Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 7 St Raphael, St Tropez, Nice, Monte Carlo, Rome

This is the 7th of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.
This 7th report covered my arriving in St. Raphael, visiting St. Tropez while there, and then carrying on to Nice, Monte Carlo, and Rome.
Went to St. Raphael and checked out St. Tropez's beaches while there.
[NOW: I arrived in St. Raphael pretty early, 5 or so, but made the mistake of not having booked in advance. It took me quite a few hours to reach a hostel that was open (possibly there was just the one). By the time I got there I mentioned wanting to visit St. Tropez while there and was told “I was too late.” Having arrived really early to visit St. Tropez I got stubborn and took a bus there anyway, knowing it was going to be a much shorter visit than planned.]
I found the place overrated: the beaches made my shoes smell; the idea of multiple small beaches that are really just one beach is interesting though. But I even forget to take photos in St. Tropez.
[NOW: I recall that the beach smelled really bad, as alluded to above, and it was nowhere near as glamorous as its reputation. I don’t recall much about St. Raphael, other than I grabbed dinner from a vendor with a trailer, and while the food was being cooked the vendor and I tried to chat even though neither of us had any idea what the other way saying.]
I left a little sooner than expected to Nice and Monaco the next day. Another big disaster in Nice: on the beach I was weighed down by my luggage since I didn’t want to spend locker money on just half a day, so when I realized I had left behind my sunscreen, I decided not to backtrack and get some new stuff later. Big mistake: I realized in Monaco that I had also left behind my journal. No return address on it. In a certain way it's my biggest loss to date, though not financially. No doubt that wiped out a lot of memories for me that I won’t easily be able to get back to the surface later on. I am toying with the idea of buying another plane ticket and returning home early. I don’t like traveling for longer than 1 or 2 weeks anyway even when things are going well. And this trip has been a disastrous blow to the self-esteem.
[NOW: Actually nowadays, 12 days is probably optimal for me. I did make some attempt at journal writing in another book, but my heart wasn’t in it. Nice’s beach wasn’t very, well, nice. All pebbles instead of sand. Of course, after all these years, much of the trauma from the trip has worn off. I did end up finishing the trip and returning the day I originally planned to. Monte Carlo I recall I just stayed close to the train station. I sneaked pics of the bathroom of the famous casino nearby. It was a few days before the Grand Prix]
In Rome now. Paying the highest amount yet for a place (E20; prices are another reason I can't wait to return home) but I did enjoy visiting all the ruins today.
[NOW: E20 doesn’t seem all that bad in hindsight; possible typo in that e-mail. I lost my phrase guide at the train station. By ruins, I visited the Roman Forum (free) and the Coliseum. While at the latter a tour group speaking English came by where I was taking a breather so I eavesdropped for a bit. There are lots of stray cats in Rome. Also saw guards at street corners carrying automatic weapons. I also recall crossing the street on a crosswalk and getting ¾ of the way across but having to return to the start due to cars not stopping.]
Despite the price I plan to stay hear a bit longer than most places I've been to since I am a bit more interested in Rome than most places. And my place is close to the train station and thus the neighbouring shops have to price to compete a bit.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Citizen Pedestrian

There was a time when downtown Victoria had more police activity than it does now, or so it seemed. Oh, the police are still a common presence, often at View Towers, and their headquarters are still just outside of downtown. But for a time they seemed to be especially active at night. Once I saw a police car doing a patrol in one of those police cars that has a loudspeaker on the roof. The police saw someone (not me) jaywalking. The police officer(s) didn’t stop the car to let anyone out, but neither did they ignore the guy. Instead an officer announced, “Attention Citizen Pedestrian!” through the speaker and admonished the guy to cross at the proper spot.

My feelings were twofold: one, that it did make Victoria feel like a bit of a police state; somehow the fact that the cop(s) stayed in the car and used the loudspeaker instead only heightened the effect. Second, I just loved the name “Citizen Pedestrian”. Images of a Judge Dredd-like future started popping through my head. I keep meaning to start writing fiction about a character by that name; I still need to flesh it out in my head first. But again, wow, what a great name. Citizen Pedestrian, I love it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

White Spot Stabbing in 1995 or So

I think it was 1995 but it could have been 1996; outside chance 1994. I was working there as a dishwasher. I noticed I hadn’t seen any of the front staff for a bit. It turned out that a woman claimed to have a gun and stole money from the restaurant. A co-worker called her bluff and tackled her (outside I think, but not sure). Well, the good news was that she didn’t have a gun. The bad news was she did have a knife. The co-worker got stabbed. Luckily he only needed a few stitches. I can’t recall if he got back the money or not, but the next day there was a sign up indicating that in such cases, let the money go. They need the staff members alive more than they need the money.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goldstream Provincial Park

I visited Goldstream Provincial Park for the first time yesterday. Mixed feelings, though unfortunately mostly negative.

One thing that can definitely be said is the park is huge, covered ground on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway for quite a few kilometres. But this asset is also a bit of a liability. There are numerous trails, but I’m not convinced that all the trails are shown on their maps. Particularly on the west side of the highway there could stand to be a few more maps. Trails don’t indicate which destinations they go do and are either unnamed or labelled differently than on the maps. Where there are maps, some have “You are here” indicators, some don’t.

I can’t comment on the gold mine because that was one of the places I gave up looking for.

I did find Niagara Falls, and while slimmer than its Ontario-New York counterparts, it’s still very impressive and easily the highlight of visiting the area. Swimming by the falls, I found the temperate to be comparable to the Sooke Potholes: very cold but tolerable.

