Saturday, November 25, 2023

The Readers Reply with Favorite Disney Movies

Recently, I asked readers to tell me their favorite Disney animated movie. I received an avalanche of emails, the most ever in response to any column I’ve ever written, including the infamous Bagpipes Fiasco of 2018. If you missed that one, I wrote a snarky essay about bagpipes, and within minutes of it appearing in print I started receiving really angry emails, including some from people in foreign countries, such as Scotland, Australia, and Naugatuck. Most of the notes expressed the writers’ strong desire to shove various components of a bagpipe — bass drone, tenor drone, chanter, etc. — up my nose.
Anyway, my request that readers tell me their favorite Disney animated movie, plus the reason why, actually generated more email replies, none of which, thankfully, mentioned the desire to shove large, noisy objects up my nose.

Many people wrote that their favorite Disney movie is the same as mine, and for the same reason. “The Little Mermaid” was released when my two daughters were young, and we had a wonderful time watching that film together a couple of times. (I am using, of course, the definition of the phrase “a couple of times” that means: more numerous than the stars in the sky.)

Others had similar daddy-daughter experiences, but with different Disney “princess” movies, such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “Frozen.”

Here are other Disney films mentioned multiple times by readers as their favorite: “Fantasia,” “Jungle Book,” “Pinocchio,” “Lady & the Tramp,” “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “Sleeping Beauty,” Peter Pan,” “Dumbo,” “Bambi,” and “The Lion King.”
It’s interesting to note that most of the movies mentioned are from the so-called golden age of Disney animation, that is, the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. This means one of two things: either the Disney studios produced more heart-warming, family-friendly films back in those days, or the average age of my readers is, um, let’s call it “middle-aged.” (I am using, of course, the definition of the term “middle-aged” that means: been collecting Social Security for at least two decades.)

Another interesting aspect of all the emails I received is the fact that I quickly recognized the titles of all of the golden age Disney movies, but I’ve never actually watched them. I’ve seen short clips from the films on TV or the Internet, but back when I was a kid the only way to watch an entire film was to buy a ticket at a movie theater. Raising five kids on a puny teacher’s salary meant my dad’s stock answer whenever we asked to go to the movies was, “Go out in the backyard and run around. It’s free.”

So, I’ve got a daunting assignment this winter: I need to watch a couple dozen classic Disney films. Since I’m already paying $20 per month for the Disney+ streaming service, it won’t even cost me anything extra. At my age, it makes a lot more sense to watch movies indoors than to go out in the backyard and run around, which won’t be free once I include the co-pays and deductibles for the inevitable visits to orthopedic specialists.
One final observation. A reader sent an email and explained that her favorite animated movie is not from Disney, but from Warner Brothers: “The Iron Giant.” (Never heard of it, but online reviews are positive. I’ll have to track it down.)

Then, this reader made my day by noting that her favorite animated character is Bugs Bunny. Yes! Bugs has been my hero since I was 10 years old. He taught me the art of sarcasm (which my 5th grade teacher did not appreciate).

Well, I think we’ve all got a lot of work to do. Those movies are not going to watch themselves. 

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Advent!

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. The word “advent” means arrival. During the liturgical season of Advent we prepare to celebrate the arrival of the Messiah — both His arrival as a baby in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, and His other arrival, when He returns to earth at the promised Second Coming.

Each year for the past three decades or so I’ve encouraged people to avoid getting caught up in the Christmas rush so early in December, and instead make some time to enjoy the season of Advent. (Did I just type “so early in December”? What am I thinking?! It’s more like “so early in November”!)
Not surprisingly, my efforts to convince people to focus on Advent have been about as successful as a guy trying to cut a 4 x 4 wooden post in half with a plastic butter knife. But I’m going to keep trying anyway, because it really is an important issue.

Advent is a wonderful prayerful season. Also, it’s the perfect antidote to all the hoopla and folderol of the modern Christmas season. (How often do you see the words “hoopla” and “folderol” in a sentence that was written after 1942?)

Let’s face it: 99% of our modern holiday traditions have absolutely nothing to do with Christ. I mean, think about it. A singing snowman? Reindeer, with or without a blinking nose? Chopping down a tree and bringing it (along with a few dozen spiders) into the house? Installing enough flashing lights so your house can be seen from outer space? Eggnog? Figgy pudding (which is what, exactly? I have no idea)? Getting blind drunk at office parties? 

