July 31st, 2005

Knight

Disneyland marks a half century

Total Environments

Disneyland marks a half century
By Eric Noland
Los Angeles Daily News

ANAHEIM — Disneyland is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a bang. A lot of them, actually.

The actual 50th anniversary of Disneyland in California was celebrated on Sunday, July 17, 2005, featuring company officials, politicians and, of course, Mickey Mouse.

A pyrotechnic extravaganza is being unleashed nightly as the latest manifestation of the park's fireworks show, and it's an impressive one.
 
    As Disneyland pays homage to some of its most popular attractions down through the years, fireworks are not aimed straight into the sky but at angles, so as to resemble shooting stars, a pirate cannon battle and space cruisers streaking off into the heavens. Lasers cut down enemy craft. Tongues of flame spew forth from the battlements of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

      And Tinker Bell, rather than simply taking that zip line ride from the Matterhorn to Fantasyland, now breaks these static bonds by dipping low over the castle, turning in midair, hovering and, at one point, even flitting back up toward the mountain peak.

      Good thing, because the argument could otherwise be made that Disneyland's anniversary party is somewhat understated.

      There is a new Tomorrowland ride, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (which actually debuted well before the anniversary kickoff). The daily parade has been beefed up with the float designs of Rose Parade wizard Paul Rodriguez. Each of the park's original rides now has a gold vehicle. Collages can be found here and there of Disney characters, made entirely from tourist photos sent in by guests over the past year. Some museum exhibits and a film chronicle the conception and inception of the park.

      All well and good. But visitors expecting a bit more on the occasion of Disneyland's half-century birthday will have to wait until dark. The fireworks show, titled "Remember . . . Dreams Come True," nicely closes any zap gap.

      Julie Andrews, star of one of Disney's most popular movies, "Mary Poppins," narrates the 20-minute spectacular, which dips into Disneyland history to recount some of the more popular attractions — right after a luminescent Tinker Bell makes her dramatic introductory flight.

Guests line up to ride Disneyland's "Space Mountain." The ride recently reopened after a two-year renovation.

      A good place to see this show is from anywhere in the vicinity of Disneyland's Central Plaza, at the top of Main Street, because the castle facade is an integral part of the production.

      The castle becomes bathed in neon lights in homage to that guiltiest of past Disneyland pleasures, the Main Street Electrical Parade (and good luck getting the song out of your head). Then, to commemorate the Indy Jones Adventure, towers of flame leap high into the air.
      The next transformation, to honor the Haunted Mansion, is astonishing: Through light effects, the castle suddenly looks Gothic and decrepit, laced with spooky shadows, with ghosts soaring skyward up its face.

      The cannon crossfire of Pirates of the Caribbean follows, after which sparks fly from pinwheels to celebrate Alice in Wonderland.
      Then the action really dials up, as the castle transforms into a Star Tours battle station. Ominous green lasers rake the skies, and one space intruder is cut down in a shower of sparks right above Main Street's Plaza Inn. Combat in deep space is also the theme of Disneyland's newest ride, which may not have the instant cachet that accompanied the opening of the Pirates, Space Mountain or Indiana Jones, but has generated some intrigue — while demonstrating what kind of leaps Disneyland has made over its 50 years.

      When Walt Disney opened his visionary new theme park on a sweltering Orange County day in July 1955, amid the state-fair-like exhibits ("The Story of Oil"?) were such tame offerings as mule rides, motorboats running on a track and three attractions that would come to be known as the pioneers of Disneyland's "dark rides": Peter Pan, Snow White and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Guests ride Disneyland's "Space Mountain," a favorite of young and old alike.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is another such slow-moving ride in the dark, but with technological wrinkles that figure to give it broad appeal.

      Based on the movie "Toy Story," it takes riders through the nefarious domain of Emperor Zurg, with Buzz soliciting everyone's help in fighting the evil ones. Each car is equipped with a couple of pistol-shaped electronic blasters, and targets on the bad guys light up left and right along the ride.

      As you blaze away, your score is updated continuously on a digital readout on the dash, which introduces a competitive component to a friendly family outing. "Mom wins! Mom wins!" came a cry from the group behind me as they exited the ride. "We find that people are riding over and over again," said Disneyland spokesman John McClintock, "because you're trying to beat your own score or your friend's score."

