Thursday, March 6, 2014

Wednesday Open Words

Every Wednesday at Austin's Coffee, (929 West Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park FL) Curtis Meyer hosts an Open Mic called “Wednesday Open Words.” The evening starts at 8pm but I was in Winter Park and decided to go to Austin's Coffee early to grab some diner. Students sat on the makeshift stage immersed in their laptops. The young woman seated across from me lounged on the couch intently reading a real paper bound book. I watched her expression as the read and at times she was visibly upset. Something horrible was going on in those pages. I imagined she might be reading "The Catcher in the Rye." As I recall it had a red cover. When she got up to leave she noticed my sketch. I had to ask her what she was reading. It turned out that "The Hunger Games" was required reading for one of her classes.

Curtis arrived and gradually he cleared the stage and set up a microphone. The theme for the evening was Disney Animated Films. Having worked at Feature Animation, I had to be a bit of an expert on the decade of films I worked on. Curtis was very stoked about the film "Saving Mr. Banks" which stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. He insisted I go see it. To warm up the crowd, Curtis had everyone repeat, "Pink pajamas, penguins on the bottom." It is a tongue twister which is rather fun to repeat again and again in succession. There were trivia questions between readers and I managed to guess the name of the dog in Disney Pixar's "Up." The dogs name was Dug. I won an odd green feathery pin with a yellow skull from "The Princess and the Frog." It is now partially stained with black ink from one of my pens.

One particularly fun poem used all of the Disney made up words. It turns out that besides Supercalafragalisticexpialadoshus, there are many others that are just as strange. Curtis wanted to find one word that defines each Disney film plot. For instance Rapunzel, the word is Tangled. For Snow Queen the word is Frozen. For Little Mermaid the word might be pants. For Beauty and the Beast the word would be Stockholmed. This might make a good drinking game to whittle each film down to one word. One line from someones poem stuck with me, "The beauty of the world makes demands on us.

Curtis was great about being sure the audience respected how brave all the speakers were. Public speaking is a universal fear. Snapping fingers were encouraged when the poems were profound. Seda Gay spoke about four grown women who returned to the Disney theme parks together. Two of those women were now divorced but they all stepped back to their childhood relationships discovering where they left off. One poet was accompanied by a guitar player. He said most of his creative ideas were formed by the age of 11. He imagined flying being an everyday occurrence to get through our heavy Earth bound days. He was of course speaking as Peter Pan. Curtis chimed in, "All you got to do is believe."

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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