6:00 PM: After our surprisingly satisfying meal at Chick-fil-A, The Bootleg Family began the short walk across the parking lot towards our city's crumbling 1975 entertainment archetype – the San Diego Sports Arena.
6:05 PM: The east entrance appears to be closed as it's cordoned off with what appears to be canary yellow crime scene tape.
6:10 PM: The north entrance isn't open, either. They're not seriously filtering 2,000 people through one entrance are they?
6:15 PM: Sho' nuff, it seems. The line for the west entrance isn't too long, but the realization of only one way in is beginning to register with all the other lollygaggers. In seconds, this line is now snaking through the parking lot and blocking cars from coming through.
6:16 PM: There's an off-duty hooker or stripper or pro athlete's wife immediately behind us and her grotesquely enormous store-bought boobs appear to be the only things on her not ravaged by the hands of father time, the hands of her pimp smacking her or her obvious smack habit. Oh, look, she brought two of her bastard kids. Adorable.
6:20 PM: With 10 minutes until show time, the length of the line is officially "airport security". Amazingly, we're already inside, but there's no way they start this thing on time with half the audience wrapped around the outside of the arena.
6:25 PM: At last count, San Diego's population was about 1.2 million – so what are the odds that I run into a father I know standing in the same souvenir line as me with the same juxtaposed emotions of love for his child and hatred for himself after handing over $20 for a glow-in-the-dark Little Einsteins baton.
6:28 PM: We pass a concession stand and I briefly entertain the notion of a Sam Adams with my Mickey Mouse evening. I think better of it when I realize that Mrs. Bootleg could use it against me during our inevitable alimony hearing.
6:30 PM: Our seats are in the lower loge section (pronounced "lodge" by Mrs. Bootleg on more than one occasion). Not bad, actually. We're elevated one section above the floor seats and pretty much dead center with the stage. $25/each. (Sorry, but when you buy as many tickets to ballgames each year as me, you have to take pride in landing decent seats – even if it's for an indecent event.)
6:35 PM: The show still hasn't started.
6:40 PM: The show still hasn't started.
6:45 PM: The show still hasn't…ah, there we go. The arena lights are turned off and immediately half of the toddlers/preschoolers in the audience shriek in fright, which causes the infants in the crowd to cry in response. If you had told me that the adjective "bloodcurdling" would be used in this review, I doubt I'd have believed you.
Hey, it's a six foot tall Mickey Mouse! Historically, our son Jalen has been
6:50 PM: Mickey's doing a bit with our (relatively) non-costumed hostess for the evening. She's playing a mail carrier and the cardboard faux setting is the post office. The name of the non-costumed character? "The Postess". I would've gone with "Fe-mail man". ("Fe-mail carrier, Bart.")
(So, here's the plot: Mickey's having a music party and – via the magic of cross-promotional synergy and Playhouse Disney platform integration – all his "friends" from the other TV shows are invited.)
7:00 PM: The Postess is off to deliver the invitations with her first stop being the home of The Little Einsteins.
Little Einsteins is a cartoon featuring a multi-racial cast of four preschoolers – "Leo" (white); "Annie" (white); "Quincy" (brutha); "June" (ethnicity undetermined…it seems pretty clear to me she's a poorly-drawn Asian, but Mrs. Bootleg swears she's supposed to be white. These are the arguments you'll be having in your 30s, so screw you for judging me.)
The parts of the Little Einsteins are being played by their parents this evening. "Leo's" voice is actually lower than mine. Meanwhile, the "Quincy" character is reading his lines with an awful lot of "You go, girl" considering he's a 20-something man playing a 5-year-old boy.
7:05 PM: We're now off to the Hundred Acre Wood, home of Winnie the Pooh. This is probably my boy's favorite show (this week). It's the same Pooh/Tigger formula y'all remember, but with a little white girl named Darby thrown in to the mix. The three of them solve "mysteries", like the one where they couldn't figure out why duplicates of themselves were running around the forest. Turns out they were looking in a mirror.
Jalen has nearly lost his mind at this point, looking at me, then at his mom – still giggling uncontrollably – with that "this is the greatest day of my little life" look on his face.
I've just noticed that the Pooh and Tigger costumes can blink their "eyes", while their "mouths" move in reasonably close synchronicity with the overdubbed dialogue. Creepy or cool? Answer: creepy.
7:10 PM: A real, live Handy Manny is onstage now. I'm not as familiar with that show, as Jalen's only just recently started to watch, but here's the gist: Manny (voiced by Wilmer Valderrama) is a Hispanic handyman who peppers his lightly-accented English with Spanish words and phrases in a way that EVERY Hispanic since Ricky Ricardo has been portrayed on TV even though I've never known one to say, "I'm going to the biblioteca." He's helped out by a bunch of talking tools.
Hard to believe Valderrama didn't have time in his hectic schedule to play the part of Manny here. Topher Grace isn't walking through that door, Wilmer.
7:15 PM: Intermission? After 30 minutes?!
7:30 PM: We're back with the Little Einsteins, who've returned with samples of music from around the world. In what would be the most unintentionally offensive n' comedic moments of the evening, the Einsteins demonstrate several different dances.
First, an actor made up to look like Soda Popinski does an embarrassingly exaggerated version of this dance.
From there, a heavily-veiled, almost certainly non-Indian woman is out to a traditional Indian dance. We know it's an "Indian" dance because the "Leo" character is off to the side of the stage blowing a pungi and playing the role of snake charmer – complete with fake cobra rising from a basket.
I was not aware that Italy's tarantella dance had anything to do with a tarantula spider. So, to hammer the point home, a rubber spider is lowered from above on a string and jerked around by the stagehand while the characters dance under it.
Next, is a Chinese dance that's so bad and poorly choreographed that I can't help but think it was performed as an insulting retaliation for China's human rights violations and six-year-old gymnasts.
Their grand finale is an African dance. Simply put, it fell between this…and this on the ol' bojangle scale.
7:45 PM: Mickey Mouse is back out on stage and brings Minnie, Goofy and Donald Duck with him. Donald is pointing his tail feathers towards the audience when he dances, which is an immediate crowd pleaser with Jalen, who finds anything related to the butt inexplicably hilarious.
8:00 PM: The show ends with all the characters doing abbreviated versions of their respective dance numbers. Speaking of "abbreviated", I'd like to thank the Disney conglomerate for the hour of entertainment.