Misc Monday ~ in which I watch a Disney documentary

So I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of the Disney company. (Those of you who have been following along will already know this. Newer readers might not, as I haven’t talked about it much lately.) And one of the things I love is Disney animation. They do, and have done, some amazing things with animated movies and shorts. I love the classics, and I love the newer movies too. (We were late to the party with watching “Moana,” but I LOVED it.) Some of my favorite movies are Disney animated features.

However, there was a period of time when Disney animation almost died.

Well, maybe that’s me being dramatic, but I just watched “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” and that documentary sure made it sound like animated features were an endangered species for Disney back in the 80’s. Do any of you remember the “Black Cauldron” movie that Disney made back then? I vaguely do, because I loved the books. (Still do.) But at the time, it was too dark, and too ambitious, and from what I can tell it nearly spelled the end of animation at the Walt Disney studios.

In any case, if you’re interested in the history behind the Disney Animation Renaissance, then you should watch this movie. It goes into what happened in the Disney company as a whole, and animation specifically, that led to movies like “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” being able to breathe new life into the animation department. It goes into the difficult decisions management made (decisions that sometimes don’t sound all that favorable) which either helped or hindered the animators. And it goes into the personalities behind those decisions.

It also mentions things I didn’t know. For instance, I didn’t know that “Beauty and the Beast” was the first animated film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (and this was when only 5 movies were nominated per year). And I believe “Beauty” was only the 3rd Best Picture nomination received by a Disney film – the other two being “Mary Poppins” and “Dead Poets Society” (released officially by Touchstone, which I did know was a Disney label).

I also didn’t know that “An American Tail” was made by a former Disney animator who left the company, taking a bunch of his fellow animators with him. I knew there was politics in any company, but it can be rough to hear about the hard times a company you love has gone through in the past. It’s hard to understand why there was a time when people didn’t believe in something that, now, is doing so well. But this documentary does a great job of showing how things happened, and why, and what happened to change them.

If you’re interested in all things Disney (like I am), or in movie history, or in these specific Disney animated films specifically, you owe it to yourself to watch this documentary. They’re enjoyable movies to watch regardless, but knowing the climate in which they were made somehow makes them more powerful, more important.

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Ten On Tuesday ~ My Community

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for Tuesday, January 26, 2016, is 10 Interesting Things About Your Community. I encourage you to define community in the way that works best for you – your town, the nearest big city, your work community – it’s up to you to decide.
Have fun!

For the sake of this prompt, I am going to be discussing the MiceChat.com community. This is a Disney fan group that I am a part of, and for me it’s easier to discuss this than my specific home community.

  1. It’s made up of people from all over the country – and probably all over the world (though I’ve only personally met American MiceChatters).
  2. It’s made up of people from all walks of life.
  3. We have leisure activities in common (ie: going to Disney parks) and so there’s an instant conversation topic when you meet someone new in the community.
  4. The group organizes some fun events which we enjoy participating in. Our favorite is the annual MiceChat Gumball Rally.
  5. We’ve had opportunities through the group that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. For instance, the group had arranged for a large party to have lunch at the Big Thunder BBQ as a farewell to that section of the park. We had tried to make individual reservations, but were unable to. Through our connections with our MiceChat community, we got in for a final BBQ lunch. (Note: this is not referring to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster. The ride is not closing. Only the petting zoo / BBQ restaurant / special event area have closed.)
  6. Sometimes the community organizes group vacations. We have gone on several trips to Walt Disney World and Disney cruises with the group, and have made good friends as a result.
  7. It’s made up of people of all ages, too. You can find yourself in conversation with young kids on their first Disneyland trip, or with people who remember Disneyland’s opening year.
  8. If you go on the website forums, you can find all kinds of information about other people’s trips where you can get tips for your own next visit.
  9. The people who run the group seem to have inside connections within Disney, because they often have very accurate rumors about what’s upcoming for Disney.
  10. They do also plan events at non-Disney parks. Through this community, we went on our first Haunt experience at Knott’s Berry Farm (re-named for the event as “Knott’s Scary Farm”). It was an amusing experience, and one I wouldn’t have done without having the group support. And I probably won’t go again, even with the support. But I’m glad the community gave me the chance to experience something I otherwise wouldn’t have.

Have a magical day!

Very Merry 2015 ~ Ramona

So, this is the first of many FO posts with objects that I haven’t been able to show you in WIP Weds posts, since the people receiving them might read the blog and I didn’t want to give anything away.

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This one is the Ramona Mini Hipster bag, a free pattern on the Swoon Sewing Patterns website. They have some awesome patterns! The free ones are good, and the paid ones are worth it! I have made several Swoon patterns now, and I haven’t had any difficulties understanding the patterns. And I always get compliments on the bags made from these patterns.

The first one of these was a birthday gift for my niece:

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Like many girls her age, she loved Frozen when it came out, so this fabric was a no-brainer.

The other bag was a birthday gift for my mom:

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Cinderella is one of her favorite Disney movies, so when I found this fabric, it seemed a good fit. (My favorite part of the fabric is, predictably, the mice. I don’t think I got a good photo of the mice, though, so you’ll have to take my word for it.)