      It's a clever concept, in that the ride is little more than Alice in Wonderland with gunplay, yet the interactive element takes kids' (notably teens') minds off the fact that they're just creeping along past brightly painted sets with creative lighting. At the end of the ride, you might be hard-pressed to remember anything of what you passed, so focused are you on zeroing in on targets. As with many Disneyland rides, a candid photo of you can be perused at the conclusion, but in a refreshing twist, you're not asked to buy a glossy print—but rather e-mail your picture to someone at no cost. (This undoubtedly is intended to create buzz about Buzz.)

      And there's an online tie-in. "You'll see targets similar to those inside the ride," said McClintock, "and when you hit those targets, it will increase the value of certain targets inside the ride itself. You will be affecting the score of someone in the ride." Fantasy come to life, children and adults delighted equally: Walt would surely be proud.

      The man's vision for the park broke all the bounds of 1950s convention, and it is fascinating to plumb it. This is readily done at museum exhibits and through a film presented just inside the main gates at the Main Street Opera House. If you have kids in tow, it might not be wise to hit this first, because they'll inevitably be squirming to get on a ride, hug a character or secure a princess' autograph.

      But later in the day, when the sun is high and you need a breather, duck in here to see "Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years" is an examination of how all of this got started.

      An exhibit hall has a mock-up of Disneyland on opening day, along with such artifacts as the A-B-C-D-E ticket books (oh, how those E-tickets were prized!) and some conceptual artwork by Disney designers.

      A drawing of Walt's original plan sketches out a small park adjacent to his Burbank studios, wedged between Riverside Drive and the Los Angeles River channel. Subsequent designs, leading up to the construction of the park in Anaheim, show various features that never made it off the drawing board (maybe mercifully): Lilliputian Land, Holiday Park, Mickey Mouse Club Island, Granny's Farm.

      The film is narrated by Steve Martin, with some peevish assistance from Donald Duck. As a teenager growing up in Garden Grove, Martin rode his bike over to Disneyland in its infancy and applied for a job. He landed a gig in the magic shop on Main Street, so he's uniquely qualified to talk about the early look of the place — and the fact that Tomorrowland, for example, was conceived to capture what life might be like in that far-off, exotic year of 1986.

      But the real treasure is contained in the film footage itself. One of the hosts at this attraction noted that Disney employees picking through the company vault recently found some neglected cans of film. When this was run through a projector, it was found to be priceless footage, much of it in color, of opening day and the first few years at Disneyland.

      Today, the park continues to adapt to market forces and consumer trends. Long gone is Martin's magic shop, along with the working pharmacy and corset shop originally on Main Street. In their place, you'll now find establishments catering to such current rages as pin trading, commemorative merchandise — the gold Mickey Mouse ears ($11.50) are wildly popular — and anything to do with the Disney princesses.

      The latter has taken on a life of its own, such that you can barely traverse the park without tripping over some real-life stand-in for a cartoon heroine. The little girls patiently queue up for autographs — and these lines move even slower than the one for the Dumbo ride. A shop just inside the castle gates is devoted entirely to the appropriate princess garb.

      Somebody was obviously paying attention, because in the new "Parade of Dreams" a 10-minute procession that features eight floats, little feminine eyes are sure to widen at the sight of no fewer than six fairies (including Tinker Bell, of course), plus Belle, Ariel, Alice and — on a single climactic float — Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, all dancing with their princes charming. Rodriguez's design innovations are expressed through acrobats frolicking on bungee lines on the Pinocchio float and spinning chandeliers on the Beauty and the Beast float.

      On the day of my visit, the parade proved to be a bit balky, halting at least three times — and forcing the performers to remain enthusiastically animated through the delays. But come to think of it, the Rose Parade routinely experiences that, too.

      But all is forgotten once the sun goes down. Then it's time to cue the pyrotechnics and light effects, and Disneyland obligingly delivers a show worthy of a half-century of kingdom magic.


* Source
Throne

San Fran via dark lenses of film noir

SAN FRANCISCO NOIR: The City in Film Noir From 1940 to the Present
By Nathaniel Rich
Little Bookroom. $17.95.

