Weekend 378.1 (East of the Sun, West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North

Color studies for the Waltz of the Flowers. The study was done by Sylvia Holland.

“Sylvia was a jack-of-all-trades who could tackle any assignment with ease. During her time at Disney, she handled story direction, story research, script writing, art direction, scene timing, and more. Her artistic style ranged from the realistic to the ethereal and from the cartoony story ideas to majestic designs.”

On January 7th [377.0] I posted some concept art from Kay Nielsen. The piece was for a proposed Studio version of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen.

The project was cancelled but the Studio used the concept art as inspiration for the movie more than forty years later. Here’s Didier Ghey in The Hidden Art of Disney’s Musical Years:

“Close to thirty-years later, directors John Musker and Ron Clements convinced Disney management to green-light an animated version of The Little Mermaid (1989). At that point, recalled Musker, ‘[Story artist Vance Gerry] brought to our attention the legendary illustrator Kay Nielsen and the drawings he did [in 1941] for a proposed animated version if Andersen’s fairy tale that were gathering dust in the Archives. Without Vance, we would have never known those fantastic drawing existed, drawings which helped inspire the handling of the storm sequence among other things.'”

The second DVD of the special edition of The Little Mermaid reveals the influence Kay’s concept art had on the future masterpiece. It’s a nice tribute to Nielsen, who joined the Studio in 1939 (an ominous year oft-referenced at Limestone), and who was beset by adversity during his short stints at the Studio (and in the United States). It’s also worth mentioning that he worked on my favorite sequences of FantasiaAve Maria and Night on Bald Mountain. Coincidentally, Fantasia remains one of my favorite movies [364.1].

Whenever I read a book (or article) on Disney I always cross reference Neal Gabler’s excellent and definitive tome on Walt, and while there was no reference to Kay, there was to Hans Christian Andersen in a very poignant passage. Here, on the occasion of Walt’s passing, is Gabler:

“It was here, guarded by a hedge of orange olivias and red azaleas, and hidden behind a holly tree and behind a white statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid gazing contemplatively at invisible water, that Walt Disney seemed to have fulfilled his family’s destiny. He had escaped. And it was here that he fulfilled his own destiny, too, for which he had striven so mightily and restlessly all his life. He has passed beyond the afflictions of this world. Walt Disney had a last attained perfection.”

Scan and quote is from The Hidden Art of Disney’s Musical Years by Didier Ghey.

Weekend 378.0 (…so you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been)

in transit(1) Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse (National Building Museum)

(2) A quote from Staying Up Much Too Late by Gordon Theisen:

“The Phillies sign does not overwhelm Nighthawks the way that “Ex-Lax” overwhelms Drug Store. But it does top the otherwise signless diner, like a false heaven that keeps the starlight out and the artificial light in. It might be saying that the pleasures of the afterlife can be achieved here on earth by spending a mere nickel for a machine-made cigar, just as in beer commercials paradise comes in a bottle, and a Model T Ford offers “hours of pleasure in God’s open country.”

*Photo is from the set of in transit.

Gotham, Metropolis, The Big Apple…

The Kimberly HotelA quote from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Over the great bridge, with the sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

Bonus: Paley Park (Vimeo)

Weekend 377.1

I thought I was a decent curator until I heard Faith Salie on Sunday Morning. She’s tough, but I agree with her.

I have a scanner now (ditched the printer) and have been thinking about a project using books from the limestone library. I was thinking about one scan a week or one post a month themed around Disney (shocker).

I finished restoring 5620. You can see photos here. I have a fairly ambitious backstory and photo shoot planned but it will have to wait for warmer weather. The find comes courtesy of mom (and brother) at a tag sale. It’s a fairly rare model (although the market collapsed after it was reissued a couple of years ago in green). I had to find an engine cover (30 23 3662 / 30 23 3642) and radiator/lights (30 64 1360) as part of the restoration.

These days I also have Gotham/Metropolis/The Big Apple on the mind. It was probably caused by re-reading the Great Gatsby or rumors of a special-edition NYC Brompton (confirmed). Maybe it’s just the excitement of seeing In Transit in a couple of weeks. Either way, one of my resolutions for 2017 is to spend more time exploring the city via cycle/subway/foot before the option becomes a geographical improbability.

(1) Artist Tyrus Wong’s remarkable life (CBS Sunday Morning)

(2) See How ‘Rogue One’ Brought Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia to Life (Yahoo!)

Weekend 377.0 (Snow Weekend)

“The future sounds so crazy
We all heard that song before
Tomorrow’s a name that changed from yesterday to blame
When a train just don’t stop here anymore
I got starry eyed
On a coaster ride
Andy said, ‘Man, I need a break from the world outside.'”

Scan is from The Hidden Art of Disney’s Musical Years by Didier Ghey. The lyrics are from Palisades Park by the Counting Crows.

“Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald


“New occasions teach new duties;
Time makes ancient good uncouth;
They must upward still, and onward,
Who would keep abreast of Truth.
Lo, before us, gleam her camp-fires!
We ourselves must Pilgrims be,
Launch our ‘Mayflower,’ and steer boldly
Through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future’s portal
With the Past’s blood-rusted key.”
– J.R. Lowell

2016 Christmas Sabbatical

“The air was chilly, and filled with that certain smell a city has on a snowy day.” – Takaki Tōno

A placeholder for all the holiday arcana, ephemeral, and digital wisps. Set in Weiss, Electra, and Caledonia Types and Printed in the U.S.A. by the Colonial Press Inc.

(1) Beauty and the Beast costume designer on recreating Belle’s iconic yellow dress for Emma Watson (The Independent)

(2) Extraordinary New Light Paintings Capture Colorful Movements of Kayaks and Canoes (My Modern Met)

Three from YouTube
(3) Metropolis II by Chris Burden

(4) Brompton: Proven in NYC

(5) Honda Serial One Restoration (N600-1000001)

2016 Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey (ephemeral coruscations that piped their short song and vanished…)

St. Joseph's Abbey 2014/15/16“It is faith that makes us walk in its obscurity in this life: For we walk by faith. From start to finish we shall follow that way, ever on the alert lest we stray from it, enticed all too readily by lights too human, which will quickly leave us disillusioned.” – The Prayer of Love and Silence by a Carthusian

“…the point is to remember that an empire or civilization is also transitory. All achievements and triumphs, in so far as they are merely this-worldly achievements and triumphs, will come to nothing in the end.” – C.S. Lewis

Every retreat is very different and this one was no exception. This was my third consecutive winter retreat (the second during Advent) and whilst no personal theme emerged (discernment is always very tricky), the silence was a nice panacea from the vitriol and divisiveness of a bitter election (and ongoing hyperbole and histrionics).

I took two books by C.S. Lewis from the Limestone library. The first was The World’s Last Night and Other Essays and the other The Great Divorce. Here is Lewis, in the former, from his essay of the same title:

“I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations: generations who, as one terrible moment reveals to him, were never going to exist. Then he will see the massacres, the faked trials, the deportations, to be all ineffaceably real, an essential part, his part, in the drama that has just ended: while the future Utopia had never been anything but a fantasy.”

As we approach the shortest day of the year, Lewis asks us about our preparedness for the “irresistible light” that’s to come again:

“I do not find that pictures of physical catastrophe–that sign in the clouds, those heavens rolled up like a scroll–help one so much as the naked idea of Judgement. We cannot always be excited. We can, perhaps, train ourselves to ask more and more often how the thing which we are saying or doing (or failing to do) at each moment will look when the irresistible light streams in upon it; that light which is so different from the light of this world–and yet, even now, we know just enough of it to take it into account. Women sometimes have the problem of trying to judge by artificial light how a dress will look by daylight. That is very like the problem of all of us: to dress our souls not for the electric lights of the present world but for the daylight of the next. The good dress is the one that will face that light. For that light will last longer.”

In The Great Divorce, Lewis continues his reflection on light (and the daylight of the next):

“I glanced round the bus. Though the windows were closed, and soon muffed, the bus was full of light. It was cruel light. I shrank from the faces and forms by which I was surrounded. They were all fixed faces, full not of possibilities but impossibilities, some gaunt, some bloated, some glaring with idiotic ferocity, some drowned beyond recovery in dreams; but all, in one way or another, distorted and faded. One had a feeling that they might fall to pieces at any moment if the light grew much stronger. Then–there was a mirror on the end wall of the bus–I caught sight of my own.

I kept thinking about Gollum, from the pen of another Inkling, after reading that excerpt:

“‘Light, light of Sun and Moon, he still feared and hated, and he always will, I think; but he was cunning. He found he could hide from daylight and moonshine, and make his way swiftly and softly by dead of night with his pale cold eyes…'”

In one more passage from The Great Divorce, Lewis writes about glimpses of heaven (and light) captured through the eyes of the artist:

“‘No. You’re forgetting,’ said the Spirit. ‘That was not how you began. Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light…When you painted on earth–at least in your earlier days–it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the early landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see glimpses too.'”

On one of my very first retreats to St. Joseph’s I found a book in the Abbey Bookstore by Peter Kreeft entitled, C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium. I return to it often, and just found this relevant and very beautiful passage that brings together this rumination:

“The vacuum is the typically modern world view, which we would call the joyless cosmology. Lewis’ is the joyful cosmology. We have all breathed that modern air, even those who disbelieve it or even despise it. Our lungs are full of reductionism, which is dead air. Then, suddenly, a gust of wet, salty air blows in from the sea, and our spirits spring up like children, full of mysterious joy. A smell from another country, a gleam of celestial beauty falling on our jungle of filth and imbecility (to use a formula from Perelandra itself). An angel, a heavenly messenger, a star. Ralph Waldo Emerson (I think) said: ‘If the stars should only appear one night in a thousand years, how mankind would wonder and be grateful for that vision of Heaven that had been shown!’ Well, something like the “Great Dance” appears only once in a thousand books. That is why we appreciate it, as a Bedouin appreciates an oasis.”