One thing that probably skewed my impression of the park is that we’ve had some hot weather, so some of the rivers have dried up. In fact, having realized there are neither lights nor crosswalk at the main road towards the Visitor’s Center, I finally crossed the street by crossing a dried river’s tunnel. Judging from the amount of graffiti in the tunnel this seems to be a common occurrence.

I quickly visited the Visitor’s Centre but didn’t linger because of all the stuffed dead animals in there, which was too creepy for me, though I realize that some like that kind of atmosphere.

I tried to find the spawning bed, but, again, due to the lack of proper signage, not sure if what I saw was or was not the spawning bed. If so, it’s a pretty bad area because it too was dried up while I was there.

An interesting experience and I’d like to revisit Niagara Falls again, but given the lack of transportation there I’m not sure if I’d risk another walk along the highway just to see those.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 6 Barcelona Day 2

This is the 6th of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday.

This particular post is a bit unusual because it’s a bridging post. I apparently forgot to report on my second day there entirely, so this post fills in what I still recall of that day.

I went up a castle early on. The castle was largely intact so you had to pay to get in, but the grounds were free so I got some nice photos of the city from on top of the hill the castle was on.

I went back to the beach but didn’t find it as interesting as the day before and also was a bit more pressed for time. So soon I left for the zoo.

I tried asking directions for the zoo, but some confusion arose because the Spanish word for zoo is also spelled “zoo” but it’s pronounced zOH, as I found out when I showed the person I was asking directions either a map or a guidebook.

At the zoo I saw the world’s last known albino gorilla. He was already in his senior years at the time. I explored the rest of the zoo but only really recall the gorilla. I got a discount getting into the zoo by waiting a few minutes, because the price dropped at 4.

I think I was starting to cut it close a bit to get the train out (I considered staying one more day but wanting to see the south of France sooner than later; in hindsight I’d have stayed an extra day if I could have, as Barcelona was really beautiful). En route, money, started spilling out, and as I was picked the money from the ground, a panhandler leaned down as well to try to, well, panhandle me, which didn’t help my stress level.

If the urination incident described in the last blog didn’t happen on the train ride *to* Barcelona, it happened on the train ride *from* Barcelona.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 5 Barcelona Day 1

This is the 5th of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.

This 5th report covered my leaving Madrid for Lisbon before returning to Madrid briefly.

[NOW: I’m pretty sure it was during the trip to Barcelona that I had to switch trains in the middle of the night, though I can’t recall which train station. Everyone had to stay in a clear glass cubicle while waiting for their train. A drunk got up and urinated at the entrance to said cubicle.]

Made it to Barcelona yesterday morning, Got a few nice pics in the morning but spent most of the day on the beach. It was the first time on a Mediterranean beach. Quite pleasant. Lots of nice palm trees.

[NOW: It was also the first beach I went to on the trip that fit the stereotype of the women all tanning topless.]

Got a bit burnt though. As I’ve mentioned in the past to some, I always wear my shirt on the beach. Very wise move or I’d be in real pain now. I did wear 45x sunscreen but sun still got through. Part of problem may be that I accidently left my cap in my room.

On way home I asked someone directions. They didn’t speak English but did speak French so we were able to communicate that way (I think I said something along the lines of I lost myself rather than I am lost but it got the point across).

At around 3:00 this morning a fight broke out in my room re; who belonged in which bed. It made me feel a lot closer to View Towers.

[NOW: I cleaned this up for the blog, but in the original draft of this report, connection issues turned all my apostrophes into the number 4.]

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 4 Madrid to Lisbon to Madrid

This is the 4th of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.


This 4th report covered my leaving Madrid for Lisbon before returning to Madrid briefly.

[NOW: I took a train from Madrid to Lisbon and would out at a nearly deserted hostel; at least the first night I had the room to myself. Not sure why; the place was decent enough].

Well, my trip has taken a turn for the worse again, this time losing my Eurailpass. Doesn’t appear to be replaceable, or if it is, would be tricky to send to Europe. Cutting out a few places that I wasn’t all that interested in (Andora, Hungary, all Nordic countries, unfortunately meaning Legoland’s out), and a few places that I really wanted to go to like Berlin. Also, to shorten things Salzburg will be a ringer for Vienna.

[NOW: Well, the original Legoland was out of the picture but I did end up going to another Legoland later.]

Lisbon is a paradise, went to two castles yesterday; some streets in Lisbon are REALLY thin, cars parked on sidewalks, etc.

[NOW: Looking back on it, the more poor sections, the ones with the thin streets weren't much of a paradise. Also went to a beach just outside of town; it’s likely on the train there that I lost the pass. One of the castles was in town, the other outside of town, I think in a different direction than the beach. The one in town was up a hill of the thin streets.]

Called a few people for morale support and promptly lost my camera (probably left at a pay phone).

[NOW: This was as I was leaving Lisbon. Upon arrival at the Madrid train station I bought a new one]

Went to red light area (a park) in Madrid today thinking that the red light crowd would not be out yet. Well, a woman from Nigeria flat out offered me sex. Didn’t sound too romantic having sex with a prostitute in a middle of a park so I said no.


[NOW: I’m pretty sure that was the same park as the hostel I stayed at before going to Lisbon. I covered the prostitute encounter in more detail here: http://saneinsanities.blogspot.com/2011/07/getting-propositioned-in-victoria-bc.html. After that I walked back to the train station. I noticed a playground in the playground. I suppose it’s one way to keep the population under control.]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 3 Paris to Madrid

This is the 3rd of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.

This 3rd report covered a tiny bit of Paris and then my arrival in Madrid.

