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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Test Track Full POV Video - darthmaz314 Walt Disney World Video Featurette

darthmaz314's Walt Disney World Video Featurette today brings you a full POV ride through of Epcot's powerhouse thrill ride, Test Track. This attraction, inserted into the original World of Motion building, was Epcot's first attempt at a thrill ride. The original concept sought to recreate the experience of a car manufacturer's proving ground and basically relegated riders to crash test dummies as their vehicle negotiated a series of speed, precision, and endurance tests that ran the gamut from navigating over various road surfaces to anti-lock brake spinout prevention trials. Yet none of the elements of the attraction either in its original or current incarnation can rival the acceleration test which blasts you out of the ride building and onto a banked track which circles it. As your test vehicle accelerates to over 65 mph and literally screams through the straightaway and into the final banked turn, you will swear you are about to break the sound barrier as your hair bursts into flames. A must do at Disney World and definitely not to be missed at Epcot, darthmaz314 invites you to enjoy...Test Track.  


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Repost: George Harrison: Living in the Material World: A Review

In honor of what would have been the 72nd birthday of George Harrison, darthmaz314 brings you a re-post of the 2011 review of Martin Scorsese's documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World. 


Being a lifelong fan of both the Beatles and the films of Martin Scorsese, I was intrigued to learn that Scorsese had directed a documentary about the life of George Harrison. This doc is entitled George Harrison: Living in the Material World and it was released in theaters (limited), on Blu-Ray and DVD, and broadcast as a film in two parts on HBO back in 2011. I watched the film in two separate viewings, which given its length of nearly four hours, will be necessary for many people. 
A Beatle Aging Gracefully

The project was envisioned by George Harrison’s widow Olivia, who is credited as a producer, and she could not have but placed it in better creative hands. Scorsese and his editor David Tedeschi, have woven together a patchwork quilt of public and private photos, videos, and concert footage, along with interview segments with some of George’s closest friends and family, and intriguing journal excerpts to provide an intimate, yet respectful glance into the life of a private man whose talent and circumstances thrust him into a very public life.
Four Young Men Ready to Take 
on the World
Having spent my whole life as an avid Beatle fan, I have probably been exposed to nearly all of the Fab Four media that has been officially released or bootlegged over the last three-plus decades, most of it several times over. In light of this, I was truly impressed with Scorsese’s ability to recount George Harrison’s Beatle days without treading on very familiar ground during the first part of the film. So little of the content had been seen or heard before that the film was fresh and intriguing even for the Beatle fans that may have grown weary of the same photos, clips, and sound-bites that have been re-packaged and re-sold year after year. Particularly interesting were recited letters written by George to his parents in his early days with the Beatles. These glimpses into his private life reveal that even then, on the cusp of superstardom, a teenage Harrison was mature beyond his years and viewed life through a simple prism.
An Almost Angelic 1970's
Photo of Harrison
Scorsese delves into George Harrison “the person” in a way that few Beatles-related works have done in the past. As a member of the Beatles and a successful solo artist, George was indeed loved by millions from a distance. Yet in this documentary, Scorsese drives home the sense that George was a man truly and dearly loved by those who came to know him well. Interviews with lifelong friends Eric Clapton and Ravi Shankar, early Beatle era cohorts Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann, Monty Python collaborators Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam, Traveling Wilbury’s band member Tom Petty, and of course, Beatle band mates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, paint a portrait of a man who was a devoted friend and truly had a profoundly positive effect on those who loved him. Extensive interviews with Harrison’s widow Olivia and short segments with his son Dhani delicately examine the private side and home life of the legendary musician.

Of course, no documentary on George Harrison would be complete without addressing his well-publicized, lifelong quest for spirituality and Scorsese devotes ample time to this topic. The film touches on George’s involvement with Indian mysticism, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Hare Krishna group, and his lifelong practice of meditation through the use of mantras. 
Misplaced Trust: George and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Particularly intriguing are Olivia Harrison’s recollections of how her husband spent a great deal of his life preparing for the moment of his death. She recounts how her husband was adamant about being prepared for the moment when his spirit would leave his body and how his near death encounter during a 1999 home invasion almost wasted a lifetime of spiritual preparation.
Although Olivia’s brave intervention saved her husband’s life during that night, son Dhani Harrison remarks in the film how the trauma of that night may have been the catalyst for the recurrence of his father’s cancer. Still, when speaking of her husband’s final moments, Olivia Harrison seems at peace and almost joyous when expressing that George’s wish of being prepared for his death was fulfilled. She recalls that when Harrison finally did submit to death, it was almost as if he “lit up the room.”

