Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Toy Story 3"

About a year ago Disney started development on "Toy Story 3"... without Pixar's help or consent. Disney didn't need consent - they owned the characters, so if they wanted to drag them through the mud, they were free to do it. Disney has a lot of mud. From what I understand, Pixar's disapproval of Disney's Toy Story 3 was one of the main reasons the two studios weren't getting along. Also, Eisner's an idiot... or stated in a more politically correct way: Eisner's "Retarded-American."

Yesterday, the first day after Disney's "takeover," Pixar's Ed Catmull and John Lasseter announced to the employees at Disney Feature Animation that production on Toy Story 3 has ended! I got the following quote from Animated News: "They said that sequels should only be made if there is a really great story that demands it, and they should be the domain of the artists who created the original film. So if Pixar wants to make a sequel to its films, it will. If Disney Feature Animation wants to make a sequel to its films, it will. But the two will not cross. "

I'm just adding this to yesterday's list of my reasons to be excited about Disney buying Pixar. I was dreading the arrival of that movie. Now if a Toy Story 3 is made, it will be made by Pixar, and it will be made because they have a really good story for it, not because kids like Buzz Lightyear and will blindly buy anything with him in it. This is a great approach for sequels, and it's nice to have Pixar's movies and characters back in Pixar's hands. I couldn't be happier about this news. That's why it's today's addition to the blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Disney & Pixar

As I'm sure you've already heard, yesterday Disney bought Pixar for $7.4 billion. I had considered doing the same, but cashing in all of my DVD's, CD's, and everything else I own still left me about $7.4 billion dollars short.

My first reaction to hearing that Disney was going to buy Pixar looked something like Darth Vader in "Revenge of the Sith" when the Emperor tells him that Padme is dead. I think the dialogue goes something like this: "Nooooo!" I then carried my hopes and dreams to an open field where I began digging a grave for them and the whole animation industry.

My problem with this transaction was the "Disney" part of it. Pixar has released six movies since 1995... six of the best animated films ever: Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. Disney, on the other hand, has recently released Chicken Little, Home on the Range, Atlantis, and Treasure Planet. It's obvious who's making the best movies... and it's not Disney. In recent years, a lot of people who grew up loving Disney's animated films have lost faith in Disney and turned to Pixar. I am one of them. Pixar has become the new Disney.

When I heard "Disney Buys Pixar," my first thought was that Disney's executives were going to do the "Eisner" thing and get over involved in the creative process they know very little about and begin messing up Pixar's ability to make films. Then I started reading articles about the terms of the deal and the changes Disney intends to make to their own animation division, and now it seems I'm ready to climb back on the Disney bandwagon that I threw myself off of years ago.

Here are some of the things things that changed my attitude about the deal:
1) Ed Catmull (President of Pixar) will serve as President of both studios. Instead of bringing the Pixar people over to work for Disney, the Disney folks will now be working for the Pixar people. They didn't buy the company as much as they bought the leadership.
2) John Lasseter (the creative leader of Pixar) is going to be the Chief Creative Officer of both Disney's and Pixar's animation studios. Perfect! Lasseter's great! He has also been named the Principal Creative Advisor for Disney Imagineering. That's the group that designs and creates the theme park attractions... meaning good things for them too.
3) Bob Iger (CEO of Disney) said, "I have really deeply committed to seeing to it that Pixar is allowed to exist in the form that it has existed, because that in my opinion is the single greatest thing that we can do to ensure that Pixar continues to be successful." The two animation studios will retain their current locations, and with Iger's dedication to leaving Pixar alone, it looks like Pixar won't have to deal with the interference from Disney that I most feared.
4) Roy Disney approves... therefore so do I. Roy's been a huge supporter of animation, and if he likes this deal based on all he knows, I have to agree with him.
5) David Stainton resigned! Hooray! He's been the president of Disney's Feature Animation for several years, and he's largely responsible for Disney's recent, terrible films. He declared 2D animation dead and did a bunch of other things that made me not like him. The director of a recent Disney feature said, "I LOVE the idea of Lasseter taking over Disney Feature! The only thing that would be better is if David Stainton is tazered, maced, and peppersprayed, and then frogmarched out of the building, stuffed into a burlap bag, and thrown into the L.A. river." Looks like I'm not the only one who's glad to see him go.
6) There are reports that Lasseter and his creative team may reinstate hand-drawn animation at Disney. Traditional animation may be saved by this deal, and that alone would have me cheering even if everything else I've said was left aside.