I realized at last minute that train I thought left this eve left yesterday eve; I couldn’t get the extra hostel money back but did catch another train; I only had to repay for part of reservation because my reservation got screwed up by Eurways.

[NOW: If memory serves, there was a connecting train somewhere, and the train from Paris arrived the day after the train it was supposed to connect with].

In fact this left me in a smoking car for seven hours even though cigarette smoke makes me a bit ill. Survived that and made it to Madrid. No time to do anything before dark but at least I’ll be all set for tomorrow.

[NOW: Of all the really big cities, Madrid was the city I had the most trouble with due to the language barrier].

Will explore Madrid tomorrow, Lisbon for maybe two days, then Madrid for another day maybe before going to Barcelona (using night trains to save money, only have to pay reservation fees).


[NOW: This was because I already had a Eurail pass at the time. More on that later]

My guide book warned this hostel is near the red light district. In fact as I hiked here from the train station I counted 11 possible prostitutes. The street is big but not that big. There´s also an amusement park nearby. I´ll pass on the obvious joke.

[NOW: The hostel and the prostitutes were mainly in the same park, Retiro Park, if memory serves. I may have used the subway part way from the train station to the hostel but can’t recall for certain.]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chain Reaction This Morning

Okay… this morning I couldn’t find my outside apartment key (an electronic type). Just after I started to look for it one of my book selves collapsed, spilling its contents everywhere, as well as knocking over two DVDs shelves (by some miracle most of the DVDs actually stayed put this time). Then right after that I actually stepped on a container of concentrated orange juice that must have fallen out of my fridge on a previous day. I had a meet with a friend but managed to postpone it half an hour because without the special key you can’t get into the building and lately people have been warned not to let others in without the key. Then while I was looking for the key I had to get rid of a telephone solicitor.

Now the rest of the day wasn’t perfect: I received one e-mail an hour after it was sent and then later my own computer wouldn’t send e-mails until I closed and reopened Outlook, so a couple of my own e-mails were about two hours late. And I still haven’t found the key. On the plus side, I managed to get a temporary one that’s good for a week. My place is a lot cleaner now. And a matter that had gone on too long got resolved in a very happy manner. But I really couldn’t catch a break this morning!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Archie Meets the Punisher Annotations

Hopefully this won’t happen too often, but I don’t have much to say today and nothing backlogged, so I’m going to copy and paste material from an old website which is still online but which I still have access to. In this case, here are annotations to the one shot comic Archie Meets the Punisher (aka The Punisher Meets Archie). Annotations written in 1998 and updated in 1999 and a little bit again just now (2011)

Archie version looked at. Aside from covers, interior contents identical for Punisher Meets Archie

