Saturday, February 7, 2009

It's a Disney World After All...

Just when I thought I didn't need another reason to hate Disney...

Fact meets fantasy in Disney 'Small World' remake
By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Move over, children of the globe — it's a Disney world after all.
More than 40 years after the "It's A Small World" ride opened to promote world peace and showcase the cultures of the world, Disney is populating one of its most beloved attractions with its own trademark vision of the planet: Aladdin, Nemo, Ariel and more than two dozen cartoon characters plucked from its movies.
And those aren't the only changes visitors will find Thursday when the ride reopens: Disney has woven a few bars from some of its hit soundtracks into the classic "Small World" melody and added a new America section that includes a nod to Los Angeles' famous Hollywood Bowl, a quaint farm scene and "Toy Story" characters.
Disney says it supplemented the human dolls with make-believe figures to keep the aging ride appealing to younger generations and give it a new twist. Yet some angry fans see an unabashed marketing ploy that trashes the pacifist message at the heart of the "Happiest Cruise That Ever Sailed the World" and ruins one of the few rides that remained unchanged since the days of Walt Disney.
"What message are they actually saying about the world?" said Jerry Beck, an animation historian who runs the blog Cartoon Brew. "That you can go anywhere and there will be a Disney theme park?"
Others are miffed that Disney would inject fantasy worlds into a ride dedicated to cross-cultural understanding. The added figures from a dozen movies include the blue alien Stitch, the mermaid Ariel and characters from the 1992 movie "Aladdin," which angered many Arab-Americans with its portrayal of Middle Eastern culture.
"Disney wants to brand the diversity of the entire world and somehow say that it's Disney derived," said Leo Braudy, a cultural historian at the University of Southern California. "It seems a bit crass to put this brand on something that was meant to be a sort of United Nations for children."
The "Small World" ride debuted at the 1964 World's Fair in New York as a benefit to the United Nations Children's Fund, and moved to Disneyland two years later. When Walt Disney dedicated the ride in 1966, he invited children from around the world to pour water from their homelands into its flume in a gesture of unity.
Since then, more than 256 million people have visited the original ride, and the "Small World" song has played 4.3 million times. Replicas have opened at Disney theme parks in Florida, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, and company research shows that a quarter of all Disneyland guests consider the ride a family tradition.
Disney says it hopes adding what it calls "new magic" to the 43-year-old attraction will attract even more riders and create new traditions for young families who don't identify with "Small World" as strongly as previous generations.
Reshuffling the attraction does appeal to many fans, some of whom grew up riding it each year with their parents. Dawn Barbour visited Disneyland from Texas with her children and was disappointed to find the ride closed for renovations — but thrilled to hear about the changes.
"Oh, anything Disney does is always exciting," Barbour said. "It's always something fun, and they never do anything halfway."
Disney designers who have worked for more than a year to modify the ride insist the concerns of their critics are unfounded. They say routine repairs gave them an opportunity to add another dimension to the message of cross-cultural understanding by working in references to Disney movies that are based on foreign fairy tales or set in faraway lands.
Whenever Disney changes a popular ride, they say, the company receives criticism from die-hard fans who are resistant to anything that will alter the Disneyland of their childhood memories. So-called "Dis-nerds" also got upset when Disney recently refurbished the classic Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, but were mollified once they saw the updated ride.
Designers insist the changes to "Small World" are even more subtle and conform to Walt Disney's original philosophy and style while keeping the attraction from becoming "like a museum," said Kim Irvine, director of concept design for Walt Disney Imagineering.
"It's what Walt always wanted," she said. "He always said the park would always be changing as long as there was imagination in the world."
Yet after initial reports of the proposed changes leaked last year, the son of the ride's original designer, children's illustrator Mary Blair, wrote an open letter to Disney executives blasting the changes as "a gross desecration of the ride's original theme."
"The Disney characters themselves are positive company icons, but they do NOT fit in with the original theme of the ride," wrote Kevin Blair. "They will do nothing except marginalize the rightful stars of the ride, 'the children of the world.'"
Marty Sklar, executive vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering, responded with his own letter, which was quickly posted on dozens of blogs and appeased some fans.
"We are not trying to turn this classic attraction into a marketing pitch for Disney plush toys," Sklar wrote. "We are not 'young marketing whizzes' trying to make a name for ourselves."
But some longtime Disney watchers disagree — although they acknowledge they have yet to see the carefully guarded changes themselves.
"Parents ... could take the kids on this ride and it wasn't so much about sales, it was about the images, the graphics, the dolls," said Al Lutz, a veteran Disney watcher who runs "It was a respite from the overwhelming commercial message that Disney can be sometimes."
Disney's 'It's a Small World' revamp removes cultural features

