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Advice by Disney (interpretation by me)

It is the time of year where graduates are matriculating across our nation and are being given advice for the rest of their lives.  Speakers ranging from teachers to business leaders to entertainers to politicians are giving young people inspiring (and less than inspiring) talks about the meaning of life. Since, once again, no one has bothered to invite me to speak (which I am sure is simply an oversight), I am offering my advice to you here.  Enjoy!

It is no great secret that I am partial to the works of Walt Disney and the company that he formed. He has become a cultural icon, not only in the US, but around the world.  He created an enduring legacy of joy and entertainment that has survived him by almost 50 years and shows no sign of slowing any time soon.  His character, Mickey Mouse, was created 90 years ago and is considered one of the world’s most recognizable characters.  He won 21 Academy Awards in his lifetime, won one after his death, and the company he created continues to collect them on almost a yearly basis. Not bad for a guy from a small town in Missouri.

How did Disney achieve his success?  Many attribute it to his attitude.  This is a man whose first animation company went bankrupt.  A man whose second animation company lost its signature character and all but one of its employees to another studio.  A man who didn’t even name his most popular character himself (his wife, Lillian, named Mickey Mouse).  With this much failure behind him, it would have been understandable if he had given up.  And yet, he did not.  Instead he laid the foundations of what could be the most enduring entertainment empires of modern times.

What advice did he have for people who asked him about his success?  Here are a few quotes that speak to how he got where he did.

 

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

hook hand thug

Walt Disney loved animation.  He believed it to be a revolutionary medium for entertainment and storytelling.  He had a vision to transform not only how animation was executed, but how it was viewed in popular culture.

Find your dream.  Envision it clearly.  Let it inspire you.  Without first dreaming of what could be you will be stuck in what already is.

“All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

ralph hero

It is a fact of life that you will sometimes fail.  It is unavoidable.  It is also a fact that if you do not try you will not fail.  However you will also not succeed.  Pursuing dreams is a big, scary, and dangerous thing to do.  You risk a lot when you choose to follow your dream.  It takes courage to face the possibility of failure and to keep going even after multiple setbacks.  Remember, Disney lost not one, but two companies before founding the one we know today.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

Image result for be a man mulan

No matter how inspired and well crafted your dreams may be, they do you no good unless you actually start working on the them.  You do not have to do everything at once to be a success.  Start small.  Take steps.  Go in stages.  The most important thing is to start.  Nothing is ever achieved by talking about it.  Whatever you dream of doing, you will never achieve it if you don’t start trying.  Put pen to paper.  Write.  Find an entry level job. Get training and education. Start walking or running.  Whatever your goal might be from writing the next great novel to becoming a corporate billionaire to finishing a triathlon you have to start somewhere.  It doesn’t matter where you start.  Just start.

“You can design, and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world.  But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

Disney-Animation-Building

You don’t have to do it alone.  There will be other people who have the same passion that you do.  They will help you, support you, and be with you on your journey.  Their dream may not be the same as yours, but you can still work together to make all of your dreams a reality.  It takes a shocking number of people to make an animated feature with today’s technologies, but even in so called ‘simpler’ times when Disney started his work, he was never on his own.  His brother, Roy; Ub Iwerks; and his wife, Lillian all helped him create what we now today.  It isn’t weakness to need help.  It is wisdom.  Working with the strengths and talents of others will only help you in the long run.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Dumbo

It is extremely satisfying to succeed where people have told you you will fail.  In part, because we like to be right and prove all our naysayers wrong.  It is gratifying to know that you were on the right path all along no matter what anyone else said to the contrary.  The more lasting satisfaction, however, comes from the fact that when you do something that people have called impossible, you effectively change the world.  When the impossible becomes possible nothing is ever the same again.  There is a new reality, new rules, and (of course) new challenges that go with the new world you have created.  Doing the impossible creates new opportunities for what is possible and new goals that you can strive for.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity leads us down new paths.” 

