November 27, 2020

Time for Christmas!

The day after Thanksgiving traditionally begins the Christmas season in our home. The outside lights and indoor decorations go up, and the tree is embellished with ornaments that are reminders of our travels, our family, and our faith. It's all set while listening to the classic Christmas Portrait album by Richard and Karen Carpenter. In many ways, it doesn't feel like the holiday season to me until the Carpenters version of Christmas Waltz begins, "Frosted windowpanes..." Karen's magnificent voice fills the room and floods my heart with warmth. Yet, nothing touches me as deeply as the love Jesus Christ has more me. When I stop and think of how my life would be without him- both on this earth and eternally- gratefulness fills my heart. What freedom, what hope, what peace we who believe have in Jesus Christ! A real reason to celebrate all year long.

November 26, 2020

Notable and Quotable: Henri Nouwen

"As our prayer deepens into a constant awareness of God's goodness, the spirit of gratitude grows within us. Gratitude flows from the recognition that who we are and what we have are gifts to be received and shared. Gratitude releases us from the bonds of obligation and prepares us to offer ourselves freely and fully for the work of the Kingdom."

                                       Henri Nouwen, writer and Catholic priest

November 25, 2020

High in the Sky Over Disneyland

Imagineer Herb Ryman remains one of the favorite Disney artists, and this piece of concept art for Disneyland's long gone Skyway shows off his brilliance. While the landscape first looks serene, there's actually much movement to be found: the slight tilt of the bucket and the discreetly placed Casey Jr. Circus Train coming through the tunnel of the Storybookland Canal Boats. Riders got to see all this and a trip through the Matterhorn as well! 



The attraction poster for the Skyway in Tomorrowland captures this same freedom of movement. The limited color palette plays up the sense of adventure. (Do you love Disney attraction posters? My whole collection- the largest on the web- can be found here.)

Once the Skyway was removed- and what a big mistake that was!- Fantasyland didn't have quite as much energy as before. But that's nothing compared to how poor Tomorrowland fared. With the Peoplemover gone and the Rocket Jets moved to the front, the entire feel of the world of the future was much less inviting. It's a shame really. What once was one of the most interesting places in the park is now my least visited. One ride on Space Mountain and maybe a trip to Endor, and I'm done. Well, there's always Florida I guess!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

November 23, 2020

Imagineer Joe Rohde Retires!

This just in! Imagineer Joe Rohde has announced his retirement! The man who led the creative team who designed one of Disney's most amazing theme parks, Disney's Animal Kingdom, has decided it's time to move on... How sad for all of us who love his creative and passion!

Below is the announcement found on Zach Riddley's post:

"“I know, this is going to sound weird for a 65-year-old person, but it’s kind of like a coming-of-age moment. I have things to do that are different than this,” Rohde said Monday. “There are things I want to create, there are things I want to do. There’s only so much time in a lifetime to do these things.”

The timing for retirement works well on the Disney front, too, he said.

When Pandora opened at Walt Disney World in 2017, it was part of a three-pronged Rohde rush of projects to open, including the Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission Breakout refresh of Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure theme park and Villages Nature Eco-Resort, which is adjacent to Disneyland Paris. They all opened within a three-month period.

“What that did is it created a hiatus gap. Where now I’m in development on things, and development can go on forever. So, part of the opportunity dates all the way back to there,” Rohde said.

“I feel like this is just a great sort of time, and it won’t continue. I mean, once you get ramped up on one of these gigantic, gigantic projects, then that’s another five to seven years, you know?” he said.

Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering, used his Instagram account to salute Rohde’s real-life adventurer status and his work ethic.

“His unyielding commitment to excellence across all aspects of projects, and his demand for authenticity and including diverse, indigenous cultures in design and production, are hallmarks of his projects and what differentiate them from all others,” Weis wrote.
Rohde laughed thinking back about his early days at Walt Disney World.

“When I started, I simply knew nothing. … I didn’t know anything about Disney. I didn’t know anything about Epcot. I didn’t realize who all these completely famous people were walking around me,” Rohde said Monday.

“I didn’t know how to do the work. I didn’t know anything. So, it was this incredible opportunity to learn and to learn from people who at that point in time, were part of the original founders of the company itself,” he said.

