Life is like a hurricane…

February 25, 2015 11:32am
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Woo-Hoo! A New DuckTales is Coming to Disney XD in 2017!
https://d23.com/woo-hoo-new-ducktales-coming-disney-xd-2017/

Yay – something new to watch with Christopher besides Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and The Muppet Show!!!

For celebratory sing-along purposes…  😉

movie thoughts … Saving Mr. Banks

September 20, 2014 8:25pm
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MV5BMTc0MTQ3NzE4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzA4NDM5OQ@@._V1_SX214_AL_[1]I’ve watched segments of this movie here and there over the last couple of weeks, but last night I was feeling a bit laid up and eventually got around to watching the entire thing from start to finish, and I have very fixed feelings about the film.

The movie on its own, I really enjoyed – I thought that pretty much every actor in it was perfect in their own role, from Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson all the way down to the guys who played the Sherman brothers and even Paul Giamatti as her driver. Watching it full out definitely helped me to understand the flashbacks more because I hadn’t seen the very beginning before the Banks had to leave their home in my first couple of go-arounds. Despite all of the frustrations as Walt works to persuade Mrs. Travers to give him her rights to Mary Poppins, there’s all sorts of charm and whimsy to the movie and it was really a lot of fun.

I swear, I’ve been singing Let’s Go Fly a Kite to Christopher for weeks after watching the scene with them all dancing and singing for the first time!

So with that said, the problem that I have with this movie – THE BIG PROBLEM – is that especially coming from Disney, it loses pretty much all of its credibility if the movie wasn’t actually true…

Frankly, from reading all of the accounts about how this actually went down, it’s insulting both to those involved as well as to the audience that this movie ever got made, seeing as though it seems that we’re pretty lucky that the breakthrough that was Mary Poppins on the silver screen in the first place barely happened…

The film also depicts Travers coming to amicable terms with Disney, including her approval of his changes to the story. In reality, she never approved of the dilution of the harsher aspects of Mary Poppins’ character, felt ambivalent about the music, and hated the use of animation. Disney overruled her objections to portions of the final film, citing contract stipulations that he had final cut privilege. After the film’s premiere, Travers reportedly approached Disney and told him that the animated sequences had to be removed. Disney dismissed her request, saying, “Pamela, the ship has sailed”.

Although the film portrays Travers as being emotionally moved during the premiere of Mary Poppins, presumably due to her feelings about her father, co-screenwriter Kelly Marcel and several critics note that, in real life, Travers was in fact seen crying at the premiere out of anger and frustration over the film, which she felt betrayed the artistic integrity of her characters and work. Resentful at what she considered poor treatment at Disney’s hands, Travers vowed to never permit The Walt Disney Company to adapt any of her other novels in any form of media. Travers’ last will, in fact, bans any Americans from adapting her works to any form of media.

Now I know that as much of a fan of all things Disney that I am, Walt Disney was no saint … but I guess I just don’t get the need to do it again 50 years after the original movie came out … especially considering that in real life, P.L. Travers actually died back in 1996. Despite the original creator of Mary Poppins being absolutely unsatisfied with the movie, Disney got to make it anyways, and it was a HUGE HIT – the movie was undeniably groundbreaking, and it won all sorts of awards, and I just learned that its profits were actually what ended up financing the construction of Walt Disney World right here in Florida!

In the world of cinema, Mary Poppins was a monumental success in every way imaginable.

So why couldn’t that be enough? Why couldn’t a new generation of movie producers in the 21st century leave it alone and not further to sully the history that was so rocky to begin with by offering up this fictional account that seems to only have very loosely actually reflected how Disney came to acquire Mary Poppins for that breakthrough hit that was critical for the studio’s success? Are filmmakers so out of original ideas that they need to twist and contort the company’s history into this puff piece that makes the entire happening seem to be wrapped with a bow by the end when in reality, it seems to have scarred the creator of Mary Poppins for the rest of her life?!

It’s almost as if modern Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks served to have the same effect for Walt and Mrs. Travers’ relationship as the film preached Walt had wanted to do with the movie Mary Poppins to her actual memory … that is, to gloss over all of the bad parts and instead leave everyone smiling and happy and singing at the end, which would be fine if this were a fictional tale but for something that was actually a part of the company’s history instead is wildly inappropriate and disingenuous to the original creative behind that beloved tale.

