Weekend 558.1

All these drove my interest in [computers] [technology] [futurism_].

(IOI-643118) WarGames
(IOI-645119) Tron (and later Tron: Legacy)
(IOI-675123) Atari <<< Rick Guidice and John Enright
(IOI-675129) Origin Systems (2400 AD)
(IOI-678999) Walt Disney World: Tomorrowland, EPCOT, and Monorail
(IOI-681999) Apple: IIe and Mac Classic
(IOI-721972) 1984
(IOI-774444) Robotech
(IOI-791211) Geocities
(IOI-811303) Steven Levy: Hackers and Insanely Great

Tri-Level Transit by George McGinnis (1974)
Slot Racers by John Enright

Weekend 556.0

I just finished maintenance on Playmobil365.com. My tribute project celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Playmobil is 9 years old! Updates included link hygiene, comment culling, platform hardening, etc. The BIGGEST update was retrofitting categories to EVERY post. This was an old ambition and finally used some downtime to tackle. There are a couple of vignettes and now you can easily isolate the posts and photos related to those stories. All of this was done as early preparation for a 10-year anniversary project (details soon).

If you’ve never visited Playmobil365.com there are tons of tributes to classic video games (Pac-Man and Sid Meijer’s Pirates), 80s bands and artists like A-ha, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Paul Simon and Howard Jones, Disney animation, artists, imagineers and theme park attractions, football clubs like Southampton, Morecambe, and Metz, writers like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Jeff Bridges via TRON and The Big Lebowski, places like London and Bermuda, and Hayao Miyazaki, Makoto Shinkai, and Haruki Murakami and FINALLY pop culture references like the nod to Garth Marenghi and Stanley Kubrick.

DM me if you can name the movie tribute to Miyazaki and Shinkai and the book title of the tribute to Murakami.

>>> BONUS: Sweet, sweet, sweet tyre pron.

Speaking of…

There have been some significant 20th and 50th Anniversaries the last few years- Naruto, Kingdom Hearts, NY Islanders, and Walt Disney World.

Disney Theme Parks

There is the woke and grooming element of the Walt Disney Company but this post is more about the decline of the theme parks. My own personal boycott of the Walt Disney Company remains in effect¹ too.

Before the pandemic and the Biden Price Hike (via inflation) the parks were on the decline from a quality/value versus price perspective. I can speak with authority on this topic because prior to the pandemic I was at WDW every other year and recorded a precipitous drop in the quality of the parks. The magic (quality) was always a differentiator for Disney but how many articles have been published the last two years with a headline about the magic being gone? They have ruthlessly cut the entertainment and entertainers and new offerings are done cheaply and without any substantial storytelling/theming. When we were last there in September 2019 the transportation system was pathetic (dirty monorails, fewer buses, etc.). Disney has also retired the very popular Magical Express. It feels like the cost cutting and price increases have only accelerated as the company recovers from the pandemic.

Day Planning
On one hand their ads talk about removing the stress and complexity of planning but the experience and reality are completely different. YOU will spend a considerable amount of your “vacation” engaged in queue management which requires your face to be stitched to a screen. It’s also more expensive than the older more democratized version of FASTPASS which has been superseded by pay-to-play schemes. Disney has an experience for every income level but the model has been supercharged with a labyrinth of options designed to vacuum every penny from your wallet. Unfortunately they have achieved this sorcery without materially boosting the experience. They also seem to be targeting guests with much, much, much higher incomes. The irony is the super “woke” and affluent crowd they covet has traditionally considered the product uncultured and boorish.

Hide the Decline
After Jack Welch (Neutron Jack) retired from GE the new CEO Jeffrey Immelt cozied up to the Obama Administration. I think Immelt did this, in part, so he wouldn’t have the pressure of outperforming Neutron Jack. This is similar to Bob Chapek hiding the decline at the Walt Disney Company behind social justice causes. Does the “woke” get worse now that inflation is going to squeeze theme park attendance or are there enough childless blue haired weirdos to fill the parks? How do they retcon attractions that have typically celebrated the American spirit without alienating more than half the country? The SJWs who have infiltrated the ranks of management at Disney have convinced the C-suite execs that twitter is represents majority opinion. This is a fever that needs to break to stop guests from running for the exit turnstiles.

¹Excludes Kingdom Hearts since this is more Square Enix and Tetsuya Nomura than Disney.

Related
Guess Which Theme Parks Are Conspicuously Missing From USA Today’s Top 10 List? (PJ Media)
Here’s How Americans Are Downgrading Their Summer Vacations Due To Inflation (Forbes)
Nolte: Pro-Grooming Disney’s Favorability Rating Plummets 53 Points In One Year (Breitbart)
Disney World Now Charges for Parking at Hotels, Decreasing Their Value (Frommer’s)

Grim Grinning Milestones

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of fifteen-days to flatten the curve.