The list goes on and on. And, of course, there is the main focus of the modern holiday season: maxing out your credit cards to buy expensive items that more often than not wind up in a cluttered corner of the basement by late March.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally bad-mouthing all of our modern holiday traditions. Many of them are harmless fun that evoke nostalgic memories of childhood Christmases from long ago. Despite popular opinion, I am not a Puritan who wants to outlaw Christmas. I’m just a Catholic who thinks we ought to pay a little attention to an important season on the liturgical calendar: Advent.

Therefore, here is some reverse psychology. Because of the way the calendar lands this year, the 4-week season of Advent is going to last exactly three weeks and one day. And the final day, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, is Christmas Eve. So guess how much Adventing is going to take place on that day? Right. Exactly zero.

(By the way, is “adventing” an actual word? I have no idea, and I suppose it doesn’t matter in our spelling-and-grammar-don’t-matter-anymore culture.)

So, here’s the reverse psychology: the season of Advent is so brief this year, you are going to completely miss it unless you make some effort right away to enjoy it. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Yeah, you’re right. That is some seriously pathetic reverse psychology. As if people are going to scramble to acknowledge something they always ignore anyway.

Well, let me instead go back to my usual sales pitch this time of year. We really ought to pay attention to Advent because it is a major season on the liturgical calendar. If we do focus some of our time on Advent, two wonderful things will happen. First, when Christmas does finally arrive, it will be really exciting, rather than anti-climactic after six weeks of non-stop hoopla and folderol. (There are those words again!)
Second, if we spend time honoring Advent during the first weeks of December — and let Christmas wait until it actually arrives — we just might use our credit cards more sparingly, rather than going into total max-out mode. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pay for a tank of gas on, say, December 28th because we still have a little credit available on the card? Would that be a Christmas miracle, or what?

Therefore, take some time to enjoy Advent this year. If you have to, pretend the Advent wreath with candles is a mini Christmas tree. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it, even if there is very little hoopla and folderol. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

It’s the Most Hectic Time of the Year

This is a very hectic week. Thanksgiving is on Thursday, November 23rd, which means this is the busiest travel week of the entire year. If there is anything more soul-crushing than the ordeal of modern air travel, it is the ordeal of modern air travel during Thanksgiving week. 

Most years, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is the first Sunday of Advent. Ah yes, good ol’ Advent. The Church has been trying for years to convince people — to no avail — that we should enjoy this wonderful season of prayerful anticipation that comes before the official Christmas season.
Unfortunately, no one is listening. Our culture kicks off the Christmas season in earnest the moment Thanksgiving dinner is finished or when it’s halftime during the Detroit Lions football game on TV, whichever comes first. This is different compared to the corporate retail industry, which kicks off the Christmas season in earnest on September 20th — at least based on what I saw filling the shelves at Walmart two months ago. Once Thanksgiving Day is about half over, the nonstop ho-ho-ho juggernaut steamrolls through the following four-plus weeks until everyone collapses with exhaustion on December 25th.

 There is an interesting situation this year. Thanksgiving comes very early — the 23rd of November. Therefore, the Sunday following Thanksgiving is not the first Sunday of Advent, which instead occurs this year on December 3rd. The Sunday right after Thanksgiving is the final Sunday on the Church calendar: the Feast of Christ the King.

So, we have a wonderful opportunity this year. We can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday the way it was originally intended, that is, by giving thanks. (You would think the name kind of gives it away, but far too many people have no clue.)

As a quick refresher course: In 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating November 26 of that year as a national day of thanksgiving to recognize the role of providence in creating the new United States and the new federal Constitution. (By the way, George’s use of the word “providence” referred to the care and guidance provided by Almighty God, not the capital of Rhode Island.)
Then, in 1863, as the Civil War raged on, President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November. Lincoln’s proclamation urged the nation to heal its wounds and restore "peace, harmony, tranquility and Union." 

This might come as a shock to those folks who think the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday is eating until you can’t move, watching football on TV, and making a list for your Black Friday shopping excursion that begins before sunrise the following day.

Nope, the meaning of Thanksgiving is to give thanks, specifically to God Almighty for all that He does to provide for us. I admit that’s not quite as exciting as installing 4 billion watts of holiday lighting in your yard or getting into a fistfight at the mall. But thanking God has never been really flashy — it’s simply the right thing to do.

