Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Comes But Once A Year...

There are certain things that have become Christmas tradition at Doc's house. One is that we'll watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on Christmas Eve. Sometime during the day, along with wrapping presents, I'll listen to The Beatles Third Christmas Album. On the album, John sings, "Christmas comes but once a year, but when it does it brings good cheer, because we've got the hmm-mm-mm-aam for Christmas."

I love Christmas! It reinforces my families understanding that I truly am a child stuck inside an adults body. So, what is Doc hoping to see under the tree? Here are just a few hopes and dreams: Mickey Mouse by Pierre Lambert, Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Story, Walt Disney Animation Studios The Archive Series: Animation, To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios, The Art of Pixar Short Films by John Lasseter, The Pixar Treasures by Tim Hauser, The Art of Cars by Suzanne and Michael Wallis, and The Art of Ratatouille by Karen Paik.

There are also a few vintage toy request thrown in for good measure. But the real delight of the annual exchange, is discovering what my family comes up with that is not on any list. These are the one-of-a-kind items, the personal home-made gifts, the things I would-not-have-thought-to-ask-for-but-immediately-come-to-love items. There have been some real treats and treasures that have found a home in Doc's and Mrs. Doc's home.

So much for the self indulgent side.

The real joy comes from watching my grandchildren. There will be five of them, six including my youngest nephew, going at it at once and the excitement and volume level will be through the roof. And that is good. My youngest, Jackson (Jack-Jack), is now three and should be fully engaged in the festivities. There are few things that can compare to the wide eyes, the broad smiles, the squeals of laughter and the constant exclamation of "look what I got!" And that too is good.

This is an exciting time; a time filled with much anticipation. It is time to share, to be with family and to strengthen the bonds that hold us together. Amidst the chaos, there is much peace. There is peace in knowing that we are without cares for a day. There is much warmth in knowing we are with the ones who love us most, celebrating the birth of the One who loves us all. Books are great. The toys are fine. But it this, it is being with my family that I love most about this time of year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Character Connection: 1972

Tomorrow, Mrs. Doc and I head down to Walt Disney World for a few days. After attending the Candlelight Processional last year during MouseFest, I thought, my wife has got to see this sometime. When the schedule for the guest narrators was released, I knew this may be the year.

One of Mrs. Doc's favorite actors is Brian Dennehy. He will be narrating December 21-23 and we will be there; for the 21st. Dinner at Tokyo Dining, the 6:45 Processional, then a reserved viewing for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. Should be a memorable day.

As for me, I will be scouting character photo opportunities. I already have a few in mind for the Magic Kingdom on the 20th. Something I'll write about later. But before we head off down I-75 I thought I would share the first Character Connection I experienced. It was in front of the Walt Disney World Railroad Station, just before entering the park for a day of wonder and amazement. The date? Sometime during the early Spring of 1972.
Mickey and I both were a bit younger then.

Please check my Facebook page and Twitter for updates from the parks.

More to follow...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Night At the Pop: The 60's

A look at the calendar would show you that the 1960's began at 12:00:01 on January 1, 1960. True. But, I believe that in looking back at that decade, we can say that what we know as The Sixties, began on a cold January in 1961. On the morning of January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy concluded his inaugural address with these words:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

With those words, he ushered in a season of change and founded a new spirit of America. It wasn't always easy. Years later a fictional President would say, "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight." The decisions made in the 1960's were not always the right decisions. But as the country stepped into the next decade, it did so having recreated a spirit of volunteerism, of inventiveness, of boldness, and of change.

It was also a decade ripe with creativity.

In the cinema, the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture was given to The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Tom Jones (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), A Man for All Seasons (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Oliver! (1968) and Midnight Cowboy (1969).

Celebrated music came in many forms from many artists and composers. During 1960's, the Grammy Award for Best Song was awarded to The Battle of New Orleans - Johnny Horton (1960), Theme from Exodus - Various Artists (1961), Moon River - Andy Williams (1962), What Kind of Fool Am I - Sammy Davis, Jr. (1963), Days of Wine and Roses - Andy Williams (1964), Hello Dolly! - Louis Armstrong (1965), The Shadow of Your Smile - Tony Bennett (1966), Michelle - The Beatles (1967), Up, Up and Away -The 5th Dimension (1968) and Little Green Apples - O. C. Smith (1969).

