The Day Walt Disney Warned Ray Bradbury: “We’d kill each other!”

For writers, the value of a compliment lies not in the effusion of words, but in the source of them. Even the most modest statement of encouragement for the most minor effort, from the right person, can make your day and sometimes your decade. And that explains why I still treasure a letter I received on September 5, 2001, from Ray Bradbury. “Dear Bill Newcott,”  it begins, “Thank you for your good letter.” Good letter. Good letter! One of the …

How Many Times Has “It’s a Small World” Been Performed? Do the Math!

In the last years of his life, Walt Disney had a Friday evening ritual: His studio songwriters, Robert and Richard Sherman, would slip into his office to chat awhile. Soon Walt would walk to the north window, gaze out, and say simply, “Play it.” The brothers knew what he meant. Richard would sit at Walt’s piano and begin to play “Feed the Birds,” the lovely melody they wrote for Mary Poppins. Walt would stare out the window, hands behind his …