Intern Post, Julie Matsen: On-the-Job Journaling (Disney College Program)

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Photo by Julie Matsen

When I worked at the Studio Backlot Tour, a now-defunct attraction in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I kept a pen and reporter’s notebook in my costume pocket. We were all supposed to keep pens and paper handy in case we encountered a guest who had trouble with spoken English. Most notebooks remained blank. Mine was mostly filled with descriptions of the Backlot Tour, sentences scrawled in between tour groups and on lunch breaks. The click of love-bugs on the windshield; the shudder and sigh of the air brakes; the heaviness of humid Orlando air made thicker by the flora in the neighboring greens department. They were feelings, mostly, and snapshots.

Some jottings were near-clinical measurements: The tram is 163 feet long, red, flat-nosed. The doors of all six cars would open out toward the tour groups, like some retro stretch DeLoreans had been strung together. “Por favor mantenganse alejado de la linea amarilla, hasta que las puertas abran completamente,” we would tell the guests. “Please stay completely behind the yellow line until those doors are all the way open.” Some would ignore the instructions and run up to the cars.

Others were impressions along the ride path. The movie props that dotted the landscape of the tour were beginning to appear derelict from their constant exposure to the elements. The plywood fighter jets from Pearl Harbor, the wings of which occasionally fell off and had to be supported by crates, were an obvious example. I sometimes found new ways to describe the set of Catastrophe Canyon. This centerpiece of the tour had pyrotechnic and hydraulic effects, and writing about the balance of oil derricks bursting into flame and seventy-thousand-gallon waterfalls felt natural.

Some notes were more visceral, like how I cried after my first Signal 70—radio lingo for a lost child, in this case an eight-year-old girl wearing a Rapunzel t-shirt. I never saw the girl, except on the cell phone of her worried father. I had been a Signal 70 once, on my first trip to Disneyland. I walked right up to a security cast member and announced that I was lost, as this little girl had done. I saw a flash of my mother in that dad’s panic. I wrote about calling my mother when that shift ended. I wrote about my coworkers, the fellow cast members who grew to become great friends (the Williams family especially). I wrote about living in company-owned housing, which was part of my contract as a participant in the Disney College Program. I wrote about the soft down of the duckling I once rescued from the ride path, later to see it rejected by its mother because it smelled like my hands. We had named it Squirt. I wrote about Julian, the baby that had been thrust into my arms when his parents saw my nametag. It is against company policy to hold guests’ babies, however adorably named they may be. Still, I was not about to drop him.

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Photo by Julie Matsen

Mainly, I would try to record things which made me smile. Entertainment Cast Members in Indiana Jones costumes would play daily tennis matches between their shows. During Star Wars Weekends, a few Sand People practiced their runway poses while an alien mercenary rode a unicycle. Some guests would see a war veteran in their midst and thank them for their service. A child sent to the parks by the Make-a-Wish Foundation would find their way to the front of our attraction queue, and we would find ways to give their day a little bit more magic. Really, the magic came from them, and we just had to redirect it.

Interning at Walt Disney World as part of the Disney College Program did more than give me a unique perspective into the field of theme parks. My reporter’s notebook became an invaluable yet inadvertent asset during my Barrett thesis research, in which I explored the phenomenon of storytelling in theme park environments. More than that, working in the Backlands became an exercise in collecting moments, a skill which I was able to further develop as a section editor and blogger for Superstition Review. In hindsight, the things that made it into that notebook are the things that inspired me to keep writing.

Past Intern Updates: Christina Arregoces

Christina Arregoces, Issue 7 Art Editor and Issue 8 Interview Coordinator, discusses her pursuit of literary outlets and plans for the future.

HeadshotAfter interning at Superstition Review my freshman and sophomore year, I went on to immerse myself in any (and every) literary outlet I could. From ASU’s State Press Magazine to Lux Undergraduate Creative Review, from the Barrett Chronicle to Every Day Fiction, I applied for, submitted to, reported for, and wrote for just about every publication that I was lucky enough to stumble upon.

And between papers, classes, and incredible mentors during the next year and a half, I then stumbled upon copywriting.

I now happily work as a part time copywriter at a marketing firm in Tempe, and I plan to continue there until I graduate in 2014.

Until then? I’ll be hard at work on my creative writing Honors Thesis, while continuing to write for the Washington D.C. based blog, Spike the Watercooler.

After then? Well, that’s a good question. Though I’m planning on taking the LSAT this June, I’m still considering applying to a handful of MFA programs, with the end goal of getting my PhD and teaching at a collegiate level (hopefully, somewhere in California) in mind.

Let’s just say I’ll be doing quite a bit of breath holding come next fall.

