We’ve seen to many changes in technology over the last generation or so that some of the greatest innovations from the childhood of a Generation X-er (like me) are completely obsolete today. For example, my nieces have been aware of what “listening to records” is for a long time because I have a record player at my house. But a couple of years ago, when the oldest of the girls, now 9, saw a record outside the sleeve for the first time, she said, “Wow! That’s a big CD!”
It’s fascinating to see kids react to older technology. The Fine Bros., who have created some of the funniest videos anywhere with the React Series on YouTube, have tackled that topic with their latest video, “Kids React To Walkmans.”
Of course the kids’ reactions are priceless. One girl immediately thinks she’s looking at a phone, while another, when she can’t figure out how to use it, exclaims, “I feel so judged right now!” The kids “ooh” and “ah” at the cassettes and laugh at the headphones — “My grandpa has some of these!” To a man – er, to a child – all of them prefer today’s digital technology to the old school cassette player. Then again, who wouldn’t? Check it out for yourself:
Welcome to Part 5 of our series on Walt Disney’s contributions to the 1964-65 World’s Fair in New York City. If you need to catch up on the rest of the series, here’s where to look:
Part 1: ‘The Kind Of Service We Can Offer’
Part 2: ‘Something No One Has Seen Or Done Before’
Part 3: ‘I Won’t Open The Fair Without That Exhibit!’
Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’
This week we’re looking at an attraction that made its debut at the World’s Fair and is still beloved today – It’s A Small World. It’s one of the attractions that appears at every Disney resort, on three continents. Because of its ubiquity all over the world, according to Disney, the title song “is always playing somewhere around the world.” During the course of a 16 hour day in any one of the parks, the song plays 1,200 times. Love it or hate it, It’s A Small World is one of the quintessential Disney attractions, but it almost didn’t make it off the drawing board.
A scant nine months before the Fair, Pepsi approached the Disney Studios requesting that the Imagineers develop an attraction that the company would sponsor to benefit UNICEF. Bob Thomas picks up the story in Walt Disney: An American Original:
A Disney executive, believing that three projects were more than enough to occupy WED, sent the Pepsi-Cola people to an engineering firm that specialized in children’s playgrounds. Walt was angry when he heard about it. “I’m the one who makes those decisions!” he declared. “Tell Pepsi I’ll do it!”
Walt detailed to stunned Imagineers his plan for “a little boat ride” in which guests would see simple, childlike figures representing the cultures all over the globe. He enlisted some of his most trusted artists to design the attraction. Mary Blair, whom Walt called his “favorite artist,” imprinted her unique stamp on the look of the ride. Marc Davis oversaw the animatronics, while his wife Alice and Joyce Carlson designed the costumes for the dolls. Claude Coats engineered the layout of what Walt would call “the happiest cruise that ever sailed.”
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in April of 2013 as “10 Must-Read Books for Disney Nerds“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Visit tomorrow for the conclusion of the series.
The Walt Disney Company has provided quality entertainment to generations of fans for almost nine decades now. No other company has done what Disney did with such excellence — from animation to live-action films to television to totally immersive theme park experiences.
Disney fandom requires a certain level of passion, but there are some whose devotion to all things Disney rises to another level. I call them “Disney Nerds,” lovingly so, because I consider myself one. Actually, I debated whether to use the term. I prefer “Disney Aficionados,” but worried it sounded too pompous.
Whatever you call us, I’ve compiled a list of ten essential books for Disney Nerds. Think of this list as summer reading for the die-hard Disney fan. The books you’ll see in this post run the gamut from theme park guides to historical chronicles to the ultimate biography of the man himself, Walt Disney. Each book will expand your knowledge (and hopefully love) of Disney culture in its own unique way.
Get ready to dig in and feast your eyes on some great Disney reading. For the list, I’ve tried to choose books that are readily available, and have provided links to order or download them for Kindle apps where applicable. So here we go.
Growing up on the outer edges of Atlanta’s suburbs, I’d heard about cow tipping. For the uninitiated, the idea of cow tipping stems from the (false) supposition that cows sleeping standing up could be knocked over easily. Truth be told, cow tipping is an urban legend – probably what city folk think we do out in the sticks.
