Friday, February 25, 2011

I Wish I Had Your Life

Re-watching Sex and the City on DVD had made me realize why I loved the series in the first place - it’s funny.  I laughed out loud more than I remembered doing the first or second time around.  Yes, it’s stuffed with hokey puns, but those are some of my favorite parts.  Of course, for every stellar “paper beats rock,” there’s a cringe-inducing “You take a nap-a, you don’t move to Napa,” but when you love something, you forgive its flaws. 
If you don’t get those references, feel free never to pop in a single SATC DVD.  In fact, why not hate fun the rest of your life?
Sex and the City is artificial, and a lifestyle I would still judge harshly even if I could afford it (and I’m talking about “help” and $500 shoes, not fucking and drinking), but whoosh it’s a good time.  To criticize Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha, and Carrie as being gay men in disguise is to miss the frolicking point of the series.  It’s a comedy, a comedy with occasional pathos that celebrates friendship above all else.  Besides, creator Michael Patrick King is a gay man, but of the 20+ writers, only 5 are men (that 5 includes King and someone named “Ollie,” which I’m assuming is short for Oliver rather than Olivia).   
No one would ever accuse the series of being a feminist beacon, but let’s not confuse the financial power and considerable draw these four women (five, if you include Patricia Field) enjoy in life with the characters they portray.  You might not like the choices and behavior of Charlotte, Miranda, Samantha, and Carrie, but you have to respect the clout of Kristen Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Speaking of clout, here’s the news which inspired this post: Kristen Davis read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and liked it so much she decided she wanted to play Gretchen Rubin in a TV series.  So yeah, that’s happening.  I’d love to be able to plot the course of my life with a phone call, wouldn’t you?
So I can continue to love this series, I’m pretending the second movie didn’t happen.  Something needs to be horrifically bad to cancel out the brilliance of its inception, and Sex and the City 2 is exactly that bad.  I laughed once (thanks, Samantha) but only because, as The Editing Room put it, “we had to set the movie in the Middle East because it’s the only place left where we can pretend that being sexually liberated in 2010 is groundbreaking.”
I’d like to see them grow old gracefully.  Enough with the Botox, for fuck’s sake.  If Michael Patrick King really does go ahead with a third movie - and #2 is over $300 million world-wide so they just might - it needs to be clever as hell to end the story of these four characters in a way that honors rather than exploits what has come before, and at the same time erases the shit storm of the second movie from our minds.  It’s impossible, really.  But here’s hoping.
Remember when Sex and the City was a book?  I finally read it last year and mentioned it briefly.  While I still bristle at the “Bicycle Boys” chapter, the book is sexier and darker than the series (another thing re-watching showed me was how many of the sex scenes were played for laughs), and while it’s not as funny, it has a lot more substance.  It’s straightforward and straight up, a shot of vodka to the series Cosmo cocktail.  If you’ve been finding other things to read first, like me, it’s definitely worth your time.
So fair warning, Mrs. Davis.  Have fun with your series, but the book is always better.    

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Four-Year Anniversary

If you can find the cracks, you should go to medical school

On February 23rd, 2007, I could have died.  
This statement is as close to meaningless as you can get.  I could have died on December 1st, 1982 or August 15th 1996.  I could have died yesterday, I could die today, and I could die tomorrow.  But could have died feels more honest than saying I almost died.  
True, fire rescue doesn’t airlift you to a trauma center specializing in car accidents and gunshots for fun (or for free), but when I hear “almost died,” I think of heart attacks and strokes, sudden collapses, defibrillators and emergency surgeries.  If the other car had been going faster, if he’d struck my car at weaker point... but those thoughts end with could haveAlmost feels like an exaggeration.
Semantics aside, what I want to talk about this anniversary is pain.  
Doctors told me most breaks heal in 6-8 weeks, which is not nearly specific enough when parts of you are sweating pain.  I spent much of late April and early May of 2007 Googling broken ribs.  Nothing I found encouraged me.  Most posts began with, “I broke my ribs a year ago...” or “I broke my ribs two years ago...” and the posters were still in pain.  
Yes, there’s still pain in my ribs.  No longer a constant arthritic ache, it comes and goes depending on what I’m doing.  Sit up straight in my chair at work for too long and the rib I broke up near my armpit feels the pressure, like a throat that can’t quite clear.  Slouch too long and the rib I broke down by my stomach feels the pinch, like an over-tight belt.  Ignore the discomfort long enough and it will deepen and stretch into a dull thrum.
When I imagine my hip, I always think of a wide-faced gremlin gnawing the end of one of those state fair ostrich legs.  It crackles on and off throughout the day; only rarely does it shoot all the way down to my knee.  
Even more rare is the dull nutcracker feeling clamped around my pelvis.  That doesn’t seem to have a trigger, it just throbs up every now and again to say, you broke me too, remember?   