Still drafting a post on Walt and the Walt Disney Co. but Sarah Hoyt linked to this on Chicago Boyz. My own comment on Instapundit related to Deleting Disney:

“I would go to WDW to see traces of Walt’s influence (search ‘Mary Blair’s Grand Canyon Concourse mural in the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World’) but most have been erased. Walt would be cancelled in ten minutes to-day because his art often celebrated tradition and history. My guess is ANTIFA and SJWs would topple his audio-animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln from the 64/65 NY World’s Fair. I will NEVER return to WDW (and haven’t watched ABC or ESPN in years). IF you love Walt, read the Gabler tome. Disney wore a Goldwater pin and he knew exactly the kind of threat commies represented when they infiltrated his company and he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee.”

It’s time for a national boycott of the Walt Disney Co.

Update
I mentioned Walt Disney: Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler but How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams with Jim Denney is equally good. The books are very different but read together provide a Circle-Vision 360° view of Walt.

More to come…

2018/2019 by the numbers…

I’m using my retreats as bookends so the timeline covers the period between December 7-9, 2018 and December 20-22, 2019. What I didn’t know before my first retreat ended is that I would spend 6+ months in Paris for work beginning in March.

Some notes…

I’ve provided dates for specific events (matches, concerts, etc.) and if you’re keeping score at home my teams / clubs went 5-1-1. All the links in this post are to Flickr, Vimeo, and/or official sites. While I briefly mention my trips to Belgium (Orval Abbey) and Germany both are covered extensively in other posts. The second part of my post will focus on life in Paris.

Timeline

  • Retreat at St. Josephs Abbey 12/7 to 12/9/2018
  • North Carolina 1st Visit 12/16/2018
  • New York Islanders (6) vs Ottawa Senators (3) 12/28/2018 (WIN)
  • Paris 1st Sprint 3/9/2019
  • La Marche de Saint Joseph 3/16/2019
  • Weekend in Metz 3/30 to 3/31/2019
    • FC Metz (2) vs FC Lorient (1) 3/31/2019 (WIN)
  • A.J. Auxerre (0) vs FC Metz (0) 4/6/2019 (DRAW)
  • Weekend in Southampton 4/12 to 4/14/2019
    • Southampton (3) vs Wolverhampton (1) 4/13/2019 (WIN)
    • Solent Sky Museum 4/13/2019
  • Weekend in Belgium (via Luxembourg) 6/22 to 6/23/2019
  • Kingdom Hearts World Orchestra (NYC) 6/29/2019
  • Bastille Day 7/14/2019
  • North Carolina 2nd Visit 8/15/2019
  • Weekend in Angers 8/24 to 8/25/2019
  • Angers SCO (3) vs FC Metz (0) 8/24/2019 (LOSS)
  • Weekend in Trier Germany & Luxembourg City 9/14 to 9/15/2019
    • Eintracht Trier (3) vs TuS Koblenz (2) 9/14/2019 (WIN)
  • TWA Hotel 9/22 & Walt Disney World 9/23 to 9/29/2019
  • New York City 10/24 to 10/26/2019
    • New York Islanders (4) vs Arizona Coyotes (2) 10/24/2019 (WIN)
    • Emanuel Ax Performs Beethoven @ Lincoln Center 10/25/2019
  • London 11/17 to 11/24/2019
    • Mail Rail at The Postal Museum & Guildhall Art Gallery 11/18/2019
  • Bristol 11/22 to 11/24/2019
  • North Carolina 3rd Visit 12/14 to 12/18/2019
  • Retreat at St. Josephs Abbey 12/20 to 12/22/2019

Paris 1st Sprint
I spent my first weekend in Paris participating in the La Marche de Saint Joseph. It was an amazing event but notable for two reasons— we attended mass at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris less than 1 month before it was devastated by a fire on April 15 and we visited Notre-Dame-des-Victoires. The former was my refuge whilst in Paris, and it wasn’t until my retreat to St. Joseph’s this Advent that I realized HOW special this cathedral is.

Here is Saint Therese of Lisieux on Our Lady of Victories:

“We reached Paris in the morning and commenced our visit without any delay. Poor little Father tired himself out trying to please us, and very soon we saw all the marvels of the Capital. I myself found only one which filled me with delight, Our Lady of Victories! Ah! what I felt kneeling at her feet cannot be expressed. The graces she granted me so moved me that my happiness found expression only in tears, just as on the day of my First Communion.”

