Friday, February 20, 2015

Walt Disney: A Man of Dreams and Ingenuity Afternoon students, this is Dr. Cooper. Like the majority of you, I too am snowed in at my residence and bored out of my mind. So while cleaning out my flash drive to pass the time, I found this essay on Walt Disney I had written for History class in tenth grade. The assignment had been to write 1,000 words on an American icon; I wrote 1,800 because of my feverish passion for Disney history. So here, for anyone interested in reading, is my essay... 

One chilly December day in Chicago, Illinois, circa 1901, a man was born who would change American entertainment forever. Once he came onto the spotlight, movies were no longer movies; they were works of art and beauty. When he came, children were no longer scolded for using their imaginations; they were encouraged to chase after their dreams. His influence came to change every form of media imaginable; movies, TV, music, animation, amusement parks, all were completely redefined by this man. He was an innovator; he changed animation and introduced revolutionary theme park designs. He affected American culture in such a way, that decades after his death, people still remember him through the dreams he envisioned, the characters he created, and the masterpieces he brought to life. His name was Walter Elias Disney.
Walt was born in 1901 to Elias and Flora Disney, who were of Irish-Canadian and German-English descent respectively. They later moved to the small town of Marceline, Missouri, where they lived for several years. Walt enjoyed drawing sketches of all the farm animals, and the picturesque small town setting gave him inspiration for many of his greatest works.  At 16, Walt dropped out of school to join the Red Cross and became an ambulance driver in Europe during WWI. Afterwards he sought to become a cartoonist, with little success. But his luck changed when he developed an interest in animation, and, with a couple fellow cartoonists, Walt formed a small company and began producing cartoons, which he dubbed Laugh-O-Grams, for the Kansas City area. The Laugh-O-Grams series proved highly successful, yet Walt knew little concerning how to manage money, and the small company soon went bankrupt. Undeterred, he moved to Hollywood and set up a new studio there with his brother Roy, called Disney Brother’s Studios. There, Walt produced a new series of successful cartoons titled the Alice Comedies, which starred a live action child in a world of cartoon characters. It was also at this time that Walt met and married his wife, Lillian Bounds, an amateur cartoon painter.
 By 1927, Universal Studios had hired Walt’s studio to create a new series of cartoons. The result was Walt’s first main cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a precursor to today’s Mickey Mouse. The Oswald shorts enjoyed major popularity in the beginning, and was on his way to becoming a major cartoon star in America. However his golden days ended when Walt was forced to leave Universal over a contract dispute, which cost him both the rights to Oswald and many of his best workers. By this time, Walt had gone through what many would have gone through in an entire lifetime. His successes always became fated to end in failures. Many people at this point would have given up and moved on to an easier occupation. But Walt Disney was determined not to give up his dream. It was only just the beginning for him.
After losing ownership of Oswald, Walt desperately needed to create a new cartoon character in order to save his business. It is said that he was taking a train ride when he developed the idea for a mouse similar to Oswald, named Mortimer. His wife Lillian later persuaded him to change his name to Mickey. Disney’s first two Mickey shorts, Plane Crazy and the Galloping Gaucho, were silent films and met with lukewarm reception. But that all changed upon the arrival of Steamboat Willie, Mickey’s first cartoon with sound, in 1928. Mickey’s popularity immediately skyrocketed and he remained popular throughout the 1930’s. People even went to cinemas just so they could see the Mickey shorts air before the main movie! Around the same time, Walt also created the first cartoons in color, Silly Symphonies, which won an Academy Award in 1932. Walt was rapidly rising to fame as one of the industry’s most successful cartoonists. But Walt wanted to go bigger.
Walt’s next project was his most ambitious and risky gamble: he wanted to make a full-length animated movie. Such a thing was unheard of in the 1930’s. The majority of people believed that cartoons would be perpetually relegated to being comical shorts, not being capable of mimicking the action and seriousness of a live-action movie. People even dubbed Walt’s idea as “Disney’s Folly”. But Walt pressed on with his plans, even taking three years to make and bringing his studio to the brink of bankruptcy once again. When Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered in 1938, all of Disney’s hopes were pinned on its success. He was not to be disappointed. Snow White was met with critical acclaim and standing ovations, easily earning the company $8 million and an Oscar award, the first of seven Walt would eventually win. The movie solidly cemented Walt’s place in history as one of America’s greatest animators and movie makers, and it brought his studio into the movie business.
