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Monday July 1, 2002

Here's the Scoop!!!

.....all about "Snarfing"....
I've never been a morning person.

Ever since that first year of non-stop trading, when I spent almost every single day, including my Wedding Anniversary, at Walt Disney World, I now try to take weekends off. My wife makes me. She is a founding member of "Pin-a-non" the support group for members of the P.T.A., Pin Traders Anonymouse. As part of the five step program, I am only allowed to go out and play on Friday nights at the Contemporary, closely chaperoned by my five year old daughter, Natalie, whom I frequently try to ditch. Typically she passes out before I do, so I will drive us home, and one of us will carry the other into the house sound asleep often well after midnight. My wife stares at me and tries to hide her mild concern for the lifeless child I'm cradling, whom I plop down to cuddle in Mommy's arms. Then while they drift off, I'm off to the computer to find stuff for next week's pin meet.

Anyway, I don't get out to trade nearly as much as I'd like and last weekend I did something about it.

Recently here in the Sunshine State we've been enjoying what Disney might call "Monsoon Mornings!", where the sun never rises; it just sort of soaks until it's time for a nice midday steambath, when all of a sudden it explodes onto the scene so the sweltering can begin again. That's the kind of day it was Saturday when I sprang out of bed and snuck out of the house at 7:30am to go snarf lanyard pins at the Animal Kingdom.

If a "Shark" unloads an inferior pin on an unsuspecting fellow guest, is it any different when we unload what the dealers call "trash" for Lanyard Series and other pin treasures on unsuspecting Cast Members? I think of it as a softer form of sharking I call "snarfing." Everybody does it. When you want to make a morning of it, ask your Pin Pals if they want to go "snarfing"! Doesn't it sound fun? We all do it, and I think "snarfing" is what we should call it. The cheaper the "trash" you leave behind, the bigger a snarfer you are.

I'd heard they have lots of good pins on the Cast lanyards at Animal Kingdom, so I made sure to arrive early before the gates were open. On this gloomy morning I thought, "There's no way people would brave these conditions to go pin trading. And there won't be any lines for pins! Look at me! I'M NOT IN LINE!" As much as I've waited in lines for pins, I can look at even the longest attraction line now and just laugh!

Still, I wasn't taking any chances. I ALWAYS have more fun trading when I have a leisurely pace. This day I was by myself and determined to have fun, so I just took my time. I sat in my car dressing two lanyards while the rain pounded. One lanyard was to wear and the other was for any REAL trading that might happen. That's the lanyard I pulled out for actual Traders, who on that particular day were absent except for two. The "Real" Traders (I think they were Lee and Rick) had a couple of decent pins on their lanyards and bags on their shoulders, and a Prince Eric's dog pin, which I had to have for a little girl who'd done me a big favor. All the other "snarfers" were hitting cast lanyards either right before or right after me, and it didn't take long to see who they were. Most were in such a hurry that they missed some good stuff I snarfed, which was: Disney Store 2K Walt and Mickey #101; WDW Skyway LE 3500 Commemorative; several ABC-TV Dinotopia, a dozen or so Lanyard Series, plus ALL THREE different AK Lodge CM preview pins. (Extra credit if you know which is which!) The Walt & Mickey and the Skyway pin were both on the same lanyard, and finding them reminded me what it feels like to hit the Lanyard Lotto!

The lanyard I wore had mostly common stuff so I'd look "touristy", and maybe find the kind of mercy and nurturing for lame little lanyards I try to give others. Plus, I was on a mission, and having done this a few million times, I wanted traders at my fingertips as I smashed and grabbed my way through the concrete jungle. I don't think my "trash" is as trashy as some. I try to leave a trail of decent stuff behind, especially when the Cast Member is nice. I save the Silver 2000 Flex pins for the ones who have the nerve to ask me for something good, like it's a big insult to them if I don't offer them one they like.

