Saturday, November 1, 2008

Castles in Europe:

Ever since being able to call myself a 'professional writer', in Europe–British English has entered my life (which actually has more differences from American English than you might think). I now find my self typing words like: colour, favourite, theatre, centre, and using commas in ways they were never meant to be used. But, my (American) computer never seems to agree with me on the spelling. It refuses to morph into a full pledge European, as its owner is currently attempting to do–or attempting to understand the culture around me, at least. I happened upon these beautiful sketches online; they're conceptual and of Merryweather by Frank Thomas–one of the original members of Walt Disney's 'Nine Old Men'. He was subsequently responsible for animating some of Disney's most famous films ('the classics' they're referred to)–including: Bambi, Snow White, Pinnochio, Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone, Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella. These movies make me happy; they're design treasures. It's interesting to note, that as I continue to spend more and more of my life living outside of the USA (a year and a half to date), aspects of my life that I considered staples of most int the Western world's youth (aka: Disney Classics), aren't necessarily that well known outside the USA. Or they're dubbed. Bummer for Europeans. Disney was responsible for shaping who I am today, in so many ways, and was incredibly instrumental in molding my life–and creativity. Last summer, when traveling throughout Europe, I made it a point to visit Disneyland Paris; even if no one wanted to go with me. I had a fabulous time, alone, but I didn't go for the rides or even the shows (which were stunning, by the way). I instead went to compare the European park to that of its American counterparts, in terms of planning, grandeur and the like. Different? Yes. Smaller? Yes. European? Totally. And although alike in nature, the park in Paris just doesn't compare to those in the USA (even if the castle is more magical and less 'painted styrofoam block' looking). See for yourself: Cinderella Castle, Disneyworld, Orlando, Florida USA; Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, Paris, France. The castle at Disneyworld was modeled after Neuschwanstein Castle, which is nestled in the Swiss Alps in Füssen, southwest BavariaGermany. This past March, while living in Düsselldorf, I made it a point to take a Bavarian excursion one weekend, heading south to see Neuschwanstein, Münich and Würzburg (where I also made it a point to seek out the famed Residenz, and its dramatic staircase). The sign reads: 'Tegelberg two and three quarter hours that way. Only use this route in summer, deadly when it snows!' Whoops! It should be noted that Germans have no idea why people visit this place in Füssen, and I'll admit, it is a huge tourist trap and the only other people on my tour were Asians–and Americans–just like my co-workers said it would be. But, I didn't go for the reason most do. Clearly. The Walt Disney Company continues to intrigue me to this day–clearly–and I've been reading this great book called Disney War. It's been an ongoing process for four years now. Since 2004. The book is just so damn thick that every time I get so deep into it, I stop for a bit, only to resume and forget everything (as dozens of names are thrown around on each page; it's hard to keep track, and I'm a visual kind of guy). It's all about the secrets and insides of the company, encompassing everything. It's over 700 pages. Maybe I'll pull it out from the shelf, again, tonight–as it made its way to Amsterdam with me, when I moved. Page one, here we go, again.