Speakers’ Club Mar. 2, 2019 ‘100 Zombies’

Speakers’ Club Rules.

Word Crimes sing-along:

Pure Imagination:

Minister’s Cat G.

One Word Story.

Clue redo: A murder has been committed. You must find out who did what with which weapon where.

Attack of the 100 zombies: The victim’s body arises and infects the other people in the home. They make their way to the Amur Fair. We have one gun with 100 bullets. It’s password protected and will only fire with a word longer than the last one that you know the definition of. Use a shorter word or a word that’s been used before, and the gun resets.

Bring your vocabulary because this cooperative game takes brains. (Let’s hope they don’t take yours!)

Next Week: Native American Talking Stick

Bring a question and a comment. Think about what you want more of for Speakers’ Club and what you don’t like about it.

After 2 Seasons: No ‘Salvation’ for CBS series

Spoiler Alert:
CBS’ “Salvation” illustrates the problem of a countdown. When a show has a significant, world-ending event on the calendar, it can only end poorly. The asteroid is coming and for two seasons of “Salvation” the main thrust of action comes from the reaction of people to the asteroid and the ineffectual efforts of the government, a rogue hacker organization and a genius billionaire to divert the asteroid from its course. There are plenty of amazing, thought-provoking episodes, especially in the first season. And then there are the dumb actions, mostly in the second season.

By the penultimate episode, none of that matters. Humans are doomed by the incoming asteroid. Old rich and evil people have made off with the show’s namesake spaceship/lifeboat for humanity and there’s nothing left to do but tie up loose ends, except “Salvation” is a TV show and needed a way to continue if it were picked up for a third season. (It wasn’t.) That’s when the writers decided it wasn’t an asteroid.

If you’re writing a series with an asteroid and you’ve built it up to the point of impact, you either need to end it with a bang or with the success of people over nature. In this case, “Salvation” decided to offer a vote of no winner and scuttle everything it had built up to the last episode, which was unfortunate because they could’ve gone out with a bang.

Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, Storytelling and Ken Anderson

Walt Disney turned to Ken Anderson to work on the Haunted Mansion in the late 1950s. There had been other concepts before, usually one or two drawings and not much else. Anderson got to work and began coming up with stories for the mansion, which he referred to as the “ghost house.” Anderson came up with the design based on a building in Baltimore, and he came up with several different stories, especially suited for a walk-through.

There was Captain Gore, who killed his bride when she found out that he was an infamously blood-thirsty pirate; she haunted him until he hanged himself. There was the Blood family, whose ancestral home where they all died was transplanted at Disneyland. Anderson worked on various effects and storylines within those concepts, including one with the Headless Horseman and naïve guides, but none of them worked for Walt. The Haunted Mansion resisted cohesive story-telling.

Instead, it needed to be more like the Pirates of the Caribbean, which wasn’t developed at the time Anderson was working on the Haunted Mansion. Walt told his imagineers to think of Pirates like a cocktail party. People wouldn’t be able to hear all of the conversations going on. This was a good thing because it meant that they would have to come back to see it again. That approach worked for the Haunted Mansion, too.

While the façade of the Haunted Mansion was completed in 1963, the attraction wouldn’t open until August 9, 1969. The years it spent in development and the amount of time the mansion stood empty only worked in favor of Disneyland where it opened to large crowds and earned the hearts of millions of guests.

Celebrate 50 years of the Haunted Mansion with us and preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” A wholly unauthorized look at the history of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland and what it can help us learn about becoming more creative.

The ABCs of Creativity: Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young. I learned a lot out of that” – Walt Disney.

As students, we grow up learning that failure is bad. A big red “F” accompanied by red marks on the page looks like spilled blood and marks an academic death. Too many failures, and you won’t get into the right college, you won’t get the right job, and you won’t make any money. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

As an employee, failure is never applauded and often leads to your boss directing stern words (if not outright yelling) at you or dismissing you from the job entirely. Failure isn’t seen as the stepping stone it can be, but rather as the end of the journey. It doesn’t have to be that way.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas Edison.

Failure is not only important for creativity. It’s inevitable. Any time you’re doing something new, you’re going to fail. Your first ideas won’t necessarily be the best, and they won’t necessarily work. They may even cause more problems than they solve. Whatever happens, if you’re trying something new, you will fail unless you get lucky.

The most successful sports figures fail all the time. Ted Williams had an on base percentage (OBP) of less than 50 percent. He failed to get on base more than half the time he was at bat, and he has the best all-time OBP in the MLB. NBA player DeAndre Jordan hits a little more than 2/3 of his shots from the field and has the highest shooting percentage in NBA history (so far). If in-game shooting were a test in school, he’d only score a “D.” NFL Quarterback Drew Brees is in a slightly better position with his over 67 percent completion rate, but in school it would come down to being the same grade. Other than Ted Williams, who was happy with $30,000 a year, these guys are making millions of dollars and failing a lot on a very public stage.

The important thing about failure is to learn from it. Failing without learning doesn’t help anyone. Most people learn more from their failures than their successes. When you fail, find out what you missed and what went wrong. You’ll find yourself set up for greater success as you harness the power of creativity and learn lessons from failing.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Become more creative for a better life and world.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

Vanilla, Credit and Creativity

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” – commonly attributed to Harry S. Truman though the actual origination is disputed (https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/12/21/doing-good-selfless/).

