>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 92 – August 1, 2004

“Now Containing Zero Mentions of Michael Moore… Damnit!”

Now Playing: “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” by Gene Pitney

Hello all you hep-cats and minority hep-cats! This week I visited an amusement park in Montreal, where everyone speaks French for some reason. It was a lot like Euro-Disney only with less wine and more poutine. I am now badly sunburned, having spent over eight seconds in the sun without wearing sunblock with SPF 62. I don't understand how I sunburn so easily. You'd think having been born in the middle of a desert, surrounded by sand dunes and Bedouins riding camels, my skin would have been slightly better suited to handle the heat. But alas. Here's what happened:

-We drove to the fairground in a rented Pontiac Aztek (apparently Pontiac got their spelling lessons from Mortal Kombat). This is the stupidest car ever invented. Everyone I knew thought it was great. “It can turn into a tent,” they'd exclaim excitedly, as though the idea of sleeping in a car shaped like a tent is more appealing than sleeping in a car shaped like a car. If you want a tent, here's an idea: Buy a tent. Costs $60 at Wal-Mart. If you want a car, get anything besides a Pontiac Aztek.

-It's time we all get together and admit the flume ride was a bad idea. Somebody, somewhere, thought it would be “fun” to drench yourself with ice-cold, AIDS-infested water and then walk around in squishy socks and shoes for the rest of the day. That person owes me a new pair of Nikes and a cure for AIDS.

-Face it, if you go to the fair you WILL be waiting in line. A lot. Luckily, modern fairgrounds have incorporated some fun activities into their queues, such as 1. Trying to see around the next bend to find out if you're almost at the ride. 2. Trying to stop those assholes with the attractive girlfriends from jumping ahead of you. 3. Jockeying for position under the only shade-giving tree in the whole park. And 4. Drowning out the Tokyopop they have blaring from the loudspeaker. I swear I felt like I was trapped inside a Dance Dance Revolution machine.

-Quote of the Moment: One of the neatest tricks amusement parks play is designing a roller coaster ride that lasts 48 seconds and somehow, in that time, making you forget you just waited 3 and a half hours in a shade-free lineup listening to a band with a name like “Bubblegum Crisis.” I don't know how they do it. But it works every time, because as soon as we got off my travelling companions said “Let's ride it again!” Gee, I'd love to. But by the time we get through the line again the park will be closed and I'll have to shave. At least maybe my shoes will dry.

-You know how right before every ride there are some cubbyholes to place your valuable items into, and beside them a sign saying if your valuables are stolen you can't sue, so you may as well take them on the ride with you? Odd that my wallet is safer inside an open roller coaster car as it performs corkscrews than in a cubbyhole guarded by 4 park employees and 8,000 material witnesses standing in line. My guess is the park employees are stealing stuff themselves, because it would be easier for a criminal to break into Fort Knox than to get to those cubbyholes undetected.

-Why, oh why, do people play those stupid fairground games to win stuffed crap? You know, the ones where you pay $5 to throw a ball at a bucket or a clown or something and it looks really easy but really it's hella hard? And after spending $50 because you couldn't give up or your girlfriend would laugh at you and tell all her friends how you throw like a girl and are also mildly impotent, you finally win a useless, worthless stuffed piece of crap. Seriously, I think one of the prizes was a stuffed brown amorphous blob. Now you get to carry it around the rest of the day, and try to cram it in those goddamn cubbyholes before every single ride. Awesome!

-Fairground food is delicious. Since I obviously wasn't going to waste money on their cotton candy I opted for more traditional fare. Sadly, I was unable to secure the necessary financing to pay for a slice of day-old pizza and a coke. So I just gave them the keys to the Aztek, and then I was only $28 short. I don't think the rental agency will miss it.

-No trip to an amusement park is complete without a visit to the souvenir gift shop. See, if you're in Disneyland at least there are souvenirs that your loved ones will recognize, like Mickey Mouse ears or whatever. Even at Sea World you can get a miniature Shamu (now playing for the Miami Heat). But if you go to, oh, I don't know, Six Flags, they only sell souvenirs of characters in the public domain (“It's Hansel and Gretel! Aren't they adorable?”) and perhaps some very overpriced flags (“Collect all Six!”)

-I bet somewhere on this planet is a haunted house ride that's actually scary. And I don't mean “Dangers of Global Warming” scary. I mean crap-your-pants, holy-shit-we're-going-to-die scary. Things jumping out at you from the darkness: Not scary. Everybody's expecting that. Lots of blinking lights: Not scary unless you're epileptic. Dragons breathing “fire”: Not scary since I saw the King Arthur movie so I know dragons are extinct. I think a ride that took you through a men's-only all-night “spa” would do the trick. Now that's spooky.

-All in all, my trip to the French amusement park was a rousing success, and I will most definitely be returning real soon, provided I can obtain permission from my parole officer. In fact, I might even get season passes, because after riding every single ride 200 times in a month, I'm sure I won't get tired of it at all. Oh, sure, my friends probably won't want to come, and by day 13 I'll just be standing in line by myself, trying to make pleasant conversation with the imaginary beings who accompanied me in my sunstroke-induced hallucination. And sure, it might cost me a thousand dollars, but damn it, I'll win that stuffed piece of crap if it kills me.