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The ABCs of Creativity: Thinking

While thinking may seem like an obvious trait in creativity, it’s important to examine what people think is obvious and what it means to the subject at hand. It’s part of being curious. In creativity, there are two accepted modes of thinking: divergent and convergent.

Creativity is filled with diametrically opposed qualities. The thinking required to get you there is no different. Divergent thinking is being open to new ideas and is the important part of the idea generation process. It’s usually done at the beginning of a project and when more ideas are needed. Brainstorming is a popular form of divergent thinking.

Convergent narrows down the ideas to come up with one that will work for the problem at hand. If you continually think divergently, you’ll never wind up doing anything. Convergent thinking allows you to focus on one idea and bring it to fruition, or at least far enough along to find out whether or not it will work.

Both types of thinking have their places in the creative processes if you’re looking to bring something into the world. If convergent thinking is applied too soon, it could limit creativity. Divergent thinking brought in at the wrong time could derail a project for something seemingly better. Learn to apply these to your deep thinking, and get better at creativity.

For more on creativity, join our Patreon. Get “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Also available with activity suggestions is “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.”

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Preorder ‘Penguinate! The Disney Company’

Book cover for Penguinate! The Disney Company

On April 14, 2019, my 8th book “Penguinate! The Disney Company” will be released on Amazon Kindle. (That’s just in time for my birthday!) “Penguinate! The Disney Company” looks at aspects of the company that Walt Disney would recognize. It includes thoughts on Disney Parks, Disney creativity, and Disney movies, including “Frozen 2” plots Disney probably never considered.

This wholly unauthorized look at the Disney Company is designed to help you think deeply and share your thoughts. The more you practice deep thinking, the more creative you’ll become. Preorder the Kindle version today at Amazon, or preorder the paperback here.

The Table of Contents:

Acknowledgements    iv
About This Book 1
The Disney Family 3
Walt Disney’s Road to Creativity 4
Diane Disney Miller, Grandma and Disneyland 6
The Disney Parks 8
Standing in Line Is Part of the Appeal 9
FASTPASS Is too Fast 10
FASTPASS, Reservations and Time 11
Why the Characters at the Parks Matter 12
Disney Parks Don’t Need New Rides to Increase Attendance 14
How Disney Can Save Itself and the World 16
The Disneyland Resort 19
The Birth of Disneyland 20
The Submarine Voyage (1959 to 1998) 22
Star Wars Land Vs. Tomorrowland 23
Put the ‘Tomorrow’ Back in Tomorrowland 26
Investing in Parks Is the Best Way to Deal with Crowds 28
Mickey Mouse Foods and Happiness 30
Disney California Adventure Is still No Disneyland 31
World of Color – Winter Dreams 2013 33
Eulogy for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 34
Walt Disney World 35
Reflections on the College Program 2012 36
Why Would Walt Want to Build a City? A panel with Paul Anderson at Salt Lake Comic Con 2013 38
Walt Disney World’s Internal Communication 40
Walt Disney World’s External Communication 41
Walt Disney World and Change 42
Why MyMagic+ is Genius 43
Crew Spaceship Earth with Aaron Wallace and the Rest of Humanity 45
Critique of Epcot Misses Context 47
The American Idol Experience Will Suck You in like the TV Show 49
Disneyland Paris 51
Disneyland Paris 2015 Is Like Disneyland 2000 52
La Taniere du Dragon: Magic at Disneyland Paris 54
Disney’s Synergy 55
Disney Does the Dumb: No Longer Going to Infinity and Beyond 56
Disney/Fox Merger Sounds Death Knell for Small-Time Writers and Creatives 58
Did Disney Cut the Cord? 60
‘Agent Carter’ sets stage for Captain America vs. Batman and Superman 62
Let’s Get Dangerous: Disney Dominates Movies and Music 64
Why Fox’s Fantastic Four Flop Is Good News for Disney 65
Disney Jumps to Light Speed with Creative Properties 66
ESPN Fishes for Its ‘Little Mermaid’ 68
The Disney Princess Stories 72
The Saving of Snow White: Rethinking Criticisms of Disney Films 73
Dying Ugly: The Misguided Actions of the Evil Queen 75
Cinderella’s Choice: Rethinking Criticisms of Disney Films 76
‘Frozen’ 78
‘Frozen’ Warms the Heart 79
Hans: Clever Schemer, Opportunist, or Love Corrupted by Power 81
Scarcity Fuels ‘Frozen’s’ Fire 83
Possible ‘Frozen 2’ Plots 85
‘You Can’t Top Pigs with Pigs’: ‘Frozen 2’ on Thin Ice 89
‘Frozen’ vs. the Super Bowl 92
‘Frozen Fever’ opens for ‘Cinderella’: What’s at Stake? 94
The Rise of Olaf and Baymax 96
Disneyland’s Frozen Paradise 2015 97
How Disney Changed the Princess Story for Success in the Modern Age 100
‘Maleficent’: Visually Stunning, Epic Fantasy 111
‘Frozen’ and ‘Maleficent’ Create Instant Cliché 113
Evil Isn’t Complicated; It’s Easy 115
Maleficent Changes Her Character 117
‘Maleficent,’ Misogyny and Metaphor: Disney Hits a Cultural Nerve 118
An Alternate Ending for ‘Maleficent’? 119
Other Disney Films 121
‘Wreck-It Ralph’ Explores Ways to Fix It 122
Why Maui is the bad guy in ‘Moana’ 124
Disney Stuck in a Rut: Sequels Rule the Box Office 126
Keep Moving Forward with ‘Tomorrowland’ 128
‘Tomorrowland’ Brings to Screen What Theme Park Lacks 129
Society Needs Its Dreamers 131
What Kid’s See in Disney Films May Not Be What Adults See 133
Disney Products 135
Disney Products: D23Expo 2017 Explores Past and Future 136
Appendix 1: Other Disney Books to Consider 139
Appendix 2: Disney Vocabulary 141
About the Author 143
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Thinking Deeply with the Nostalgia Critic Exposes American Culture and Identity