I got the scoop from a couple of Cast Members that the jungle trails have lanyards along the way. It was at the entrance to the not-yet-open jungle trail that I discovered that things were becoming a bit competitive. At first, everyone's all casual. Just hangin' around... Ho hum… "Hi, how are ya?" . And then… Nobody wants anyone else's trash, and I'm not pulling out the REAL lanyard in this rain. ---- Ho hum… Then, ah… More rain…! "Scuse me , sir, is this open yet?" "Nope, not till 9:30," comes the answer… Then…a quick monsoon. And there we stood, five of us. No line; just all the squishy fun of a line!

Actually, Animal Kingdom is lovely in a light rain, and it did rain lightly here and there that morning for at least a minute or two. When I was indoors. But I know there is NO ONE on earth so desperate to observe gorillas or whatever was on that trail that they will stand in that kind of rain to hike OUTSIDE with NO UMBRELLA. Unless they're SNARFERS! Some were "Secret Snarfers" One couple wore pins; the other couple did not. The couple wearing pins chatted with me; the covert snarfers did not. And they did not have an umbrella. Watching them get drenched was my Magical Moment that day. When the Attraction Host finally gave the go ahead, I could have sworn I heard a starter's pistol fire. "And they're OFF!" When we got under the shelter mid-trail, and tore into the ponchos protecting the guides and their pins, it was every snarfer for himself.

We each got a "Cast Lanyard" pin, which I like because they get back to the basics of nice, cheap little oddball pins. But couldn't they spend the same money on a commemorative type pin so they really mean something, and use THOSE for "Cast Lanyard" pins. The "Kingpin" (or whoever it is that decides the fate of my next pin purchase) must think it's all about "completing a set". Don't get me wrong, I love completing sets, and these are attractive pins that, like any pursuit-type pins, will have special meaning attached to the pursuit itself. I just think they've forgotten how to attach special meaning to events with pins, like the recent rededication of the Roy O. train, or the induction of Bush to the Hall of Presidents, or the closing of The Legend of the Lion King at the Magic Kingdom. I'm envisioning a lanyard pin that could be traded only that day at that place that really proves I WAS THERE! Not in line. Just there!


Tuesday July 3, 2002

And now a little something from a brimming
Scooper Trader Mail Bag!

Dear Scooper,

Snarfing sucks, and so do you.

Jason, the Sardonic

(NOTE: Edited for brevity and levity)

Dear Jason:

Thanks for reading!

If nothing else, this "snarfing" thing sure brought a lot of you out of the woodwork. Just when I thought I knew everyone, along comes Jason.

So for those of you who don't know me...

I love pin trading and Pin Traders. Even Cast Member Pin Traders. And Sardonic Traders.

See, I AM very tongue in cheek and, ooh, maybe a little sarcastic. If I weren't, I'd be very cynical about this hobby.

So let me say this: THEY'RE JUST PINS!!!!!!! STOP YELLING AT ME!!

(Good thing I'm home sick today, or that would have to be the short answer.)

Let me start by saying I am a Cast Member and a pin fanatic. As I mention in my pointless column, I have devoted a lot of time to this pastime. Not because I have nothing better to do with my time than "snarfing" (a word that I'm going to give a rest for a while), and not because I make money doing it. If I sold pins, I could retire. I do it because I love pins and my Pin Pals. I love Continuing the Tradition.

I have spent TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS on pins. I have spent countless hours educating my Pin Pals about pins (how they're made and how to trade). Perhaps you will take a moment to read my previous columns archived at Dizpins, Dizneypins, and PinPics (all dot coms), and see that I have even devoted a little time to try to educate YOU.

(I also have better things to do with my time than writing pointless columns, but do you think I'd learn?)

I consider myself not only to be a fair trader (I hate sharks), by I think I'm a good communicator as well. (Or did.) I sincerely appreciate this opportunity to get to know my audience a little better, and here is some information that might help you to get to know me a little better.

