Saying Hola: Saludos Amigos

              I’d like to say I planned to watch the documentary Walt and El Grupo before watching Saludos Amigos and Three Caballeros, but I’d be lying. I didn’t even realize the three films were related until after watching the documentary.
            Walt and El Grupo follows the goodwill tour that Walt took of South America, from which he returned only two months before Pearl Harbor. Walt and a group of artists, consisting of animators and story Disney people, went on a U.S. government all-expenses-paid expedition to encourage goodwill towards the U.S. The Nazi’s were also trying to sway South American governments toward their side.
            I’m really glad I happened to watch that documentary before the two films that resulted from it. Walt said he didn’t really know how to do the political stuff, but he’d go down there and talk to people and make some films about it. At the time, the Disney studio was on strike. The strike hurt Walt deeply, as his daughter explains in the documentary. Although this film wasn’t on my list for this project, I’m so glad I watched it.
            Saludos Amigos was definitely not what I was expecting. A lot of footage I saw on the documentary was actually in the film. And it wasn’t solely animation; that’s what surprised me the most. It was like a narrative of the South American trip, with Walt himself narrating. I’ll admit—listening to Walt talk for most of the film was incredible. I felt like I was sitting in an easy chair, next to a roaring fire with snow drifting outside, with Walt sitting across from me and telling me about this trip, almost as if he were showing me a scrapbook. This film felt more personal than the others.
            Undoubtedly I feel this way because I love Walt so much, and so hearing his voice for a prolonged period of time has an effect on me. In reality, I watched a film on my television, with no fireplace, I was sitting on the couch, it wasn’t snowing (though was certainly cold enough to), and Walt died over fifty years ago. Yet the film left me feeling as though I’d spent the evening with a dear friend who had just returned from an interesting three month journey. Walt’s magic never ceases to amaze me.
            It’s now early November and our first real snow came and stuck the day before Halloween. It was a little odd, making a pumpkin cheesecake with snow on the ground. And it was a little odd to be transported to South America with Walt for an hour when all the snow was blowing away.
            Ah, here’s something about Alaska you may not know: Chicago is the windy city, but Alaska is the windy state. The little dusting to one inch of snow we’d received on October 30th was completely gone by November 2nd. It didn’t melt—no, it blew away. We had a windstorm for two days that just picked up all our snow and carried it away. I don’t know where. We live in the Mat-Su Valley, but I work in Eagle River, which is near Anchorage. It’s about a 50 minute commute. Eagle River does not have the wind problem to the same degree that the Valley does. There is still snow on the ground here; they may have even gotten more. I’m terrible at measuring snow without hearing the amount the meteorologist decrees, so you’ll have to bear in mind my estimates may be off. Or probably are off.
            In any case, I was both excited and disappointed by the snow. I was excited because, well, it’s snow. I lived in Florida for over four years and I was excited to see it actively snowing. I love the seasons and enjoy each one in its time, but I also always look forward to the change. I like looking at the decorations out for the next holiday, and changing the wreath on the door and all of that silliness.
            So then why was I disappointed? And what kind of crazy woman am I to be excited and disappointed simultaneously? Well, I was disappointed because the house we’re buying—and closing on in roughly three weeks—does not yet have a fenced yard. And it will be much easier to put up a temporary fence without a foot of snow on the ground. So I was excited for the change but disappointed for the difficulty this change will add to our temporary-fence construction. We have three dogs; why yes, we will be constructing the temporary fence the day we move in. However did you know?
            I’m about to explode with excitement over moving into our first house. That is, the first house we’ll own. I’m also super excited to not have to deal with crazy woman upstairs (and you know she must be crazy if I, excited and disappointed at the same time crazy woman myself, can identify her as crazy).
            I’m also excited to watch Three Caballeros and see what’s going on there. I wonder if it’s the same half-live action, half-animation combination as Saludos Amigos? Thanks to Netflix (once again, causing trouble), I will be watching Three Caballeros this evening—before Home on the Range. What, you say? Well, Netflix only had the South American films on one disc, so I’d have to send off the disc I have, with both Saludos Amigos and Three Caballeros, wait for Home on the Range, then wait for the combined disc of South American animation to work its way back to me. No, thank you. I’ll just watch them out of order (sadly). But once again, they will be here in the proper order, not the Netflix-skewed order.
            Adios, Amigos!


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