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An outpost at the intersection of Life and Disney

Saturday, November 20, 2010

non-Disney Disney: Fisherman's Wharf

When a character resonates with the audience, it sometimes takes on a life of its own and becomes part of our pop culture.

I found two such examples of "non-Disney Disney" one afternoon at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf that I wanted to share:

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Fisherman's Wharf  81
If Captain Jack has been to Signapore, then I suppose 
he could have made his way through the Golden Gate as well.

Of course, if you're in San Francisco, you should also check out The Walt Disney Family Museum

Until next time,

- Chris.

Boudin Bakery - Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

The thing is - I'm a bit of a tourist.

Finding myself in San Francisco for a long weekend last March, my wife and I decided to spend some time at Fisherman's Wharf:

Fisherman's Wharf  6

Being a tourist at Fisherman's Wharf, I feel obliged to eat chowder from a bowl made from sourdough bread (full disclosure - I find the notion of eating chowder and sourdough bread appealing even when I'm not in San Francisco).

So where can an out-of-towner find sourdough bread on Fisherman's Wharf? The Boudin Bakery, of course:

Fisherman's Wharf  53
Fisherman's Wharf  54

According to their web site,  Boudin sourdough bread began in San Francisco:

"In 1849, the Boudin family struck culinary gold. Wild yeasts in the San Francisco air had imparted a unique tang to their traditional French bread, giving rise to 'San Francisco sourdough French bread.' "

Stepping inside the bakery, we find ourselves in a bustling cafe, but then we remember the sign on the outside said "Restaurant and Bar Upstairs", and sure enough there's a sign at the back of the cafe promising better things for those who climb the steps...

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Upstairs we find a more refined setting:

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And better still - since we're there on the early side, there's a table by the window:

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Let's see what the menu has to offer:

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True to form, I order the "Boudin Sourdough Breadbowl" (with the traditional clam chowder).  My wife decides to try the "Dungeness Crab Mac & Cheese", which the menu describes as:

"Aged Vermont cheddar cheese, fresh cream and freshly picked Dingeness crab with buttered sourdough bread crumbs"

Add a nice bottle of California chardonnay, and here's the result:

Fisherman's Wharf  67

The chowder and sourdough were delightful.  The chowder was wonderfully creamy without being heavy, and the bread didn't disappoint either.  I recall the Mac & Cheese being decent, but the dish which still resonates in my mind eight months later is the chowder.  Highly recommended.

There's so much wonderful food in San Francisco.  (I wrote about two other great meals previously). And I know we barely scratched the surface during our visit.

Do you have any favorite foods (or food spots) in The City?  If so, I'd love to hear about them.

Until next time,

- Chris.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Day in San Francisco

Back in March, my wife and I spent an extended weekend in San Francisco and points North.

It made for a great trip. San Francisco is a pretty amazing place.

One of the highlights was the day we spent in the company of our friends that live in The City.  We started by strolling from the Fillmore district down to Fort Mason:

Filmore, Ft Mason, Golden Gate Park, North Beach  1

Filmore, Ft Mason, Golden Gate Park, North Beach  2

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Where we browsed the shops and had a lovely lunch at a place called "greens"

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Then more strolling down by the water:

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Later we drove to Golden Gate Park

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Where we sipped tea in a lovely (but cold) Japanese Tea Garden

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Eventually we ended up the day with some wonderful food at North Beach, including the charming and tasty Caffe Sport:

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Filmore, Ft Mason, Golden Gate Park, North Beach  76

Thanks again to our friends Kyle and Yolande for spending the day with us - it was fantastic.

You can see a few more pictures from that day on flickr.

Until next time,

- Chris 

P.S. - If you followed me here from my other blog, then thanks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Mickey Puzzle

A few years ago, I received a cool Mickey photographic mosaic jigsaw puzzle.  I don't usually work on jigsaw puzzles - but in this case I was drawn in by the thousands of single-frame images from Walt Disney Feature Animation.

If I had known in advance how much work it would be, it would probably still be sitting in the box.

I really don't know puzzle strategies all that well, so I started by trying to sort the pieces into piles based on the movies depicted on each one. In retrospect, I doubt this was the most efficient way to solve the puzzle, but it did give me hours of brain-teasing (and eye-straining) fun trying to identify film frames based on the image fragments on each piece.

NOTE -- The fact that each puzzle piece contained parts of three or four different film frames makes this much more difficult than it sounds.

Anyway, after a few false starts, and lots of help from innocent family members, we finally managed to get Mickey back into one piece: 

The Mickey Puzzle
Now I just need to find a good way to mount this for display.

Any ideas?

- Chris

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Double-Take: The Two (WDI) Towers

Isn't it strange how sometimes you can look at an image without really seeing it?

I've been working my way through the WEDway Radio archives (well worth checking out, BTW), and something I heard in Episode 13 caught me by surprise.

