Saturday, March 31, 2007

Great Baseball Books

Just in time for Opening Day (which is Monday) here is a list of the five best baseball books from former Commissioner Fay Vincent.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cool Link

Here's a cool link to add to the blogroll: Curt Schilling has a blog. Visit early and often.

In a recent post, this question from a fan elicited a great answer:


A-There are many of us on the team. As far as how it affects me on a daily basis I am not sure there’s any way to put it other than it affects everything about me, everyday. It doesn’t imply what people that are not Christians seem to think it does. Which is to say it doesn’t preclude me from saying dumb things, making stupid mistakes, thinking bad things, to me it’s the foundation on which I am trying to build something lasting and meaningful to the people I know, and that know me.

Couldn't have said it any better myself.

Hat tip: Dean Barnett

Monday, March 19, 2007

Interview: Margaret Kerry, Model for Peter Pan's Tinker Bell

The first thing Margaret Kerry will tell you about herself is that she is a talker. This is not a huge surprise since she has had an extensive career in radio and voice-over work for various animated productions. But the role she is best known for is one that she didn't even receive credit for nor did it require her to say anything: Tinker Bell from Disney's Peter Pan.

Margaret Kerry. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Mrs. Kerry started her acting career at the age of four as a fairy, ironically enough, in A Midsummer Night's Dream with Mickey Rooney. She would later work with Rooney again on National Velvet doubling for Elizabeth Taylor in several scenes. By the time Peter Pan rolled around, she had already established herself as an actress and dancer when she received the call that would literally change her life.

"I was working at Fox as an assistant dance director and I got a call from my agent that they were doing interviews for this reference model for a 3 1/2 inch fairy who didn't talk. I got home and thought how in the world do you show your stuff when it's a fairy who doesn't talk? So I went into my records and had one that was instrumental and stayed up and choreographed fixing breakfast: getting up, walking to the kitchen, going over, looking into the refrigerator, getting out the eggs, juggling them on the way over to the stove. Of course there was nothing there. It was all pantomime."

"I took my record player with me over to this very tiny office. I put the record on and did it for them. I think they were a little taken aback. So then they said 'What we want to do is this scene where she lands on the mirror and preens herself and then she measures her hips.' And I said, 'Oh, I can do that.' I did it for them and I learned later that one of the reasons they hired me was I looked down through the mirror which wasn't there and back up. They could see the difference in my face. I figured that Tinker Bell had never seen a mirror before. They hadn't thought about that. To me, all of these things are so new to her and that's what makes her so beguiling. She has never seen a jug before so she get's inside it according to the book. She's never seen a mirror before. So now she's preening and she's never seen her hips before. That's what they saw that I was able to bring: this other dimension to her that they really hadn't thought about.”

“Tinker Bell was a throwaway character. They were not going to do much with her. First of all, she really did not fit in the era. Wendy was the character that was in the culture, the demure, helpful female that was the mother type. They had had Cinderella and Snow White and along comes this cury thing who is independent, starting to find out what life is all about. She is adventurous and no one is going to tell her what to do.”

Clearly, Ms. Kerry’s ideas about the character helped transform her from a minor player to a major part of the story. She would go onto the soundstage and act out different scenes for the animators so they would know how to draw the character. I asked her how difficult it was to act out the sequences that only the animators would see.

Margaret Kerry (Live Action Reference Model for Tinker Bell) © Disney. All Rights Reserved..

“It was not difficult because I believed in (Directing Animator) Marc Davis. He could explain what he wanted and I, as a female, having gone through so much of this, as an actress, a pantomimist, and as a dancer could put it all together. I knew when he got to what he wanted when he would say ‘Let’s film that’. He was an enthusiastic, delightful genius.”

Little did she know that this 3 ½ inch fairy would become as closely associated with Walt Disney as Mickey Mouse. I asked her how Tinker Bell managed to become such a Disney icon.

“It wasn’t until the people at Disney Studios (they thought Disneyland was going to be an abysmal failure and he was going to lose all his money) asked him not to use many licensed characters at the parks because they made money out of licensing Minnie, Mickey, and the others. So they sent Roy Disney in to talk to him about it. Walt said, ‘I’ll take it under advisement’. A couple of days later he said ‘Tell them I’m going to use Jiminy Cricket and Tinker Bell. Will that satisfy them?’ And Roy said yes. That’s why Tinker Bell came to life in the park.”

“And then, of course, Mr. Disney made the greatest decision of his life. He had Tinker Bell open up his television shows and she would take us all to magical places. And I thought he was a genius for doing that.”