If we could enjoy Thanksgiving this year with a heart of gratitude, understanding that Christmas is more than a month away, it could really improve our peace of mind. Then if we go to Mass on Sunday and worship Christ the King, understanding that Advent is still a week away, we’ll have our hearts in the right place.
And maybe, just maybe, a few people next week might realize that Advent is not synonymous with Christmas and is instead its own special Liturgical season. If that actually happened—  Well, I admit it sounds kind of preposterous nowadays. But never say never. After all, we’re heading into the season of miracles. With God, all things are possible!

I hope you have a great and grateful Thanksgiving holiday. Have a holy season of Advent, too. Then have a wonderful Chris—  No wait, I’m not even gonna say it. It’s way too early! 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Retirement Is Looming on the Horizon

Now that my expected retirement date is only a couple of years away, I find that I have way less tolerance for workplace stupidity. Don't get me wrong. Quite often the stupid workplace incidents are caused by me. In the past, when I made a bonehead move at work, I would offer a sheepish grin and say, “Well, here’s another opportunity to learn a way NOT to do it.” Or once in a while I would quote Bruce Springsteen: “Someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.” (Which prompted the rest of “Rosalita” to start playing in my head: “But now you’re sad! Your momma’s mad! And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money…”)

However, nowadays I seem to get really frustrated really quickly. My new favorite expression is, “I’m too old for this stuff!” (Except sometimes I might not use the word stuff.)
When something goes wrong at work, and my co-workers can measure my stress level based on which word I tack on to the “I’m too old…” declaration, I start thinking seriously about moving up my official retirement date. Instead of my current date, a vague “sometime in a couple of years,” I have an urge to set a new retirement date: “Exactly one hour ago! See ya!”

It’s not that I’m desperately longing to retire. I like my job, and the lively work environment allows me to pretend that I’m not quite yet an old geezer. 

Just as it’s true there are some days at the office that make me want to retire immediately, there are other incidents that make me very glad that I’m not retired. For example, recently I was in the locker room of the YMCA at about 6:45 in the morning.

In case you’re wondering, I go to the Y three days each week and swim laps for a half hour. Someone asked me why I do that, and I replied, “Because I want to delay, plus minimize the impact of, my first heart attack.” He said, “Oh come on. How do you know you’re gonna have a heart attack?”

I said, “Unless I get hit by a truck or a stray bullet, it seems inevitable to me. I just want to make sure when it happens the doctor uses the sentence, ‘It was a mild incident,’ rather than the sentence, ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could.’”
Anyway, when I was at the Y the other day, two retired guys were getting dressed after swimming. I estimated they were about my age, maybe a little bit older. One of them said, “So, will you be here tomorrow?”

The other guy replied, “Oh sure. If it wasn’t for this place, we wouldn’t have much of a life, would we?”
I was in the middle of tying one of my shoes, and I wanted to stand up and yell, “Hey, if you really believe swimming at the Y at 6 a.m. is the highlight of your life, then you are NOT doing retirement properly!”

Of course, I didn’t say anything. I just shook my head and thought to myself, “I’m glad I actually have to hustle now to get to work on time. That’s a whole lot better than the YMCA being the defining aspect of my existence.”
When I do retire, I’m not sure exactly what I will do to keep busy each day. But I’m going to make darn sure my morning visit to the YMCA is the start of my day, not the highlight of my day. 

In the meantime, I’ll keep hustling to get to work on time, so I can contribute my fair share of workplace stupidity. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Spending Way Too Much Time On Work Emails

A recent survey of 8,000 office workers discovered something I’ve suspected for many years: people spend way too much time writing email messages, most of which are either never read or quickly skimmed.

The survey was commissioned by Slack and conducted by OnePoll. To be honest, I’ve never heard of either of those organizations — if they even are organizations. Their names kind of sound like pop singers or Hershey’s new line of candy bars.

Anyway, the survey found that the average office worker spends 11 hours each week composing 112 separate work-related emails. Of these 112 emails, only about 40 are fully read and understood by the recipient.
It’s hard to determine exactly how many emails are fully read and understood, so the survey people calculated this number based on the fact that 62% of questions asked in an email go unanswered, while 49% of email senders get asked questions they previously answered.

That sounds about right. For my job, I send out about 130 emails each week. (I actually added them up from each of the previous four weeks to find out.) And I’m certain I spend way more than 11 hours each week composing emails. I’ve never had a stopwatch clicking on and off all day long as I write emails to find out — mostly because that would slow me down as I scramble to address the avalanche of messages I have to deal with each day. 

