Posted on Leave a comment

Photos from Khabarovsk

Travel helps improve creativity! Hope you enjoyed these photos.

Advertisements
Posted on Leave a comment

9 Episodes in: Laugh Riot at “Instant Hotel,” Managing Expectations, and Alaskan Bald Eagles

bald eagle

I don’t want to give anything away, which means I probably will, but episodes eight and nine of “Instant Hotel’s” Season 1 are seriously hilarious. You might have to watch from episode six to get a feel for the characters and allow the comedy to build, but I haven’t laughed that hard in a couple of months. (That’s your spoiler alert.)

Managing expectations in any endeavor is so important to customer and experience satisfaction. There are few companies that get it right. Disney, somehow, is able to deliver on sky-high expectations. Marvel movies have also done it consistently. DC movies weren’t able to satisfy expectations until movie goers started expecting bad movies and got decent ones. Otherwise, even in customer-oriented businesses, it’s a crap shoot. Under promise and over deliver should be your mantra, the problem is that people expect you to over deliver. If you just meet expectations, it isn’t good enough.

You need to be able to talk up your product, service or experience enough that people are interested in it and willing to take a chance on it, but not so much that people expect gold plated toilet seats and unicorns. It’s a fine line that requires honesty without bragging and still needs to feel positive.

(Seemingly unrelated detour, but stick with me. I’m not promising it will make sense, but it will be interesting.) It’s hard to see bald eagles at rest in the wild unless you know what you’re looking for. Part of the reason for this is because people expect it to be easy to spot a white head against a dark background. So, instead of looking for the heads, they look for the other parts of the eagle that blend into the background trying to see the full form of the bird.

When I moved to Alaska and went on my first camping trip on the Kenai during salmon season, the more experienced guy on the trip pointed at a tree and said, “Look at all those bald eagles.”

I looked at the evergreen tree and didn’t see a single eagle. I thought he was playing a joke on the cheechako (me). “Where?”

“In that tree.” He pointed to the same tree. “Do you see them?”

“No.” I shook my head.

My newbie friend leaned over and whispered, “Look for the golf balls.”

It was like a veil had been lifted. My jaw dropped. I uttered an exclamation of awe as the tree lit up with what looked like hundreds of bald eagles. From that moment on, I knew how to spot bald eagles in trees and could see them easily.

So, a couple years later when my mom came up to Juneau, I knew she would want to see bald eagles, and that seeing them could be problematic. There are a lot of bald eagles in Juneau, but they are less visible when the salmon aren’t running. There was one place where it was easy to find bald eagles, so I told my mom I was taking her to see a lot of them. However, the place where they hung out wasn’t going to be very majestic. It would stink if the wind was blowing inland, but there would be eagles there.

Properly prepared, we went to the city dump, and there were so many eagles. I was even able to tell my mom about the golf ball trick pointing to a nearby tree.

Mom had a great time looking at the eagles and laughing about how they weren’t so majestic when they were eating garbage. Had I told her we were going to a nutrient-enriched environment that acts as a sanctuary for the eagles when food is scarcer, her reaction to the dump may have been a but different. She would have been at least disappointed, even if she had fun.

When the “Instant Hotel” guests are overly critical at their hotel stays, they set themselves up for a downfall. If they have such high standards and can point out all the flaws of an instant hotel, their hotel must be immaculate and so much better. Don’t talk up your property or degrade others even if it really does deliver on what you think.’

Managing expectations is a key to success. It’s about being honest with yourself, your guests and your customers. When you can provide a little extra, you should, but don’t set the extra up as an expectation.

If you’d like to read more about Alaska, get the coloring book “There Are No Penguins in Alaska.”

Posted on Leave a comment

Just one month until Lilac City Comicon 2019!

Booth set up for Lilac City Comicon

With just a month to go for the hottest ticket of the summer, preparations here at penguinate.com are ramping up. Just like last year, we’ll books, stuffed penguins, posters and Russian Lobby Cards (mini movie posters) for movies from 2017 to the present. Preordering is encouraged to make sure you don’t miss out on our great items. If you want something from Russia, let us know, and we’ll do our best to bring it with us. Remember members of our Patreon Penguinators before June 1, get $1 off for every $10 they spend at our booth, so join today.