It seems a little ironic that the role for which Ms. Kerry is best known is one she was never credited for on screen. It was this lack of screen credit that likely fed one of the wild rumors that circulated shortly after the film’s release: Marilyn Monroe was the model for Tinker Bell.

“Marilyn Monroe wasn’t even known in 1953. A couple of people who have been at Disney all these years suspect there was a radio interview done and somebody said that Tinkerbell was curvy like Marilyn Monroe and we think that somebody picked up on that and put it in an article.”

As it turns out, she had her own close encounter with Marilyn Monroe a couple of years prior to Peter Pan. “She came to Fox. She had just been signed as a starlet and we were doing a bathing suit layout with about 60 other girls. We all fell in love with her. She was just darling and so sweet. We knee she was our main competition. You could just tell it. We didn’t mind. There was no backbiting.”

“She was sitting around a table with an umbrella over it and we were waiting for the photographer to do a new setup. We were talking about that we didn’t go out in the sun because it was bad for our skin. I said, ‘For the first time my camera has film in it. Can I take a picture of you?’ She looked at me and she said, ‘Only if I can take a picture of you.’”

One of the other common misconceptions about the film has to do with Ms. Kerry’s alter ego and her feelings toward Peter. When Wendy arrives in Neverland, Tinker Bell gets mad and the assumption is that she is jealous of her because she is in love with Peter. Not so, says Ms. Kerry. “She’s gone on adventures with Peter before and has had all of his attention. Then this big, ugly girls comes along and gets the attention. She is provoked. She doesn’t know what jealousy is really if you asked her. She just knows that she wants the attention back. Other movies have said she was in love with Peter. But she doesn’t know what love is. In today’s world she would be called a groupie.”

Speaking of groupies, Ms, Kerry says she still gets a lot of mail from men especially who relay the feelings they have had for the little fairy. “You don’t know how many letters and e-mails I get from men who say they were in love with her from the first moment they saw her. They’re always a little bit hesitant to say it. She can’t possible hurt you. What a good person to be in love with!”

“I’ve had men who have walked up to me at Disneyana shows and said ‘I have to tell you, Margaret, I’ve been in love with you since I was five years old’. And I said, ‘Fine. I’m not doing anything next Tuesday. Let’s get married.’”

Though she wasn’t given credit for her work as Tinker Bell, she’s still very proud of the movie and says that it has still retained its magic after all these years. “I hadn’t seen the film in 12 or 15 years (until a recent screening as part of the DVD release promotion). I realized how much fun this film is. This is a happy, magical film. The audience was in stitches. They were laughing at the crocodile. The crocodile should be menacing. But it’s so funny. Everything that they did in it could have been dark, ugly, mean and scary. It was funny. They did the greatest job and I think that right now, we need a happy, magical film from the greatest classical animation company in the world: Disney, and it’s this remastered film. It’s really something to watch. I forgot since I hadn’t seen it in so long. You walk out of the theater singing and happy and talking about, I hope, Tinker Bell.

Peter Pan is now available in a new 2-disc DVD from Disney Home Video.

This article originally appeared at Blogcritics.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Fred Thompson, Presidential Candidate?

One of the most intriguing potential presidential candidates hasn't even declared yet and is having an effect on the race: former Republican Senator Fred Thompson. John Fund of has a terrific interview with Mr. Thompson in which he discusses a possible presidential run.Personally, I hope he will run simply because it will vastly improve the field of potenital candidates.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

DVD Review: Peter Pan

One of our family's favorite Disney movies is Peter Pan. The timeless story about a boy who doesn't want to grow up is one that we never get tired of watching. When I heard that Disney was going to release the movie in a new 2-disc edition I wondered whether it would be worth owning especially since I already had the VHS and earlier DVD version of the movie. Once I saw everything that had been added for this new edition I was blown away.

The film itself has never looked better. The updated digitial remastering of the video as well as the home theater Surround Sound mix have both dramatically enhanced the movie.

The second disc offers a number of terrific bonus features that will enhance the viewing experience. For the first time, viewers will get to hear in Walt Disney's own words "Why I Made Peter Pan". There is also the alternate opening to the film in "The Peter Pan That Almost Was". The photo gallery features storyboards and live-action reference photographs that were found in the Disney archives. Also included is a 1952 featurette "The Peter Pan Story" and a look at the many different variations the story took on during production and why it took so long (16 years!) to bring the movie to life.