In my humble opinion, the mark of any good art is its ability to move people or influence them on some level. Aside from being an enjoyable and informative documentary, Living in the Material World was significant to me in that it was able to change my decades-old perception and understanding of George Harrison, the man. Throughout my life as a Beatle fan, I came to assign a label to each of the Beatles, which in my view, encapsulated the roles they played in the band and in life on a grander scale. John was the rebel, Paul the conformist, and Ringo the good natured guy who seemed to have it all fall in his lap but knew how to handle it. George always seemed to me a malcontent, a man who was less controversial than John, less consumed about maintaining his public image than Paul, yet generally less able to enjoy life than Ringo. From a distance, George appeared to be a reluctant lottery winner, unable to appreciate the many gifts that had been bestowed upon him. He struck me as having an undercurrent of bitterness or dissatisfaction with the world or perhaps, the manner in which people conducted themselves in the world. This bitterness would at times creep into his music and is evident in his masterpiece While My Guitar Gently Weeps, as well as later compositions such as Cockamamie Business, and the Traveling Wilbury’s Handle With Care.
A Rare Smiling Photo of the
Often Stoic Harrison

Yet through Living in the Material World, Martin Scorsese allowed me to relate to George Harrison more intimately than I ever had in the past. The film enabled me to peek behind the curtain to see a simple man, who was not necessarily unappreciative of his artistic gifts, great fame, and fortune, but simply less interested in the glory than he was in the music itself and in attaining a higher plain of spirituality. Perhaps the bitterness was the result of being dragged kicking and screaming into the spotlight, chased through the streets by screaming girls and ravenous press, and having every morsel of privacy snatched away at such a young age. 
Perhaps George could never adapt to the carnivorous and sycophantic nature of the music business. As the novelty of celebrity and fame wore off, it seems that his tolerance for the seedy side of celebrity status waned to the point of resentment. Once he had attained all the wealth, success, fame, and adulation that one can on Earth, George Harrison began to seek fulfillment at a higher level. Perhaps he was not a malcontent at all. Perhaps he realized at an early age, what most of us never do. There is more to life than living in the material world.

George Harrison Through the Years

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

darthmaz314 Snapshot of the Day - A Magical Day?

darthmaz314's Snapshot of the Day offers up a bit of a paradox. Can you really have a "magical day" with an impending sky like the one in this photo? 

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A Magical Day?

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

darthmaz314's WDW Video Featurette - Full POV Ride-Through of Journey Into Imagination with Figment

darthmaz314's WDW Video Featurette today brings you a full POV ride through of an Epcot classic, Journey Into Imagination with Figment. This attraction is now three plus decades old and has gone through a few major overhauls in that time. The most egregious and controversial of these was the virtual removal of the purple dragon Figment, always one of my favorite attraction characters, and the complete deletion of his human companion, the Dreamfinder, following the major refurbishment of 1998. 

Public outcry and waning interest in the attraction's newer story and theming, eventually led to the return of Figment in a more prominent role, although his pal the Dreamfinder was never again to be, well...found. Instead, the role of Figment's human foil is currently played by former Monty Python player Eric Idle, who managed to make the leap from co-starring in the 3-D film Honey I Shrunk the Audience, which at one time, played in the adjacent theatre at the pavilion, to the "main room" of Imagination's dark ride as the uptight Dr. Nigel Channing, Chairman of the Imagination Institute. 

Although it has its detractors, Journey Into Imagination will always hold a special place in my heart. As a kid who didn't do thrill rides, this attraction was always a "must do" for me. These days, although I am no reckless daredevil, I will ride Rock N' Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Big Thunder Mountain, and so on. Yet, I always make time for a trip into that glass pyramid to visit an old purple friend with orange horns. 