Here’s a photo and video from the limestone archives from inside the cathedral. Coffee and books will feature prominently in this long post and I spent many weekends at Bar du Moulin (right next door to the cathedral) sipping coffee and reading in the shadow of Our Lady.

Metz & Auxerre
My first trip outside of Paris was to Metz via Gare de l’Est. The goal of my weekend excursion was a football match between FC Metz and FC Lorient. This photo of Stade Saint-Symphorien is one of my favorites. I was able to the explore the stadium the day before the match completely unmolested and the walk from Gare de Metz to Stade Saint-Symphorien follows the beautiful Moselle. Don’t miss the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains, Cathedral of Saint Stephen of Metz (Good Lord’s Lantern), and Temple Neuf. When you need a little caffeine and rest find La Moselle. It’s one of three really exceptional cafés discovered on these trips. The others being Foliage Café in Bristol and The Caféothèque of Paris.

My second excursion was a day trip to Auxerre for a football match. I was perched outside the stadium early enough to see the club arrive via bus.

Southampton
I returned to the US via Southampton and London. A brief summary of my trip was captured in Southampton, P2. One of the highlights was my visit to the Solent Sky Museum and it’s featured in a documentary about the Spitfire on Netflix. I was also there for a football match at St. Mary’s.

>> Related: Southampton, P1

Belgium
I took two really great weekend trips outside of France during my assignment in Paris. The first was to the Orval Abbey in Belgium whilst the second was to Trier in Germany. I took the train from Paris to Luxembourg for both and then rented a car. The Orval Abbey and St. Joseph’s both share a Cistercian and Trappist history. I stayed at the Hotel Le Florentin and it’s one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at (not exaggerating). The area around Florenville is also very pastoral / bucolic.

I was back in NYC in June for the Kingdom Hearts World Orchestra and the highlight was meeting Yoko Shimomura!

One perk of this assignment was the opportunity to celebrate two national holidays within ten days of each other on two different continents / countries— Independence Day and Bastille Day. I have never seen better fireworks than the ones in Paris (and having the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop just adds to the pageantry). I also had access to a special viewing section (long story for another post).

Angers
One of my last weekend trips in France was to Angers to see newly promoted FC Metz get steamrolled by Angers SCO. The city follows the contours of the Maine. The area around the Château d’Angers offers excellent vistas and don’t miss the Tapestry of the Apocalypse within the castle. The Crêperie du Château is a nice break from adventuring, and I’m NOT a foodie so its inclusion in this post is significant. You could also spend a half-day taking photos in the narrow streets around the creperie.

Trier & Luxembourg City
My trip to Trier was just before the end of my assignment and included a football match between Eintracht Trier and TuS Koblenz. I also revisited Porta Nigra (was there once upon a time). I spent the night at the BECKERS Hotel and Restaurant and you can see vineyards from the property.

Some poor planning on my part resulted in almost a full day in Luxembourg City (kind of a happy accident) which included a self-guided tour of Saint Michael’s (the oldest Catholic Church in Luxembourg City) and a stroll through the Parcs de la Pétrusse.

TWA Hotel and Walt Disney World
I spent a night at the TWA Hotel at JFK in September with my brother en route to Walt Disney World. I’m not going to write about the latter because it’s getting much more difficult to see any trace of Walt Disney. The restoration of Eero Saarinen’s Bird Terminal on the other hand will result in an architectural and historical sensory overload. We spent most of the night just wandering around the hotel taking photographs. I wish Disney would restore Tomorrowland to its original Saarinen-like design.

>> Up, Up and Away with TWA (Flickr Album)

New York
I did return to Paris for one final sprint but work obligations made any weekend excursions difficult. The end of my assignment and return to the US coincided with the start of hockey season (AHL/NHL) and a concert at Lincoln Center/David Geffen Hall. I went home to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum a couple days before my birthday to see the Isles (founded in 1972) play the Arizona Coyotes. The Isles WON 4-2 and I caught a puck in the third period.

Fun Fact: I saw the North Carolina Hurricanes (Hartford Whalers) defeat the Arizona Coyotes on 12/16/2018 3-0 on my first trip to Raleigh.

London and Bristol
I finished Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History sometime in the summer (no doubt at Bar du Moulin in the shadow of Our Lady) and was enamored by a painting depicting one of the important battles. My trip to London in November included a day trip to the Guildhall Art Gallery to see the painting Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, 1782 by John Singleton Copley. I also rode the Mail Rail at the Postal Museum. IF you are not claustrophobic (and love trains) this tour / museum should be managed on your itinerary like expedited first class. I also went to the London Transport Museum for some gift shopping and left with British Rail Architecture 1948-1997 by David Lawrence for the limestone library. I haven’t finished the book yet but quotes are appearing in posts and correspondence to friends. I was so inspired by a passage about an experimental station that I’m managing something similar in my backyard (in miniature of course).