Music also plays an important part in this movie. Viewers will get to hear the songs that didn't make it into the film (as well as the concept art for those numbers). T-Squad performs "Second Star to the Right" in what clearly is a Disney Channel music video.

But the brightest spot musically speaking is a new song that was written by Richard Sherman, legendary Disney composer. The lyrics to an unfinished song were found in the archives. Sherman was commissioned to compose the music. The end result is a marvelous ballad which is beautifully performed by Paige O'Hara (the voice of Belle in Beauty and the Beast).

Anyone who is a fan of Peter Pan or is being introduced to the movie for the first time will thoroughly enjoy this DVD. The continuing appeal of this film should be enhanced by this 2-disc set.

This article was originally published at Blogcritics.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Interview: Kathryn Beaumont, Voice of Peter Pan's Wendy

Kathryn Beaumont started her career as a child actress in England before MGM signed her to a contract and brought her family to Hollywood. Little did she know at the time that would lead to a meeting with a Hollywood legend: Walt Disney. Kathryn Beaumont

Kathryn Beaumont

Shortly after arriving in Hollywood, Disney put out a casting call for a new animated feature: Alice in Wonderland. Ms. Beaumont was eventually cast as Alice and it led to a face-to-face meeting with Disney. "I was very awestruck because the first time I met him was when we went in to sign the contract [for Alice in Wonderland]," Ms. Beaumont recalled during a recent interview. "We were going to go up to Walt's office and meet him. I was very nervous because he was a person who was so well-known all over the world. But I realized he was an easygoing person, an everyday person and he wasn't the icon in the office, the head of the studio you never saw. He was very much a part of the studio and made himself known and seen. He sat down on the couch with me and with the [Alice] book and started talking to me about what was happening in the book and how they were going to interpret some of the scenes. He was so relaxed with me and it made me feel much, much better. I liked him a lot."

Disney apparently liked what Ms. Beaumont brought to Alice in Wonderland enough that he cast her as Wendy Darling, the oldest of the children that fly off to Neverland in Peter Pan. But, she explained, her job involved more than just providing the voice for Wendy.

"They would invite me to come up and sit in on storyboard conferences and there was a reason for that in that they wanted me to understand what the scene was about and understand every aspect of it where my experience with MGM had been that you got your little script and you memorized your lines and you really didn't have an idea what the story was about - you just knew that scene. So there wasn't really an understanding and a following through of what was going on in the film. At Disney, the fact that I would go in and watch how the storyboard was evolving and what the character was going to be doing, I was better able to play the role more realistically. They accepted me as one of the team though I was one of the littlest people there. Because of that, they made me feel comfortable, an important part of it all."

Providing the voice for Wendy was only about half of what was required of her and the other cast members. The other, lesser known aspect, is that the actors were also the live-action models for the animators.

"I started out doing the voice and then the animators wanted me to do the live action as well because that was the reference work for the artists to be able to see the way the human figure was moving. So we would record first and then go to the soundstage and it would be filmed but basically just for the animators. Their seeing my movement and the way that I interpreted the character, they would look at that and then that gave them the help that they needed to draw the character."

Wendy and John

Live Action reference shot (Kathryn Beaumont as Wendy Darling, Paul Collins as John Darling). © Disney. All Rights Reserved
With the new 2-disc DVD release from Disney, a whole new generation of viewers will get to enjoy this movie. I asked Ms. Beaumont what has made this such a timeless story.
"It's because it's such a timeless story and it's an adventure. Children obviously love anything that have to do with adventures that they have and the fantasy that goes along with that. Then there's the concept of the little boy who didn't grow up and that concept that's developed through the story. The conflict of growing up and then looking back, being a mature person and thinking back to the time when you were carefree and could have fun and there was no responsibility as opposed to the little boy who wanted to live that way forever. It's that concept we can all relate to in our lives. The story itself has that but it also has these wonderful characters, adventure and lots of humor. Every generation comes by and is intrigued and thoroughly entertained by it from one generation to the next no matter what things have been going on in our lives over the decades."

"The fact that I at such a young age had this opportunity to do something so very special and it's even more special because these films have come back again and again. I never suspected that would happen and how fortunate I am that I am part of it and can still be part of the legacy that was Disney. I am proud to be part of what he created."

This article was originally published at Blogcritics.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Book Review of the Week

Thanks to Lyn Perry at Thought Renewal for selecting me as their guest book reviewer of the week. Be sure to stop by and check out their terrific blog.