Disney World: Worst Ride Ever!

Most rides at Disney World are great. A few are only so-so. One stands out as being just plain bad. The ride is Epcot’s MAELSTROM!

Leave present day Norway to journey back in time to the Norway of old aboard dragon-headed 16 passenger boats. Travel to a 10th century Viking Village and enter the shadows of a mythical Norwegian forest populated by trolls. One of the creatures cast a spell on the boat and you suddenly are traveling backwards into the rapids of the Jutenheimen mountain country.

Just as you are about to topple backwards over the waterfall, the boat moves forward to a rocky passageway in the North Sea where you find yourself in an ocean storm. Soon, you enter the calm fishing village where your boat docks. A door will open into the theater. There is a wide-screen movie that takes you on a tour of Norway and introduces you to its people.

Disney World sets a high standard. Rides are carefully orchestrated symphonies of lighting, sound, geometry, and various special effects that come together to create an impression on the rider. Maelstrom is not like that, it is more like something you see at Halloween from the weird family down the street. You can see how it took a lot of work to make, but you’re never really all that impressed.

This is the very scary troll:
Troll
Scary stuff, eh? He’s so scary that all these passengers are afraid to look at him. And when he “casts the spell” and the boat starts going backwards at speeds exceeding a leisurely walk the terror needle goes off the dial.

It also features a deformed polar bear for some obscure reason. Perhaps it’s a warning about the dangers of nuclear power?
bear

When the ride finished, we got out in a faux village. We weren’t clear if it was Scandanavia in general, Norway, Sweden, or perhaps an old section of Minnesota. I was excited to see a storefront for Jotul (Yotul?) stoves, which my uncle used to sell. The village was just lame. We went to leave. That is, we tried to. You see, the exit was locked up. There was no explanation, no sign, simply a locked door. There were some fellow prisoners standing around so we joined them and waited. Eventually a girl came out of the “tourist office” and started speaking. I have no idea what she said because the sound system made her sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. We amused ourselves by using her facial expressions and gestures to guess what she was saying. Our guess was that she was building a rocket ship to get out of Norway and various townspeople were fighting to help her in the middle of her wedding. Five minutes of this, and the doors opened. The next stop was a small movie theatre. Unlike every other movie at Disney, there was not a special theatre that got you in the mood and set the ambiance. Just like your standard suburban movie it featured a dark room with a big white screen in front and a small window in back for the projector.

Most of our crowd, seeing their chance, kept going through the theater and escaped out into the light. We were determined to see it through. I was composing a blog post in my head. The movie did not disappoint. It opened with a small child in a museum looking at a Viking longboat with wonder and awe. He slowly passed his hand over the boat and the scene abruptly switched to scenes of ancient Vikings engaging in sailing. It was unclear if these two scenes were thematically related or the child was having some awful seizure-induced hallucination. The Vikings sailed on. Once in a while one brandished a sword. The scenes started shifting to modern Norway. We saw young men in suits walking confidently down streets, talking on cel phones, typing things on computers, playing tennis, etc. It looked like the generic ads you see for investment brokerage houses. It dawned on us that there was no story, this was simply a “Come to Norway” tourism movie. And not a very good one. It looked like some 3rd Assistant Minister for Tourism had managed to get his hands on $15,000 and made this movie. The writing and direction were done by his cousin, the one who was the backup director for his big high school play in 1991, and knew how to get his hands on some stock footage cheap.

This film and ride were clearly made by the Michael Scott of Norway.

Links o’ Interest

Was the Death Star an inside job?

Joe Queenan on the worst movie ever. An essay to be reveled in.

Street soccer?

Unlike the bizzarre We are the World link, this one rocks.

YouTube 2007 Winners:
Most adorable

Sea cow does Michael Jackson

An elephant painting a self-portrait.

Great web-game. BroomsticK

Now that’s a social worker.

Drunk man’s suffering, sober man’s fun.

A very interesting easy to watch video, “Money as Debt”. Where does money come from? A surprisingly subtle answer.

Poker Update #2

I had no business finishing in the money. Three times I sucked out a winning hand on the river. Two of those I had no business ever being in the hand in the first place. For example: 4 players left, blinds are 250-500, I have about 4,000. I am dealt 9-5 offsuit. I feel like it’s time for a raw naked bluff. I am basically a conservative player, and I very rarely do an all-out bluff. I’ve shown good cards a few times, so I think I can do this and just cruise by on my reputation. Out of position, I raise to 1,500 but I get one caller. The flop is J-8-4. I put in another 1,500. She dithers, but finally calls. The turn is some garbage, maybe a 2. I put in the rest of my chips. She’s pot committed, she calls. She has K-8, so she has a pair of 8s to my absolutely nothing. The turn is a 9, giving me the high pair and the pot.

In the finals, I was up against the other very aggressive player there (my style changes a lot as the number of players go down). We were both even with roughly 12,000, with blinds of 1,000-2,000. I have Q-8, he raises my blind to 6,000. I call. Flop is Q-x-x. He goes all in, I call him. He has Q-A, so I’m dominated, and this time I don’t get lucky and he wins. So I limped my way into second place. A lot of crazy luck I didn’t deserve.

The only other notable point is that I was heavily buzzed for the first hour. I normally play completely sober. I got a full house on the third hand and completely blew it by going all in and scaring everybody off. Oh well!

Tonight: +$34
Total since 3/15/08: +$14

Links o’ Interest

Holy cow.

Another Wow. I added one of these quotes to my taglines.

Yahoo Questions: My girlfriend hasn’t had period since she got pregnant? …. “Is the baby drinking the blood?”

Everyone kills Hitler their first time.

The shirt is priceless.

Protest Angst.

Some sophisticated political analysis from DMX.

