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Things to Like about Independence, OR: The Independence Cinema

Few small towns can claim a valuable gem like the Independence Cinema. With eight screens, people who live in Independence or Monmouth, OR, have a variety of films available to see (not just one or two).

However, the biggest advantage of the Independence Cinema for those nearby is the price. With tickets at major chains running upwards of $10 for matinees, the local cinema is offering Super Tuesdays: all films, all ages, just $5. On Tuesday, every theater should be filled with people who love movies. People from Salem and Dallas should be making their way to Independence for a cheap date night. Take it one step further and be sure to get a rewards card. Then every movie you see and every combo you purchase gets you one step closer to free admission to a movie not exempted by the star policy.

 You can get a great deal on concessions, too. Popcorn and soda are still unreasonably high for any place but a movie theater. However, the pizza and the chicken basket are killer deals costing about the same price as a fast food restaurant. At Independence Cinema, dinner and a movie don’t cost an arm and a leg!

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Kindness takes a trip on “The Kindness Diaries” Season 2, Episode 1

In “The Kindness Diaries,” Leon Logothetis is traveling from Alaska to Argentina relying on the kindness of strangers to feed him and give him lodging. He’s driving a Volkswagen Beetle without a heater in the winter over the Al-Can through Canada.

We were just into the first part of the show, before he made it to Canada, when my wife asked me if people in Alaska were really that kind. I got teary-eyed remembering my time there because yes, they are.

Alaska is a harsh and lonely country. I once traveled on a highway for three hours, and no other car passed me. If you get in trouble, you need the very next person who passes by to stop and assist you. Alaskans, in general, are more than happy to do so because they know what they would want if they were in trouble.

Most of the kindnesses I received while in Alaska were from friends. My first camping trip with a couple of people I barely knew set the stage for the next six years. I received freshly caught salmon on more than one occasion. Even a couple of my rooming situations sprang up because I had a friend who needed a renter, and he was willing to rent to me (at a price I could afford even when I was a student).

I don’t know if I paid back all the kindnesses. I gave my fair share of unexpected gifts. I stopped at traffic accidents in town (because of my Red Cross training and that same friend who rented me a room on more than one occasion).

One time we stopped to see what the vehicle at the top of a hill just outside of Valdez was doing – maybe he was parked, maybe he was taking a break. The truck was broken. My friend and I didn’t know how to fix his vehicle, so we drove back toward Valdez to a phone that the guy could use. (Cell phones were out of range at the time.) When he made the call, we drove him back to the truck though we would have driven him into Valdez if he needed. He gave us fresh caught prawns. I would have refused, but again, my friend was there to accept the gift, and we turned it into one of the best meals I had in Alaska.

Alaskans aren’t friendly because of guns or out of fear. They’re friendly because they know the value of life. They know the value of kindness. They know how hard it is to survive on the frontier. As much as many of them move to get away from people, I always felt like I could count on them to help me out before I experienced any real trouble.

We need more kindness in our lives. Alaska taught me that, and this program has brought back memories.

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Why I am (Finally) Starting an Email List

Waving stuffed penguins

I’ve been struggling with this idea of a mailing list ever since Russell Nohelty told me I needed to get one. There are several reasons for this struggle, which I will get into in later posts, but here’s the main reason I’ve decided to go ahead and see if I can build a good contact list:

It will help me keep in touch with you better.

Really, the main reason for any email list is to help keep people informed of what’s going on in the artist’s/author’s/penguin maker’s world without having to worry about an algorithm or some other business suddenly deciding that everything coming from your entire website is spam and won’t be shown to anyone on that platform.

To keep you in the loop and let you in on our processes and our lives, this email list provides the best solution. I wanted to keep it on Patreon where I was doing a newsletter every month, but people haven’t been interested in paying a dollar for it, yet. So, this email list doesn’t cost you anything. Other benefits include (what else you’ll get):

  • Pictures of stuffed penguins
  • Updates on new releases in books
  • Links to travel photos
  • A creativity tip or two
  • Discounts
  • Notifications of our events
  • Did I mention that it’s free (for you)?

Hopefully, this won’t just be a one-way conversation. As an author, I need feedback, and building a virtual community hasn’t really been easy so far. So, if you’re interested in the benefits, please sign up for our email list. (It’s in the beginning stages on July 14, 2019, so there may be some bugs.) We plan in sending out a couple of updates immediately and then once a month – say on the 15th of the month. Of course, you can always join our Patreon and see the great content you get access to there. You can also follow us on our social media accounts; check out the links in the footer below.

Thanks so much,

Shad and Jenya

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Disneyland Doubles Down on Star Wars

The opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was either handled correctly or greatly misfired depending on who you talk to. With limits placed on annual passholders, a complicated reservation system that required many guests to stay at the Disneyland Resort hotels, and fears of overcrowding keeping other guests away, Disneyland’s first half of June was light on crowds in the park as a whole. Wait times for HyperSpace Mountain rarely rose above an hour. Other favorites had manageable wait times from 35 to 45 minutes, and many Fantasyland attractions had walk-on wait times of 5 minutes.

