Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Sunday, August 22, 2004

...a thousand tiny needles...

Typically the best party story is the tale of how I ended up having an inscribed headstone on my grave before the age of twenty-five, or something along similar lines. The epic levels of dysfunction in my family nurture, among other things, a certain fecundity of anecdote. Even with all the entertainment value in the more morbid and twisted events, though, there's often a greater jaw-dropping impact in the equally unbelievable omissions in my childhood. Take, for immediate example, the case at hand: despite the fact that I grew up in the 'burbs outside Philly, my first visit to New Jersey amusement park staple Six Flags Great Adventure happened within weeks of my thirty-ninth birthday.

I respond to any and all allusions to my "second childhood" by pointing out the absence of a first.

This Great Adventure excursion had a number of things working in its favor:
-- it's all new to me;
-- small crowds = short lines = less waiting = more riding;
-- the absence of anybody's kids I need to be nice to;
-- intermittent torrential rains = small crowds;
-- fear of impending death gets Rob hyper;
-- the absence of any member of my family;
-- sweet potato fries... yum.

Superman: Ultimate Flight -- Way cool. Whoever came up with the idea of a ride that zooms you around while you're (more or less) positioned on your stomach like Superman in flight was a genius. Despite the looping track, the mechanism of this ride makes it -- to me -- a fundamentally different experience than a "roller coaster" per se. Up... up... and away!

Rolling Thunder -- A roller coaster, per se, and a damned good one. Exciting as wild steel coaster explorations of the extreme permutations of physics may become, there'll always be a place for the joys of the traditional wooden coaster. The rumble, the rattle, the sheer mechanical brutality of the thing. Nothing quite like a good woody. Even better in the dark.

Batman: The Ride -- Kathy tells me that they've cleaned up the once elaborate environment for this, among the first of major theme rides. I know I never saw it, but I miss the over-turned burnt-out police car... Still, a great ride, and even better in the rain. It was among the first rides to re-open after the mid-afternoon rainstorm, and they were actually running it while it was still raining. The light rain hit you like a storm of a thousand tiny needles. This ride should always be in the rain.

... and Robin -- Among the last things to re-open was the Batman & Robin: The Chiller ride. No Batman. Just Robin. The Boy Wonder is quick, but he's a wild ride. And backwards, too!

Medusa -- A whole lotta the twisty-turny-loopy throw you around stuff that modern steel coasters are best at. Double the fun because there was no line -- we rode twice in a row, and could have ridden a third time right then and there if we'd wanted to. (We should have: never did get back to that ride in the post-storm portion of the day.) What the ride has to do with its "Medusa Mining Company" enviroment I can't say, no can I possibly guess the reason anyone would paint anything related to a mining company those colors of purple and green...

N-N-N-Nitro! -- A traditional coaster for the 21st Century. No loops, no corkscrews, no exotic karma sutra riding positions -- just a great roller coaster. Really cool in the dark.

Lessons Learned:
-- some rides a cooler are the dark
-- other rides are less cool in the dark
-- still other rides are equally cool, but in a completely different way, in the dark
-- Batman is really cool in the rain
-- it is, even in what seem the most extreme circumstances, always possible to get wetter.