More Fun at Disney’s Expense

After some investigative journalism I’ve been able to unearth some long-buried secrets about Disney’s feature-length animated films; scenes cut, characters changed, voice over actors wanted, etc.. Here’s what I found out…

Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs: Eighth dwarf, Gassy, cut after first script.

Pinocchio: Amid controversy over the woodworker who just wanted a little boy of his own Disney executives shorten his name from Geppettophile to just plain Geppetto.

Bambi: Venison eating scene with hunters declared too graphic for final product.

Fantasia: Apprentice Mickey’s flood causes massive sewage back-up in castle.

Dumbo: Instead of magic feather, crows originally gave Dumbo “magic” brownie to fly.

Alice in Wonderland: In original script Alice chased not one but many white rabbits…with scotch.

Peter Pan: Gruesome death scene where Capt. Hook dies of jock itch scratched from final cut.

Lady and the Tramp: Tramp’s James Cagney impression in the crib room deemed out-of-place in children’s movie.

Sleeping Beauty: Drunken smackdown between Kings Stefan and Hubert involving groin shots, fish-hooking and excessive swearing toned down for final cut.

101 Dalmatians: Originally produced for psychiatric community as all pups were just walking Rorschach blots.

The Sword in the Stone: Merlin’s germ in battle against Madam Mim was actually a yeast infection.

The Jungle Book: Original ending – Mowgli failed to save Baloo from being eviscerated by Shere Khan.

The Aristocats: Upon being adopted into the family Thomas O’Malley is immediately neutered.

Robin Hood: Visual evidence of Prince John as a bed-wetter removed before final cut.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Upon going to school Christopher Robin sees himself as too grown up for his toys. So he donates them to a daycare run by an angry teddy bear named Lotso.

The Rescuers: Cajun wackos protested the film claiming there are plenty of skinny orphans right in Louisiana to go down tiny holes looking for lost gems.

The Fox and The Hound: Original scene when Tod and Copper first meet just five minutes of butt-sniffing.

The Black Cauldron: Bucking the trend of listening to market research Disney let Gurgi survive jumping into the cauldron even though test audiences were glad to be rid of the varmint.

The Great Mouse Detective: Original title “Olivia’s Crappy Birthday”

Oliver and Company: Billy Joel not talented enough to act and not “camera-friendly.” So, just let him sing.

The Little Mermaid: Original animation took into account Ursula’s lack of knowledge about human female leg-shaving.

The Rescuers Down Under: Working title “Let’s Jump On the Crocodile Dundee Bandwagon”

Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s first present to Beast, a flea collar, never made final cut.

Aladdin: Genie originally to be voiced by Richard Simmons; but when animators made Genie masculine that idea was scrapped.

The Lion King: Rafiki originally named Balki until Nathan Lane told Ernie Sabella to “stop throwing Pinchot bones.”

Pocahontas: Original recording of “Colors of the Wind” feature Mel Gibson breaking wind in sound studio.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Lou Holtz originally cast as Frollo.

Hercules: Executives debated between Greek and Roman names before just mashing it all together.

Mulan: Disney’s first nude scene – when Mulan’s gender is revealed after Shan Yu’s attack – cut from final.

Tarzan: Kerchack originally named Horshack.

Fantasia 2000: Working title, “Hey, We Need Filler Here.”

Dinosaur: Carnotaurus tracked down herd by simply following long trail of dung.

The Emperor’s New Groove: Eartha Kitt had been dying to work with David Spade so she convinced Disney Brass to produce this one by wearing her Catwoman costume to studio.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Multiple earthquakes rocked the studio throughout production. Michael J. Fox noticed nothing.

Lilo & Stitch: Experiment 626, a living creature capable of creating untold chaos, inspired by Carrot Top.

Treasure Planet: Now referred to as “Lost Treasure Planet” after failing to earn back its production cost.

Brother Bear: The movie that fulfilled Walt Disney’s dying wish of reuniting the McKenzie brothers.

Home on the Range: Alameda Slim oft referred to as Randy Quaid’s finest performance.

Chicken Little: Vulgar slip-ups of actors trying to say “Buck Cluck” filled up three reels of audio tape.