Within a few years of Snow White’s success the Disney Studio moved into the movie business permanently. Throughout the 40’s and 50’s, Disney produced some of their greatest masterpieces. Films such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella are recognizable by almost everyone today, and are widely regarded as animation classics. Soon he even ventured into TV shows and live action movies, such as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Walt, affectionately known as “Uncle Walt” by the children of America, became a household name. Throughout the country, children were pretending to be like Davy Crocket, dressing up as Cinderella, or singing the Mickey Mouse Club Song. Everyone was transfixed by the seemingly endless surprises this man had up his sleeve.  People everywhere saw him as a kindly warm man who only sought to entertain people and improve on his greatest art, animation. Walt never spared any expense when it came to producing quality films; he often brought his studio near bankruptcy simply to ensure that his movies were good enough. While movies and cartoons were far more than enough to solidify Walt’s career forever, his ambitions only continued to grow. He never stopped imagining, and it was imagining that gave him his biggest idea to date. An idea so absurd, that even his most loyal employees and followers were positive that it would fail.
Walt Disney had always painted his dreams onto the big screen, but he wondered, could he make them a reality? Could he bring his creations to life? Could he make a place where the credits never rolled, and where the magic never ended? It was in 1954 that he initiated construction on Disneyland, the most magical place on earth. It would be an amusement park unlike any other. It would be always kept clean, and the employees always friendly. People could not just ride rides; they could take a leisurely stroll down a recreation of classic small town America, ride a train around the park, and interact with all of Disney’s magical characters. You could travel to the future in one section, and explore the wild frontier in the other. It would always be perfect and happy in Disneyland. Parades would be marching every day, and the celebrations would never end. Everyone thought that Walt would finally meet his demise with this seemingly impossible project. Yet he marched on. Walt began buying up land in Anaheim, CA, and construction commenced unheeded. When the Disneyland grand opening came a year later in 1955, it was attended by thousands of people, and broadcasted live to millions more. In his opening speech Walt said “…Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America ... with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world…”  Over 50,000 people attended the first day, and Disneyland became an instant hit with the American people. It was an experience that no one had ever been able to comprehend. Today people still come to visit this extraordinary land, the only park ever personally created under Walt’s supervision. But the best was yet to come.
As Walt Disney and his company soared through the 60’s, Walt began to slow down. The studio was still producing spectacular hit movies and shows. Disneyland continued to fascinate all.  But he was no longer the creative young man he once was. His years of addiction to smoking were catching up with him. However, he still had a lot of fight in him, and a vast imagination. Walt Disney had one final card in his hand, one last conception laying in his mind. When it became public that the Disney Company was buying massive amounts of property in rural Florida, everybody assumed that Walt was building a second Disneyland. But he had something better in mind. He wanted to create an entire Disney world. Not just a single little amusement park, but a whole world, all under his jurisdiction. In the center of it would be his biggest ambition ever: the Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow, or E.P.C.O.T. It would be an entire real city inhabited by 20,000 people. It would have all the safety and friendliness as small town America, but with all the technologies of the future. Here people would live in an idealistic utopian society where they could experiment with new home technologies, and live with the Disney spirit. There would be no cars, no criminals, and no slums. It would be the one place, the one place, in the world that would be absolutely perfect. A community free of all imperfections. It would be his greatest achievement ever, his final lasting legacy for mankind, the one thing people would remember most about him. But sadly, and almost fittingly, Walt’s last dream was the only one he could never realize.
Walt Disney’s smoking habits finally did catch up to him at the worst possible moment, and he died unexpectedly of lung cancer in 1966. And with his death, his final dream of a city of the future died with him. The company decided that they were not interested in managing an entire city, so they scrapped the idea. Instead they recycled the conception of Disney World into a series of amusement parks. His last legacy, ironically, was one that wasn’t how he intended it to be.
Walt Disney had a long, successful, and enduring career. His story is perhaps one of the best examples of the American dream. From humble beginnings on a farm in Kansas, to becoming the nation’s great entertainer, Walt never gave up in his pursuits. He knew what he wanted to do and he accomplished what many thought were impossible. He broke the barriers of our human limitations, he thought outside of the box. No idea was too big or too ambitious for him. As long as he could dream it up, Walt could make it. The motivations, inspirations, and philosophies of Walt Disney are similar to that of our own American values; that you can be whatever you want to be if you set your mind to it, and that nothing is impossible. It is stories like Walt’s that remind us that America is still a land of endless opportunities.

