Of Mice and Magicians

The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. –Eden Phillpotts

He lived in the desert because it suited him to live there; he was lord over all he sur­veyed. He cher­ished his soli­tude, the seclu­sion he found there. He did not need any inter­ac­tion with soci­ety; he did not seek the approval of oth­ers. He had his own dream to fol­low, his own quest to achieve. So, far beyond the cities, the farms, the air­ports and the roads, he lived in his bar­ren self-imposed isolation.

Because he lived in his own fron­tier, no one kept tabs on him. That is, until he launched a rocket into space. He was the first pri­vate per­son to do so, com­pletely on his own; that was the source of some pride. But we still needed to con­trol him, to bring him in. He could not be allowed to oper­ate alone.

And so I set off across his desert to nego­ti­ate with him. I was dropped on the coast, and he was prob­a­bly on the moun­tain well inland from me. I would have to hike. This was a sand desert, blonde and wind­blown. Rock out­crop­pings, pro­trud­ing here and there, were pol­ished smooth and glossy from years of sand on the wind. No rock was strong enough to hold its craggy shape against the relent­less buff­ing and pol­ish­ing sand. Walk­ing was not just pre­car­i­ous, it was impos­si­ble; the sands shifted as soon as you put any weight on it. My progress was slow and labo­ri­ous; two feet for­ward and one foot back.

He knew I was com­ing; he could see me and watch me at his whim. When I arrived, he looked at me hard. He was not wor­ried about me, and not scared. He was not amazed, nor was he star­tled. He was not warm or invit­ing. Like the rocks around him, he just was.

He nod­ded slightly to me, invit­ing me to fol­low; he turned and went into his home. The door was old, once red, but the paint worn and faded. In many placed the paint was com­pletely worn through to the wood beneath. But the door was thick and solid. It would have to be to seal off the home from the rav­ages of the sand storms it was there to but­tress against.

The first room was low and dark. You could feel the weight of the moun­tain above us push­ing down on the ceil­ing, mak­ing you feel like you needed to walk hunched over. There was a light, but not much of one, and it was not invit­ing. It made me want to stay back in my shad­ows, stay back where I felt safe. The old man was in the light ready to sit down on a low, red leather couch.

I told him we thought his rocket launch was great. He thanked me. I told him he was going to need to stop, though. He asked me why.

Well, we have plans,” I said. “We have launched many mis­sions, and we intent ot launch many more. Your rock­ets may inter­fere with ours, and we can’t have that.” I stared hard into his eyes, unblink­ing, to drive home my point. “We can­not have your unplanned launches spoil our experiments.”

He under­stood.


I was in Los Ange­les, to attend the unveil­ing of a new line of Walt Dis­ney Clas­sics Col­lec­tion sculp­tures. The WDCC is a series of high qual­ity porce­lain sculp­tures recre­at­ing famous and key moments from clas­sic Dis­ney ani­ma­tion. At least, that was how the col­lec­tion started out; Dis­ney soon dis­cov­ered there was more money to be had from col­lec­tors than there were key moments from impor­tant films. With money in the bal­ance, the source man­date was relaxed, first to include more con­tem­po­rary films, then to tele­vi­sions shows and spe­cials. Ulti­mately, they even allowed other Dis­ney prop­er­ties such as key moments in the attrac­tions at the parks. Need­less to say, Dis­ney never let the integrity of the line inter­fere with their quest to make a quick buck off the collectors.

Tim was also there at the unveil­ing. He was eager to see what I thought of the new line; Tim was in the know on this release. Tim is always fun to be around because Tim is always privy to what is going on. The new line was to be called, “The Magic of Disney.”

Tim stood a bit away to my left, and in front of us was a small stage, a stage like a small pup­pet show might be per­formed in. It was all set in a half rounded col­umn that extended from an oth­er­wise smooth, dark blue wall.  The prosce­nium open­ing stretched two thirds of the way around the half-circled pro­tru­sion. It was about three feet wide and inten­tion­ally set below eye level; we had to squat down to look in. The cur­tain hid­ing the new sculp­tures was royal blue vel­vet, and only about two feet high.

The cur­tain fell, and there were the new pieces. Mickey and a man in a Tux. Min­nie and the man in a Tux. Goofy and the same man in the Tux. The man looked famil­iar, I looked at him hard. Black, wavy hair, I had seen it before. Was it Harry Houdini?

Tim handed me the prod­uct sheet, and sure enough, it was Hou­dini. I wanted to ask what con­nec­tion Hou­dini had to Dis­ney, but I kept read­ing. I knew I would find the answer. Besides, I had this nasty rec­ol­lec­tion in the recesses of my mind… I had a feel­ing I knew where Dis­ney was get­ting this idea from.

It was just a fleet­ing men­tion in the promo mate­r­ial, but I saw it for what it really was: the source. The mate­ri­als said that among those at the gen­e­sis of the line was a man named Paul. Of course– my friend Paul from Salt Lake City! I had heard that Paul had started work­ing directly for Dis­ney a year ago, advis­ing the D-23 line. That seemed a per­fect fit for him. But it would not take much to have Paul cross paths with WDCC… And, Paul being a magi­cian him­self, it was only log­i­cal he was the spring­board for the Hou­dini idea.

So now I under­stood the idea, but that did not make me like it. I tried to be nice, to at least be non-committal, but Tim knew I did not like the ideas. The sculp­tures, like all the WDCC, were high qual­ity, but to my mind, the con­cept was poor and unsupported.

Paul’s wife called me over; she was print­ing off my web­site. It was a new type of printer. It did not print paper copies of the site itself; it printed what was shown on the web­site. First, it built a cat­a­log, a think book that con­tained all the pages. As you opened that, you could turn through all the art. Being ani­ma­tion cels, this printer out­putted them on clear plas­tic, not unlike an orig­i­nal ani­ma­tion cel.

On one page, I had an image of Cap­tain Hook’s pirate ship. The printer made a three-dimensional ver­sion of the ship, also out of thin plas­tic. I was amazed, and delighted to see this new ver­sion of my web­site, this whole new way of look­ing at it.

I woke up.

Rat­ing 3.00 out of 5

About Dave Koch

Father, writer, entrepreneur, web coder, 2008 Presidential candidate, husband and friend. Sometimes I play guitar.
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One Response to Of Mice and Magicians

  1. Allan says:

    Superb post, styl­ish web­page tem­plate, con­tinue the great work

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