The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story Movie Review

IMG_6283I finally got to watch the definitive documentary on two of the most famous behind the scenes men at the Walt Disney animation Studios, the Sherman brothers. Even if you don’t know much about the brothers themselves, you know their music. They are responsible for a lot of the great Disney songs of the time before Walt’s passing and even a few afterwards. They are most famous for their music in Mary Poppins, the Jungle Book and the theme songs for the Carousel of Progress and It’s a Small World in the theme parks. Their songs get stuck in your head whether you want them to or not. (My apologies now for It’s a Small World being stuck in your head for the rest of the day). But one of my favorite parts of the film is where Dick is talking about It’s a Small World and how it’s a prayer for peace as opposed to a silly novelty. Listen to the lyrics in their entirety some time.

Like all true behind the scenes work done about Disney, it’s not all about the music and the pixie dust. The story of Bob and Dick Sherman or The Boys as they were called around the studio is rather tragic. As close as they seemed as a song writing dynamic duo for the ages, they are incredibly distant. In fact, after they stopped writing for the studio, they stopped speaking or really interacting outside of that required for polite society gatherings until the making of the documentary. Their sons barely knew each other until they sort of rediscovered each other while making this film. It’s a very true representation of what naturally happens when you put two very brilliant people in the same room for too long.

The movie tells of their struggles to succeed apart from one another in their respective fields of composition and writing. Dick wanted to be a composer for concert halls and Bob wanted to write the great American novel. Their father finally challenged them by saying that if they put their talents together he bet that they couldn’t come up with a good song. Well, we all know what happens when we are challenged…and so the dynamic musical duo of Disney was born.

It’s a beautiful story of how even if people don’t get along personally, they might still be brilliant business partners. It also does an amazing job of describing the phenomenon of the emotional artist. It’s well known that while all artists have art as their creative outlet, it’s occasionally hard for us to keep our emotions in check and sometimes artists lash out at those closest to them. You get the feeling that the results of artists are beautiful but the artists themselves can be hard to live with. IMG_3039

It’s also unfortunately clear that Walt was one of the things that held the Sherman brothers together and when he passed away, it was too much for the boys to handle and that was definitely on of the things that drove them apart. They no longer had the magical glue that inspired them to create such beautiful music. It’s beautiful when they say that they believed they were writing songs that would not last. They believed that they would fade into history when in fact, they are so beautifully simple and singable that they have become timeless treasures. They are still surprised at how much their music is engrained in the hearts of people of all ages all over the world. Unfortunately we only have one of the great Sherman brothers alive with us today. Bob Sherman passed away in 2012, but he left a collection of paintings here as his legacy along with his music. He used painting as a way to cope with the intense pain of having fought in WWII and the results are breath taking.

I loved every part of this movie and it was truly an eye opening experience to learn about the difficult story of the legendary Sherman brothers, or the Boys. There are so many beautiful stories in the film and it’s a great companion to another Disney documentary, Waking Sleeping Beauty. Both tell the hard but true story of the great Disney heritage that we still enjoy today! I sifted through quite a few library shelves to find this one and I’m sure glad I did. “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day”. Keep sifting through shelves!

Historic Windermere- Ellie Project Adventure 1

Not that long ago, I took my first trip under what I’m calling the Ellie Project (Description here). I went to the historic section of a town called Windermere in the Orlando, FL area. I had driven through the area many times SONY DSCgetting to the mall or getting to the museum in Orlando. I loved driving through the area because it always kind of looked like time had left it behind. The cars always seemed a bit out of place as did the music that was playing in my car. I decided to go to Windermere pretty much on a whim one day after I completed my new hire paperwork for my new job. However, the video got corrupted and is gone, I do have a little bit. This area is seriously a gem in its own right. It contains a beautiful memorial to 9/11 created by a local Eagle Scout in memory of the many countries that lost citizens in the 9/11 attacks on New York City. There is a tile dedicated to each country that lost their people. 