Meet the Review Crew: Kimberley Hutchinson

Each week we will be featuring one of our many talented interns here at Superstition Review.

Kimberley Hutchinson is one of the Poetry Editors for Issue 9 of Superstition Review. Kimberley is currently a Junior at Barrett, the honors college at Arizona State University and is pursuing degrees in Creative Writing and Women/Gender Studies, as well as a minor in Anthropology. A native of Tucson, Arizona, Kimberley will likely be returning to southern Arizona after graduating in the winter of 2013.

A self-described bookworm, Kimberley has a long list of books she’d rather not have to live without, although at this time she is most interested in dystopian novels and short stories. She is particularly interested in how literature applies to the real world and why certain pieces of writing become popular or canonized. Presently, Kimberley is experimenting with the idea that fiction – especially dystopian fiction – becomes most popular when it is most relevant to the reader. That is not to say that the events portrayed in the book are true, but that the events and situations resonate with the reader because they parallel contemporary discussions and debates. As a result, Kimberley is presently enrolled in several classes which examine critical perspectives on various works of popular fiction.

This interest has been coloring her own writing. While Kimberley has previously had poetry published in Marooned, she has recently turned her attention to strengthening her short story writing abilities. Working with Superstition Review is helping Kimberley to recognize in her own work where her weaknesses lie.

If asked to pick a single book as her “favorite,” Kimberley would presently answer World War Z, although that is likely to change soon, as no title holds that position particularly long in the life of an avid reader.

ASU Polytechnic hosts TED2012 webcast with Lee Gutkind

ASU Polytechnic hosts TED2012 webcast
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
9:30 a.m. – 7:45 p.m.
Student Union, Cooley BallroomsASU’s Polytechnic campus will host a live webcast of TED2012 from 9:30 a.m. – 7:45 p.m., Feb 29. TEDx is hosted by Barrett, The Honors College at Polytechnic campus and will be held in the Cooley Ballrooms.Live speakers at ASU Polytechnic:

Lee Gutkind: (11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m.) Dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” Gutkind is an author and founder of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish nonfiction exclusively. His latest book, “Almost Human: Making Robots Think” was featured on the Daily Show with John Stewart. Gutkind spent six years as a fly-on-the-wall researcher at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Melon University in Pittsburgh where scientists and students are working to design, build and test robots so advanced that will work alongside humans. “Almost Human” is a portrait of robotic subculture. Gutkind is the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence in the Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes at ASU and a professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.

Jennifer Gale: (1:45 – 3:15 p.m.) Gale is a local advocate for sustainability and co-founder of “Paper or Plastic? Neither One Please!” Her work addresses the volume of plastic disposables as a vital issue for the planet.

Solutions Exhibition: (5 – 6 p.m.) Sponsored by Changemaker Central and the Programming and Activities Board, the Solutions Exhibition is a forum for students to showcase new ideas and learn how to transform ideas into reality.

Attendees at TEDx may stay for the entire day’s schedule or drop by for a shorter time period throughout the day. Workstations will be set up, and attendees are welcome to work on laptops during the event. Admission is free; food will be served throughout the day.

For more information, visit http://barrettpoly.asu.edu/2012/01/tedxbhcpoly/ or call (480) 727-5399.

A list of speakers for TED event can be found here.

Intern Highlight: Samantha Vélez

Samantha Vélez is a senior at ASU majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with concentrations in Spanish and Literature, Writing, and Film. She also has a minor in film production and will be graduating in May. She is currently working on her senior thesis with the Barrett Honors College about faerie folklore within adolescent literature. She is also a contributing writer for the website The Celebrity Café, and hopes to work in publishing after graduation. This is her first semester working with Superstition Review.

Samantha shares some of her literary inspirations in the following link.

Samantha Vélez

Intern Highlight: Zari Panosian

Fiction Editor Zari Panosian is a junior at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University where she is pursuing concurrent degrees in European History and English (Creative Writing). Her one-act play, Late, was selected as part of the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company’s Pandora Playwriting Festival and the Pandora Showcase in 2010. In addition to her passion for writing, Zari has aspirations to attend law school upon her graduation in 2013. This is her first semester at Superstition Review.

In the link below, Zari shares one of her strongest influences and inspirations.

Zari Panosian

Intern Highlight: Jake Adler

Art Editor Jake Adler is a sophomore at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University pursuing a degree in Creative Writing. He has published poetry in both Lux and Marooned, two undergraduate creative reviews, and writes for The State Press as a bi-weekly opinion columnist. After graduating, Jake looks forward to traveling abroad and continuing to hone his writing craft before attending graduate school. This is his first semester at Superstition Review.

Click on the following link to listen to Jake share an excerpt from one of his short stories.

Jake Adler