Disney Odyssey #38 – Flying Whales Are Neither Pines Nor Roman: Discuss

For this installation of the Disney Odyssey we turned to a couple of real experts: Maureen Smith and Daniel Johanson of Chicago’s own Scapi Mag! Two trained opera lovers and performers, Daniel and Maureen have made it their mission to seek out and promote independent artists, companies, collectives, and projects of all kinds in the city of Chicago, whether it’s theatre, poetry, music, opera, or beyond. As I have never seen this movie and don’t know a whole lot about which classical hits are included, I thought it would be neat to get an inside perspective from these two phenomenal music nerds on what pieces are included, why they’re unusual, and how well the animations play along (or don’t). 



The Film: Fantasia 2000  (2000)

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NaNoWriMo – A Chance to Grow Stronger

Every November, writers and would-be novelists all over the globe commit themselves to writing 50,000 words in just 30 days. While that sounds like an unrealistic goal at first, a little bit of math reveals that it comes down to a goal of 1,667 words per day – which is much more manageable for some. “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” people say to themselves, and in October they sign up for a free account on nanowrimo.org, joining the clamoring masses on the Forums there to plan their strategy and hype themselves up for what is surely a challenge.

The goal is 50k, so the idea is usually to write as much as possible every day in November, without self-censoring, self-editing, self-doubting, or self-restricting. Write, they say. Just write. Write everything you can. When the challenge is done, when the draft is complete, you can go back and edit later. There is even a spring or summertime venture of the same structure, which they call Camp NaNoWriMo, and where they let participants choose their own goals, instead of the ‘strict’ suggestion of 50k.

There are some who poo-poo this endeavor, insisting that it is no way to become a ‘real’ writer, no genuine training for novel-writing, no real benefit to be had from this system. There are some who criticize the strategy of writing for the word count rather than the content – and who are quick to point out that in the end, on December 1st, even if you made it to 50k words you do not have a complete novel in your hands – all you have is the first draft. There is so much more work to be done after that… something the NaNo advertising tends to gloss over. However, a first draft is more than some people ever achieve, so as far as I am concerned, and it isn’t so much about Magically Climbing Everest While On Your First Time Hiking as it is about Getting Out of Your Own Way and Getting Hype About A Fun Project.

It’s subjective, I guess.

I am a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. I first heard of it during my freshman year of college, and I can’t remember how it came across my radar but I remember thinking it was a suicide mission. A no-win scenario. What kind of sadists are these, I thought. And then I got curious. Was it possible? Could it be fun? I knew the play I was in was going to open in November, which meant going through tech week and performances AND classes and trying to write a totally new novel from scratch. That sounded like insanity.

So I signed up.

I started writing something – as free-flowing and seat-of-the-pants as I could get, and explored what it was like to write with no idea what was going to happen or who my characters were. It wasn’t super productive, but it was kind of fun. I got discouraged quickly, though, as my classwork piled higher and my rehearsals got longer. I left the story by the wayside and ‘quit’ my very first NaNoWriMo after a week or two.

The next time I found myself in the trenches of NaNoWriMo was the fall of 2010, after I had graduated college, and I thought: Now! Now it is time to write again. I sketched out an idea from a dream I’d had and buckled myself in for the ride. It was a crazy amount of fun, and at the end I had a silly, time-traveling story about angels and fallen angels and artists through the ages. It might go somewhere someday, it might not, but it was so much fun to write that I didn’t care. NaNo was going to become a staple for me.

I wrote again in NaNo 2011, although this time it was not fiction that I poured my words into but non-fiction. I wrote down every memory, every story, every moment I could remember about my friend Meghan, who had passed away that July. I needed a way to remember everything I possibly could about her, and writing it all down seemed the best way to do it. I wrote 60,000 words in 17 days.

In 2012, I sat down during rehearsals and performances of a holiday panto I was doing with Piccolo Theatre in Evanston (not to mention my full-time job) to write my next NaNovel. It was a fantasy, set in exotic locations, with a handful of characters of varying genders, backgrounds, and sexual preferences, and it was a lot of fun to write. It was exciting, and a little sly, and set my imagination a-runnin’. I called it On The Isle of Sound and Wonder, and after some heavy rewrites and edits, it was published by Xchyler Publishing in November 2014.