keep-moving-forward

Never rest on what you’ve already done.  Whether you have succeeded in achieving all your goals or have failed in spectacular fashion, go on to whatever is next.  Don’t worry too much about the things that didn’t go right.  As I said at the beginning, failure is inevitable.  Pick yourself up.  Reorient yourself.  Adjust your goals and keep moving forward.  The same is true when you do well.  Never consider yourself done.  Accept your success.  Rejoice in it, but don’t let it define you.  Look for the next goal, the next challenge, the next dream.  Being stuck in past successes is just as stagnating as being stuck in failure.  If you aren’t moving forward you’re standing still at best or going backwards at worst.  The world doesn’t stand still and neither should we.

Graduates of 2018 (and anyone else reading along), your life will be full of both failures and successes.  Allow them to inspire you to fulfill your dreams.  You may never have the same kind of long term influence that Walt Disney did, but who really does?  What you will have is a life lived in service to your dreams.  A life that is not perfect, but fulfilling.  A life that leads you to the achievement of your goals however big or small they may be.  Ultimately, that is all any of us can dream of.

Congratulations!

 

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Infinity Predictions Outcome

Today I will look at the guesses I made about “Infinity War” a couple of weeks ago and see how I did.  This blog will contain SPOILERS!  Lots and lots of SPOILERS!  If you haven’t seen the movie this is not the blog for you.

********************************** SPOILERS! **********************************

So I actually didn’t do very well with my predictions which surprised me a little.  I am fairly well versed in the Marvel Universe and thought I would do better.  Oh well.

My first prediction was spot on.  Loki did, in fact, steal the Tesseract.  It was the cause of the attack on the Asgardian refugee ship.  I did not anticipate the fact that the attack would lead to Loki’s death and the genocide of the Asgardian race.  Still, I’m calling that a correct prediction.

My second prediction was completely off.  Adam Warlock was nowhere to be seen in the movie.  The Soul Stone had nothing to do with him, the Sovereign, or anything even remotely mentioned in Guardians of the Galaxy.  In fact, if it had not been watched over by the Red Skull, it would have had no connection to any previous MCU movie.  I can’t imagine a way I could have gotten this more wrong.

Finally, my third prediction was partially right.  I was right that Vision would die, but the circumstances I guessed at were wrong.  Rather than the battle for the Mind Stone starting the battle on Earth, it ended it.  Vision’s death was the climactic moment that lead into the death of half of the people in the universe.  I’m calling that prediction a tie.  Correct in result, but completely wrong in implementation.  My high school math teacher would have given me half credit for that so I am too.

Something I didn’t predict officially, but took as a given was that the Avengers would win.  They would defeat or delay Thanos in his objectives.  This would provide the impetus for the second Infinity War movie that would lead to his ultimate defeat.  In that I was so very wrong.  The good guys lost!  I didn’t even know that was possible in a Marvel movie.  Not only did the bad guy win, he remade the entire universe killing half of the population in the bargain.  I’m not quite sure what to do with this.  I know that there is another Infinity War movie.  I know that there are other movies starring characters who are ‘dead’ that have been announced.  But for the life of me, I have no idea how everyone is going to come back.  Or, if I’m honest, IF they are all going to come back.  Since movies have been announced for Black Panther, Spiderman, and Doctor Strange, and the Guardians, we can assume that the three title characters and at least a couple of the Guardians will be back.  But I am skeptical that everyone will return and I actually have a couple good reasons for that.

First,  I think that anyone who died outside the Infinity Gauntlet event is gone.  While there might be some way to mitigate or undo Thanos’ big event, the people who died in the lead up to it are probably gone. Which leaves Loki, the Asgardians, Gamora, and Vision beyond the possibility of help.

Second, it is much easier to destroy than it is to create.  Thanos can think, “Get rid of half of the being in the universe” and it will happen.  Undoing that will require someone knowing who all was undone and recreating them.  Imagine having to recreate a document with only half of it to work from.  While we might be able to get most of it right, it would never be exactly the same.  The only person who might be able to do that is Dr. Strange and he is sadly in need of restoration.  No other character has the necessary scope to rebuild a universe.  So while the casualties may be lower after the second movie, not everyone is going to make it.