Winter, even such as it is in Miami, intensifies both the level and frequency of these aches.  The rainy season is just as bad.  It’s a steady hum, like a chorus of strings, occasionally deepening to a throb of brass, every once in a while punctuated by a quick clatter of drumsticks over cymbals or the plaintive moan you might hear in a Pink Floyd song.
My body has aged beyond its years, but I’m less concerned these days with how all this will hang together on the seventy-year-old version of me than with how it’s affecting me now.  Recovering from the accident, when I could barely move, I promised myself I would never take my healthy body for granted again.  Well, guess what?  I’ve been driving to work more than I’ve been biking, and it shows.  It shows in my waistline, in the longer recovery time once I get to work, and my negative attitude.  
Getting back on the bike consistently this past week has meant more than a rush of endorphins and sweat, it’s told me that my aches and pains are not as bad as I think they are.  Just like when I pushed myself to start riding in the first place, the ache is temporary and the reward goes on.
Some lessons I need to learn again and again before they sink in.  That’s why the pain it still here.  Its most important lesson is that each day is a gift.
After all, I could be dead.     

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Customer is Never Wrong, and the Guy Who Signs Your Paycheck is Always Right

Working in a retail or restaurant chain, the policies are simple.  Employee conduct is outlined in a handbook of some sort, aided with classes, and more often than not hammered home with badly-performed, outdated videos.  Customer interactions are even broken into handy bullet points.  When dealing with a dissatisfied customer, follow your ABC’s.  Acknowledge the complaint.  Believe we can do better.  Conclude with a solution.

The frontline employees, the cashiers and the customer service reps, their job is act like service bots.  If they don’t follow the rules in all situations, the handbook also has detailed descriptions of the disciplinary action they’ll face.  

If the clerk can't make a customer happy, enter the supervisor.  Usually hourly, making only a buck or two more than the folks in the trenches, a supervisor / lead employee / key holder backs the employee up, reiterating the company’s policy.  The dissatisfied customer must then re-state his or her complaint more vehemently.  This allows the supervisor to override policy, to a point (see Employee Handbook, pg 75).  

If the customer still isn’t happy, it's time to bring in the heavy artillery.  The retail manager's job is to undercut everything his or her employees have done so they look like assholes.  Depending on the nature of the complaint, this may involve rebuking the customer service person, the supervisor, or both, while the customer smugly looks on.  

We're so used to this ridiculousness that we barely notice how ridiculous it is, like Auto-Tune or Paris Hilton.  

At an indie, the employee handbook is the wit and whimsy of the owner.  Nothing is ever written down.  When it comes to customer satisfaction, there's rarely any behavior you can't play off.  Instead of a clearly delineated pay system which rewards X-number of cents after Y-period of time, you need to beg and crawl for every raise.  For employees, the environment hinges on whether the owner got a good night's sleep or had a decent breakfast.  For customers, you're always King (at least if the owner is around).  

 In fact, there are always dozens of customers who enjoy "special" treatment.  Sorry, we don't sell eggs by anything less than the dozen, or hold books longer than two weeks, or give discounts over ten percent, or hold newspapers, or make sandwiches with more than 3oz of meat, or allow refills . . . except for Mr. Zamuda / Mrs. Griggs / The Fallons.   You could be putting in 40+ hours for two years before you meet a "special customer" who's "here all the time" and "deserves special treatment," but God forbid you don't recognized him or he'll be forced to tell your boss how things have gone to shit since they hired you.  

Often, the demands of these "special" customers are so strange you wonder how they came about.  Two and a half packets of Equal for Mrs. Sanchez's coffee, heated precisely to 185 degrees... really? Mrs. Vollmer can keep a stack of this bestseller on hold for her book club behind the counter for six weeks?  Really?  Mr. Conner can keep his personal stash of frangelico behind the deli counter for us to mix into his order of rice pudding?  Really? 