In 2013 and 2014 I skipped NaNo on account of edits, rewrites, and a handful of failed new ideas along the way. In 2015, I skipped NaNo because I got married in November. Not to mention the crippling self doubt, ‘writer’s block’, and other fun things that were all up in my brain-stuff about writing The Next Thing…

HOWEVER. That being said, I am proud to announce that I got back on the horse again after this long hiatus. Despite a 5-day-a-week day job and weekends packed with two 14-hour days working and performing at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, I have just completed my first Camp NaNoWriMo in July 2016! I skated in at 51k words right at the tail end of everything, and I couldn’t have done it without Tegan, Sam, Randall, and Karaline – my new NaNo Power Squad.

Although the draft of my new story is nowhere near done, it is a heckuva good start and a brand new outlook on my life as a writer. I feel completely rejuvenated, and SUPER enraptured with the project I’ve begun. I will be talking more about it on my Patreon as it develops, and I can’t wait to keep working so I can bring this story to life to its fullest potential.

No, but really – I’m reeeeeeally excited about it.

this one’s got pirates in it.

Disney Odyssey #16 – What Part of “Don’t Touch That Sharp Thing” Did You Not Understand?

Do you love naps? Do you have bumbling color-coordinated best friends/spinster aunts? What about helpful animal neighbors? Do you find that if someone tells you not to touch something you absolutely frickin’ have to touch it?!

Is your name Aurora and/or some combination of “Briar” and “Rose”? Because this movie might be about you.

The other night, the Fella and I got together with our very dear friends Claire and Kurt to talk about the utterly radiant Aurora (Official Disney Princess Number 3, for those of you playing along at home) and her majestic, ballet-inspired motion picture.


The Fella, Claire (holding the dvd), Kurt, and me


The Film:  Sleeping Beauty (1959)

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Disney Odyssey #15 – Canine Social Castes are as Confusing as Human Ones

This is the night, ladies and gentlemen, and what a beautiful night it is… a quiet Sunday evening where the Husband-Fella has made delicious apple cider spaghetti and — wait. Spaghetti? You’ve got to be kidding me. We made spaghetti for Lady and the Tramp night?

No, seriously. It was complete coincidence.

At any rate, just to get it out of the way, here’s us re-enacting That Scene for you:

Ugh. I’m so sorry. I know it’s horrible. It had to be done.



The Film: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

The Facts:

  • The story originated with a concept by Disney writer Joe Grant in 1937 who had ideas about a spaniel named Lady, inspired by his own family’s dog. Walt liked the idea, but put it on hold because he felt it wasn’t quite enough. Then, in the early 1940s, Walt read a short story in Cosmopolitan magazine called “Happy Dan the Whistling Dog.” He had Grant take a look at it and try to come up with something combining the Lady story and “Happy Dan,” a romance between a high-class spaniel and a lowly mutt.
  • The opening sequence with the puppy in the hatbox came from real life – Walt gifted his wife Lillian a Chow puppy in a hatbox one Christmas. Lillian was at first upset because she preferred to buy her own hats, but then quickly melted when she realized it was a puppy. She named him Sunnee and the two were inseparable for many years.
  • Studio folks were hesitant to let Walt name the male dog Tramp, as the word had some slightly sexual connotations and the title’s similarity to popular song  “The Lady is a Tramp.” But Walt was confident that there would be no problems with it, and the name stuck.
  • A lot of live dogs were brought to the studios for the animators to study during the production.
  • The iconic scene where Lady and Tramp share spaghetti (and an accidental kiss) almost didn’t make the cut. Walt thought it was too unrealistic – anyone who has seen dogs fight over food would see how silly the scene was. But animators fought for it and it stayed – and now is considered one of the most famous and most parodied scenes in film history.
  • 2-o7fr5k
  • The film was ranked #95 in the 100 Most Romantic Films of All Time by AFI.
  • In 1988, singer, actress and songwriter Peggy Lee sued the Walt Disney Company for breach of contract. Her original contract stated she would be reimbursed for transcriptions of the music, and she was not being paid for VHS sales. After a legal battle, she was awarded $2.3 million by the courts in 1991.
  • It was the first animated film to be made in CinemaScope!

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The Big New Year’s Announcement Post for 2016!

Happy New Year, everyone!!!

Here we all are in 2016, a futuretime beyond our wildest imaginations where terrible things are in the news every single day and our student loan debt continues to threaten to devour us just like Artax in the Swamp of Sadness. And yet also in this futuretime we have some pretty badass ladies in big budget major motion pictures, the triumphant reawakening of Star Wars, the arrival of Doctor Who LEGO sets, the ability to watch cute animal videos on our phones nearly anywhere, the applications to allow us to order food without talking to people on the phone and coloring books for meditation and relaxation.

Coloring books, you guys. Coloring books and GrubHub. This is basically Utopia.