Last weekend in San Francisco, a group of people prowled the streets of the city overnight and vandalized Smart Cars by turning them on their sides, hoods, and rear ends.
Hitting four smart cars in a few hours, an eyewitness account indicated that eight people wearing hooded sweatshirts flipped one of the cars. At approximately 1,500 to 1,800 pounds per car, each vehicle had smashed windows as well as significant body damage from being flipped over.
Speaking about one of the car-tipping incidents, eyewitness Brandon Michael said “I thought they looked like they were up to no good and then sure enough they walk up to this Smart Car right here, all huddle around it and just lift it up and set it on its hind legs, like a dog on its hind legs, — that’s pretty much it.” According to San Francisco Police Officer Gordon Shyy, the car-tipping vandals have yet to be identified and will likely face felony charges if caught.
Vandals in other cities have targeted the tiny cars in years past. Three years ago, a group in Vancouver turned a Smart Car over as a crowed cheered them on. In 2009, authorities arrested an Edmonton, Alberta man for tipping a Smart Car.
The police don’t know if the vandals are random thugs going after easy targets or if they are trying to make a statement against the environmentally friendly cars.
Walt Disney and the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Part 4: ‘At The Intersection Of Commerce And Progress’
In case you’ve missed the rest of the series:
Welcome back to our series where we’ve looked back at the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair and Disney’s input into it. This week, we’ll see how Disney teamed up with one of the country’s most recognizable corporations to create a pavilion that celebrated American ingenuity and free enterprise.
In Disneyland’s early days, Walt devised the idea for a side street offshoot from Main Street, U.S.A. At the Edison Square attraction, Disney would team up with General Electric (which had its genesis in Edison’s company) to present the story of how electricity benefited a typical American family from the turn of the 20th century, through the present, and into the future. Disneyland’s souvenir maps listed Edison Square among the park’s coming attractions, but by 1959, General Electric (GE) requested that Disney use their idea in a pavilion at the forthcoming World’s Fair in New York City. They called the exhibit General Electric Progressland.
GE knew they had partnered with the right organization, and their promotional materials for the Fair touted Walt’s involvement:
Walt has used all his resources to make Progressland the number one attraction at the Fair. He has filled it with surprising, often startling, and always pleasing evidences of his great ability to entertain.
But the purpose is never lost sight of — to tell the story of electricity and the way it is changing the world — past, present and future . . . to showcase a great industry, the electrical industry, and tell how it has grown and prospered (and helped the nation to grow and prosper) in a free, competitive society.
Corey Feldman just got awesome news – Richard Donner told us he’s making a sequel to “The Goonies” … and wants to bring back the entire cast.
Donner was signing autographs in Bev Hills when he dropped the bombshell … genuinely surprising our photog.
What Donner didn’t say … whether he’ll recast the main characters and bring in Corey, Josh Brolin, Sean Astin and Data for cameos, or if these guys will actually play the same roles 28 years later. A gnarly but interesting thought.
Goonies never say die!
But hold on before you go lining up to be the first to buy tickets. Donner has announced a Goonies sequel a number of times in the last decade. He said in 2010 that a sequel was a “definite thing,” while in 2007 and 2008 he mentioned a musical adaptation as an idea he was “fairly passionate” and “confident” about. Will this time be the charm for a sequel to The Goonies? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Editor’s Note: This article was first published in September of 2013 as “The 5 Most Underrated Walt Disney World Experiences“ It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed soon… Click here to see the top 40 so far and to advocate for your favorites in the comments.
A Walt Disney World vacation offers a ton of truly special experiences — from thrills and chills to charming family attractions. The resort has truly lived up to its reputation as the “Vacation Kingdom of the World.” Every year millions from all over the world travel to central Florida to enjoy popular attractions like It’s A Small World, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, and Mission: SPACE.
First-time guests — and even a few seasoned guests — often miss out on off-the-beaten-path attractions and little underrated gems throughout Walt Disney World. Sometimes these experiences go unnoticed because they’re older and don’t take advantage of flashy new technology. Others wind up being “best kept secrets” for guests who stay on property. Occasionally, guests just walk by others without even noticing them.