I used to shop at a bagel place with this sign hanging behind the counter: "The only joy more exaggerated than the joy of parenting is the joy of owning your own business."  I think of that quote all the time when I see the way customers suck my boss dry, one sip at a time.  Every waking minute of his day is devoted to someone else.  

Miraculously, he doesn't seem to mind. 

Isn't that we want in a small business?  A tired but charming personage behind the register with kind eyes, one who sees we're a few bucks short on the total, then smiles and says, "Close enough" before bagging our purchase and inviting us to come again?  Someone who successfully carries the heavy weight of ownership, embodying the dream of entrepreneurial success, yet at the same time shows us how difficult it is, so that we never lose our heads and quit our stable jobs?

When you work for a small business, you trade a thousand corporate-hairball policies for the approval of one person.  I don't know which is better, but I do know I've stayed at Books & Books longer than any other.  I know when I had my car accident and laid in bed for six weeks waiting for my bones to knit, my paycheck arrived in the mail every pay period.  I know when my bike got stolen, Mitchell gave me his.  He offered to guarantee a down-payment to our landlord so Becky and I could move in.  He lent Becky the money for her Pigeon tattoo, then decided it was a bonus when she tried to pay him back.  I know he's helped get one employee's daughter into a good school, and instilled a love of basketball in her which changed her life.  

I've also screamed at him like I've screamed at no one in my life.  I've walked for blocks while tears streamed down my face, wondering how I could possibly go back to work.  That was years ago, when I put in way too many hours and had no life.  I've seen others burn out, though.  When you're given certain tasks but are allowed to make up your own rules to accomplish those tasks, the only person you really answer to is yourself.  Some crack under the pressure.  I found my balance.  

As much as Becky and I struggle with bills, it would take a lot more than money to get me to interview someplace else.   It's tough to imagine another job out there where I could be myself, every day, all day.  

My awesomeness is not in any handbook.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Girl with the Pigeon Tattoo Part II: Not Everyone Gets It

Becky and Eric Carle post-drawing, pre-tattoo

I while back I wrote about the tattoo collection on Becky's arm, but it's time to confess the dark side of  asking illustrators to inscribe caterpillars, pigeons, and monkeys on one's flesh.  There are wonderful, talented illustrators out there who don’t understand why she gets these tattoos, so they look down on her for getting them at all.

Becky moderated a panel of illustrators at SIBA 2010, featuring James Dean, Henry Cole, and Johnny Atomic.  Afterward, everyone stood around chatting.  Becky told the story of her three tattoos, one of which would be featured in the soon-to-be-released (at the time) Word Made Flesh.  When he thought Becky wasn't looking, Cole rolled his eyes and twirled a finger beside his temple – also known as the international symbol for “what a nutjob."  

Cole had already thrown shade at the Books & Books staff during 2010's SCBWI conference, but we were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Anyone can have an off night, right?  Well SIBA was strike two; why wait around for a third?  

Cole, you’re a hoot at the dinner table and you give a great presentation, but come on.  Why do you feel compelled to spit on someone else’s good time?  I'd think the illustrator of books like And Tango Makes Three and The Sissy Duckling would look at his fellow man with a little more love.  You won’t be part of Tattoo Girl’s Mortal Art Project*, a punishment I doubt you'd care much about.  The real punishment is that with your attitude in life, you’re gonna miss everything cool and die angry.**

Then there's Brian Lies, who decided that bigger meant better.  

Shelf Awareness, the best trade publication in the publishing world, featured Becky's Very Hungry Caterpillar tattoo in their write up of Word Made Flesh.  Lies saw the review and felt compelled to write in the next day to “one up” Becky’s tattoo, as he put it.  

This librarian loved Lies' work enough to have it indelibly inked on her arm, from shoulder to elbow.  

Yes, Lies, that quarter-sleeve from Bats at the Library is indisputably gorgeous, and certainly larger than the Caterpillar, but… did you draw it there? 

To claim petty victory because the librarian’s tattoo is bigger completely misses the point.  So far, Becky carries three pieces of original artwork from modern children’s book masters wherever she goes.  The tattoos are unique memorials of a meeting, a moment, a connection.  They are, like us, permanent markers in an impermanent medium.  Batsleeve is a perfect copy of a pretty picture.       

