11 July 2008

Welcome Me, Commonwealth of Virginia

I’m moving on Tuesday 15 July. Jonica and I haven’t got jobs yet, or even a place to stay. We’re gonna get one of those weekly hotels and check out the apartments that we’ve seen online. Oh yeah. We’re going to the Norfolk, Virginia area and that’s final. Hampton Roads, which I guess includes, Newport News, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and whatever Hampton. Or maybe it’s just Hampton, with no cardinal direction or anything else attached to it.

Technically, Virginia is not a state, but a commonwealth. This information came to me on the History Channel the other day.

There are a few community colleges, and a few other colleges and universities in the area. Hopefully I’ll hear from one or more of them soon regarding adjunct work. Worst case scenario, I substitute at the public schools. I hate early hours. Then again, perhaps some more interesting opportunity shall knock.

I’m looking forward to being with Jonica again, and trying something new, in someplace new, as much as change makes me anxious.

I think I should try some creative hobbies that can make me some money.

I think that’s really all the news there is.

Next time I write you, I will be from Virginia.

09 July 2008

Six Flags over the Great State of New Jersey - The Dark Knight Coaster Review

Wednesday 9 July was a good day to visit Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. I was prompted to go, because of the buy-one-get-one-free promotion via coupons at McDonalds. Luckily I did not have to eat that food in order to get this coupon.

The Dark Knight Coaster

My friend Steve and I entered the park at eleven in the morning, half an hour past opening. We opted to head straight to The Dark Knight Coaster, the newest ride at the park, which coincides with the opening of Christopher Nolan’s Batman sequel. The wait was about 35 minutes. Upon admittance we entered the monorail ticket lobby where TV screens play a five-minute press conference with Gotham’s latest district attorney, Harvey Dent, while he answers reporters’ questions about his stance on organized crime and the Batman. The video then begins to skip and repeat, distorting the image of Dent, while also distorting his words. Then Joker henchmen spray a crude smiley face onto the lens. Then we are let into the next segment of the building. As we walk up the ramp, some riders’ faces become Joker henchman faces on the screen where the ramp does a 180. Next we enter the four-person, two in the front and two in the back “subway” car. We turn and the car climbs and makes a bunch of sharp turns that jerk us uncomfortably. We pass through walls painted in neon Jokerisms and then make more jerky turns, with some quick, short, uneventful drops that again jerk us around, sans fun. The ride essentially continues like this, with but a few Joker henchman mannequins that appear to be up to mischief. Of course, if one is sitting on the right side, they’re likely to miss this essentially single attempt to add any Batmanesque decorum to an otherwise bland ride. I was only able to see these goons on the second go around, which only happened because there was no line when we returned to the ride at night. Steve and I basically shrugged and commented on how anti-climactic the ride was, since the commercials have been hyping this ride. Utterly disappointing. Think about Disney’s Space Mountain, but take away any sense of fun as this is not a smooth ride, and the visual aspect is severely lacking. My suggestion, aside from changing the course of the ride and the type of drops and turns on this indoor coaster, would be to add a lot more detail and perhaps make it somewhat of a haunted houses, Arkham Asylum perhaps, and have Batman’s rogues gallery up to no good. Hell, the Joker and the Riddler are roaming the park, so why not have them roam this ride. Too bad.

Jumping ahead in the day, the second time we only decided to go on the ride again because there was no line. As soon as we got through the maze of metal, the chain was put across our path. After waiting about eight minutes, we were let in and had to watch the video again, which is lame the second time around, so Steve and I looked around the room some to check out the details, like fake rats. Not very exciting. We figured we were waiting for the people ahead of us to board the ride, but once we were let into the loading room, we saw no one ahead of us and the employees rushing us to get on the ride, as if they were anxious to actually have something to do. The ride was no more fun the second time around, even when I could see those Joker henchmen.

“Perhaps today is a good day to ride” – Lt. Cmdr. Worf (sort of)

And advantage to going to Six Flags on an overcast Wednesday, with predictions of evening rain, and ridiculous fuel prices is the fact the there were so few people in the park. The 35-minute wait for The Dark Knight was one of the longest, if not the longest. For a majority of the rides we were able to go immediately to the boarding platform. El Toro had maybe a 15-minute wait (two years ago this was my first big roller coaster and it got me hooked). Nitro—almost no wait. Batman the Ride had one short wait, then subsequent rides had a less than five minute wait if the first row could be passed up, which it often couldn’t. On the JLA theme, Superman: The Ultimate Flight had a bit of a wait, so it seems to still be thrilling riders years after its opening.

We made our way to Kingda Ka (I think this is the stupidest name and it makes me think of The Karate Kid), which still holds the record for the tallest and fastest coaster at 45 stories and 128 mph. Unfortunately the ride was then down for some issues it was having.

In the meantime we went to ride the Superman coaster. While waiting on line for that we saw riders trapped on the initial incline for The Great American Scream Machine, which we were told would likely be up and running again shortly. I wasn’t too sure I’d want to go on a ride that just had such a problem, as it really would have been a scream machine what with my acrophobia (thank you for that word Batman: The Animated Series). We saw Kingda Ka up and running again and headed over to it.

I was incredibly nervous as Steve and I waited for the first row on this insane twisting and speeding coaster. We slowly got closer to the front of the line for the first row of this coaster, with two sets of thrill seekers to go ahead of us when it began raining and the ride was shut down. We waited about fifteen minutes as the announcement made no guarantees that the ride would be running again, due to the weather. The people ahead of us left, because many other coasters were still running despite the rain. The Great American Scream Machine was repeatedly moving on course sans passengers. After a few more minutes we left and headed towards the working rides.

We rode Batman the Ride and Nitro again, in the rain. There was a few minute delay as the rain picked up and some of the coasters were sent on test runs and some riders complained about the wait. It makes me wonder about the mental capacities of some of my fellow Americans. They care more about some thrilling ride without any regard to safety. Are these the people that could care less if the plane they boarded had loose bolts on the engine and the airline would want to sent the plane on a short flight around the airport so 200 people might not die half way to the next amusement park? Yikes. She probably hates seatbelts and airbags too.


We really didn’t need Flash Passes this day, as they did not seem very helpful. Besides the fact that it seemed as though Flash Passes do not allow users access to the first row of many of these awesome coasters, but double check that if you consider purchasing one as I may be wrong. Disney's version of the Flash Pass is free, so think about that. So if you plan on going to Six Flags this summer and don’t want to wait, consider how quickly Steve and I got on rides without this expensive extra. Wait for short lines on Dark Knight and have a little patience for everything else. Drink plenty of water and remember that the bathrooms are clean, so no worries there.

(Click on image for its source.)