Saturday, June 21, 2014

New Blog!

I have started a second blog, "Waiting for the King". The blog's focus will be the new Arthurian film series in development. I will report news and then give my thoughts on it. I might also review old Arthurian films and television shows. Click here to visit my new blog.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Books Read in May 2014

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  (re-read) by L. Frank Baum

File:Wizard title page.jpgI re-read this book shortly after re-watching the 1939 movie adaptation. I had read it once before when I was younger, but I wanted to read it again to see how it differed from the movie. Even though there were some major differences, I was surprised at just how well I knew the story. I realized it was because of the countless hours playing the board game as a child. Even though none of the additional plot elements surprised me, there were some key differences I noticed. For one, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion are not dumb, cold, and cowardly. In fact the Scarecrow is the smartest, the Tin Woodman is the most tenderhearted, and the Lion is the most brave. It isn't a story about them gaining these qualities, but discovering they had them all along. It could be argued that the same moral was in the movie, but the characters were portrayed inconsistently. In the book, all three characters embody the qualities they long for throughout the book In the movie the Tin Woodman is always tenderhearted, but the Lion is undoubtedly a coward, and while the Scarecrow doesn't seem especially smart, he doesn't seem especially stupid either. I thought the book made more sense. The book also never gives the impression that Oz was a dream. This was a bit of a relief, because while I liked the character doubles (the three hired hands for Dorothy's three companions and Miss Gulch for the Wicked Witch of the West; all absent from the book), I never liked the idea of Oz being a dream. None of this is to slam the movie by any means. It's one of the best movies of all time in my opinion.

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

Before now Ed Catmull has slipped below my radar. I knew he was one of the founding members and was instrumental in the technical development of computer animation, but because he isn't involved in the actual storytelling at Pixar Animation Studios, I undervalued his importance. After reading Creativity, Inc. - basically Catmull's how-to guide for running a successful creative company - I realized just how big an impact Catmull has had on Pixar's success. After Pixar had established themselves as an established studio, Catmull felt a sense of letdown, because he felt like the fight was over. However, he later found new purpose in preserving Pixar's unique creative environment - the true magic of Pixar. Even though I don't plan on running a creative company - or any other company for that matter - I still found relevance in Catmull's wisdom. Some of the big takeaways were that change is not only inevitable, but something to be embraced (a lesson I badly need to learn), the importance of honesty, and the importance of listening to others' opinions no matter their rank. They seem like simple lessons, but I can imagine how poorly they are implemented in the "working world". This book also gave me a renewed sense of confidence in Pixar's future. Even though Pixar seems to be in a mini rut, after reading Creativity, Inc., I am confident that they can get out of it.