Fog and film is a great combination, especially in a city like San Francisco, which is justly famous for the mist that blankets everything from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Transamerica Pyramid. In this unusual guide, author Rich examines a particular type of movie, called film noir. Made during and after World War II, film noir is all about sharp angles and moody shadows. If a word can sum it up, it would be dread. Why, he asks, were so many film noirs shot in San Francisco? He looks at classics such as "The Maltese Falcon" and "Vertigo" and the real-life places where they were shot. He also includes post-noir films: the chase scene in "Bullitt" or the stadium scene in "Dirty Harry" where detective Harry Callahan first confronts a serial killer. Rich also includes information on the annual Noir City film festival, the Mystery Bookstore, and the Danger and Despair Knitting Circle, a nonprofit organization that he calls a cross between a film society and a speakeasy. -- JUNE SAWYERS, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

Throne

South Jersey supernatural

South Jersey supernatural
Psychics, astrologers and other purveyors of the paranormal have plenty of customers in tri-county area
By CHUCK DARROW, Courier-Post Staff
Sunday, July 31, 2005

There is much that is unknowable about the occult and those who indulge in its myriad realms, from communicating with the dead to divining future events. But there is one thing that appears to be certain: There are a large number of adherents in South Jersey.

"It's absolutely more prevalent than you might think," insists Keith Madden who, since 1996, has owned Follow The Rainbow, the Audubon shop that is the unofficial headquarters for local residents interested in such subjects as witchcraft and non-medical healing.

The store, which was originally in Collingswood, offers such items as books, music, candles, incense, oils, herbs, wands, Tarot cards and crystals. Thanks to Madden's background in geology, his store is also renown for his custom jewelry, which is often used as talismans.

"Unfortunately, because South Jersey is, in my opinion, a very conservative area, we still live with people who don't want to discuss anything as being positive outside their realm," he says.

"A large portion of our customers are people you'd never think would be producing some of these thought processes."

That opinion is seconded by Stanley Kruczynski, a 59-year-old Atlantic County resident who conducts psychic readings for between $80 and $300 per hour, depending on location.

"It's wealthy, reasonable people, that's the amazing thing," says Kruczynski. "My best clients are bank presidents." He adds he's also consulted accountants, doctors, stockbrokers, restaurant owners and even Catholic priests, most of whom come to him for investment advice.

While most who avail themselves of the goods and services offered by Madden and Kruczynski would not seem out of place at a Rotary Club meeting or church picnic, "There are," says Madden, "those who look the part. But we don't have that many `Goths.' "

While its focus is on Paganism, Wiccan and New Age lifestyles and beliefs, Follow the Rainbow also stocks merchandise dedicated to Buddhism, Hinduism and even Christianity. That's a result of Madden's philosophy that anything that gets one through the day without causing harm to others is to be encouraged.

Although trained as a geologist and paleontologist, Madden - who also specializes in psychomotry, which is the practice of divining information from the energy emanating from stones - long ago came to grips with the notion that there are unseen and misunderstood forces that guide our existence.

"The basic premise here is that you go through life using 10 percent of your brain," he says.

"(Albert) Einstein used 13 percent. That leaves 87 to 90 percent that they can't tell you about what's going on."

THE PSYCHIC

"There's no such thing as coincidence in the universe. Modern science has just not found the formula," proclaims Stanley Kruczynski (pronounced kru-CHIN-ski), a 59-year-old, Haddonfield-born psychic who lives in the Atlantic County hamlet of Rosedale.

Kruczynski, who has been a professional psychic for 40 years, became aware of his ability to foretell the future, as well as other paranormal abilities, when he was 7.

"I was able to use my gifts to understand what would happen the next day," he says. "And I knew what people were saying and thinking about me."

While he went on to a career as a musician and music and voice teacher, Kruczynski continued to develop his psychic powers. Today, he charges between $80 and $300 for one-hour consultations that involve various disciplines including palm reading, Tarot cards and astrology.

The lower-cost sessions are conducted over the phone. Those on the high-end take place at his home. "The high-paying customers are 100 percent men. The low-paying customers are mostly women," he says, offering no further explanation.

Although Kruczynski, an elegant, gracious and soft-spoken man, admits he does not believe in traditional medicine - he claims to have cured his own melonoma by changing his diet - doctors are regular clients of his.

"They don't consult me on medical issues, just personal and financial issues," he says. "And they come to me if there's a lawsuit and ask me how it's going to turn out."

Kruczynski, who also serves as a medium for people seeking communication with dead relatives and pets, takes pride in his forthrightness with clients who demand to know everything he knows.

"I feel the truth," he says. "If someone is going to die and they want to hear the truth, I tell them."

Of course, it is often difficult for his clients to hear what Kruczynski has to say about them.