As an aside, many of you know that I am fan of The Beatles. In that respect, you could say that I am stuck in the 60's. The Beatles were also nominated for Best Song for A Hard Days Night in 1965, Yesterday in 1966 and Hey Jude in 1969. Beatlemania was at its zenith on August 15, 1965 when the lads from Liverpool performed in front of 55,600 fans at Shea Stadium. This single show attendance record stood until May 5, 1973 when Led Zeppelin broke the record at Tampa (Florida) Stadium.

The country mourned its fallen President following the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Tragedy again shook the country with the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 and Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968. But even in the midst of the turmoil that would define the latter part of the decade, we could celebrate man's ingenuity as on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped from the leg of the lunar module with the words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for all mankind."
Disney also gave us opportunity to laugh and sing with the release of One Hundred and One Dalmatians on January 25, 1961, The Sword in the Stone on Christmas Day 1963, The Jungle Book on October 18, 1967. Another ground-breaking film flew into theaters on August 27, 1964 with the release of Mary Poppins. Sadly, we also had cause to mourn, as on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died. We are thankful that he left behind an enduring and ever-growing legacy.

On January 15, 1967, a new sports phenomenon debuted with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I.

Next week, we'll look into a decade that (for me) can best be remembered for having ushered in a 1950's revival. It was just that exciting.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Incredibles

Another confession:

I was never a fan of having my picture made with characters. I considered the time spent waiting in line to have my photograph taken, to be time I could be riding a ride, seeing a show, taking a photograph, or perhaps, eating. But, that is changing, thanks to my grandchildren.

During our "Papa's Dream Come True" trip in September, I patiently waited in line in the Judge's Tent at Mickey's Toontown Fair, to have my photograph made with Mickey and Minnie and whole Doc fam. And, I confess, I had a little Doc only time with Mickey and Minnie (see my Facebook profile photo). I couldn't help myself. Then, during the "Papa and Devon Back to The World" October outing, Devon taught me that having your picture made with a few characters is not a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it can be quite fun and you may experience at times little to no wait. So, with my grandson leading the way, I dove in and have begun the quest of compiling my collection of character photo ops.

Now yes, I suppose since it was all started by a mouse, I should start my Character Connections with The Mouse himself, but I am going in a little different direction and beginning with The Incredibles. It is an example of how fun some photo ops can be.

It may be easier to seek out these Character Connections when I have a grandchild with me. But I am going to test the envelop in a few weeks when Mrs. Doc visit Walt Disney World for the Candlelight Processional. Then, it will be the ol' Doc, and perhaps Mrs. Doc, waiting in line without a grandchild in sight.

One must do what one must do.

More to follow...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Where In The World

If one were able to catch a glimpse of what hypersleep is considered to look like, then they would have looked out their window during Mission: Space. Congratulations to Craig Wheeler for correctly identifying the 11.30.09 photo challenge.

Now, for this week's challenge. Where In The World would you find this?

More to follow...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Night At the Pop: The 50's

I was born in the first year of the second Eisenhower administration; born in the 50's, toddled and played through the 60's and came of age in the 70's.

During recent visits i have become a fan of the Disney's Pop Century Resort. I have a goal of staying in each decade over the course of the next few years. So far, I have stayed in the 60's twice and the 70's once. I have three decades to go. Each decade is celebrated by icons representative of the decade. In the next few weeks, TDO will explore these larger-than-life icons, visiting each decade during Disney World After Dark.

When the 50's arrived, Harry S. Truman was President. The average household income was $3,216 and a house would cost an average of $14,500. A postage stamp was 3 cents, milk cost 82 cents and bread was 14 cents. You could also buy a thing known as an LP (meaning long-play) record for $4.85.

Speaking of music, here are the Number 1 Hits of the 1950's:

1950 - The Fat Man - Fats Domino
1951 - Sixty Minute Man - The Dominoes
1952 - Lawdy Miss Clawdy - Lloyd Price
1953 - Money Honey - Drifters featuring Clyde McPhatter
1954 - Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley and His Comets
1955 - Tutti-Frutti - Little Richard
1956 - Hound Dog - Elvis Presley
1957 - Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
1958 - Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
1959 - What'd I'd Say - Ray Charles

In Disney news, Cinderella opened on February 15, 1950. Following was Alice in Wonderland (wide release July 28, 1951), Peter Pan (February 5, 1953), Lady and the Tramp (wide release June 22, 1955) and Sleeping Beauty (January 29, 1959). Some where in all this studio activity, Uncle Walt also managed to develop some property in Orange County along Harbor Boulevard.
The Academy Awards for Best Picture went to All About Eve (1950), An American In Paris (1951), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), From Here to Eternity (1953), On the Waterfront (1954), Marty (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Gigi (1958), and Ben-Hur (1959).