I sewed up these bags as written, with two exceptions: 1. I only did the stripes on one side of the bag. I wanted the full design of the fabric to be visible somewhere, so I left the back of the bag un-striped. 2. I added pockets:

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I love pockets in bags, so I tend to add at least one if there aren’t any written in. (This particular one was easy enough. I cut out the size pocket I wanted, turned the edges under, top-stitched the top of the pocket, and then sewed the pocket down to the lining before sewing the lining pieces together. It also seemed like a good place for my “handmade by me” labels, so I stitched those on to the pocket piece before sewing it to the lining.)

Anyway, that’s the first of several gift FO posts for 2015! If you like the bag, remember that you can make your own (The link I added at the top of the post takes you directly to the pattern page.)

52 Books 2014: Week 26

I’ve reviewed all of the other volumes in the MORE CUTE STORIES audiobooks here, so I want to continue the trend and review More Cute Stories, Vol. 4: 1964/65 New York World’s Fair.

First off, let me reiterate that I love hearing these stories from Rolly himself. Reading his book (It’s Kind of a Cute Story) was fun, but it’s more fun to me to get to hear his words in his own voice.

As to the stories themselves, they’re a lot of fun to hear. I didn’t know much about the 1964-1965 World’s Fair before this, beyond the parts that most Disneyland fans know. For example, I knew that it’s a small world debuted at the World’s Fair, and that the Carousel of Progress did, and I’ve ridden both of those after they got brought back to Disneyland. (I remember CoP from the Walt Disney World version, though; I don’t know if I ever went on the Disneyland version before it got turned into America Sings.)

However, I knew little to nothing about the Ford pavilion. I had read about the auto parts orchestra in Rolly’s book, but that was it. I loved learning more about it (and for those who want to learn even more about it, listen to this Communicore Weekly episode. I listened to that just after the audiobook, and it goes into greater detail because Rolly wasn’t a part of the whole thing.)

It was really neat listening to Rolly’s experiences in New York, too, and the time he spent with Mary Blair. We’d just come back from seeing the Mary Blair art exhibit at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, so hearing the history about some of the pieces we’d seen on exhibit was really cool.

These recordings aren’t very long (I don’t remember the exact info, but around an hour each), but for Disney history fans they are very worth it. I’ve talked with Jeff (co-author of IT’S KIND OF A CUTE STORY and the person helping Rolly with these recordings) about this project before, and we agree that it’s important to get these first-hand tellings of the stories out there while we still have the chance.

Ten On Tuesday ~ Memorial Day Weekend

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for today is “10 Things You Did This Weekend.” Well. That should be easy… I’m counting “this weekend” as starting on Friday, okay? It was a long weekend for everyone, but a longer weekend for me because I took some extra time off. (The items in this list are not chronological.)

1. I went to Disneyland. (And no one is really surprised.)

2. We joined the crazy people who were at Disneyland for the 24-hour party. The parks (both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure on this coast, plus at least Magic Kingdom in Florida) were open from 6am Friday to 6am Saturday. It was so much fun, but so crazy. We were in the parks for a total of about 20 hours of those 24 — we took a couple hour nap in the afternoon, but other than that we were there the entire time.

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3. I spent Monday relaxing. And letting other people cook for me, mostly.

4. We rode the Mark Twain at 4:30am. Very cool to see the Rivers of America at night.

5. I knit! Lots. Always a nice way to spend a holiday weekend.

6. There was also some cleaning up. It’s a must-do after any vacation, and on most weekends period. But I managed to temper the cleaning with fun and relaxation.

7. I scheduled a massage. For today, as a matter of fact. Wonderful.

8. I got attacked by the cat. (Love attacked. She sat on me, purring, and wouldn’t get up.) She doesn’t like when we go on vacation, but it does mean that we get more than usual affection when we get back.

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9. I remembered our fallen. I am proud to have members of my family in the military (both past and current), but I am also glad that so far none of them have had to make that ultimate sacrifice. (I don’t think it’s selfish to hope that none of them do, even while I am proud of their service.)

10. I saw it’s a small world at 5:30am. It was so pretty. I’m sad that there was so much cloud cover that we didn’t get any decent sunrise shots, but it was still neat being in the park from dawn to dawn.

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52 Books 2014: Week 11

I meant to put this book review up last Friday, but then I took a nap when I got home from work, and then we went out and got pie for dessert (since it was pi day, naturally), and I forgot I hadn’t done the review yet. And then over the weekend I was needle felting (more on this later this week) and not doing a whole lot else – except cleaning the house when I felt guilty about playing all day – and so I didn’t get ANY of my intended blog posts written. So it’s late, but here’s the next installment of my 52 Books in 52 Weeks blog series for 2014.

More Cute Stories, Vol. 3: Museum of the Weird
Rolly Crump
(non-fiction, Disney history)

This is volume three of the MORE CUTE STORIES series of audiobooks, and if you have followed my reviews at all in the past few months, you will know that I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two volumes. This third one is no exception.