And if I may, Eric Carle is timeless; those bats are still on the clock.  

Sure this post is petty, but I don't like to see Becky's feelings hurt.  She's a big girl and she recovered, but the worse crime was that these encounters tainted children's books that we used to love.  Except for keeping them in stock because they sell, she didn't have strong feelings about Cole's stuff one way or the other.  But when Becky lamented how much she used to love Bats at the Library, there was real pain in her voice.

Picture books are meant to spread joy.  Now every time we sell one of these illustrator's books, or stock the shelf, or even see the spine, it's a tiny invitation to Bitter Town.

That's why I've resisted posting this for so long; I didn't want to ruin these books for anyone else.  But fuck it, you mess with the Tiger, you mess with the Turtle.

*I made that up to give it grandeur; whatcha think?

** With respect to Patton Oswalt

Sunday, February 13, 2011

City Link Magazine Starts a Monthly Lip Service Column

I wrote a piece called Kelly Cook for myself, which is why I write anything.  I had no idea I'd edit it into something to be performed in front of a crowd, a piece called We Are More Than These Pale Shells.  Further, I never imagined Lip Service would get together with City Link, re-edit the piece for print, couple it with some amazing artwork, and publish it again as Past the Flesh.

Re-reading it as Past the Flesh, I'm proud of my work and grateful for the opportunity to reach such a wide readership, but it's not the tribute to Kelly I had intended.  Trying to come up with one makes me realize it's impossible.  

In this picture, Kelly's emitting the laugh I mention in every version of the piece.  I had several pictures to choose from, and in every one of them she's laughing or smiling, and all eyes are on her (here I cropped my high school girlfriend and a boy whose name escapes me; both were staring at Kelly, laughing right along with her).  That laugh embodies Kelly.  When I close my eyes and imagine hearing it, I smile at the same time I'm missing her.

Hearing Kelly's laugh made you forget there was pain in the world. 

Given how prone the rest of us can be to whining about our lives, obsessing over slights imagined and real, wishing we had more and better, a person like Kelly holds the mirror to that behavior.  What right do I have to be miserable when my friend with cystic fribrosis is always happy?  How could someone so delicate be so filled with life? 

We'll never know if she would have been an accomplished artist, but she was certainly talented enough to stand out at our small school.  Kelly was kind to her friends, generous with her time and attention, and a joy to be around.   
The printed version of City Link’s table of contents was topped with Kelly’s words: “God, you’re such an asshole.  Can’t you just be happy?”  When she said that to me, it was probably the only time I saw her upset.  
I’d love it if I could say that I always look on the bright side of life because of her, but it’s a lesson I running into in one form or another again and again.  
I can say she the first teacher person who taught me that lesson, and I was lucky to know her.  

I wish I’d treated her better.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here's Hoping All These Words Will Matter

When the crowd at Books & Books asked Lane Smith about his process, Lane said it took him ten years to finish John, Paul, George, and Ben.  He works on a lot of things at once.  It takes time to finish a project, time to store it and forget about it, then time to revise with objectivity that only comes from distance.  Meanwhile, he’d visit Mo Willems in his studio nearby.
“'How’s it going, Lane?'”  Smith said, pantomiming a frantic Mo drawing at break-neck speed.  “'I just finished five books this morning.'”
Even if I make enough money that I could quit my job and write full time (and part of me still harbors that fantasy, that my first book will be successful enough that I could be nothing but a writer), clearly I’d fall into the Lane Smith category.  I’ll never be a novel-a-year guy.  
I’d like to think that means I’m about quality, like David Mitchell or Nicole Krauss, but honestly it’s more about attention span.  I’ve already entertained myself in my mind with this story half a dozen times before I sit down to write it.  I know exactly how it will end (well, 90% of exactly) and sometimes getting there just doesn’t interest me.   
I think I’ve found a solution; I’m writing two books at once.  On Mondays I work on The Block.  Tuesdays, the last morning Dylan is with his father, I take the opportunity to sleep in.  Wednesdays, it’s Scratch the Dead Places.  Thursdays, The Block again, Fridays, Scratch again.  The weekends are reserved for whichever one has compelled me less during the week.  When a story is shouting in your head to get out, all you need is a couple hours in the morning to keep it fresh.  If the pump needs more priming, then you’ve got a problem to work out.  You need a solid chunk of weekend time.  
More often lately, I’ve been lazy about my other writing during the week (if lazy can be described as work, cooking dinner, doing dishes, reading, or sharing time with Becky), and I need to spend the weekend on next week’s SwF&F posts, or my monthly book missive for THL, or something Lip Service will hopefully choose for a future event, or a piece for DadsMiami, or whatever I hope someone will publish to increase my profile.  
  I’m enjoying the process, but I wonder if I should push myself harder.  It’s one thing reading four books at once, but working on all these stories at the same time means I hardly move.  I only finished the first draft of my first book because I gave myself a deadline.  Should I do that again?
It feels so early in the process of both books to be worrying about this (even though Scratch is a third draft and The Block a second), but at the same time, I worry about getting older with nothing to show for my work.  Part of me is content to push the cursor a few inches a day, knowing the end will come eventually.  As Sugar says, “Your book has a birthday.  You  don’t know what it is yet.” 
Another part worries the end of me will come before my career ever starts.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Finding EO