But there’s more than that. The Internet is a shocking place both in good ways and bad. On the better end of that spectrum, we have amazing abilities to connect not just through social media, but through community fundraising websites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, IndieGoGo, and other variations. Artists, musicians, writers, performers, producers, and other creators can reach out to one another and their audiences online and come together in a totally new way to reinvent the relationship between artist and patron.

Since the days of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the concept of patronage has provided circulation of funds from the wealthy or powerful to those who require assistance to create new things. Artists weren’t the only ones who received funding from patrons – scientists, scholars, astronomers and alchemists have all benefited from the financial backing of wealthy nobles or government officials throughout the ages. Here in the modern era, we’ve confused the act of patronage with the popular concept of “lazy artist people begging for money,” but there are a lot of folks who are working their butts off to change that cultural concept to a better model for creators and consumers alike.

Enter Patreon.

If you aren’t familiar with Patreon, it is an online platform for creators to build a community with their supporters, fans, and fellow creators. A creator can open up their metaphorical toy box to the fans, who then offer up whatever monetary amount they’d like to support that creator’s ongoing projects. Unlike Kickstarter or IndieGoGo which are limited-time fundraisers for a single focused project or event, Patreon allows for continual funds, thus creating a constant flow between created content and the patrons’ financial contributions. A creator can ask for support on a monthly basis, or they can choose to have their patrons offer money “per Thing created.” A patron can edit their contribution at any time, and if it’s per Thing, they can limit how much per month they allow their contributions to amount to, that way nobody is donating more than they’d like to, or more than they can afford to.

What’s the bottom line here?

The bottom line is that through Patreon, patrons can have an opportunity to connect on a much more personal level with their favorite creators, and have the immense golden satisfaction of personally contributing to those creators’ success. Through Patreon, creators have the chance to connect with the people who like their work and want to support them, and get paid to keep making new things.

Creators get paid for the things they create by people who love them and want to help them keep making cool things.

Mindblowing? Yes.

Awesome? Definitely!

So here it is, my big New Year’s Resolution Revolution:

I’m launching a Patreon!

Since I was a little kid, I have always known that I wanted to tell stories. I wrote them and acted them out for family all the time – so it makes sense that I grew up a little bit and became an actor and an author. I have spent the last several years performing and growing as an actor as well as writing and publishing my first novel and sundry short stories. People keep asking me what’s next, and I can finally tell you that I have a ton of ideas to share and cultivate and create. There is so much that I want to write, perform, produce, and release into the wild.

These ideas include (but are not limited to):

  • two (count ’em: TWO) audio fiction productions
    • one of them is a space comedy about pirates, tiny hats, talking plants, and bipedal corgis
    • one of them is a Waiting For Guffman-meets-Lord of the Rings public radio program about an orc-based community theatre company
  • a customizable choose-your-format fiction commission program
    • does your tabletop RPG need background content? letters? songs for your bard? a short story featuring your character(s)? a legend or folktale about an object/ruined temple/ancient hero/MacGuffin? I will write it for you.
    • including the much-hyped Audio Commentary tracks
    • very MST3K
    • much wow
  • a brand-new serial fiction project set in a fantasy world that I’m creating completely from scratch… The Fella will run a D&D 5e game set in this world, and I will write up the fictionalized accounts of gameplay for your reading pleasure. There will also be short stories, flash fiction, and even (gasp) possibly a novel or two down the line.

All of this is really, really exciting, you guys. I am thrilled that the blog has gotten so much positive feedback this year, and I am really looking forward to continuing with Disney Odyssey and regularly scheduled blog content as well as tackling these big new awesome projects… but none of this is possible without your help.

I currently work a full-time day job. I’m able to continue producing blog content on the regular with that job schedule, but adding these new projects will require time. Time to write, record, edit, and produce. Time to research, play, create, and explore. I am chomping at the bit to get started – in fact, brainstorming and writing has already begun on several of these new projects. These are things I am going to work on no matter what – but the support you give through Patreon will help expedite and smooth out the process of making new stuff, and making it all bigger and better than ever before.

And on top of that, you’ll get sweet perks for being a patron, including early access to blog posts, the audio commentaries, voting rights, Altered Egos for access to RPG/original character fiction commissions, monthly Google Hangouts, unique one-of-a-kind ukulele ballads, and so much more!

Get excited. Get in. Get on it. I’m really pumped to build, create, move it, and share it all with you.

*orchestral arrangement of “A Whole New World” starts playing as underscore*

Let me share this whole new world with you….

Click click click to check out my Patreon page and choose your contribution level. I cannot wait to see you all there!