Windermere alSONY DSCso has a historic library, a preserved school building a beautiful library and the original town hall. I took pictures of all of it and spent a fair amount of time just walking around. I managed to acquire an Orange County Library card which makes me a Floridian I guess. I hope you enjoy the pictures and can feel the same amount of history surrounding the area as I did. I love historic towns and hope to visit lots more of them! All of the photos are published in the gallery called My Digital Adventure Book. Adventure is out there, off we go! 

Quarter Life Crisis

I wanted to share with all of you a phenomenon that I truly believe is starting to happen to people in their early twenties right now, a quarter life crisis. This is totally different from what we usually refer to as the mid-life crisis.

What is a quarter life crisis? It has nothing to do with buying a motorcycle, or piercing your ears for no reason. It’s mostly a period of paralyzing indecision and the sudden realization that you are supposed to act like an adult and have a job that pays the bills on time. It’s trying to go to sleep at a normal hour because you know that you have to get up for work early the next day and being unable to fall asleep because you keep thinking to yourself, what if I’m going down the wrong career path. It’s crying and panicking because of your indecision and looking up the possibilities of new jobs only to realize that you aren’t qualified for your dream job. It’s realizing that there are other people your age who have not put in as much work as you have and have plenty of money to support themselves based on skills you know you have but haven’t been recognized for. It’s knowing that you want to hang on to every dream you have ever had and now knowing how to accomplish everything you want to in the finite time given to us on this earth. This is not an ongoing feeling; it’s not depression. At 24 years old, I’m perfectly capable of being a rational, happy and content person who knows that I am climbing a ladder to something better and that my employment at two jobs that don’t pay all that much is temporary. I know how to realize that I do like my jobs and I like what I do.

However, the panic and feelings of inadequacy pass and I go back to living my life as I always have. But there are sometimes nights where I spend hours researching different career paths or contemplating whether I am going anywhere in life right now. There are waves of overwhelming guilt for having to financially depend on others when I have always prided myself on my ability to be independent of assistance. I have thought of everything from “Oh my god, I haven’t done a play in almost a year, I have failed as a performer and I have failed my past self. Is my passion for theatre gone? No of course not, better check the audition boards, oh wait, I have to work and pay rent, no time for a play” or “Oh my god, I packed up and moved to Florida, what if I can’t find a stable job? Should I move back home to PA?” “Should I go to grad school?” “Should I travel the world?” It’s unfortunate, but in my mid twenties, I feel like everything has to be accomplished right now. You start to see your friends getting married and having kids and wonder if there is something wrong with you that you don’t really want that yet. What generally triggers the panic and feelings of inadequacy is remembering where your parents were in life at your age or encountering people who have made a name for themselves in their careers already and have a life plan all set out. You start to freak out and thing that you will never get it together. You think, “What if I look back on my early 20s with regret”. Now I already know that I won’t but time moves differently in your early 20s, for some reason, it seems to move really fast and you feel like you don’t have enough time to accomplish what you want to and you panic about mortality and all sorts of things. Mostly, you realize for the first time that life is short and you want to make something of your time here. You feel like everything needs to happen now.

I have linked some articles down below about the phenomenon of the Quarter Life Crisis for you guys to check out. I don’t know about other people born in the 90s, now in their mid twenties, but I think quarter life crises are definitely something that lots of people experience.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/10-signs-youre-having-your-quarter-life-crisis

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emily-williams/the-real-quarterlife-cris_b_5553863.html?utm_hp_ref=quarter-life-crisis

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/quarter-life-crisis/

Ellie Project: An Explaination

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.12.51 AMHi fellow lovers of all things Disney, travel and adventure! I am starting something called the Ellie Project. For those of you familiar with the film Up from Disney and Pixar, Ellie is the wife of Carl, the “grumpy old man” from the movie. Unfortunately she passes away before she gets to realize her dream of traveling the world and going to the tropical heaven of Paradise Falls. I, like Ellie, have a real passion for travel and adventure and like Ellie, I’m on a super tight budget. For now, while finances are still tight, I will be taking little adventures around the Orlando area, but eventually I want to move on to bigger and better adventures! I will be keeping the photos on a Digital Adventure Book (Ellie had a book called My Adventure Book) and I will post little stories and blog posts about my adventures in the Orlando area. I will also be vlogging about them and posting the videos on my Youtube channel (there is a link to subscribe here).