“Joe has spent his career mentoring and advising all of those he works with, and I know that he continue to do that until Jan. 4 and beyond,” current Imagineer Zach Riddley posted on his Instagram account Monday afternoon.

In more recent times, Rohde said was proud of his Animal Kingdom and Aulani work because of the real-life connections they created.
“There is a whole nest of personal creative projects that I’ve been interested in developing further,” Rohde said. “Now, mind you, all those things are kind of speculative. That’s part of the adventure of it, is to step out into something really new, truly new for me.”

Furthermore, Joe shares this via Instagram:
"I’m sure by now many of you have come across the news that I am retiring from Walt Disney Imagineering. It has been 40 years since I stepped foot in the door at age 25, not knowing anything about theme parks, Disney, or what it meant to work for a big company. Every day of my life since then has been a learning experience. I’m very glad to have had that opportunity, and proud of the work that has been done, not just by me, but by all my fellow Imagineers, and especially those who worked by my side over the decades. But 40 years is a long time, and this strange quiet time seems like a great opportunity to slip away without too much disruption. If I wait, I will once again be in the middle of another huge project and by the time that is done, I would be truly old. I’m not that old yet and there are things I want to do that cannot be done here. We encourage a culture of storytellers, not just amongst ourselves but among our guests and our fans, and because of this, there is a strong temptation to take this moment and turn it into a story. But what story? I think it’s a coming of age story. I started at Disney as a child, and I learned almost all my life lessons there, developed my confidence, recognized my skills and weaknesses, and went on to work with both... and do what could be done. I could stay forever, but that is like remaining in another kind of womb. I want to see what a grown man might be able to do on his own. This site here is not really for Disney. It’s for us. I imagine that there are many of you who I will be sad that I will no longer be a daily part of the Disney company, and there will be some of you who will drift away and no longer follow my ruminations because they feel they aren’t relevant. But I will still be here. And I will still be thinking about things, and doing things, and talking about things… Because that’s kind of what I do. I mentioned in my departure note and I will mention here again the tremendous debt that I owe to our guests and our fans who have been so generous. Working as an Imagineer has made me a good designer, but it is all of you who have made me a better person."

November 22, 2020

Sunday Escape

It's become sort of an Insights and Sounds blog tradition in the winter, hasn't it? A Sunday getaway to somewhere warm, sunny, and very tropical. I believe this one comes from Hawaii. Aloha!

November 21, 2020

Rapunzel's Castle for Hong Kong Disneyland???

Hong Kong Disneyland's Rapunzel's Castle? Yes, that was one of the plans Imagineering considered to transform the carbon copy of Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle into something different. Here is the concept art via user IMDREW on the WDWMagic Boards.

What they choose could have become a Tangled mess anyway. (Not really!) A new castle in homage to thirteen princesses. But the end result? It's beautiful! 

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

November 20, 2020

"Oh, Roger (Rabbit)!" Cartoon Spin Concept Art

Concept art for Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland is not very common. Concept art for the key attraction, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin is almost impossible to find! But here you go. These pieces by Imagineer Marcelo Vignali from 1994 capture essence of the movie in stunning eye-popping fashion. 

The beloved film actually makes a pretty hare-raising attraction! Walt's original park has the best roster of classic dark rides, and addition of this one was just a perfect execution of fun, thrill, and story. I have to say that the upcoming opening of Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is a welcome addition for two reasons: First, it's a great ride, and secondly, this new E Ticket will make sure that Toontown stays open at Disneyland for decades to come. The attraction and the land is a win-win for Disney and for park fans. Exactly the type of expansion that belongs in the most loved theme park ever!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

November 19, 2020

Does Evermore Succeed Where Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Failed?

Utah's Evermore Park promises times of exploration and interaction with all of the residents. There's not a ride to be found aside from the Evermore Express, a train that circles and bisects the park. What it does promise is an adventure of your own choice. Does it live up to its lofty goals?


Think if the park as a live action, always there, Renaissance Festival of sorts mixed with theming learned from Disney Imagineering. Separate lands, themed eating and drinking and shopping: and street performers in character. All set in a lovely and lively English village of years past.