Outer front cover: Archie style; Typical Archie style joke; seen (left to right): Betty Cooper, Reggie Mantle, Archie Andrews, Veronica Lodge, a black couple (Chuck with bad haircut and girlfriend?), above the couple, the Pussycats (Josie, ?, ?), Punisher
Inner front cover: Archie subscription info. As per recent Marvel tradition, pages are unnumbered. Numbering below is mine
Page 1: Credits page
Page 2: Intro from Archie comics (Victor Gorelick)
Page 3: Intro from Marvel Comics (Tom DeFalco)
Page 4: Background info for Archie and Punisher
Pages 5-7: Marvel style; Firefight between Punisher and an Archie look alike in New York
Page 7: Newspaper: "Punisher at War With Czar" (ref?); bus depot locations: Glendale (ref: ?) Archie, Archie Bunker, a Glendale resident), Ivy Town (Atom II's home; Atom had around this time been regressed into a teenager), Happy Harbor (Snapper Carr's home town), Riverdale (Archie's home town), Sail Port (ref?), Gotham (Batman's home town obviously, as well as Green Lantern Alan Scott, Demon, Hitman, and various Batman related heroes), Hartston (ref?)
Pages 8-9: Archie style; Archie loses a date with Veronica
Page 9: Leroy (cousin of Veronica) appears
Pages 10-11: Marvel style; Punisher learns quarry's location
Page 10: Comedy Club: Pep (ref: Pep Comics, debut title for Shield, Comet, and Archie and most of his supporting cast; notably the comedy club sells comics); sign reads "Flip Mason Tribute" (ref: Flip Mason was a stand-up comic seen in Marvel’s Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD#1; he died in that story); first War Journal entry
Page 11: Quarry revealed to be Archie look-alike Mel Jay (ref?) aka Montana Bob (ref: Bob Montana, creator of Archie) aka Freckles (ref: star of Freckles and His Friends (1947-56), a teen comic by Standard/Argo) aka "Red" Fever (I'm not sure about the Fever part, but Red was the name of a character in Explorers of the Unknown, who looked identical to Archie); only appearance to date of the villain; proprietor named Pinky (ref; probably Pinky Pinkerton, member of the Howling Commandoes from Marvel’s Sgt. Fury series; probably not a reference to Pinky & the Brain since there are other Sgt/Nick Fury references herein)
also: Microchip (Punisher's then partner) appears; war journal entry does not follow numerically from entry on previous page
Pages 12-13:Archie style; Veronica agrees to date the villain, who is using Melvin Jay alias; Hiram Lodge, Veronica's father also appears for first time this issue
Pages 14-15: Marvel style (even for the most part a panel with Archie and Jughead) Punisher arrives in Riverdale; reminisces, then cut on page 15 to Pop Tate's shop
Page 14: family either resembles Punisher's family or is intended to be image from his past
Page 15: We learn Melvin also uses alias Babyface (ref?); Jughead Jones and malt shop owner Pop Tate first seen in story, as are two thugs in shadows
Page 16: Both styles used; one of the thugs revealed to be Binky (named after DC teen from Leave it to Binky/Binky (1948-71, 1977 and Binky's Buddies (1969-71) Archie & Jughead head to car with thugs Page 17: Archie style; Outside sock hop; Betty and Reggie seen for first time in story
Page 18-19: Both styles: Punisher attacks thugs' car; both page 18 and page 41 suggest that Archie and Jughead have heard of the Punisher before this story
Page 19: Other thug named Buzzy (ref: star of own DC series 1948-58; also appeared in All Funny Comics)
Pages 20-21: Sock hop; style kind of in the middle between Marvel and Archie
Page 20: seen: Josie, the black Pussycat (name?) (the Pussycats normally don't interact with the Archie Universe proper though are published by Archie; Josie's series She's Josie/Josie/Josie & the Pussycats published 1963-82; new title 1993-94), Veronica, Betty, Melvin, Scooter (ref: star of DC's teen book Swing With Scooter 1966-72), Big Ethel, Dilton Doiley, Patsy Walker (from Marvel's Patsy Walker 1945-65 and other titles; in main Marvel continuity now Hellcat), Patsy's best friend Hedy Wolfe (from Patsy & Hedy 1952-67, her own one-shot 1957, and the Patsy titles), Chuck? (the black kid from the cover with the bad haircut; he's the only black character in the core Archie titles I know of but it doesn't look like him), Svenson (the janitor), principal Mr Weatherbee; also Bingo Wilkin (from That Wilkin Boy, Archie 1969-82) is mentioned but does not actually appear
Page 21: Scooter speaks on phone to Ernie (ref: teen comic Ernie Comics, Current/Ace 1948-49)
Pages 22-24: Punisher confronts Archie; both styles Page 25: Archie style; Archie & Jughead visit Sgt Pansky; flashbacks (unsure if to actual Archie titles or to random events); Archie's dad seen in one flashback; Officer Burland mentioned (ref: Kip Burland; the two Archie heroes called the Black Hood)
Pages 26-1st 2/3 of 28: Punisher learns from listening in to conversation between thugs about sock hop
Page 26: Thugs seen: Binky, Buzzy, Ernie, Willie (ref: Marvel teen seen in Willie Comics/L'il Willie 1948-50 among other titles), Algie (star of own teen title by Timor 1953-54), Andy (ref: star of Current/Ace's Andy Comics 1948, which becomes Ernie Comics)
Page 27: old woman seems familiar but I can't remember her name
Last third of Page 28-Page 30: Archie style except for last panel of 30; Archie and Jughead arrive at sock hop
Last panel 30-31: Marvel style; Punisher sneaks into school; Betty's locker has carved heart: BC+AA (obvious ref)
Pages 32-39 Punisher vs. Red and other thugs at sock hop, resulting in Veronica being kidnapped; mostly Archie style with some Marvel
Page 32: Seen for first time: Midge (I think that's her; girlfriend of brawny student Moose) Mrs. Beasley (teacher), Coach Kleats, and Flutesnoot (all Archie Universe characters), Katy Keene (an Archie character who I think normally exists outside the main Archie canon; various titles including her titular series 1949-61, 1983-90), Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch (ditto; own titles 1971-83, 1996 one shot, 1997- plus her own show 1997-), the blond Pussycat (Melody?) as well as Marvel teen Millie (numerous titles, including Millie the Model 1945-73); Sabrina mentions asking a doctor "if the Hosts of Hoggoth were really hoary" (ref: Dr. Strange, who sometimes exclaims, "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!"); Dino Manelli (one of Marvel's Howling Commandos/SHIELD agents) is mentioned
Page 33: Dino appears and mentions fellow Howler Junior Juniper; unnamed thug disguised as cook appears
Page 34: Unnamed physical education teacher the Punisher is impersonating appears, as does unidentified black kid's unidentified girlfriend
Page 35: Moose first seen in story
&Page 40: Archie style; at police station
Pages 41-42:Archie style; Archie and Punisher team up
Page 41: Archie has first entry in his own war journal; as Archie fantasizes how tough he is, he thinks "It's clobberin' time" (ref. Marvel hero the Thing) as well as Punisher'isms
Page 43: In-between style; Red psyches out Veronica; balloons seen: Ms Lion (canine supporting character in cartoon Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends), Spider-Man (obvious), Sonic the Hedgehog (computer game character with an Archie series plus spin-offs 1993-), Shield I (the first Archie superhero; also comic's first patriotic motif superhero)
Pages 44-47 (2/3 down) Both styles; final battle
Page 47: War Journal entry number again random; Betty's Diary also given a random number; Archie suggest Punisher give him a signal watch (ref. Jimmy Olsen)
Pages 47 (final third)-48 Both styles; concluding scenes
Page 48: Punisher's comment to heading to Gotham relates to two crossovers with Batman published around the same time; Marvel hero Wolverine appears (claws/voice only), planning to go after unidentified Jughead look-alike
inside back cover: Marvel's subscription info
outside back cover: Archie style; poster art with Archie in foreground, his face converted into the Punisher's skull in the background

Sources: Archie Meets the Punisher#1; Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide 1998 ed.

Europe 2002 Trip Reports Part 2 London to Paris

This is the 2nd of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.

This 2nd report covered the remainder of my time in London plus my time in Paris.

I regret to report that trip has gone downhill. One of the ears of my glasses broke off.

[NOW: This was the result of humidity].

Worse, an encounter with your friendly neighbourhood London pickpocket left me sans credit card. I cancelled the card before he made any purchases but this will still make life difficult.