At our table, we will not only have books by Shad Engkilterra but we will also have Author Brian C. Baer signing copies of his books. A recognized expert in “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” his exploration of “How He-Man Mastered the Universe is an enlightening and interesting piece on a cartoon that had greater influence on the future than anyone realizes. His fictional work, “Bad Publicity” is a supernatural noir detective novel and a fun read. His books will be available throughout the convention, and there may be a chapbook “I Haunt the Spaceship” available! Times are yet to be determined for his signing. (This is subject to change depending on Baer’s availability.)

Follow this blog to learn more about Lilac City Comicon and the other things we will be doing on our trip through the west and find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. You don’t want to miss out on our upcoming announcements and articles about creativity, entertainment, books and penguins.

Lilac City Comicon 2019 promises to be a great event with newcomers like Chris Kattan and Hacksaw Jim Duggan – HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! The returnees like Blacky Shepherd and Burr Martin bring their larger than life personalities back to Spokane. Join us and find yourself at an incredible comicon event where, you’re sure to have a great time.

Posted on Leave a comment

2 Episodes In: ‘Instant Hotel’

australia traveling travelling travel

When someone does something with passion and the do it well, it’s a joy to watch them be rewarded. In the second episode, Jannine and Mark have a ‘50s-inspired Instant Hotel that’s amazing. The other guests love it, too. When they tell the couple how they feel, Jannine and Mark tear up. It’s a beautiful moment that’ll touch your heart strings, too.

As a series, “Instant Hotel” is fun. Because the participants are Australian, I’m never sure what I’m going to get. Sure, they speak English, but the cultures are different enough to catch an American off guard. So far, they tend to stick with their stereotypes: The two gay guys, the spoiled little girl who can’t get out of bed and her enabling mother, and the young couple with the wife who is spoiled but “in a different way.” But most of them seem to be enjoying themselves. The competition is bound to ratchet up as the mother-daughter team look to bring down the gay-team, but for the moment, there are only seeds for this future conflict.

I don’t normally watch reality television shows, but “Instant Hotel” is a good time that has a different cultural element to it. If you want to diversify your viewing habits and watch something that you don’t normally watch, this show is a good choice. Improve your creativity by replenishing your well and learning about instant hotels in Australia.

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Ogden UnCon 2019 Schedule: First Look

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity cover

I am attending Ogden UnCon as an artist and vendor, which means I will be spending a lot of time at my table with my wife Jenya and author Drue M. Scott selling books and penguins while enjoying the cosplayers and conversations that happen at an event like this. I won’t get much time to do anything more than go to my own panel on Sunday at 11:30 am – “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.”

However, that can’t stop me from enjoying the idea of going to panels and making up an imaginary schedule of the ones I would attend. Since this is a first look, panels are subject to change. Since this is the first time I have ever attended the Ogden UnCon, it’s hard to say what the entry into events and panels will be like, so I will choose one thing that I absolutely must do and work around that event or panel. Also, it’s important to note that rooms will be cleared in between panels, so being in the room at the panel before the one you won’t help. VIPs get “line teleportation” but must show up 10 minutes before the start of the panel.

Friday Panels

On Friday, it looks like the only question for me would be whether I should go to “The Philosophy of Spoilers” or “How to Turn Your Blog into a Book Production Machine.” I’m not exactly sure what will be discussed in the “Philosophy of Spoilers.” It could go so many ways, and that’s its appeal. Blog-into-book would allow me to learn the philosophy of taking blog posts and turning them into books, which, as you know if you’ve seen either “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories” or “Penguinate! The Disney Company,” could be extremely useful for me. They happen at the same time, so I’m unsure which I would choose, but I’m leaning toward Blog-into-book even though I think Spoilers could be amazing.