To sum up - the articles I've read about the buy-out of Pixar have completely changed my mind on the topic. What I thought was going to be the death of animation may actually be the best possible thing for it. The future looks good. Don't judge Disney on their next couple of movies... the effects of this deal won't be seen in Disney's films for a few years, but things are looking up. Pixar is still the best... now Disney has a chance to be saved by them, and it looks like that's the plan.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Yo Ho" No Mo'?

The Pirates of the Caribbean... one of my favorite rides ever. It's a classic - but not for long. If you're a fan of that particular attraction at Disneyland like I am, you better get to it one last time before March 6 to say your final farewell. The Pirates of the Caribbean that you've grown to love will be no more. No, they're not getting rid of it, but the word from Disney is that it will be closed from March 6 to June 16 for "major refurbishments and show updates."

Show updates? What does that mean? A while back, legendary Disney animator Marc Davis did some pirate-themed sketches for Disney's Imagineering department. Those drawings inspired many of the scenes in the current Pirate attraction. Those scenes were so likeable that the ride itself eventually inspired a "Pirates of the Caribbean" film that you undoubtedly saw and probably own on DVD. I assume you've seen it, because it made $650 million at the worldwide box office, and that means pretty much everyone took part. And rightfully so... a fine film. But then the film's popularity surpassed the ride's popularity. Enter the idiots...

In the years since the release of the film, hosts and hostesses at City Hall in each of the Disney parks have fielded thousands of complaints that Captain Jack Sparrow never appears in his own ride. "Why would you base a ride on a movie and never even have your main character in it?" A simple answer: the movie was based on the ride. You're an idiot. Go home. But Disney doesn't think that way. In their minds, with at least two more Pirate film sequels in the works, they see this as the perfect opportunity to advertise the movies. And if that requires them to change the ride to match the movie that was originally inspired by the ride... well, that's exactly what they're doing.

How much are they going to change? That I don't know. Originally I had heard that the only change to the attraction would be the inclusion of one audio-animatronic "Captain Jack," but recent wording has me feeling a little nervous about what they plan to do... as stated above: "major refurbishments and show updates." If the changes are minimal, I suppose it's possible that I'll even like them. Supposedly Johnny Depp has even agreed to supply the voice for the new character, which is more than we can say for Indiana Jones in the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. But if they change a lot of one of my favorite rides, I'm going to be very disappointed. No - Disney doesn't have to run their decisions on this kind of thing by me, but it would certainly be nice. After all, in the dedication of Disneyland, Walt himself said, "Disneyland is your land." Stop messing with my land, Disney!

Luckily Disney's "Haunted Mansion" film didn't do well at the box office. If it had, they were planning on replacing Eleanor Audley (the voice of Maleficent in "Sleeping Beauty") with Jennifer Tilly for the part of Madame Leota. Her? I'm sure that a few of the dumber park guests have complained that Eddie Murphy isn't featured in the Haunted Mansion attraction... not an audio-animatronic figure, but the actual Eddie Murphy. He's pretty busy making Shrek movies, but perhaps they could get him on loan from Dream Works for several days a week.

So let's hope that the changes to Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean will be minimal. It's a shame to change a classic ride just to meet the expectations of a few disgruntled members of the generally idiotic public. If it ends up being cool, I'll apologize for these comments later. But for now it seems like Bambi II and the multiple upcoming Tinkerbell films... just another example of Disney's inability to leave perfect enough alone.

Monday, January 23, 2006

81 Points!

81 POINTS?! That's the holiest cow I've ever heard of in my 20 years as an NBA fan. Kobe is amazing! I didn't even hear about it until this morning. I wish I had seen the game... this kind of thing doesn't happen often. 55 of his points came in the second half! At halftime he just decided to whoop, and whoop he did!

Kobe Bryant is the best basketball player ever... he is better than Michael Jordan and me combined. (Also, Michael Jordan is better than Michael Jordan and me combined). To me Kobe is the most athletic, the most talented, and the most entertaining player in NBA history. You may hate him because you think he raped a girl in Colorado. You may hate him because the Lakers kept him instead of Shaq when the two of them weren't getting along. You may hate him because you hate the Lakers, and it bothers you that he's better than anyone on your favorite team. And some of you just hate him because you hate basketball in general... and hate is consuming your soul and turning you to the Dark Side... and that's sad. But you're going to have a hard time proving that Kobe's not the best player ever. So don't be a player hater... (I'm the whitest person on the planet). Just love the Kobe. 81 points in one night didn't make him the best ever... it just reminded me that I needed to blog about how he is. 81? Holiest cow!