Meet the Robinsons: Because the world wasn’t ready to meet the Kardashians just yet.

Bolt: John Travolta ideally cast as a dog – like most of his movies.

The Princess and the Frog: Mama Odie originally to be a yellow, long-necked dog with an oversized tongue and excessive drool.

Tangled:Snow-capped mountains originally just a product of Rapunzel’s dandruff.

Winnie the Pooh: Working title: “How Long Can We Ride A. A. Milne’s Coattails?”

Wreck-it-Ralph: Original title: “Rectum Ralph”

Frozen: One extra carrot to make anatomically-correct Olaf.

Disney’s Coolest Prince

Disney’s Princesses get all the glory. But what about the princes? Why must they get relegated to the back of the line in movie-going-kid admiration. Well, I once wrote about Disney’s coolest princes back when LiveJournal was all the rage. I decided to revisit that debate – from scratch – with more princes to consider here in late 2014. In the end, I crowned the same champion. But first let me tell you why the others didn’t win.

The Prince (Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs): Okay, this clown didn’t even get a name, so how could I even consider him? Besides, what’s a guy who loves to sing and wear tights doing looking for a princess? Seems like he’d be more interested in her seven little friends, if you know what I mean. This is the character that made the name “The Prince” totally dorky until Will Smith came along to fix that mess.

Prince Charming (Cinderella): At least this tool gets a name, albeit a cheesy one. The dude is relatively neutral in the beginning, and he even gives us a chuckle with his eye roll upon the introduction of Drizella and Anastasia. Even when dancing all night with our beautiful Cindy-kins he’s neither cool nor uncool; he’s just kind of there. But then the clock begins to toll midnight. You mean to tell me Prince Charming can’t chase down a broad in GLASS SLIPPERS! What a pansy. At the very least he could have his guard stop her, can’t he? Then, upon finding the lost glass slipper he declares he’ll marry the woman who can fit her little tootsie in it. How many size sixes are there in a kingdom – that could’ve led to a total disaster. Nope, Prince Charming ain’t too bright. At least the Christopher Rich version was somewhat cool.
Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid): Now this guy wins a few cool guy points: he risks his life to rescue a pooch from a burning ship, offers his hospitality to a mutie-cutie-patootie red-head, and impales the sea witch. So, where are his shortcomings you may ask? Let’s see, he was clearly falling for Ariel but was taken over by the voice taken by Ursula. “Oh, pretty music. Must marry this girl now.” What a loser. And even though he took out Ursula in the end, she was a HUGE target and very slow with King Triton’s trident. (No, that’s not a euphemism.) Prince Eric outshines the previous two entries, but he’s nowhere close to our number one.
The Beast (Beauty and the Beast): Defining beast-mode long before Shaun Alexander (running through a pack of linebackers ain’t squat compared to taking on a pack of wolves), gobbling soup like an animal (hey, every single man’s dream) and enough in touch with his sensitive side to delve into the fine art of horticulture the beast seems like a strong candidate. But I’ve got issues here, too. The dude’s got an awesome library, and although it’s ultra-cool to give it to Belle, why hasn’t he bothered to take the time to learn to read better over the last ten years? When life hands you lemons, READ A BOOK ON HOW TO MAKE LEMONADE for crying out loud. And, the key point, if he weren’t such a pampered little snot rag to begin with he wouldn’t have been transformed into a beast.
Prince Naveen (The Princess and the Frog): He ain’t Kermit. Nuff said.
Aladdin (Aladdin): Hey, he’s got his own movie named after him – he’s already up a few points. He’s little but scrappy having lived on those streets for years. Hungry, he still shares with those less fortunate. And, the tiger-head entrance to the Cave of Wonders clearly thought him worthy and not greedy. Heck, what’s not to like. Well, in the end he was like any other guy thinking with something other than his brain. He promised the Genie he’d free him with his third and final wish – but he lollygags because of the mid-riff-showin’ hottie, Jasmine. That could’ve ended in disaster. Fortunately, he was quick-witted enough to defeat Jafar and free the Genie in the end, but only after having nearly messed everything up. You just don’t screw your friends like that, Aladdin. Third place for you.
Flynn Rider (Tangled): Like Aladdin he becomes a prince by marriage, but a prince nonetheless. He starts off a bad guy who screws over his partners. This is uncool, crime and deceit. But unlike Aladdin, they were just partners in crime, not friends, so it’s not as bad. In the end he makes one of the greatest transformations in Disney history, and becomes friends with one of Disney’s all-time coolest secondary characters: Maximus! Plus, taking an active role in saving Rapunzel by cutting her hair, even though it means certain death for him, is what catapults him to the number two position. Way to go Flynn. (Yes, I know his name is Eugene Fitz-something, but I didn’t feel like looking it up. This is an off-the-cuff kind of blog.)
Prince Hans (Frozen): Douche bag!
Kristoff (Frozen): Not a prince, but it looks like he and Princess Anna may change that after the end of the movie’s timeline. So I’ll give him and honorable mention. But, like I said, not a prince; just a nice guy who happens to be an ice guy. (Get it? Hee-hee.)
And our champion is…
Prince Philip (Sleeping Beauty): He’s handsome, he’s strong, he’s willing to stand up to his dad, the king, to marry a “common girl,” and HE NUKES A FREAKING DRAGON!!! Dude, what’s not to like. He’s an accomplished horseman, swordsman, and dancer – something sure to be expected of royalty. He’s relentless, too – never giving up by fighting through orcs (for lack of a better description of Maleficent’s forces), boulders being dumped on his head, leaps across ravines, thorny brambles, and A FREAKING DRAGON!!! Yeah, you may say, “But he needed help from three little fairies.” So what, we all need a little help from our friends sometime. Besides, if your only allies were three little fairies about the size of miniature hummingbirds would you have the guts to take on A FREAKING DRAGON!!! I mean, Maleficent is, hands-down, Disney’s greatest bad-ass, and this is the prince who took her down, he even had the presence to dodge her last jaw-snapping attempt to take him out. What a man. (A FREAKING DRAGON!!! Can you believe it?)

