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Old Creativity and New Creativity collide in ‘Happy Feet’

In “Happy Feet,” every penguin has a heart song that he or she uses to find a mate. If the songs work together, the penguins marry and have eggs. The heart song is so important that a penguin isn’t a penguin without it. When Mumble is hatched with feet that compel him to dance, his father is worried and upset. He admonishes his son to keep his feet still; he knows other penguins wouldn’t understand.

Time proves his father right. His dancing is seen as an afront to the Great ‘Guin, and Mumble gets blamed for the lack of fish. Mumble doesn’t think that the accusation makes any sense. Mumble is ultimately banished from the penguin community. He goes to find the real culprit responsible for the missing fish – people. In the end, it’s Mumble’s happy feet that save the penguin community from starving as humans take an interest in the him, and after he teaches his penguin community to dance, the penguin colony on the ice.

Singing and dancing are creative acts, but if a person or penguin keep singing the same song, the act loses its creativity. Creativity must be something new. In the case of “Happy Feet,” it’s the dancing that is creative, and because it’s new, it threatens the status quo. Mumble, its initiator, gets punished for his creativity. When he returns to the community, his new creative act saves the penguins.

People rely on creativity to continue to adapt and grow, as a species and as individuals; people are also threatened by anything that’s new. It’s the paradox of creativity: human beings need it to survive and embrace it in words, but fear the change that comes with it and reject it out of hand. Creativity can be great and terrible. It’s up to us to embrace the innovations that will solve current problems and to encourage those creative acts that bring more beauty and true enjoyment, like dancing and singing, to life.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve Your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Speakers’ Club March 16, 2019: Consensus

Speakers’ Club Rules.

Word Crimes sing-along:

Pure Imagination:

Minister’s Cat I.

One Word Story.

Native American Talking Stick:

  • Only the person holding the stick is allowed to talk.
  • Everyone else listens actively.

Let’s talk about a movie night. Come with your suggestion. It must be:

  • Something I have access to
  • PG-13, PG or G-rated
  • Be in English
  • Be less than two hours long

Do we want a movie night? TV series or Movie? Suggestions? Twilight Zone, Star Trek… Supergirl, Arrow… Disney… Classic or contemporary?

Yes, No, Abstain.

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‘Captain Marvel’: The Problem with Prequels

Before the movie everyone is waiting for, fans of the Avengers films have to, get to, or whatever your verb choice is, sit through “Captain Marvel.” The movie in and of itself, without its connection to the larger franchise, has nothing really wrong with it.

Clark Gregg is amazing and fun. Brie Larson is a badass, and Samuel Jackson delivers as Agent Fury. There’s plenty of action, one lame reveal, and an amazing cat made for the Internet. The lame reveal is lame, but it’s surprising in its lameness, which makes it less lame by a smidge. At any rate, Marvel makes a good movie.

The problem is that “Captain Marvel” is a prequel, so there aren’t any stakes to speak of. You know what’s coming next “Avengers: Endgame.” If you’ve seen the other Marvel films, you know the Earth isn’t in danger, at least during this film. Captain Marvel is coming to fight Thanos and save the current half of the Marvel universe. That meta-knowledge renders the stakes in this film pointless. Captain Marvel, Agents Coulson and Fury, and Korath are all safe. Flashbacks have the same problem as prequels, but they’re shorter. (Let’s not talk about a flashback in a prequel; it gets too difficult to process.) How do you raise the stakes if the audience knows the outcome?

“Captain Marvel” doesn’t answer the question well. Instead, it settles for a cliché shot at an ancillary character Still, it’s a nice film, with a beautiful tribute to Stan Lee and his cameo. “Captain Marvel” is just enough to whet the appetite for Marvel’s “Endgame.”

Read more blog posts about Marvel.

Which was better: “Captain Marvel” or “Wonder Woman”? Leave your answer in the comments!

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One Episode in: The Umbrella Academy devalues creativity

The only child, Number Seven, or Vanya as she likes to be called, without powers is perhaps slated to be the most powerful of all the superhero children gathered at the Umbrella Academy. In the first episode we’ve already seen Vanya, played by Ellen Page, practicing violin on a stage. She’s written a book, and her dream patterns were beeping off the chart and compared to the relatively normal brain patterns of the other children. She is clearly the most creative of the group, and that’s what makes her dangerous.

Diego and Luther are the tanks. Time and space travel boy is a freak! His fight scene against what appears to be an elite military group was incredible. Suggestive woman is dangerous, but says she has stopped using her power. And Klaus, a drug addict and cliché, speaks with the dead – that’s a different kind of freaky. That leaves Vanya, who is undervalued and underappreciated.

