October 30, 2013

Better Every Year!

Happy Birthday to my beautiful, lovely wife! Each year, you are more beautiful, more charming, more and more like Jesus. Thank you for being who you are- and I am a blessed man to have known you, loved you, and been your husband for all these years!

October 28, 2013

Winter Hasn't Started Yet

No, it hasn't begun, but I'm already dreading it. See those hills in the back of the photograph? This was were we lived years ago. Timing of life and changes in my job led us to leaving Southern California and the life we knew. Yes, the mountains of Colorado are beautiful- but this homeboy longs for the ocean, the sounds, the smells, the life- and that may never go away. Eternal Summer!

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

October 27, 2013

Waxy Whitney

Whitney Houston's wax likeness hits New York City on loan from Madame Tussaud's in London. From looking at the image above, I'd say it's a pretty incredible representation of the singer, isn't it?
What a tragic ending...

October 25, 2013

Space Mountain Still Rocks the Galaxy

A mountain of an accomplishment! In fact, that is what Space Mountain represents. Imagineer John Hench did an absolutely first class piece of art in the 1960's to get the look of Walt Disney's dream just right. Walt had envisioned a space port for Disneyland where guests could blast off into the darkest regions of the galaxies. It wasn't until the 70s at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom that his dream would become a reality. Now, Disneyland saw its attraction come to life in 1977, but soon enough, it was found all over the world. For a very detailed look at this iconic attraction at every Disney park- and with a ton of concept art, go to this post- and enjoy the ride!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 24, 2013

Farrah Fawcett's Secret Life

The news is surprising and a bit disappointing. As with most men of the time, Farrah Fawcett and her beauty captured my eye when I first saw her on television's Charlie's Angels. Almost instantly, she was the breakout star, the new golden girl, the one with everything. The hair, the smile, the eyes, the sex appeal- she epitomized the glamour of Southern California and Hollywood. Co-stars Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith had their fans (and I was one!), but Farrah's was the star the endured.

Well, yesterday it comes to light that Farrah may have been seeing one of her former boyfriends while still with her longtime lover Ryan O'Neal.  One piece of the dispute between the two men seems to be the multi-million dollar piece of art done of the actress  by legendary Andy Warhol. (Top)

It boils down to money, sex, fame, and what happens to folks when they have it all. I just went to a memorial for a friend yesterday, and it got me to thinking about what kind of legacy I will leave. What about you? What will you be known for? For secrets will be revealed? What stories will be told? How will your life be summed up in the course of an hour long memorial?

October 23, 2013

Captain America on His Way

While Thor looks uninteresting to me, (and the first one was just plain bad), Captain America is more my style. Retro looking, patriotic hero, and it tells of a man full of courage on the inside not just one gifted with supernatural powers. I'm in! 

The next chapter in the Steve Rogers story is The Winter Soldier, an April 2014 release from Marvel / Disney. Playing our hero, Chris Evans knows exactly when to show restraint and when to burst forth. It's the variety and subtlety of human emotion that adds depth to an already interesting storyline. 

Oh yeah, a Marvel themed third park at the Disneyland Resort? Since we're never getting Westcot, bring it on.

October 22, 2013

Man in the Grass

The picture perfect Summer day. Laying in the grass, contemplating life, enjoying the sun. The quiet is mesmerizing, enticing, restful. It goes so quickly, and yet, it lingers on and on in my mind.

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever."

This verse from the book of Isaiah (chapter 40:6-8) reminds me of how fleeting life is and how eternal God is. I am thankful. In a season of much loss and struggle and disappointment, God never leaves me. His word holds true even when my emotions say otherwise.

October 21, 2013

Dark Roast Italian Style

During my recent trip overseas, I fell in love with this ad for LavAzza Italian Espresso. Taken in Venice- and perhaps during its famous flood season- this ad captures the glamour and elegance of this most unique city. Enticing!

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

October 18, 2013

Karen Carpenter Solo Album in Living Color

Like a lot of us that frequent the site, A&M Corner's gifted artist Chris Tassin had been following the discussions on Karen Carpenter's solo album for a few years now. As most Carpenters fans know, the final artwork on her album was not the one originally planned. This concept above is much closer to the final but discarded version I saw back in 1989. When the executives at A&M Records decided to halt the release of the disc, it wasn't until after Karen's death that the public got to hear- or see- it. This image is as close as it gets. Too bad the artists putting together their image had little idea how to visually market she and Richard Carpenter. Opportunity wasted- and now Karen only looks like this in our memory. To quote Paul Simon and one of the songs Karen recorded for the venture- "Still Crazy After All These Years"!

(Photograph copyright A&M Records. Artistic colorizing by Chris Tassin.)

October 17, 2013

Another Round of Babies!