St. Joseph’s Flickr Album
Advent Retreat at St. Joseph’s Abbey
Weekend 327.0 (2015 Winter Retreat)

Weekend 376.0

(1) Edward Johnston, designer of the iconic Underground typeface and ‘bullseye’ symbol, died on this day in 1944

Weekend 375.0

St. Joseph's Abbey(1) Feel Better and Quiet the Spirit: Chris Derby SJ discusses why the “silent treatment” seems to work on removing people from their usual “noisy” environments. They end up feeling better and quieting the spirit. (WCBS Newsradio 880)

(2) A quote on silence from St. Augustine:

“Let us leave a little room for reflection, room too for silence. Enter into yourself, and leave behind all noise and confusion. Look within yourself. See whether there be some delightful hidden place in your consciousness where you can be free of noise and argument, where you need not be carrying on your disputes and planning to have your own stubborn way. Hear the word in quietness, that you may understand it.”

(3) A timely quote from Sir Winston Churchill:

“All great movements, every vigorous impulse that a community may feel, become perverted and distorted as time passes, and the atmosphere of the earth seems fatal to the noble aspirations of its peoples. A wide humanitarian sympathy in a nation easily degenerates into hysteria. A military spirit tends towards brutality. Liberty leads to licence, restraint to tyranny. The pride of race is distended to blustering arrogance. The fear of God produces bigotry and superstition. There appears no exception to the mournful rule, and the best efforts of men, however glorious their early results, have dismal endings, like plants which shoot and bud and put forth beautiful flowers, and then grow rank and course and are withered by the winter. It is only when we reflect that the decay gives birth to fresh life, and that new enthusiasms spring up to take the place of those that die, as the acorn is nourished by the dead leaves of the oak, the hope strengthens that the rise and fall of men and their movements are only the changing foliage of the ever-growing tree of life, while underneath a greater revolution goes on continually.”

Before you vote…

(1) ObamaCare’s Chickens Come Home to Roost: Democrats, anticipating rage over huge premium increases scheduled for 2017, are already trying to blame Republicans

(2) Forget the FBI cache; the Podesta emails show how America is run

(3) The Clintons — At the End of All

“The Clintons suffer from greed, as defined by Aristotle: endless acquisition solely for the benefit of self. With their insatiable appetites, they resented the limits that multimillionaire status put on them, boundaries they could bypass only by accumulating ever greater riches. The billion-dollar foundation squared the circle of progressive politicians profiting from the public purse by offering a veneer of “doing good” while offering free luxury travel commensurate with the style of the global rich, by offering sinecures for their loyal but otherwise unemployable cronies, and by spinning off lobbying and speaking fees (the original font of their $100-million-plus personal fortune and the likely reason for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to put all her communications, mercantile included, on a private server safe from government scrutiny). Acquiring money to the extent that money would become superfluous was certainly a Clinton telos — and the subtext of the entire Podesta trove and the disclosures about the Clinton Foundation.”

Endless River

Grand Organ(1) Two quotes from Sir Winston Churchill: “…whatever the worries of the hour or the threats of the future once the picture has begun to flow along…they pass out into shadow and darkness.”

“Let us be contented with what has happened to us and thankful for all we have been spared. Let us accept the natural order in which we move. Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies, such as they must be in this world of space and time. Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows. The glory of light cannot exist without its shadows. Life is a whole, and good and ill must be accepted together. The journey has been enjoyable and well worth making—once.”

(2) The Grand Organ at the Royal Albert Hall. This is the organ used by Richard “Nick” Wright on Autumn 68′ on ‘The Endless River’.

Blaring Orchestria

“The man with the miniature orchestra” by Dave Algonquin.

“There were phrases of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony that still made Coe cry. He always thought it had to do with the circumstances of the composition itself. He imagined Beethoven deaf and soul-sick, his heart broken, scribbling furiously while death stood in the doorway clipping his nails. Still, Coe thought, it might have been living in the country that was making him cry. It was killing him with its silence and loneliness, making everything ordinary too beautiful to bear.”

Weekend 374.0 (XR-1)

“In a series of remarkable episodes that began airing in 1995, Disney tapped the best experts he could find to sketch humanity’s space future – literally “sketch” as animator Ward Kimball brought the dry explanations of scientists to squiggly-lined life.”

– Brian Fies, Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Images are from Walt Disney’s Tomorrowland – Man in Space

Pacific Atoll Launch Site I
Pacific Atoll Launch Site II
XR-1, #1
XR-1, #2
XR-1, #3
XR-1, #4

Weekend 373.0

(1) I-75/University Parkway Diverging Diamond Interchange Design (YouTube)

(2) Creator of Brompton folding bicycle steps down from company’s board – disgruntled at way business is run (This is Money)

(3) Disney’s secret archive revealed: Hidden sketches of Mickey Mouse and friends are seen for the first time (Daily Mail)