So there you have it, my terrible prediction record for the first Infinity War and my fairly depressing first predictions for the next.  It’s a good thing that “Ant-Man and the Wasp” looks like a comedy because we all surely need it.

 

Once Upon a Dream

Spring has well and truly sprung here in the Northwest and I’m feeling my annual urge to roam.  I call it my “Anywhere but Here” feeling.  I want to just throw some basics in a suitcase, pack a cooler full of snacks, throw on the “Cars” soundtrack, and just drive.  As most people who have jobs and lives, I never actually do that.  It is impractical and irresponsible  and I know that.  Still the urge is there once the weather clears and I find myself looking down the road to what may be out there.

Since this is a regular occurrence, I have developed some coping mechanisms to keep me in place.  I manage to keep my wanderlust in check by taking day trips on my days off.  I am fortunate that I live in a place that is conducive to that.  Within an hour of my home I have mountains, rivers, and waterfalls.  If I go a bit further afield I have a major city with museums, shopping, and a zoo.  If I keep going, in two hours I can reach an ocean.  It helps on the really, really crazy days when the road is calling loudly.

The other thing I do to help keep myself grounded where I am is less busy and more creative.  I take to the internet and plan big journeys that I may or may not take.  I have planned month long road trips that take me through multiple states and a dozen national parks.  I have planned cross country trips that end in the cities where the American Revolution was born.  I have looked up museums, historic sites, and tourist traps.  Unsurprisingly for anyone who reads this blog, I inevitably spend time playing on the Disney parks websites.

Just for fun, I recently planned my dream Disney World vacation.  I was indulgent.  I looked at a 10-day trip because my goal for an ultimate Disney World trip is to ride every ride and see every show.  That would take a significant time commitment.  I would want a Deluxe Dining plan, of course.  We love to eat at several of the 2 credit restaurants and always have to limit our choices to one or two.  On my dream vacation we would eat at all of them, the ones we love and the ones we have never tried.  We would stay at The Polynesian just across the lagoon from The Magic Kingdom.  Of course, I would pay extra for a room with a view of the park.   PhotoPass is a no brainer.  Why would you plan the perfect vacation and not pay for unlimited photos of said vacation?  After building this beautiful escape, I hit ‘done’ and found out the total.  For a mere $10,000 (not including airfare and incidentals) The Princess & I could have our perfect Disney World trip.  Nothing like a little dose of reality to bring me back home.  I closed up the computer, grabbed the leash, and took Disney Dog for a lovely walk in the sun that was entirely free.

It is quite likely that I will never have that trip, but it is fun to dream.  It is interesting to look at what life might look like if I could get everything I want, but that isn’t what life is like.  Life is about compromise and responsibility.  I have had just as much fun at Walt Disney World while staying at a value resort and I would have staying somewhere fancier.  That is because ultimately a journey isn’t about where you sleep or what you eat.  A good trip is about who you are with, the stories you make together, and the experiences you share.  My real dream trip to The Magic Kingdom won’t happen for a decade or more and it doesn’t matter where I stay or what I eat.  My real dream trip involves going with my potential grandkids who may or may not ever exists.  On this trip, we get some Dole Whip, go to the Enchanted Tiki Room, and while we wait I tell them about seeing the show with my grandma.  We will also visit the Haunted Mansion and while we stand in line I will tell them how terrifying I found it as a child and listen to them laugh at me and sympathize with my mom for having such a scaredy cat,  My real dream trip is about sharing the family stories in that place and passing them down so they can be carried on.  That trip also may never happen. Whether or not I have grandchildren is entirely out of my control.  And if I do have grandchildren, they might *gasp* hate Disney.  But when I think about these two potential trips, I know which one I would rather have in the long run.