[NOW: Ironically, prior to this incident I did a walking tour of Notting hill and the guide warned the group to beware of pickpockets in a crowded area. However, the actual pickpocket incident came later in a pretty deserted area. The thief pretended to ask for directions.

Other things I did in London: visited the Tate Modern Museum (I wasn’t too impressed but it was pretty new at the time), visited the British Library, and visited a war museum].

I took the “Chunnel” train to Paris. My body went into shock for a split second as the train left the tunnel on mainland Europe. I had my first meal at a non-English speaking restaurant at a Quick’s near the train station. Quick’s is a French version of McDonald’s. It was the first time that I had a panhandler approach me inside a restaurant, though they’re now starting to do so in Victoria].

Paris has similar traffic conditions to London. Credit card situation prevented me from booking places in advance but got by through booking two different hostels.

[NOW: Actually in some ways the traffic matters were worse: cars parked at the end of crosswalks and partly on the sidewalks. And there's one spot where quick a few roads converge together].

Prices are expensive here. I went to the Louvre on a free day. Liked it.

[NOW: The free day was the day I arrived. I made the mistake of heading from the train station to the hostels on foot, though missing most of the time allotted top the free day. Finding the entrance to the Louvre was a challenge because I didn’t realize it was an escalator underground. Was bad and took photos there including of the Mono Lisa even though you weren’t supposed to take photos. Later that day I visited the Eiffel Tower but didn’t go up. The next day I visited a zoo and the Notre Dame cathedral].

Versailles was overrated. Have to pay separately for different areas which I didn't know in advance and movement was difficult.

[NOTE: I’m referring above to the Palace of Versailles of course, and not the city. I no longer recall why movement was difficult].

Parc Asterix was fun but prices were outrageous aside from rides and shows which come with entry. I especially liked the Toner de Zeus roller coaster ride and the playful Grand Splatch.

[NOW: The Zeus ride had a statue of Zeus wearing a skirt. It’s hard to resist looking up when you walk underneath; the statue had polka dot shorts on underneath.]

That day was fun but trip is proving to be more of a learning experience and less of a fun time aside from the Parc. The loss of credit card is adding to the anxiety of a different language. Can't wait to be back.

[NOW: I definitely recommend a travel companion if doing a trip around Europe. Having a second set of eyes would have proven invaluable during this trip.]

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Europe 2002 Trip Report Part 1 Victoria to London

This is the first of a series of posts recalling my trip to Europe, using e-mails sent at the time. Unlike later trips, I didn’t e-mail people everyday. Trip reports are largely as I wrote them at the time with two exceptions: 1. I was usually pretty rushed due to Internet fees in Europe, so I’ve cleaned up my e-mails to make them more coherent, which wasn’t a priority at the time. Also, in some blog posts I’ll add additional thoughts with the hindsight of nine years later or to add further clarification. I’ll use “NOW” in such cases.

This first report covered my trip over as well as my initial time in London

Avoid Victoria to Vancouver ferry buffet during breakfast unless you need a laxative.

[NOW: The trip actually started out weird even before the ferry ride. A crazy woman on the bus started to talking to everyone and got my first name out of me and learned I had a minor role in government and tried pushing me for a job. Then on the ferry in the buffet above there were a few pages for "Andrew" which I think were her trying to reach me about the non-existent job opportunities. After the buffet I flew from Vancouver to London via Air Transat and had to go to the bathroom a fair bit. Ironically in London’s core I took a train from one station to another and the walked to my hostel, only to realize it was very close to the first station.]

Traffic oddities go beyond wrong side of road: cars may try to run you down no matter what the traffic rules, or may stop for you when they have the right away. Following the lead of other people seems to help.

The British Museum is highly recommended and free. Lots of stuff from Before Christ.

May skip any day trips to save money but unsure.

[NOW: I did indeed skip daytrips, for time as well as money.]

If anything I'm using up film at a faster rate than expected.


[NOW: I bought quite a few more rolls of film during this trip. At the time, 24-36 photos per roll seemed fine. Nowadays I use up that many photos just spending a few minutes in a given area.]


Very humid here. Returned to the hostel sooner than expected today to freshen up.


[NOW: The hostel I stayed at was very cheap, L10. Hot water in the shower was a bit of an issue. The first night there was some confusion because they were supposed to assign me a specific bed but failed to do so and I ended up sleeping that first night in the wrong bed. The hostel was above a coffee shop called Orient Espresso.]

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Three Ages of Rocky Balboa

One interesting things about the Rocky films is that, regardless of when they were made, they can be divided into three distinct periods of two films each, reflecting different points in the life of fictional boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Mild spoilers if you haven’t seen the films. Note: This isn’t an analysis of the quality of the films but rather how they reflect a character’s life.

Pre-Fame Period: Rocky (1976) and Rocky II (1979)

This period features Rocky before he becomes truly famous, before the media of his world views him as a great boxer. In Rocky, champion boxer Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) pulls Rocky Balboa out of publicity as part of a publicity stunt. Then in Rocky II, Rocky and Apollo have a rematch. In this period Rocky is streetwise but a bit out of his league. In Rocky he’s inexperienced in terms of dealing with a real professional boxer (to the point where in the first movie, winning over the woman he loves, Adrian, played by Talia Shire is to a degree a greater priority for him than winning the match) while in Rocky II, his inexperience in dealing with the media is also evident. He’s not quite the contender that he will eventually become and is truly an underdog in these films.

