Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'm all over this auction...

Having missed the opportunity to own the original Disneyland sign, Dumbo cars, Mr. Toad cars, parade floats, and various other theme park items on Disney's eBay site, I may have to bite on the Journey Into Imagination ride vehicle. Only $1,500.00 for a starting bid and hundreds no doubt in shipping costs. What a bargain! I could plop it right in the middle of the living room. I'm sure the wife won't mind. Well... maybe she would. If only they'd list a Peter Pan boat or a Thunder Mtn. train car. Bet I could sell her on that!!! ;)

The sad one was when I saw them auctioning an animator table from the Florida studio. Sad day indeed...

Why John Hench is my hero... (a.k.a. What current Disney Management doesn't get)

There is a great new article on Jim Hill today by Wade Sampson entitled Explaining the Disney Theme Show. It really hit home for me, summing up my thoughts on changes at the MK and WDW as a whole (even since my tenure in the early 90's). It's definitely worth a read, especially for the quote from the late, great legend John Hench talking about what makes the Disney parks special, unique, and the industry leader (circa 1975). Here's a small sample of the quote:

Interestingly, for all its success, the Disney theme show is quite a fragile thing. It just takes one contradiction… one out of place stimulus to negate a particular moment’s experience. Take that street car conductor’s costume away and put him in double knit slacks and a golf shirt… replace that old Gay Nineties melody with a rock number… replace the themed merchandise with digital clock radios and electric hair dryers… tack up a felt-tip drawn paper sign that says ‘Keep Out’… place a touch of astro turf here… add a surly employee there… it really doesn’t take much to upset it all.

What’s our success formula? Well, it’s attention to infinite detail… the little things, the minor picky points that other companies just don’t want to take the time, the money, the effort, to do right. As far as our Disney organization is concerned… it’s the only way we’ve ever done it… it’s been our success formula in the past and it will be applied to our future projects as well. We’ll probably still be explaining this to outsiders at the end of our next two decades in this business.

Doesn't it seem that this has been lost in recent years? I can't count on my fingers and toes how many out of place things I have seen on stage in recent visits, usually for the sake of economy. How many of the themed gift shops have generic merchandise now? How many new signs are cheaply made and not themed? How many times are cast members out of theme? How many times have we incrementially lost some of the detailed theming? Maybe I'm just sensitive to it after being in the parks day in and day out, coupled with the fact that I had read so much of the writings of the park designers talking about these issues and completely bought into them even before my hire date.

I think that Bob Iger and the boys and girls in charge could learn a thing or two from Hench and the other legends (especially Walt) regarding good show. They used to talk about these topics in the two-day Traditions new-hire class. I wonder if it's covered in the condensed version offered up today?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Just took a look at my blog, and found it to be corrupted. Seems I lost my template somehow. Haven't made any changes since it last worked... it appears to somehow be clipped mid-way and thus not working. And, of course, being a complete moron, I hadn't taken a recent cut at my changes. Essentially, I just lost my link list (which is easily rebuilt), but you'd think that after years and years of IT work, I'd remember to save early, save often. Guess I'll work with a default template for a while. D'oh!

Give to the Troops

I know the war is a touchy subject, with a lot of different opinions as to why we're in the Middle-East and whether we should be there at all. I am in the camp that thinks the war has been well founded and has been about as well-executed as could be expected. Others have far different opinions that are equally well founded. I can respect that. I have general misgivings about us being at war anywhere at any time, so I know where they are coming from.

One thing I hope that can be agreed upon by all is that we need to support our soldiers. Even if you are against the war, the men and women fighting the war are not the decision-makers and are doing their job very well in very dangerous conditions. With this in mind, I organized what turned out to be a fairly successful fund- and goods-raiser at my place of business, and wanted to point everyone to information on what kinds of goods are needed by the troops and how to get the items collected to them in case you were interested in doing the same.