08 - DCA - Tower of Terror (14)

WEDway Radio episode 13 compares the two domestic versions of the Tower of Terror attraction.  While I was well aware of the substantial mechanical differences between the attractions, I was surprised to hear that each rendition of the "Hollywood Tower Hotel" is actually constructed in a different architectural style.

Even though I've seen (and photographed) both towers in person, I never noticed just how strikingly different they are:

WDW April 2005 (7)
WDW April 2005 (9)

The Hollywood Tower Hotel,
Sunset Boulevard
Walt Disney World Resort, FL

08 - DCA - Tower of Terror (11)
08 - DCA - Tower of Terror (13)

The Hollywood Tower Hotel,
Hollywood Pictures Backlot,
Disneyland Resort, CA

Yet Another reminder to always keep my eyes (and my mind) open!

Until next time,

- Chris


Yes, I know there's actually *four* versions of the "Tower of Terror" attraction.  However:
1) from the pictures, the Disneyland Paris version looks like a twin of the DCA version,
2) the Tokyo tower is radically different, and isn't even a "Hollywood Tower Hotel",
3) Calling the article The Two Towers appeals to my inner Tolkien geek :-]

- C.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Last March I had the opportunity to tour The Walt Disney Family Museum

Walt DIsney Family Museum 6

If you are a fan of Walt Disney, or a Disney fan that would like to learn more about the man who started it all, then a visit to this museum is time well spent. 

I spent about 5 hours there (including a lunch break at the museum cafe - try the chili ;-]), and had a great time.  I feel like I could have easily spent two days exploring the galleries. (Full disclosure: I'm a Disney geek, and also one of "those people" who likes to read the plaques/etc). 

The museum is located in three beautifully restored buildings at The Presidio of San Francisco 

Walt DIsney Family Museum 2 

Walt DIsney Family Museum 1

In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also has an ongoing calender of special events, which include film screenings in their on-premesis theater.  Check out the event calendar on the museum's official website.  You can also subscribe to their twitter feed (@WDFMuseum).

According to wikipedia, the museum is owned and operated by the Walt Disney Family Foundation - a non-profit organization which is not formally associated with the Walt Disney Company. 

One tip -- plan your visit in advance.  Admission is controlled by timed-entry tickets to avoid over-crowding in the galleries-- you reserve a specific date and time for your visit.  The web site should show current ticket availability. 

The museum strictly forbids photography inside, so I won't be able to share any images with you.  However, you can see select images from the galleries at the official WDFM website. 

UPDATE - You can also see some lovely images over at SamLand's Disney Adventures

Below the fold, I briefly list some of the things which stood out in my memory (with some mild spoliers).

As I said before, the five hours I spent in the museum left me with the impression that I had only sampled the highlights.  Here (in no particular order) are some things which left a lasting impression on me: 

One of the things I loved about the place is that as soon as you step inside something just says "Disney" - but at the same time it very much looks like it belongs in northern California. 

After you enter, make sure to take a moment and go downstairs to the basement and check out the classic Disney film and Disneyland attraction posters. 
There's one simple yet amazing display near the end of gallery three.  Two monitors are stacked on top of each other showing two animated short versions of The Ugly Duckling - one from the early 1930's and one from the end of the decade.  Although made a mere ten years apart the differences in artistry are astounding.  The pantomime and sight gags which dominated the early offering are replaced with storytelling, "personality animation", engaging camera perspectives, and effects animation including the multiplane camera.

Many of the galleries feature dynamic and/or interactive elements.  For example, the frequent use of flat-panel displays allows guests to see much of the work as it was meant to be seen - in motion.

I was mildly surprised to see that most of the windows had the shades drawn, denying the guests views of The Presidio and the nearby Golden Gate bridge.  However, as soon as I reached gallery eight ("Walt + The Natural World") all was made spectacularly clear :-] 

The galleries are organized by periods in Walt's life, which break down roughly by decade.  The transition from the early years to Walt arriving in Hollywood in 1923 was particularly well done.

There are some great artifacts on display, including a towering multiplane camera, the original "cir-car-rama" camera, and a section of track and a car from the Carolwood Pacific railroad.

There's also a nice collection of Disney family keepsakes - including a charm bracelet that Walt gave to Lilly featuring miniature Oscar statues commemorating each of Walt's Academy Awards. 

The gallery focusing on the 1940's was fascinating - with displays about the animator's strike, samples of the studio's World War II propaganda and training films, and momentos from the famous "Walt and El Grupo" visit to South America. 
As one might expect, there is a wealth of original artwork.  I especially enjoyed the chance to take in many works by Mary Blair.

There are deep interactive displays that I could have easily spent hours at, including an innovative multi-touch display that allows you to interactively explore the pages of a personal journal of one of the studio's effects animation pioneers.  This is truly a museum-quality reference resource!

The gallery devoted to the 1950's has a wonderful set of interactive booths that invite  you to explore "clouds" of hundreds of images, video clips, and audio samples.

The expansive gallery nine is the signature space for the museum, and contains some lovely "large footprint" displays, including a nice model of Disneyland.  If you look carefully, you can even spot a floor pattern design that pays homage to Walt's "EPCOT the city".

