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The Cover Reveal for ‘The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity’

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion was always my favorite Disneyland attraction growing up. Sure, I enjoyed singing and clapping with the Country Bears. I had fun sailing with pirates in the Caribbean, and I really loved Adventures thru Inner Space. However, it was the Haunted Mansion and its magic that remained the attraction I would choose to go on first.

This year marks the Haunted Mansion’s 50th anniversary. Because of that, I wanted to delve deeper into its history and its links to creative principles. From the late 1950s when Ken Anderson was the only imagineer assigned to the project through to Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump’s shenanigans to opening day and beyond, “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” takes you on a tour of the home of 999 happy haunts linking attraction details and designs as well as stories of its creation to creative principles as revealed through scientific studies and interviews with people who create for a living.

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” is scheduled to be available on June 1, 2019. I will be presenting “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” at Lilac City Comicon 2019 and Ogden UnCon 2019.

Without further ado… Here is the amazing cover for “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” designed by Antonisa Scott and Transcend Studio:

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The Secrets of Creativity: Play (and the Haunted Mansion)

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

When Walt Disney assigned Yale Gracey and Rolly Crump to the Haunted Mansion, he gave them time and space to play. Gracey and Crump were assigned to come up with ideas and effects for the Disneyland attraction. They would come into the studio and work on whatever they felt like. As Marty Sklar put it in the forward to Jason Surrell’s “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” “Yale and Rolly Crump, especially, were free to experiment, to try out their wildest haunting ideas… to ‘play ghost’ if you will.”

They came up with so many different, convincing effects that they received a call from Personnel asking them to leave the lights on for the janitor when they left for the night. Gracey and Crump complied, but rigged an infrared sensor in the middle of the room. When triggered, the lights turned off, the black light came on, and the effects activated. They arrived the next morning into find a broom in the middle of the room. Later that day, they were told they would have to clean the room themselves; the janitor would not go back in the room.

Gracey and Crump kept a playful attitude, worked with humor and were open to new ideas while they designed, researched and tested the effects for the Haunted Mansion. Their play made the Haunted Mansion the classic attraction it is today.

Playing can help you become more creative. When you play, mistakes become a part of the story and you can’t fail. You free your mind to explore possibilities and new ideas while limiting your inhibitions. R2-D2 builder Tony Dyson believed that play was an important part of the creative mode.

For more on creativity, preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Get “Disneyland Is Creativity.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” For more on the Disney Company, order “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

Join us at Lilac City Comicon 2019 and Ogden UnCon 2019 to experience our panel “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.” Make sure you tell them penguinate.com sent you!

To read more about play and other secrets to creativity, join our Patreon.

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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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With Creativity, Go Big or Be S.M.A.R.T.?

Big ideas are what people are told businesses want and the world needs. Humanity needs ideas that will solve problems that threaten the planet’s habitability and human beings with extinction. Businesses need solutions that will generate billions of dollars of profit. Big ideas are what propel people to fame and fortune, and they allow us to live up to our full potential.

When you hear sayings like:

  • Go big or go home.
  • Shoot for the moon! If you fail, you’ll at least wind up among the stars (Les Brown or Norman Vincent Peale).
  • Big, hairy, audacious goals (James Collins and Jerry Porras).

You get inspired. Elon Musk’s SpaceX isn’t exciting because it’s successful; it’s exciting because it’s doing something that’s never been done before. Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Disneyland were exciting because they had never been done before. There’s something intrinsically motivation about doing the something that people say can’t be done.

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” – Walt Disney.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’” – Audrey Hepburn.

But oftentimes, the person with the big idea is shutdown by management, circumstances and other people. Even if the idea is sound, people are afraid to implement it. The would much rather rely on what has already been produced. No one wants to be the first through the door because that’s when things get bloody. The status quo is easy. Maintaining the current situation doesn’t threaten anyone. New ideas do, even when people understand that new ideas are necessary for the survival of the business or the species.

For people who are looking at trying to maintain the status quo while moving forward, S.M.A.R.T. goals are the answer. The anacronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

Ugh. If you know they’re attainable and realistic, there’s no challenge in these types of goals, even if you think you’re stretching yourself a little bit. People weren’t meant to be just stretch a little. But S.M.A.R.T. goals are a lot less risky than the “impossible” dream. Businesses jump all over these types of goals. A new flavor of chip? A new edition of a phone? A car model based on a successful car from last year? These are all S.M.A.R.T. goals that are profitable and easy to green light. They won’t get you to the next level, but they will most likely keep the profits rolling in.

The truth is it’s a little of both. Set the big goals, go after the grand ideas, and use the S.M.A.R.T. goals to get you there. If you know where you want to go, you can get there, step by step. Cutting the big goal into smaller pieces will help get you there without getting overwhelmed.