And that disappoints me because like I said, if it wasn’t supposed to be based on real life, it’s a great story and it really draws you in to the creative give and take behind such a classic, cherished tale, but The Walt Disney Company ought to know better and this is one story  that if they were really this far off base with, it should’ve been left alone.

People always like to reference back and say, “Walt wouldn’t have liked this or that!” and it’s typically unfair comparisons – the fact that Mary Poppins still came out despite such friction is a good example that Walt was a bit more ruthless than we’d like to remember him by. But it still does make you wonder – if after getting away with a Mary Poppins 50 years ago the way he ultimately did, would Walt have rubbed her face in the dirt with this retelling of the story behind the story that we got with Saving Mr. Banks???

God, I hope not.

Disney’s Frozen … Gay Agenda … Bucketful of Crazy

February 19, 2014 4:55pm
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Whoa boy – where do I even begin with this one?!

So fellow humorist Linda Sharp brought this little gem of ignorant homophobia to light this afternoon, and admittedly at first it didn’t really seem like anything worth spending much time on. I mean, sure, I think the woman is fishing off the deep end for any correlation between Disney’s latest classic and the insidious gay rights agenda … I only made it through about half a pass of “what about the children?!” and “I’m not here to judge homosexuality – I just think that it’s a disgusting sin and participants should live their lives in a shame hole”-esque mentality before I was just about ready to let it go and walk away.

And then she started dissecting the song, and for some reason that really got my gears a grinding…

I think my initial ire was simply because it’s a really good song, and it’s been nominated for awards, and from a production-standpoint, it really stands strong as one of those classic ballads that tends to drive a Disney feature home, alongside the likes of The Circle of Life and Colors of the Wind and You’ll Be in My Heart – it really is that good!

But performance quality aside, it was in really digging into the lyrics that she took issue with that really painted a picture for me of the anti-gay agenda, if you will, and frankly, it’s kind of frightening when you look at it from this angle…

(from her original post – italic emphasis left intact…)
Lyrics: “Let It Go,” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Italics added for emphasis of homosexual messaging/attitudes mocked.)

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the queen

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, Heaven knows I tried

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I’m one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand and here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway

You see, I get that not only gay people, but lots of people who’ve faced challenges throughout their life are identifying with those lyrics and finding solace in the idea of learning how to accept themselves when societal norms have fought against them otherwise – I’ve already read comments ranging from the likes of fat people, people with physical and mental disorders, nerdy kids, band geeks, people of different races … the list goes on! And while I don’t necessarily believe that the lyrics were written with any one of those hardships in mind, it is pretty great that people were able to find that kind of comfort in something as simple as a song from a children’s movie.

On the other hand, however, the ugly side of what this interpretation tells me is that quite contrary to their beloved hate the sin, love the sinner defense, the reason why this crazy lady’s opinion is so disturbing to me is that if you single out all of the lines that she has a problem with, it’s all the ones with the singer trying to come to terms with herself … because the religious activists of this ilk absolutely do not want people who are struggling with being gay to come to terms with it because they’re against it, and god is against it, and blah blah blah, whatever…

Which is kind of fucked up, if you ask me – because people are ridiculed and harassed, and some are met with hatred and violence even from their own families, and some even commit suicide as a result of this one thing about themselves that they struggle with, and to make such a statement that these kinds of lyrics offend you also makes a pretty ugly statement in the faces of those same people looking to those lyrics for support – you’re wrong, and you shouldn’t let it go, because you deserve everything that’s happening to you on account of who you are.

It’s this kind of mentality that gives me little pause when I use the word hatred in reference to those arguing against gay rights because the idea that you don’t want to see gay rights liberated, in fact you’d prefer that they get stuffed back into the closet where they weren’t bothering you … whether they made you feel more comfortable because they were out of sight, out of mind … is nothing but hate, pure and simple. You can’t look back at the last twenty years of what gay people have gone through, and even look to today and consider that you can go get married right now and they can’t, and continue to hide behind your religious beliefs without also acknowledging that they’re pretty hateful to this other segment of the population that you don’t necessarily agree with.