In addition to all the visual treats, there are also plenty of stations featuring audio clips. During my visit I listened to Walt, his brother Roy, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Alice Davis, and many others.

Walt Disney was an amazing man, and The Walt Disney Family Museum is an amazing place.  Although it requires a special trip for most of us to see, I think it is very well done and absolutely worth the journey.  I hope it continues its mission for years to come.

Until next time,
- Chris

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sometimes It's Good to Sweat

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at 2719 Hyperion's first Sweatbox Meet
It was great to have a chance to meet so many NC-area Disney bloggers, podcasters, artists, and enthusiasts.  Among those in attendance were: 
After introductions came a wonderful presentation from Team 2719 Hyperion: 
  • "Hyperion 101," an introduction to the the history and surrounding geography of the original Walt Disney Studios that was located at 2719 Hyperion Avenue...
In true Sweatbox tradition, we were treated to a live reading that was a mix of preparation and improvisation, with questions and interactive discussions along the way.  You can see the fruits of their labors by reading the web version of the presentation (part one, part two). 

After taking an interlude for refreshments, the team behind Progress City, U.S.A. took the floor and lead a lighthearted discussion with pictures and thoughts from their recent trip to Walt Disney World.  It was like being in the studio for a recording session of the Progress City Radio Hour - paying tribute to things that were As They Ought To Be, and pointing out those things which were not-so-much

Both presentations were excellent, and complemented each other nicely.  One was rooted in the past, while the other was grounded the present day.  One was filled with meticulous research, while the other was infused with a light, extemporaneous quality.  Both were fueled by a common passion for Disney that really came through. 

As I predicted, the first Sweatbox meet was an evening of first-class Disney Geek entertainment and a rousing success. 

*Even better* is the fact that the date for The Next 2719 Hyperion Sweatbox Meet has been announced: 

Unfortunately, I have a prior commitment which will keep me away, but I encourage all Disney fans in the NC area to attend if they can.

Thanks again to 2719 Hyperion for organizing the event, to Progress City U.S.A. for presenting, and to everyone who participated.  I had a blast. 
 - Chris 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sweatin' in the Carolinas

Although perspiration is a common occurrence here in beautiful North Carolina, the purpose of this post is to help spread the word about 2719 Hyperion's first live event: 

Jeff and George promise "an evening discussing Disney Studio history, the theme parks and more! ... [The] special guests for the evening will be Michael and Jeff Crawford from Progress City, USA."

Folks, with a lineup like this I think we're in for an evening of first-class Disney Geek fun.

For more details (including ways to RSVP and why it's called "Sweatbox") head on over to 2719 Hyperion.

I've been looking forward to this event for a long time.  Hope to see you there as well.

- Chris

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thoughts on "The Concert Feature"

Last weekend we found ourselves watching Fantasia 2000 on DVD - and it reminded me just how much I enjoy this film.

Fantasia Scans  012

Although I have dim memories of seeing the original Fantasia in the theater as a youngster, I became a fan of the movie by first becoming a fan of it's music.

Those of us of a certain age can remember when home audio was being revolutionized by the introduction of the Compact Disc. I bought my first CD player back in the summer of 1986, and one of the very first things I bought for it was a two-disc soundtrack from Fantasia:

Fantasia Scans  006 Fantasia Scans  007

As I watched Fantasia 2000 again this weekend it struck me that these films seem to achieve a sort of elegant innocence by letting beautiful music and pure visual storytelling carry the show.

Fantasia Montage

Walt Disney gave the world many gifts. Perhaps the most profound and lasting thing Walt gave me was an appreciation for classical music - through Fantasia. (Thanks, Walt).

I wonder if we will ever see another film like Fantasia. "The Concert Feature" (as it was originally known) was supposed to be the start of an evolving series. The world waited almost six decades to see the second installment - and then only through the efforts of Mr. Roy E. Disney.

I hope that some day we'll all have a chance to see more Disney fairies like these:

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Fantasia Scans  009

Until Next Time,
- Chris

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Bug's Land

Today on DF'82, Princess Fee invites us all to enjoy a moment in DCA's A Bug's Land.
(Go take a peek now if you haven't had a chance to yet).

Being a fan of all things Pixar, I was inspired to post a few Bug's Land images I captured back in December, 2007.

Although limited in scope and scale, this area seems to echo some of Pixar's creative spirit. To paraphrase John Lasseter, Pixar films are built on a three-prong foundation: story, characters, and environment. Pixar's "A Bug's Life" delivers all three, and DCA's "A Bug's Land" allows us to step into the environment and take closer look at some of it's memorable characters.

DCA - A Bugs Land (11)

DCA - A Bugs Land (13) DCA - A Bugs Land (15)

DCA - A Bugs Land (19) DCA - A Bugs Land (20)

DCA - A Bugs Land (21) DCA - A Bugs Land (24) DCA - A Bugs Land (49)

DCA - A Bugs Land (57)

You can see more images from my visit to A Bug's Land on flickr.