Here I’m presenting a list of my top 5 most underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. They include a couple of Tomorrowland attractions that are retro-fantastic, a quaint getaway from the bustle of Adventureland, an entire resort that guests often overlook, and a special nighttime treat. The common thread between all of them — besides that fact that I think they’re underrated — is that they’ve all been around practically since Walt Disney World opened.
Without further ado, here are the top 5 underrated experiences at Walt Disney World. Enjoy…
5. Carousel of Progress
The Imagineers — going all the way back to Walt Disney’s day — have taken pride in their ability to tell stories in unique ways. One prime example of a quintessential Disney storytelling innovation is the Carousel of Progress.
Walt personally supervised the development of the Carousel of Progress for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The attraction employs an inventive theater-in-the-round concept and one of the earliest examples of Audio-Animatronics to tell the story of how “industrial advances over the past century have changed everyday living for an American family.” Even the theme song, the Sherman Brothers’ “There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow,” reflects a certain nostalgic exuberance.
Is it corny? Yes. Are the old-school Audio-Animatronics a bit outdated? You bet. Is it worth checking out? Without a doubt. At the very least, the Carousel of Progress is an air-conditioned respite from Florida’s often oppressive heat. But if you’re willing to let its message sink in, you’ll get an infectious glimpse into Walt Disney’s optimistic futurism. Let’s face it — the chance to see the future through Walt’s eyes makes the Carousel of Progress worth the ride.
Disney’s animated hit Frozen has turned into quite the phenomenon. The film, starring the voice talents of Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, recently passed the billion dollar mark in worldwide box office. It has become the highest grossing animated movie of all time and entered the top ten among films overall.
The Walt Disney Studios’ seventh billion-dollar release, “Frozen” has earned an estimated $398.4 million at the domestic box office and $674 million internationally.
“Frozen” is the first billion-dollar film for Walt Disney Animation Studios and its first film to receive the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. “Frozen” opened wide domestically on November 27, 2013, posting the #1 all-time Thanksgiving debut ($93.6M five-day, $67.4M three-day) and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ biggest opening ever. It remained in the top 10 films at the domestic box office for 16 consecutive weeks, the longest run by any film since 2002.
Other records that Frozen has claimed include:
- The biggest Thanksgiving debut weekend.
- The biggest debut weekend for a Disney film.
- The highest grossing Disney or Pixar film in 27 countries, including Russia, China, and Brazil.
- The highest grossing foreign film in South Korea.
- The highest grossing animated film in Venezuela and Denmark.
- The fastest selling home video in digital format.
In its first day, Frozen sold 3.2 million DVDs and Blu-Rays. Additionally, the soundtrack has topped the Billboard 200 charts for seven nonconsecutive weeks, selling 1.6 million copies along with 5 million individual track downloads. The soundtrack has also approaching 110 million streams worldwide on Spotify. The movie’s hit song “Let It Go” won an Oscar for writers Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Menzel’s version of the song has reached #5 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 as of last week, selling 2.6 million copies and besting by far the “pop” version by Demi Lovato, which only reached #38. The video of the song’s sequence from the film has garnered over 166 million views on YouTube.
What other records are left to break? With a track record like this in just a few months, we can safely bet that Frozen will join the pantheon of Disney classics.
At a surprise press conference this morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger made the special announcement that the company will thaw out the cryogenically frozen body of Walt Disney to make appearances at both American theme parks. The once-in-a-lifetime appearances will take place Independence Day Weekend.
“We’re thrilled to announce that Walt will come back to life this summer at Disney Parks,” said Iger. “He will appear at Disneyland on Saturday, July 5. We’ll fly him to Orlando over night, and he’ll appear at Walt Disney World on Sunday, July 6.”
Iger did not take questions from the media, but he remarked that the corporate board decided on Independence Day Weekend because of Walt’s patriotism. The CEO also acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the upcoming events.
“We’ve been aware of the urban legends, and we’re proving that the legends are true,” he said. “We’ve never tried this before, so we’re hoping the thawing process isn’t messy, especially in the Florida summer heat.”
A spokesperson followed Iger’s remarks to announce that the company will release details on the appearances in June.
“We’re counting on everything going according to plan because we know just how much it will piss Michael Eisner off,” the spokesperson added.