The best organization I found for these types of donations is Give 2 the Troops program. They organize shipment (you just ship to a US address and they package and send the items overseas, thus saving you the $$ of sending to a far-off location); accept donations by credit card, PayPal, check, or money order if you'd prefer not to collect and ship items; and provide a nice list of requested items to work from.

Avon (in conjunction with the USO) also offers a nice donation op>tion, Operation Avon-USO Cares.For a $10 donation, they send a package containing "Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard Plus, Skin-So-Soft Shower Gel, On Duty 24 Roll on Deodorant, Moisture Therapy Hand Cream and a Moisture Therapy Lip Balm. Other items, given by others in addition to your gift, include, but are not limited to, AT&T worldwide phone card, disposable camera, and baby wipes." They will also send along a personal note if you so desire. You should be able to contact a local Avon rep, or I can hook you up with one that I have a personal relationship with (*cough*wife*cough*) if you so desire...

The final donation option I would recommend is the Operation Iraqi Children program, created by Actor Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13) and author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit: An American Legend). This program enables Americans to send School Supply Kits to Iraqi children. Similar to the Give 2 the Troops program, they have a US shipping address to send donations to, accept monetary donations, and supply a list of requested items on their site.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Boy, I feel old now...

Saturday was my birthday. 35 is really no big deal... I've never really gotten hung up on my age, as I tend to try not to stress over things I can't control. Everything was fine and dandy until I got a call from my bank on Friday. I picked up the call, as I had thought it had something to do with the fact that our bank is in the middle of being gulped up by one of the big fish, but instead it was a survey. I reluctantly agreed to answer the questions, and it was going swimmingly until he got to the demographic questions. He asked me to stop him when I got to the age range that applied to me. It went as follows:

  • Under 25
  • 25 to 34
  • 35 to 44
Egads! I'm in a new age group!! And it's with 44 year olds!!! I asked him if he wanted today's age or tomorrow's age, as my birthday was the next day. He said to take my pick, and I told him I'd take it like a man and say "35 to 44." Then I went and popped open a Guinness. Hmm... not much different than 34. Or 24 for that matter...

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Disney Book Recommendations: ABC Disney

One more book to list today. This one's got a recommended age range of 4 to 8, but I haven't let my kids get their hands on it. Although the title would make you think it was a book about the ABC Television purchase, ABC Disney is actually a pop-up book created by master paper engineer and New York Times' Best Seller, Robert Sabuda.

This one's hard to find, kids. I scooped this one up in the kids section of a Barnes and Noble several years ago. It is now out of print and sells used through sites for anywhere from $50-100. A few sellers have it on eBay for a lower price, but it normally still sells for well over the original $22 list price.

The reason why it's such a hot commodity is the art and detail of the book... this isn't your father's pop-up book. Each letter of the alphabet is represented in amazing detail by a fabulous animated Disney character. As you open the flap, the character jumps off the page (literally). Sabuda's work in this (and other) books show an unbelievable level of craftsmanship. Here's an example of the Snow White 'S' pop-up:

And here's a few other examples:

'G' for Genie 'A' for Ariel

'B' for Bambi'J' for Jiminy

It's really hard to capture the nature of this work in a 2d picture. Only if you get a chance to take a look at one of Sabuda's books at the bookstore will you be able to truly appreciate the complexity and beauty of his work.

Maybe I'll get to that Disney Architecture book later this week...

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Disney Book Recommendations: Walt Disney Imagineering : A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real

I've been an avid Disney collector since even before my cast member experience. Much to my wife's chagrin, I have Disney collections ranging from DVDs (previously LaserDiscs) to apparel to comic books to pins. I have letters, postcards, binders, booklets and posters related to my CP experience, cells and lithos, tapes of parades and specials, toys, games, and trading cards. One of my favorite collections, though, is my bookshelf of Disney books, ranging from coffee-table editions to small paperbacks. Having somewhat recently moved, I just came across the boxes containing these books and starting re-examining them.

