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Posts Tagged ‘Walt Disney

“There’s no business like show business”*…

 

entertainers

I’m on my first-ever cruise because I wanted to see how the entertainment world’s 99 percent, as Bernie Sanders might say, work for a living. The comedians who don’t film HBO specials; the magicians who aren’t David Blaine; the variety acts who don’t just disappear after their fifteen seconds on America’s Got Talent. These entertainers are struggling to compete with everything from YouTube phenoms to Netflix and Spotify. In Vegas and Times Square, small clubs and homegrown acts are getting squeezed out by arenas, superstars, and global brands, like mom-and-pop shops bulldozed by Walmarts.

But maybe smaller acts aren’t dying. Maybe they’ve just gone on vacation, since cruises need entertainers now more than ever. The $38 billion cruise industry has boomed with Boomers, growing from 17.8 million passengers in 2010 to 25.8 million passengers in 2017. The Regal Princess is one of more than four hundred fifty active cruise ships, and each is a floating entertainment district. It typically employs a six-piece party band; a seven-piece house band; a jazz quintet; a DJ; a piano-bar lounge singer; and seventeen singer-dancers who rotate through stage shows, including two created exclusively for Princess by Wicked’s Stephen Schwartz. (Other lines feature partnerships with outfits like Cirque du Soleil, Second City, and Blue Note Records.) Last year, Kaler and his team booked four hundred sixty-eight different headliners, from “a cappella” to “xylophonist.”…

Welcome to the new vaudeville circuit, where live entertainment hasn’t died—it’s just gone to sea: “Inside the delightfully quirky, absolutely fabulous, and utterly exhausting world of cruise performers.”

* Irving Berlin

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As we enjoy the show, we might recall that it was on this date that Universal released “Trolley Trouble” from Walt Disney Studios.  The first Disney cartoon to spawn a series, it featured Oswald the Lucky Rabbit (the creation of Walt’s long-time collaborator Ub Iwerks).  Oswald featured in 27 successful animated shorts– but Disney lost the rights to Universal.  So, he and Iwerks created a new featured character, Mickey Mouse.

 

 

Written by LW

September 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

“What exactly is postmodernism, except modernism without the anxiety?”*…

 

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Wonderful “vintage” covers of MIA, Radiohead, Coolio, Lady Gaga, Elvis, and more at Scott Bradlee‘s Postmodern Jukebox.

* Jonathan Lethem

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As we shed pump up the PoMo, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that Mickey Mouse made his debut.  Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks tested their new character in a silent black-and-white animated short called “Plane Crazy,” loosely based on Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight and the furor it occasioned.  On that day, the cartoon was screened for distributors…  all of whom passed.  Later that year, Disney released Mickey’s first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie– which was, of course, an enormous success.  Following two more Mickey vehicles (The Gallopin’ Gaucho, and The Barn Dance), Plane Crazy was tracked and released as a sound cartoon on March 17, 1929.

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Written by LW

May 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I have had UFO experiences, and yet, at the same time, I can easily be convinced that none of it is true”*…

 

In 1995, as part of the Walt Disney Company Presents series (that was hosted by Michael Eisner, doing his not-very-successful best to channel Walt), Disney aired “Alien Encounters.”  A documentary that opens with footage of “an actual spacecraft from another world, piloted by alien intelligence,” and the pronouncement that “intelligent life from distant galaxies is now attempting to make open contact with the human race,” it only aired once.

* Frank Black (AKA Black Francis, of the Pixies)

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As we look to the skies, we might spare a thought for Gertrude Stein; she died on this date in 1946.  An American ex-pat, Stein was an author, poet, and memoirist (The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas).  But she was probably most impactful and is best remembered as a hostess and mentor to a generation of writers (e.g., Hemingway,described her salon in A Moveable Feast) and artists (e.g., Picasso) in Paris, where– “the mother of us all”**– she held court for forty years.

Carl Van Vechten’s 1935 portrait of Stein

source

** The Mother of Us All was the title of a Virgil Thomson opera for which Stein wrote the libretto.  And while the subject of the opera, Susan B. Anthony, certainly deserves the epithet, so, many have observed, did its author.

 

Written by LW

July 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

By the numbers…

The 2010 Census results are in.  The headlines:  men are living longer; marriage isn’t.