Peak Career: Rocky III (1982) and Rocky IV (1984)

During this period, Rocky has become quite successful; he’s the undisputed Heavyweight Champion and his now a lot more adept at playing to the camera. By all rights he should cease to be any sort of underdog during this time, and as a result he is given more powerful opponents, both a bit over the top, such as Clubber Lang (Mr. T) in Rocky III and the near superhuman Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Rocky IV. Against such powerful opponents there’s some suspense, but it’s clear that any newcomer would have no chance against Balboa during this period.

Declining Years: Rocky V (1990) and Rocky Balboa (2006)

During this period Rocky is no longer at his peak, due to injuries received during is fight with Drago (Rocky V) and then later due to advanced age (Rocky Balboa). Physically he’s back to being an underdog again and both of his opponents in these films (Tommy “Machine” Gunn in Rocky V, played by Tommy Morrison, and Mason “The Line” Dixon in Rocky Balboa played by Antonio Traver), while no slouches (Dixon is even the current champion in Rocky Balboa), neither of them are superhuman powerhouses like Lang or Drago (and Creed would probably have beaten Dixon if both were at their peak). Rocky is again more grounded, more down to Earth. While he has the boxing knowledge, his being past his prime is a liability for him in any fight.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Disneyland Trip September 2008 Final Thoughts

This is the 11th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip. Here were my final thoughts at the time, with minor fine tuning:

Overall

Favourite Park: Hollywood Studios

Favourite Attraction: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Disneyland Park)

Nice “pre-show” atmosphere, smooth roller coaster, nice sight gags during the ride, nice periods of suspense building.

Favourite Outdoor Ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Disneyland Park).

Favourite Indoor Ride: Soaring Over California (Disney’s California Adventure)

Nice music, breathtaking scenery, great use of illusion to create a relaxing yet thrilling ride.

Favourite Stage Show: Waterworld (Universal Studios).

High-energy, live action, full of pyrotechnics, well-orchestrated. There’s a reason why this show is always packed despite the commercial failure of its movie inspiration.

Favourite Walk-Through: Penguins (SeaWorld)

Frankly most of the walk-throughs in the other parks are pretty dismal so it’s not surprising that a zoo would win here. This walk-through has lots of energetic baby penguins

Favourite Eatery: Doc Brown’s Chicken (Universal Studios)

Surprisingly tasty, affordable, and reasonably healthy food for an amusement park

Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Star Tours (Disneyland Park)

Not overly long before the main ride (a nice motion simulator), some nice gags. I understand this has since been replaced with a new Star Tours show so I can’t comment on how good the pre-show is now.

Favourite Ride Type: flume ride

Generally they had a nice blend of energetic moments and relaxing in the water

A note about 3-D rides: Terminator 2 3-D (Universal Studios) was the most fun 3-D show, but didn’t use 3-D as much as it could have. It’s Tough to Be a Bug (Disney’s California Adventures) made better use of the 3-D technology

Most Overrated Attraction: Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (Disneyland Park)

Strip away the new visuals and it’s still the old submarine that doesn’t really submerge ride. Also, of those rides based on movies I haven’t seen, this one was the least accessible to me and probably benefits the most from having seen the movie. Long line-ups too. A close second is Toy Story (Disney’s California Adventures) which only worked right for a small part of the ride.

Most Overly Long Pre-Show: Simpsons (Universal Studios)

A testament how too long a pre-show can bog down a good ride

As some of the categories above are hard to quantify on a park-by-park basis, only some of the above categories are covered below.

Disneyland Park

Favourite Attraction: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Favourite Outdoor Ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Favourite Indoor Ride: Space Mountain

I preferred the 1996 visuals more, but this is still a fast paced, exciting roller coaster with nice pre-show area and exciting music.

Favourite Stage Show: Enchanted Tiki Room

This show feels like it was designed by Disney on a drunken bender, probably the only amusement park attraction to be hosted by a singing robot Hispanic macaw. Corny yet bizarre, with some unique visuals.

Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Star Tours

Disney’s California Adventures

Favourite Attraction: Soaring Over California

Favourite Outdoor Ride: California Screamin’

Lengthy but smooth roller coaster.

Favourite Indoor Ride: Soaring Over California

Favourite Stage Show: Muppets 3-D

Arguably It’s Tough to Be a Bug may be a tad better, but I have a soft spot for the Muppets, and the mayhem you’d expect from them is present.

Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Muppets 3-D
Muppets thrive on pre-show activities, plus there’s some great gags involving monitor screens.

Knotts Berry Farm

Favourite Attraction: Bigfoot Rapids

Energetic yet surprisingly smooth flume ride.

Favourite Outdoor Ride: Bigfoot Rapids

Favourite Indoor Ride: see below

Not much to choose from here. In Sky Cabin you’re inside but get a nice view of outside. If you think this counts, then this is it. If you only count attractions where the views are of the inside, you’re left pretty much with the okay Calico Mine Ride.

Favourite Stage Show: Mystery Lodge

Fascinating look into the life of one native tribe, with nice visuals.

Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: n/a

Not a strong suit of the park.

SeaWorld

Favourite Attraction: Penguins

Favourite Outdoor Ride: Shipwreck Cove Rapids

Lengthy flume ride.

Favourite Indoor Ride: Journey into Atlantis

Another flume ride. Actually most of it is outside but this is the closest I came to an indoor ride there.

Favourite Stage Show: Dolphin Discovery

Dolphins are always willing to play.

Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Journey into Atlantis

Not much to choose form, but this ride’s pre-show does have some nice visuals.

Universal Studios

Favourite Attraction: Waterworld

Favourite Outdoor Ride: Tram Tour

Actually if you see Jurassic Park as outdoor, then that wins out; otherwise this provides a lengthy but fun look at Hollywood life, with nice effects.

Favourite Indoor Ride: Jurassic Park

Actually a lot of this is outdoors, but its visuals are indoors in spirit, a flume ride with lots of spitting dinosaurs etc. If you don’t count this as indoors, then Simpsons wins (a great motion simulator, albeit hampered by an extremely long pre-show; with a more edited down pre-show, Simpsons would have been a more clear-cut favourite but especially from the second viewing on the pre-show quickly outstays its welcome).

Favourite Stage Show: Waterworld

Favourite Pre-Show for an Attraction: Terminator 2 3-D

Mock commercial, nice parody of a host, a cheeky computer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Disneyland Trip September 2008 Day 10 (September 18)

This is the 10th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip.

We got up pretty early. My dad went to war with the alarm clock when it went off. I finally managed to help him out by hitting snooze, then on and off again, but he managed to accidentally reset the time three hours again.

We checked out and while we were waiting for the bus, I made a last minute dash to Millie's to buy an IQ game with pegs the restaurant showcased.

We had the front seat, but as it turned out, our bus was bound for the other airport, so most of the passengers had to transfer to another bus at Disneyland Hotel.

Despite a minor bit of heavy traffic, we made good time to LAX, where we checked in and ate breakfast at Burger King. Too late to buy some more there, I realized I was almost out of batteries. Luckily by alternating between three sets of batteries I was able to make them last to Vancouver with minimal picture loss. Skies were pretty clear until we got close to Vancouver.

At Vancouver we got through Customs surprisingly quickly. I finally reached a newsstand for batteries. We had lunch at White Spot, and then we walked to my gate (Dad's flight left later). While there, I saw three people from my former government branch returning from Kelowna. (one lived in Vancouver but the other two were on the same flight).

As before, clouds around Vancouver but they parted while we were over the sea. I got my bags soon enough and again took an 83 bus (same driver as on the way over I think), though this time only to the nearby Park and Ride, were I transferred to a 70 Downtown Express. Close to downtown I saw another former co-worker. Unfortunately I doubt she even saw me because she was outside and I was on the top floor of the doubledecker.

Arriving home, my apartment proved to have the last word this trip: I learned upon reaching my door that they had done a routine pest spraying a couple days earlier (the "advance" notice was on my bed).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Disneyland Trip September 2008 Day 9 (September 17)

This is the 9th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip.

Another good news bad news thing on the health front. Good: my cold wass mostly gone (didn't even take Nyquil that night, though the cold returned when I got home) and my dad's food poisoning is gone. Bad news is my dad definitely had the cold now.

Today was the second of two days at Universal Studios. My original thought is we would just revisit the stuff we liked the best on Sunday, thus giving us a chance to do our favourites multiple times, but my dad didn't really remember the attractions too well so we basically went through the circuit a second time.

Upon arrival we saw Adrian Pasdar being interviewed for Heroes. It was tricky getting a good shot because first the bus had to park and then had to switch memory cards, but I did get shots of him of some sort. Regardless it was nice seeing an actor I like from a series I like with my own eyes.

I had a slight bit of trouble getting in because my print-out ticket got water-damaged on Splash Mountain yesterday, but I got a nicer looking replacement ticket in the deal.

Okay, here's the order this time around:
* Simpsons (dad skipped this this time, plus the next two rides as before)
* Revenge of the Mummy
* Jurassic Park
* Universal Experience
* Special Effects
* Backdraft
* Studio Tour: We saw a wild animal for real; driver said it was a coyote, my dad thouight it was a fox; while I took photos, they were too distance to tell for sure, but coyote seems likely
* Lunch at Doc Brown's (and the first of three refills of the souvenir glass I bought last time, only costing 69c/75c before/after tax)
* Shrek 4-D
* Blues Brothers
* Animal Actors
* I bought a set of 3 superhero shot glasses(!) at the Marvel Store (Spider-Man, Hulk, Wolverine; the latter two make sense but for drinking Thing would have been a better fit than Spidey)
* Universal's House of Horrors
* Waterworld (one of the actors sprayed my back a little with water)
* Terminator 2: 3-D
* After my dad left the park, Simpsons once more, making my final attraction this trip a high-energy one
* Bought some comics again outside the park at Universal's CityWalk's Things from Another World store.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Disneyland Trip September 2008 Day 8 (September 16)

This is the 8th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip.

I felt a lot better but my dad apparently got food poisoning at Mimi's (or maybe Wetzel's).

My dad wanted to go shopping instead of Disneyland so because we hadn't used up Magic Morning (early admission), even before the food poisoning we had agreed that I would meet with him for that in the afternoon.

Attractions are only described if they weren’t in previous trip reports, or if new details need to be added

