Sunday, April 14, 2013

Putting Our Toys Away

Clichéd though it may be, I recently found myself in yet another discussion about “Desert Island Movies”, that collection of films you would hypothetically take with you to a place where there would be nothing else to watch. Of course, your own choices are light years better than anyone else’s, though there are always a couple of titles others come up with you wish you had included, as well as a few on your own list you are forced to defend.

Wait…did I say “light year”?  Or Lightyear?

Yes, faithful reader, I am hopelessly in love with the trio of  Toy Story movies.  Yet until this recent debate, I hadn’t really given much thought to why these films are so hard-wired into the pleasure centers of my brain.  Certainly, in the dawn of Pixar’s technological leaps, the animation alone was reason to marvel at the screen spectacle that was the original release.

That wasn’t the only reason, however.  It was also the first movie we took our three year-old, first-born daughter to see.  Heading there, it was tough to describe the movie-going experience as anything other than “a giant TV on the wall”.  Lucy probably thought that was pretty cool.  After all, in 1995, giant TV’s on the wall weren’t everywhere, and certainly hadn’t been seen in our living room. 

The seamless story, along with the voices of veteran actors giving life to characters who weren’t real (but were a damn sight closer to real than Bugs Bunny), caused our daughter to emote through virtually the entire film.  She fretted, she worried, she cheered, she stood through the entire movie.  We should have gotten part of her admission charge refunded…after all, she never sat in the seat we paid for. I’m not sure I saw the movie until we purchased it on videocassette…that first time, I watched Lucy.

The second chapter of Toy Story came along later, now equipped with a Cowboy and Cowgirl, which mirrored the change in our own lives.  This time our little boy, Daniel, joined Lucy.  Our eldest child was a little jaded by this point, but the story did not fail to bring the kid out in all of us.  A couple of years later, Dan performed in an elementary school talent show dressed in chaps and a wide-brimmed hat, singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” to his delighted fellow students and a room full of parents and teachers.  Sincere and sweet-faced, he brought the house down when he spun his gimmicked lariat as he walked off the stage.

Between the second and third installment, Lucy was caught in a nasty storm on a Girl Scout campout, an ugly tornado that brought wind, torrential rains and death to an area of rural Michigan.  Heeding their vows as Girl Scouts, Lucy and her troopmates herded their panicked fellow campers into safe buildings, past fallen branches and downed power lines.  Throughout the entire ordeal, she nervously rubbed a talisman in her pocket, a small fast-food giveaway Buzz Lightyear she’d absently picked up off of the ground.  The two-inch figurine sits atop the hutch where I write at this moment, his salute as crisp as ever, his devotion to duty resolute, left here to watch over us and keep us safe from harm.

Left here I say, because Lucy is in college now.  As Toy Story 3 came out, our world had changed again. Our daughter away at the University of Michigan and our son busy with his high school activities and friends, my wife and I saw the most recent installment alone.

The latest movie ended with the toys repurposed and placed into the hands of new children.  My wife, who is not as prone to emotional breakdowns as me, had tears leaking from her eyes at the end. I, of course, was worthless.  But this silly little trio of movies was a pathway through our years as parents.  It was our time now to be repurposed, to go from teacher to mentor, from philosopher to sage, from parent to grandparent.

If someone should tell me a few years down the road that another Toy Story movie was  in the works, I think I will be elated.  I’m practically getting a Woody just thinking about it.

Please consider these other items written and/or performed by Marc Holland:
Live performances at:

Three plays co-written with Mike Davis-

Crenshaw Family Reunion 

Beauty and the Deceased

Night of the Livid Dad (one-act)

One play co-written with Kathy Holland-

Warren’s Peace

Are  all available at:

Coming Soon: A new one-act co-written with Kathy Holland-


Will be available at:

Novels under the pen name Quentin Tippler-

Hats Off For Homicide

And Coming Soon:

On the QT: The Collected Short Fiction of Quentin Tippler

Are for sale at:

Novels under the pen name Carl Stafford-

Son of Mann

And Coming in 2014:

Grandsons of Mann

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