In creativity, the more ideas you have, the more likely you are to find a great idea. When people come together to share, they can combine ideas and build off each other. In these cases, it’s better for the people involved to check their egos and their need for credit at the door. If someone can come up with a world-changing idea because people were open to sharing and participating in give and take, that should be what matters. While the creative community knows this, it also knows that the person or company who implements the idea gets the credit and the rewards. It’s a stumbling block that comes with capitalism where the almighty dollar rules all.

Facebook went through this with the lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg for stealing the idea from the Winklevoss twins who recruited him to work on ConnectU. Zuckerberg is a billionaire, but he cared about who got the credit.

In “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery,” author Ken Ashton tells the story of vanilla and a slave boy named Edmond. Europeans loved vanilla, but it only grew in Mexico. Plants were taken to other countries, but they didn’t produce any vanilla beans. The world’s supply of vanilla was limited to the two tons of beans produced in Mexico and pollinated by a specific bee there.

It wasn’t until Edmond (who didn’t have a last name because he was a 12-year-old slave) pollinated a vanilla orchid, adapting a technique he had learned from pollinating watermelon vines, that the vanilla industry was able to grow beyond Mexico. Edmond was freed about 6 months before the rest of the slaves in Reunion and given the last name “Albius.” He went to the city, was jailed, his former owner was able to free him in three years, but Edmond came to a “destitute and miserable end” according to his obituary. Edmond is remembered through the name of his pollination technique called “le geste d’Edmond” (“Edmond’s Gesture” in English) and a statue that stands on the island where he created the technique. In 2018, according to “Time,” vanilla ($515) was worth almost as much as silver ($527) per kilogram.

While Edmond didn’t get the recognition he deserved in his lifetime, it was due to his status as a slave and African and not because his owner tried to take credit. In fact, his owner insisted on telling everyone the debt that the nation owed to Edmond for his discovery. He corrected false stories and did his best to improve Edmond’s standing in life. Twelve-year-old Edmond probably never thought about getting the credit for his discovery.

However, in today’s climate, discovery, innovation and creativity take a backseat to quarterly profits and the need for fame and recognition. We may be capable of achieving great things, but we need to figure out how to justly compensate everyone involved. Unfortunately, greed, intellectual property theft and laws geared toward improving the lot of corporations make it increasingly difficult to justify being creative for the sake of humankind.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

‘Star Wars’ R2D2 builder Tony Dyson on Creativity

I was lucky enough to be invited as a journalist to Malta Comic Con 2015, where I met the man who built R2D2 for the Star Wars films of the 1970s and 1980s. Tony Dyson was a personable, friendly man who invited me outside to interview him about creativity. For a Star Wars fan writing a dissertation on creativity, this is about as good as it gets. Dyson summed up his advice for people who want to be more creative in two words – “Play more.”

Check out my interview with Tony Dyson:

Now go forth and play.

Want to know more about creativity? Get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Purchase “Penguinate: Essays and Short Stories: Improve your creativity for a better life and world.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.

Read more about Malta Comic Con 2015 at our archive site.

What to Do when Old Goals No Longer Serve You

[Author’s note: If you want to get the short notes on this story of discovery, look for the list of three steps below. It should be easy to find.] I have always heard that as a writer, I should read voraciously. I just couldn’t find a lot of time to do so. I had heard about presidents who would read an amazing number of books. Teddy Roosevelt read a book a day at least, in addition to magazines and newspapers. Even at my best, when I had nothing to do but read and no desire to do anything else (the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school), I could only read about 100 pages a day unless it were a particularly good fantasy novel.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Explore

If you’ve ever seen a group of children on the playground, you know they’re everywhere. They’re on the equipment, on the swings and going down the slide. They’re grabbing bark dust, examining the concrete near the playground area and running into the field. They’re hanging out near the fence, crawling through the sand box and sticking their heads and arms out of the holes in the cargo nets or boxes near the top of the slide. They’re having fun, exploring and playing. It’s all part of growing up, learning and being creative.

If you’re a parent, you don’t have to just watch, you can listen, too. Children are using language in new and different ways, especially for them. They are exploring their imaginations and relationships with other children. They’re exploring what they can get away with and what they are capable of. They do this naturally. They aren’t aware of the process. They couldn’t tell you what they are exploring or doing beyond the literal and obvious, but they are developing skills for future use.

Adults don’t do this type of exploring as much if at all. In fact, many adults have given up on exploring. They fall into a routine and remain stuck there, which is fine if they are happy and fulfilled. However, exploration can help you grab a hold of life and get the most out of your experience. You’ll learn new things, have new experiences and become a more interesting person. When you look intently at the intersection or seek information, you’re setting yourself up to be able to create and synthesize your knowledge into something new. Explore your world, and then seek new worlds.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Buy “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Become More Creative for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Check out these links on creativity.

Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and Creativity

In the stage play when Tinker Bell drinks the poison that is intended to kill Peter Pan and starts to fade, Peter says it’s because not enough people believe enough in fairies. If the audience could believe more in fairies, and show that belief through applause, Tinker Bell could be saved. This isn’t the only time that the two characters are associated with belief.

In Disney’s 1953 screen adaptation, Peter tells the Darling children that they can fly. “All it takes is faith and trust… and a little bit of pixie dust.” As long as the children think happy thoughts and believe they can fly, they can.

The first step to improving your creativity is to believe you can. Too many people believe that creativity is an innate gift bestowed upon a blessed few at birth. The reality is that everyone is creative, you just have to harness it, practice it and release your inhibitions. None of that can happen unless you believe in your own creativity and your ability to improve it first.

Think you can improve your creativity? We do to, get a copy of “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Steps for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essay and Short Stories: Improving Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Let us help you fly!