They say it best on their own introduction page on the website:  "Greetings to you, brave explorers! Or as we refer to you here at Evermore, "World Walkers". Our land is filled with beauty and discovery. This ancient township was built eras ago upon a body of mysterious energy. Tales of old spoke of heroes, warriors, royalty, elves, goblins, dragons and more coming to this hamlet through magical gateways. Doorways to other lands, worlds, and/or dimensional planes.

Then... those gateways were sealed shut. Centuries passed by and Evermore became stuck in time without a place. Eventually, the common ways of life in this wondrous land gave way to only the belief in tall tales, myths and legends.

Recently, the keys to unlocking the magic of these gateways were rediscovered, and the locks placed on the portals were lifted. The places and personalities once again began to step forth into Evermore. To them, Evermore was also regarded as lost for all those years. The reuniting of vanished cultures has been reason to celebrate. Though all have to wonder exactly why those gateways had at one point... been closed?

We welcome you at Evermore and encourage you to Enter the Story!"

Does this all sound familiar? It should. Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge promise a similar interactive experience albeit in a vastly different setting. 

My two visits to Galaxy's Edge (one on each coast) did not deliver on the promise of interactivity. Perhaps that has changed, but my hunch is that COVID-19 has put an even further damper on those plans. Was my time there enjoyable? Absolutely! From the standpoint of themed design, it's hard to argue anything less than Disney accomplishing a home run. But with the Disney hype machine in full operation prior to opening, I expected to interact with droids and not just have them available for purchase. Most of those interactions are available but with an additional and hefty fee. The same could be said for the classic cantina experience every Star Wars fan wants.

My plans to visit Evermore Park have never materialized. I'd love to hear from those of you who have gone! Please fill us in on what you discovered.

(Map images copyright Evermore Park.)



November 18, 2020

Stand Down!

Such good advice here! I need to do more of this, that is for sure! I know God's ear is attentive to those who call out to Him...

November 15, 2020

Top 10 Most Missed Disney Attractions

Between COVID-19, Disneyland being closed, travel being limited, and being in the middle of the country, I'm thinking these days of my very favorite - and most missed- Disney theme park attractions.  Since my last visit to Walt Disney World was before the opening of both Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, these cannot be included in any on my list. 

Additionally, unlike some folks who are blessed to have gone to every Disney park, I cannot include attractions at the Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Disneyland, or Shanghai Disneyland

So, with all these exceptions, in no particular order, I present to you my Top 10 Most Missed Disney Attractions:

The Parisian version is the ultimate adventure.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad: With versions found in almost all the Disney castle parks, this ride is one of our family's all-time favorites. Every trip to every resort, it remains a must-do. Each rendition has its charms, but if I had to choose one to ride during this time, it would be the attraction found in Disneyland Paris. Oui! Beginning and ending by journeying under the river is an experience unsurpassed! It truly is the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness!

My new Animal Kingdom favorite!

Flight of Passage: It may be the newest of Animal Kingdom's epic E Ticket adventures, but it is also one of the best ever created by Disney Imagineering. Thrilling yet peaceful, the airborne piggyback ride on Pandora's banshee is everything you'd expect to experience... and more! I'm always left wanting an additional ride or two, aren't you? 

World Showcase at night is the most beautiful
of all theme park lands in Florida.

Impressions de France: My singular choice of Epcot attractions for the list. (Sad, isn't it? It's my favorite park, but the attraction roster has increasingly become less and less unique and compelling since its heyday.) You may ask how a mere film can rank among my Top Ten. The travelogue is so much more than just the filmed locations! It's a slice of French life set to the most stunning music found in any theme park. I'm instantly transported to Europe- dated images and all.

These animals are not politically incorrect.

Splash Mountain: One of two adventures selected from the Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida. (The other may surprise you.) Those highly sensitive to the tales told would do well to remember the source film's concerns are not the content. These retelling of African folk tales comes together in a fresh and engaging manner complete with perhaps the catchiest of all Disney songs. Tiana may come to Disneyland in a Princess and the Frog revisiting (and that's 100% fine), but Florida's epic flume ride will remain as one of my all time beloved rides. It's time to relax and quit being so politically correct that we lose any sense of fun.

The lone redeeming attraction of the refreshed California Adventure.