At 1:00, Jack Stauffer who was on the original “Battlestar Galactica” will have a panel. I have met Dirk Benedict at Malta Comics and Pop Culture Expo and Richard Hatch during a Salt Lake Comic Con press conference. Seeing Stauffer on stage would allow me to fill out my BSG check list if I had such a thing. Maybe I should dig out my Viper from the ‘70s.

At 3:00, I would head to “Aim to Misbehave: Firefly/Serenity.” Utah has historically had a large contingent of dedicated Browncoats. This panel is sure to be a blast.

If I can get from the Firefly panel to the Star Trek panel featuring Tracee Lee Cocco at 4:00 pm, I would do so. They are in the same venue and close to each other. I don’t think I would have to choose between the two; it might be possible to check out of the Browncoats rally early to experience the Next Generation.

OMG! “Land of the Lost!” This is one of those shows I grew up with but left my memory until Ogden UnCon reminded me of it. With all of the celebs for this panel, this is the one must-do of the day. There shouldn’t be any problems getting there unless I stop for food. It’s scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Saturday Panels

At 10:30 am, Mort Castle is scheduled to present “The Story of a Story: Imagination + Reality.” I’m interested in hearing his thoughts on imagination because a lot of what’s out there, academically speaking, is tied too closely to creativity. It seems like imagination is often the forgotten ingredient in creating.

At 11:00, “The Land of the Lost” panel gets a second engagement. If I missed the one from the night before, I would definitely hit this one.

What I assume is the major draw for this UnConvention, the “Black Sails” panel is at 1 pm. I haven’t seen any episodes, yet, but I’m going to get Netflix to help me change that, so I’d have some context.

“Run, Holly, Run!” is at 4 pm and will have Kathy Coleman talking about her acting experience and her book. It’s a book I’ll have to pick up, even if I’m not going to the panel. Anyone know where I can get a copy?

Sunday Panels

Sunday would be my packed day. With so many great panels competing for my attention, I would certainly miss out on something. The panels I would go to are dependent on why I was at the UnCon. At 10, “The Bestiary of HP Lovecraft” is competing with Phil Paley’s presentation on creating a safe haven for Monarch Butterflies in your backyard. I used to cover conventions as a social activism journalist, but I enjoyed “The Call of Cthulu.” It’s a toss-up, and they both compete with the 10:30 starting “How to Become an Author of Change” panel, which butts up against “Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” at 11:30.

So, while I would love to attend the Author of Change Panel, I’m leaning toward Monarch Butterflies, which gives me enough time to get to my own panel.

I’ve got stiff competition during the same time as my panel. Tracee Lee Cocco of Star Trek fame is at 11:30. Chris Kattan is at noon as is the “new Lost in Space” panel. How do you choose? I’ll miss those because I’ll be presenting on the Haunted Mansion and creativity.

This is my bare bones UnCon schedule if I were to go as a fan. As a reporter, I would stuff the schedule more. Of course, there are a lot of panels, things to do, artists on the floor you should visit, and I haven’t covered most of them. So, which panels would you attend? And which artists, vendors and activities are looking forward to the most? Leave your comments below.

You can get tickets to Ogden UnCon here (takes you off site). Don’t miss out on penguins or books, preorder your swag from our table here and have it waiting for you at our table. Remember, members of our Patreon Penguinators get a discount at our table at all the events we attend.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Real Problem with Tomorrowland: Creating Is Difficult

Astro Orbitor

Adventureland drew from real life: plants, animals and explorers. It was meant to complement Disney’s pioneering and award-winning wildlife documentaries.

Frontierland drew from America’s history. With the unexpected Davy Crockett craze, Frontierland also had a surprise star, even in absentia.

Main Street, U.S.A. took its cue from small town America, specifically, Fort Collins, Colorado and Marceline, Missouri. It had Harper Goff’s and Walt Disney’s memory to draw on.

Fantasyland drew from the movies and storyboards that Disney had already made or was planning on releasing in the relatively near future: Snow White, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland and others. The research and creation had already been done. It just needed to be adapted into 3D.

Tomorrowland was a problem. Its subject matter didn’t really exist, yet.

