ black and white picture in one of the books the library had provided for inspiration.

At first I thought what a lofty goal and applauded his enthusiasm, but I didn’t believe that he was going to make it.  By the end of the  two-hour period he had reminded me exactly what Lego is for, and what is achievable by through sheer determination and an ability to see through the lines. Noting that all the pieces we have that the club live in six 40 litre Rubbermaid containers and mostly filled with odd-ball pieces, his achievement deserved a special mention. Thankfully the library agreed and put it on display.
The slide show below shows a few items (including The Sphinx) that created that day:

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My little friends had reminded me of that ultimate Lego moment: when one’s chest fills with pride; one’s heart glows brightly with achievement; and when the umbilical of one’s creation is cut and the creation shared with everyone. A pure moment.
When all was  done I thanked the youth for his brilliant contribution that day and ended as Palpatine would end his fleeting meeting with young Anakin in Episode I: The Phantom Menace:
…We will watch your career with great interest…
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