Welcome to the third week of our series celebrating the 50th anniversary of Disney’s involvement in the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. If you missed last week, we looked at Ford’s Magic Skyway pavilion and Disney’s spellbinding work on it. This week we’re talking a look at another pavilion that allowed Walt to raise the bar on one of his newest innovations: Audio Animatronics.
Walt became interested with animatronic figures when he brought a mechanical toy bird back from a trip to New Orleans. He took the toy apart to see how it worked and to figure out how he could improve on it. His work on the mechanical bird led Walt to task Roger Broggie and Wathel Rogers to create a “dancing man” animatronic, and they did so using a film of actor Buddy Ebsen singing a vaudeville song on a proscenium stage as a guide. An entire attraction built around Audio Animatronic figures – The Enchanted Tiki Room – opened at Disneyland in 1963, but Walt had even bigger ideas.
Walt and the Imagineers began to develop the concept for a side street off Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A. called Liberty Street. The area would center around the founding principles of the United States, and its key attraction would be One Nation Under God, a celebration of America culminating in a Hall of Presidents.
In 1962, World’s Fair mastermind Robert Moses visited Disneyland to check on the progress of Walt’s exhibits for the Fair, and Walt showed him the Hall of Presidents concept, inviting Moses to “meet Mr. Lincoln.” Moses found himself taken aback by the animatronic Abraham Lincoln that he declared, “I won’t open the fair without that exhibit!” By the following summer, Moses had convinced the State of Illinois to include the Lincoln show in their pavilion.
The Fair’s guidebook describes the attraction, entitled Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln, like this:
After watching a brief sound and slide presentation, “The Illinois Story,” visitors enter a comfortable theater where the figure of Lincoln rises from its chair and recites excerpts from some of the speeches of the Civil War President. The figure is capable of more than 250,000 combinations of actions, including gestures, smiles and frowns; the facial features were taken from Lincoln’s life mask.
Former president Jimmy Carter continues to be a
treasure national embarrassment. The Georgia governor (how it pains me to say that) turned president has turned into the crabby old man of ex-presidents. He has now publicly admitted that he is convinced the NSA is going through his emails.
Former President Jimmy Carter told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday that he has his own system to avoiding being monitored by the National Security Agency, which is under scrutiny following leaks from its former contractor Edward Snowden: “When I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I would type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office and mail it.” He added that the spy agency had abused its authority.
He also later admitted that he would be open to granting Snowden a pardon.
What does he think the NSA agents sit around doing all day?
“Hey guys, look at what Jimmy Carter ordered on Amazon! A book on killer rabbits!”
“Oh look, it’s a fundraising letter from his grandson’s futile campaign for governor of Georgia.”
“Mahmoud Abbas just forwarded him the same chain email Evo Morales sent him last week.”
And I just imagine all the world’s leaders wait by the mailbox for the next round of letters from Jimmy Carter:
Assistant: Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve just received a letter from Jimmy Carter. He wants to monitor the next election.
Prime Minister: Wait, did he actually use a typewriter to compose this?
Assistant: Yes sir, I believe so.
Prime Minister: (sighs) Well, just put it in that pile of junk mail over there.
President Carter, it’s true that the NSA’s overreach is an outrage – that’s one of the precious few things you and I can agree on. But you may have gone a little kooky to think that you’re a specific target of the agency. So, put away the Smith Corona - unless what you’re emailing about is dangerous enough to warrant the NSA’s attention. Knowing your politics, that could well be the case.
Oh, and we promise to stay out of your yard.
Since the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, researchers have struggled to figure out what factors drive ordinary people to commit acts like those in Nazi Germany. Were the Germans of that era inherently evil, or did they simply fall in line with the orders of charismatic leaders like Hitler? Did William Calley’s defense of “just following orders” absolve him of his responsibility for the My Lai Massacre? Psychologists have spent years trying to figure out what’s behind obedience to authority.
In the early 1960s, psychologist Stanley Milgram embarked on a series of controversial experiments in which he set out to discover what factors lead regular people to commit atrocities. Milgram’s experiments involved subjects administering electric shocks to participants who, unbeknownst to the subjects, were actors involved with the experiments. Though many believed his experiments skirted the boundaries of ethics, Milgram concluded that people in general would obey orders regardless of the harm those orders may cause.
