Whatever X, Day XXIX

In which a fine tradition of big fat dorkery is revealed.

MAY 13, 2003: Proof I Am Like This in Real Life

We enter a recent IM conversation between Bill and John shortly after John notes that he’s thinking of taking Athena to Disneyland at some point in the reasonably near future:

[12:47] bill: Excellent idea. Children should go to Disneyworld-or-land. Although you should avoid the Small World ride.
[12:48] john: Yes. Nightmares.
[12:48] bill: Yes.
[12:49] john: Although, relatively speaking to the average size of the planets in the solar system, and those we’ve discovered elsewhere, it is a small world. I mean, it’s factually correct.
[12:50] bill: Hm, well, that depends on how you average it, doesn’t it? I mean, yes, if you just average the masses and divide by nine, sure.
[12:51] john: Well, averaging diameters as well.
[12:51] bill: But on the other hand, only four of the planets are larger. The other four are smaller.
[12:51] john: Well, earth is the median, sure. But that’s not the same thing.
[12:52] bill: I don’t know. I feel certain that anything the dolls sing must be incorrect. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.
[12:53] john: I would grant that their process is wildly wrong — that is to say that their rationale for concluding it’s a small world is deeply flawed. However, the conclusion is verifiable.
[12:54] john: Indeed, none of the accumulated data within the song even remotely leads to the conclusion that it’s a small world after all. At best, it concludes that it’s a world of indeterminate emotional states, rooted in a communal impulse.
[12:54] bill: (phone)
[12:54] john: Likely excuse.

24 Comments on “Whatever X, Day XXIX”

  1. I believe the trueness of the statement “It’s a small world” can only be judged based on the sizes of other worlds on which intelligent and/or annoying-amusement-park-ride-creating life has evolved.

  2. Aaaah! Flashbacks! To 1987, when my sister and I rode “It’s a Small World” and the ride got stuck.

    For fifty-five minutes.

    In the REFRAIN.

    We almost made a swim for it. It might have been worth it save for the moving mechanical parts in the water.


  3. I believe the dolls are concluding that due to a general lack of emotional diversity throughout the human species, our similarities and shared temperments counter the physical distances between individuals. This seems to imply that Disney’s adolescent automatrons are quantifying our “small world” in a 4-dimensional space, with range or degrees of emotional states as the additional dimension. If one integrates the emotional states (Es) over the human population P, one could calculate this emotional range quotient (ERQ).

    /\ P
    | Es = ERQ
    \/ 0

    After identifying the location of the population in 3-dimensional space, and solving for ERQ in a Euclidian XYZ map, one could evaluate the true size of Earth (in terms of emotional distance density) and contrast it to other comparable celestial bodies. By this method, one could accurately prove or disprove their “small world” hypothesis. Though presumably this work has already been done in a peer reviewed journal.

  4. You know why It’s a Small World keeps “breaking down” now, don’t you?

    The boats aren’t designed for the 2008 version of American butts, they’re designed for the 1964 butts.

    The big butts are running the boats aground.

    The employees (cast members), by the way, are aware of this. If you are in line for the ride (why would you be, anyway, it’s terrible), and they bar you from entering a boat that still has a few seats empty… if no one in the ride is a huge fatty, take a look down.

    “No, sir, you can take the next one. We have too much… respect… for someone of your… heft… to make you ride with the commoners.”

  5. I blame IM, personally. I have a similar conversation saved on my computer, appropriately labeled “why JP & I shouldn’t talk on IM” that subsequently led to the two of us quizzing our friends for two days straight as to which was better, sponge, or hedgehog.

    I still maintain that in all areas except personal hygiene, hedgehog is best.

  6. I’m not sure which is the better revenge on the infamous Disney ride. The Simpsons or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

  7. Tom, if the song is still stuck, consider the following:
    Here a story … of a lovely lady … who was bring up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold, like their mother, the youngest one in curls …..

    You get the idea. Cures almost any earworm.

  8. Sadly, now there are only 8 planets, and though Pluto may be small, I think it, and Xena (now Eris) should both be counted, even if they are too small by International Astronomical Union standards. Me, my wife and the 3 and 5 year old are off for our first experience of DW this December.

