Lifehacking

Two things that I’ve done recently that has transformed by waking days:

1) Turned off email notifications on my devices

Turning off the notification sounds for email is the single best decision I’ve made in a long time. I had gotten to a point where my anxiety, blood pressure and stress would rise with every new email sound. Email is truly the bane of modern day existence.

2) Turned off Bluetooth in the car

Our phones are dangerous distractions while driving. Period. There is no good reason to fiddle with them, in spite of all of handsfree options out there, when our attention should solely be on the road. Plus, the world still has much more to offer in front of us than on a screen. No matter the pixel resolution of our phones and tablets, real world viewing will always be better.

Cancer Gets LOST

cgl_banner_new

Our partners at Cancer Gets LOST have been busy. Go here to see what they have been amassing for the auction next month. Proceeds go toward fighting cancer, the leading cause of death in the world [1]. Cataloging starts this week.

John Fasano, 1961-2014

John FasanoI had known of John Fasano for awhile, at least I knew the name, before I knew the man. Being in collectibles as long as I have, you would know it at some point. John was a film and television director, producer and writer. He was also an avid collector and enthusiast of all things entertainment and pop culture related.

John and his wife, Edie, attended Daniel Roebuck’s Dr. Shocker’s Vault of Horror premiere that we set up at the TCL Chinese Theatre last October. Not long afterward, John talked to me about working on his collection. It was a no-brainer. Of course, we would do it!

After several trips to John and Edie’s home, we collected everything that was to be included in the auction: masks, toys, props, five decades’ worth. But there was a King Kong vs. T-Rex bronze statue that John was keeping. He was simply not parting with it. So each time I visited I would tease John by saying that there was still room to add his prized sculpture. Each time he would sheepishly demurred. It was our running joke — our version of “as you wish.”

In addition to working on the John Fasano collection, John also helped write the description for the Auction of the Apes catalog. He wrote the fantastic introduction, too. Then after that, he wrote the descriptions for the Disney Auction catalog. He was generous with his time, friendship and heart.

To say he left us too soon is a massive understatement. He had so much more to give, to strive and live for. We had work to do. Of course, I know how selfish I’m being — I want more of John Fasano. On the other hand, I could take solace in knowing that John has embarked on a new adventure, that he is pain-free and happy, that his work was finished here and that he has moved on to bigger and better. Maybe in a few months I could take on this mindset. Maybe in a few months I could truly appreciate, not lament, the short time I spent with him (and not kick myself for never asking if he actually wrote the line, “I’ll be your huckleberry.”) Later we will celebrate his life and work.

Right now it’s too soon. Right now I feel a lost of giant proportions. There are no mixed emotions. There is but one: that of supreme sadness. Rest in peace, John. Your kindness, humor, wit and talents will be sorely missed.

The Disney Auction

We’ve been working on a Disney themed auction for quite some time now. It was last November that we broached the subject of working with the Disneyana Fan Club to do a live auction. It’s been about eight months in the making, but we finally have a catalog.

Once again, because it’s a live event we are have a time constraint. The event will take place at the Disneyana Convention on Friday, July 18 starting at 7pm. With a two to three hour window, we figured we could do about 100 to 150 lots. The final count for our catalog is 135.

We believe we have put together a well-rounded collection. There are posters, artwork, costumes, props, maquettes, theme park signage, attraction ride vehicles, award statues, plaques, autographs, books, animation cels, photos and decorative art pieces.

One of the more remarkable (in my humble opinion) items we have is a document from 1938 that was part of Inez Henderson’s collection. Ms. Henderson was one of Walt Disney’s personal secretaries. This document is a five page analysis written by Dorothy Ann Blank, who was one of the writers for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Walt Disney Studios’s first feature length animation film. Walt Disney received an Academy Award for it.

A14-30-0001a

The analysis, dated June 15, 1938, was an examination of a popular Hans Christian Anderson story called, “The Snow Queen.” Dorothy Ann Blank was exploring the idea of adapting it into a cartoon feature. She and Disney had settled on the preliminary name, “The Ice Maiden.” In her analysis, Ms. Blank states:

“The Chief reason that the story SNOW QUEEN seems an ideal subject for a cartoon feature is that it has, in addition to a definite plot, a strong underlying theme.

The plot needs tightening and, for our uses, cries out for the addition of comedy–but it is dramatically correct.

The theme is sound and universally appealing. THE SNOW QUEEN is one of Anderson’s best known and most widely read tales.”

Indeed, Anderson’s original story does cry out for “the addition of comedy,” as it is quite dark. Disney had by this time identified part of the formula that would help it create some of the most beloved animated films in entertainment history. Ms. Blank’s final conclusion:

“The most valuable thing Anderson says in this little fairy tale, which is fanciful and fantastic at times, highly amusing at others, and occasionally deeply pathetic, is… No one is ever so lost that a simple, child-like faith cannot touch him…

No one can grow so old or so clever that something truly simple cannot make him see the true values of life… childhood is never really gone.

It is a great message of hope. If we could make a picture which would be, like Anderson’s story, fanciful and fantastic, and put into it our own unique entertainment value spiced with high comedy–yet retain this underlying theme–I think we would have made something truly fine.”