Friday, January 20, 2006

"The Song of the South"

Every day that passes is another day that Disney has failed to release "The Song of the South" on DVD. That's right - the very same Disney that is currently selling out all of its classic films by making sequels to earn some easy money through the DVD market has refused to release one of their most popular movies. So why are they sitting on this particular film? Isn't it obvious? It's because it's "offensive."

What isn't offensive? Can you think of anything that doesn't offend some group of people? There are handfulls of people just waiting to be offended by everything that exists or will exist. So why, in a world that eagerly hands out awards to films that are "edgy" are we still offended by an old cartoon about a happy man who tells funny stories to kids? You know what? You're going to be offended by something. But give it about three days and something else will take its place. If Disney were to finally release this, maybe it would be in the news for a day... then someone would say a prayer in a school somewhere, and everyone would forget about it. This is a great movie. I suggest you all take your day of being offended by it so I can have it on my DVD shelf forever.

The picture above was drawn by Bill Peet, my favorite story guy at Disney. In the last few days I've been thinking a lot about Bill Peet and what he did in his life. He was my favorite author when I was a kid... his books were the only ones I ever read in elementary school. Looking at his site a few days ago, I was reminded how I need to get to work on my first children's book. I know the story... I even have a rhyming dictionary to help me pull it off. I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet. But it's coming in the next couple of years. Hopefully "The Song of the South" will be on DVD by then. I'm sure my book will offend some people, and I don't care.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Muntjac & the Emu

This was inspired by something we saw at Lagoon a few months back... for some reason they've caged the muntjacs with the emus. Rather than a lamb and a lion, I dream of the muntjac and emu lying down together in peace. The combined cage is a big step in that direction. I hope to have actual news or rants one of these days, because I'm going to run out of drawings to post before long. Keep coming back to the blog!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Giant Head

I have a gray BYU sweatshirt. It is no longer the shade of gray that it was when I bought it. Now it's more earthy, by which I mean it's brown and kind of gross. But I need a BYU sweatshirt so I'm easily identified by other Mormons when I go to Disneyland... which is weekly. So when I heard that the BYU Bookstore was having a sale on BYU sweatshirts (probably because of their football team's recent Las Vegas Bowl performance), I decided the time had come to find a replacement.

For those of you who don't know, and for this story to make sense, you should know that I have what is known as a "Garn Head." I am part Garn through my mom's side of the family, and I know which part is the most Garn... and that's my giant head. Most Garns have them. I have to special-order hats, because "One Size Fits All" doesn't fit me. So before my class last night I went to the BYU Bookstore in search of a new sweatshirt, accompanied as always by my giant Garn head.

As I stumbled blindly across the clothing section, running into a mirror and nearly knocking over a sale rack, I considered the letters "XXL" and how they clearly did not reflect the size of the neck hole. It seems the "zip up" sweatshirt is intended for me... like a draw bridge that opens to allow ships to pass freely through. If only I had known that before I forced the sweatshirt on, much of the destruction could have been avoided. But thanks to the jaws of life, I didn't have to buy the sweatshirt. It's still on the floor there in the Bookstore... its neck hole far too wide to be accomodated by any hanger this world has known. Not a proud moment for me. The Garn Head strikes again!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Let the Blogging Begin!

I just decided to start a blog today... welcome to it. I don't know why I felt like I needed a blog. I have several sites through MyFamily.com where I'm still going to be posting most of my important information that anyone would care to know. So why have a blog? I guess that the best part about a personal blog is that it will be all about ME... and that's a wagon I'll ride to the end of the earth. The nice thing here is that I get to choose the topics, and I get to decide who's allowed to post comments. If you got an email that directed you here, that's because I chose you from my email list as someone who I like to have around... someone to comment... someone to love.

So bookmark this page if you think you'll ever want to come back. I'll try to update it with meaningless rants and vacation reports at least a couple of times a week. Most of what you read here will make no sense, and I dare you to find something important or worthwhile in it... but it should be something to do if you have a job like mine that requires occasional internet browsing.

If I know someone who wants to be included and they didn't get an email from me and aren't a member of this blog, please let me know and get me their email addresses. The only reason I did the "members only" thing is because I don't want everyone on the planet making fun of me and my life... only people I know. Please come again... Let the blogging begin!

"Arrested Development"

I can't believe that the best show on TV is ending soon... and it's all because YOU didn't watch it. I feel safe saying that since no one watched it, and you're someone.

"As Bad As Can Be"

These are the characters from a VERY limited-animation short that a few of us put together based on an idea I had... it's about a buffalo with too much hair and an eagle with not enough. The characters are charmingly pathetic... and the song that goes with it continues to haunt my dreams.