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Frozen Fever"

Disney recently announced that it was to release a sequel of sorts to the popular November 2013 film “Frozen.” The sequel, a seven minute long feature, is to be called “Frozen Fever,” and will be released this Spring. It will include the voices of; Kristen Bell as Anna, Idina Menzel as Elsa, Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, and Josh Gad as Olaf.

The setting of this short will be during the Summer solstice. The other characters of Frozen - Elsa, Olaf, and Kristoff - are supposed to be planning a birthday party for Anna. But, as a way to add drama, Elsa gets a cold and something goes askew with her magical frozen powers.

A new song by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez will be featured in this short; this is the same duo who brought us “Let It Go” in the original “Frozen” film.

“Frozen Fever” will be released March 13, 2015.
Photo courtesy of:


Ted 2

They are finally coming out with the second part of Ted, which came out in 2012 and was about a boy who didn't have any friends, and one Christmas he had gotten a present from his mom and dad which we know as ted. That night John was sitting bed and seen a shooting star in the sky and made a wish that his teddy bear would come to life. The next morning when he woke up Ted was gone and he ran downstairs trying to find him and went into the kitchen Ted was making breakfast, and ever since that day they were best of friends. It was a great and funny movie, almost every loved it. Almost three years later and it is still a good movie, and that is why every is so pumped about this movie coming out June 26, 2015.

Top Five Books For Teens

     I have conjured up a list of the top five books I think teens should read. All of these books are appropriate for our high school audience, and are entertaining enough to keep your focus. These books are perfect for book reports or for reading in your free time. They all have well written plots and will keep you interested until the very end. I have read all of these myself, and this is just my personal take on which books you should take a look into.

Top Five Books for Teens
1. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
5. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
      The Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter are all young-adult fiction books. All three have movies made about them and all of them have been rated well. The books in my opinion are better which is why I think it's a good idea to read them before you watch the movies. Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Fault in Our Stars are both a type of young-adult realistic fiction. They also have movies about them which are rated quite high as well.
     If you ever find yourself in need of a good read I highly suggest these as options. They will keep your eyes glued to every word with their enticing story lines. Next time you stop by a book store or library pick one up and give it a try. I can almost guarantee that you won't be disappointed.


Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman

     Many have heard of and/or read the bestselling book of 1960: To Kill a Mockingbird. The author, Harper Lee, published this book after two years of editing, and refused to make a sequel. She also refused to be interviewed about this fine piece of literature. She wanted to let the book speak for itself, and has left it untouched—until now.
            It has very recently been announced that the sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” will be released on July 14th, 2015. The sequel is titled “Go Set a Watchman” and has already broken sales records for pre-orders on  You may be wonder why it is that Harper Lee, who is now 88 years old, decided to publish a sequel to a book written over 50 years ago. There is a very interesting story behind this.
            “Go Set a Watchman” was actually written before “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  Go Set a Watchman is about the main character, Jean Louise Finch (Scout), in Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman takes place after Mockingbird, when 30 year old Scout goes back to Maycomb to visit her father, Atticus. Those who read the original Go Set a Watchman all said that the parts that they most enjoyed were Scout’s flashbacks to her childhood. So Harper Lee rewrote the book all taking place in Scout’s childhood, and that book was then published as “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Sponge Out of Water

SpongeBob Squarepants is a very popular animation television series on Nickelodeon. It was created by Stephen Hillenburg. It first aired on May 1, 1999. It is a very popular television series for kids. A lot of teens seem to watch the series as well. The show includes these characters: The main character SpongeBob Squarepants, his best friend Patrick Star, his boss Mr. Krabs, his neighbor Squidward Tenticles, and many more. On Febuary 6th, experience Spongebob in a whole different way. Sponge Out of Water hits theaters this Friday. It is the sequel to The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie. In Sponge Out of Water, a pirate named Burger Beard heads to an island to acquire a book that tells the story of SpongeBob and his exploits. Whatever is written in the book becomes reality. When the pirate, Burger Beard, discovers that final page of the magical book is gone he goes on a search to find it so that he can use the books power. The page that is missing is the Krabby Patty secret formula. SpongeBob and his friends will have to travel to our world to get it back. Our world is a little bit different than Bikini Bottom. To find out the rest, go and check out the movie for yourself! It hit theaters today!
Photo credit:


Community Service

It seems as if, as high school students, we can do very little to change our world. I, however, disagree. Anyone can cause change by helping to improve their community. As a member and Secretary of the Spring Valley High School Beta Club, I have experienced this firsthand. The Beta Club's main goal is to promote leadership through service with the motto, "Let us lead by serving others." You may ask the question, "What can I do to help my community?" I am here to tell you that there are limitless ways to serve your community. Walking puppies at the animal shelter, recycling, and picking up litter are just three ways to positively impact your community. Community service is a large part of my life; the great thing about community service is that you do it, looking for no compensation, but are rewarded with the happiness it brings to others. Through community service, you can change your outlook on life; as opposed to looking down on others and scowling at bad situations, you attempt to help and improve others and their situations. Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity and former Beta Club member said, "It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting." I hope that through this short article, you are inspired to get out and help your community.