Monday, June 29, 2015

TOMORROWLAND - The Movie...My thoughts

Hello!  Been a while since I posted anything here, let alone something related to Disney.  Here are my thoughts on the recent film TOMORROWLAND...

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Having read quite a bit about Walt Disney, I may be seeing this recent Disney film with tinted glasses.  I remember being inspired by the stories that Disney put on film and on TV in a myriad of ways back in the 1960’s, when I was inspired by the stories and the music to write my own stories and to learn to play the songs.  I didn’t take my inspiration for my love of science from Disney (directly); it was the space program that grabbed me and made me want to learn.  Yeah, I was one of those kids who wanted to be an astronaut.  I dreamed about traveling to the Moon or to Mars, or to even more distant places.  My interest was fed by writers like Asimov and Heinlein and Clarke (the so-called Big Three) and by Charlton Heston movies like THE OMEGA MAN and PLANET OF THE APES.

It wasn’t till I started to study Disney that I realized how interested he was in the space program himself — and in scientific advancement!  He made promotional films for NASA to help generate popular support for the project to put a man on the Moon, and in his parks was this area he called “Tomorrowland.”  Tomorrowland celebrated the future by promoting the achievements of corporations in that direction.  It had exhibits like “The House of Tomorrow”, a futuristic “People Mover” and its retrospective tribute to technology, “Carousel of Progress.”  I didn’t know about these things till relatively recently because I didn’t go to Disney World until 1975, and then as a member of my high school band who was less concerned with appreciating what I was seeing than with the existence of high school girls from other band programs in other parts of the country.

So what’s all that have to do with TOMORROWLAND, the movie?  I believe there is something of Walt Disney’s persona in this film.  And that something is “Optimism.”  Walt Disney was a futurist, according to Ray Bradbury.  A forward-thinking man who had his eyes on solving the problems of the world with technology, through corporations.

The movie isn’t as focused on corporations as agents for positive change, but it has the same optimism about the future that Walt had.  If I understood correctly, the story is that scientists figured out how to access an alternate dimension of reality and then proceeded to create a world where science was king — where just about anything was possible.  (Sort of goes with Walt’s old “If you can dream it, you can do it” mentality.)  In fact, the film starts with a boy inventor traveling to the World’s Fair that Disney used as a testing ground for so many things that found themselves into his parks, including the aforementioned Carousel of Progress and the “it’s a small world” attraction.  (At that fair, for the Illinois exhibit, Walt and company built an audio-animatronic Lincoln that people reported rose and stepped into the audience, shaking people’s hands – of course it did no such thing but, well, that’s how imagination works I guess.)  He makes his way to Tomorrowland with the help of a pretty young girl and a pin that she gives him.

Cut to the future – our future – where our space program is being dismantled and where pessimism reigns.  What’s the best an intelligent young man or woman can hope for in this world?  It certainly isn’t the Moon, or Mars.

In the film’s case, the intelligent young person is a high school girl who becomes intrigued by a pin she finds among her belongings after she is released from jail — she was arrested for sabotaging the machines that are destroying the launch platforms at Cape Canaveral.  The pin shows her a shining land of science and technology that is beyond her wildest dreams, and she must find it.

The straightforward adventure story that follows is competently written and it plays out in an entertaining manner.  But it was the concept behind that adventure — the idea that you can make a difference, that your brain is more powerful than anything else, and that amazing things can be accomplished if our best and brightest put their minds to it — that intrigued me.

And it wasn’t just me.  My kids were intrigued by the ideas, by the inspiration that they were able to take from the story.  I have smart kids, and we’ve always talked about accomplishing big things through intellect (not in those words, obviously), and they saw in this film something more than an unrealistic adventure story.  It’s the same sort of feeling we have when we leave EPCOT or Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.  There’s an enthusiasm after those visits, a feeling that anything IS possible, in fact.

I found a review on a sometimes-Disney site called FutureProbe and I’m going to just quote the end of it:
The lesson our characters should have learned is that Tomorrowland isn’t a place you escape to, it’s something you make wherever you happen to be. The movie shouldn’t have ended with a bunch of robot children setting out to bring people to Tomorrowland, but with them setting out to bring Tomorrowland to the people.
I agree with the sentiment, but I think it’s being nit-picky about the final message. So what if the robots are setting out to bring the best and brightest to Tomorrowland instead of rejoining the real world? In a sense, they are metaphorically doing exactly that – inspiring the young people to create the future instead of accepting it and “gaming the system” for their own benefit. Maybe “Tomorrowland” is MIT or Harvard or University of Illinois for some particular teenager, and maybe it’s going to work for an environmentally aware company. Maybe it’s just getting the best out of yourself instead of coasting.

In any case, I found a lot to like about this movie.  I’m not going to argue that it’s the greatest piece of filmmaking ever, but it’s more than an entertaining story, or at least it can be.

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(This is cross-posted from my "Scott Dyson" blog which is where I talk about my writing and my books. Stop by if you want to see what I've been up to with my self-publishing efforts.
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two stories on KDP Select promotion! Please go grab them!

I am running a promotion of two of my short story packages on Amazon for Kindle.  The promo runs from today till Monday, February 2, 2015.  Over those five days, both titles (which contain SIX short stories!!) will be completely free!  Please download them!  Even if you don't want to read them, download them!  Thanks.  Links are below.

 


                                JACK'O'LANTERN (and THE MOMENT and SARAH'S PUPPY)

Thanks for looking/downloading them!  Hopefully you will enjoy them and maybe even leave a review! 