Author Gina Perry’s excellent 2013 book Behind The Shock Machine (which I recently read) recounts the experiments, and Perry discounts Milgram’s findings. She concludes that Milgram manipulated his results and that the experiments were as much about the theatrics as they were about getting to the bottom of the issue.
Today’s researchers are still trying to figure out the real motivation behind atrocities. In a recent Pacific Standard article, Bettina Chang recounts a more recent finding:
Sophie Richardot, a social psychologist at Université de Picardie, France, sought to answer this question. She first became interested in the subject in relation to Milgram’s famed obedience experiment. Milgram showed the disturbing extent to which normal people are willing to inflict pain on people in the name of obeying authority. Richardot says that Milgram’s orders were not coercive, but they were explicit.
From what she knew about the Holocaust and other mass war crimes, however, the orders were more coded and ambiguous. So she set about categorizing the orders given to commit war crimes and looking for patterns.
Welcome back to our series on the 1964-65 World’s Fair and Disney’s involvement in it. Last week, we looked at the background behind the Fair and the factors that led Walt Disney to take part in some of the pavilions. Today we’re diving into one of those pavilions where Walt and the Imagineers lent their touch – the Magic Skyway, presented by Ford Motor Company.
When Walt began to seek out corporate partners for the New York World’s Fair, General Motors was near the top of the list. Their Futurama pavilion turned into the hit of the 1939 Fair, which raised the stakes for GM at the sequel of sorts to that earlier event. GM was already in talks with Disney to sponsor a new attraction at Disneyland. GM chose instead to create a sequel to Futurama and put the kibosh on the Disneyland attraction, suggesting to Walt that he reach out to Ford.
Disney’s wonderful 2009 box set Walt Disney and the 1964 World’s Fair contains not only a terrific selection of music from the fair – including early concepts, behind-the-scenes recordings, and unused pieces, but its liner notes also tell an extensive tale about each pavilion that Disney developed. Stacia Martin’s essay on The Magic Skyway tells the story well.
By 1960, Disney and Ford agreed to work together, and the auto maker secured a seven acre site. The next year, Disney pitched its first concept: The Symphony Of America, a ride across the country (in Ford vehicles, naturally) demonstrating “the land, its contrasting moods and its industry.” Ford nixed the idea, informing shocked Imagineers that the company wanted “something bigger” and was afraid that the concept was too close to Chevrolet’s “See The USA In Your Chevrolet” ad campaign.
After going back to the drawing board, Disney came up with concepts that Ford could accept. The attractions sat within the impressive Ford Wonder Rotunda, a 235-foot-in-diameter atrium which led to a seven-story show building. Inside the Wonder Rotunda, guests could visit the International Gardens, scale models of scenes from 11 countries in which Ford had manufacturing facilities. These scenes reflected Walt’s love of miniature dioramas, of course.
A massive fish tank at T-Rex Cafe in Downtown Disney ruptured on Monday afternoon, sending hundreds of gallons of water rushing into the dining room. At 4:00 p.m., a seam in the tank gave way, causing the rupture and leak. Diner Kate Wallace captured the incident in the photograph above and spoke to a North Carolina television station about the experience.
“We were sitting about 20-feet away,” Wallace said in an e-mail to WGHP. “The people sitting at the table next to it did get wet… I don’t know how they could have avoided it.”
Wallace said workers quickly entered the tank in an effort to save the fish.
“The staff did a great job of springing into action. They were clearing guests out of the immediate area, trying to contain the water and working to save the fish,” Wallace said.
One person was told the workers were able to save “all of the fish.”
The restaurant remained open while crews worked to clean up the water.
Fortunately no diners – or fish – were injured, though a Disney spokesperson said that the restaurant removed some of the fish for safety purposes and relocated a few tables to accommodate cleanup and repairs. Another diner captured the incident on video:
Technology affords us the ability to take part in the news on a minute by minute basis — sometimes to a fault. Rocker Courtney Love has turned aviation expert and breaking news journalist and revealed her thoughts on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370:
Love says she thinks she may have found the plane using the web site Tomnod to view satellite images of the search area.