“[Tomorrowland] was the most difficult because everything in it had to be created, while the other lands were the result of research” said Imagineer Marvin Davis (as cited in Walt Disney’s Imagineering Legends and the Genesis of the Disney Theme Park, Jeff Kurti, 2008, p. 35).

Tomorrowland has always been a problem for the Disney Company. In Paris, it solved the problem by recreating the tomorrows of yesteryear based on H. G. Wells and Jules Verne writings. In the U.S., they haven’t been able to solve the riddle. Americans are less familiar with classic science fiction writers, so the Disney Company went a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and to infinity and beyond while shouting “Excelsior!” and “Just Keep Swimming!” without really considering the subject of tomorrow.

Space Mountain, and the Monorail are the only attractions left that represent the future, with an honorable mention to the Astro Orbiter. Tomorrowland has stopped moving forward because Disney found that as soon as they created something it was already on the market and no longer from the future.

The future can’t be researched. It must be imagined and created. Unfortunately, creativity is messy, time-consuming, and a matter of trial and error. A business can’t rely on creativity to make a profit, so it settles for what’s easy, what’s already made, and what will bring in the most amount of money.

That makes it our job to imagine a future we want to live in and then to create it. Sure, Tomorrowland is a lot of fun, but in order for the real tomorrow to be fun, we have to be its originators. Live to improve the planet, your life, and the lives of your progeny. Keep moving forward.

Try our Tomorrowland quiz at penguin8.com.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” and think deeply about the house that Walt built. For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Posted on Leave a comment

ABC Stores, ‘This Week Oahu’ and Creativity

In an interview with “This Week Oahu” (Nov. – Dec. 3, 2018, p.28), Publisher Kent Coules asked ABC Stores President and CEO Paul Kosasa why Kosasa would explore opening restaurants and other businesses rather than just continue to open more stores in his already successful franchise.

“’We like to experiment,’ says Kosasa ‘Doing the same thing over and over again breeds complacency. You have to take risks… By expanding our expertise, we’ve learned things that we’ve brought into the ABC Stores – and vice-versa.’”

Risk taking is essential for creativity. When you do something new, it is a risk. You could fail; you could make a mistake. It’s all part of the learning process, and risk-takers use those mistakes and failures as stepping stones to success.

Creativity happens at the intersection. With the expansion of his business operations into other fields, Kosasa has been able to bring what he’s learned from one domain (restaurants) to another (convenience stores).

One more point Kosasa made in the interview is that he drew inspiration for the Island Country stores from magazine photos. The Island Country stores are upscale grocery stores on Oahu.

Media is a good way to get inspiration and to refill your creative well. With more information input, you can make more creative decisions. The hardest part is knowing when inspiration is going to strike – maybe in a free magazine with an article about a local business that has extended its reach internationally.

For more on Oahu, check out these links. For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

Posted on Leave a comment

Winter Safety in Alaska: Don’t Make a Second Mistake

Alaska winter

When I first moved to Alaska, it was summer, and summers in Alaska are glorious – absolutely beautiful. However, I was warned. Winter is coming. If you want to survive Alaska and remain a resident for longer than a season or two, you need to find an activity that you can do during the winter months. This meant not only having the right clothing to go outside, but having the right clothing that would be good for staying outside for prolonged periods. The other important piece of information I was given about living in Alaska is that it usually isn’t the first mistake that kills you; it’s the mistakes that follow through poor decision making.

There are a lot of winter activities that people can engage in: skiing, cross country skiing, skijoring, snowshoeing, ice skating, and more. Trekking through the winter wonderland that Alaska becomes is amazing in its own right, as long as you can stay warm. Fortunately, I had a friend who introduced me to geocaching.

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt. Geocachers hide ammo cans or Tupperware, mark the coordinates and publish those at geocaching.com. Other cachers seek those boxes. They sign the log book, trade items, and enjoy the wonderful outdoors.

My friend and I had one rule about winter geocaching. If the temperature was lower than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, we stayed at home. Living in Anchorage the weather was relatively temperate, so those 10-degree days were fewer and farther between than some places inland.