Saying Goodbye to Greatness

Soon baseball fans will say goodbye to one of the greats of his era. Yankees fans got to say goodbye, and enjoy his heroics, at their home stadium one last time just two days ago. Of course, I’m talking about Derek Jeter.

Jeter had a truly great 20-year career with the most storied sports franchise in the country. Love ’em or hate ’em the Yankees’ 27 World Series victories are leaps and bounds above second place – more than any single team in any major sport. My brother in California HATES!!! the Yankees. (All caps plus three exclamation points to illustrate his vitriol, otherwise there weren’t enough characters.) But I can say with certainty that he respects Derek Jeter as a great ballplayer. Twenty years with the same team and producing the sick numbers and highlight reels is truly amazing. And he kept his proverbial nose clean while doing it. (Hear that, A-Rod!) I have tremendous respect for that level of productivity for that long a time. And, he wasn’t an abusive cup-adjuster on the field; always a plus for a baseball fan.

The Atlanta Braves know the feeling; a short while ago they had to say goodbye to career-Brave Chipper Jones. The Payne Stewart of baseball, I had great respect for Chipper Jones, even though he played on my least favorite team. (I just got sick and tired of producers sticking Fonda on screen doing the tomahawk chop, for crying out loud!) But Chipper Jones is probably the second best Brave after Hank Aaron – maybe third after Greg Maddux, but who counts pitchers? And, once again, he maintained a good reputation as a person as well; as far as I’ve heard.

The last big retirement of a franchise super-star before these two in such a short span of time was obviously Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr. I remember watching as he broke the record for most-consecutive games played. That was a magical moment for me – right up there with the Phillies winning the world series. (Which means it is likely to remain one of my three favorite baseball memories until the day I die.) I specifically remember the lap he took around the stadium high-fiving the fans. Although a car was there to take him around, he quickly hopped off, made the lap on foot and targeted the kids in the stands. That was a truly awesome thing to see from a world-class player, and world-class person.