Love took to her Twitter account to announce the findings.
She points to what she says is an oil slick on one of the images.
Love claims the slick is located about a mile away from Pulau Perak, the last place the plane was tracked.
Here’s her twitter post:
When a follower disputed her claim, she provided photographic evidence:
Who knows? Courtney Love may be on to something, but only if she can get someone to do a physical search of the area.
Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, which took place at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, New York. Today, many people know of it largely because of Walt Disney’s involvement in it. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to take a look at Disney’s contributions to the World’s Fair, but first, let’s glance at the origins of the Fair.
In his excellent essay on the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, Bill Young sums up its legacy:
The Fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding,” dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe” and was often referred to as an “Olympics of Progress.” The theme center was a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called Unisphere with the orbit tracks of three satellites encircling the giant globe.
By the time the gates closed more than 51 million people had attended the exposition; a respectable attendance for a World’s Fair but some 20% below the projected attendance of 70 million. The exposition ended with huge financial losses and amid allegations of gross mismanagement.
Today the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair is remembered as a cultural highlight of mid-twentieth century America. It represents an era best known as “The Space Age” when mankind took its first steps toward space exploration and it seemed that technology would provide the answers to all of the world’s problems. The exhibits at the Fair echoed a blind sense of optimism in the future that was prevalent in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Guests travel to Walt Disney World seeking the ultimate vacation experience, and Disney continues to develop new ways to deliver the best possible vacation. The company has invested over a billion dollars in their MyMagic+ system, which employs wearable technology and RFID (radio frequency identification) chips to fine tune and customize guests’ experiences. Disney has high hopes for MyMagic+, but so far many guests aren’t sold on the idea.
A recent MSN Money profile on MyMagic+ reveals the technology behind this new system, Disney’s expectations for the program, and guests’ decidedly mixed reviews.
It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips — which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.
That tracking power also is what makes them so important for Disney’s $14.1 billion theme park and resort business. Intelligence collected using the bands coupled with what visitors input into the related My Disney Experience app and website — all voluntary — help Disney determine when to add more staff at rides, what restaurants should serve, which souvenirs should be stocked, and how many employees in costume should roam around at any given time. Data about customer preferences could be used to craft e-mails or text messages alerting them to restaurant menu changes or sudden openings for reservations in an expedited queue at Space Mountain or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
The goal is to offer people what Tom Staggs, head of the company’s parks and resorts unit, calls “a more immersive, more seamless, and more personal experience” — allowing Disney employees to address a child by name, for example, or wish someone a happy birthday.
Conservative media icon Glenn Beck recently spent time with National Review‘s Eliana Johnson, and their time together has led to a revealing profile of a man who is changing his focus little by little from tackling hard news to impacting culture.
Beck shared the inspiration for his move toward culture: none other than Walt Disney.
The item that most inspires him right now is a prospectus of Disney World, hand-colored by Walt Disney himself, which he has propped against a window — or at least, a photocopy of it. He keeps the real item, which he won at an auction three years ago, at his home in Dallas. “I’m now the owner of every book written on Walt Disney in any language,” he says. He doesn’t know exactly how many that is. A year ago, he distributed a biography of Disney to the members of his staff. “I said when I left Fox that this half of my career is going to be shaped more by Walt Disney than anything else,” he says.
His interest in Disney is symbolic of the shift in his attention and efforts toward culture and away from politics. He had a realization: “Culture is the lead. That’s the dog. The news is the tail.”
He pulls out a piece of early publicity on Disneyland, points to a paragraph, and reads aloud. “Disneyland will be based upon and dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America and it will be uniquely equipped to dramatize these dreams and facts and send them forth as a source of courage and inspiration to all the world.” Beck, known to burst into tears at a moment’s notice, looks like he might do so right now. “That’s what we’re gonna do,” he declares. “That’s how I intend on impacting culture. To do that.”
The experience of listening to music has changed since I was a child. I’ve survived the 8-track era, as well as the decline and resurgence of vinyl. I had a Walkman so I could take my cassettes anywhere I wanted, and I’ve even had the CD version of the Walkman. The revolution of digital technology allows me to carry my entire collection of music on my iPhone, which is nice, since I don’t have a record player in my office.