As I mentioned, Becky and I went to see the re-release of Captain EO at Epcot Center.  The first thing you see on screens outside the theater for Captain EO Tribute is, as the voiceover carefully points out, “the original introduction, exactly as it appeared in 1986.”  This let’s you know the movie itself is as dated as Aqua Net Hairspray.  
Seeing video from the eighties (and I mean genuine eighties, not The Wedding Singer or Blow) is like watching Japanese games shows- there’s an I-can’t-possibly-be-seeing-what-I’m-seeing splendor to the whole enterprise that makes it hilarious and cringe-inducing all at once.  I offer one example, a man who we assume is a formerly-human victim of the Supreme Leader.  Sentenced to be a robot frozen into a pillar, he’s struck with the awesome power of Caption EO’s love / song / life force and transformed - much to his astonishment - into this guy:
I'm like, totally human again.  Let's dance about it!
As a film, the in-theater smoke and lighting effects were precursors to 4D films like Muppet Vision 3D, It’s Tough to be a Bug, and Honey, I Shunk the Audience.  The design of the Supreme Leader, an unrecognizable Angelica Huston suspended in cables as a kind of cybernetic spider, led directly to Star Trek’s Borg Queen.  A few years removed from Thriller, the moves are very zombie-dancerific, and we get to see Michael Jackson's signature Moonwalk.  
The thing is, my inner thirteen-year-old didn’t care about the film; he cared about the phenomenon.  
When EO first came out in 1986, it was what The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is to Universal today.  People didn’t buy tickets to Magic Kingdom to see Magic Kingdom, they bought tickets to Magic Kingdom because it was the only way to get into Tomorrowland and watch Michael Jackson as Captain EO.  Many people waited for hours, watched the show, then got back in line to wait for the next showing.  Some extra-dedicated fans - probably the same ones who petitioned for Caption EO’s return - spent entire days at the Magic Kingdom that way.
I was a month shy of turning fourteen, living in Syracuse.  We were not poor, but my family didn't have money to travel.  Every night for weeks, news footage showed lines of people waiting to get into Captain EO.  Looking at still frames in the newspaper, watching the making-of documentary, listening to the few classmates who had been say it was better than Thriller, I knew the movie itself was something I’d never see.  Eventually Jean Claude Van Damme made Bloodsport, and I stopped caring.  
Bring me EO, and I will punch him.
I’m so glad I finally got to see Captain EO.  Watching Michael Jackson boss a team of robots and fuzzy aliens around (the only crew who could believably take orders from him anywhere outside of a recording studio), wake up from a space crash covered in garbage composed entirely of fake rubber food (most expensive film per-minute at the time and plastic eggs-over-easy is the best you’ve got?), and seeing magical dance moves transform menacing robots into extras from an Olivia Newton John video was the hilarious high point of my day.  
Does that mean I didn’t miss much?  I don’t know.  Had I gone in 1986, my gawky, braces-wearing, mullet-sporting boy-child would have loved every frame of Captain EO.  I would have  dressed as Captain EO for halloween, and been every bit as believable a Space Captain as Michael Jackson.  
Except I can’t Moonwalk.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