And the thing is, nobody ever asked you to agree with them. They simply asked to have the exact same rights that you enjoy to this day – marriage rights under our state, local, and federal governments, freedom from the same types of discrimination that we’ve already deemed unacceptable on the bases of race, creed, gender, or age in the past, the ability to walk down the street in public without being shunned by their fellow man.

If there’s one positive thing about that crazy lady’s post, it’s surprisingly in the comment section because there are already many people even of her very own church who very much disagree with her ways of thinking, and several have been very vocal of the fact that they think she’s off base. But not all do, and there are still some who agree with her every word, and those are the ones that we have to be careful about because they’re the type who are paranoid to believe that everyone and everything is out to get them, and anything that is relateable to gay people is an attack on Christianity, and regardless of a body of work’s true intent, if they want to find something to raise their anti-gay pitchforks about once again, they’ll make those inferences with a bible in one hand and a flaming torch in the other.

It’s scary to get such a raw and unfiltered look at what you’re up against, but if anything it just helps to seal my own position all the more because there’s no rationality whatsoever in thinking that there’s love in telling someone to bottle up their problems and keep them locked inside. There’s no love, no compassion, no honor from these people who preach against gay rights, even if they do swear that it’s in there between the lines in that big book of judgment of theirs…

I honestly almost didn’t want to use this one because the D23 online experience has been pretty terrible for me so far between first ordering a free membership via DisneyStore.com and having to wait 24 hours before being able to use it and then super-aggressive password rules that I wouldn’t have been able to remember if they hadn’t immediately e-mailed my password to me as soon as I created it…

…but…

…in the spirit of the season, if you can ever actually get logged into their website, this series that they’re posting through Christmas is kind of neat. They’ve tasked 23 different artists from departments around The Disney Company with creating a holiday scene featuring their favorite characters – everything from Snow White, Cinderella, Monster’s Inc., Toy Story, and more!

I wish that I could point to a couple of my favorites here more easily, but between being behind their (free) pay wall and not being link-friendly, the site continues what I eluded to above. If you actually go through the hassle of registering, though, I really liked Zurg’s Present (Ricky D. Taylor Jr – Disney Interactive), Mickey & Pluto’s Christmas (Brian Blackmore – Theme Park Merchandise), and the one you see below.

Apparently you can also register to win a lithograph of one of the pieces, if you’re into that sort of thing.

D23_23-Days_Tara-Billinger-620x394[1]

(photo via Attractions Magazine, created by Tara Billinger – Disney Television Animation)

P.S. You can also download the ones you like as wallpaper for your PC, though you do need to be logged in to access that link, too.  🙄

photo (13)

One of the things that we’re trying to do more of this year is decorating inside the house … in addition to the actual Christmas tree and all! We’ve never really had much for interior decorations, but as I’ve mentioned in previous years, Sara and I really want our house to be one of those warm and cozy, all-encompassing holiday homes around this time of year, and as you’ll no doubt see in future posts, we kind of splurged a bit this year to get that ball a’rolling all the more!

I stumbled across these Disney figurines at Hallmark about a month ago and thought that they’d fit well in a home that’s both very much into Christmas and into Disney. They’re supposed to be an incentive to get you coming back every week to pick up the newest one throughout November, but honestly we got the first one during that initial visit and then went back and bought the other four all at once yesterday.

For what it’s worth, I tried to get them sooner, but apparently the store that I thought was a Hallmark store in the mall closest to home is actually an American Greetings store, which is a different thing, so they didn’t have them…  😳

Now admittedly I’ve only actually heard them play in the store while I was walking past the display … I haven’t had the guts to turn on the motion sensors on them yet because they’re likely to be playing night and day at that point, which we don’t need … but it is kind of cool how they’re setup to all play in sync if they’re near one another, so that’s neat!

The one exception that I have to this series is that they screwed up the fab five by including Daisy Duck here instead of Pluto!!! Who really cares about Daisy?! Was this some affirmative action thing to get another girl in the band??? Sure, we’ve already got a dog (kinda) with the likes of Goofy, but Pluto is someone special … sorry, Donald, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’d rather have you be alone so that Mickey can have both his girl and his dog play in the band.