"You're pulling down their veneer and getting down to the subconscious," he offers. "And when you get down there, people get uncomfortable."

Kruczynski understands there are many people who consider what he does to be, at best, nothing more than parlor tricks. But he also suspects that many naysayers protest too much.

"There are probably more (believers) than you or I think there are," he says.

"I think there are a lot of hidden people who believe in this, but wouldn't go to a psychic."

THE WITCH

It's understandable that Angelique, a witch who lives in Audubon, prefers that neither her last name nor photo appear in this story.

"I've had my kids threatened on the street and we had our windows broken," she says, describing the reaction her family encountered when they first moved to town.

Those days may be gone, but the scars obviously linger, hence the request for semi-anonymity. But the self-described "recovering Catholic" makes no apologies for becoming a witch some 30 years ago after reading a book by Hans Holzer, a leading literary light of the occult world.

Not surprisingly, if you passed Angelique on the street, you wouldn't give her a second glance: She forgoes the trappings of witchcraft popularized in the entertainment media.

"I don't wear pointy hats," she says with a sly smile. "They're uncomfortable and hard to keep on your head."

Thanks to pop culture, the most common image of a witch is a scary-looking old women who conjures spells mostly to bring harm to others.

Angelique has little use for that stereotype.

"I don't do magic with a `c,' she says. "That's sleight-of-hand-tricks. I do ceremonial `majick.' It probably stems from the Kabbalah (Judaism's mystic offshoot that is all the rage among many celebrities including Madonna).

" `Majick' is using the energies in and around us for any purpose you want. But you have to be willing to pay the price. There's always a price to pay. It's really kind of the ultimate `What goes around, comes around.' "

Angelique, who describes herself as being "between 50 and death," says she is neither a "black witch" nor a "white witch."

"I'm a human being, which makes me a `gray witch,' " she says.

"A black witch is totally evil. And being a white witch, that would be terrible to have to be good 24 hours a day."

So, can she cause harm to someone via spells and incantations?

"If you came to me and said someone was trying to do you harm, I'd try to figure out a way, using herbs, and talismans and incantations, to keep that person away from you."

In addition to being a witch, Angelique is also a practicing Pagan which, she explains, is not just another word for "witch."

Paganism, she explains, is a religion whose core tenent is that all of life's forces and energies emanate from the Earth.

"The Earth does everything we do," she says. "It has a circulatory system and it has a beating heart and it has a nervous system. The Earth is a living, breathing entity. It's a scientific fact.

"We have a bumper sticker: `My goddess gave birth to your God.' We were there first. It was a flourishing religion long before Christianity came along."

THE MYSTIC

As a Native American of Cherokee descent, it would be easy to characterize Fairton's Rick Boney as a "shaman." Easy, but inaccurate.

"Because my background is Native American, when I was young I was exposed to sweat lodges . . . all of that," says Boney, 44.

"But I would probably describe myself as a `universal mystic.' Throughout my life, I've studied the great traditions of the world and drawn from all of them."

Boney (pronounced "Bonnie"), who does not charge for his mystical work, uses various "spirit journeys" including drumming rituals and meditation, to facilitate the expanding of the consciousness. Regardless of his modus operandi, the goal remains constant.

"The whole of mystic practice is for one purpose," he says. "Everyone is given gifts by the creator. The problem is, in our modern society, we don't have the access to develop our capabilities. Mysticism helps people learn about themselves and their capabilities, and teaches them how to reach their fullest potential.

"All mysticism is about personal development. I find that when people get into this it really does begin to happen."

Despite Boney's reference to "the creator," he emphasizes that mysticism is not a religion.

"In mystical practice," he explains, "you start out with the belief that God is there, but is certainly not a guy with a long, white beard floating around on a cloud.

God is the collective creative force in the universe.

"Do I believe in a personal God? No. Do I believe in a God behind everything in the universe? Absolutely."

Boney, who, with partner Karen Taylor of Cherry Hill, creates murals based on the psychic energy of clients and their surroundings, believes mysticism can be a positive force in people's lives. But he doesn't engage in any sort of proselytizing.

"The interest comes within, not from the outside in," he says, likening an individual's quest for this kind of enlightenment to a basic physical urge.

"Over time, as we develop this, a `spiritual puberty' comes about, and the experience of the mystic becomes a drive, much in the same way the sexual drive develops in adolescence," he says.

"When that happens, people seek that out in a powerful way."

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