Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Castillo de San Marcos: A True-Life Fort on the Spanish Main

The Spanish Main... A name that evokes the long ago days of buccaneering pirates and Spanish Conquistadors, palm trees and buried treasure. Geographically, it was the mainland portion of Spain's empire in the New World, encircling the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. It included the coastlines of Texas, Mexico, Central America and the northern coast of South America, as well as the land known as La Florida. Gold and spice-laden ships from the Caribbean had to pass Florida on their way to Spain, making them tempting targets for privateers and enemy navies. To protect their shipping routes and land claims in North America, the Spanish built what remains today as the oldest stone fort in the oldest city in the United States: Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida. 

An historic aerial photo of Castillo de San Marcos. Photo: NPS.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Our Fairytale Wedding Centrepieces

When Ashley and were planning our wedding, we decided on a fairytale theme for our reception. Our colours and general aesthetic were peacock themed, but for each table we wanted something tied to our love of fairy tales, fantasy stories, and Disney. But not, like, Disney. We love Mickey Mouse but didn't want him all over our wedding. Plus, we were trying to cut costs where we could, and using our own stuff for the centrepieces helped out considerably!

A cupcake preparing to meet its doom. Photo: K&E Imaging.

Each party to the reception was given a slip with an excerpt from the original story that their table was themed to. For example, people at the Aladdin table had an excerpt from Sir Richard Burton's translation of Arabian Nights, and people at the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea table had an excerpt from Jules Verne. Based on their slip, they had to guess which table was theirs. A few had issues, but for the most part, people were up on their classic literature. When time came to eat, a medley of songs related to each table was played, and people sitting there had to figure it out on their own. I was worried at the people at 20,000 Leagues wouldn't know Whale of a Tale, but thankfully someone did! Other songs included Be Our Guest, Sorcerer's Apprentice, Heigh-Ho, The Unbirthday Song, and Over the Rainbow for the one non-Disney fairy tale table. Sadly a few ideas had to be cut, like Wind and the Willows and a French Canadian story about a diabolical flying canoe called La Chasse-galerie. Still, everyone seemed to enjoy the centrepieces and the tests of knowledge that went with them.   

Below are some of the planning photos we took for the valued friends who were willing to help out setting things up. By all means, feel free to pilfer the idea if you or someone you know has a wedding coming up!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Our Fairytale Wedding

Since we only plan on getting married once (not counting vow renewals), we'd like to share some of our wedding photos with you. I know calling it a "fairytale wedding" is fairly stereotypical, but considering that we lacked a pumpkin carriage and did a good part of the planning and organizing on our own, I think we did pretty well.

Our wedding took place on August 29th, 2014, in Banff, Alberta, Canada. For anyone counting, our ceremony venue was Tunnel Mountain Meadow, and photos were taken there, at Cascades of Time Gardens, and the Banff Springs Hotel. Photography was provided by K&E Imaging of Calgary.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Real Fountain of Youth?

It is the stuff of legend and tall tale: how Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León, became enthralled with stories of the mystical Fountain of Youth in a mysterious land far to the north and west... beyond Hispaniola... beyond Cuba... beyond even the Bahamas. There, at long last, would be the secret to eternal life that had so eluded humanity for so long. In 1513 he landed at a place he called La Florida and disappeared into the jungles, never to be seen again...

Or not. The quest for the Fountain of Youth was attributed to Ponce de León after his death in 1521. He died of a poisoned arrow shot from a Calusa Native American bow during a failed attempt at establishing a colony in the vicinity of Charlotte Harbor. His journey in search of La Florida had more prosaic concerns of finding gold and expanding the Spanish Empire in the New World. And so far, that mysterious Fountain of Youth still eludes its dogged pursuers. That said, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in Saint Augustine, Florida, still tells the important story of America's oldest city and its first European colonizers.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Publishing Biweekly on Wednesdays

For the next little while, we're going to be trying out a little experiment. So as not to overexert ourselves, or run out of material too quickly, we're going to go to a biweekly schedule starting this Wednesday. That means that every other Wednesday, we'll be posting something new about the inspirations behind Disney films and attractions, topics on Imagineering and themed experience, or who knows what! However, we might also sneak a few extra things in on the odd weekend. They might be things like, say, wedding photos, or book and movie reviews, and other things that are just off the main topic of our blog. 

This is an experiment and we'll see how it goes. In the mean time, thank you for supporting Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy and don't forget to sign up to our Facebook page for all the latest!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Story of Chernabog and A Night on Bald Mountain - Part 2

It is generally assumed that the responsibility of identifying Disney’s monstrous entity with the ancient Slavic deity lies with Chernabog’s chief animator, Vladimir “Bill” Tytla. No name is given to the character in the film, and both production sketches and promotional materials of the time call him by all sorts of different, satanic names. Tytla, however, made use of the name “Chernobog” and was himself a Ukrainian-American who may have been familiar with the name through his ancestral roots. In his own words: "On all my animation I tried to do some research and look into the background of each character. But I could relate immediately to this character. Ukrainian folklore is based on Chernabog." Some linguists argue that the name of Chernabog is still in use, in a modified and nearly unrecognizable form, as a curse in Slavic tongues. While it’s not implausible that Tytla recalled his Ukrainian heritage, I think there is another very likely possibility: Chernabog is mentioned by name in the program of Night on Bald Mountain.

Bill Tytla and a maquette of Chernabog.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Story of Chernabog and A Night on Bald Mountain - Part 1

Walt Disney called him “Satan himself,” though perhaps that was a little heavy for what was nevertheless a Disney film in all that may imply. He is Chernabog, the Slavic “Black God” ruling high atop Bald Mountain in the climactic piece from the brilliant Fantasia. Chernabog is one of my favourite Disney character designs, in my favourite piece of Disney animation, in my favourite Disney film, which might be a little awkward if we took Uncle Walt’s word for it that this was the Devil. While he may have been utilized to that effect in Night on Bald Mountain, the history of Chernabog is far more interesting.

Character model sheet for Chernabog, by Kay Nielsen.

The first recorded mention of Chernabog (also variously called Chernobog, Czernobog, Crnobog, and Tchernobog) was from a 12th century account of Slavic culture written by the German Christian priest and historian Helmold of Boseau. Born in Lower Saxony around 1120 CE, Helmold became a priest in 1156, after which he was asked to write the Chronica Slavorum, a history of the conversion of the Slavic people of modern-day Poland. Though ostensibly meant to shed positive light on the time between the conquests of Charlemagne and his own time (the book closes at 1171 CE), Helmold was rather critical of the Holy Roman Empire’s actions against the Wends (another name for Polish Slavs).  He decried the Wendish Crusades of 1147 and their leader Duke Henry the Lion as interested in only money and violence. Scholars generally see the Chronica Slavorum as being of questionable historical value where it predates Helmold, but fairly reliable where he is writing about contemporary events.