The real Homer Simpson

The history of war. Shown as a foodfight.

Scott Adams nails it. Great answer to the easily offended.

Dave Grohl for president! ” Every night when I’m on tour, I bring my message to thousands and thousands of people. There’s 10 thousand people that woke up this morning and felt like America is the right place to be because at our show last night they were spilling beer all over themselves and tongue kissing for two hours. What other candidate can do that?”

A neuroanatomist has a stroke, and tells you what it’s like from the inside (pick up at 6:30 or so).

If you think technical analysis ever works, play this for a while. Fairly addictive.

Flying Off the Shelves: The Pleasures and Perils of Chasing Book Thieves

Michael Lewis on the subprime nastiness. Bonus quotes from Taleb (The Black Swan).

Papas

Tonight we ordered a pizza from Papa Johns, a large cheese with one-third onion. Or rather, that’s what we tried to order.

Them: Sorry sir, we only do halves.
Me: Just ask the guy to put on less.
Them: I don’t know how to do that.
Me: (after pause) Ask him to put less than half.
Them: I can only enter half or all.
Me: I understand. I will pay for all, I don’t care how it’s entered. Just ask him to make the actual pizza one-third.
Them: Um… hold on.

(He goes to find a manager or something. In the meantime, two separate people get on the line asking my order. They are befuddled when I tell them I’m in the middle of ordering. The third one yells back hey bob are you taking this order how come you didn’t put him on hold etc. all the while failing to put me on hold. Fascinating.)

Manager: Hi, I’m the manager. What is it?
Me: I would like a pizza with one-third onions.
Manager: We do halves and wholes.
Me: I understand the computers are set up that way. I’m asking you to please put less on the actual pizza, regardless of how you enter it in the system.
Manager: (after long pause) We can’t do that.
Me: Of course you can. You put on less than one-half.
Manager: We can’t do that.
Me: Actually, you can. You’ve done it for me twice before.

This knocks him for a loop. But he gradually recovers.
Manager: I don’t know about that. We can’t do that.
Me: Are your pizzas made on site?
Manager: (sensing a trap) Uh… yes.
Me: (springing the aforementioned trap) So you can talk to the people who make the pizza. When the order goes in, talk to the person making this pizza. Tell them to only put one-third onions on.
Manager: (slowly now) We can’t do that.
Me: What do you mean? I just told you how to do it.
Manager: We can’t do that. We only do halves and wholes.
Me: You can ring it up as whichever you please. I will pay for a full half. Just make the actual pizza with less.
Manager: (thinking it through) We can’t do that.
Me: Stop saying that!!!

I didn’t say the last line, but the rest is true. I had to fold and get no onions. There is probably a nasty note on my customer file now.

Poker Update #1

Let’s start off with some context. Over the last nine months, with two different groups of people, I have been regularly finishing in the money. In my neighborhood game I won so much that I tanked it one night, just to stay on the good side of the people I live around. I lost my last time out, and it was notable enough to be the headline in the weekly invite. After a weeks vacation, I was steamed, and tonight I went in confident that I was going to show these chumps a thing or two.

I started off strong. I won the first two hands. I stole a few blinds. I made a gutsy read and was correct that he was bluffing. After 30 minutes I was ahead, after 90 minutes I was the power at the table.

Then it all went wrong. I lost all my money on three big hands, all of them to the same person.
Hand #1: I don’t remember the details. It was the kind of hand where I was correct to push hard with a semi-bluff, and he was correct to call it. I was ahead but he got lucky. Dang.
Hand #2, the big one: We are down to four players. I have A-5 clubs. With 250-500 blinds I raise preflop to 1500. He calls. Flop is 5d, 7s, Jd. I have bottom pair and the ace kicker. The flop isn’t impressive. I throw in another 1500, thinking he probably doesn’t have anything but with plenty of outs if he calls. He calls. Turn is Ad. I have two pair, though three diamonds are out there. I’m not worried about the diamonds much. He is a value player and wouldn’t have stayed in for big money chasing a flush. I have him figured for a J or a 7, with another high card. I bet heavy again. He eventually calls. The river is Qd. With four diamonds out there, I am now scared. I don’t think he played for the flush, but he could easily have gotten it accidentally. He bets 1500 or so. There is not much left in my stack and I am pot committed. I have to call. He had Qc 7d. I had read him perfectly, he did indeed have the 7 and the high card, but lucked into the flush to beat me.
Hand #3: Blinds at 500-1000, I have 2000. The same guy is small, I’m big. Everyone else folds. I ask, “Are you going to put me all in?” He does, I call. I have K-Q suited, a great hand at this level. He has a pair of Jacks. Needless to say, I don’t get my outs and get knocked out in fourth place.

Summary: A couple of bad beats, but not the kind where the other player has no business being in the hand and you suddenly understand why Phil Hellmuth acts that way. I don’t know whether to call these bad beats at all. I think I played them all correctly, and given the strange logic of poker was forced to see the hands through until the end. I don’t think I made any big mistakes tonight, but things just didn’t go my way enough.

Tonight: -$20
Total since March 15, 2008: $-20

Poker Updates

The count was 2-1 against poker blogging. After much careful deliberation drinking, I decided I don’t care. It’s my blog, I’ll yak about poker if I please. Nyah nyah. You got a problem, get your own blog. (Or guest post here, the offer is always open.)

It’s Over

I was planning to write about how Obama has it wrapped up. He has won more states, more voters, and more delegates than Hillary, and by leads that won’t be given up.

And then I listened to his speech, “A More Perfect Union.” I hit my tipping point and then some. Just like everyone else who has heard it, I am captivated. By the content, by the respect for the listener, the tone, the honesty, everything. I just went in the tank for Obama.

It’s over.