Anaheim, California It’s Actually an Extremely Large World After All…Trust Me

Dancing without gravity. Check.

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It took a second try and a new videocamera with solid state memory storage, but I got it. Thanks to Phil and everyone at ZeroG for helping me get the shot right.

By the way, floating weightless is flattering to no one, so I’m not ashamed of looking like I belong in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade.

There was an interesting batch of people on this flight. I met a painter, a physicist, a guy who built vehicles for the Halo games, a professional jetpack pilot, two guys working on inflatable space hotels, and the founder of Earthlink.

Again I’m reminded that one of my favorite things about doing this sort of thing is the folks you get to meet. It isn’t the boring rich people with nothing better to do — they’re off hiding in their mansions. It tends to be people with a spark of curiosity and excitement about the world. Some are wealthy, some aren’t, but they’re all smart and passionate about life and I get a kick out of talking to them.

When it was over, I went straight back to the same airport and flew over to the coast, where I met my family for a few days at Disneyland. My nieces are 3 and 5 and they’ve never been, so…

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It’s been a long time since I did the Disney thing. It was our default vacation when I was a kid. My horizons have broadened, but something still grabs me about Walt’s way of doing things.

Space Mountain is still awesome. Autopia is still pointless.

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The Pirates of the Caribbean has weathered its resurgence admirably — there are Sparrow-related updates, but the classic weirdness remains.

On consideration, I approve of swapping the 20,000 Leagues ride with Finding Nemo. The park will forever have to balance nostalgia with relevance, and I think it’s fair to say Captain Nemo’s exploits have lost ground in the current pop culture landscape. Great film, though.

"It’s a Small World" is closed for modernization. I’m told the new version is being renamed "It’s an Ethnically Diverse Global Economy."

The park’s 90s additions look particularly dated these days. Cartoons and animatronics are eternal, but the rough, blocky shapes of the early computer graphics age are kind of embarassing to behold. Aside from Tron, pretty much everything made before Toy Story should be stricken from public record.

Having just returned from Israel, I’m sensitive to the many similarities between Disneyland and Old Jerusalem. They’re both populated by people in silly costumes, they’re both divided into quarters, and they’re both based largely on make-believe. It’s a lot easier to find a garbage can at Disney, though.

I am mystified by the adjacent California Adventure park and its resolute blandness of conception. The place is literally themed around California. They have a recreation of the Santa Monica Pier, despite it being 40 miles away and not at all unwelcoming to visitors. The Hollywood backlot is a faithful replica of a real movie studio backlot, which is itself a faithful replica of whatever it happens to be replicating, not to mention open to the public and less than an hour away. No one else seems bothered by these layers of abstraction.

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There’s a roller coaster called Mulholland Madness; based of course on the circuitous scenic drive. There is a ride themed around orange groves. I’m not kidding.

Such unambitious tributes forced me to consider park additions celebrating other aspects of the California experience. My humble submissions:

– Free-fall into the Porn Industry
– Suicide Cult Epic Stunt Spectacular
– Steinbeck’s Sharecropper Experience (with adjoining Crepes of Wrath concession booth)
– Tijuana Border Crossing Sewer Toboggan
– Crack House Merry-Go-Drive-By

I think I was a hacky talk show writer in a past life.

I never got my Aurora Borealis shot in Alaska. It came out in force on my last night there. I saw it sweeping across the sky, but the clouds appeared just as the sun set and there was no shot to be had. To minimize city glare, I rented a car and drove out alone into the wilderness, but I just wound up sitting on the hood hoping Jason Voorhees didn’t emerge from the pitch black forest with a machete while I waited.

He didn’t. It was probably way too cold for him.

It’s hard work dancing in front of things you can’t control. The Taj Mahal isn’t going anywhere, but stuff like humpback whales and weightless environments and geomagnetic weather phenomena are a whole lot trickier to nail down.

I can’t really complain, though.

16 Responses to Anaheim, California It’s Actually an Extremely Large World After All…Trust Me

  1. Scott – eh, that can be done any day they’re open. Convincing a costumed employee that they won’t get fired for dancing on camera with you might be trickier 😉

  2. I love your blog and what you are doing even though your writting shows spots of typical american thinking every now and then. You rock matt… i envy you, i’m doing my own type of dancing video the next semestre while i travel around west and eastern europe, hugs men.

  3. Natasha

    You’ve got a talent for writing down your thoughts, and making sure they don’t come across as a narcissistic point-of-view. And people are copying your dancing… kudos on getting noticed in the world; its a hard feat to accomplish. Keep on dancing, and keep on writing about it, and keep on experiencing the world.

  4. Rich

    “They’re both populated by people in silly costumes, they’re both divided into quarters, and they’re both based largely on make-believe.”

    Are you fishing for hatred?

    I’m glad to hear you got your shot! :)

  5. Aubrey

    I’m sorry but that make-believe comment has me reeling. You know a whole culture was created of the sacrifices he made for you and everyone, and here in a few moments you denounce this great man’s contribution to the world.

    Disneyland is not make-believe, and don’t you forget it!

  6. Aubrey

    I’m sorry but that make-believe comment has me reeling. You know a whole culture was created of the sacrifices he made for you and everyone, and here in a few moments you denounce this great man’s contribution to the world.

    Disneyland is not make-believe, and don’t you forget it!

  7. m read

    Just discovered your blog Tuesday and am working forward chronologically (I’m in Micronesia episodes now). It is excellent. What a genius and serendipitous idea you had … Do you go back to check comments in your past stories? Best of wishes to you in your project.

  8. m read

    Thoroughly enjoyable read. But whew, I’m glad I caught up to the current part…have been plodding through for a week and approaching a coronary from lack of movement from this computer (drawn to it like that kid Atreyu from the never ending story). Used to live in Fairbanks and worked at that Fred Meyer…small world…at the time the Iditarod did pass thru Fairbanks and I got to see it and the woman that won that year. Used to wake up not knowing if it was day or night sometimes looking out disoriented at the aurora borealis wondering if I was awake or asleep. Strange days indeed. A fun time to be there is when the ice breaks or in the summer when the all night softball games go on. Anyway Matt, it has been a pleasure, as the song goes, how wonderful life is now you’re in the world.
    thank you 8)

  9. Hey Amazing Matt,

    The Aurora is a hard one to see, even when you live there. Being willing to sit out in the COLD and darkness takes some balls…very frozen balls. I lived there for 5 years and only saw it a handful of times. NASA has some good links for when the storms will be at there strongest. And remember you can see it in many countries that far North. Maybe next time you can make it up to the Arctic Circle to try and dance? There’s always the Aurora Australis to hit up too. Hopefully you got to thaw out at Chena Hot Springs. Cheers and keep up the GREAT dancing in life :) If you’re ever in San Francisco again give me an email. I’m an avid traveler that loves to show people great random spots in the city. ~Clair

  10. lionel

    i just saw one of u re video and u re mind is amazing, i just give u a good place to dance come on dinard in france exactly in britanny its a beautyfull place and u will do a graet dance with us
    see u soon!!

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