One of my favorites is a fairly recent find. Walt Disney Imagineering : A Behind the Dreams Look At Making the Magic Real was not a book that I was familiar with. I was walking thru a Half Price Books store and happened upon this gem for a paltry $6.99. I have a special attachment to the topic as I had a near life-long desire to work for either FA or WDI at the Mouse House that I have very recently gotten over (Of course, if the opportunity ever presented itself again...). In my many hits and near-misses in work opportunities with Disney, I even applied for, received an interview, and received a call-back for a WDI position in my younger days (which I had to turn down, as life and family got in the way). During my time with the Mouse, I went out of my way to dig out technical details of the goings-on behind the scenes, working on a Honor's College thesis on Disney underground. Thus, upon seeing this large, coffee-table sized paperback on the shelf, there was really no question as to whether I was going to buy it.

The book not laid out in a traditional chronological order, but instead in order of project types. There are sections on Audio-Animatronics, various ride designs, castle designs, multi-plane camera, cirlevision camera, visual communications, audio production, illusioneering, theme park design, restaurant design, and many other topics. Since the Imagineers are the authors, the perspective is from the inside, but since this is a company-sponsored book, not much is given away in terms of secrets and not much is pointed out in terms of failures. Still, it still chocked full of fun stories and unbelievable concept drawings, models, and other types of pictures and illustrations to illustrate the craft of these talented artisans.

The photos and illustrations really carry the book. The work of such Disney luminaries as John Hench, Marc Davis, Yale Gracey, Ward Kimball, Mary Blair, Walt Disney, and many, many others is represented here through these stories and photos. Every page is bursting with colorful concept paintings accompanied by photos of the completed product, construction photos, and photos of the Imagineers at work. This is one of the best collections of Disney work-in-progress theme park design that I have seen in print.

One of the amusing portions of the book, though, is the forward by one Michael D. Eisner, then the Chairman and CEO of Disney. To hear Michael talk of "being protective of everything Disney" and how the company (using Walt's words) keeps "moving forward - opening new doors and doing new things - because we're curious" is somewhat ironic, considering he has evolved into being the king of the sequel and Ron Miller's heir apparent in the realm of playing it safe and stifiling innovation. Rereading this forward gave me a good chuckle...

In conclusion, if you see this book (esp. at a discount or used outlet), don't hesitate to buy it if you are a fan of the design and behind-the-scenes stuff related to Disney theme park design. You can grab it at Amazon or any number of other fine booksellers.

Next time I'll hit upon another great behind the scenes book, Building a Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Roy stays consistent...

From a Prodigy chat way back in 1993, Roy Disney states his opinion on the cheapquels...

PRODIGY(R) interactive personal service 07/21/93 3:10 AM

TIME: 07/19 8:16 PM

TO: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Amy, you asked whether we might consider producing sequels
to some of our animated films, like "The Little Mermaid."
The answer is no. We made one sequel, "The Rescuers Down
Under," and we realized how difficult it is to be as good as
the original. With animation, sequels are even harder than
for live action.
Roy Disney
(Hat Tip: rec.arts.disney Google group)

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tennessee again rated as one of the most tax-friendly states

Netscape News' Money & Business section's headline again lists Tennessee as one of the most tax-friendly states. Even with the 1% increase in sales tax (which still burns me), Tennessee still ranks fourth in overall state tax burden, behind three states with income taxes, but no sales taxes. Tennessee, along with Florida and Texas, make the list with sales taxes but no income tax (Tennessee has a tax on investments over a certain level but not on income):

The top most tax-friendly states:
Alaska: 6.4 percent
New Hampshire: 7.4 percent
Delaware: 8.0 percent
Tennessee: 8.3 percent
Alabama: 8.7 percent
South Dakota: 8.8 percent
Florida: 9.2 percent
Texas: 9.3 percent
North Dakota: 9.4 percent
Missouri: 9.4 percent