This movie that Dorothy Ann Blank was hoping to make in 1938 went through a rigorous and exhaustive process that saw revisions after revisions. In fact, Disney encountered tremendous difficulty with the original story, particularly with relating the Snow Queen character to modern audiences, despite the cinematic possibilities that the animators saw.

Disney did managed to find a solution many years later, even if it meant deviating drastically from the original fairy tale. The movie Disney finally made and released in 2013 — 75 years from the date of Dorothy Ann Blank’s analysis! — went on to become the highest grossing animation film in history and won two Academy Awards, for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (“Let it Go” — yes, that song!). That movie, of course, is Frozen.

This historic document is fascinating in that it sheds light on the fact that Disney had a “formula.” Dorothy Ann Blank overtly states it — “our own unique entertainment value” — albeit this document was probably meant for internal use only. It is clear that Disney had a process and the company adheres to it vigilantly to produce some of the most memorable cartoons ever. But it is also obvious, considering how vast the Disney empire is now, that there is a company philosophy that extends beyond animated features. If one look closely at the foundational conception of Disneyland and other Disney properties, the values, customer service tradition, and vision that Walt Disney instilled are clearly still on display.

Four Thoughts on this 4th of July

whiteflag

1. Many people — mostly Americans — equate this day with freedom. That is understandable. It is a day of many symbols and freedom was very much an idea that was espoused by the Founding Fathers. Hence, the Bill of Rights.

However, to me, this day is really about sacrifice. We enjoy the many freedoms that we have today because of the sacrifice that people before us undertook. The early settlers, the Revolutionaries, the civil rights activists, my parents, their parents, the servicemen and women that serve our country now… and many other people around the world who engage tirelessly to do good, noble work.

2. The Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest. This might be the furthest thing on the minds of the Founding Fathers. Joey Chestnut scarfed down 61 hotdogs in 10 minutes. I’m not sure if the entire Germany soccer team could eat that many franks. And if you need reminding of what hotdogs are really made of, read this.

3. While I enjoy fireworks in controlled environments, I am not a fan of unruly neighbors lighting off dangerous explosives in the backyard. The Constitution protects many rights of the citizens, but stupidity isn’t one of them. That’s where Darwin comes in.

4. Benjamin Franklin is by far my favorite Founder. He was a polymath. He did it all and he did it all well. He’s on the hundred dollar bill, where he deservingly belongs. He was the “First American.” In fact, he was an American, advocating for the colonies and defining the American ideals, before there was formally an America. He had wit and charm in abundance. And he was smart enough to never have held any major political office. If he was alive now, he would be great on Twitter.

Apes Apes Apes

In working on the Apes auction, I have learned a lot. Besides now knowing more about the Planet of the Apes franchise than I did a month ago, the Apes project was a harsh lesson in business. As anyone who owns his or her own business knows, you are always learning. In fact, you never cease to learn. Because learning is adapting and if you do not learn and adapt, you do not survive.

A13-51-0037Some of the lessons that I was grateful enough to learn? Well, for one: it’s your business. That’s key. Don’t let someone else dictate when, how and with whom you do business. Secondly, while everyone deserves a second chance in life, there are no do-overs in business. Heed the early signs. If someone makes one excuse, they will make another and another and will continue to make excuses until you stop them. Lastly, don’t wait until the other party makes a move, especially when they have been stalling or wavering. Be proactive. Always. Be like Caesar. The Ape leader, not the Roman who was stabbed 23 times.

 

81 Cantonese Proverbs

It’s hard to believe, but Cantonese is a dying language. In our streamlining civilizational mentality, everything is converging and/or merging. Big businesses are getting bigger by gobbling up other big businesses. Governments are unionizing. Everything is on a global scale now. Telecoms, technologies, governments, culture and, yes, languages are all seemingly on a path of convergence.

This is neither good nor bad. It’s just is. In the case of Cantonese, however, there is a personal element for me. Here to do my small part in an effort of preservation, I want to share the following from the Cantonese Resources blog:

81CantoneseProverbs

On Fear

“Do one thing every day that scares you,” said Eleanor Roosevelt.

That is one of the best advice I’ve heard. I have tried to do that, although inconsistently. Usually it’s something small and rather trivial. But practice does usually make perfect, and after awhile the fear dissipates and you realize there was nothing to be afraid of to begin with.

Not only that: fear can turn habitual. Because it’s easy. Because it’s convenient. Because it’s safe. Conversely, courage can be practiced, too. It’s more difficult, because there is accountability, unlike succumbing to fear. There is such a thing as debilitating fear, but that’s where taking small steps can help.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Start small and, maybe, something trivial. Make it a habit. Eventually you won’t even think about it.

Two years ago, I quit a job of almost 14 years. It was a frightful decision. The few months following that decision, I had moments of doubt, as anyone would, I think. However, at some point, I realized I had stopped thinking “what if.” By then I had new tasks in front of me. By then I had jumped into something new. I was too busy paving the road in front to look at the receding path behind.

Now I can’t even imagined not making that decision. I had to. I needed to. Whether I’m better off financially or otherwise is a matter of perceptive, of course. All I know is I am not done with what I need to do now. Chances are I will probably be doing something new not too far into the distant. By then I won’t be looking back at right now either.