Happy Holidays! 😛

Disney Imagineering : The Documentary

August 14, 2013 10:25pm
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It probably comes as little surprise that I’ll eat up just about anything that peels back the curtain to give us a glimpse at Disney’s creative team, and the fact that this is being put together by Leslie Iwerks, the granddaughter of Ub Iwerks, the man who co-created Mickey Mouse with Walt Disney … well, that’s pretty darned cool, too! 😉

DuckTales … REMASTERED?!?!?!

April 20, 2013 7:57pm
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I just discovered that this is happening in only a few short months.

loved this game as a kid, although it took me a very, very, very long time to figure out how to beat The Moon.

Here are some more screenshots, including side-by-sides with the original NES version! Woo-hoo!!!

P.S. While we’re on the subject, here’s a fun DuckTales-related tune via the likes of BrentalFloss to help tide you over until summer… 😉

So George Lucas and Robert Iger announced today that the Walt Disney Company will be buying Lucasfilm, in all of its Star Wars glory, to the tune of $4.05 billion.

I, myself, am intrigued by the idea – Lucas is ready to retire, so he’s officially passing the baton to someone else to continue making stories … arguably one of the most successful storytelling companies around today, so I like to think that Star Wars will be in good hands with Disney. Sure, they’re going to rigorously promote the brand and crank out new merchandise like crazy, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing and besides, it’s not like there isn’t a ton of Star Wars merch around already!

What makes me the  most curious is to see what exactly this means for Star Wars in the theme parks – sure, the upgrades to Star Tours were already completed not that long ago, but maybe we’d see more attractions popping up around Disney’s Hollywood Studios to capitalize on an entire land dedicated to Star Wars! Tom over at the Disney Tourist Blog made an excellent point – if Disney was looking for something to give Harry Potter a run for his money, freaking Star Wars would definitely be the juggernaut that could stand its ground like no other! 😯

Also, they mentioned something about a movie coming out in 2015 … episode 7 … hmmmmm…

Anyways, I guess the thing that really bothers me after hearing this announcement – continues to bother me, anyways … this is really nothing new – is having to hear just how much hatred and vitriol that segments of the fan community have towards George Lucas, the very same man without whom Star Wars wouldn’t even exist!!! The man just gets so. much. rage. for the prequels, and no – I didn’t think that they were great, but I got over it and don’t still demand crucifixion every time anything reminding me of the franchise mistakenly crosses my path. I don’t understand it from a fan perspective, and frankly it’s really disheartening to me from a creator’s perspective, too…

For the fans side, the best analogy I can make is with Disney World because I absolutely love that place with a passion. Over the years there have definitely been things that the mouse has done that I haven’t liked – the replacement of SpectroMagic, the closing of Pleasure Island, Stitch’s Great Escape – and if you read my website, I’m happy to point out those critiques, but I still love Disney World! And that’s what I don’t get about the nerd rage because to say that George Lucas killed Star Wars … George Lucas ruined Star Wars … Star Wars will never be the same again … but why??? 

Sometimes the fun of playing god and creating an entire universe is being able to go back and correct the mistakes that you’ve made along the way, and even if the fans liked it better the other way, it’s still his universe to meld as he sees fit. And that’s what scares me from a creator’s standpoint is that fans have gone to such great lengths to tell the man everything that he’s done from 1987-on is wrong – I think part of it is a rabid trait of geekdom that wouldn’t exist without a medium like the Internet – but it’s so many steps beyond simply refusing to buy a ticket or anymore of the merchandise, as if the shit storm will never truly end until their precious Star Wars as they remember is put back exactly the way that they remember it from 30 years ago.

It’s pretty clear that George Lucas is just tired of it all and ready to retire, and that admittedly makes me kind of sad to think that here’s this cultural icon like George Lucas – the creator of Star Wars – and after playing in that universe for nearly 40 years, fans have been such jerks to him that as a result, he doesn’t really feel like making movies anymore. He had such an incredible success with the original trilogy – people loved it that much, that in the years since he hasn’t been able to do anything without disturbing the fanbase’s perfect memory of that original story.

