Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dreaming Disney - Disney History Institute Podcast

If you are a Disney fan, it is a must. If you are a theme parks fan, it is a must. If you are a history fan, it is a must. If you are a story fan, it is a must. If you like to hear about creatives, it is a must.

What am I talking about?

I am talking about the podcast I have always wanted and did not know existed for over three years.

My newest podcast recommendation to everyone is the Disney History Institute Podcast. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. I have gotten friends who do not like Disney to binge episodes because the stories and production are just that good!

Disney History Institute Podcast by Todd J. Peirce is predominantly audio versions of Peirce’s articles from the Disney History Institute website. Along with Peirce’s well written articles is quality production with supporting audio beds and Peirce’s voice that helps pull you into a story. I have experimented a bit with scripted podcast episodes, and it is not as easy as it seems. But this podcast combines quality content with strong production values. It is convincing enough that I had to buy his book!

The content is basically audio presentations of Peirce's articles. I will be honest, though they have been available in text form, I have not read them. These articles are somewhat big at times and I do not have the time to sit online and read these articles in depth (yeah it is kind of ironic with this being a blog and all). So this audio presentation has given these articles a second life. But the best part is you really do feel like you are getting pulled into a story with Peirce serving as the storyteller. The topics fascinate me with me telling everyone to go listen to “The Bible Storyland Fiasco” immediately. I love this history which balances defects in personalities with the humorous thoughts of a Jungle Cruise Garden of Eden ride completely with sexism. The Disney fan will be drawn to the multipart expose on the Yippie Invasion, the infamous Studio field day, and glimpses into Walt Disney’s life. I will admit, after hearing his piece on Ruth Shellhorn I find myself kicking myself for not knowing more of her Disney story. Additionally, along with his articles, Pierce shares interview audio of Disney legends like Harriet Burns, Blaine Gibson, and Jack Lindquist.

The only real complaint is frequency. The episodes post when Peirce has one ready. So it is possible for long gaps. But it is good free content. A friend did point out to me that “Walt’s First Park Part 1” was never followed by a Part 2. But I found myself arguing, but buddy it’s free. My friend did go online to read the second part of the story.

Disney History Institute Podcast by Todd J. Peirce is my new favorite podcast I did not know existed. If you are a Disney fan, you need to subscribe now so when a new episode drops it is pushed to you. Because you will both learn and be entertained by this audio presentation.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Between Books - Would You Like Magic with That?

I was a big fan of The Ride Delegate.  So seeing a second Annie Salisbury memoir got me super interested.  Her first book took us to places that the regular people like me cannot consider.  And I hoped this second book focusing on her time as a Plaid in Guest Relations would provide more fun and unique stories.

Would You Like Magic with That?: Working at Walt Disney World Guest Relations by Annie Salisbury starts in a sad place.  Salisbury begins this memoir with her first Disney casting, working DisneyQuest, a site she never wanted and attempted to escape.  Surviving the College Program, Salisbury continued on and was able to briefly move over to the Great Movie Ride.  From this position she was able to use the Disney casting system to get moved to Guest Relations at the Magic Kingdom.  But instead of being posted as a Plaid, she instead was tasked as a Celebrate Greeter, spreading magic in the park for guests without actually being trained into Guest Relations or wearing the famous uniform.  After bartering her way into actual training, Salisbury recounts stories that let her readers understand the roles and politics of Guest Relations, including the threat for many that this casting is temporary and something they could lose forever.

Salisbury helps illustrate several points.  First, College Program members you get what you get.  And Disney may lie to give you hope of other castings.  But really, if one is dissatisfied with what Disney has chosen for them the only real escape option is to leave.  Salisbury also does a nice job of explaining how non College Program cast members can switch positions at Walt Disney World and the extreme efforts and risks one may have to take to move into a desired role.  And most of all, she provides clarify like all offices, Guest Relations has politics and maybe even people meaner than those you work with on a daily basis.

I have quoted Would You Like Magic with That? a few times.  I am currently training staff who help resolve situations.  And I have used the concept of "appropriate" and "obtainable", which Salisbury learned at Guest Relations as a good ruler for for strong problem resolutions.  If something does not meet both of these conditions, in all of our customer relations we should review if it is the solution we select.