Radiator Springs Racers: Speaking of fun, my next choice fits the description any way you look at it. Cars may not be Pixar's best film, but it's ride is the best attraction built around a Pixar movie. As with Epcot, this is the only attraction chosen from Disney California Adventure. That alone says quite a bit. Also like Epcot, the park's attraction line up has moved backwards since the new improved California Adventure premiered in 2012. 

Indiana Jones Adventure: Walt's park continues to have the most well-rounded set of attractions and adventures of all. I was blessed to ride during the opening weekend of this groundbreaking piece of Imagineering genius. The line was so long, it took hours to finally board a jeep, (remember this was way back when ride capacity was very important to the suits), but once my journey was over, I turned around and got right back in line. Among Imagineer Tony Baxter's best work. Right up there with my beloved and sadly long gone Journey into Imagination.

This should so still be running at Disneyland!

Peoplemover / Tomorrowland Transit Authority: My other Magic Kingdom pick. Not every attraction has to be a headliner to have an impact. Cruising along the track in the evening breeze surveying the lay of Tomorrowland is an every trip must-do.

The sinister story actually weaves all through Frontierland.

Phantom Manor: Back to Paris. While all Haunted Mansions (and Mystic Manor) are among Disney's best of the genre, there's something special about this reimagined attraction. The storyline is darker, the architecture and setting equally spectacular to those in the States, but the musical score elevates the attraction to a new level. All proving once again that beauty is in the eye - and ear - of the beholder.

Everest still rocks- as does the park!

Expedition: Everest: "Big Thunder on Steroids". This description is what I give newbies when they decide to travel to Walt Disney World for the first time. The last two spirals around the mountain before encountering "Disco Yeti" is worth the price of admission.  Animal Kingdom certainly needs much more before it will be a full day for a majority of Disney visitors, but for me, this park is steadily moving toward the top of all four Florida parks. 

This classic endures for a reason!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Last but not least, Pirates of the Caribbean. The grandest Disney adventure of all time. Nothing else in any park says "I'm home" like rounding the bend into New Orleans Square and boarding a boat next to the Blue Bayou restaurant and its twinkling fireflies. (Yeah, they ruined the elegant original entrance as they were forced to deal with crowds once Fast Past came into play.) The very lengthy original version remains the pinnacle of Disney Imagineering- and of course, it was under the guidance of Walt Disney. An American Original. 

(Photographs copyright Mark Taft.)

November 13, 2020

Two Brothers

In honor of my oldest son's birthday today, here's a photo of my grandson and his brother during their outing to a local park. It's one of the cutest photos I've ever seen! Don't you agree?

November 11, 2020

Notable and Quotable: Bishop Harry Jackson

"Black Lives Matter is true. The fact that there does need to be a value of human life, but by destroying biblical foundations, you can never arrive at God's justice. You've got to do it God's way. You can't have just us, we need justice that is a manifestation of the holiness of God."

                                         Bishop Harry Jackson

November 10, 2020

Rare Twilight Zone Tower of Terror Attraction Poster

A rare Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction poster? That's right! In the style of a "B Movie" poster, this poster advertises all the thrills and spills (drops?) to be found at the epic Disney-MGM Studios attraction. I mean the Disney's Hollywood Studios attraction. I mean the park with Star Wars Land, I mean Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge...

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)


Will Richard Carpenter Follow Elton John's Lead?

Elton John's massive Jewel Box, coming out Friday (pun intended for humor's sake), contains almost 150 rarities. 150! He's a pretty prolific artist, I'd say. He and Bernie Taupin wrote some of the most beloved songs of the 1970s. His Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album may even bar on par with the Beatles' best work. Here's hoping the release of this box will begin a trend.

As a major fan of the other iconic act from the 70s, Karen and Richard Carpenter, I can only hope that Richard is watching closely- and chooses to release a new box of his own. The style may be different from both Elton and the Beatles, and he and writing partner John Bettis were not nearly as prolific as John and Taupin or Lennon and McCartney, but Carpenters created their own legacy of incredible art. Karen's voice is still the purest from of the craft of singing. No one can compare. Not at 50 years since their biggest hit, Close to You. No one comes close. 
 

November 6, 2020

Alternate Posters for Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean

We've all seen the incredible and iconic attraction poster for the beloved Pirates of the Caribbean adventure at Disneyland. But have you seen these alternative ideas?