My full-time job is engineering sales for a commercial HVAC equipment distributor — a job description that does not fit all that well on a business card. For my work, it’s very important that I properly convey a lot of crucial technical information in my emails. There are so many little details, if communicated incorrectly, that could cause a major disaster at some point during a construction project. I know from experience that if a key piece of equipment is delivered to the jobsite on the wrong date, or with the wrong voltage, or the wrong dimensions, or the wrong direction of rotation of the blower — plus any of a hundred other things — it can be a really expensive mistake. I also know from experience that it’s not very pleasant to have a stressed-out contractor screaming at you over the phone and vowing to hunt you down and strangle you with his bare hands. 
So, yeah, I spend a lot of time carefully double-checking all my facts and figures and then crafting each sentence in an email to be as clear and concise as possible. (Something I obviously don’t bother to do when writing these newspaper columns.)

Another reason I take extra time to carefully craft each sentence in my email messages is the fact that many people in my industry have heard that I write a weekly newspaper column. That’s not to say they’ve ever read my column; they’ve only heard about it. You see, the people I work with day in and day out are really smart. But it’s the kind of smart where they can do long division in their heads down to the fourth decimal place. However, to them, being able to write complete sentences with proper grammar is kind of like being able to juggle: it’s a curious and interesting skill, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the real world. 

Even though I receive dozens of emails each day from very intelligent people that appear to have been written by a cat walking across a computer and stepping on random keys, I want to make sure my emails are grammatically correct. Irregardless of whether the recipients actually read them, my emails gots to be excellently goodly in the writing composition thingee. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Just Imagine There Is No God

Recently a friend said to me, “Hey Bill, here’s a hypothetical for you: Just imagine scientists are able to prove beyond a doubt that God does not exist. If that happened, what would you do?”

I replied, “Hmm, if that actually happened, I would go to Mass this Sunday and keep praying the Rosary everyday.”
His surprised expression made it clear that I needed to explain. This is what I told him: It’s actually very simple. If it somehow happened that so-called experts proved beyond a doubt that God does not exist, that would mean faith in God is a delusion. Well, for me personally, I would call it a very beneficial delusion. For example, my faith in God has made me sober, more loving and kind, a better husband and father, a more reliable and effective employee, more joyful, more compassionate, and much more optimistic than I ever was before I became a believer.

By the way, I’m far from perfect. But I am way better than I used to be.

While we’re playing this game of “Just Imagine,” just imagine if a pharmaceutical company like Pfizer developed a drug that made people more loving, kind, responsible, joyful, and optimistic. And even better, imagine this new drug had no adverse side-effects. No nausea, no hair loss, no constipation, no rashes, no toenail fungus, no double-vision, no headaches. And no lethargy, apathy, or any other reduction in the person’s drive, initiative, or focus.

If there was such a drug, doctors would be prescribing it to virtually everyone because it would improve the entire nation’s frame of mind, which, if you haven’t noticed, is not in such good shape right now.
If it could be proven that God does not exist, why would I want to go back to those old miserable days when I was a self-centered atheist? (Before you fire off a nasty note, I’m not saying all atheists are self-centered and unhappy. There are plenty of unbelievers who are kind and compassionate. But I wasn’t one of them when I was convinced God was a myth. That’s all I’m saying.)

People delude themselves all the time nowadays in an attempt to feel better. Why would I want to abandon something, even if it was a “delusion,” if it had such a positive impact on my life with no negative side effects?

Here’s some good news: it is impossible for scientists to prove that God does not exist. Science is only capable of making observations and drawing conclusions about natural phenomena. God, by definition, is supernatural, and therefore outside the realm of science. Expecting science to make any useful comment about God would be like using a plastic spoon to pound a nail into a 2 x 4 piece of wood. It is simply the wrong tool.

Now, here is even better good news: God is real. So, we’ll never have to deal with the “Just Imagine” scenario and be faced with the decision of whether or not to continue with a beneficial delusion. 

The very fact that we exist is strong evidence that there is a God. If there is a creature (us), then there must be a Creator (Him). In addition, our ultra complex biological systems, working with perfect precision, are also powerful evidence that we are the product of supreme intelligence and unfathomable design. Do you really think something that is more complicated and intricate than computer software code – DNA molecules, the blueprints of life – just wrote themselves by accident? C’mon, you’re smarter than that!