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Preview for upcoming Disney film...

We went to see THE HOBBIT:  BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES a week ago, and one of the previews that looked interesting to me was for an upcoming Disney flick.  I'll describe a bit of it, so it plays out at least a little bit like I experienced it.

A girl is getting out of prison.  I'm thinking BLUES BROTHERS where Jake goes up to the window to get his belongings from Frank Oz at the very beginning, because that's exactly what this girl was doing.  She starts sliding her stuff into her hand, and there's a pin there, can't see it real clearly.  The girl calls back in, says to the guard, "This pin isn't mine." 

Then she touches it. 

She flashes to a golden meadow, something that looks like wheat all around her.  She lets go of the pin, and she's back in the jail.  The pin is on the floor.  She stares at it, reaches for it, grabs it, and she's back in the field.  She looks around, and sees off in the distance...

A city.

Tomorrowland. 

What it's about, I don't know.  I just thought it looked pretty cool in the preview, and the way the preview was set up, I want to know what it's about. 

So...coming to a theater near you...TOMORROWLAND from Disney Studios.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Free non-Disney ebooks (for Kindle and Kindle App users)

Just in case anyone is looking in here...

Two of my ebooks are currently free today until Sunday (12/10/14 to 12/14/14) under the Kindle Select promotion:

First is SOLE OCCUPANT, a 2400 word short story that also contains the bonus 700 word short THE ONLY SOLUTION.  Next is my 7800 word vampire/detective short story, DEAD OR ALIVE, which is the first story in a three-short-story series. 

QUANTUM ZOO, the anthology that features my story PLAYING MAN, is also free until Friday, 12/12/14.

Here's the links: 

SOLE OCCUPANT

DEAD OR ALIVE

And for QUANTUM ZOO

Feel free to download them and give them a read, and hopefully give them a review as well!  Thanks!




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Friday, November 21, 2014

DOING DISNEY ebook!

Think I'll just put this one up here. 

This is the book I wrote about our family's travels to Walt Disney World in Florida.

It's not supposed to be a comprehensive, tell-all travel guide.  I describe it as a template for a week (give or take a couple days) long visit to that Florida resort.  It discusses the resorts we like the most, the restaurants we like the most, the way we structure our days in the parks, how and why we rent a car, why we recommend Disney's Magical Express for getting to one's on-property hotel, a little bit (actually a very little bit) about the surrounding area, and how and why we decide which options to put on our theme park tickets.  I talk about our experience with Disney Vacation Club, the Disney Dining Plans, and a little about the California resort.  I talk about FastPasses (which are almost obsolete now, I guess) and about the extras at the resort that we've never experienced.  Finally, I provide a bit of a bibliography for books about Disney that I've found either useful, entertaining, or both.

Christmas is coming, so consider purchasing a copy.  It's only $2.99 for 101 pages of reading enjoyment.  I try to write it in an entertaining style, like I do my fiction.  So maybe even if you don't find it useful, you might find my anecdotes entertaining.  Or not.  Sample at will, if you'd like, to get an idea about my style of writing.

Here's the link: DOING DISNEY:  HOW TO SPEND A WEEK AT DISNEY'S FLORIDA RESORT  One caveat: It's only for Kindle and the Kindle app! Hope that will work for you! Thanks for looking at it.

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Just an extra comment:

I just wanted to point out something.

On the left side of my blog, I have a widget thingie called "My Blog List."  It lists all of the other Disney blogs I follow regularly.  It's sort of like my own little notification system, telling me when the last post on each blog was and what the title of it was. 

Check out the blogs there, if you haven't.  They're all worth reading.

That is all.  :-)

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Our Disney-driven life...

Okay, it's not really Disney-driven, not anymore.  There was a time when we loved everything about Disney.  We loved going to their parks.  We loved staying at their hotels.  We loved California and we loved Florida.  We especially loved Epcot, with its World Showcase and its Soarin' ride.  We loved the films.  We liked their restaurants and their shops. 

It's not that we soured on it, exactly.  It's more that we just drifted away.  There are so many things to see in the world, and limiting ourselves to a vacation every year to Florida seems to be less-than-optimal for our family at this point.  So we've used our points (yes, we're DVC members) to go to San Francisco, to Hawaii, and maybe this summer we'll use more points to stay at one of the Disneyland Paris hotels when we visit there. 

We'll likely visit the parks there, at least for one day.  But we're planning a European vacation, not a Disney vacation and if staying at the Disney hotels makes it more affordable, then that is how we'll use our points. 

We still love Disney visits, for the most part.  It's just that there's too much Earth to experience to limit ourselves.  (Besides, it's not like they're free...visiting theme parks for us costs nearly a grand for that week.) 

So we haven't been "Doing Disney" ourselves lately.  Sometimes soon we'll go back and get the scoop on the MyMagic stuff and the new Fantasyland and any other additions, and then I'll be back reporting on that sort of thing.  In the meantime, I'll try to continue to drop tidbits here in the blog about Disney, as well as other endeavors (especially my publishing endeavors). 

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If you want to read a book about one family's strategies when vacationing for a week at Disney World, feel free to check out my title , Doing Disney: How To Spend A Week At Disney's Florida Resort   It's available on Amazon for $2.99.  I tried to write it for families who get to spend a week in the World every year or two and want to maximize their time in the parks and in the area.  It doesn't try to be comprehensive, but I think you might find a few helpful tidbits within its electronic pages...

Thanks!

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