Boomer Flashback: The 1964 New York World’s Fair

The 1964 New York World’s Fair, which opened on April 22, 1964, and ran for two six-month seasons, was a sprawling showcase of mid-century American culture and technology. Although nearly 52 million people attended the fair, it was a huge financial flop, returning only 19 cents on the dollar to investors.   The fair’s most popular exhibit was GM’s Futurama, which mesmerized nearly 26 million visitors with its 3-D scenes of the “World of Tomorrow.”   Martin Luther King Jr. …

The Movies for Grownups Weekend Preview: Dec. 20

Three blasts from the past and one wry look at our not-too-distant-future make this a particularly rich grownup movie weekend.    The New Stuff:   American Hustle You won’t have more fun at the movies than you’ll find here with Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Louis C.K. and Jennifer Lawrence as assorted con artists and Feds conspiring to bring down crooked politicians in the 1980s Abscam scandal. “Some of this actually happened,” the title card reads, but we have …

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 …