I love to dream of extravagant trips that I may never take, but those dreams are not more important than the reality of what actually happens.  I will go on vacations that bear no resemblance to anything I have ever planned.  I will stay home and find new adventures that I never expected.  Life continues to happen. While my dreams inspire me and help me deal with a life that can become small and repetitious they are ultimately no substitute for reality.

Infinity Interlude

If, like me, you are anxiously waiting for the next movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe; you may have been contemplating what the deal is with these infinity stones.  Since the upcoming film is subtitled, “Infinity War” we can assume that they will have a significant role.  So today, I’m going to do a short primer on what we know about the stones, where the stones are known to be, and what we might be able to guess about what’s coming.

WHAT WE KNOW:

According to he brief history given in “Guardians of the Galaxy”, Each infinity stone has the power to shape a planet for good or ill.  Individual stones cannot be controlled for long and their power will consume the user.  According to “Dark World”, gathering more than one stone in one place is extremely dangerous and should be avoided.  In spite of this Thanos has not only determined to acquire them all, but has a special glove (officially a gauntlet) designed to hold them.  While this was best conjecture after the last several movies, this theory has been fairly well confirmed by the previews for “Infinity War”.  We also can be fairly certain Thanos’ motivations are not benign.  Not surprising for a character whose name literally means ‘death’.

WHERE THEY ARE:

Space Stone (Tesseract) — This stone has probably gotten the most screen time.  It was introduced in the first Captain America movie where its power was being used to make weapons for the Nazis.  It was also the prime force in the first Avengers movie where it was used to open the gate to bring in an invading army.  At the end of that movie it was taken to Asgard where it remains (theoretically) locked in Odin’s treasure vault.  More on that later

Reality Stone (Aether) — This stone was the prime force in the second Thor movie.  It took up residence in Jane Foster and was removed by Maleketh in order to end all of existence.  After Maleketh’s defeat it was also taken to Asgard, but then relocated for safety and put into the protection of The Collector.

Power Stone — The first stone to be identified as an infinity stone in the MCU when it appeared, it was found by Peter Quill in the first Guardians movie.  Hi-jinks ensued and ultimately it was given to the Nova Corps who locked it away.

Mind Stone — This stone was sneaky.  It was hidden in Loki’s scepter and appeared as such in the first Avengers movie as well as the second Captain America movie.  It is finally revealed as an infinity stone in the second Avengers movie and is embedded into The Vision where it remains presumably giving life and sentience to the android.

Time Stone (Eye of Agamotto) — This stone has also been in stealth mode.  It is concealed in a magical artifact held by the Masters of the Mystic Arts in Kamar-Taj.  If you are not paying close attention to the end of “Doctor Strange”, you might miss its revelation as an infinity stone.  It is still under magical protection.

Soul Stone — MIA.  This is the only one of the stones that has not yet made an appearance in the MCU.

GUESSES:

So there are some things that I have guessed.  They may or may not be correct.  Take them with a grain of salt.

First, as Loki was hurrying through Odin’s Vault at the end of “Ragnarok’ he saw the Tesseract.  While not shown on screen, there is no way he did not grab it and put it into whatever passes for pockets in Asgard.  He has the first stone and I’m fairly certain that’s what prompts the encounter with the very large spaceship at the end of the film.

Second, the being (Adam) created by the Sovereign at the end of the Guardians Vol 2 is in some way connected to the Soul Stone.  Either it was used to create him or, like The Vision, it is a part of his essential being.  The character, Adam Warlock, has a history with the Infinity Stones in the comic books and this seems like a natural leap.

Third, The Vision is going to die.  It has been made clear that not all the characters are going to survive the Infinity War.  The Vision literally has the mind stone in his head.  It is not protected by armies, magical wards, or whatever weirdness exists in Knowhere.  It is in the open and relatively unprotected.  My theory is that Thanos will head to earth for that one after picking Loki’s pocket.  I do not see The Vision surviving this.