Doesn't this completely defeat the purpose of the ride?
What's next, the Epcot Center will become "Goofy Does Science"?
Click picture to enlarge-- art by Wally Wood...

More Poop News...

Dung it! Who threw away my 7-year collection?
LONDON – A British university has apologized to a Ph.D. student for throwing away his treasured, seven-year collection of lizard dung. Daniel Bennett has told Times Higher Education magazine that he had collected the dung in the Philippines while studying the rare butaan lizard, a relative of the Komodo dragon. The material was to be studied as part of his doctoral research.
Bennett said the 77-pound bag was thrown away by cleaners at his lab at Leeds University in northern England. He says the dung represented seven years' worth of field work, and its loss "left me reeling."
The university said Friday it had apologized.
Bennett says he rejected the university's compensation offer of 500 pounds ($750) and will "see them in court."

Don't you just hate when that happens?

Friday, February 6, 2009

WTF??? 65

Vanity Fair's Digital Redux
by Mike Krumboltz
Vanity Fair is known for its provocative photographs. Last year, Miley's "backless" photo lit a firestorm of controversy that's still burning in Search. Now the magazine is back in the buzz after recycling a few well-worn pics for its most recent issue. In the mag's March issue, famed photographer Annie Leibovitz snapped shots of acclaimed actors and their directors. Kate Winslet and hubbie Sam Mendes, who teamed up for "Revolutionary Road," strike a pose. There's Sean Penn and Gus Van Sant, who worked together on "Milk." And, oddly, there's Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan of "The Dark Knight." Of course, Mr. Ledger died more than a year ago, so one may be inclined to ask where the photo came from.
The answer: 2005. The shot of Ledger was apparently taken while he was promoting "Brokeback Mountain." Editors digitally added Mr. Nolan and voilá. Some might say the digital redux is in questionable taste, but magazine reps insist they took great care and worked "with permission." We're a little fuzzy as to who, exactly, gave the OK. A Ouija board, perhaps?
Less controversial but still bizarre was Vanity Fair's cover shot of President Obama from the same March issue. The photo was originally taken back in 2007 and was actually on the cover for a special issue on Africa. We're not sure why Vanity Fair recycled, but we assume the leader of the free world was just too darn busy to come in and pose. Interestingly, unlike the Ledger photo with a second added subject, Obama's photo redux digitally removed actor Don Cheadle. Don't take it personally, Don. It's just show business.

Click to enlarge the pic-- Walter O'Neal's art is freakin' awesome!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

WTF??? 64

Thar's gold in them thar piles!

Sewage yields more gold than top mines
TOKYO (Reuters) – Resource-poor Japan just discovered a new source of mineral wealth -- sewage.
A sewage treatment facility in central Japan has recorded a higher gold yield from sludge than can be found at some of the world's best mines. An official in Nagano prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, said the high percentage of gold found at the Suwa facility was probably due to the large number of precision equipment manufacturers in the vicinity that use the yellow metal. The facility recently recorded finding 1,890 grammes of gold per tonne of ash from incinerated sludge.
That is a far higher gold content than Japan's Hishikari Mine, one of the world's top gold mines, owned by Sumitomo Metal Mining Co Ltd, which contains 20-40 grammes of the precious metal per tonne of ore.
The prefecture is so far due to receive 5 million yen ($55,810) for the gold, minus expenses.
It expects to earn about 15 million yen for the fiscal year to the end of March from the gold it has retrieved from the ashes of incinerated sludge.
"How much we actually receive will depend on gold prices at the time," the official said.
Some gold industry officials expect prices this year to top the all-time high above $1,030 per ounce set in 2008, on buying by investors worried about the deepening economic downturn. (Reporting by Miho Yoshikawa; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Up to the Minute News... from December...