For those of you who speak audiophile, it’s reportedly made with zero-feedback circuitry and a digital filter that stops “unnatural pre-ringing”. Memory cards will be available for storing and playing additional collections of music.
PonoMusic is the device’s accompanying desktop-based “media management” system, which allows customers to download and sync music to player. They’ll reportedly offer “the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels”. Their online store will also offer “PonoMusic recommended earbud and headphone products”.
The press release promises “studio master-quality digital music at the highest audio fidelity possible, bringing to life the true emotion and detail of the music, the way the artist recorded it.” Young himself has written, “Hearing Pono for the first time is like that first blast of daylight when you leave a movie theatre on a sun-filled day.” The players will be available for preorder through Kickstarter on March 12.
The questions remain: will customers go for a completely different music player in the era of Apple dominance? Will users go for the odd triangular design and small touch screen? Will digital music fans switch to the Pono Music store when they’re used to iTunes and Amazon mp3? I have a difficult time believing that anyone outside of hardcore audiophiles will go for the new technology – at least not until the price comes down.
On March 2, we witnessed the spectacle and excitement of the Academy Awards. Hollywood honored its brightest and best in just about every single category. However, the Academy has ignored one crucial part of the industry – stunt performers and coordinators.
In the 86 years of the Academy Awards, only one stunt actor has received an honor. The late former stuntman Hal Needham, writer-director of such films as Smokey & The Bandit, received an honorary Oscar in 2013, but apart from Needham, the Oscars have been silent when it comes to the stunt community, despite its importance to the film industry at large. One stunt performer is working to remedy the omission.
Jack Gill, who has stunt doubled for [Jason] Statham in Death Race as well as the late Paul Walker in the Fast and Furious films, has led the charge for stunt coordinators to receive Oscar recognition for the past 23 years. He has generated support from such leading filmmakers as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron and, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) President Ken Howard and former SAG President Melissa Gilbert (who wrote letters to AMPAS on the stunt actors’ behalf but were ignored.) Gill even filed a petition with signatures from award winning actors, directors and producers who believed in the cause.
It “fell on deaf ears. The (previous AMPAS regime) said these signatures were probably agreed to as a courtesy and not really heartfelt,” Gill recalls. “The entire industry is behind us but the Academy is looking to omit categories, not add. There are stunt coordinators who are Academy members and we currently have 27 members who have been helping me to establish a category for stunt coordinators. We do not have a ‘branch.’ Establishing that branch and award category is the sticking point.”
When asked if AMPAS would consider a change of heart, a spokesperson said: “Stunt coordinators play an important role in many movie productions and the Academy currently honors those at the very top of their craft by inviting them to become Academy members.”
The day after that statement was made, AMPAS’ President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, COO Ric Robertson and Director of Membership Kimberly Roush met privately with Gill. He called the new regime “enlightening.”
Under the new Academy administration, stunt performers can add up to 13 new members a year. Once sixty stunt performers become Academy members, they can petition AMPAS for a stunt branch, which will put the stunt community one step closer to establishing the award they so deserve.
Morning show anchors at local news affiliates have an unenviable job, especially when they have to interview oddball guests. One of those guests making the rounds after Thanksgiving was Chef Keith Guerke, plugging his cookbook Leftovers Right: Making A Winner Out Of Last Night’s Dinner.
The problem is, Keith Guerke isn’t a chef – or a real person, for that matter, and his book doesn’t exist either. The stunt sprung from the minds of comedians Nick Preuher and Joe Pickett and their troupe, the Found Footage Festival. Preuher appeared on local news shows in Illinois and Wisconsin, promoting disgusting recipes with bogus statistics and made up anecdotes. He bumbled through his presentations and even talked one anchor into beatboxing while he rapped.
The results are hilarious. Sit back and enjoy, as these poor hosts gamely go along with Chef Keith and his horrid recipes.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been a sucker for the big awards shows: the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Emmys. Even when I haven’t seen the movies or shows or listened to the albums and songs receiving awards, I still find myself fascinated by the peculiar celebratory atmosphere of awards night. While I’ve lamented in the past that the awards shows – particularly the Grammys – lack the dignity they once possessed, I can usually count on the Oscars to capture the glamor of old Hollywood. I have to admit: I don’t care about what people are wearing or about who wins — I just enjoy the competition and the tradition that has carried on for 86 years.
Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony was no exception. The film industry turned out in all its finery to honor the best of 2013. The show provided moments both wacky and touching, and the telecast included plenty of high and low points. From host Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity pizza order (complete with $1,000 tip), to John Travolta’s mangling of Idina Menzel’s name, to Pink’s powerful rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” the Oscars didn’t disappoint (unless you’re a fan of Saving Mr. Banks, in which case the nominations disappointed). I walked away from the 86th annual Academy Awards with a few surprising observations. Allow me to share them with you.
The scientific advancements we’ve seen the last few years stagger the imagination. Among these revolutions in the medical realm is the hair transplant. But, lest you think hair transplants are only for the guys you see on local television ads with a sad visage in a “before” image and a convertible and a hot babe in the “after” shot, one group of guys is taking advantage of hair transplant technology in a new way. The latest trend in the hipster world is the beard transplant:
Stubble-challenged guys are forking over up to $8,500 for the beard-boosting procedure, which has spiked in popularity in recent months, plastic surgeons told The Post.
“Brooklyn is probably the nucleus of the trend, it’s the hipster ‘look’ guys want. If you have a spotty beard, and you let it grow out, it looks sloppy, ” said Dr. Jeffrey Epstein, a Midtown-based plastic surgeon.
“[Clients] want full beards because it’s a masculine look. Beards are an important male identifier,” he added.
I guess these hipster guys need a “male identifier” to counter the decidedly non-masculine look of the deep v-neck t-shirts and skinny jeans rolled up too high. In a lovely bit of irony, some hipsters make use of the transplants to look older:
One happy patient is Danny, 27, whose beard used to be so patchy, he was forced to “fill it in” with an eyebrow pencil, he said.
Two years ago, he paid $8,500 for the surgery, which he considers a fashion statement.
“I have a baby face but now I’m able to look older. My fashion statement is a little edgy, and I do like the ‘rugged look,’” he said.
He added, “It’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.”
While others go for the procedure to look younger:
A 39-year-old New Yorker, who works in catering industry, got a beard transplant to make him feel younger, DNAinfo.com reported.
“I had contemplated [getting a beard transplant] for approximately eight months,” he said, “Knowing the results, I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time deciding,” he said.
$8,500 for facial hair. Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.
(h/t to Kathy Shaidle)
Over the weekend, Disney Parks announced a ticket price increase for Walt Disney World, effective this week. From the Orlando Sentinel:
Disney’s Magic Kingdom guests will have to fork over a few extra dollars for single-day park admission.
The tickets will cost $99 for adults and children 10 and up.
This $4 price hike keeps Magic Kingdom the most expensive Disney park.
A one-day ticket for Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios will go from $90 to $94.
“Our pricing reflects the high quality and breadth of experiences we offer and our ongoing commitment to investing in our parks,” Disney spokesman Bryan Malenius said Saturday. “We offer a variety of ticket options that provide a great value, and find that most guests select multi-day tickets that offer additional savings.”
This increase was the second in less than a year. The company did not announce a hike in prices for Disneyland on Saturday, but insiders expect an increase in the not too distant future.
Many of the Disney fans I’ve spoken with bristled at the higher prices, but it’s worth noting that purchasing multi-day ticket packages can ease the blow a little – and the no expiration option, though expensive, allows guests to save tickets for years at a time.
Over at Theme Park Insider, Robert Niles put the price hike in perspective:
As long as more people keep going to the parks each year, theme parks will keep increasing their prices. Disney World’s attendance is up, so it’s just supply-and-demand for Disney to raise its prices. If you think Disney World’s gotten too expensive, don’t bother complaining. Disney’s looking at attendance numbers when setting prices, not people moaning online.
The fact of the matter is that dyed-in-the-wool Disney fans and other guests who really want to visit Walt Disney World will suck it up and pay the higher ticket prices. Even with the increased admission, Disney World still provides a tremendous value.