Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Wednesday's World

Some days we just feel small. Then we're consoled with the reminder that, after all, it's a small world. Here are a few of its stories lurking in the margins of a wet Wednesday morning.

Alchemy: Here's a new documentary for Disney fans like me, as well as students of human nature, to be on the lookout for. It's "The Boys: the Sherman Brothers Story", covering the famous songwriting duo whose delightful tunes enhance so many later Disney films, like Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book, as well as musical compositions for Disney projects like the "It's A Small World (After All)" theme park ride. As it often seems to be, the story-behind-the-story of their collaboration is far more melodramatic than anything on-screen in the films they worked on. Apparently Robert and Richard Sherman were creative partners for six long decades despite hating each other with a passion:

[T]he friction that drove them apart fueled their creativity. It was a case of can't stand him/can't have a career without him. But what a career. Starting out as starving artists, they wound up under long-term contract at Disney.

Produced and directed by the songwriters' sons, Gregory V. Sherman and Jeffrey C. Sherman, as both a tribute to their fathers and a vehicle for possible detente, the film skirts the edges of psychological inquiry but doesn't probe too deeply. The origin of the estrangement is hinted at but remains a mystery.

The families, who grew up without knowing each other, are in the dark, and neither elder Sherman sheds much light on the subject. Although the rift is a source of pain and bafflement for both of them, their lack of insight is a product of a generation allergic to insight and their partnership a testament to the unknowable nature of creative chemistry.

Remarkably, a young 19-year old Robert Sherman was among the first US troops to liberate the Dachau concentration camp in the last days of the European chapter of World War II. Despite seeing what he saw there -- or maybe because of seeing what he saw at such a young age -- the man went on to co-create such life-affirming music, touching the lives of God knows how many people.

Honesty: A sudden gust of wind blew a landlord's $10,300 out of his bag and all over the street. As he scrambled to collect his money, he shouted for help... and got it:

"There were women in dresses and everything. They were down underneath vehicles picking up the money. Young people were picking up the money and they were just saying, 'Whose money is this?' and bringing it to me and handing it to me. So it was just amazing that they were able to do that. I'm very happy and very grateful."

When Walker got to the bank he had $10,300, meaning all of the money was returned.

Gratitude: In March, two young brothers were saved from their burning North Carolina home through the courage and tenacity of four volunteer firefighters. This week the heroes are being honored for their bravery in the line of duty, coinciding with the rescued 7 and 11-year olds being able to return home from the hospital... amazing, since when they were first brought in, initial fears were that they would not live through the night. A local news station offers a touching video account:
"One of the firefighters vividly recalls the frightening scene.
'You can't see two inches in front of your face. If you ain’t scared, something is wrong with you,' said James Cannette, a volunteer who was the first to go in.
'It's unreal, like somebody was pulling me to them. I walked straight to them, straight to the kids.'
Cannette says the heroism was a group effort.
'I appreciate them honoring me, it's nice, but everybody needs to realize it was the whole department that saved them two kids’ lives.'
The grateful mother gets the last word, revealing that sometimes sincere gratitude is sufficient reward for good deeds done:

'I probably can't thank them enough but I'm going to thank them all I can for saving my kids.'

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