The Speakers’ Club at Satori School where I lead English Speaking sessions first introduced me, figuratively speaking, to the Nostalgia Critic. When I asked which topics they would like to cover before the Speakers’ Club ended for the season, the Nostalgia Critic was one of the right topics they chose. So, I started doing some research.

First, I filled out the contact form on Channel Awesome. I thought if the kids could actually talk with Doug Walker they would get more out of the session and enjoy it 11 times more (because Doug likes to go one step beyond) than if I conducted the session myself. I didn’t expect a response, but Doug did get back to me to tell me he was too busy to Skype, but he would be doing something special for the kids. And he did.

Then I started looking at the 12 seasons of videos he has done. I had to cull them by length and relevance. Speakers’ Club is only 90 minutes long, so I tried to find videos that were in the 20-minute range or less. Relevance was a little more problematic. I tried to stay away from videos that would most interest my class – the Batman ones – and find videos that would speak to the American culture.

The tribute to Roger Ebert, the video on originality, and Is Charlie Brown Christmas overrated? are the ones that caught my eye and ear. In these three videos, Doug Walker breaks down the reason why things are the way they are and how it affects the culture at large. His commentary shows that he has thought deeply about these subjects. He didn’t just dismiss them out of hand or accept them as they are, he went beyond to understand what it is that appeals to him, others and how they have altered America in their way. His M&M characters video shows the same amount of thought and research but was too long for inclusion in the Speakers’ Club.

The Nostalgia Critic is loud, brash and swears. Sometimes, he makes not safe for work jokes that are inappropriate for a younger crowd. However, he doesn’t just rip things apart – something that would be easy to do and possibly garner more video views. Instead, he applies his knowledge and research to whatever subject he’s discussing.

And what he’s discussing is the very essence of American Culture. He’s discussing the very things that made our childhoods and have thus made us Americans. He is discussing how we came to be who we are through our media consumption and what it means to us today. In short, his discussions touch the very core of our identities, and as such, his show is worthy of our attention. Dig into the Nostalgia Critic and find out who you are.

Books to help you think deeply: “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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The Dots of Creativity and Velcro

Penguinate creativity book

Steve Jobs said that creative people aren’t smarter than other people; they just have more dots to connect. Jobs believed that creativity came when someone connected two seemingly unrelated things to create something new that had value. But what is a dot exactly?

A dot is a fact or piece of knowledge that someone has. People who are trained in baking have a lot of dots about cooking times, what ingredients work well together, what ingredients do when they are heated up, how long dough should rise, and everything else about baking. If that’s their specialty, they will be knowledgeable about baking because they have learned about it. They may have memorized the recipe for a perfect wedding cake, but if it’s no their own recipe, they can’t be said to be creative, yet (even though baking does create something).