What a wonderful season of life! In the midst of grieving a sweet friend passing away unexpectedly, my son and his wife gave birth to a little baby boy yesterday.

It is in times like these, that I choose to trust the Lord Jesus is fully in control. Although I mourn, I also celebrate. He is good ALL the time, even if I do not understand what He allows or why He allows it.

Honestly, some folks will never understand the peace God gives when we trust in Him- they're just too determined to live their lives in a way that excludes Him. So, they are missing out on the comfort only He can provide! 

Enough of that! I'm a grandfather again- it's time for a party!

October 16, 2013

Mom Rocks the Hair

My sister just posted this pic on face book, and I have to say, Mom rocked the hair! She was stylish then. And she still is beautiful inside and out. (Mom, you also had to be wearing huge heels. Dad is still way taller than you!)

October 15, 2013

Herb Ryman's Court of Angels

By now, almost every Disney geek out there has heard about the beautiful Court of Angels becoming a holding area for patrons of Disneyland's expensive Club 33.  In the past, when Imagineers created these spaces for public usage as part of layering on theme elements, artist and legend Herb Ryman delivered an absolutely stunning pieces to sell the concept. Now, its just in the process of becoming available only to those guests in the upper echelon of tax brackets and social connections. Pretty appalling. 
For more discussion of the Disneyland of old and Imagineering's heyday, go to the discussion boards of WDWMagic and look for the thread started by former Imagineer Eddie Sotto. Fascinating stuff.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 14, 2013

Avatarland Entrance at Night!

Are you starting to get excited about Avatarland coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom? I am. Perhaps Disney Imagineering and James Cameron's Lightstorm are going to hit a home run together. Just for fun, here's a nighttime view of the entrance right from the Disney Parks blog. Click on the image for a very large size. If this project turns out half as good as the concept art, 2017 cannot come soon enough.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

Ten Keys to Success

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a Young Businessman's Club. The topic was Success. As part of my presentation, I delivered my "Ten Keys to Success":

DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Be thankful for the opportunity to do what you love. Don't compare your life to others.

INTEGRITY- Do what you say you will do. Be the same person everywhere you go.

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK AND LISTEN WELL – In every situation. Sometimes the lack of words can be as negatively impacting as the wrong words said at the wrong time.

HONESTY- Speak the truth kindly. Don't lie and don't change the story depending on the hearer and how it will benefit you.

WORK HARD – Don't just work hard when people are watching.

ADMIT YOUR MISTAKES- Don't dwell on them. Apologize if necessary and move on.

MANAGE YOUR TIME WELL – There's much to do and limited hours in which to do it. Set your priorities.

TREAT OTHERS WELL AND INVEST IN THEM- This includes not being threatened by their success but instead helping work toward it.

THINK CREATIVELY- Don't always do things the way they have been done. Think new thoughts, try new ideas.

HAVE FUN! - Life goes by so quickly! Enjoy it!

October 12, 2013

Pandora / Avatar Art Appears

Finally happened- Disney released some real and substantional concept art about Avatarland / Pandora for Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World- and a pretty nice model, too.

They also threw in some news about new nighttime safaris in Kilimanjaro and an evening light show. Good move! Nice to see Joe Rohde involved in something on the mainland again.

With the new Imagineering emphasis (or should I say accounting emphasis) on making this park work, I'll finally have another article to write for my series about the evolution of this park. For newer readers, Part One of this popular series begins here- with links to all six parts!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 11, 2013

Meg Ryan Returns to the Screen

The small screen, that is. Meg Ryan, the fairly reclusive movie star had spent the last few years unnoticed by the public eye. By all reports, she seemed happy with her life and with singer John Mellencamp. Now it seems, we'll be seeing more of her on NBC television. That's a great thing! What would the modern movie era be without Meg's hits in the romantic comedy genre- When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail and French Kiss? Now here's a great idea- let's have some special guests like Tom Hanks, Billy Crystal or Kevin Kline playing Meg's past boyfriends. Sounds like fun!

It's a Small World- The Doll Arrives 25 Years Later

Many years ago, my youngest daughter fell in love with the can can dancer doll at Disneyland's classic It's a Small World. Every visit- and to the Golden Horseshoe for the Can Can actually- she had to point out the French dancing doll. That was a quarter of a century ago.

Now that she is a mommy and has her own newborn daughter, I knew it the minute I saw it- this was the gift I had to buy for both of them.

It arrived today in an amazingly crumpled box. Thanks, FedEx. The doll was uninjured. And beautiful. Even if a bit smaller than those found in the Fantasyland attraction, the face and smile were perfectly done.

So, now it sits in her room on top of my granddaughter's bookshelf- waiting for her to discover a bit of Disney magic when she's old enough.

Thank you, Disney Merchandise...