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

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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Exterior and trouble accepting new ideas

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

In a story about Ignaz Semmelweis, the survival rate of children and their mothers, and handwashing included in his book “How to Fly a Horse,” Kevin Ashton points out that even in a “field as empirical and scientific as medicine… Creation is seldom welcome” (74 – 76). People need creativity and change, and they resist it at the same time. It’s part of the dichotomy of being human.

When Walt Disney wanted his imagineers to envision and create a haunted house for his theme park, they all came up with the same idea: a decrepit, run-down building that had ghosts. Walt didn’t like it. He didn’t want a run-down building ruining his pristine park.

According to Sam Gennawey’s “The Disneyland Story,” Ken Anderson, the original lead on the Haunted Mansion as we now know it, wanted to hide the run-down mansion behind trees native to Louisiana. Walt didn’t go for it.

Harriet Burns built three models for Walt to choose from. The imagineers put the pristine building behind the other two decrepit versions. Walt chose the beautiful building every time. He wanted guests to feel welcome in his park; that meant everything had to be clean and in good repair, even the haunted mansion.

Walt was working with some of the most creative people in the planet. Imagineers knew Walt, had experienced his success and demeanor first hand. Even when he told them, “We’ll take care of the outside and let the ghosts take care of the inside” (Surrell, Jason, “The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic,” p. 13), they insisted on trying to convince him that a haunted house needed to look a certain way.

“Everyone expects a residence for ghosts to be run-down. But Walt was always looking for the unexpected,” (Genneway, p. 180) said Claude Coats.

When those who consider themselves creative and create for a living have trouble accepting new ideas and ways of doing things, everyone else has even greater problems to accept the changes that come with innovations. It’s okay. We just need to realize that creativity is just as necessary for the advancement of humanity as being wary of the change that it brings is. As soon as we can embrace our seemingly opposed sides, we can see they are working together to make us more successful, as long as we don’t let one win over the other all the time.

For more on creativity, get “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Order “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company” officially releasing on April 14, 2019.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Journal

Journal and iPhone

Leonardo da Vinci wrote his backwards. Walt Disney is rumored to have had one by his bed, so he could jot notes down as they came to him at night. They help with feelings and can be used for different reasons. Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, Thomas Edison and Frida Kahlo are other creative people who kept journals. If you want to improve your creativity, a creative journal can be a big help.

Popular stories about solutions to problems and creative leaps forward often feature some sort of relaxed state of being. The person is drifting off to sleep, in the shower, out for a walk, or driving a vehicle and the idea presents itself. Far too often people complain that these ideas fade quickly. They can’t remember them, and they didn’t write them down.

Keeping a journal and a pencil with you at all times, or using a recording device to make notes when your hands are otherwise occupied, will allow you to capture these ideas. More importantly, by keeping a journal that tracks ideas and inspirations, you’re telling your brain what you find to be important. Write it down, or transcribe it later, and keep these ideas together. When you’re ready to work on something, go to your idea journal. If you experience a block, the idea journal can help.

If you want to find a form of journal taking that gamifies ideas, check out Takeo Higuchi’s Idea Marathon at our archive website. Higuchi’s method provides a way to keep track of and have ideas while scoring points!

For more on creativity, order “Disneyland Is Creativity: 25 Tips for Becoming More Creative.” Get “Penguinate! Positive Creativity: Improve your Creativity for a Better Life and World.” Preorder “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.”

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Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, Storytelling and Ken Anderson

Disneyland's Haunted Mansion

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.

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The ABCs of Creativity: Failure

foul ball 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.

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Controversial Disney: Pirates of the Caribbean’s Scarlett

The Pirates of the Caribbean auction scene, as presented in 2018, shows Scarlett going head-to-head with the Auctioneer in a sales pitch of sorts. The Auctioneer is trying to sell off Tiny’s egg-laying hens while Scarlett is trying to sell her rum. The pirates who are bidding want nothing to do with the egg-layers, but the Auctioneer refuses to give way and allow Scarlett to auction off the rum. This scene replaces the infamous “Take a Wench for a Bride” scene where the Auctioneer was attempting to auction off the overweight Tiny while Scarlett showed off her gams and the men in the audience shouted, “We wants the red-head,” as well as other more derogatory comments directed at Tiny.

This isn’t the first change that Pirates of the Caribbean has gone through. In 1997, the pirates stopped chasing women and started chasing food. Captain Jack Sparrow and his friends were added to the attraction in 2006 and beyond.

Those who deride the change in the auction scene as pandering to the political correctness miss the point of Disneyland entirely. Walt Disney, a man who had his fingers on the pulse of American culture for three decades, said that as long as there was imagination left in the world, Disneyland would never be completed. The same holds true for its attractions.

Walt Disney’s first goal was to entertain and make people happy. Pirates of the Caribbean was never about historical accuracy, or even, edutainment. Instead, it was about helping people be happier and allowing them to explore an extremely sanitized version of an historic population – pirates.