In the newspaper yesterday, there was a report from November about Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario voting to eliminate a cystic fibrosis organization from the list of charities it supports. The reason given was that the condition is not inclusive enough... it affects mostly white people.
I looked the story up because I thought it might make an interesting post-- the thing is, the article by Chuck Shepherd for 'News of the Weird' neglected to mention the decision being overturned the following week, the resignation of some folks and the cries for impeachment of others.
It's not possible a reporter would not do adequate research, or worse yet, leave out pertinent details to add more OOMPH to a piece is it?
Still an interesting read-- not his report, but the actual story...

Carleton U. backtracks on Shinerama decision
Students association reinstates CF as cause following controversy
By Brendan Kennedy, The Ottawa Citizen
December 2, 2008
OTTAWA — Carleton University’s student council voted unanimously at an emergency meeting last night to rescind last week’s controversial motion to shut cystic fibrosis research out as a beneficiary of the Shinerama fundraiser, formally apologize for the previous decision and top up the university’s 2008-2009 donation to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to $40,000.
The meeting at Porter Hall in Carleton’s University Centre was filled to overflowing and several students were forced to watch the debate from the hallway.
Last Monday, the Carleton University Students’ Association voted almost unanimously to drop the cystic fibrosis charity as the beneficiary of its annual frosh week Shinerama fundraiser, supporting a motion that argued the disease is not “inclusive” enough. The motion wrongly alleged that cystic fibrosis was “recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men.”
At the outset of the meeting, the councillor who wrote the infamous motion to drop cystic fibrosis research as a cause, Donnie Northrup, apologized and resigned his council seat. He left the meeting immediately.
Sean Maguire, a mature student who said he had been involved with the council for 15 years, also resigned his seat after apologizing for voting in favour of the motion last week. He then left the hall to a standing ovation, apparently in support of his action and in recognition of his long service with the student council.
Petitions calling for the impeachment of council president Brittany Smyth and some other council members were tabled and received, but still require official validation before they can be accepted.
If the petitions are proven to be valid, then a process will begin that may lead to a referendum of the student body to determine whether Ms. Smyth should be removed from her position.
Last night, many of those who spoke in favour of the motion to reinstate cystic fibrosis research as a beneficiary, whether council members or from the boisterous gallery, said it was important for council to admit it was wrong, apologize and move forward to repair Carleton’s reputation, which they said had been tarnished by the negative media spotlight their previous decision had attracted.
Michael Monks, the councillor representing business students, said last night’s decision puts the council back in line with the will of the student body. “The students spoke and we listened.”
According to council members, Carleton has already raised $37,000 for cystic fibrosis research this year.
Shinerama started in 1964 as a shoe-shining campaign to raise money for cystic fibrosis research at universities and colleges in Canada. Since then, it has raised more than $18.5 million for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Every year, during university orientation for new arrivals ahead of the fall semester, students fan out across the city and seek donations from passersby. Carleton has been participating in the fundraiser for at least 25 years and its students have raised about $1 million to date. During orientation week this year, Carleton students raised about $20,000.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive tract. Typically, people born with CF only survive into their 30s.
According to the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, about one in every 3,600 Canadian children is born with the disease, and girls and boys are equally affected. Members of “Caucasian” races have a greater chance of carrying the abnormal gene that causes the disease, but that demographic group includes people in the Middle East, South America, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent, as well as western countries.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Slow News Day...

This is news worthy??? The guy doesn't look much like Obama at all-- Now, this guy ( looks like him...
And to make matters worse, they actually felt the need to put (L) beside of Obama's name so you would know he was the one on the left-- I think we all know Obama is on the left...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Cordova Ice Worm Day...

It's a boring holiday with a cool sounding name, but it gives me an excuse to post some worm comics...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cathy blog comic...

It's not funny, but it mentions blogs so me puts it here... I'm cool like that.