The top 10 least tax-friendly states:
Maine: 13.0 percent
Washington, D.C.: 12.2 percent
New York: 12.0 percent
Hawaii: 11.5 percent
Rhode Island: 11.4 percent
Wisconsin: 11.4 percent
Vermont: 11.10 percent
Ohio: 11 percent
Nebraska: 10.9 percent
Utah: 10.9 percent

As the slogan used to say, "Tennessee... Sounds Good to Me..." On top of that, the ever-vigilant Bill Hobbs points out that Tennessee, "after eight months of revenue for the current fiscal year, is running a surplus of $32.7 million." It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Will the politicians

  • a) Return the revenue to the local governments, who they stopped funding in 2002?
  • b) Return the money to the taxpayers, in the form of a rebate or a repeal of the sales tax hike?
  • c) Send the money to the schools, since they always say that we are "49th in the country in school spending" (a claim also made by several other states, as pointed out by the Arizona Republic's Vicki Murray)?
  • d) Spend it like kids in a candy shop on their pet projects?
My guess is d.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Latest Dem Social Security scare tactic proven false...

The ever-popular Annenberg Public Policy Center's, the bane of politicians (and their consultants) on both sides of the aisle, has done an analysis of the latest Democrat Social Security scare tactic and found it to be based on "false assumptions and deceptive comparisons." The scam includes a $1 million ad campaign and a "Social Insecurity" calculator that is being used on several Dem websites. In the analysis titled "A Rigged Calculator," the following analysis is detailed:

...the calculator is rigged. is an artful bit of automated misinformation.

...the calculator systematically underestimates the likely returns of investments. [The Dem's website] says "The calculator assumes that your investments get a rate of return of 3 percent above inflation," a figure most financial advisers would find absurdly low. As we've pointed out before, the stock market has averaged 6.8 percent above inflation for the past century... [T]he lowest estimate [FactCheck could find had a] return of 5 percent to 5.5 percent. ...[Most economists found] a decent probability that returns would be even better than 7 percent.

The ad also fails to mention whose benefits would be "cut almost in half." Actually, no cuts are proposed for anyone currently getting benefits, something the ad fails to make clear.

I guess the LLL is looking for a longer historical trend before they can agree with the 6-7% estimate. What? You say that was a 100 year trend? Oh, never mind...

The Dems distorting the facts? I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you!!! Hee-hee...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ode to the Observant Male

I hate to make light in the face of a murder, but this story is just beyond belief. Apparently, police received a 911 call Sunday night regarding a hostage situation and a murder. A man broke into a family's Brentwood home and held the husband and wife hostage. The kidnapper proceeded to kill the husband, while the wife was able to escape and call 911 from a neighbor's house. Nashville Police ended up tracking the killer down in an unoccupied house and took him into custody.

This story, however horribly tragic, appeared to be at an end. However, some things weren't adding up. There were no signs of forced entry, for instance. After further investigation, police learned that the man had been a guest of the wife, and had been living in her closet for a month without her husband's knowledge. Let me repeat that... the man was living in the wife's closet for a month in what appears to be a 2-3000 sq. ft. home, and the husband did not know it. He walked into the closet and found the man sleeping, confronted him and the wife, and was held hostage and later killed by the houseguest. More details are promised in tomorrow's news.

We here at the "Hat" send condolences to the family of the man and hopes that the attacker is brought to justice. We also implore that all men (and women for that matter) be aware of their surroundings and be on the lookout for any strange people living in their home for long periods of time (especially in the spouse's closet).