Imagineering's Colin Campbell designed these in 1966 as the epic ride in New Orleans Square was positioned to become the defect standard all theme park attractions would be measured against. Almost 55 years later, Pirates remains the one to beat! It only only sired a film enterprise of its own, it set the thought of becoming an Imagineer into the hearts and minds of men and women, boys and girls, all over the world!

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

 

November 5, 2020

Why Is There So Much Division In The Body Of Christ?

The title says it all. It's time for change. Hank Hanegraaff, Francis Chan, and KP Yohannan challenge the church of Jesus to come together in Biblical unity. Be encouraged and challenged by their conversation.


(Video copyright Gospel for Asia.)

November 4, 2020

Do Not Look at This!

 It sickens me to no end to even glance on this image! What would make me do such a thing? How could I ever live with myself for sharing this? It's impossible to understand, and yet I am motivated by love. This is the body of a late term aborted baby girl. Obviously she was injected in order to kill her, but normally there would be body parts. I just couldn't bring myself to show that...breaks my heart.

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, 
defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8–9)
Doesn't this apply to unborn children as well?

There are many fine things to appreciate about each of our political parties, but that either side accepts or even encourages the violent dismantling of those children unable to speak for themselves is without excuse. 

Founder Margaret Sanger's racist roots in forming Planned Parenthood and its strategically placed locations in lower income (usually Black) neighborhoods is not in dispute. Check out the facts for yourself.

But, boy, is this a big money issue! If the average cost for an abortion is $500 (the range can be zero to one thousand dollars) and if you multiply that by the 61 Million abortions that have occurred since Roe vs. Wade, that is a lot of money somebody is living very well on.

God's hearts grieves. He is the God of life, not death, and we've fooled ourselves into thinking aborting babies is reasonable and even the lesser of two evils. We are no better than the ancient peoples of old who used to throw their babies into the fire to worship their ancient gods. I've seen many suffer by making this choice- and I've seen God's heart of forgiveness for those who truly repent of this sin of murder. 

News agencies want to know why many White Evangelicals are tied to the Republican Party? Watch how many leave it when an honest to goodness Pro-Life Democrat runs for office. Than you'll see the real numbers change. Once the Democratic Party cuts its love affair with a pro-death culture, things will change. But not before. Not for me.

Don't give me the lame excuse that until more people step up to adopt that abortion is the best answer. The answer is to do what is right first and then participate in making a difference- and letting God take action and also sort out the details.

For me, I care about immigration reforms, caring for the poor, good healthcare for the population, racial equity, and more. I have Black, Brown, Asian, straight and gay friends. But I cannot justify putting support behind dismembering babies. Even though it's not a good situation by any means - and God hates injustice- in every case of these others issues, the people affected are alive to fight for change. Victims of abortion are dead. They don't have a voice or a chance to stand up for themselves. We must do it.

Walking into Remy's World

Time for a break from the political madness in the States! Take a look at this beautiful photograph of the expansion of the France pavilion at Epcot. Park lover Drew the Disney Dude captured this first look of the entry area to Remy's Ratatouille Adventure. It's quite beautiful, wouldn't you say?

November 3, 2020

A Day of Compromise

I beg you who claim to follow Jesus Christ to consider the following verses:

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.  For it has been reported to me by His people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Biden,” or “I follow Trump,” or “I follow an independent candidate,” or “I follow no one.”  Is Christ divided? Was Trump crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Biden?  

I thank God that I proselytized none of you into my political views, so that no one may say that you were transformed by my party of preference.  For Christ did not send me to put my hope in politics but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”  (1 Corinthians 1:10-17- Rewritten by this author.)

Family of Christ, let’s be wise. It’s true we’re forced into choosing between two candidates whose morals and character and choices are compromised and whose agendas can never fully represent what God values. Yes, be informed voters who carry the eternal values of our Heavenly Kingdom and not those of the world, but imagine if we placed this same energy into sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ! What a glorious eternal kingdom we can be part of building! Beyond the results of the election, we will still be brothers and sisters in Christ with a shared goal of proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him alone as Lord, King, and Savior. Be blessed today!


November 2, 2020

Carpenters Revisited: A Fresh Look at The Singles 1969-1973

It was the end of an era, but fans of Richard and Karen Carpenter didn't even see it coming. With hit single after hit single, and a string of best selling album releases all over the world, Carpenters were hotter than hot. They were such a strong act that the thought of putting out a greatest hits album that listed the years in the title didn't come across as arrogant or unwise. It was assumed by fans everywhere that the hits would keep on coming. 

