Carnival & Midway Games: The Science Of The Scam, And How To Win

‘Tis the season for local carnivals, fairs, festivals and lots of other events that, at least in the U.S., usually includes soft ice cream, corn dogs, kettle corn, funnel cake, fried stuff on a stick, and “spin and puke” rides. Probably in that order. 😉

When I was a kid, the things I loved the most at the carnival were the games of chance. Whether it was squirting water into a clown’s mouth, aiming a wiffle ball to land in a red cup or trying to break balloons with darts, I was positive that I could beat the odds and win that 3’ plush Snoopy I had my eye on. Unfortunately, although I spent a whole lot of money trying, I never did win that Snoopy. But I did win a working kid-sized blender on a carnival roulette wheel once, when I was about seven.

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That Time When The Naked Guy Was Taken Down By A Ranger At The Alamo

Joe and I recently visited San Antonio for a few hours, with our friends Norm and Sam. Norm really wanted to see the Alamo, so we did some research to find out exactly where it was (Joe and I hadn’t been in YEARS), parking, what was around it, what its hours were, etc. Me, being me, also looked for the more “interesting” stuff about the location. The oddest one I could find in the 20th century was when Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for peeing on the Alamo’s Cenopath (if you don’t know the end of the story, he went to jail for the day, his bond was paid, and he was banned from ever playing in San Antonio again….until 1992, when he made a public apology and a $10K donation to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the organization that maintains the Alamo’s grounds), which I knew about, but not in SO MUCH DETAIL, LOLOL!

But some guy in the 21st century has to say “Hold my beer” and in May, 2018, decided to be a streaker at the Alamo. Because if anything usurps a very drunk rock star (wearing a dress, no less) peeing on a monument erected in honor of those who died at the Alamo, it’s a guy running naked in front of one of Texas’ most historical and sacred sites.

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Long Live The Family Road Trip

I grew up with the term vacation meaning packing all of our things into the car and heading out on a road trip. These trips were often to Walt Disney World in Florida but we also visited many other parts of the country, at least as far as we could reasonably drive from New Jersey and get back in less than two weeks.

In the early years, we towed a rented Coleman pop-top camper towed behind our car. The three of us spent many years sleeping in a camper smaller than the size of my current bathroom.

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The Psychedelic Fun House That’s An Experience For ANY Age (Thanks to George RR Martin)

Remember when you would go to the carnival as a kid? Or maybe the county fair? Remember how much you LOVED the Fun House? Welp, a company is now offering an updated version of a fun house…but it’s not REALLY a fun house…it’s more like a haunted house meets choose your own adventure meets a psychedelic indoor playground or maybe it’s more like a Myst meets Peewee’s Playhouse sort of thing, complete with amazing interactive art, storytelling and music. Whatever the case, if you ask me, it looks REALLY cool!

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This Museum & Theme Park Is Mainly For Grown Ups, Because It’s All About Wine!

Joe and I have been to a lot of museums in our travels and we’ve done a lot of the biggies. The Museum of Natural History. The Louvre. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The British Museum. The Museum of Natural History. Bits and pieces of the Smithsonian. We have tentative plans to visit the Field Museum when we go to Chicago this fall. Joe’s been to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in NY and Museum of Popular Culture in Seattle. We’re both big fans of museums of science and industry in any big (or not so big) city we visit. We’ve even done some off-the-beaten track museums like the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, the Ghibli Museum in Japan and Alexander Hamilton’s home in Harlem, which has been turned into a museum. But this one we just found out about just sounds fascinating!

La Cité du Vin (City of Wine) is a museum & theme park dedicated to WINE! It’s located in Bordeaux, which make perfect sense, when you consider that Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world. And just like the science museums of your past (or maybe your present), they focus on an immersive, sensorial approach. And I’m ready to buy tickets right now!

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I Played Mini Golf Here 30 Years Ago AND JUST PLAYED IT AGAIN!!! (It’s That Good!)

I’ve reached the age where I can revisit places that I remember from my childhood. Those places where you have a memory about something you saw, somewhere you ate, someone you met that just sticks in your brain for the rest of your life. I know we visited Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, TN when I was about 14. I remember going to Dollywood (since I hit myself on the head when I stood up into a sign and almost knocked myself out) and I know we stayed at some nice hotel in Gatlinburg with a discount from the Entertainment Book. The only other part of the trip that I remembered was this mini-golf course. It was not a normal course but instead was built into the side of a hill. You got to ride up the incline and every hole went downhill.

It wasn’t until I sent a bunch of old pictures to be digitized that I found the photographic evidence of the place, from our trip in 1987.

You can imagine my surprise when we were driving on US-441 (the main road in Gatlinburg) last year and passed the same mini golf course. I think my reaction was, “That’s IT! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! IT’S STILL THERE!” It was as if something from a dream suddenly became real. Unfortunately, we were driving past the place around 10PM and didn’t have the time or energy to stop. That was something we were sure to rectify when we made plans to return to the Knoxville area this year. While Sharon’s not a big mini golf fan, she is a fan of kitschy roadside attractions and I think this place also piqued her interest.

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May The Fourth Be With You: The Star Wars Themed Scum and Villainy Cantina

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
We must be cautious. – Obi Wan (Ben) Kenobi

Ever since I first saw the Facebook page from the Scum and Villainy Cantina pop-up bar in Los Angeles, I was convinced I wanted to go. To my surprise, Sharon was interested in going as well.

 

At first, the location was only selling tickets for two months and you needed to purchase admission in advance and then reserve the date you wanted to go. Living on the other side of the continent, I just couldn’t make a trip there on a whim. So I kept following their website and their Twitter and Instagram feeds, hoping for more information. First they extended for a month, and then another. I knew this pattern…they were following the Sleep No More playbook, where the event says they’ll be open for a limited time so you’re made to feel the need to attend now before they close, and then they extend and extend. I kept hoping it would continue.

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