Oh, and football. Between 1950 and 1959, the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship 3 times, the Detroit Lions 3 times, the Baltimore Colts 2 times, the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants 1 time each.

Next week, we'll groove into the 60's. Until then, hang loose.

More to follow...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

IllumiNations: Act One

Some time ago, July 30th to be exact, I posted an article entitled IllumiNations: The Introduction. In the article we briefly explored the opening of the nighttime spectacular. Here now, is Act One.
The first act of IllumiNations is comprised of five pieces. They are Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven, Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the Zampa Overture by Ferdinand Herold, the Italian Concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach and the William Tell Overture by Giachhino Rossini. Let’s look first at the first two pieces.

The first movement of Beethoven’s (1770-1827) Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67, was composed over a period of four years beginning in 1804 and premiered in Vienna in 1808. It opens with perhaps one of the most recognizable four measures in music. Written in two-four time, the work opens with 3 eighth notes followed by a sustained half note. This then repeats with the addition of a second sustained half note. The four-note motif repeats at various times throughout the first movement and subsequent three movements.

Little is known about the origins, or purpose for the creation of the Fifth Symphony. Some maintain is stands as the composer’s musical exploration of fate. Others look to an aborted love affair or a sense of patriotism in the wake of Austria’s loss during the Napoleonic Wars as its inspiration. In his life, Beethoven composed nine symphonies. The Symphony No. 5 (along with the Ninth which will be discussed later) is a testament to a career that experienced extreme highs and devastating lows which were marked with periods of sheer genius.

Flight of the Bumblebee is from Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) 1900 opera, Tale of the Tsar Sultan. It appears in Act III of the opera. Like the Symphony No. 5, it is also written in two four time but uses a nearly continuous stream of sixteenth notes and instead of plodding along at a steady pace, it is rendered at an extremely rapid pace. The piece appears as an interlude in which the Swan-Bird magically transforms the Tsar’s son into an insect (a bumblebee) giving him the ability to fly so that he may visit his father. A lyric, sang by the Swan-Bird, accompany the interlude:

“Well, now, my bumblebee, go on a spree,catch up with the ship on the sea,go down secretly,get into a crack a little distance away.Good luck, Gvidon, fly,only do not stay long!”

The overture from the opera Zampa, was composed by Ferdinand Herold in 1831, two years prior to his death from tuberculosis. Zampa, is perhaps the most famous of his 22 operatic compositions.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) published his Italian Concerto, or Concerto after the Italian Taste, in 1735. Bach composed a great of number of works for harpsichord and clavichord. The concerto was composed in three movements for a two-manual harpsichord. The third movement is entitled “Presto” and as the title implies, is played at a fast tempo. Though not as well known as his Goldberg Variations or the Brandenburg Concertos, the Italian has been widely recorded as favorite of the Bach concertos.

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) composed 39 operas during his lifetime. The opera William Tell was premiered in Paris on August 3, 1929. The Overture to the opera was written in four parts which include the Prelude, the Storm, The Ranz des Vaches (which translates ‘call to the dairy cows’) and that part which we are most familiar with, the Finale, or Galop.

The Finale begins with a fanfare of trumpets signaling the beginning of a cavalry charge and is joined by full orchestra. This “charge” being presented in the Overture is a glimpse into Act IV of the opera where a rebel Swiss army, led by Tell, arrives and fights the battle that leads to the liberation of Switzerland.

Through the years the William Tell Overture has been interpreted and performed by a number of individuals and groups and has been featured in television and film. For a more whimsical musical interpretation, let me recommend Spike Jones and His City Slickers 1948 rendition. You’ll never listen the Overture the same way again.

The first act runs 2 minutes, 3 seconds long.

Next, we’ll look at the countries of the World Showcase through the music of Act II.

More to follow…
The photographs were taken by the author in 1994 using a Minolta 35mm camera.