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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day - The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at New Fantasyland

darthmaz314's Disney Snapshot of the Day takes you into New Fantasyland with a peek at the newest Walt Disney World attraction, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Much heralded and highly anticipated, the mine train began operating in May of 2014. This family friendly coaster is a masterful blend of mild thrill ride and classic Disney dark ride. It features a rollicking coaster ride through a meticulously recreation of the Seven Dwarfs forest as well as a slower paced indoor journey through the gem mines, populated with some of the most technologically advanced and state of the art Disney animatronics ever created. So pull down on that lap bar and hold on, but be sure to keep your eyes open on this ride because it is truly a feast for the senses.


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The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at New Fantasyland


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Saturday, February 7, 2015

darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day: The Magic Kingdom at 2:00 am

Have you ever wondered what The Magic Kingdom looks like at 2:00am? Well, wonder no more, as today's darthmaz314 Snapshot(s) of the Day bring you a taste of what it looks like in Tomorrowland and in the Magic Kingdom parking lot at the wee hour of 2:00am, at the close of Extra Magic Hours.


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Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin at 2:00am

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Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at 2:00 am

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Stitch's Great Escape at 2:00 am

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Tomorrowland Speedway at 2:00 am


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Near the Astro Orbiter at 2:00 am

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Near the Tomorrowland Signpost at 2:00am


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Magic Kingdom Parking Lot at 2:00 am

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? darthmaz314 Says, "Yes"

Although we dodged a bullet by not having two feet or more of snow dumped on us here in New York this week, we did still receive a hefty 10 to 12 inches of the white stuff. So darthmaz314 and his little girl answered the question that has probably been asked more times than most others in the last fourteen months..."Do you want to build a snowman?" We responded with an enthusiastic and chilly "yes" and some time later, with the help of the Olaf light-up that was being sold at the parks last summer, brought a little piece of Arendelle to our backyard. Stay warm everyone!

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We Did Build Snowman and Did Come Out and Play


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darthmaz314 Walt Disney World Video Featurette: "Disney Snow" Falls Following the Frozen Fireworks at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Here in New York, it is crazy cold and we are in between snowstorms, so one would think that the last thing we would be posting would be anything related to snow. However, today darthmaz314 brings you snow, Disney style. Yes, it may have been 85 degrees at 10:00 pm in Orlando when this was filmed, but in true Disney magic fashion, snow was falling following the Frozen Fireworks at Disney's Hollywood Studios. See the brief video below and share it with your friends.  


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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day - Beneath the AT-AT Outside Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

Today's Disney Snapshot of the Day features the massive Imperial AT-AT which stands as sentry outside of Star Tours: The Adventure Continues in Disney's Hollywood Studios. While my photo does not exactly replicate those shots in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke becomes familiar with the underbelly of the AT-AT walker, it does hearken back a bit to the frozen planet of Hoth. The exception being that when my picture was taken in the blisteringly hot and humid Orlando summer, it was probably 150 degrees warmer than it would have been on the fictional ice planet.

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"Trampled Under Foot" of the Massive AT-AT Outside
Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

photo courtesy Lucasfilm & Disney
Scene from Beneath the AT-AT in The Empire Strikes Back


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Sunday, January 11, 2015

darthmaz314 Disney Snapshot of the Day: The Words of Walt Disney

Walt Disney passed on nearly fifty years ago and yet his notoriety spans innumerable generations and has permeated even the farthest reaches of the globe. Authors have filled volumes expounding on the reasons for this for over half a century. Yet, sometimes a simple quote can communicate more than countless volumes. 

Below is a short, yet insightful quote from a hardworking American man of modest means, who built a kingdom, not just for himself, but for all, to play in. Walt's creativity, ingenuity, and unique vision are all legendary. But without the dogged work ethic exemplified in the comment below, the fantastical and creative worlds built of his imagination would have remained nothing more than pipe dreams. Mickey Mouse would have merely been a street rat scurrying through those pipes, instead of a global symbol of creativity, imagination, and entertainment excellence.


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An Insightful Quote from Walter Elias Disney


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Thursday, December 4, 2014

WDW Video Featurette: Part II of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

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Frozen Summer Fun Invaded Disney Hollywood Studios in 2014

As promised, darthmaz314.com presents the second part of For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. from Frozen Summer Fun at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


Click the link in yellow to connect directly to our YouTube channel Joe Darthmaz



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