What I see being a common trait of these three greats is their being identified as “throw-back” players. They were all grinders who worked hard, played hard and gave it their all. They all had a blue-collar look and feel in how they approached the beloved game of baseball. All of them recall a time beyond our own personal memories – but passed down to us through the stories of relatives, books and movies – of the hey-day of baseball. The ballplayers were personable, approachable and fun-loving. It’s similar to what you may find at a good minor league game; Ripken, Jones, and Jeter all appear to be like that jock you see on the field one night, and sitting at a restaurant table nearby the very next day. That, coupled with their clear athletic success, is what takes them from All-Star to GREAT!

You will be missed, Mr. Jeter. But, now I can go back to my own guilt-free hatred of the Yankees now that you’re gone.

TLDR is BS

Walk before you run. Doing things right often takes time. Sometimes it can take a very long time from the beginning, foundational steps, up to the final result. I think this fact is being lost in our current, you-can-have-it-all-now culture. This has become evident for me over the years by the first four letters of this blog entry: TLDR. If you aren’t familiar with this one, it means Too Long, Didn’t Read. I’ve been seeing it with greater frequency over the years, and I find it disturbing. I know that our time comes at a premium; after all, I’m preparing to work the 60-70 hour long weeks I always wind up working during Thanksgiving through Christmas. I don’t have a lot of leisure time, and neither do many other people. But I believe the response TLDR on a website is a cop out indicative of someone just not wanting to take the time to learn another side of  a story. Most often, but not always, I see the TLDR response on websites of a political subject matter. Sadly, especially when it comes to political issues, people are so dead set in their ways to really read and learn about other sides of an issue. It’s far easier to accept the quick, sound-bite caricature delivered on a daily basis by the media and aligned interests. To truly get to know the full story takes time. There are many subtleties involved when it comes to life, and only by really looking into the details can we discern the truth from the cacophony others pronounce as the truth.

I believe it was the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell which mentioned 10,000 hours being the required amount of time to achieve mastery in a skill. (I haven’t read this book, yet, but am paraphrasing a friend who did.) I buy into that whole-heartedly. My favorite magician, Shawn Fahrquar, mentions before his trick “Shape of My Heart” that he practices 3-4 hours a day. That’s now that he’s an adult. That’s a little over ten years to get to mastery level working those hours, not even considering the hours he may have spent practicing as a child and fourth-generation magician. Need another example? Take a look at ANY top-level athlete – MLB, NFL, NBA. Regardless of their inherited physical athleticism, what you see on the field/court is merely the culmination of hours of gym time, practice, and prior play at the college, high school, pee-wee level over many years. Do you think Peyton Manning could play like that on Sunday if he sat on his couch eating potato chips the other six days of the week? Of course not. Even author George R.R. Martin, of Game of Thrones fame, has spent the last 15 years writing the story – only 5 books of which have made it to publication. To do it right, it takes time. (By the way, for those of you who haven’t read the books, it’s really called A Song of Ice and Fire.)
Getting back to politics, what would’ve happened if Americans used the TLDR excuse during that time between the Articles of Confederation and our U.S. Constitution? Imagine the greatest political PR campaign, the Federalist Papers, never being read because they were well over the 140-character limit. Our internet culture and the flow of nearly endless sources of information have given us a greater opportunity for dynamic democracy, but only if we take the time to educate ourselves.
I’m not advocating reading everything; we really and truly don’t have the time for that. But we must remember that to achieve the knowledge to improve ourselves and our world, much like attaining the necessary skills to do any job well, it takes an investment in our time. The TLDR philosophy should be used only sparingly; because it takes time to tell, and learn, the whole story. And that is time well spent.

Southern Speak

I believe my mom was given a book (by my uncle, perhaps?) called How to Speak Southern. Even though she was a southerner who needed no further education on the language it made a great gag gift. As a youngster who loved a good laugh I gladly thumbed through it from time to time, chuckling along the way. Over the years I’ve forgotten just about everything I read in that little book, but I have learned some interesting facts about southern speak since moving south seven years ago. Therefore, I’d like to make a clarification to y’all yankees.