(Image copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 10, 2013

October 9, 2013

Woody Invades Tokyo DisneySea

No one would call me the biggest fan of Toy Story Midway Mania although I am a huge fan of the films. Video game rides just aren't my thing, as I think they show a huge lack of creativity and inspiration. That said, I cannot help but look at this image from a Tokyo DisneySea trip report on line and grin. The Coney Island / Trolleyville Park look makes for a pretty spectacular photo. Is it out of place as part of the American Waterfront? Yes, I think so, even though it is a technical fit. Being right around the corner from the stunning Tower of Terror, it just needed some space and distance to keep guests from being visually jarred. The large scale Woody head screams out-of-place self promotion. It's a far cry from the subtle yet incredible icons that premiered at the park opening.

(Photograph copyright Cravetfiend.)

October 8, 2013

Iron Man Attraction to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016!

Looks as if the first real attraction featuring a Marvel character will come to Hong Kong Disneyland in 2016! A moving vehicle will transport guests into this Marvel world, actually the city of Hong Kong itself- where good faces off with evil. Iron Man Experience will be the first but not only attraction en route to Asia.
Thanks Disney Parks Blog for the information.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 7, 2013

Mysterious Concept Art

Every once in awhile, the Disney Parks Blog highlights a piece of Imagineering concept art I've never seen. Today is such a day. Looking at the above piece, I am guessing it is for the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland or Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor. Anyone in the know want to share the scoop?

(Art copyright the Walt Disney Company.)

Two Questions About The Little Mermaid

Disney's The Little Mermaid finds its "Diamond" release this week on BluRay and DVD. While on one hand, I find it to be a crass exploitation of the product and a continuing milking of their customer base, you can't blame the suits for making the most of this classic and beloved 1989 animated film.

The bigger questions in my mind center on two thoughts regarding the attractions that celebrate the film- one in California Adventure and the other in Walt Disney World's beautiful but lacking New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom

Question One- "Dear Walt Disney Suits and Imagineers, what took you so long?" With an unexpected smash like this film that continues to have a strong fan base, why was it 25 years before there was an attraction built in the parks? Imagineer Tony Baxter had wisely planned one for Disneyland Paris two decades ago. Granted, it wasn't the version that finally got built, but the bones are there. What could it be? How could the company that excels at squeezing profits out of every opportunity overlook something like this? 

Question Two- "What the (bleep!) were you thinking by creating the attraction but giving it a lifeless, lackluster, third act?" Where the film ends with a spectacular climax, the same cannot be said for the attraction that was built. After the incredible and convincing Audio-Animatronic of Ursula the Sea Witch, the sense of drama and danger quickly morphed into a sappy and biteless ending, the gorgeous Kiss the Girl scene notwithstanding. Let's just say that Imagineering or budgeteering missed the mark big time. What should have been the reason to hop back in line by giving riders a show stopping storm and confrontation between good and evil, is instead a nice, safe storybook version for the skittish two year old. A wasted opportunity to take some teeth out of the Wizard next door in Florida and soon, California. Harry Potter and his Forbidden Journey ultimately have nothing to worry about.

Let's just hope that by the time this attraction makes Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, or Shanghai, the ending- and a few other details- are fixed to create the ultimate Ariel's journey.

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 4, 2013

Fall Meets An Early Winter

Oh, that crazy Denver weather. Woke up this morning to this image- beautiful snow covered light strings over my patio. Farther out, the limbs of my trees heavy under a fresh snow. Drizzled snow still coming my way. You can tell which direction it came from as there's still hints of green grass closer to our fence. In practical terms, its very early for a snow here. Usually Halloween night is our first snow. Not this year.  I hope there's not much freeze- I'd hate to miss all the Fall colors.

(Photograph copyright Mark Taft.)

October 3, 2013

Authorized Minnie and Bootleg Belle

During my recent travels overseas, I ran into a couple of Disney images I thought were worth saving. The one at top shows Disney's Minnie Mouse gracing the cover of a fashion magazine.

These images shown above display an unauthorized Ariel, Tiana, and Belle. All very well done, I might mention. But it was the human face characters at the benefit that were not. No images for that. Just goes to show, it always pays to keep your eyes open when you travel!

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)

October 2, 2013

The Name Game at the Polynesian

Looks like with the planned Vacation Club development at Walt Disney World's beautiful Polynesian Resort, a name change is also in order. In a nod backward to the good old days, the suits have renamed the place with a variation of its original one: Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Now, hopefully, the standards at the resort will also return to 1971 levels of service!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

October 1, 2013

Adorable Baby Photo

Isn't this photo priceless? Here's my son-in-law with his son and his newborn daughter. My little grandson walked up to his sister unannounced, and he curled up in his dad's arms, placing his little arm around her tiny little body. Boy, I would have loved to see this "live"!