March 2011 Indie Next List: I Couldn't Have Said it Better

Order Here
This will go out to booksellers across America, in print and online:

Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction That Changed America

by Les Standiford & Joe Matthews

Ecco, 3/1/11

"As riveting as any thriller, as poignant as any memoir, and as powerful as any investigative journalism, Bringing Adam Home is impossible to put down. The key scenes are beautiful, simple renderings of vulnerability and truth laid bare. This is a gripping work which should become a classic of the genre, not because of the crimes it explores, but for how it casts light into darkness."
- Aaron John Curtis, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
Sure, David Mitchell, James Salter, and Joyce Maynard have surged off of Books & Books' shelves in part because of stuff I've posted on the internet, but the Indie Next List is an actual cog in the publishing industry.  I think this means I'm officially a buzz generator.

Of course, my recommendations would mean nothing if not for the work of such great storytellers.  To all the authors who've enriched my life, even those I haven't come around to blogging about, I offer a heartfelt thanks.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Of Disney Trips, Moving Sisters, and the Importance of Lighting

Another road trip to Orlando has passed.  Becky and I helped her sister and two other girls move in to a third floor apartment... with no elevator.  Mattresses and dressers be damned, all it took was one huge, leather sofa to make my arms into jello the rest of the day.  Our labor was paid for by Patron Silver, Bud Light, and $5 hot-n-ready Little Caesars; I feel no shame.   
Apart from a buzz and the excuse to slam slices of cheesy greasy goodness, two things made the sore muscles worthwhile.  Sister Q’s roommates are both moving out of their parent’s homes for the first time.  In the family kitchen, one proud poppa couldn’t believe I drank my coffee black, especially a young guy like me.  
“What are you, like 22?” he asked.  Sister Q said she could hear Becky and I laughing all the way from the driveway.  He admitted to guessing low to make me feel good, but he kept repeating 38?  38? in tones of heightened incredulity rarely heard outside of a bad romantic comedy.  
Apart from learning I could blend in with college students in the right light (i.e. nine am in a kitchen with no eastern-facing windows), Becky and I got a free day at Disney World on Tuesday.  
Which park did we do?  ALL OF THEM, BABY!  Again, I feel no shame.   
We started with Test Track, Soarin’ (why not “Soaring”?  Does the missing “g” mean more fun?), and Captain EO at Epcot Center.  We moved on to Animal Kingdom’s Maharajah Jungle Trek so Becky could greet the tigers, and we rode Expedition Everest twice.  I’d never done Expedition Everest before, and it gives more sustained stomach butterflies than any other Disney ride.  At Hollywood Studios we took in Toy Story Mania, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  We would have ridden Tower and Rock ‘n Roller twice each, but butterflies have a way of turning into queasiness for me, so we decided not to press our luck.  
Then on to Magic Kingdom for the usual Pirates of the Caribbean-esque, Haunted Mansion-ey, Space Mountain-laden,  Big Thunder Mountain-drenched fun.  We also found time for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and I somehow managed to keep my motion sickness under control long enough to ride the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Teacups.  
I don’t know if people normally crowding Disney were whooping it up over at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or if it was just February first, but there were no lines.  Rides that said ten minutes barely took five.  The longest wait was Toy Story Mania, which claimed 40 minutes but took fifteen.  On Pirates, we just walked in and didn’t stop until we were looking at an empty boat.  We were so accustomed to waiting we just stood there.  Finally, the woman expediting the ride encouraged Becky, me, and our fellow guests to board.
This slowness also meant no parade.  As hundreds of people sat around the usual route and the guys pushed their carts full of glow-in-the-dark tchotchkes, Becky read from the program that the parade was limited to Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  People within hearing distance got up and left.  Becky and I walked out feeling superior to the hoards of saps who hadn’t realized that the parade was not late, is was just not.
Another benefit of the slowness?  Disney recommends reservations for Canada’s le Cellier - located in Epcot’s World Showcase - be made 180 days in advance.  Becky snagged us a reservation five hours out.  It’s a steakhouse, and I’ve never been anywhere in Canada approaching that level of expense, but it lived up to the hype I’ve been hearing the last few years.  
It was a day to die for, topped off with a meal to die for, with a woman who makes me glad to be alive.