It’s not just the dot that has value for creativity. If someone has two dots and that person doesn’t connect them, no creativity has taken place. It’s the line between the two dots that is important. This is, what I call, the “thinking deeply” part of creativity. It takes a thought process to connect the parts together into something that makes something new. Sometimes, this thought process is conscious; sometimes, it’s in the subconscious and shows up as an “AHA!” moment. Either way, the person has a problem that he or she has been presented with, and the solution comes because of the thinking not only about the problem but also about everything he or she has learned before.

One of my favorite connect-the-dots moments comes from the story of Velcro. Invented by Swiss engineer George de Mestral, who loved hiking in the woods, Velcro came after a hike when de Mestral found burrs on his clothes. He was curious if the burrs could have a commercial application. He studied the burrs under a microscope, did eight years of research and product development and created the hook and loops to make Velcro work.

This story has the dots – hiking and engineering, the curiosity to ask the question, and the thinking deeply – studying a burr and working to create something like it. Velcro was patented in 1955, the same year that Disneyland was opened. De Mestral was ridiculed, suffered his fair share of failures, but thanks to his stick-to-it-iveness, the company sold 60 million yards of Velcro during his lifetime. When you learn something new and think deeply about how it can be applied to a problem, you’re opening up your imagination and opening the door to creativity.

For more about creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.”

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Uniqlo’s New Line Kaws for Alarm?

Kaws, Sesame Street and Uniqlo have teamed up to kill your favorite Sesame Street characters. Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, the Cookie Monster and Elmo are dead as evidenced by the exes in their eyes and the inert way they interact with the Kaws character himself.

Exed out eyes are a long-time symbol of death used in comic strips and by serial killers. The eyes are the mirrors of the soul and the accusers. The stare at the killer until his guilt causes him to kill the staring entity and remove sight from this world, either through a plucking out of the orbs or through a closing of the eyelids.

What is Kaws trying to assert with his exed-out-eyes Sesame Street characters? Do they sardonically grin while representing the death of childhood and innocence, or is something more sinister afoot? Perhaps, Kaws is looking to represent the death of American education through the death of the most recognized symbol of learning in the Western World.

The sales team at Uniqlo will tell you that it’s just theartist’s signature style; the characters aren’t dead. No one should be naïve enoughto believe Kaws doesn’t know the significance of the exes. For that matter,Uniqlo and Sesame Street shouldn’t have missed the meaning.

Like this article about Kaws, Sesame Street and Uniqlo? Be sure to share it!

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The Moral Implications of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

One of my favorite renditions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”is from Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams. I showed it to my wife, and she said,after seeing a couple of other versions, “That’s a miracle.” I’ve led a singalong with the song at the Speakers’ Club in Blagoveshchensk to help improve English skills in a fun way, and after listening to, and singing, the song a half dozen times this season, I thought we should delve deeper into its meaning. Words like “scurry” and phrase like “pacing the floor” aren’t everyday English that people here may have encountered.

Frank Loesser wrote the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in 1944 and performed it with his wife at parties. (That was something famous people did back before television and high fidelity.) The song let the guests know it was time to go home. It was so well received that Loesser and his wife were invited to several high society shindigs, so that they would perform the song. Loesser sold the song to MGM who used it in the film “Neptune’s Daughter.”

The song has a call and reply setup. The first line is labeled as “the mouse” (I really can’t stay) and the second line is the wolf (Baby, it’s cold outside). Most people will say that the male part is the wolf and the female part is the mouse, and because men still predominantly hold the power in society, this isn’t questioned, even though the first mass media showing of the song had both a man (Ricardo Montalban) and a woman (Betty Garrat) in the wolf position (while Esther Williams and Red Skelton sang the mouse parts).

Art is what you bring to it. In the 1940s and ’50s, this song may have been seen as a call to empowerment. The mouse, male or female, is trying to throw off the shackles of society and judgement. If the mouse is vocalizing an internal struggle and the wolf isn’t interrupting but vocalizing his or her feelings about the whole situation, the song could’ve been read this way, especially if the audience was unfamiliar with the labeling.

In the age of #metoo and hyperawareness of consent, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” becomes questionable. Whether the wolf part is sung by a male or female, it’s about one person trying to convince another to stay inside and cuddle, or more, depending on what’s in the drink. Even if it’s just alcohol, consent could become a further problem. Worse, these types of arguments are the same ones that people who commit sexual assault use to get the other person in an uncomfortable situation.

In a fantasy setting or movie, the song is enjoyable, flirtatious and fun. In real life, when “no” means “no”, there’s no place for this type of coercion. If s/he must go, call her/him a cab and facilitate a safe departing. If you have to invoke this song in your decision to do so, remember, it was originally written to signal to guests it was time to leave the party. Share this article if you liked it!