Some highlights…

Since the 2000 census, the number of men in the U.S. increased by 9.9 percent. Woman grew 9.5 percent.  There are more men than women under the age of 34, because “more boys than girls tend to be born.”
But above age 85, the number of women is double that of men. Female life expectancy is 80.8 years; male, 75.6 years.

Baby boomers are aging: The 45-plus group grew 25.6 percent since 2000, while the under-45 group only increased 1.4 percent.  The median national age was 37.2 years, from 35.3 in 2000.  Seven states now have a median age of over 40.  Maine is oldest, at 42.7; Utah is youngest, at 29.2.

The share of U.S. households with married couples fell to 48.4 percent, down from 51.7 percent in 2000– the first time the number dropped below 50 percent. In 1950, married couples made up 77 percent of households.

More descriptive demographics in this AP report and at the Census Bureau’s site.

As we do our best to age gracefully, we might recall that it was on this date in 1933 that Walt Disney’s edifying fable “Three Little Pigs” was released.  Winner of the 1934 Academy Award for Best Animated Short, “Three Little Pigs” was ranked #11 on the list of 50 Greatest Cartoons, and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Practical Pig, Fiddler Pig and Fifer Pig sing “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” (source)

What goes around…

George Packer described in the New York Times what happens to the clothes that one drops with charity…

If you’ve ever left a bag of clothes outside the Salvation Army or given to a local church drive, chances are that you’ve dressed an African. All over Africa, people are wearing what Americans once wore and no longer want. Visit the continent and you’ll find faded remnants of secondhand clothing in the strangest of places. The ”Let’s Help Make Philadelphia the Fashion Capital of the World” T-shirt on a Malawian laborer. The white bathrobe on a Liberian rebel boy with his wig and automatic rifle. And the muddy orange sweatshirt on the skeleton of a small child, lying on its side in a Rwandan classroom that has become a genocide memorial. A long chain of charity and commerce binds the world’s richest and poorest people in accidental intimacy. It’s a curious feature of the global age that hardly anyone on either end knows it.

Mother Jones and the International Reporting Project collected a stunning gallery that helps those on this end of the chain better appreciate the other.

The circumstantially-ironic commentary of the photos is just a bonus…

"Iowa: Nothing to do since 1772" shirt worn by University of Liberia student

More wonderful pix– all shot in November, 2010 in Liberia, West Africa, “where former warlords tend rice paddies and American t-shirts are sold in heaps under the hot African sun”– at Mother Jones‘ “Where Do Goodwill Clothes Go?

 

As we appreciate the long reach of the global market, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that Walt Disney announced plans for Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  Construction was begun on July 21st of that year, and the park opened a year-and-a-day later.

source

 

Relatively speaking…

Max Fleischer and his lady love (source)

Max Fleischer and his brother Dave were giants in the history of animation.  The most significant competition to Walt Disney in the formative years of the art, they created Betty Boop and Koko the Clown, and brought Bimbo, Popeye, Superman, and Gulliver’s Travels to the screen.  Along the way, they invented a number of technologies and techniques that have become essential to the form.

Rotoscope by Max Fleischer, patent drawing from 1914

But possibly the the strangest– and arguably the most wonderful– thing they ever did was this 1923 short film blithely and elegantly explaining the concept of relativity:

TotH to Curiosity Counts.

As we await the animators of our new paradigms, we might wish a minimal(ist) birthday to Philip Glass, award-winning composer and first cousin once removed of (R)D friend and hero Ira Glass; Philip was born on this date in 1937.

Philip Glass

 

 

 

Keep those cards and letters coming…

for larger version, click image above (or here), and then click again

Readers will recall earlier visits to Letters of Note (“correspondence deserving of a wider audience”).  That wonderful site now has company– and official company at that.

The letter-of-request above*, and tens of thousands of other historically- and politically-interesting documents can now be found at the Online Public Access Prototype of the National Archives.

* One notes that, while the Vice President’s response to Disney was “schedule too tight,” later President Nixon used Disney World as the venue for his “I am not a crook” speech…

[TotH to GMSV]

As we sharpen our quills, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972 (months before his Disney World performance) that President Nixon signed the bill authorizing $5.5 million to develop the Space Shuttle program– NASA’s main focus from that point until President Obama’s recent redirection.

Nixon with NASA Administrator James Fletcher and a model of spacecraft-to-come (Source: NASA)

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