Notes on conversations and observations from 36,000 ft
Everyone has a travel story. In a tale of creative contrasts, I ended up sitting beside two very different creative performers on the two long flights I've been on in the last 24hrs. From Auckland to Los Angeles I was seated next to the judge of the recent Sweet Adelines annual competition, held in Hamilton last weekend. Marcia was headed back to Vancouver, having been flown to NZ as an international top-level judge ofthe close harmony sing-fest. Fancy that. Sweet Adelines are like Barbershop singers — all clever close harmony, swinging rhythms and precise vocal blending and control. Disciplined performance. Nothing edgy, gritty or risky in this performance style — it is, to my reckoning, the very antithesis of ad-libbing free-form spontaneity on stage. Excellent in its own way, it marks the disciplined end of the spectrum of all the kinds of things you can see on stage.
Which is in total contrast to the guy I sat beside from LAX to Frankfurt. Ralf is a true-blue magician. He had just been at The Magic Castle in Hollywood, which is nothing at all like the Magic Kingdom in Anaheim. For a magician, a stint at the Magic Castle, located one block behind the Kodak Oscars theatre, is like a Formula One driver being in pole position at the Indy 500, or a country singer hitting the stage at the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville — some places represent the pinnacle of the craft. Ralf is a seriously edgy German philospher-cum-magician, and has an annual week-long gig in Hollywood. Not just all flash and tricks, he talked about Einstein and that other German's idea of the need to create astonishment as a feeling in others from your art/design/craft, cos that's when ideas become alive and get taken on to greater heights. That isn't meant to be a gag about levitation illusions.
So, the simple thought is Get astonished today!