I should probably mention here that I know first hand that Scoop only comes out of his office at The Main Street Gazette to run around Main Street for ONLY A HALF HOUR AT A TIME 5 TIMES A DAY. THAT'S IT. (City Hall has those times every day.) So the hour or two he spends with Traders, he could be doing something else. The rest of the time he is in his office, not working on a big feature or minding the presses, but more likely sorting pins to play his pin games, or so he can put his hands on an Aurora OR Buzz pin when there's not one to be had "ANYWHERE! We've searched EVERYWHERE!" He also spends a great deal of time hunting for pins in offices that guests can't get to so he can share them with his Pin Pals. And he spends a lot of time trying to freshen up lame little lanyards throughout the day for those people who don't hit the pavement "snarfing". (Oops, I said it again.)

I do the same thing when I'm out trading. I've given away more pins than most people probably own. Every once in while, I like to hit the CM lanyards for the fair game. On the particular day I wrote about, I had not been out just to play in a long time. I did not mention that I rode Primeval Whirl all by myself (and found three managers each with a lanyard at the loading station). Or that I spent five minutes chatting with a CM in the rain after we traded.

That particularly knowledgeable CM was telling me about the little gazelle guys and was the only person that had on several Lanyard Series pins. Up till then, CMs I encountered that morning told me they would only trade one pin person. I never pitched a fit because I couldn't have more than one pin, and I did not ask for more than one from the lady I was chatting with by the gazelles. Just as I was about to leave her, a rather snarfy snarfer came up and asked her for all of her Lanyard Series. I wished she had remembered that I expressed interest in the other Donald, and might offer it to me instead of the lucky snarfer when I told her everyone else said we could only trade one pin. But she said, "Aw, you can trade as many as you like." Hmm, could this be why some lanyards get picked clean? Alas, Donald and his pals had a different path to take to their new homes.

As for leaving pins you already have sitting there on CM lanyards: Thanks to snarfiing, my only HOPE for getting from another guest a Lanyard Series pin I don't already have is trading a Lanyard Series pin THEY don't have. If I get the trader from a CM, I'm actually doing what pin trading is designed to encourage: Guest to Guest interaction. Not JUST Cast to Guest. Believe me, if there were a Pin Trader to be found, I would have traded.

I hope that you will continue to hear more stories about my reputation and my pin trading spirit, and that we all have the pleasure of trading sometime.

Looking back now, the best part of going out "trading" that day (besides all the uplifting feedback to my column) was it reminded me of what it was like hitting the Lanyard Lotto. Yes, Virginia, I am now even more determined than ever to find and foster lame little CM lanyards so the next "trader" can find a little treasure.

And I believe in the True Traders, Virginia. I believe they will hear this call to leave a little legacy on the next CM lanyard THEY "trade" off of. There will be Wet Paints, Mickey for Presidents, and Haunted Mansion Dangles around every corner.

And for that reminder, Jason, I thank you.

Peace, Love, and Pins
ScOOper Trader

You can write to Scooper Trader at:

Wednesday July 10, 2002

What IS the Scoop?

..... Or more like WHO is the Scoop?
People frequently confuse me for Scoop Sanderson on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom. Hmm, wonder why? Must be my names… um, I mean, OUR names.

I got an email from Diane telling me she would have stopped by with her daughter to see me…um, I mean, HIM had she known about us. Um. I mean. Oh, whatever.

Scoop Sanderson lives and works on Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. He can show up anytime and anywhere on or around Main Street from, oh say, Town Square to the Castle Hub every day EXCEPT Friday and Saturday. There’s no rhyme or reason to when he’s around, but if you check with City Hall, they’ll know his “scheduled” appearances. I can tell you from personal experience, you are better off NOT looking for him. If you are destined to meet Scoop, you will. (However checking his schedule does improve the odds.) Even people with good pin karma sometimes have trouble finding him, so don’t fret. Scoop is sometimes easier to hear than he is to see. Either way, he’s hard to miss.

He is often found riding the trolley cars and those new-fangled horseless carriages, or just walking his toy dogs, Butterscotch and Licorice. He plays marbles sometimes, and every once and a while does a little fishing down in front of the Crystal Palace. If the Rhythm Rascals or the Dapper Dans are around, they’ll get together with him and try to entertain each other (and even sometimes you) with a little musical interlude.