So, there you have it.  A quick guide to what has been and a couple of guesses as to what might be.  I promise to return to this after the movie is released and let you know how I did with my predictions.

“Black Panther” Take 3 — The inevitable backlash

It should come as no surprise that a movie like “Black Panther” has its detractors as well as its fans.  There are some people who really just didn’t enjoy the movie, which is fair I suppose.  I didn’t particularly like either Hulk movie.  We all have our own tastes, right?  Sadly, this is not so simple.

I discovered an interesting thing working on this series.  I went to Imdb to make sure I was spelling names correctly and found a whole slew of negative reviews at the top of the review section.  All of them were 1 star reviews and all of them were dated a month after the movie premiered.  Interestingly they had a few other key points in common they were written by men and they all somehow incorporated the word “hype”.  One might almost think that it was a coordinated effort by a certain group of people to intentionally drive down the review score. But, wait… it was!  There was a organized group of white men who felt threatened by the fact that something with black people in it might be considered not only good, but excellent and they took to the internet to tear it down on multiple platforms.

The criticisms are fairly transparent.  For those who ‘wanted to bother’ with a review longer than ‘not worth the hype’, the complaints included: too much action & not enough action; too much focus on the one white character & not enough focus on the one white character; unrealistic technology (seriously? Thor flies around by swinging a magic hammer) & too third world dominant.  I could go on about these and many more random criticisms, but I am only going to focus on one.

One criticism that popped up repeatedly is that Marvel/Disney only made “Black Panther” to satisfy some push from the liberal left.  Liberals, apparently, are only pacified when there are people of color included in movie narrative and must be appeased at all costs.  Leaving aside the whole question of why inclusion is viewed as a bad thing (*cough* racism *cough*) I would like to talk about actual comic books.

I bought my first Avengers comic book somewhere in or around 1978.  Black Panther was an Avenger.  He was more of an Avenger to me than Hulk, Hawkeye, or Black Widow.  In fact until the Marvel movies starting coming out I had no idea that Hulk or Black Widow had ever been an Avengers.  I had never even heard of Hawkeye.  My Avengers included Vision, the Scarlet Witch (my very favorite), Beast, Yellowjacket (what’s an Ant-Man) & Wasp, Wonder Man (still waiting), and of course Black Panther.  Thor, Iron Man, & Captain America were around but not full time Avengers.  Anyone saying that T’Challa was simply included in the modern line up as some kind of affirmative action is revealing their own ignorance.  He was a core member of the team, MY team, and I have been waiting for him for 10 years.  For me there is no Avengers that doesn’t include him.  I was not pacified by his inclusion because he is black, I was pacified because he is necessary to tell the whole story of the Avengers.  It is just an added bonus that his story is culturally rich and adds to the diversity of the whole.

I am a middle aged, white woman and I am a fan of “Black Panther”, not just because it’s a great movie, not just because it is inclusive, not just because it put African culture into a prominent place in film.  I am a fan of “Black Panther” because he is an Avenger and he has been an Avenger for me as long as I have been a fan.  Anyone who implies anything different has motive not related to the Marvel Universe and their motivations are not that subtle.

 

 

 

“Black Panther”, Take 2: What we learned

Unless you live under a rock you have heard the buzz around “Black Panther”.  It broke all kinds of box office records, got huge critic approval and fans love it.  It has also refined what a hero can look like. I have seen it twice and it is a wonderful movie.  Engaging, fun, and enjoyable.  What follows contains spoilers, so if you are waiting to watch it until the film is released for home viewing, stop reading now.

Obviously, the movie is notable in that practically the entire cast is black.  And contrary to popular movie making wisdom, white people flocked to the movie in droves.  We were seemingly unconcerned the the hero, villain, and entire supporting cast didn’t look like us.  For me, the worst thing about seeing “Black Panther” as a white woman was that I feel that it is not my place to randomly shout “Wakanda Forever” and give the Wakanda salute.  Because, honestly, it is SO COOL!