Creativity and the resulting innovations are what set the humans of today, homo sapiens sapiens, apart from other humans and animals. Being able to make something and then turn that to other uses is how people became the dominant species on Earth. People aren’t the fastest or strongest. They aren’t even the smartest necessarily, but people adapt the situation to their needs. Too cold? Build a fireplace and house. To hot create an air conditioner. To wet? Open an umbrella.

Vanya also trained with her father though she may not see it that way. She knows what the people in the group can do and how to use their powers, and as soon as she adapts her thinking to solving the problems at hand, she will be the one to guide the members of the Umbrella Academy to greatness with better chances for success.

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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.

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‘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.

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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!

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Harry Potter, the Boggart and Anxiety: Curious?

In “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Professor Lupin is teaching the students at Hogwarts how to protect themselves from a boggart. Boggarts take the shape of what the person fears most. Lupin advises the students to picture what they fear most and use the incantation “Riddikulus.” However, just using the incantation isn’t enough. “What really finishes a boggart is laughter. You need to force it to assume a shape you find amusing.”

Todd Kashdan offers similar advice for dealing with anxiety in his book “Curious?”. The incantation he uses is “I’m having the thought that…” followed by whatever the anxiety producing thought is. Kashdan points out that we aren’t our thoughts. Our thoughts do not always reflect reality. By adding the observation that you’re having a thought, you’re able to separate the thought from reality and look at the situation more objectively while limiting the power of the thought.

After exploring the incantation, Kashdan talks about other ways of dealing with anxiety, including imagining the anxiety as an animate object, like a purple puppy dog or a tiger with candy cane claws and licorice teeth. “It becomes a lot easier to confront unwanted experiences and prevent fusion (the strength imbued in a thought when it is taken as literal truth) when they look silly and nonthreatening.

So, imagine your anxiety as a black widow on roller skates it can’t control or as Snape dressed like Neville’s grandmother and start getting control of your anxiety. Who knew that Harry Potter had insights on how to deal with anxiety and fear?

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‘Frozen 2’: The Fall of Elsa

Let’s forget the mildly entertaining and somewhat inconsistent shorts that Disney spun from its billion-dollar franchise ‘Frozen’ and look at the new teaser that just dropped. A determined Elsa faces the fury of a stormy coastline. Was she kidnapped and left on an island? Shipwrecked? We don’t know. We do know, by the determination in her face and body language, that she’s going to get off the island using her ice powers. The ocean can’t defeat her. (I don’t know why she needs a running start or how long she plans on running.The ocean is big.) She could probably make a stairway or bridge over the waves, but that would be way less cool.) Winter is coming!

Floating multi-colored diamond shapes…

All the SVENS! Gather the herd, we have places to run!

Anna shows off her athleticism. That’s quite a leap. Of course, tossing a bust around like it’s a bouquet of flowers showed off some of Anna’s unexpected strength.

Elsa is fighting fire to save her friend Olaf. Is this the time we see the demise of Olaf? If this scene comes before Elsa fighting the ocean… I fear for our friend who likes warm hugs. Maybe, it’s retribution for the short that was too long and shown before “Coco.” Olaf! Some people are worth melting for. Just maybe not right now!

The wind through the leaves as fall settles across the land. Has fall come too early? After Elsa’s eternal winter of the first movie, is this how the trees would react? Are those two new characters? It doesn’t look like Christoff’s coat. And he’s being blown like a leaf on the wind. It could be Hans or the son of the Duke of Weselton.

There’s a fell voice on the wind. All of those blowing leaves… It’s the Fall of Elsa. How else would a queen, her sister and the official ice deliverer be able to leave the castle and ostensibly the kingdom? Who did they leave in charge? Hans? He was a capable leader who seemed to care about the people of Arendelle, even if he wanted to kill the sisters.

The all female version of “Vuelie,” the seemingly weirdly out of place opening to the first movie featured a choir of men and women. This trailer version is different. And cut! No, Anna, I didn’t mean that literally!

I have already proposed several different plotlines that I’m pretty sure Disney didn’t consider. You can see them on my Patreon page as a preview of my planned book “Penguinate! The Disney Company” if you join today! You might also want to check out five bad pick-up lines from “Frozen” at our Weebly archives.

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Nine Episodes in: ‘Salvation’ requires trust

“Trust is the most valuable commodity in the world” – paraphrased from the Russian Defense Minister Toporov on “Salvation.”

In fewer than six months, the world will end. All it would take to save the world is to launch a gravity tractor equipped with the newly developed EM drive into space. It seems like it should be a relatively simple thing to accomplish. The biggest issue is that no one trusts each other enough to let anyone else do his or her thing, and it starts at the top with the governments of Russia and the U.S.

