Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The art of riding roller coasters

The first scary ride I can remember going on was the Zipper. The Catholic church across from my high school had a carnival every year to raise money. I remember being a bit nervous, but a friend of mine told me she would ride with me if I went. The only thing I can really remember is how funny her hair looked flatted against the padded headboard during the ride. We both laughed through the entire ride and my love for roller coasters was birthed then and there in that parking lot of the church.

I've since been to several amusement parks with roller coasters. Arizona had the former Legend City. Of course there was Disneyland, Six Flags - Magic Mountain, Knott's Berry Farm, all the major west coast attractions. In my adult years I've expanded to see Cedar Point and Hershey Park.

The last park is where a tradition was unwittingly created. A group of friends decided to ditch work and head up to Pennsylvania to enjoy the joy that is Hersey Park. We anxiously walked through the gates when the park opened and headed to the first ride we could locate, which happened to be an old wooden roller coaster. I casually cautioned one of my friends not to "scream like a girl." She seemed almost offended at the suggestion that implied she was anything less than eager to ride the coaster. Unfazed by her response I retorted, "Okay, then I will." I proceeded to scream my lungs out the entire ride making myself practically hoarse in the process. As the coaster came to a stop just in front of the boarding area I noticed many of the passengers looking back in our direction with smiles and teary eyes trying catch a glimpse of the person who seemed terrified. I realised on that ride that making people laugh and smile was not only fun, but memorable.

Fast forward to a new amusement park in another country last week. Movie World is a Warner Brothers attraction in Australia that attempts to mix the cinema industry with an amusement park setting. A little light on the cinema side if you ask me. Fortunately there were several rides to keep our interests alive. One of the guys with us isn't so hot on the scary stuff. He graciously stayed behind on some of the larger attractions to hold all the things in our pockets that were prohibited on the rides. Not one to be left out of the fun completely he identified a moderately scary ride he was willing to try. The Road Runner Roller Coaster is a ride where you can "join WILE E. COYOTE as he chases the ROAD RUNNER from the ACME Fireworks Factory through the Arizona Desert in an exciting journey of twists and turns, ups and downs. It's a fun and fast adventure for the whole family!" Of course... I screamed like a girl.

For me the irony of screaming like a girl on this ride is quite funny. The ride is designed for children after all. Needless to say my friend was hardly scared when he got off the ride, and we still laugh about it. However, we also laugh about the poor kids still standing in line. Those little guys were probably expecting to ride something made for them but because of my tradition sounded much scarier. Here's a video I took while on the ride to illustrate more effectively the results of this tradition of mine.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

On writing, by Isaac Asimov

"There is writing which resembles the mosaic of glass you see in stained-glass windows. Such windows are beautiful in themselves and let in the light in colored fragments, but you can't expect to see through them. In the same way, there is poetic writing that is beautiful in itself and can easily affect the emotions, but such writing can be dense and can make for hard reading if you are trying to figure out what's happening.

"Plate glass, on the other hand, has no beauty of its own. Ideally, you ought not to be able to see it at all, but through it you can see all that is happening outside. That is the equivalent of writing that is plain and unadorned. Ideally, in reading such writing, you are not even aware that you are reading. Ideas and events seem merely to flow from the mind of the writer into that of the reader without any barrier between."