Those who wish to teach their children about the realities of pirating and a pirate’s life can use the Pirates of the Caribbean as a starting point. They can address the inaccuracy of pirates as depicted in movies and other forms of entertainment and how media affects the way people view those that came before. Pirates and their lives weren’t clean, friendly or fighting for justice. As the song says, they pillaged and plundered and rifled and looted; they kidnapped and ravaged and never gave a hoot about it.  So, for those who choose to go that route with their children, “properly warned ye be, says I, arrrr.”

Before shouting for the red-head, check out the new version and see if it fits the story line better. There is no slippery slope here. It’s just a chance to keep the ride fresh and accommodate the changes in American society and culture. Keep your ruddy hands inboard and embrace the magic of the new version. (And if you’re still concerned about the sanitized version of the pirates ride, do some research to see what Walt said about scalps in front of the Indian Village in Frontierland.)

Check out our penguins paying tribute to 50 years of Pirates of the Caribbean!

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‘The Lion King’ proves emotions and cash rule Disney’s box office decisions

On a visceral level, the new “Lion King” trailer strikes all the right notes. The sunrise, the building crescendo, James Earl Jones, the beginning of the stampede scene as James Earl Jones talks about his demise, and the African Call that is the original movie’s signature. It inspires goosebumps and causes the heart to speed up. Remember! Let’s face it. People are going to see this remake, and they are going to love it. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems with the idea of it.

Same Old Stories

Disney has gone into their film vault, dragging their beloved animated classics into the light and exposing them to live-action remake status. Some may point to 1996’s “101 Dalmatians” with Glenn Close as the first successful live action remake. It was successful enough, and possibly sold enough toys, to inspire a sequel.  However, 2014’s “Maleficent,” with Angelina Jolie who was born for the role, started the current era of live action adaptations. It was followed by “Cinderella,” “The Jungle Book,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and Christopher Robin.” With one movie released every year. “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and “Lady and the Tramp” are on the docket for 2019.

That’s four live action adaptations in a single year. Those aren’t new stories; they are recycled stories that required less creativity to make and provided more stability for the financial side of the ledger. People may say they want new stories; they don’t. They want properties they know they are going to enjoy, especially when they are spending $15 a ticket. If people wanted new stories, “Kubo and the Two Strings” would’ve been a box office hit. And from the looks of it, “The Lion King” is going to give the audience what it wants. The trailer shots are ripped straight from the animated film. This isn’t a remake or remodeling; it’s a straight up rerelease.

Sequels and Remakes

The Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars film factories are releasing, or distributing, 12 films next year, including “Glass,” a sequel to “Unbreakable,” and “Split.” Of those 12, only “Artemis Fowl,” the DisneyNature release “Penguins” and, possibly, the Marvel production “Captain Marvel” are not sequels or remakes. Giving “Captain Marvel” the benefit of the doubt, the same universe doesn’t necessarily make a sequel or prequel in this case, only 25 percent of Disney’s 2019 releases are new stories. That’s bad for writers and people who are creating new ideas. And let’s face it, “Penguins” is more like a public service, which I’m totally going to go see because, uh, PENGUINS! (Shameless plug: Come on, my website is “penguinate”and my wife makes stuffed penguins, which you should buy!)

Not Live Action

“The Lion King” is being lumped in with Disney’s live action remakes of animated films, but it isn’t live action. No matter how beautifully rendered, the characters are computer animated. At least in “The Jungle Book,” Mowgli was a real actor on screen. (Props to Neel Sethi who had to act against the green screen.) “The Lion King” is computer generated images that, at least as far as the trailer is concerned, will match the animated classic in every way. Fire up the computer and redo every Disney Classic that way; maybe, it will allow Disney to extend the copyright, again, of “Steamboat Willie” before it expires in 2024.

Disneyland and Mary Poppins

There’s a story that at the end of the premier of the original “Mary Poppins,” P.L. Travers had some suggestions for making the film better. Walt looked at her and said something to the effect of “Pamela, that ship has sailed.”

One of the many reasons that Disneyland exists is because Walt wanted something he could change. Once the movie was done, there wasn’t any going back and redoing it to make it better. That ship has sailed, except now, The Walt Disney Company is remaking the films. They just aren’t making them necessarily better.

Where’s the Creativity?

The original “Lion King” made just under $1 billion dollars worldwide in 1997. It was the highest grossing animated film of all time (not adjusted for inflation) and remained at the top of the list until “Toy Story 3.” The new “Lion King” might not live up to the original, even if Disney gets it right – whatever that may mean. Maybe only die-hard fans will see it a second time, but judging by the Twitterverse… God, Disney’s going to make some cash, and that’s bad for creativity. (See Pixar.) Why take a risk when you can take a known commodity, change its medium slightly, and make a boatload of money?

Want More Creativity?

If you want more creativity in the world, I urge you to find several independent authors and artists and support them. Give up one movie this year and use that money to pledge $1 a month to someone on Patreon. Go to a comic convention and find an artist in Artist Alley; buy something from them. I’d love for it to be me. Mostly, I’d love for us to get more original stories out there. We all have a story to tell, but they need to be supported financially in order to get heard.