DISNEY AND STORIES

A Man And His Mouse/October 2017
A Man And His Mouse/October 2017

Spent last weekend at Disney’s California Resort. I admit that I took the photo above, but I thought it funny enough to post, even though, technically, it isn’t very good. Not only did Walt have a mouse, but he also had a tower growing out of his head! What a guy, huh? In truth, I’ve always liked Walt Disney, the man on TV selling culture to kids. Know why jeans frequently have holes in them, and look worn and old, even $80 new from the store? Spin and Marty, that’s why. Feel free to look it up. The city dude’s new jeans got dragged through the horse yard, kicked around, washed a jillion times, and ended up looking like, well, like those eighty-buck ripped pants you see today.

Walt, of course, is remembered by the general public as an animator, and of course, as the founder of Disneyland, which has grown into a worldwide entertainment juggernaut. But, of course, over the years, he didn’t draw a lot of the stuff with his name on it (I mean back when he was alive.) He was also, perhaps primarily, a storyteller. Steamboat Willie, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, tells a story. It’s a simple one, and a silly one (he called his toons “Silly Symphonies,) but it’s still a complete story. He adapted many stories, too, of course, especially from the brothers Grimm, but he always made them his own. As a little kid, I couldn’t read the Grimm version of Snow White — it’s horrible. But, I loved Walt Disney’s story. Disney knew how to tell it so everybody would love it, and that’s what he did every day of his adult life.

And his theme park was designed to be a story, or maybe five stories, all with stories within them, as well. Main Street was based on a small-town middle America that was long gone by 1955, and patterned after the main street of the Kansas town where he grew up.* The other “lands,” (Walt loved things German) including Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tommorowland, all tell stories about swashbuckling fun, life on the edge of civilization, fairy tale worlds, and what was then the future, beckoning bright just around the bend. You can immerse yourself in the stories told at Disneyland, as we did when we “paddled” a canoe around an artificial island in an artificial lake. (They are real canoes, but there are professionals who actually paddle the things.) You can experience the lifestyle of the Pirates of the Caribbean. There was a working Monorail before Seattle built one for their World’s Fair, and it’s still available in a much updated version. There  used to be a People Mover, of which I know at least one was sold, to the City of Detroit. Walt liked the future, and worked to bring it about, so his Tomorrowland stories were more Star Trek in style and intent than they were Star Wars. Today, of course, Tomorrowland is all about Star Wars, but I’m talking 1955 here, folks. (I know, there was no Trek either. I’m referring to the fact that Star Wars is a fantasy telling an invented mythology, whereas Star Trek is a hopeful vision of a real future. I like them both.)

You can learn a lot about story by visiting Disneyland. Many of the rides have encapsulated stories within their experience, and they are too short to have any extraneous modifiers, bub! If you’re a writer, I’m giving you, free of charge, a five-star excuse to go to a Disney park: you can learn a great deal about telling a story there. Don’t say I never did anything for you!

*You can learn more about Walt Disney’s life from this article on Wikipedia.

Little Pirates and Spies

This is a few days late because I spent the weekend at Disney California.

The next morning, we hear raspy, young voices paddling closer and closer to Sonrisa.  Two canoes full of young men arrive for a visit.  They bump their leaking log canoe next to Grin and tie off on one of Sonrisa’s lifeline stanchions.  One young man forgot to bring along any of his clothing.

Source: Little Pirates and Spies

So, This Thriller Thing

The Famous "Painted Ladies" of San Francisco, taken from Alamo Park.
The Famous “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco, taken from Alamo Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of those dull, “how I’m doing” posts that you dread. Go on, you know you do. I conceived of a book about a US President who fakes his own death as his popularity tanks, in order to be remembered well. I mean, look what it’s done in the past for artists like Jim Croce, Janis Joplin, or politicians like JFK! More recently, Cobain and Shakur! Sometimes, dying is absolutely the best thing you can do for your career.

So, okay, maybe this president isn’t entirely rational. It happens.

I dug around our extensive library of writing books and found one on writing a mystery, since a thriller is a subset of mystery, of course. Thus it was that I had a pretty good grasp of where I was going when I created my brand-new document, in my brand-new folder, all for this latest project. It has been enlightening.

Of course, although there is an unknown element to the reader, I know exactly what’s going on. (I’m not telling yet. The first draft isn’t finished.) But as I’ve gone along, chapter to chapter, I keep finding myself inserting new characters (and notes about inserting them into the story earlier) and new subplots that I hadn’t thought of in my initial planning. One of those subplots is an elaborate red herring (for my protagonist, not for the reader,) which will make it easier, and more satisfying, to damn near kill the woman during the climactic sequence. Right now, she thinks her biggest issue is not getting arrested in Dubai. Hah! If only she knew, right?

I was “better prepared,” in the sense of outlining, plotting, and thinking through, this novel than any other project I’ve attempted. And, guess what? I’m still outlining by writing! I guess, if that’s your style, that’s what you end up doing.

I sure hope this one gets to see the light of day eventually. At the rate I’m going, I’m thinking that the turn of the century would be a good release date. 🙂

 

Lady Gaga and Brad Pitt In The House

Each day as we walk through town, we hear in rounds and echoes “Mister!  Mister!  Hey, Mister!  Hey, Mister! Hallo Mister!”  Mister is a generic term for foreigner that they know we understand.  Some of them have learned enough English to understand the distinction between Mister and Missus, b

Source: Lady Gaga and Brad Pitt In The House