Update (4/13/05): The Tennessean now offers a much more detailed article which offers minor updates, including:
  • The wife lied to the mother-in-law during her weekly phone call, saying that the husband had taken Sudafed and was asleep (instead of that he was, you know, dead)...
  • It was the man's snoring that gave him away (but only a month into the living arrangement)...
  • The wife and the murderer were lovers (really?)...
  • The marriage was kinda rocky (really?!?)...
  • The police found problems with the wife's story, particularly with the timeline (really?!??)...
  • But regardless of all of this, the wife is only a witness, not a suspect (really?!?!??)...
  • This is the weirdest case the Nashville PD has had in a while (really?!?!?!???)...
Update (4/14/05): Now it is being reported that the man died on Sunday rather than Monday. The wife staged the frantic "escape" and 911 call on Monday, after the husband had been lying dead in the home for a day. Wonder if she's still not a suspect?!?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Remote-Controlled Flies

I don't even know what to think about this story...

Scientists Create Remote-Controlled Flies

...researchers say they were able to make the flies jump, walk, flap their wings and fly.

Even headless flies took flight when researchers stimulated the correct neurons...

[This research] could lead to a better understanding of overeating and violence in humans [and] ultimately help identify the cells associated with psychiatric disorders, overeating and aggressiveness.

Heelllppp meee....

What you should be listening to...

Being a Toad fan from back in the day after seeing them curtain-jerking for Hootie (I lived in Columbia, SC during Hootie's pre-famous days and it was great to see the local boys make good, awful "Bacon Cheddar Ranch" commercials nonwithstanding), I was happy to see that Glen Phillips had a new CD out (his third solo outing). Picked it off of iTunes last week (thanks Pepsi!) and it is a very solid outing IMHO. Not time to leave any kind of detailed review at the moment, but it may be worth checking out if you are so inclined...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

WDW 'Hat' Travel Guide: Adventurer's Club

Since my time in the WDW College Program, I have become known to my friends (and their friends) as the "Unofficial Tour Guide for the Magic Kingdom." I know many of you have experienced this in some fashion... I'm also the "Reluctant Guru of all things Compter and Tech-Related" because of my job in the tech field, even if it is related to something that I have no knowledge about (usually something related to a printer not working or AOL problems... you know... things that software developers have intimite knowledge of...).

So... on the WDW topic... I have given touring, lodging, dining, and travel guidance to many people that I have known through work, family, or other relationships. It's gotten to a point where I have compiled ever-evolving documents of information related to what to bring, what to see, when to go, and where to stay or eat that I can easily whip out and tweak to meet the particular families needs. I really should figure out a way to charge for this stuff!!! That d@%# Tour Guide Mike beat me to it!!! ;) [TGM actually is highly recommended by me... I bought his service on a whim on one of my trips just to see if he could provide me anything I didn't know... He got me on a few newer things, and I found his info on the things I knew intimitely to be complete and pretty darn accurate.] But since I thoroughly enjoy helping people out and pointing them to the off-the-beaten-path attraction or locale that most people miss, I really have had no problem giving out this information. Thus, I figured I'd throw one or two of these out on the blog here and there and solicit feedback and gather insight and advice from others on the topic.

So here goes...

Pleasure Island: The Adventurer's Club

The place that I send people to the most that they had had no idea about prior to my recommendation has to be the Adventurer's Club. Many who had heard of it had maybe stuck their heads in, saw little to nothing going on, wondered "WTF?", and then walked over to 8-Trax or the Comedy Warehouse, never to think of the place again. I know because I did this the first one or two times I used my oh-so-cheap CM season pass (usually the comedy club for me... me with the "white man's overbite" was not a pretty sight). One time, though, I decided to stay and became hooked on the place after that to the point that I visited one to two times a week for most of my time with the Mouse.

For those who haven't visited (or have done the "peek in" but haven't stayed), the Club is basically a 1930's adventurer's club in the vein of Indiana Jones or the like. Plenty of relics and such on the walls make it a pretty interesting walk-thru... the Imagineers went all out on the theming here. The catch here is that you'll see people dotted here and there that are in period garb. If you see one of them, start up a conversation or listen in on what they are talking about. These people are the actors that are the "club members" and are expert at improv comedy. The club has some of this improv as well as staged shows in the Library (and to a lesser degree in the other rooms, such as the Mask Room, Treasure Room and the Main Salon). There are also many props that interact in various ways, including Fingers (the ghost who plays the piano that has crashed through the ceiling), the masks in the Mask Room, the mysterious sinking barstools, and (of course) Babylonia and the Colonel in the Main Salon.