I liked Would You Like Magic with That? but still find The Ride Delegate to be my favorite of Salisbury's memoirs.  But this time she did not have the chance to surprise me with the strength of her stories.  But I can now proudly ride the Great Movie Ride knowing that Gangsters are jerks.  And I now know just how bad a situation it takes to get Disney to consider free admission, there will probably be tears.  Because sometimes has to ask Would You Like Magic with That? when circumstances make the day less magical for both cast and guests...even at Walt Disney World!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cap's Comics - Enchanted Tiki Room #2

Enchanted Tiki Room #2 shows us quickly that there is trouble in paradise.  Agnes may no longer wish her dog Alfred can talk, seeing as he has nothing but unfaltering things to say.  Yes, dog is not woman's best friend!  The bird band has members in revolt, and maybe a orange friend can join in?  The Randy Family do something that money cannot buy...hug!  Chip's big debut may have fallen flat.  And Wally, well he's barely in the issue.  And also absent is the island trespasser!  Yep, things are not going well and someone may do something desperate to regain their place on the enchanted tropical island.

Jason Grandt Connecting Cover Variant

Again, this is a funny book.  And adults can enjoy the humor.  I did chuckle as the Randy family, well, touched!  I guess love cannot be bought with money.  It definitely made me laugh and so did the Between Kid.  I also enjoyed the Disney Easter Eggs including a growing presence for the Little Orange Bird.

John Tyler Christopher Action Figure Variant
My biggest worry with the book is there is a lot going on.  It could be too much.  Wally is basically non-existent in the book.  In fact, Wally gets one panel!  Unless I am wrong and she is hiding in the shadows, our cliffhanger new character never shows in the entire issue.  Which makes it frustrating that we have to wait for at least one more issue to get any answers to what her presence is about.  In short the story has to service five if not six story lines and I worry that a mini-series may not do the bulk of them justice.

Ron Lim Variant
Enchanted Tiki Room is keeping me for the laughs.  But I do worry that Jon Adams and Horacio Domingues' story could be too ambitious.  In the end, Fantasy Island was really just about three story lines.  I am just worrying that this comic has 2 stories too many.  But still, I am smiling.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Between Books - Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

I really enjoyed Rogue One!  I say that despite the kids sitting behind me whacking my chair over and over again!  But one thing that became clear in the early moments of the story was there was more story to tell between the beats on the back of my chair.  That could especially be seen with Lyra Erso, who had only a few moments in the film as we see her years before the Battle of Yavin.

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno describes how Galen Erso came to be one of the chief engineers of the Death Star.  The novel tells the story of a young brilliant man in love with science and an adventurous nature guide.  A pacifist, Erso focuses his research into Kyber crystals, which power Jedi lightsabers, and how they can be used to harvest vast amounts of energy with the hope of bringing power to economically disadvantaged worlds.  Erso's colleague Orson Krennic serves as an rising power-hungry engineer in the Empire's Advanced Weapons Research department.  Despite his inability to get Erso involved in his ultimate project, he knows that Erso is the key to the weapon for his most ambitious project yet.  Luceno tells a story of manipulation and lies as Krennic plays on Erso's emotions and beliefs to gain his aid.  And the story shows how Erso and his family escaped Krennic's control to be found again on the movie big screen.

Are you looking for a Star Wars book with plenty of action?  Then go read Ahsoka!  This is a book light on action and big on personalities.  The battles here are battles of will as Krennic turns Galen, as Lyra grows weary of Galen's old friend, and as Tarkin and Krennic struggle for control of the Emperor's battle station.  In all of the maneuvering found in the book, the key is the weapon  Without the super laser to fit the scope of the Empire's newest machine of death, it will literally lack the destructive power required to declare it a success.  And Krennic fully puts his career behind the belief that Galen Erso can reluctantly build them the needed weapon.  That is the real story, one of emotions and relationships.  There are rarely blasters, despite a few smugglers including Saw Gerrera, who have to escape some harrowing scrapes.

I will admit, even as a father I did not always connect with Galen Erso.  He is honestly somewhat an unapproachable personality lost in his science.  For me the hero was Lyra Erso as she struggles to hold her marriage together, protect her husband and introduce her daughter Jyn to a bigger physical and spiritual universe.

Many said that reading Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel enhanced the experience of seeing Rogue One in the theater.  Honestly, I can see how it could have made viewers feel better prepared.  I expect the next time I see the movie I will see Lyra Erso in a new light, as a woman who truly fought to protect her family.  But despite the enrichment, I do not believe this book will be for everyone including those looking for a high action science fiction story.