“Alright everyone, I’m only going to explain this to you once so pay attention. The motion you make with the oars requires minimal effort. It doesn’t take much to move these vessels, but you have to follow instructions. If you do not, I will give you three chances to fix whatever you’re doing wrong and then . . . the coach comes out. The coach is six-foot two and a nasty SOB. He will get in your face, and trust me, you do not want that. I am strict and demanding, but you will learn the correct way to paddle today ladies and gentlemen. I will not hesitate to send you back to shore if you slow us down by not following directions. Do not force me to let the coach out, gentlemen.”
Dan, our kayak instructor, finished his tirade with a long hard stare at Rodney and me. Instinctively, I turned around. Not seeing any spider, snake or shark, I considered that Dan had already singled me out as the ‘problem child’ of our little excursion.
Attempting to pull me away from my ps4 and the latest Batman game, my siblings have kidnapped me this morning. We are currently heading south to Hilton Head Island, SC to enjoy the next ten days biking, golfing, and avoiding the occasional shark attack.
Compared with our Orlando vacations, Hilton Head decided is a welcome change of pace. Biking, golfing, swimming and eating encompass much of the island’s entertainment. And while fishing and kyaking are available by reservation — I’ll discuss these in a future post — the point of Hilton Head is to imagine a vacation without schedules, roller coasters, or hour-long queues outside of Space Mountain. I’ll post pictures of the resort and the island over the next few days with a proper write-up of our adventure after we return. See you later!
Another snowstorm hit the northeast over the weekend, thus successfully closing schools and granting teachers and students a five-day weekend. Wahoo! Teachers are not known for laziness during their days off. No siree! I’ve built a kickass Paladin deck in the Hearthstone Beta, leveled my ranger to level 30 in Guild Wars, cleaned my room of excess clothes, filled my room with books, watched the excellent Lego Movie, and beat ‘Ganon’ in Link between Two Worlds. Many of my students’ papers still need . . . correcting, but considering that I’ve accomplished so much I can afford to give myself the day off. Oh, and I also managed to engage in some amateur photography as well. At night no less. ‘Cause let’s face it, I’m a badass. Continue reading
To infinity and beyond!
The final frontier. As a kid, I’ve never acquired the obsession with space travel that so fascinated the prototypical ‘geeks’ of my generation. Before high school, my friends and I began to specialize: the road to anime, the way of the superhero, the path of fantasy, the . . . starport to sci-fi. Most of us would explore other genres as well, adopting one another’s obsessions in time. I introduced Dasad to Tolkien; he led me to comic shops, where I began collecting Batman; our friend, Lloyd, reveled in mecha anime, magical girls, Dragonball and Pokemon. We all loved video games so finding common ground proved easy.
Still amid all the late movie marathons and gaming sessions, their interest in space and future tech never really stuck. The nature of space and its prerequisite vacuum always seemed overwhelming and claustrophobic at the same time, like the paradox of a man trapped within infinity — or Marty always running out of time in Back to the Future.
Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space. — Douglas Adams Continue reading
None of this architecture is ‘necessary,’ per se, serving no other purpose than to tantalize the eye and imagination, and just so, I love every detail. Who wouldn’t want a windmill spinning atop their house, or a clam-powered faucet?
Details are important. Any fan of H.G. Wells’ science-fiction will inform you that ignoring the little things in life can prove fatal . . . you know, because all the aliens died in Wells’ novel War of the Worlds . . . because they never considered Earth’s micro-organisms . . . and because of this ‘tiny’ oversight of these microbes the space invaders ended up a ‘little’ dead . . . which is to say ‘very.’
Which brings me to my second point: subtlety. Subtlety is also a very important quality, especially in writing. However, in theme parks, the subtle touch is best left outside the gates, along with moderation and unapproved coolers. In a well-designed theme park, the act of walking or waiting should prove as entertaining as the rides themselves, engaging the imagination as well as the senses. At the risk of sounding like a dork, I enjoy the lure of another world, of the fantasy. To quote John Hammond: “I’m not talking about rides. Everyone has rides.” Continue reading
Like a femme fatale, the curves here proved deadly.
The 3rd Annual Ice Cream Invitational. Every summer in Disney, Rodney and Ryan compete with Shannon and ‘yours truly’ in a sacred triathlon that tests the very limits of our body, our heart, and — dare I say — our sanity, a contest fit for gladiators (American or otherwise). The contest consisted of three rounds. The first grueling challenge sets brother against brother on the miniature golf course, and then the fiery hell of the tennis court . . .
