Destino began in 1946 as a collaboration between Walt Disney and the famed surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. A first-hand example of Disney’s interest in avant garde and experimental work in animation, Destino was to be awash with Dalí’s iconic melting clocks, marching ants and floating eyeballs. However, Destino was not completed at that time. In 2003, it was rediscovered by Walt’s nephew, Roy E. Disney, who took on the challenge of bringing the creation of these two great artists to fruition. In addition to the completed Destino, this exciting addition to the Walt Disney Treasures line also includes an all-new feature-length documentary that examines the surprising partnership between Dalí and Disney plus two new featurettes; “The Disney That Almost Was”, an examination of the studio’s unfinished projects; and “Encounters with Walt”, which addresses the surprisingly diverse group of celebrities and artists who were attracted to Walt Disney’s early work.~2008 press release
Archive for April 2012
Prospect watchers are well aware of Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud. He rates as one of the top young receivers in the game and many project his combination of defensive tools and well-rounded hitting ability will make him a sure major league starter; perhaps even an All-Star. Let’s look at his minor league path so far and what type of player he can become.
Travis d’Arnaud was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the sandwich round, 37th overall, in the 2007 amateur draft out of Lakewood High School in southern California. The Phillies obtained the pick as compensation for the Indians signing David Dellucci. The Toronto Blue Jays considered d’Arnaud the best high school catcher in the country and were prepared to draft d’Arnaud with the 38th pick. But Philadelphia took him first and Toronto drafted Brett Cecil instead. Though d’Arnaud had committed to Pepperdine, he signed with the Phillies for $832,500 and began his pro career in the Gulf Coast League.
He played 41 games with the GCL Phillies, hitting .241/.278/.348 with 4 home runs and a dreadful 23/4 SO/BB ratio in 145 plate appearances. d’Arnaud flashed a smooth swing and wasn’t striking out excessively but he really lacked discipline and needed to make significant adjustments to his approach. Not everyone was convinced he would hit but many saw room for projection and his defense looked promising.
d’Arnaud started 2008 in extended spring training before joining the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League. He played 48 games and crushed Penn league pitching, going .309/.371/.463 with 4 home runs, 13 doubles and a dramatically improved 29/18 SO/BB rate. He was growing up in a hurry and the Phillies took notice. They promoted him to the low-A Lakewood Blue Claws in August and d’Arnaud kept right on mashing: .297/.357/.469 in 16 games with 2 HRs, 5 doubles and a decent 10/5 SO/BB. He was hitting like a future star, catching in full-season ball and he was still only 19. d’Arnaud already showed good opposite field power and impressive maturity, admitting he spent most of the previous year swinging for the fences and not staying within himself. But for the first time, his glove raised questions. He had all the tools (strong arm, good mobility) to succeed but threw out only 19% of would-be thieves and made 10 errors. His blocking skills were also a work-in-progress and his release and footwork still needed attention. But d’Arnaud seemed certain to improve with experience. His star was rising fast and it now appeared the sky was the limit.
Toronto started d’Arnaud with the high-A Dunedin Blue Jays in 2010 and his success from Lakewood carried over. He started very hot, batting .328 with 5 doubles and 3 HRs in April. His hot start was cut short, though, as d’Arnaud suffered a herniated disc in his back and went on the DL. His torrid pace slowed upon his return and he finished with a quiet .259/315/.411 line in just 71 games. Worse, his discipline regressed and he struck out 63 times in against only 20 walks in 263 at bats. d’Arnaud hit only 3 more home runs after the injury but continued to use the whole field well and show good gap power while murdering left-handed pitching (.353 AVG) and excelling with RISP (.373). He also took a big leap forward defensively and was praised for his mobility, blocking skills and mental alertness. He threw out a strong 30% of potential base-stealers and was named an FSL All-Star. Though his numbers were sapped by the injury, d’Arnaud was still one of the top catching prospects in the game and entered 2011 ready to rebound.
