Today was the first day Bill and I attended SXSW in-person in four years. As I had remembered from previous years, this first Friday was not too crowded. Out of town attendees were still arriving, and spring break week had already started in Austin. We attended Interactive sessions during the day and headed over to the Zach Scott Theatre for two movies in the evening.
Hugh Forrest opened SXSW 2023 with a seven-minute introduction. I think that’s his shortest intro ever. He said that 30% are international attendees this year.
Simran Jeet Singh in Conversation with Laurie Santos
Simran was raised in San Antonio and is the author of The Light We Give. He decided to seek another option to racism besides fight or flight and learn how to find light in the darkness. After a short talk, Simran spoke with Laurie Santos (from the podcast The Science of Happiness). He talked about “radical connectedness,” the idea that everything in the world is interconnected. He shared this quote from Cornell West: “Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Creating Happiness: The Art & Science of Disney Parks Storytelling
John D’Amaro is chairman of Disney Parks and Experiences. This lively session was accompanied by many photos, videos, and live presentations. According to research (and him), happiness is shared experiences and happy people make more happy people. The video of guest reactions was the best Disney advertisement I’ve ever seen. (Cue “I’m going to Disney World!”) He said (without irony) that we “create lands that are totally authentic.” and gave examples how Disney stories incorporate related food, songs, merchandise (with fake light saber give-aways), and even conversations with AI characters. He introduced a few Disney Imagineers who demonstrated an impressive real light saber, a tiny interactive Tinkerbell in a lantern, an oversized Hulk in a space suit, and a robot on roller skates doing somersaults.
Chelsea Handler and Jen Psaki
Quotes from Chelsea: “I’m not fit to be a parent.” “If you care so much about children’s lives, you could be doing a lot more to protect them.” “I’m not getting married, and I’m not having a baby, and I feel great about it.” “Children don’t respect me, and the feeling is mutual.” “I feel like resisting change is the opposite of what we need to do.” “It was refreshing to know that Tucker Carlson also hates Donald Trump. … It was almost like finding that you hate somebody less.” “I’m sexually attracted to him (Mitt Romney). … I read the whole Bible once. I read the Book of Mormon, too, as a shout-out to Mitt.” “I just really like sticking up for women and any person who feels marginalized.”
Book recommendations from Chelsea: Seven Deadly Sins (about patriarchy) and Asymmetry (fiction about Philip Roth and his young girlfriend).
The Lady Bird Diaries
This documentary was based on Lady Bird Johnson’s taped diaries and included lots of archival news and family footage. At the film’s conclusion, Lucy Baines Johnson gave a moving thank you on behalf of the Johnson family.
I am the Noise
This film told Joan Baez’s life story. Great archival footage of her early performances, especially shows with “Bobbie Dylan.” The movie did not shy away from her mental health issues.
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