Another trope that was ‘wrong’ for an action movie the villain, Killmonger, was multi-layered and complex.  His motivations were good even though his execution was wrong.  I actually kind of liked him until he started killing people.  His view of the world is not wrong.  He doesn’t want to burn down the world, he wants to right wrongs and rectify injustice.  The best description of him I have read said he is “not the villain in T’Challa’s story.  He is the hero of his own story.”  The secondary antagonist, M’Baku, was also layered.  His primary concern was not the usurping of power, but the protection of his own people.  Plus he was hysterical.

The next stereotype to fall was the role of women.  It is usual for there to be one woman who is ‘part of the team’ and perhaps another to fill another a typical woman’s role (damsel, love interest, mother, wise woman, etc.)  “Black Panther” had many women.  The hero was literally surrounded by powerful women who were treated with respect, listened to, and were in positions of leadership.  They were warriors, diplomats, scientists, and spies.  There wasn’t a distressed damsel in sight.  In fact the women did the rescuing.  Interestingly, in spite of the strong and diverse cast of women, “Black Panther” barely passes the Bechdel test.  For those who don’t know or don’t remember, the Bechdel test asks simply that there me at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a male character.  A shocking number of films do not meet this standard and “Black Panther” was almost one of them.  The many amazing women in the film talked almost exclusively about the men in the film when they talked to each other.  It is one low spot is what would otherwise a film that shines as a beacon for underrepresented demographics.

For me, I hope that Hollywood learns the lessons of “Black Panther” and is brave enough to trust that good movies will succeed no matter what color the cast might be.

 

#Enough

Today is National Walkout Day.  Organized by students for students its purpose is to both honor those who were killed in Parkland, Florida and call for stricter restrictions on gun sales.  Unsurprisingly, many adults are doing their best to stop it.  From threatening punishments for students who walk out, to diminishing the importance of what these young people are doing adults are using every tool they have to end the protest.  It has made me think about a lot of things.  Both how I would have handled this as a student and as a parent of a high school student.  Neither of which are currently applicable.  I do know this:  As a student not only would my parents have supported me walking out in protest, I would have gone back to school with a note for an excused absence and my mother would have turned the school upside down if I was unreasonably punished for protesting.  As a parent I would have done the same.  I find myself confused by parents who act differently.

The one specific push back that I have noticed is the movement telling students to “Walk Up not Out”.  This takes the above graphic, crosses out “Out” replaces it with “Up” and gives a list of things to do to be nicer to people.  Honestly, this has made me crazy since I first saw it and this morning when I saw it posted yet again I figured out why.

  1.  It’s a thinly veiled argument against gun control. It implies that guns aren’t the problem. It changes the entire focus of the protest and diminishes the students opinions.
  2. It silences students. It tells them that their voices don’t matter in the conversation that the ‘grown-ups’ are having.  Alternatively it tells them that they do not have the right to protest again, diminishing their opinions.
  3. It tells the protesters that they are wrong.  It tells them that they do not understand what is really happening in the world and that if they did, they would change their behavior.  Again, you guessed it, diminishing their opinions.
  4. Finally, and most importantly IT BLAMES THE VICTIMS. It basically tells kids ‘if you were nicer, you wouldn’t have been shot.’ If only someone had sat with the various shooters at lunch, agreed to go to prom with them, or partnered with them in science class everything would have been fine.  I call BS on that.  It is not the job of a teenager to determine who is a threat and make sure to be nice to them. It is the job of the adults around them to make sure they are safe.  And if we aren’t going to do it, they will do it themselves.

So, I support the walkout.  I hear their voices. As adults we need to stop judging them, blaming them, and stop diminishing what they say.

Is school attendance important?  Yes.

Could we all be kinder? Yes.

Is that the point of the argument?  No.

Let the young people walk out.  Let them speak.  Let them be a part of the conversations that directly effect them and the world they live in.  Honor their courage and their opinions.  They are not wrong.

#Enough is #enough.