So, we’ll never have to play “Just Imagine” regarding God’s existence. Science has nothing to say on that topic. Putting your faith in God brings a plethora of good benefits – even more so, since He is real. So, go to Mass this Sunday and pray the Rosary. The positive impact of faith is not a delusion. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Be Prepared for the Most Important Day 

In this week’s gospel reading at Mass, Jesus offered a parable about being prepared. He used a wedding feast to symbolize Heaven, and a bridegroom to symbolize Himself. No one knew when the bridegroom would arrive and begin the feast. Half the people were ready; the other half were not. 

When the bridegroom finally came, Jesus explained, “Those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.” 

Later on, those who were unprepared came to the feast and tried to get in. They yelled, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!” The bridegroom replied, “Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.” 
Although we may not fully understand 1st century, middle-eastern wedding customs, we can understand Jesus’ main message. He is telling us we do not know when the most important day of our lives will come, but when it does come we had better be ready. If we’re ready, we’ll be invited to an awesome party. If we’re not ready, the door will be locked and Jesus will say to us, “I do not know you.” 

The most important day of our lives is a day most people dread, and a day many people can’t even admit will occur. It is the day we end our journey here on earth and stand face-to-face with God. It is the day of our death. 

The letter to the Hebrews is crystal clear: “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” 
More often than not, people do not know when this most important day will arrive. It sometimes comes without warning, maybe with a deafening crash on the Interstate or chest pains while shoveling snow. For others, this most important day arrives with a quiet whimper, such as a bedside vigil at a hospice facility. Whichever way it comes, that day will arrive for every single one of us. And when it does arrive, we either will be ready or we will not be ready. 

Now, here’s the most important question: What exactly does it mean to be ready? Jesus gives us a major clue in Matthew, chapter seven. While discussing this most important day, Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father.” Jesus then went on to offer the most chilling words in all of Scripture, which will be spoken to many people begging to be let in: “I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” 

Yikes! Not a pretty picture for those who are not ready. 

There are two clear aspects to being ready. The first is knowing Jesus. Not knowing ABOUT Him, but rather, having a personal relationship WITH Him. God created us in the first place to be in fellowship with Him, as the Baltimore Catechism said: to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. 

The second aspect of being ready is putting that relationship—that trusting faith—into action. This is not to say we have to work our way into Heaven, since no one is holy enough to do it on his or her own. It means instead that our gratitude toward God—our joyful response to His incredible love and mercy—transforms our hearts and minds, and is expressed in righteous living. We do good things because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to.
Ironically, the more we understand that our time here on earth is exceedingly brief and the more we are prepared to meet God, the more we can relax and enjoy these precious days and years. It’s a win-win situation: joy and peace during this life, and a heavenly feast for all of eternity in the next life. 

We don’t need to be frightened of that most important day. If we have a relationship with Jesus—if we put our trust and faith in Him and let the Holy Spirit guide our lives—we can be confident the door will be opened and we will be invited in to enjoy the Heavenly banquet.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Mermaid Movie Makes Moving Memories

Last week I described a work-related dinner with 12 men from the HVAC industry. The highlight of the evening was when one guy insisted that everyone share their favorite Disney animated movie. As I wrote last time, my favorite is “The Little Mermaid.”

It had been a while since I watched that film. So, wanting to make sure I got my money’s worth from my $20 monthly Disney-plus subscription, I watched the movie. Twice.

First, I watched the live-action film that was released earlier this year. I heard that some people didn’t care for it, especially since the actress in the starring role is Black. I read a comment online where a person exclaimed, “It just didn’t seem believable with her being Black.” Um, you mean as opposed to it being believable that from the waist down ... she is a fish?!
Anyway, redneck sentiments aside, I thought the live-action version was pretty good. But in my mind, nothing will ever top the original 1989 animated film. It is without a doubt a genuine classic. I know exactly why I am so fond of that movie. You see, a while after it was released, I purchased a copy on VHS tape and then watched it countless times while sitting in the middle of the couch with my six-year-old daughter on my left and my three-year-old daughter on my right. We had such fun laughing and singing along with the music.

To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t even finish typing that last sentence without getting teary-eyed. That was a very special moment in my life, when my girls were young and excitable and filled with wide-eyed wonder, and I was their indestructible, all-knowing, super-dad. Now, over 30 years later, they both are grown up, married, and living in other states, and I could best be described as the destructible, all-forgetting, stupor-dad. 

