For the longest time, I’ve had an internal soundtrack that blares “I’m bad at being an adult.”
I took a hard look at that soundtrack while reading Jon Acuff’s new book Soundtracks. (It will, for sure, be a part of an upcoming issue of Transmissions.) I decided to flip that soundtrack to “I will use my love of things from my childhood to enrich my adult life.” Longer? Sure. Not nearly as catchy. Or humorous, in a self-deprecating sort-of-way. But a healthier view to be sure. Transmissions is one of the things that was born out of this soundtrack flip.
Being an adult who ping-pongs between adult responsibilities and wanting to build LEGO and read comic books all day, there is one thing I struggle to keep present in my life.
A sense of wonder.
I realized this a few years back and funneled the idea into one of my early Meteor tee designs, Look Up. It’s cool to be in awe of the universe around us. It’s an awesome place. Why wouldn’t we? Sometimes we just need a reminder. That’s what I wanted the shirt to be.
Sometimes we need more of a reminder than just a t-shirt. Something that makes us whisper in awe, “wow.”
That’s the concept issue 006 is centered around. Wonder.
Here is Real Magic
I found this book, by chance, in my local library. I have a hard time reading non-fiction, but over the last few years have been making a conscious effort to read more of it. The summary made it sound like this book would help me bridge the worlds of fiction and non-fiction through my fascination with stage magic. So I picked it up.
I attempted to enter it into my Goodreads Currently Reading list, only to find it had already been added to my To-Read list. Except that I hadn't recognized the title, or remember entering it into Goodreads…weird right?
I cracked it open and knew by page 2 of the introduction that I would love this book. By the end of Chapter 1, I had ordered my own copy, knowing I'd be reading this book more than just once.
I’d never heard of Nate Staniforth. Not surprising since my interest in stage magic is oddly narrow and somewhat limited. Historically, I’ve loved fictional stories about magicians, but don’t follow that many actual magicians. There are a few but stories like Carter Beats the Devil, The Prestige (book and film), and the Eisenheim the Illusionist always trumped the glitzy spectacles of David Copperfield and his peers.
This book met me where I was at.
As a creative, sometimes it’s hard to find the spark of creativity buried under the mundane day-to-day tasks of adult life. Sometimes there’s burnout. Sometimes life takes a turn. Some days the spark just isn’t there.
I’ve found that oftentimes you have to get off your butt and hunt for it. That is essentially what this book is about. A magician trying to rediscover “the magic” of magic. He went to the other side of the world to see if he could.
I haven’t read a book in a long time that made me stop my wife from whatever she was doing so I could read her excerpts. I can’t tell you how many times I did that with Here is Real Magic. It’s hilarious, eye-opening, and completely transparent….or at least as transparent as a magician can be.
This is one of those books you want other people to read so you can talk to them about how crazy it is. That’s one of the main reasons I’m highlighting this book. That, and it sparked the idea for this wonder-themed Transmissions Issue.
Grab a copy. Read it. Pass it on. Then let’s talk about that crazy story with David Berglas and the peonies.
In and of Itself
I first heard about In and Of Itself from Adam Savage on his Tested YouTube channel. It was one of those infuriating, “You need to see this, but the less we say about it, the better it will be for you” situations. That was during its original off-broadway run. Thankfully They made a special of that performance and released it to Hulu. And after watching it twice now, I have to agree with them.
I knew nothing of Derek DelGaudio before watching this. Nothing of his background, nothing of how his performances went, nor how amazing of a storyteller the man is.
Even more than stage magic, I. LOVE. STORY. In any form I can get it. I’ve been mainlining well-told stories ever since I could con my parents into reading my favorite bedtime stories to me over and over again. I’ve spent a good portion of my life and more than a reasonable amount of my income over the years hunting down stories that will suck me in and transport me to another place.
And, Mr. DelGaudio, he knows how to tell a story. With his words, with his performance, and with his “magic.” This is not a performance for kids. He tells some hard stories with some real-life consequences. Interwoven with his stories is a way of performing magic that I had never seen before. Making this a storytelling experience, the likes I’ve never experienced.
And I wish there was more.
Give it a watch. Be taken in by his storytelling. And sit in wonder at the magic behind it all. People in that audience sure did, and their lives were visibly changed. Maybe yours will be too.
I’ve been a faithful Pixar devotee since November of '95. Sitting in Petoskey, Michigan’s small two-screen theater with my dad and younger sister watching toys come to life on the opening weekend of the original Toy Story.
As the years have passed and I’ve become an adult, my admiration for the way Pixar tells a story infused with wonder that plays to both kids and adults. Pulling us back from the precipice of cynicism and allowing us to be transported back to our childhoods. Like Anton Ego, food critic, in Ratatouille.
Pixar’s newest outing, Luca, is no different. In fact, it may be one of my favorite Pixar films in a good, long while.
Knowing the focus of this issue of Transmissions, I’ve been on the lookout for things in the world to share that instill a sense of wonder. Luca was released at the perfect time.
Because I've had “wonder” on my mind so much lately There was one scene that really stuck with me. It was a simple storytelling trick of flipping expectations played for laughs, but the scene had my brain churning.
Without giving too much away (Spoilers are frowned upon in the Morris household). The movie is about two “sea monsters” that can change into human form once out of the water. The scene that struck me so, showed the namesake of the film, Luca, coming to shore and changing for the first time. The wonder of all the new human experience was so much fun to watch. All the things we take for granted we get to see brand new through the eyes of Luca.
Walking for instance. Like I said, played for laughs, but taking a step back and looking at these things about humanity that we take for granted, had me thinking. How can we retain a sense of wonder, even in the small things?
This leads right back around to Here is Real Magic, learning to find wonder in all things commonplace. All the things we take for granted. Looking through other’s eyes might be the best way to start.
Empathy may just be the gateway to wonder.
Jamie Cullum Shake It off (Taylor Swift Cover)
Maybe that’s why I love covers so much. Seeing established music through someone else’s eyes, it becomes something new.
I’ve never been the biggest Taylor Swift fan, But I’ve loved Jamie Cullum’s work ever since I was introduced to his Live at Blenheim DVD back in the early 2000s. His energy and joy that his music exudes, the jazz roots, and his straight-up exuberance have always drawn me to his music.
I absolutely love what he did with Taylor Swift’s hit, Shake it Off.
Seeing this song through Jamie’s musical lens, with the stripped-down instrumentation and jazz-rooted vocal delivery transforms it into something entirely new and wonderful.
Give it a listen. It’s a joyful experience. And if you haven’t seen his Live at Blenheim performance, do yourself eyes and ears a favor and do that.