Even though d’Arnaud had essentially spent just half a season in Dunedin, Toronto considered him advanced enough to handle AA and promoted him to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to begin 2011. He rewarded the Blue Jays with a mammoth breakout campaign. In 114 games, d’Arnaud hit .311/.371/.542 with 33 doubles, 21 home runs and a 100/33 SO/BB ratio. He showed huge power, with 54 extra-base hits, and finished among league leaders in HRs (4th), RBI (6th), OPS (4th), SLG (3rd) and total bases (5th), while developing something of a local following thanks to urban legends about his opposite field power. He raked against RHP (.302) and LHP (.336) alike and also ripped with runners on (.349 AVG with RISP). He was no doubt helped by an unsustainable .378 BABIP but showed he could drive the ball consistently with a strong 18.6% line drive rate. His discipline still had room to improve but he showed progression handling off-speed pitches. For all of his offensive gains, his defense was just as good. Eastern League managers named him the circuit’s best defensive catcher and he threw out 27% of runners. It was an excellent 4.6 WAR season, earning d’Arnaud the league’s MVP award, and he led New Hampshire to the Eastern League championship. He was the best player on a team loaded with prospects – many of them young pitchers d’Arnaud helped to pass their first AA tests. Unfortunately, d’Arnaud suffered a torn left thumb ligament in October while playing for Team USA in the World Cup. But he underwent surgery and reported to spring training healthy as Toronto’s top prospect and probable catcher of the future.
At 23, Travis d’Arnaud is arguably the best catching prospect in the game. He’s beginning the year at AAA Las Vegas where, due to the favourable hitting environment, he should put up video game numbers. But he can’t just mash his way onto the Jays’ roster. d’Arnaud must show more patience and get himself into more hitters’ counts. He won’t be hurt by 200-300 more minor league at bats. Defensively, d’Arnaud already features a cannon arm and with better form could throw out more runners. Similarly, he can still further refine his release and blocking skills. He’s already very sound. But the Blue Jays can give him time to add polish.
They have this luxury because J.P. Arencibia is already in place as the team’s starting catcher. He is a quality player. But d’Arnaud projects as an above-average catcher who could be an All-Star and Gold Glove winner. Barring injury, he’ll almost certainly be a more complete player than Arencibia (who could start for 10-15 teams), which may force Toronto’s hand. In that scenario, expect them to build around d’Arnaud. Patience and health will be the key. Two of his four minor league seasons have been marred by injuries. Not a good sign for any catcher. So far, though, he’s shown an impressive ability to bounce back.
Expect d’Arnaud to arrive later this year. But temper your expectations initially. Remember Matt Wieters was considered a sure-fire superstar the year of his (and d’Arnaud’s) draft. It’s taken him five years to become that player. And Wieters, 25, went to a four-year college.
I think d’Arnaud makes the Opening Day roster in 2013, either as the starting catcher or in a soft platoon he can easily win. And I think he’ll have a long career, with plus offense and defense, but fall short of becoming a superstar – perhaps due to seasons lost to injuries. Certainly, his peak years could feature Gold Glove-calibre defense with 25 home runs and an OPS north of .850. That’s obviously an excellent player. Other years he may look more like Mike Lieberthal or Sandy Alomar Jr. A lot will hinge on whether he can withstand the rigours of catching 130-140 games a year. d’Arnaud roomed with Kyle Drabek in spring training this year and the two now appear on track to form a battery in Toronto for a long, long time. Which, years from now, would make the Roy Halladay deal a win for both sides.
Travis d’Arnaud, C
02/10/89 Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 195
Long Beach, California High School: Lakewood
Drafted by Philadelphia in the 1st round, 37th overall, in 2007 MLB Amateur Draft.
Acquired: Traded to Toronto on December 16, 2009
Contract Status: Not eligible for arbitration before 2017.
Service Time: 0.0
I am not a water connoisseur. But for those of you who are, check out the Eau Good water bottle from the Anglo-Swiss outfit, black + blum. It uses Binchotan-active charcoal – also known as white charcoal – to purify tap water and make it taste better. The charcoal from Japan has a porous surface that allows it to absorb chemicals (like chlorine), smells, and pollutants, while releasing minerals to balance the pH. After six months in the bottle, the charcoal has other applications. Use it as an odour-absorber in cat litter, laundry baskets, shoes. Crumble it into your potted-plants for mineral nutrition. Or use it as a humidity-absorber in wardrobes.
Victor Navarro is driving the taxi. It is a comfortable van, newer than those that speed by his careful maneuvering. The road is new and winding, framed by tall trees and thick undergrowth. The air is hot and somewhat humid but the windows are rolled down at the request of his passengers… to take in that ‘fresh rainforest smell’. Victor is focused on the road ahead while conversing with the passenger in the front seat. He speaks English with a thick Spanish accent.
Yes. I live in San Jose. But I’m originally from Peru. But Costa Rica is my home since I was 20 years old. Yes. I’m almost 60 now.
(He laughs a short wheezy laugh.)
Yes. Costa Rica is beautiful country. We have volcano and rainforest, and lots of animals and good food. Where we go now, Arenal, very nice.
Costa Rica looks amazing from what I’ve read. We’re so excited. This is my first visit to a Central American country.
(He is focused on a right turn. His face is calm and wrinkled.)
Yes. It’s very nice. Ohhh you will love it. All visitors say they love it.
Have you travelled around Central America a lot?
Yes! I travel a lot. Panama..ohhh it’s very nice. Very nice. And even Nicaragua. Very nice people. Nice for relaxation…
Yeah, we’ve heard a lot about Panama. What about El Salvador?
(His face gets serious.)
Nooo.. I would say El Salvador is no safe. You can go…but….it’s no good.
Well…it’s a lot of criminals. The US, they deport a lot of the bad peoples from their jails to El Salvador. Yes. But Nicaragua, it’s safe. I was there last month on vacation. It’s nice.
What about Costa Rica? No gangs or criminals here?
Noooo. Costa Rica is very safe. We don’t have army! We don’t need army. Our President José Figueres Ferrer, in 1948, he say no need for army. And he took that money and put it in education and schools. We are only country here with no army.
Oh, that’s cool. Just the police, eh?
Yesss. Very nice.
They drive in silence for a few minutes.
Victor turns on the radio. Everyone in the van listens to the pulsating salsa rhythms as two monkeys run across a tree branch overhead.
I know Mark Godfrey from way back. We went to the same high school. I once played in a band with his cousin. He’s younger than I am. So I’ve seen him grow up some. Come of age. People you know do this in your midst all the time. It’s a special thing when you finally see it.
We met at a proper Toronto drinking hole. Stayed long enough to see a shift change through. The ceiling featured a huge, painted mural. So did the waitress’ arms. Next, Mark will be playing places like this all spring during Pram Trio’s upcoming tour. They’ll stop at our old high school, too. We talked about that over hawaiian nachos and cheap beer.
The upright bass. Why that instrument?
Because I couldn’t study electric bass in university. It was never something I even thought about. It was always something of a novelty for me. I started playing electric bass in Grade 7 for fun. I did it in jazz band. I did it in church band. I remember asking my Dad to teach me and he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll teach ya.’ Every day one summer, we would get up and he would say, ‘OK, I want you to work on playing these particular things in succession. This is a major chord. This is a minor chord. Learn how to play those.’ I love my Dad but…
He didn’t really have any knowledge at all. But he’s a great coach. A great teacher. Even if he doesn’t have knowledge on the subject. In Grade 9, I ended up in jazz band. My cousin said that I played bass. And Spiro Grima (ed. note- Mark’s high school music teacher) said, ‘Come try out for jazz band.’ Andrew Schneider was doing it before that. He wasn’t a bass player. He was a guitar player. There’s a blast from the past. Just rattling off names…
They’re all still in there.
In Grade 10 I decided I wanted to pursue music as a career choice. The music teacher said to my Mom, ‘Mark can’t study electric bass at a university. He needs to learn clarinet.’ Which I had been playing. So I started taking a lesson every week. There were some colleges you could study electric bass in. But I really wanted to do the university thing for whatever reason. It’s just always what I’d planned to do. Then I ended up going to a couple of camps. The first one was a leadership camp. The second was music. And, at the end of the summer, I went to a jazz camp. I showed up with my electric thinking I was hot shit. My nose completely out of joint. It was the worst ensemble and I was the only one there with an electric bass. I was in a bad mood. But I decided to look at it as an opportunity. And it really made me realize jazz is so much bigger than you or me. If I wanted to do it I had to learn this other instrument.
So I ended up going to the University of Toronto and heard from the Director of Music that if I wanted to get in I had to play upright bass. So I rented an upright, went back and did my audition, and somehow got in. It was never something that I had anticipated. The audition process was kind of surreal for me. It was really cool playing with musicians who were that good. Guys who were in fourth year at the University. I had never played with musicians who were that into this style of music. The vibe was really cool. I played a tune on upright and they asked me to go back to electric and then play upright again and they were like, ‘No, we like you better on upright.’ Which blew my mind. Because I had only been playing for the instrument for, like, two months. I had been playing electric for six years!
What kinds of fears and insecurities did you have to accept with this instrument?
It’s interesting. There are certain things you never get over. I remember when we did Battle of Bands when I was in Grade 10. Under the name Cesspool. We played a Simple Plan song. We played a Blink song. Do-do-do-do-do…
The stuff you’re nervous about sticks with you. Getting up in front of someone and performing was never something I had much anxiety about. But as soon as there was somebody in the audience that I thought highly of… completely different ballgame. Someone you know knows more about the instrument. Or you think is going to judge you. I would love to say that changes. But, man, I played last night in front of some people I really respect and… it doesn’t. This is the sadistic or negative thing about being a musician. You’re always trying to get to that uncomfortable place performing. But when you get there you see more… Where you want to be is always still ahead.
My teacher put it a really good way. You start playing jazz and you’re 18. ‘I think I’ve got the hang of things.’ Then you say, ‘Oh, that guy’s got his stuff together.’ Then you’re 24. And you’re like, ‘I’ve totally got the hang of this.’ Then you’re like, ‘He’s got way more shit together than I do.’ Then you’re 34. Ten years later. You’re married. You’ve got a kid on the way. You’re like, ‘Man, I am starting to PLAY this shit. I know what’s going on.’ Then it’s: ‘These young guys are the ones that have it going on.’ It’ll happen again when you’re 50. When you’re 65. Then you’re 90. You’re 102, lying in your deathbed – ‘Oh! I’ve finally got it.’ And then you die. I have totally diverged from the question here.
The nerves of performing in front of people I idolize or admire is always a tricky thing. They’re looking at you for who you are and what you do. If you want to be depressed about being a musician, compare yourself to other people. Because everyone’s different. Everyone’s working on things at different times. But that’s something that I’ve never really gotten past. I can stand up in front of anyone and be OK. But you perform the best when you’re not really worried about what other people are thinking. And you can apply that to any part of life. But it’s something that you constantly struggle with. Or at least I constantly struggle with it. You just try not to get caught up in it. Focus on what you’re doing. And be OK with where you are because of the reasons that’ve gotten you to that point.
Well said. Take a drink.
I thought when I was younger that when you have it, you have it. But now I find that you have to work to get back to it. The more you know, the less you know, right? The more I learn about my instrument or this industry, or this style of music, the more I realize I don’t know. What’s that, two?
Who’s counting. It’s interesting hearing you talk about everything that’s gotten you here to this point. Where you dream of one day being?
I’ll let you know when I find out. Ideally, doing what I’m doing. But more of what I want to be doing. You never really stop identifying things you need to work on. I really like that about this career that. This was the big reason that I didn’t go the teacher’s college route. I was really passionate about doing that for a big part of my life. That’s really what I saw as the end goal: Get a job as a teacher at a high school and inspire kids who were like me when I was in school. But in university I looked back and realized I have a much stronger passion for performing then I thought I initially did. It could even be a self-fulfilling situation. And I do really enjoy the teaching part of it. So the ideal gig would be doing all of this for X number of years and really experiencing it. Experiencing the touring, experiencing being the side man, experiencing being the leader. And teaching. Having a role like my teacher had with me – at a university or a community college. Not to the point that you’re teaching all the time. But you have balance. Consistency. Teaching one day a week. Teaching people who want to learn. I think everyone who teaches wants that. You want to be teaching people who want to figure out what you’re into. What you’re trying to get at. And the notion of teaching yourself out of a job is really cool for me. My teacher said this to me: His job is to teach me so I don’t have to go to him for questions. To get me to ask questions of myself so that I can figure it out. Because I have a passion for teaching that’s something I think I’ll always be into. But the performing aspect… there’s really nothing else like it. Especially in this genre. Because it is self-fulfilling. And once you get past that, it really is amazing to interact with other musicians. Regardless of age. Regardless of instruments. And to be able to keep doing it.
Right now… I’m 24. The way I learn, the way I interact with people is completely different than the way it was four years ago. You can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when you’re 60. The guys’ records who I buy are guys who are 60 right now. They’re making this creative music even though it isn’t necessarily popular music anymore. There’s some serious stuff in there.
Between Toronto, West Elgin and New York, we know a lot of the same streets. When you walk them, what kind of thoughts do you have?
It’s interesting to think about the things that would be different had you made certain decisions. Because those places – Toronto, New York and West Elgin – I don’t think there’s a lot that could’ve happened in my life that would’ve changed the fact that I actually walk those streets. So I always find if there’s no agenda – which rarely ever happens – it’s thinking about what had to happen for me to be here. Or what ways I could have gotten to this physical point. If I had gone to study kinesiology at Western or Laurier, walking around Wallacetown would’ve been feasible. But my mentality would be completely different. And it’s the same thing here in the city. I wouldn’t have been here had it not been for my music teacher telling me that trying to study kinesiology and music at Laurier would’ve been the worst decision of my life.
Right? Would I have this strong desire to experience something else in New York had I not taken this Grade 12 music trip there?