I was among those absolutely sure the best was yet to come. From the opening notes of We've Only Just Begun in 1970 to the latest smash, Top of the World, I anxiously awaited and purchased each new release and followed them up the Billboard charts and the weekly Top 40 on 93KHJ radio broadcast out of Los Angeles. Yes, I was that nerdy. I still am, actually, but I've given up on the Billboard charts. 

A worldwide smash long delayed.

When the new single Top of the World was released in September of 1973, Karen and Richard's Now & Then album sat at Number 30 on the charts in its 25th week of release. Meanwhile, the Yesterday Once More single was still on the Billboard charts at #35, peaking at Number 2 several weeks prior. It kept the duo from receiving another Number One because Jim Croce's iconic Bad, Bad Leroy Brown had captured the interest of the public.

I was very surprised to hear the duo's record in a new pop friendly form, but I was not the only one to recognize the Richard and John Bettis written song was a hit in the making. Country artist Lynn Anderson's cover of Top debuted at #74 a few weeks prior to the Carpenters version hit the radio and the record shops. With its release, my hopes of a full length version of an oldie from Now & Then vanished. As good as the new Top of the World was, I wondered why they would next release a song from 1972.  It soon all made sense.

November 17th, 1973 Billboard magazine ad.

The new hit would anchor the duo's first greatest hits collection. Having never been aware of an artist doing such a thing, even though I was more than willing to add another album to my growing collection, I had no idea that Richard and Karen had something more in mind than just gathering the hits all together. I was about to be pleasantly shocked.

As with all others, I pulled out the LP and placed in on the home stereo. The back of the jacket said We've Only Just Begun was the opening song, but instead, I heard Karen on Close to You. What? Had they made a mistake with the pressing? Soon enough, I realized Richard had designed something very special. The mini-medley/interlude was lush and beautifully orchestrated. A piece of magic totally unexpected. Years later, I realized the elegant opening introduction was the spiritual predecessor to what would come later in his Pianist, Arranger, Composer, Conductor solo album, and then again to even fuller fruition on the duo's 2019's collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

It wasn't only that slice of music that seemed timeless yet so far removed from the radio sounds of the day. The liner notes by Digby Diehl unintentionally further cemented Karen and Richard's pop status by comparing their songs to the classic Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. Written in 1933 and sung by many artists- most notably Nat King Cole- the song is iconic, but the comparison did the Carpenters no immediate favors by equating them to the past. Even as a teen, I thought this manner of celebrating their accomplishments was just very odd.

Earlier in May, the Carpenters invitation to the White House at the request of President Nixon and a later appearance on a Bob Hope television special only reinforced in people's minds that Karen and Richard's appeal was primarily to an older - and unhip - generation. That would change one day, but only after Karen's passing. But back to the album.

Interior photo of the album.

The second cut was the new and improved Top of the World. I expected nothing special from here on out, but a revision of the Beatles hit Ticket to Ride shimmered with a brand new vocal by Karen. Richer, warmer, and far more polished than the 1969 original found on Offering or the album of the same name. Tony Peluso's added guitar parts along with Richard's other musical improvements, created something stunning. I fully thought this might be the follow-up single. It was that good and much more in tune with what they now sounded like. 

By this point, I was really taking notice of what I thought would be a simple collection of songs I'd heard hundreds of times. The last three cuts on Side One, Superstar, Rainy Days and Mondays, and Goodbye to Love were now artfully sequenced in an unexpected presentation and with some new vocal work by Karen to tie it all together. What a majestic ending to the first side! I couldn't wait to turn it over to see what else Richard had up his sleeve. 

Unfortunately, Side Two had nothing new apart from the enhanced single version of Yesterday Once More which had additional guitar work. Making it unique from the cut found on Now & Then, this was one more reason to purchase this particular album. Still, there was one hit after another before the collection ended with the one that started it all. Richard may have been the architect of the duo's musical sound but in hindsight, from 1972 forward, Tony Peluso became the interior decorator of sorts who brought the bling home. Not a bad move on the duo's part.