The permanant club members include the likes of Graves (Club butler), Samantha Sterling (resident adventuress), Hathaway Browne (resident adventurer), Pamelia Perkins (Club President), Fletcher Hodges (Club Curator), Otis T. Wren (Club Treasurer), and various maids and other characters. They put on various shows in the Library, including talent shows, radio shows, the Balderdash Cup, and other shows that include various amounts of singing, dancing and comedy. There is a schedule posted in the Main Salon detailing the times and locations of various shows. Make sure to check this schedule and catch a show or two. Most who "don't get it" haven't sat in on these shows and thus have missed on some of the main entertainment offered here. Note: sit at the benches up front (on either side of the stage) to get a good opportunity to get involved in the show. Most of the times I made it on stage were when I sat in these seats. Alternatively, if you want to avoid getting brought on the stage, avoid these seats at all costs!!! ;)

A few other things to make sure to experience: The Coloniel's initiation ceremony (become a member!) . Make sure to learn the club song (complete with the salute):

Marching Along, We're Adventurers
Singing the Song of Adventurers
Up or Down, North, South, East or West
An Adventurer's Life is Best!

Also, make sure to try the Kungaloosh, the Club's official club drink, named after the Club's official greeting. Of course, this drink may be the reason that I like the Club so well! From the Club's menu:

Spot your fellow adventurers by tipping a glass of this frozen concoction made with Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, blackberry brandy liqueur, orange and strawberry juices. This is the official drink for all visiting adventurers during our new member induction ceremony.

To wrap up, I will say that this is a hit-or-miss attraction. People either love it or hate it. As noted before, I would contend that many who don't like it just haven't experienced it properly yet, but I'll concede that this isn't everyone's bag. I'm batting about .675 on this attraction by the feedback I've received, which isn't bad for such a niche-type attraction. I will continue to recommend that everyone take a night off from the kid activities (bring a grandparent, or hire a good babysitter... many are available... I would be glad to recommend a few) and experience PI, and in particular experience the Club. Be sure to learn the salute and drink one for me.


One final note: the guys or gals at offer a nice website with pictures and descriptions of the goings-on at the Club. They do a much better job of describing things than I do...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Disney Cheapquel Mad-Libs!

One of my favorite posts by the SaveDisney guys has to be this article by Diego Vega, which details how to write a Disney cheapquel. It is a hilarious, but sad, commentary on the state of 2d animation at the Mouse House...

If we wrote it as a "Mad Lib", it would go something like this:

New sequel involves parents (often aged Disney stars, but not always) and a child (usually next generation, though sometimes same from original movie). Parent nags the child with too many rules concerning any rule, and keeps secrets about any secret from the child. The child is ridiculed (real or imagined) by siblings or peers. The child rebels against the parent and proceeds to disobey the parent's rules because of a self-centered reason. The child makes a deal with an adversary to commit a rebellious act of betrayal. Child finds new or old love interest. Everything goes wrong, big climax ensues, adversary is defeated, usually by falling into a treacherous location. Child apologizes to the parent while parent apologizes to the child, thus maintaining family generational détente. Bland generic pop artists sing over end credits.

So, let's play "Mad Libs"! Just fill in the blanks and you've got a sequel.