  9. The older I get the more I appreciate the It’s A Small World ride. The song is worth being able to sit in a cool, indoor, and otherwise (mostly) un-noisy environment for a few minutes. I even got to enjoy the visuals after a while.

  10. (From many years ago, when Disney was busily turning all its rides into movies. It’s not all my fault; my friend Allen came up with the original idea, based on a comment by Michael Eisner that this was the one ride they couldn’t make a movie out of.)

    [The following preview is approved for all audiences.]

    BLACK SCREEN. Words fade in in large letters. Music starts – the theme song, in a minor key…should sound creepy yet almost recognizable.


    Behind the words, images fade in. A child is playing on a swing, laughing. The picture appears to be home-movie quality. The words fade out, then the picture does as well until the screen is black again.

    Words fade in again.


    Image fades in of a mother crying, holding a poster. It’s a missing-child poster, with a picture of the child shown on the swing. Words fade out, then the picture again. New words fade in:


    Fade in another woman in an empty church, praying. Fade out the words, fade out the picture, fade in new words:


    Fade in: Soldiers walking children to school. Fade out the words, fade out the picture.


    Voiceover: Children are vanishing worldwide.

    (Image montage: milk cartons, junk-mail inserts, posters on telephone poles, websites. All showing missing-children images. A newspaper, headline “THIRD AREA CHILD VANISHES”; underneath, “HUNDREDS NOW MISSING WORLDWIDE”.)

    A multinational team is their only hope.

    (An ethnically-balanced group of about 8 people getting ready for the big assault. Keanu, Michelle, and Jean, a token black guy, and a few redshirts.)

    They must work together to stop a madman from turning the children into an acoustic weapon that will devastate the world.

    (Assorted clips from the big climactic fight at the end. We probably spoil half the surprises in the fight here – it’s a trailer, that’s what we do.)

    Keanu Reeves.

    (Keanu diving to one side, firing a gun blindly.)

    Gary Oldman.

    (Gary Oldman stalking in front of a crowd of terrified kids from around the world. They’re half-heartedly singing the theme song; he’s obviously displeased with their progress.)

    Michelle Yeoh.

    (Michelle Yeoh beating the crap out of a goon.)

    Jean Reno.

    (Jean Reno putting a gun to the back of a guard’s neck.)

    and Sean Connery.

    (Sean Connery sitting at the head of a table. The rest of the team is sitting around it.)

    Connery: “We have no idea where this madman is, but he _must_ be stopped.”

    Keanu: “He can’t be that hard to find. It’s a small world, after all.”


    (Cut back to the table. Everybody around it is glaring at Keanu.)

    Keanu: “What?”

    [ This film is not yet rated. ]

  11. Wow. If you change the names, this conversation could totally have been culled from the IM logs of conversations with my college friends. Just, wow.

    I expect you also argue the finer semantic points of grammar and word definitions/connotations with your friends as well, John?

  12. It’s a world of laughter
    A world of tears
    Its a world where I need a dozen beers
    Or a gallon of wine
    Would make this ride just fine
    Its a small world after all. (hic)

    There is just one moon
    And one golden sun
    How I wish that I could bring my shotgun
    I would quickly take aim
    Puppet parts fall like rain
    In a small world after all.

  13. Yessss…. I need to find a total dork with whom I can converse over IM in a similar fashion…. I feel like my mental “dorkiness” muscles haven’t been flexed in some time. I get funny looks =)

  14. This actually reassures me quite a bit.

    People rag on me for bringing up points like this constantly.

    It is a small world after all, Mr. Scalzi.

  15. In the immortal words of Steven Wright …. “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.”

  16. “Yes, John. But when the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.”

    (This is where stream-of-consciousness thinking gets you)

  17. Small World Filk, after my daughter and I went through the ride (age 5):

    From her head to her feet, yes she is quite petite.
    She’s a small girl after all.

    She’s a small girl after all.
    You can see she’s not too tall.
    and in fact she’s rather small.
    she’s a small, small girl.

    There were a couple of verses, but I won’t subject you to any more than necessary. You’ll never get the blasted tune out of your head, but at least you can get some slightly more interesting lyrics. My options were limited by circumstance, so roll your own if you’ve got ’em.

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