I left London for Bristol via Waterloo Station. The highlight of this trip was the Foliage Café and the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The weather was really (really) lousy but I was still able to explore the city by foot. Make sure to explore Giant’s Cave. If you fancy vinyl there’s a Rough Trade on Nelson Street.

Paris Closing Notes
A quick list of my favorite places and things in Paris not mentioned in the body of the post:
RATP / Châtelet / Paris Métro
La Défense
Saint Joseph’s
Hôtel de Ville
Ashiana (Indian Restaurant)
Au Plat d’Etain
Gare de Bercy/Gare de l’Est/Gare Montparnasse
Jardin du Luxembourg/Jardin des Tuileries (Big Wheel on Place de la Concorde)
The Abbey Bookshop
Marché couvert les Enfants Rouges
Cinq Fois Plus
The Musée de l’Orangerie
Grand Palais
La Caisses de Bières
Arc de Triomphe
Sacré-Cœur
La Droguerie
Le BHV Marais (Caran d’Ache)
Atelier des Lumières
Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux

Companion Books and Music
Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History by Roy Adkins and Lesley Adkins
Absolutely on Music: Conversations Haruki Murakami with Seiji Ozawa by Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa
Orval: Histoire de la reconstruction de l’abbaye by Danièle Henky and Èric Hance
British Rail Architecture 1948-1997 by David Lawrence
The Baroque Oboe: Harold Gomberg performs Vivaldi, Telemann and Handel; Seiji Ozawa conducting the Columbia Chamber Orchestra with the Gomberg Baroque Ensemble

Weekend 430.0 (Drink up, dreamers, you’re running dry)

Cumulus IsobarA rainy day…a total wash out…it took me a couple of hours to realize there were no errands to run…no bike rides to be had…just the opportunity to listen to music…organize thoughts and exercise my creative muscles.

(1) Get ready for a commuter apocalypse (NY Post)

(2) Printmaking to Take Stage at New York’s Javits Center (Barron’s)

(3) ACORN All Purpose Vendor (almost like the mystery of the Sea Venture Building)

(3a) Bermuda (Devil’s Isle), Parts 1 to 3 (now in convenient .pdf format)

Weekend 414.0 (…that’s how our minds, create creations…)

Quotes from The Thinking Fan’s Guide To Walt Disney World: EPCOT by Aaron Wallace. This is a well-written/researched book from a writer very passionate about EPCOT. It’s also creatively formatted with supplemental content suggestions (Disney and non-Disney) at the end of each chapter. I was simultaneously listening to Epcot Center on Spotify by TXCREW while reading.

“Epcot sometimes struggles to remember its past. But finding Future World is an adventure fans will always be ready for.”

“Like so many modern youth, rather than soak in their surroundings, Spaceship Earth’s guests are asked to play the equivalent of a free gaming app on a glorified iPad…the attraction’s new finale feels small and even selfish…that might be in keeping with the self-important sentiment of the Twitter generation, but Spaceship Earth used to be about challenging us to become more than we are…maybe a screen filled with vapid, diversionary entertainment in an isolating sea of blackness is a symbolic, even purposeful statement about where we’re headed next.”

“A theme park without a theme is just a carnival, and carnivals don’t earn tribute sites, fan forums, guidebooks, tour guides, conventions, memorabilia, or anniversary celebrations. They are fun but also common, and they rarely inspire.”

“Its inaugural class, the entrants of 1982 through 1995, can recall a place that made the future seem so darn epic, and the whole world so vibrant, eclectic, and connected, we just had to be a part of it…there are hundreds of thousands of 30-to-40-year-olds who recall their childhood visits as vividly as a close encounter.”

“Lean into the ’80s. The 1980s are to Epcot what the 1950s are to Disneyland. The decade will always be part of the park. We just happen to live in a time when the world is celebrating that particular era, so seize the moment. Find ways to echo your origins in contemporary aesthetics and new ideas for tomorrow, vowing never to stay inside the box.”

WATCH / READ THIS – Trying to lean into the ’80s? Find a copy of Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything by Steven Levy. It’s like a companion guide to Spaceship Earth. It may not resolve the ‘Battle of the Steves” but Aldus Manutius could appear in Spaceship Earth: Act II.

Where does that “One Little Spark” come from? Walt actually provides some insight in “Where Do the Stories Come From” (1956). It’s included on Your Host Walt Disney: TV Memories (1956-1965) which is part of the Walt Disney Treasures (DVD). I’m a little impartial to model railroading as a source of inspiration, and home movies from; Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, and Walt Disney featured on the DVD are absolutely amazing.

The Scan is from Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance.