10 things worth sharing this week + California adventures
I managed to sneak away to the studio on Thanksgiving to write this newsletter and read the amazing thread of all the things you’re thankful for. Too many to respond to them all, but please know how thankful I am for this community!
Here are 10 things I thought were worth sharing this week:
Last week my family and I flew to San Francisco, I gave a schoolwide talk at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, then we hopped in a rental car and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway — stopping at the Taco Bell in Pacifica, of course — and spent the night in a tiny inn in Carmel. Early in the morning we finally drove the breathtaking road through Big Sur and took the 1 all the way down to Los Angeles. And then…
…we went to Disneyland! I was completely surprised by how much I loved it. Most fun I’ve had in ages. (It helped that my boys — 10 and 7 — are the perfect ages for it.) Everybody talks about the rides, but what I really loved was the park, the crazy amount of detail they put into everything, and, yes, the Dole Whip. When we got back home it was like we’d all been plugged into a big battery. Highly recommend.
Podcast: Studio 360 on the Disney Parks is a great listen. I especially enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s thoughts on the creative tensions of Disneyland: between art and commerce, the child vs. the adult, what you can see vs. what’s hidden, and surrendering vs. control. This was my favorite part of the park: the design is so fine-tuned and controlled you can let go and lose yourself in the fantasy. (If you want to get nerdy and go deep on Disneyland, Doctorow has a 3-part podcast series about “amusement parks, crowd control, and load-balancing” that I found pretty fascinating: one, two, three. He’s a great advocate for taking the parks “at a stroll”—resisting the urge to squeeze everything in, and being open to moments of serendipity, wonder, and play.)
Behind the scenes: We started The Imagineering Story on Disney+ about the history and creation of the Disney theme parks. (“Imagineering” — a portmanteau of “imagination” and “engineering” — is a trademark of Disney, even though it was actually coined by the aluminum company Alcoa. “Imagineering is letting your imagination soar, and then engineering it down to earth.”)
Eye candy: An incredible Disney artist I want to know more about is Mary Blair. (I recently finished Return to Monkey Island on the Switch, a game whose art seems extremely inspired by Blair’s style.)
Movies: To extend the magic, we’ve been watching a Disney film every night with dinner, mostly from the “Disney Renaissance” era: Monday was The Little Mermaid, Tuesday we time-traveled back to One Hundred and One Dalmations, Wednesday we watched Beauty and The Beast, and last night was Aladdin. (After we put the kids to bed on Wednesday night, we watched Jean Cocteau’s classic 1946 film, La Belle et la Bête, which is worth putting on just for the truly excellent title sequence. I need to see more Cocteau films and learn more about Cocteau in general.)
Documentaries: We liked Fire of Love, about a couple who fell in love—and died—on a volcano. On our hotel room TV, we caught a great PBS special, Aldwyth: Fully Assembled, about the South Carolina collage artist.
Thanks for reading. Not to alarm anyone, but next Friday will be in December. If you are looking for a unique holiday gift, consider a stack of my books or a gift subscription to this newsletter! It’s easy to give via this link:
My studio gift guide probably needs to be updated, but it might give you some stocking stuffer ideas.