Wait, why are you rolling your eyes? Seriously, whatever you THINK you know about miniature golf, forget it. Disney’s Fantasia Fairways is a theme park asylum covered in undulating green felt, reminding you why men have loved and cursed the bloody game for centuries. No cartoon castles litter the course. The pathway to the hole rises and falls like waves on a storm-tossed sea so there’s no ‘trick’ or ‘perfect putt’ to secure your hole in one . . . just luck and the pity of God. This was to be our battlefield — our Ragnarok, some may say days from now — and waiting for us at the end, a rich waffle cone, filled with soft-serve and seasoned with the blood and tears of our enemies. Continue reading
So, the boys and I sat down to watch Blade Runner last night: not the original theatrical release, the remastered director’s final cut with the unicorn and without the voice over — if you’ve ever seen the film you’ll know why it’s important to be specific. Sadly, Kevin and Shannon barely lasted through the first fifteen minutes, citing exhaustion and heavy eyelids as the reason. I can’t really blame them; the slow deliberate pacing of the film is not for everyone, particularly movie-goers in this post-Avengers world. Still the world that Scott drafted in the film delights me with its horrid beauty like a living breathing movie monster. If the boys could get past the pace, I think they’d find a wonderful enlightening experience.
What’s all this got to do with Disney and vacation?
Well, on Tuesday, we had stepped out into the rain to eat lunch at Epcot, which lies within walking distance of the Boardwalk Resort. Epcot unlike the other Disney parks is often ignored I think by the younger generations. It doesn’t possess the flumes, animals, and roller coasters of the more ‘fun’ parks, but offers a worthwhile experience if you’re willing to explore . . . and perhaps old enough to drink. Just like Blade Runner. Continue reading
The first day of our Disney vacation (as appose to our ‘road trip vacation,’ ‘St. Augustine vacation’ or ‘cabernet-induced vacation’) found Tropical Storm Debbie hovering over our resort like a large fly buzzing a particularly spacious picnic. Other families may feel flummoxed by the gloomy weather, bolting themselves inside until the sun should emerge to chase away the gloom to some other, less entertaining state . . . like Ohio, but the Murphey clan does not shrink from natural calamities. We simply bought a quiver of over-priced Disney umbrellas and trod to the local cinema . . . like men! Continue reading
Okay, sooooo . . . for the next week or so the Fam and I will be traversing through Orlando and Disney, sowing havoc in our wake like a pretty girl at an anime convention. During this interim, I’m temporarily transforming the Pub into a photoblog, detailing our adventures like a children’s picture book with as few ‘writing’ as I can manage. For some of you, who never really enjoyed ‘reading’ anyway (I’m looking at you Brigid), this will prove a chance to visit my blog again; for others, a chance to criticize my poor photography skills.
The take-home message: everyone wins. Continue reading
By Thursday even I was tired of the rain. The storm continued its assault on the Maryland for the fifth day in a row; by Wednesday torrents of water formed rapids out of what were once community roadways. Old Ellicott City several miles away had nearly been washed clean, houses and all. The Murphey household suffered a few nights without any internet, crippling many of the kids’ online assignments. Katie swelled with anxiety at the lost of her Facebook, while Ryan scooped an extra pint of ice cream and flipped on a few Errol Flynn swashbucklers I had tucked away in the basement.
Typically, the sound of the rain pelting the roof, a cup of warm coffee and a few dozen books negated any impending disasters, but as flood water cascaded through the trees from neighboring plots flooding our small pond and plugging our sewage pump, I began to worry. Newly christened 4×4’s, stacked carefully some weeks prior near the barn, floated off into the mounting surge, never to be seen or heard from again.
If only the chicken coop would have made a similar escape, I thought to myself, pressing a handkerchief to my nose. God, I can smell them here! Actually, the stench from the sewage tank had already engulfed most of the basement and threatened to ruin lunch, when my cousin Paul woke from his mid-morning nap. While finding a new job, babysitting has become my new occupation of choice, and I agreed to watch Paul while his mother did some errands.
After an intense session of PB&J, we sat in an alcove in the family’s “Man Room” – our new addition that because of its beautiful wood flooring and dark mahogany cabinets was absconded by the house’s females, who replaced the sport’s memorabilia with baskets and ‘antique’ washboards (That’s right! You can make something too good!) – and watched the brown waters cascade down our neighbors hills. One of our boats slid from fence into the flood; skeletal tree limbs emerged from the depths of the pond scratched the boat’s hull like drowned corpses; the dog left its shelter and barked as the craft disappeared into the woods. Continue reading