A lot of things have inspired me to start going on little adventures and trying to travel more. Some are related to Disney and some aren’t. Some are phrases like “Put on your Sunday clothes, there’s lots of world out there” which is from a song called Put on Your Sunday Clothes and featured in Wall-e. I also love the movie Brave, so the line “I will rise, I will fly, chase the wind and touch the sky” is really resonant for this! Another one is “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day” and the whole song from the Carousel of Progress. It reminds me how much Walt loved progress but at the same time had a lot of respect for the past. I have every intention of going to lots of historical towns, since I majored in history and history is my passion. I am also constantly inspired by Walt’s love for travel and learning about the past and dreaming about the future. He was always inspired by travel and sought to bring that inspiration into his films and his parks, I really would love to see the places he saw. I also really want to just walk in his footsteps a bit, go to Marceline and Chicago and Disneyland (as much as I love Disney, I have only been to one Disney park and that’s WDW). I want to see the world that lies outside of the USA and even the small piece of the world that lies within the US borders. I have traveled abroad before and loved every minute of it and would give anything to travel abroad again. I am also IMG_4374constantly inspired by the places portrayed in the Disney parks and films. They always take their viewers on journeys to places far away and possibly nonexistent, except in our imaginations, but those imaginary places were inspired by real places. I want to explore the Scotland of Brave, the Paris of Hunchback of Notre Dame and Ratatouille, and the New Orleans of Princess and the Frog.

My last source of inspiration is a professor I had in college. He was the head of my theatre department. His name was Mark Hallen and unfortunately he recently passed away. He taught me a lot of the amazing lessons I learned in my 4 years in college. He was always allowing our imaginations to take us wherever we wanted them to in the Actors Lab class and he encouraged safe but boundless creativity. He always said “off we go” before we embarked on a fantastic theatrical adventure. He allowed characters and casts to travel to the deep South for a production of Twelfth Night and to New England for Our Town as well as the Middle East and the US for a production of My Soldiers. He spent a lot of time traveling abroad and every class with Mark was an adventure and a treasure. He encouraged adventure and play in a way unlike anyone I have ever encountered before. I think he and Walt Disney would have actually gotten along quite well (or they would have butt heads and hated each other haha). Ironically enough, Mark really loved the movie Wall-e and we talked about Disney quite a lot, even if it was just him making light of how much I love it. I spent a lot of time with Mark and it was clear from the time we spent together that his travels and his respect for both the past and the “here and now” made him the person that all of his students knew and loved. He is probably one of my biggest inspirations in life. He is the reason I respect stories and art and theatre the way that I do and constantly am finding new ways to make and create outside of and within the realm of theatre.

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.14.16 AMA lot of my trips and adventures will hopefully lead to so incredibly photography and amazing stories. I intend to also use them as research trips for several writing endeavors that I have begun. Well, that’s a pretty decent summary of what I am calling the Ellie Project, inspired by so many different things and people. If you would like to keep up with the Ellie Project, I will be hashtaging it #EllieProject #OffWeGo on Twitter, so follow me there and on Instagram for more informal shots. I will also post a lot about it on here and on my Tumblr (but less so there except for photos). It may take a bit of reworking to get the blog formatted to accommodate the page but stick with me. If you would like to donate to make the adventures a bit more exciting or far away, feel free to click the donate button on my home page, however due to my work schedule, it may be a bit before I can get enough time off to go anywhere too far away, hence the exploration of the amazing places in my own back yard, including the touristy and not so touristy places around Orlando, FL. Adventure is out there, I’m off to find it and I would love you to join me, Off we go and keep sifting through shelves.