Little Mermaid II
CHILD: Melody
RULE: not crossing the wall to the ocean
SECRET: being a former mermaid
SIBLING/PEER: guests at ball
DISOBEYS: goes over the wall into the sea
SELF-CENTERED TRAIT: her name's on a locket
BETRAYAL: steal King Triton's trident
LOVE INTEREST: prince and merboy
FALL LOCATION: in a block of ice

Lady and the Tramp II
CHILD: Scamp
RULE: stay in the yard
SECRET: once being a street dog
DISOBEYS: run away
SELF-CENTERED TRAIT: he wants to run wild and free
ADVERSARY: Buster the junkyard dog
BETRAYAL: Steal Jim Dear's picnic chicken
SIBLING/PEER: triplet dog sisters
FALL LOCATION: junk falls on Buster

Lion King II
CHILD: Kiara
RULE: Stay in Pride Rock
SECRET: Timone and Pumba are shadowing Kiara
DISOBEYS: go to Outlands
SELF-CENTERED TRAIT: she wants to hunt by herself
BETRAYAL: date the enemy
SIBLING/PEER: Kovu's siblings
FALL LOCATION: into the river

An Extremely Goofy Movie
RULE: brushing, combing, and wearing clean underwear
SECRET: who is Max's mother
DISOBEYS: publicly rejecting his father
SELF-CENTERED TRAIT: live his own life
ADVERSARY: Bradley Uppercrust III
BETRAYAL: tricks Dad into joining Gammas
LOVE INTEREST: Beret girl/Sylvia the Librarian
SIBLING/PEER: Kids in college lecture class
FALL LOCATION: from sky after puncturing blimp

Return to Neverland
RULE: not yelling at her brother
SECRET: the evacuation
DISOBEYS: slam the door
SELF-CENTERED TRAIT: she's acting like a grown-up control freak
ADVERSARY: Captain Hook
BETRAYAL: give Peter's treasure to Hook
FALL LOCATION: from the mast thru ship into ocean

What has happened to Walt's company?

  • "By nature, I'm an experimenter. To this day, I don't believe in sequels. I can't follow popular cycles. I have to move on to new things. "
  • "I could not possibly see how we could top pigs with pigs. But we tried, and I doubt whether one member of this audience can name the other cartoons in which the pigs appeared."
  • "...the shout went out for more dwarfs. Top dwarfs with dwarfs? Why try?"
  • "...we're not thinking about making another ‘Mary Poppins’. We never will. Perhaps there will be other ventures with equal critical and financial success. But we know we cannot hit a home run with the bases loaded every time we go to the plate. We also know the only way we can even get to first base is by constantly going to bat and continuing to swing."

-- Walt Disney, excerpts from Speech Accepting the Showman of the World Award from the National Association of Theatre Owners (October 1, 1966)

Compare that to:
and last (and certainly least):
  • Cinderella II (with the distinct honor of receiving a 0% on the Tomatometer rating)
and on the drawing board:
  • Lilo and Stitch II
  • Bambi II (he's back and he's p!$$ed)
  • Oliver & Company II
  • Hercules II
  • Dumbo II
  • Emperor's New Groove II
  • Mulan III

I'm sure I missed some, but I really don't care. The company has gone from being an innovator to being a follower. Gone is the day of innovation, and in it's place is playing it safe. Even in their new animation, they have ditched their legacy of 2d so that they can follow and clone Pixar and Dreamworks. I remember a day not too long ago when everyone copied Disney. Now, Disney copies everyone (especially themselves). The result is lackluster product with no risk-taking and no innovation. Sad...

Read the complete Walt speech at Jim Hill Media

Monday, April 04, 2005

Big1Ten... err... National Champions...

Great performance by NC to win the National Championship by taking out three straight Big1Ten opponents. Congrats to Roy Williams and the team. When's the pre-season NIT start?!?

The three best things about this evening?

This will be the last time we see the annoying run of Coach K commercials, as well as the end of the "old guy hands young guy his bag as he dunks on him" Coke commercial and the "sweaty girl is hot, but you're stinky without your deodorant" commercial. Well, that one is not so bad, but you know...

What you should be reading...