For those fans interested in the theming of the world’s first “theme” park, Galaxy’s Edge signaled the return of Tomorrowland to its original concept: exploring the world of tomorrow. Instead, Disney has kept its Star Wars Tomorrowland attractions open and is using them to hype Galaxy’s Edge. Instead of offering 51 different variations, Star Tours ends in Batuu, the setting for Galaxy’s Edge. As mentioned above, Space Mountain is in its Star Wars garb. Star Wars Launch Bay features meet and greets with the Star Wars characters.

All of this would be fine if there were an indication that Disneyland would move it to Galaxy’s Edge when the Star Wars Land is completed. However, the Disney Company and its development of Epcot attractions is showing that it no longer cares about the educational parts of its parks or the exploration of the future. Instead, it will rely on its pop culture aspects to draw in the crowds for entertainment. It makes sense for the company to want to use its acquired billion-dollar IP, even if it doesn’t pay respect to the educational and innovative history of the business.

Fans of the Tomorrowland concept may have to go back to their memories, old YouTube videos and TV Specials and Yesterland to experience a version of Tomorrowland that made sense within its dated context. Unless we all start a gofundme campaign and build our own Tomorrowland project. Leave a comment about what you would like to see in Tomorrowland.

For more Disney Company analysis, get “Penguinate! The Disney Company.” For more on Disneyland’s history and how it relates to creativity principles, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” For a tour of the Haunted Mansion, its history and how it relates to creativity principles get “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” (also available at the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim).

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Photos from Arches National Monument

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Go Ahead, Judge Independence, OR, by Its Bookstore

Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you should definitely judge a town by its bookstore. Portland has Powell’s, Corvallis and Salem have The Book Bin, and Independence, OR, has Second Chance Books. For a town with fewer than 10,000 people, Second Chance Books provides a great place to pick up your next favorite read.

The owners are friendly and knowledgeable about books, and they are willing to help local authors schedule a book signing. The book collection is larger than you might expect from a small-town bookstore. If you love the thrill of the hunt or just want to discover something new in the used book world, the shelves or chock full of an eclectic mix of books organized by subject and author’s last name.

The joy of a used bookstore lies in its ability to reveal books you may have missed or may not have purchased because of the expense. The value of the bookstore lies in its ability to improve your mind through knowledge and improving imagination. Even a simple walk through of Second Chance Books can inspire you to greater creativity as you read and connect titles of books. If you need a place to get your book fix, Independence, OR, offers a bookstore that will fill the bill, which makes the town a great place to live.

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One Image that Explains the Problem with Disney California Adventure

The second gate at the Disneyland Resort continues to perform poorly and disappoint guests. With three-day, single park passes costing around $100 per day, it makes sense for most guests to skip Disney California Adventure (DCA) altogether – especially if they are on a budget.

While there are several problems with DCA, the most glaring is the problem of theming, and the problem is easily illustrated with one photo. Taking the photo from Grizzly Peak Airfield toward the Carthay Circle Theater, the Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout towers in the background and creates a dissonant sight line that doesn’t make sense in the theme park context.

Walt Disney thought that controlling sightlines was important enough that he built a berm and planted trees on top of it to keep people from seeing what was outside the park. The Walt Disney Company has repeatedly lobbied the Anaheim City Council to keep other hotels from rising above certain heights, so that they can’t see in and they can’t be seen from the park. The Jolly Holiday Café was built with two styles of roofs – one to fit the aesthetic of Main Street, U.S.A. and one to fit the theming of Adventureland.

Disneyland and its progeny have all been about theming when they work. The current regime seems to have forgotten its company history and the innovations that it brought to amusement parks. Theming is Disney’s strongest characteristic. They use it to keep stories cohesive, and they should be using it to keep the stories of their parks understandable.

With Pixar all over DCA and not just on the pier and the Little Mermaid’s huge fin- or footprint (depending on the part of the story you’d like to reference) on the opposite side of the pier, Disney California Adventure has a theme problem. Its name no longer matches its content, and it’s been caught in a no man’s land of California references that don’t fit in the Cars landscape, the impending arrival of Tony Stark’s Marvel land, which will likely incorporate the now poorly placed Guardians of the Galaxy attraction at least in name and zone, or many of its other attractions.

It’s time for the Disney Company to let it go and speed up the retheming of the park, which will necessarily include getting rid of Buena Vista Street and Hollywoodland, which is currently the default play place for Marvel superheroes, Monsters, Inc, and Mickey’s Philharmagic – none of which actually represent the heyday of Hollywood and together they present a dissonance that does the park more harm than good.

Even with a 90-minute wait at Radiator Springs Racers and not using any FASTPASSes, my wife and finished the park between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm. We didn’t ride the Incredicoaster (She doesn’t like loops) or Goofy’s Sky School. We also skipped all of the rides, we could find almost everywhere else – Ferris wheel, giant swings, the Zephyr…

Our 6 pm departure was facilitated by the lack of good, moderately priced food choices in the park. Corn dogs, hot dogs, and hamburgers get old. The Pacific Wharf Café and the nearby Mexican and Chinese restaurants weren’t appealing, and the pasta at the end of the pier just hasn’t ever been that great.

You can still find spectacular shows like “Frozen” and “the World of Color.” When you’re not on a budget and you’ve made reservations, the Carthay Circle and Wine Country Trattoria are still two of the best restaurants in the parks. For those of us that are on a budget, Disney California Adventure isn’t worth the price of admission. I keep hoping, but it looks like it’ll be another two decades before the park finds its footing – if it ever does.