Disney U by Doug Lipp Book Review

Have you ever wIMG_4351ondered how Disney does it? What they could possibly say to their cast members to make them so kind, and guest-experience centered? Well, if you would like to know, you may want to crack the binding of Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees. The title tells it all, the book is a business guide to those in charge of training employees. It unlocks the secrets to what makes Disney cast members tick, what they are taught in training. No, it’s not brainwashing or abuse of pixie dust. Disney has a tendency to attract a certain type of people to work for them; from the very beginning, it started with Walt, of course. He employed a certain type of people to work at his theme parks and for his company and those people created amazing memories for children of all ages in the theme parks and in turn those people want to create those type of memories for children of the next generation and so on, as a domino effect. Of course, the love of Disney movies and park memories created by other cast members cannot possibly be the only thing that makes the cast members of the Disney Company tick, and as Disney U points out, it’s not. It explains the core of training that the cast members go through at an actual location called Disney University from the Traditions Class to the rest of their training as they are “Earning Their Ears” and not only what makes them great in the beginning but what keeps them motivated and what keeps them with the company for years to come. 

The author, Doug Lipp was one of the people who was integral in creating the first international version of Disney University and its training core. This program was developed for the Tokyo Disneyland park. He then became the head of Disney University training at the Walt Disney Studios. He serves as a consultant to many large companies, all of whom want their employees to be as motivated and loyal as Disney’s. 

The book is formatted in “Lessons”, short breakdowns of what it takes to make people work hard and stay working hard. These lessons are not specific to Disney, they are meant to be shared with many other companies and to be appropriately applied to their training curriculum. No one trains employees the way Disney does, every CEO and head of training wants to crack the code and learn the secret. With his book, Lipp proves that it’s no secret, it’s balance, and easy to remember key principles. The training has to be up to date and the employees need to be kept up to date on the latest training. Lipp does an amazing job of making sure that the book does not read like a boring training manual. It flows and reviews as the reader flips through the pages. It appeals to those who have a strong business background and serves as an amazing tool to those who eventually want to be Disney cast members and what it takes to be part of such a high profile team of people. It’s an incredible read for people who are interested in the behind the scenes of the park and for those who want to know what makes the cast members so magical!

Dream it Do it by Marty Sklar Book Review

I have read quite a few Disney books in my day, being a lover of all things Disney, history and any combination of the two. One of the greatest stories I have ever had the privilege of reading has been Dream It, Do It by Marty Sklar, a long time Disney Imagineer, head of Imagineering and friend to Walt Disney himself. IMG_2280

His book is less of a straight biography and more of a collection of stories that he has compiled together from his half a century working for Walt Disney and his company. He started off as a writer for the paper that was published and sold on Main Street USA in Disneyland and ended his career as the head of Imagineering for the Walt Disney Company. He is the only man to be involved in the development and opening of every single park in the Disney Parks owned by the Walt Disney Company. He has a window on Main Street USA in Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. The pages of Dream It Do It cover a fifty year career with Disney and the opening of Disneyland, all four parks of Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris (originally founded as EuroDisney), Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea and Hong Kong Disneyland. 

The book reads far less like a diary and much more like a fireside chat, a cup of coffee with a friend. Every story is totally honest sounding and does not hide the stress of being on the opening team of so many projects. He had the job of keeping Walt’s legacy alive after both Walt and Roy had passed away. He covers the raw emotions that swept through the company at the time of Walt’s passing. What happened when the man with the ideas so crazy they just might work was no longer there to support those ideas. 

I had the extremely wonderful opportunity to meet Marty and to have him sign my copy of his book.IMG_4350 He was an absolute joy to speak to and a stunning example of the sort of passion for Walt’s legacy that every cast member ought to embody. He was incredibly kind and had nothing but encouraging words for my passion for Walt and Disney history. He hopes that his book will be well loved and I told him that from what I had read so far, there was no way for it not to be. The book is incredible, at times raw and fantastically honest but none the less magical. It takes a special kind of person to be able to put so much magic into words but Marty Sklar certainly has. The book is a must read for Disney fans and those passionate about the heritage of the Disney Company. It contains beautiful stories and stunning photographs to accompany them. The words of a man who truly embodies Disney heritage and what it is to be a Cast Member for the most magical company on earth are truly words to be cherished, read, and reread. I hope that everyone who reads them enjoys them as much as I did.