REM: It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Russia cuts off all diplomatic ties to the U.S. and threatens war. They know the asteroid is coming, and they don’t have the ability to build an EM drive, in spite of having kidnapped one of the scientists responsible for its invention. Russia threatens to shoot down anything shot into space and has already destroyed any satellite capable of crashing into the asteroid (which they should do, because if the asteroid is blown to pieces, it will result in a lot of meteors raining down on Russia and other countries in the Eastern Hemisphere rather than an extinction level event.) Russia threatens these things because they found that the U.S. has already dropped one asteroid on them (using the real-life Chelyabinsk meteor as part of its story).

Kaa the Python: Trust in Me

The U.S. president refuses to acknowledge the action, and the only way to move forward with a launch is for billionaire Darius Tanz to take PR official Grace Barrows to Moscow. Barrows is friends with the former ambassador, who may be able to arrange a meeting with the Minister of Defense. Pointless shenanigans (meaning the death of Barrows’ friend and the frame-up of Tanz and Barrows for her murder by polonium) ensue and the two meet with Toporov, who demands a test of their trust. Barrows and Tanz drink the tea laced with SP-117, which is not sodium pentothal, and tell the truth about what they want and how they propose to get it.

Russia still doesn’t trust the U.S., but it trusts Tanz and Barrows. The launch is a go. Yay! We’re going to save the world with a joint operation between the U.S. and Russia… Scrap that. The world learns about the asteroid, and Russia withdraws its people again. The Secretary of Defense sends up the rocket with the only EM drive, as far as he knows, and it gets shot down. The world will be destroyed because government officials couldn’t do the right thing. The only plan anyone has left is to shoot nuclear missiles at the asteroid as it gets closer, and every scientist has already said that plan won’t work. (Tanz has a secret plan, but the Secretary of Defense doesn’t know this at the time he makes his stupid decision.)

Liam, the kid scientist responsible for the discovery of the asteroid and calling its attention to Tanz and then develops the EM drive, finally gets his ex-girlfriend Jillian back to Tanz Industries to do a job she’s uniquely qualified for. She may be willing to get back together with Liam; after all, she had to keep the secret from her family and discovered how difficult it was. Then, the reporter shows up, attempts to blackmail Liam and reveals to Jillian that they kissed. Liam is dumbstruck.

First of all, this is not how a good reporter behaves. However, it’s the second time that this particular reporter attempted to blackmail someone. She has also made friends with people who could provide her with information for her story. She’s going to get the story regardless of the morality involved in the methods to get it. Her story is the reason the Russians pull out of the launch deal. She is also the reason why Liam and Jillian have more trust issues than before.

Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust

While in Russia, Barrows and Tanz engage in a tete-a-tete, which results in an SP-117 kiss. Barrows is dating Harris Edwards, her boss at the Department of Defense. This action would likely undermine their relationship by destroying the trust they have in one another, but back in the states, it’s clear that Edwards doesn’t trust her. Professionally, he revokes her security clearance; personally, he goes to a bar and has sex in the bathroom with the bartender. When Barrows gets back to the U.S., he arrests her and then accuses her of sleeping with Tanz. Dude, that ship sailed when you went to the bathroom with the bartender. What gives him that right? Oh, and he’s being set up by someone to make it look like he ordered Barrows to be assassinated.

Fleetwood Mac: Little Lies

Barrows daughter doesn’t trust her and ends up in Re/Syst. Tanz makes a deal with RE/SYST, who tack on a malware program to monitor Tanz’ work from here on out. With all of the lies and deception, it’s hard to see how anyone will gain another person’s trust.

Instead of people trusting in each other, we’re stuck with a bunch of egos, lies, and the inability to let it go for the sake of saving the human race. Everyone is involved in making shady deals and shadier decisions that work to undermine what little trust they’ve built up. Worse, everyone is ready to believe the worst of someone else; they turn on a dime regardless of their confessed feelings. If this show is any indication of the truth about people and trust, there is little difficulty in believing that a few people at the top will wind up destroying the Earth for petty reasons and because they lack the humanity, intelligence, and moral compass required to do the right thing for everyone rather than the right thing for themselves. If people facing the end of the world can’t trust each other, how can normal people in everyday life expect to do so?

Trust isn’t an easy thing to rebuild. Once it’s broken, there are few people who are big enough to build it back up, and few people who change for the better in order to justify rebuilding the relationship. Human beings are creatures of habit. If a person engages in behavior that destroys trust he or she will probably engage in the same behavior again no matter the good intentions the person may have. The point is: Trust is the most important commodity in the world. The world is ending for someone every day; inspire trust and help make it easier to face.