One Saturday, early in winter, the temperature pushed up to 10 degrees, and we got our gear together. We chose our destination, got our warm clothes on and headed out to the car. I wore plastic pants to keep melting snow from making my pants wet. They had buttons so that I could reach into my pants pockets if I had to.

We went into the park hiked around and came to a stream. It wasn’t completely frozen over. There was ice on top, but the stream moved beneath. We could walk to the bridge, but it was far away and I was cold. More importantly, the arrow pointed right across the stream. I convinced my friend that we could cross using the branch that hung below the water. It would just be a short jump. He made it. I didn’t.

I fell through the ice. The stream ran into my plastic pants and into my shoes. I had wool on, so I thought I should be okay. My friend knew better. With the cache just feet away, I thought we should go get it. He said no. We were going to go get a pizza and go home. It wouldn’t look good for a director of health and safety (my job title at the time) to get hypothermia or frostbite because he was too dumb not to make the second mistake.

He was right. Getting wet wasn’t really an immediate issue. Staying out there would’ve created a bigger problem. So, we went back home. I took a warm shower and changed into dry clothes and then we ate pizza. Geocaching was one of two activities that I engaged in to make it through the winter. Subscribe to this blog and don’t miss when I post about the next one.

In Alaska, you may have to know how to protect yourself against long, dark winters and cold weather, but you do not have to know how to protect yourself against penguins, because there are no penguins in Alaska. I know because I wrote the book. Preorder the eBook on Amazon or preorder a hard copy coloring book here at penguinate.com.

Posted on 1 Comment

Moose Safety in Alaska: Don’t Pet the Moose.

Moose

I stepped out of my apartment door on the ground level and my breath misted as I bent down to pick up the Sunday paper. I stood up and about ten feet away from me was a moose. “Good morning, Mr. Moose,” I said and backed slowly into the apartment closing the door.

A lot of people are under the misconception that bears are the most dangerous animal in Alaska. The thing is bears are predictable. You can predict what a bear is going to do based on the circumstances. If you’re running, the bear will chase you; it’s predatory instinct. If a black bear attacks, it’s intending to eat you. If a grizzly attacks, it’s most likely protecting something, usually cubs, sometimes food or territory. Bears mostly avoid people, so as long as you don’t surprise them, you can keep yourself safe – for the most part.

Moose, on the other hand, are unpredictable. Moose are huge, so they don’t perceive threats the same way we would. In fact, it often seems that moose are unaware of people. Tourists will pet them on the nose, and nothing will happen. These tourists are stupid. A moose may not perceive a threat when a person approaches. It may not perceive a threat when the person reaches his or her hand out to touch the moose. It may not even perceive a threat when the person touches it. When the person turns his or her back, the moose could perceive a threat and attack. A moose can kick a wolf dead. So, while they look like big, dumb cows, they are the most dangerous animal in Alaska.

Protecting yourself from moose means just staying away from them. Even if they just get startled and trample you, they can cause serious injuries. Moose are wild animals and not meant to be petted. Admire their magnificence from afar, but if you see a couple of moose on a trail turn around and go back the way you came. Moose are docile until the moment they are not, and no one can say when that moment is.

When you go to Alaska, you don’t have to worry about protecting yourself from penguins. There are no penguins in Alaska. I wrote the book on it; available for preorder at Amazon.com as an eBookor as a coloring book on penguinate.com. Preorder yours today.

Posted on 1 Comment

Disney Crowd Survival Guide: Quick Tips

Main Street USA Christmas

For those who don’t want to read the long version, here are the quick tips for dealing with crowds at Disneyland:

  • Put down the phone!
  • Step to the side.
  • Don’t spread out.
  • Find the empty areas:
    • Sneak peeks at Tomorrowland
    • Movie theater on Main Street, U.S.A.
    • Critter Country
    • Tomorrowland Skyline Terrace
    • Former boat dock near the Matterhorn
  • Say “Excuse me.”
  • Say “I’m sorry.”
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat something.
  • Be patient.

Click if you want the longer version. Click for more on Disneyland.