Haven't read many comics since my college days, but here's one that caught my eye and has kept me hooked. Fables by DC/Vertigo has style, drama, comedy, and fantasy, all wrapped up in a package of great storytelling and artwork. Well written characterizations of these classic characters and fabulous interactions highlight this Bill Willingham series. The artwork by Mark Buckingham captures the story with beauty and flair.

The basic premise for those not in the know is that all of the fairy tales you know (and many you don't) actually happened in many faraway lands, including such places as Oz, Narnia, and the various homeworlds of Cinderella, Pinnochio, Snow White, the Jungle Book, the Three Pigs, and so forth. Everyone was fat and happy until one of the fables, the as-yet-unnamed Adversary (or Emperor, if you are on the side of darkness) invaded and took over each of the lands one by one. The fables who managed to escape the clutches of the Adversary's forces were able to find passageways to our world, and proceeded to set up a colony in New Amsterdam (later known as New York City) and at an upstate New York farm. Forever yearning to return to their homeworlds, and forever fearing an invasion by the Adversary's forces, the fables form a quiet existence in their new home. And that's all before the series even gets started...

Being a late-comer to this series, I was able to catch up quickly with the set of reasonably priced trade paperbacks. The fifth book, released a few weeks ago, catches you up within two issues of the current book. The only dilemma I have now is whether to wait the 6 months for the sixth trade paperback (which work very well on my bookshelf) or start collecting the monthly issues (which will fulfill my Fables cravings on a monthly basis). Such dilemmas in my life...

Give this title a chance and you will not be disappointed. Show some love to the creators and publisher at the links below:

Writer Bill Willingham's website, complete with an active fan message board
Cover artist James Jean's website, featuring the exquisite art from the covers of Fables among others
Vertigo's Fables home page, complete with
a free PDF copy of Issue #1

Sunday, April 03, 2005

96 teams in the future?

ESPN had a story this morning about a proposed change to 96 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The basic elements were as follows:
  • Teams are seeded 1-96
  • Teams from 1-32 receive a first round bye; 33-96 are lined up for play-ins based on a highest/lowest seeding (i.e., 33 v. 96; 34 v. 95, etc.).
  • After the 32 play-in games are played, the teams are re-seeded into a traditional 64 team bracket and the tournament goes on as normal.
The benefits:
  • Elimination of 1-16 type first-round blowouts: The teams seeded in the 90's will be playing against teams that are now 10-11 seeds and have a much more reasonable chance to win and be able to play a second game.
  • Although a new bubble will be created, it will be unlikely that a conference champion of a mid-major will get left out if they lose in their conference tournament. In fact, it may be advantageous to give automatic consideration to the conference and tournament champion.
  • Of course, another round gives CBS another pile of ad revenue... and isn't that what's most important?!?

    It's the most wonderful time of the year...

    Well... more serious topics will have to wait. It's on to the finals. The most exciting and important tournament... The two best teams make it to the end... the way it should be. Both Illinois and North Carolina showed their dominanace this weekend, handling quality opponents with relative ease. It should be a great game tomorrow, and I can't really say that I have a favorite. I'm well out of the bracket picking at this point, so I can sit back, relax, and enjoy a great game.

    I'm all about the Cinderella and the upset. I'm a mid-major guy, pulling for my beloved Ball State Cardinals, so I am usually most interested in the first weekend, with my interest waining as the tournament goes on. After a while it gets somewhat tiresome to see the same old teams playing for the championship, so I tend to tune out as things get out of the upset stage and into the top seed stage. But this year has been different... so many good games with great finishes has kept me in it until the end. And, oh yeah, the Dookies went home early. Gotta love that...

    As a parting shot for Michigan State, if coaches of other programs (read: Buckley, Tim in particular) are not watching tapes of the Spartan program to try to glean tips for improving their rebounding (particularily on the offensive end), they are certainly not paying attention to this tournament. What a great display of defense and rebounding the Michigan State team put on these last few weeks. Izzo is a master at getting tough play out of his guys, even if they are out-manned.