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.”
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.