If you have read IT’S KIND OF A CUTE STORY, you will know about the Museum of the Weird. If you are a fan of the Haunted Mansion and its history, you have probably heard about the Museum at least in passing. And if you have been following Marvel’s latest new comics, you have probably seen the “reboot” of the Museum, if you will. Whether you know lots about the Museum, or know nothing about it, I think you will enjoy hearing Rolly tell you some of his stories about it.

The Museum of the Weird, for those who haven’t heard of it at all before, started as some ideas to make the Haunted Mansion more scary and less corny. These ideas didn’t end up making it into the Mansion (for reasons that I will let Rolly tell you), but instead were going to be a walk-through show after the Mansion itself. Those familiar with classic Disneyland will recognize this idea in the post-show area of The Carousel Of Progress. There are some stories here about the ideas themselves, and those are fascinating. There are also stories about the people behind the Museum and the Mansion, which are fun too. It’s probably a little hard to listen to this without having read the chapter in Rolly’s book which focuses on the Museum, but there are definitely some parts which require no additional background knowledge about it.

I have said in past reviews that I know Jeff Heimbuch (co-author of Rolly’s IT’S KIND OF A CUTE STORY, and he does the producing and introduction on these audiobooks). As before, though, I have received NO compensation for these reviews. If anything, I have purchased more copies than I would have if I didn’t know Jeff. Because they’re that good, and that important to have. I wish more of the Disney legends had gotten their stories about their days at WDI/WED on paper or tape. This is an important part of Disney history, and I think this knowledge is priceless for any Disney fan to have.

As a side note, there have been complaints about these (and other similar) stories because the imagineers – and even Walt himself – portrayed within are not “perfect” people. I don’t see what the problem is. These stories are not a smear campaign against anyone. They are portraying people AS PEOPLE, and I think that’s as important as having the stories told in the first place. For instance, seeing Walt AS A PERSON, having opinions that weren’t always what was expected, and having favorites among his staff, does not make him any less of an amazing person. IT MAKES HIM A PERSON. These people were all human, and it’s time we stopped trying to turn them into flawless copies of themselves.

52 Books 2014: Week 4

I don’t think I reviewed MORE CUTE STORIES, VOLUME 1: DISNEYLAND on the blog yet, but I really should. So I’ll add it to the review of Volume 2 for this week. Volume 1 isn’t part of the 52 books in 52 weeks, though, so I can only count one of these two for my yearly total. (And I do hope that all of the things I mention in Volume 1 were a part of that disc, and not just from the in-person talk I attended…)

First of all, before I start either review, if you are a fan of Disney history in general, or the Tiki Room or it’s a small world in specific, you need to read IT’S KIND OF A CUTE STORY by Rolly Crump as told to Jeff Heimbuch. I have a review of that up here on the blog somewhere. If this topic interests you at all, or you are a fan of the Rolly’s art, get the book. You’ll enjoy it. It’s a really great look at the early days of Disneyland and what it was like to work with Walt.

More Cute Stories, Vol. 1: Disneyland History
Rolly Crump
(non-fiction, Disney history)

This volume of additional stories focuses mostly on Disneyland. There are some stories about Imagineers that could belong in Volume 2, but since they do have a connection to Disneyland they can belong here as well. Some of these stories were things that I heard Rolly talk about in person when I went to an event featuring him at the Walt Disney Family Museum. It was a lot of fun being there, and it’s made listening to the audiobooks even more enjoyable.

As a fan of Disneyland, I recognized a lot of the locations Rolly talks about. There are some places that are immediately obvious, of course, like the Enchanted Tiki Room or it’s a small world. But he also talks about a floral display from the entrance to Tomorrowland, which I remember. And there’s mention of the wooden fence posts in Frontierland. And lots of other little details which you may or may not have noticed if you were racing from attraction to attraction like so many of us do when we visit the park. But it’s those little details that make Disneyland so special, and it’s so great to hear someone talk about creating those details.

More Cute Stories, Vol. 2: Animators and Imagineers
Rolly Crump
(non-fiction, Disney history)

This second volume is about people. Sometimes stories include films that they worked on together, but usually it’s just about people. But that “just” really isn’t – these people include various Disney animators, Imagineers, and even some of Walt’s Nine Old Men. Hearing stories about Disney Legends directly from someone who worked with them (and is a Disney Legend in his own right) is a true pleasure.

My only real complaint about Volume 2 is that I don’t know enough of the names of Disney Legends and Imagineers and animators. (I am learning them, but slowly.) And so a lot of the people Rolly talks about are not instant “I know who that is” people for me. In some cases, he’ll start off the section about a person by explaining who they are, and that helps. But there are some people who aren’t given that initial explanation. And while the stories are still very cute and amusing, I have no context for those specific people. I do plan to listen to the book again, when I can pause it and look up each person who I don’t already know, but since most of my audiobook listening happens during my commute or while I’m at the gym, it’s usually very difficult for me to do research and listen to a book at the same time.

And as a disclaimer, Jeff Heimbuch is a personal friend of mine, but the only influence that had on my reviews is that I was aware of these books before a lot of people were. I was not given review copies, nor am I being compensated in any way. These reviews may seem to be glowing, but that’s because I love the cute stories they tell, and not because I benefit from my reviews at all.