February 25, 2008

2008 Oscars

Two observations on this year's Oscars:
  • Becki and I watched the whole thing, and were a little dismayed to notice that out of every film nominated in every category, we had only seen two, Ratatouille and Once. Yes, it's true, we need to get out more. Are you volunteering to babysit? And to maybe, you know, chip in a little for the popcorn? No? I thought not...
  • Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova won the Best Original Song category with Falling Slowly. I did not expect this, and from the looks on their faces, neither did they. But, I am thrilled by this, and I wish to use this space to give them "mad props", as I believe that's what the kids are saying these days.

February 20, 2008

Project Genesis

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line is launching a new ship next year in their new Genesis class. This ship will be, at 220,000 tons, almost 50% larger than the current largest cruise ships in the world (also Royal Caribbean's). This is also larger than virtually every ship ever made with the exception of a small handful of supertankers.

I don't believe I would ever pay to travel on such a ship, although I certainly wouldn't turn it down if it were free. Even though I'm turned off by such a large ship, I am totally amazed by the fact that a ship of that size is even possible, and even more amazed that the cruise line can make a business proposition for building such a thing. In reading about the new Genesis ships I stumbled across a naming contest that invited people to submit their proposed names for the two ships that make up "Project Genesis".

I submitted Behemoth of the Seas and Leviathan of the Seas, both keeping with Royal Caribbean's "____ of the Seas" naming tradition. I had great visions of the two great ships locked in battle at the end of the world. I was pretty proud of myself, but I had the distinct feeling that I wasn't the first to come up with this. I searched through the wide wide world of web and found a few posts on cruise forums that showed that others had in fact had the same idea. I'm so disappointed when I find out I'm not as clever as I think I am.

Ignoring my disappointment for a moment, I was very pleased at some of the other naming ideas that I saw represented on the cruise forums.

There were a few attempts to try to tie in to the "Project Genesis" codename:
Paradise of the Seas
Eden of the Seas
Peter Gabriel of the Seas
Phil Collins of the Seas

I was hoping to see some more prog-rock references, like a King Crimson of the Seas. I was also hoping that Project Genesis could expand to a three ship program so that we could see ships that collectively could be named the Emerson, Lake, and Palmer of the Seas. Alas, those ideas seem to be exclusively mine.

There were a couple of attempts to tie the ship names in to the "Project Genesis" from Star Trek II, but those are way too nerdy to show here.

There were a few attempts to dig on the problems associated with a ship of such a large size:
Disorientation of the Seas
Confusion of the Seas
Bewilderment of the Seas
How the Hell do I Get to the Dining Room of the Seas?

Then of course, there were the inevitable jabs at the sheer size of the ship:

Enormity of the Seas
Immenisty of the Seas
Gargantuan of the Seas
Giganticness of the Seas
Monstrosity of the Seas
Colossus of the Seas
Mammoth of the Seas
Titan of the Seas
Brobdingnag of the Seas
(look it up)
Ginormous of the Seas
Oprah of the Seas

and my favorite, That's No Moon, That's a Space Station of the Seas

Discussion of the ships also veered towards speculation as to what onboard features the new ships may have. While all cruise ships have swimming pools, this one is rumored to have a full olympic sized one. The largest cruise ships will have a basketball court on the upper deck. This one has a football field. The Voyager and Freedom class ships have a sort of mini-mall on board. This one has a full-size replica of the Mall of America. Some previous Royal Caribbean ships have had 9 hole miniature golf courses on the upper deck; this one is regular size. One of the Costa ships has an auto racing simulator; this one will have a full race track. Royal Caribbean ships all have a rock climbing wall; this one had an actual mountain installed. Repeat ad infinitum.

February 12, 2008


We went to the Renaissance Festival over the weekend. The Festival in Arizona has been running for 20 years now. I've been always meaning to go, but never got around to it. So, we finally went this year, and I was really surprised by how big it was and just how much stuff and activity was involved. It's a fairly huge complex, which makes me wonder how so much investment in building can be justified for something that only runs 8 weekends a year. Maybe they use the medieval village for corporate retreats or church camps in the off season?

All of the workers, and a large percentage of the attendees, were dressed in costume. The costumes weren't necessarily specific to a particular time period. There was authentic medieval garb, but also just some random fairy princess and pirate costumes and things too. I recognized pretty much everyone who was dressed up there as one of those AV club type social rejects from high school that stay in on Fridays to play D&D instead of going out for normal activities with the normal people. I can recognize them easily for they are my spiritual brothers and sisters with whom I shared my own tortured adolescence. For some reason, though, the years of social isolation I experienced did not cause me to make my own knight costume.

At one point, a youngish nerdy-but-cute blond woman in costume came up to me and said, "Prithee, sir, dost thou have the time?". I'm normally a little tongue tied when a member of the opposite sex who's even mildly attractive speaks to me out of the blue, but this had me completely flummoxed. I spent a couple of seconds trying to think of some appropriate way to respond but couldn't think of anything that didn't make me sound like a pirate. "Yar, it be half past four on the dial glass" or some such. So after a couple of seconds of stammering I finally blurted out "um, yeah, it's 4:25". She said "Thanks be unto thee" and walked off. I felt really bad afterward because I felt like I really let her down.

There were some attempts at authentic depictions of the middle ages, but most things you see there are just more medieval influenced. Here's one of the games they had:

Apparently, paintball battles were a big part of the middle ages (as was poor spelling). Other anachronisms abound. At one point I pulled out my iPhone and noticed that there was free WiFi available in the fairgrounds. The SSID for the WiFi network? "YeOldWIFI".

One of the huge disappointments of the day was finding out that one of the stands sold a Monte Cristo sandwich, but that they were all out. I don't know if a Monte Cristo has anything to do with the middle ages, but I would always eat one if given the opportunity, no matter what time period I was in.

There was a free petting zoo for the kids. While I was standing over the goose pen, Joey accidentally bumped my glasses and knocked them off into the pen. A goose saw them fall and started running over to where they were like he was going to eat them or something. I reached down and picked them up long before the goose could get there, but when the goose got to where the glasses were, he was evidently pretty mad that I had taken his newfound bounty away. While I was putting them back on, he stuck his long goose neck through the slats in the fence and started pecking me in the leg. It kind of hurt, and almost caused me to drop the glasses again, which I think was his whole objective.

I'm sort of getting concerned that Joey might be growing up to be a real wussy. Everytime we asked him if he wanted to do something like ride an elephant or something, he'd say no, and kind of shake his head in fear. We finally found this little butterfly swing ride to put him on:

This picture was taken right before the thing started to pick up some real speed. At that point, all trace of a smile disappeared and panic set in. Every time the swing would go around the side where we were standing he would quickly shout "DaddyMommyIdon'tlikethisanymore" or "DaddyMommyIdon'tlikeitgoingfast" in the quarter of a second he had before he spun around to the other side. Miranda, on the other hand, was bored and was trying to climb out until the swing really got going, at which point she was laughing and cackling.

Joey redeemed himself a little at the end of the day when we found a playground at the end of the fairgrounds. Instead of going to the little kids' slide, he went straight to the big slide and started going down it head first, landing face first in the sand every time.

Thus ended our day at the Renaissance Festival. And no, despite my overwhelming desire, I never invited anyone to "sample my fist":