Things are kinda slow in the early 1900s, so Scoop gets real excited about the Honorary Parade Grand Marshals, and will often escort them down Main Street and around Town Square trying to get everyone as excited as he is. When he’s done, in front of the Harmony Barbershop is usually your last chance to catch him for the day.

EXCEPT Thursday. Some of the biggest excitement on Main Street usually comes Tuesday through Saturday at about half past four (that’s how they’d say 4:30 back then) right after they vacuum up the parade route. It’s then that many of the citizens of Main Street come out in front of the Emporium at Center Street for a big “Hoohah”! And on THURSDAY, Scoop gets to join in, along with Miss Victoria Trumpeto the Town Voice Teacher, or Miss Penelope Prose, the Mayor’s niece.

What’s great is Scoop has a real passion for pins. If there’s some other REEEEEEALLY important news, like a birthday or an anniversary, he kinda does a live, on the spot report for the Main Street Gazette. But he loves his pins and all his Pin Pals, and he’s going to take a moment now to do a little shameless plug. I mean, I am... For him.

As if this hasn’t already been enough of a plug, I still have to tell you about his pin seminar. He calls it “The One O’clock Pin Talk” where you can “learn how pins are made and how to trade.” Here, you can see firsthand the step-by-step manufacturing process for each different type of pin. Dabblers in Pin Collecting need stay only about fifteen minutes to get the meat and potatoes of manufacturing. But the Trading Tips that follow are a buffet of pin trading goodness guaranteed to leave you drooling for more. Before you know it, your lanyard will be dripping with pins. At least that’s what people tell me about their trading experiences AFTER they utilize his info and tips.

It’s a crash course in a circus environment, but Scoop tries to be adaptable to any audience. If there’s a lot of kids, you’re getting the Pindergarten class. If you want to remain sane on such days, come back another day, or see if Scoop can stick around to chat. The kids usually don’t want to stick around too long anyway. Scoop loves kids, and they get a lot out of the seminar, but if Scoop wanted to be a School Teacher, he would live someplace that has a school. And you didn’t pay all this money to bring the kids to the Magic Kingdom just to have them wind up back in class. If you MUST make them suffer through a learning experience, take them to Universe of Energy.

Scoop can only take the Pindergarten version for about twenty minutes anyway, so it’s entirely likely he will answer any questions you have after class is dismissed. But you have to ask! So many people just hover around, he won’t know you’ve traveled all the way from Pokeepsie just to meet him if you don’t say so.

Any other time of day, if you run around Main Street wearing pins and looking like you’re having fun, Scoop will likely approach you to play Secret Pin Trader. He doesn’t like approaching peevish looking people to play his pin games because they always wind up thinking that Disney has put this strange man out on the street to scam them out of pins so they’ll buy more. Little do they realize, they WILL buy more, and they don’t need someone snarfing them for it to happen. The fact is, guests have won pins like the WDW and DL Pin Trader Pins, and even one of the first Champion Pin Trader pins playing Scoop’s games. And it’s a fact of life that nice people are lucky. Since Scoop lives in turn-of-the-century America, he is fond of polite conversation, and good manners go a long way with Scoop. Scoop does not HAVE to play, and sometimes CANNOT play, so don’t take it personally. If people poke or prod, there most certainly won’t be much time for playing. Remember it’s just a game, and they’re just pins.

Whatever you do, remember where you are, and WHEN you are. We’re not in Tomorrowland any more, Toto. Scoop’s still stuck in yesterday, when people’s cell phones didn’t ring in the middle of a conversation with you. Children were seen and not heard. Scoop enjoys the company of the youngest of ladies and gentlemen. But if your kid is wired for sound, turn him loose on Tom Sawyer Island, and then let him nap through the One O’clock Pin Talk. Kill two birds with one stone!

Enjoy a visit with Scoop. He loves just looking at pins. Or whatever. Whether it’s pondering the difference between a Pea-Flicker and a Flea-Picker or a Flex pin and a Mex pin, Scoop is only too happy you’re with him on Main Street USA. He wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Peace, Love & Pins!

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