Thoughts aren’t always this deep. Sometimes I’m thinking, ‘Man, that burrito I just had was good.’ The other thing is what relationships still exist in that area. While I’m walking through West Elgin, even though there aren’t a lot of people who I’m really close with, there are a handful of them. Some people are still around. So it’s kind of similar. What would’ve had to happen differently for those relationships to happen? Or other ones to not? It’s interesting because each one of these places have kind of integrated now. It’s all one big place. A lot of my friends from Toronto have experienced life where I grew up; been to my high school and done a clinic, hung out at The Goal Post.
New York is this place where all of my friends from high school have been with me. And I have friends from New York who’ve come up to Toronto and hung out. I know my girlfriend through a connection to a workshop I did at Banff. There are all of these connections. I think that you can be in the same place and get there in a different way. It’s surreal. When I do have time to think it’s about things like that. It’s about how different it would’ve been if Mom and Dad had encouraged me to do something else. Had my siblings and I had a different relationship. Had I made the volleyball team in Grade 9. Because I didn’t. Because of that I was able to play jazz in the jazz band.
How do you compare loving a discipline, and what that takes, compared to other kinds of love?
I know this is different for me than a lot of other people. I’ve had discussions about it. I find it very hard to imagine a world where I’m not characterized by the instrument that I play. Where a lot of the friendships and relationships that I have are a result of the instrument that I play. I remember a discussion with my high school music teacher when I really vocalized that I wanted to get into music. He said to me, “There will be times when you want to drop out.” Because a lot of people experience that. You’re taking a passion and you’re trying to make it a career. A discipline. That never happened to me. There wasn’t that, ‘Man, I’m going to quit.’ I have the utmost respect for people who are able to look at this art form and say, ‘Making this a career is not what I am into.’ Not because they’re not good at it. Not because they don’t like it. Because they want to do something more. But, for me, music for me has been such a big part of my evolution as a human being. That’s a cheesy sentence. But when I was in Grade 7 I started playing this instrument and I really made it a part of what I do. That is me.
And people here are in the same situation. My buddy Taylor plays sax. My buddy Jack plays stand-up. Matt plays drums. Everyone has an association wit an instrument. My girlfriend has talked about this. My Mom talks about this. ‘Oh, Matt. He’s the drummer. Oh, Rich – he plays in your trio.’ Sometimes it can be a little frustrating. There’s a refreshing nature in hanging out with someone who doesn’t know you as that instrument. But I find it very odd. Maybe I’m just being a romantic about the whole thing. But I don’t really see it not working out. I don’t see me existing without this part of my life. In 2010, I hurt my left arm. Those points are the hardest points for me to identify with myself. Because I couldn’t play. Every time that creeps back it’s a bit unnerving. Because it’s scary to identify yourself with something that’s limited by physical ability. It’s a dangerous thing to do. But I don’t think there’ll ever be a time when I don’t identify myself like that. I can’t imagine moving to a different part of the world and starting again at something completely different. I can’t imagine not owning my instrument.
Not because I can’t imagine selling them. But because I can’t imagine what I’d be doing. I indulge in those instruments so much. And I feel it’s something that’s special about me. That other people don’t have the same passion for that instrument. It’s a very strange thing to make a passion. It’s difficult. I’ve never really been able to fathom what it would be like without it. It’s always been there. Here’s Mark. There’s his music.
It’s funny. When you come to a place like Toronto, there are tons of people like that. People get that you’ll play a place, pass around the hat, maybe make a decent amount of money, maybe not. There’s something you can share with this small community of people in Toronto. People get that you decide that you can’t go out on a Saturday night because you can’t play a major triad.
You share the trials and the triumphs.
Everyone knows what it’s like. No one who’s in this line of work has had anything handed to them. Even if it appears that way. Everyone works really hard to become a professional in their own way.
There’s no faking it.
You just have to keep at it. I’m a firm believer that if you just keep at it long enough… I have a lot of friends who aren’t doing the music thing anymore. And big props to them. They made a decision. And it’s not like they’ve thrown away music. So the power to them. But I don’t know if I would be OK with not at least taking the chance. When you have a family and you need to make money, it’s a different scene. But, right now, it’s working.
If you haven’t already, visit High Park this week for the Japanese tradition of Sakura Hanami: “cherry blossom flower viewing.” Over 2000 trees were presented to the citizens of Toronto by the citizens of Tokyo, in 1959. They are currently in full bloom. Do not miss it.
Agricel, based in Dubai, says it can. The company launched last month, unveiling a new farming process that uses a film-like substance instead of soil. The eco-friendly material is called Skygel and the company claims it decreases water consumption by 50-90% and lowers fertilizer use by up to 80%.
They could run some tests in my herb garden. Just saying.