While her voice is what many fans appreciate most,
Richard's genius behind the scenes showcased it wonderfully!

Strategically timed for the Christmas season and the perfect gift for those hard to please folks, The Singles 1969 - 1973 made a steady and rather rapid ascent up the charts. After a month and a half in release, it reached Number One for two weeks, knocking Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road from the peak. It also topped the British charts.

Another A&M Records ad which included Karen and Richard.

By putting all their hits together on one album, including so many that had sold a million copies or more, Richard and Karen instantly communicated their enduring stamp on the American musical landscape. Certainly, they were no "One Hit Wonder"! They were just as big in Europe and especially in Japan, where they remain at the top of the charts to this day. 

After such artistry and a wide variety in material on this greatest hits album, I was a bigger fan than ever. What would come next? Something that would shock and surprise me, but not in a good way... and the beginning of a downhill slide in Stateside popularity and sales.

Regardless, in listening to this album many, many times in preparation for this review, The Singles 1969 -1973 stands among the finest of all albums, greatest hits collections or otherwise. Digby Diehl was correct in his assessment. The music is timeless and elegant and worthy of its place among the Great American Songbook. Be it a first listen on the new Target stores "Coke Bottle Vinyl" or playing it for the 500th time on the original A&M release, you'll once again be in awe of the sheer artistry - and impact - of two young artists in their mid-twenties.

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This is part of a continuing series of posts on the albums of Karen and Richard Carpenter. Below is the list of my initial reviews and then my "Revisited /Fresh Look" reviews a decade later. 

My Initial Reviews of the albums:



November 1, 2020

An Amazing Story!

Today's incredible post will make the rumored Dubai Disneyland pale in comparison! It's not about MOTIONGATE Dubai, Universal's plans in China, or even expansion Disneyland Paris. Instead, it's an amazing true story of a young man who encountered God in a truly miraculous and very personal way. It's a true story passed down I written form from person to person to person and eventually reached people I know.

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Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. All over the world, believers in Jesus Christ pat the price for their faith in Him- some with the lives. In fact, more believers have died for their faith in the last 20 years than decades before. (You can read all about it here.)

What to know how personal God is and how much He cares for you? Read on.

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My journey with Jesus has started from a childhood. 

In 1992, my parents moved from one Muslim nation to another, when I was only 3 months old. After years, someone in market shared gospel with my father and he started following Jesus, followed by taking me and my brother to the service of a house church. I began to understand that God so loves the whole world that He sent Jesus- God in the flesh- to earth to redeem man and pay the price for their sins. And I gave Him my life.

In 2004, tragically we lost our father and that’s when my world turned upside down. I was so devastated and angry at God, started questioning Him and stopped reading the Bible or going to house church. When I was in 9th grade, depression hit me and I decided to take my life. I had a great plan, skipped class, prepared myself and as I was going into garage to fulfil my plan, someone knocked the door. 

In our culture, if someone knocks at your door, even unknown person you would show him hospitality and invite inside. There were an international couple knocking, whom I never met in my village, they came inside and started conversation with me. The man asked me, all of a sudden: “Ahmad, why you are rejecting God?” And that moment something inside me changed and I knew it was God who sent these people to me to prevent me from taking my life away. Because how in the world, at that particular moment, people would knock at my door and ask me why I left Jesus? It was Him. 

Since then I surrendered my life to Him. In 2009, I moved to the city, which is a megapolis started studying at university. 

After 2 years of being here miraculously I was invited to the student conference where people encouraged to share the Good News with everyone around us, especially with student because they believed that it’s the future of our country. I was inspired to do so, but something held me back in sharing the good news with my group mates. 

In summer of 2011, I heard really bad news, that one of my closest friend from the university got into a car accident and died. Only one through came to my mind, that he is not going to heaven, because he hasn’t heard the gospel, which should’ve shared with him. It was the second time when something in my mind switched. Now I sincerely believe that we have to share the good news with everyone. 

I'm now happily married to a Christian woman. I cannot wait to see what God holds for us as I continue to love and serve Jesus!

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What about YOU? What will you do with the incredible gift offered you through Jesus Christ? That bad news is we've all fallen short of God's perfection and are doomed for eternal death and separation from Him. The good news is God has given us a way through Jesus Christ. The choice is yours.