I, like so many born-and-bred northerners, was under the misconception that southerners called all animals critters. This, however, is not the case. There are distinctions about which animals can be called critters. Before I explain the distinction I must clarify that farm animals are called by their name, albeit pronounced differently (horse=hoss, and so on).

You see, commonly domesticated animals (cats and dogs) and the classically cute woodland animals (squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits) are typically referred to as critters. The rest is varmints! Possum, skunks, snakes, groundhogs, etc. Dems is varmints! Varmints are trouble-makers. Even cute ones can be varmints, such as rabbits that dig up your garden; they may be cute but they’ve crossed the fine line separating wild critters from varmints.

Even your family pet is not immune to reclassification. Let’s say they’ve piddled on the carpet one too many times, or clawed grandma’s antique wedding dress; then your critter becomes a varmint! But, fortunately for little Sparky or Mittens, this is merely a temporary reclassification. You love your pet, and therefore your pet will be a critter again! You may even jokingly say, “Git over here you little varmint!” That is just a sign that all is forgiven, and your critter is a varmint no more.

So, remember yanks, you don’t have southern speak truly figured out until you’ve experienced it for some years. Not everything is a critter, there is a distinct difference between critters and varmints. Cats, dogs and the like fall well within the parameters of critterdom. All those nasty animals outside, dems is varmints.

Hmmm, maybe that’s why southern states vote Republican; because Dems is varmints. Aw, heck, all politicians are beyond varmints!

A Rose By Any Other Name

I listen to the radio in the car a lot; but, except for Greg Roberts Live, I don’t really listen too closely. But I caught a snippet of a news story about employees selecting their job title, if not their duties, salary, etc. I found this interesting but realized I probably wouldn’t have changed any of my past job titles with the exception of spelling my favorite job “proofreeder” just for poops and giggles!

However, these past six plus years as a Bakery Manager are a little different. Although that really is the best description for what I do to the outside observer I think Contortionist is a more apt description. You see, I can bend over backwards for my customers while simultaneously bending over forward for my corporate office.

Homeschooling and sex ed

My children get excellent grades because I’m sleeping with their teacher! Yup, we home school our kids. By we, I mean my wife does the brunt of the work while I offer my math skills by being the answer key to my older two daughters’ homework. It was a difficult decision to make but in the end it was the right one as we are ultimately responsible for their entire education – academic, spiritual and physical. As difficult as the initial decision to home school was, we’ve found it to be a rewarding experience, even with the many challenges it produces each and every day.

Perhaps my biggest area of apprehension with home schooling the kids came when my wife taught them sex education. You see, I have only daughters and was way out of my element on this one. Fortunately, a good friend recommended a book to teach sex ed in accordance with our Catholic faith. It uses beautiful language (the expression “marital embrace” being my favorite) and reinforces the expectations we and our Church have of our children when it comes to sex and being truly responsible. And, like I said earlier, my wife did the brunt of the work so I was largely in the clear. Plus it was only for our two oldest – had all four been old enough I would’ve left town for a month. So I was feeling just fine about the whole thing.

Then came the day they completed the book. My wife told me over the phone when I called her on my lunch break that they had finished and I should ask the girls about it when I arrived home. I must admit that my trepidation grew with every mile of that short drive. It hit a peak when not only my wife, but my wife and two oldest girls, opened the door as I made my way up the sidewalk.

After the customary welcome-home kiss and hugs I asked the girls how school went. My second-oldest said, “We finished the book!” Our oldest was looking partially mortified hanging in the shadows at the time.

“That’s great,” I said. “Did you like it?”

“Well,” continued kid number two, “I didn’t really understand it.” Then she looked at me with hopeful anticipation. Even our oldest leaned in and lost her expression of mortification. I looked at my daughters; then at my wife. She gave me an encouraging smile and nodded. I knew there was no way out.

I looked back at my kids. I pointed down on myself and my wife and said, “This goes there.”

“GOT IT, DADDY!” Thumbs up and smiles all around. Then the sweet sisters trotted off to play. A smile broke across my face. I had done it – I had successfully engaged the children in home schooling. I was a proud papa!

Then I looked at my wife’s face…

Needless to say, THIS didn’t go THERE for quite some time.