I suppose my brain could have decided to associate something else with that cherished time when my girls were young, such as a favorite TV show, a special family vacation, or a particular holiday. But in my case, my brain chose to connect an animated Disney movie to that special time. I had almost forgotten until I watched the film again. 
Right after a rousing crescendo, Ariel quietly, desperately pours out her heart while singing the concluding words, “Wish I could be / Part of that world.” Just then my wife walked into the living room and said, “Are you crying?”

“No, hon,” I mumbled. “Uh, a bug flew in my eye.” 

“Really? What kind of bug?” she asked.

“Umm, mermaid.”

One of my favorite words is nostalgia. It comes from the Greek nostos, which means “return home,” and algos, which means “pain.” When you think about wonderful days gone by, and realize you can never go back, it produces a little twinge of sorrow. But those memories also produce more than a little joy. Yes, it’s sad those special moments are over, but it’s joyful that they are forever etched into your memory.
The next time I visit my daughters, I think I’ll show up with a beat-up old VHS tape in my hand. Of course, they won’t have to watch me cry for two hours because who owns a VHS tape player anymore?

I wasn’t expecting an animated movie and its soundtrack to unleash a torrent of fond memories from the days when my kids were young and my hair was brown. I really “wish I could be … part of that world” one more time, just for an hour. But I know that won’t happen on this side of Heaven. But that’s fine, as long as those memories bring a smile — and a tear — to my face. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

What Is Your Favorite Animated Disney Movie?

A few weeks ago, I visited a manufacturing facility for some sales meetings and a tour of the shop floor. Afterward, we went out to dinner. There were 12 guys, all in engineering or technical sales, and so the conversation in the restaurant was rather raucous, especially after a few drinks. We talked about sports and trucks and hunting, and a few other “guy” topics.

Then one of the fellows at the table tossed out an odd question, and insisted that everyone had to give an answer and an explanation. His question was: “What is your favorite animated Disney movie?”

Everybody paused for a moment, then said, “Wut?” (It’s a new official rule of grammar that if a person says “Wut?” instead of “What?” it means he’s not so much asking, “Please explain yourself, good sir,” but is really saying, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”)
However, the guy who asked the question refused to take no for an answer. (I believe he was fortified by a few drinks at that point.) He insisted that everyone offer an answer.

So, the first thing we did, collectively, was scratch our heads and come up with a list of Disney animated movies. We could only think of a handful, which is fairly pathetic since, depending how you define it, there are anywhere from 61 to 130 Disney animated films. (The difference is based on whether you include live-action films with some animation, like “Mary Poppins,” plus the Pixar films, most of which are computer generated rather than animated, and were not part of the Disney empire until 2006.)

Some answers were interesting. For example, one young engineer insisted his favorite animated Disney film is “Ironman,” since he watched it on the Disney-plus streaming service. The movie was not made by Disney, nor was it animated, but this guy would not budge.

Another guy said “Die Hard.” Again, it’s neither Disney nor animated, but it did send us off on a tangent, as we spent 10 minutes debating the classic question: “Is ‘Die Hard’ a Christmas movie or not?”  

When it was my turn, I did not hesitate. I blurted out, “‘Little Mermaid.’ That’s my favorite. No question.”
When asked to explain, I said, “Well, the music is great and the story is great. But most of all, when that film was released, my daughters were six and three, and soon after, I bought a copy on VHS tape, and over the next many months my girls and I watched that movie at least 15 times. Per day.”

And just to prove my point, I launched into a Karaoke version of “Under the Sea,” without any actual Karaoke background music, but with a genuine Jamaican accent. Then, after that, I had to explain to everyone aged 30 and younger, what a VHS tape was. (And right after that I had to explain to a couple of shell-shocked young men that despite everything they thought they understood about life, it is indeed possible for a guy in his mid-60s to suddenly belt out a song in the middle of a restaurant even though he doesn’t drink.)

Despite the fact we all exclaimed, “Wut?” when that odd question was first asked, it turned out that it produced hilarious conversations for at least 45 minutes. We were really enjoying ourselves so much, we didn’t even notice that most of the patrons seated near us wanted the restaurant manager to call the cops.

I think it’s a great question, so I’m asking the readers of this column (all six of you), to send me an email stating your favorite Disney animated movie and an explanation of why. Impromptu singing is, of course, welcomed.