I’m a firm believer that a creative work, first and foremost, belongs to its creator, and whatever direction he sees fit to take that creation, that’s the direction that it should go. I think the last time I ranted about this was the whole Mass Effect ending controversy from earlier this spring, and don’t get me wrong – fans definitely have every right to say, “I didn’t like episode 1, so I’m not going to go see the other two…” but for me that’s where the feedback loop ends. To stand on the sidelines and start dictating how the story should go undermines the creator’s role in the process – it’s his story, his universe, his decisions on what lives and breathes and dies there. And it’s not right that such an incredible talent that crafted the universe of Star Wars in the first place is now ready to walk away long before he’s run out of stories to tell simply because a subset of his fans won’t let him take a shit without shouting how he’s doing it all wrong anymore.

The truth of the matter is that the Internet can be a rough playground, and sometimes fans can be just as much cruel as they are passionate.

It makes me sad because when I watch this video, I see a man who’s been forced to come to terms with the idea that the best thing he can do for his own creation at this point is just to walk away, and midi-chlorians or not, I think that the guy who first brought us to this amazing galaxy far, far away just deserves much better than that…

Pixar Problems

July 18, 2012 6:23pm
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Is anyone else increasingly disappointed with the direction that Pixar has been heading recently???

I didn’t really care for Brave when I finally got around to seeing it in the theater last week, but at least it was an original story. It wasn’t a very good original story – at least not of the caliber that I hold the makers of Toy Story and The Incredibles to, but at least it wasn’t a movie in which they ride the coattails of a previous success and simply place a number at the end, assuming that the franchise will continue to crap out cinematic masterpiece just like the original did.

That’s why this article bothers me because apparently the exact thing that John Lasseter said he wouldn’t do when Disney bought Pixar is becoming a flash in the pan, with Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 already in the books and now sequels for both Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc. to come as well. No sequels is a far cry from four sequels!

I guess the thing is, I’d be ok with them if they could actually do a good one – Pixar actually did a really great job with the Toy Story franchise, and even though I was a super skeptic when I heard about Toy Story 3, the end result was such a nostalgic tear-jerker that I was happy to eat my own shoe by the end of it simply because of just how perfectly they had capped off the series.

But now there are rumors of a TOY STORY 4 somewhere on down the pipeline as well?!?!?!

It’s the difference between artistic integrity versus simply doing something to make a quick buck. I personally can’t bring myself to watch Cinderella 3 or Pinocchio 47 because I think all of those straight-to-DVD movies are a bastardization of the animated classics that so many generations have grown up on, and yet Disney continues pounding them out because most kids under 10 don’t give a shit about the story because more Cinderella is “better,” and parents don’t give a shit because it shuts their kid up for another 90 minutes.

But me, I’m a huge fan of Disney animation and I don’t want to see them churn out garbage simply for the sake of a little extra profit. I’m a Disney shareholder, and I would much rather see this company be about quality instead of quantity, because even the less successful Pixar films like Wall-E and Ratatouille and Brave are worth more in my mind than the merchandise grab that was Cars 2. If you’ve got an amazing story that feels like a sequel, then so be it – Toy Story was the movie that introduced the world to Pixar and millions of people fell in love with Woody and Buzz, but are people really sitting around wondering what Sully and Mike Wazowski were like in college?

Or what it would be like for Nemo if his Dad lost him again in a display of child neglect eriely similar to the Home Alone sequel fiasco of the late 90s?!

Pixar is better than that, and they’ve got a catalog of 10 fantastically unique animated features to show for it. And I just hate to see them tarnish that amazing track record by living in the past instead of going out and finding new stories to tell us…

Today’s advent blog entry is actually a retweet of a post that Disney blog Progress City, USA did last year in celebration of the holidays.  Somehow they managed to find scans of this really cool 12-page storybook ad for Disneyland dating back to 1958, which was only 3 years after the park opened its doors for the very first time!  This was a time when the Florida Project wasn’t more than a twinkle in Walt’s eye and such timeless classics like it’s a small world, The Haunted Mansion, and Pirates of the Caribbean wouldn’t be built until into the next decade, so it’s kind of neat to see an artifact like this that quite literally comes from the earliest days of Disney’s theme parks…

It’s clear to see that even back then, the holidays were a pretty special time around Walt’s first theme park of many.  Be sure to click on the image above to jump to the original post that contains all 12 pages from this cute, little holiday promotional tale!

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