This was the fifth day of the five-day pass. During the Magic Morning period I used a bit of strategy that seemed to work: I knew not everyone would check which areas were open during Magic Morning (only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland) so I knew some people would try to head to Indiana Jones, but the greatest quantity of people would head to Tomorrowland, with the greatest quantity of "big ticket" items. Which left me with:
* Matterhorn twice (the only big ticket item in Fantasyland). I was the first person to pass out of Main Street and the first person on the Matterhorn. This proved interesting because even though I was the first one on, I still heard thrilled screams and thus realized that some of the screams you heard on that roller coaster are canned, not actual riders
* Buzz Lightyear thrice. I think it was the left side that I determined I scored more points with
* Space Mountain twice
All that during the extra hour provided by Magic Morning. Then:
* Indiana Jones
* Big Thunder thrice
* Splash Mountain twice (got really soaked the second time)
* Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh (first time; I think this replaced the Country Bear Jamboree); Okay minor ride not unlike Fantasyland's minor rides
* Raft (motorized) to Tom Sawyer Island (revisit, but now pirate-themed): The island is a recent walk-through with some nice photo opportunities. The raft is a short but pleasant enough ride.
* Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
I then met with my dad, now feeling a bit better, for shopping. A shopping area we wanted to see proved closed just before we were to arrange a shuttle; we spent an hour on a wild goose chase, and then took a cab to another shopping mall: Westlake. I found some memory cards a couple blocks away at Staples and my dad found some shirts across the street from the mall at Men's Wearhouse. I forgot my dad gave me the card with the number for the return trip but we made it back anyway.
Returning to the park 3.5 hours later, back to solo:
* Big Thunder twice
* Matterhorn
* Space Mountain
* Star Tours
* Buzz Lightyear twice
* Splash Mountain
* Pirates of the Caribbean
This brought me top the final attraction, at Disneyland, for this trip.
It was...
...
...
...
drum roll...
...
...
...
...
The Enchanted Tiki Room!
I thought it would be nice to end things on a slightly quiet note, and I hadn't had as much of a chance to visit Jose and friends as I'd like. I didn't want to regret leaving without one final look at Disney at its most bizarre. Unfortunately I had to leave before it ended to meet my dad for dinner (at Millie's) but the first half's the best anyway. I'm happy that my final memory the park is this quirky and delightful show.

There was also a quick, apparently impromptu firework display as I was leaving the park. Coincidence?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Disneyland Trip September 2008 Day 7 (September 15)

This is the 7th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip.

This day we returned to Disneyland Park. Attractions are only described if they weren’t in previous trip reports.

* Visited Indiana Jones; ride broken down
* Did Jungle Cruise
* Indiana Jones still broken down
* Visited Winnie-the-Pooh; ride also broken down
* Indiana Jones still broken down
* Did Pirates of the Caribbean
* Indiana Jones working but 20 minute wait; got Fastpass
* Took Railroad to Toontown (which didn't exist last time dad was there but which I had visited in 1996)
* Rode Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin: Track tide where the steering wheel can spin the car). Wanted to take pics thus didn't spin the car, but wheel had a mind of its own
* Visited Minnie's House: If memory serves, I meant to visit in 1996 but was pretty tired after a long line at Mickey's House); cute walkthrough through the female mouse’s home
* Visited Mickey's House (revisited): Similar to Minnie’s house, but more masculine, and more elaborate; longer line
* This concluded my token visit of Toontown for this trip
* Rode Railroad to Main Street
* Rode Indiana Jones; My dad tried this ride but didn't care for it, considering it to be too close to a roller coaster
* Visited Honey I Shrunk the Audience (first time; was Michael Jackson's Captain E-O during last visit): Another cute 3-D show
* Took Monorail to Downtown Disney
* Ate lunch at Wetzel's Pretzels
* Took Monorail back to Tomorrowland
* Took train to Main Street
* Saw film Disneyland: 50 Golden Years: Amiable history film starring Steve Martin & Donald Duck

I Left the park with Dad
* On my own, I visited the 7-11 I used to go to during 1996 visit
* Visited the outside of Jolly Roger Hotel, where I stayed last visit

I returned to the park
* Rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad twice
* Rode the Matterhorn
* Did a short visit to Innoventions (in Tomorrowland), displaying devices anticipated for the near future if I understand correctly
* Rode Space Mountain twice
* Considered Splash Mountain but too long a line
* Rode Big Thunder (started on the left side track rather than the usual right); you may have guessed that this is my favourite ride
* Rode Pirates of the Caribbean twice
* Tried to reach the Matterhorn but blocked by a parade
* Matterhorn packed upon arrival so moved on
* Visited Star Tours twice

I then returned to the hotel, meeting my dad for dinner at Mimi’s.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Diets Shouldn't Cause this Much Trouble

As of yesterday I started a reduced sugar diet for two months. I get one day off it each month, but otherwise can't have any pop, candy, sugar-coated cereal, cookies, or ice cream (I rarely have the latter two anyway).

Well, today... new diet already had a very noticable effect: it's put me an hour behind schedule, nearly wrecked my camera, caused me to lose the "key" to the apartment entrance, and caused water damage including to two reference comics I bought Wednesday.

I realized this morning the only breakfast I had in my place was Mini-Wheats, so had to buy new cereal. I dropped my money in the store and the airflow carried it away so I had to dash home and back and get my debit card, meaning two elevator waits at my apartment instead of just one (you can take the stairs down but not up).

I wolfed down the breakfast. I didn't have time to properply secure the water in my fridge which wasn't in tight bottles because of the pop residue in such bottles. Water spilled everywhere and when someone pointed it out and i tried rummaging through my stuff my camera spilled out.

Luckily the camera seems to be okay but I just missed my bus to the Sooke Potholes by a few minutes, and service to Sooke is hourly. Returning home I discovered that the key-thing to the front door of the building had gone missing in the chaos. Luckily I still had the key to my acutal room.

Postscript: the key-thing and the money finally turned up later on in the day.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Disneyland Trip September 2008 Day 6 (September 14)

This is the 6th of 11 posts (10 travel days plus final thoughts) adapted from e-mails I sent to friends and family. This was my 3rd trip there, the previous two being in the early 1980s and 1996. My dad came with me this trip.

It turned out I did have a cold, though I managed to repress a lot of the symptoms until AI got home. Mixed in were possibly allergies from feeling the furthest most effects of Hurricane Ivan. No winds, but sky was brown in the morning.

Today we went to Universal Studios. In order:
* Simpsons (first time for me on this one per se, but it's largely a reworked Back to the Future, which I went on in 1996). You're still in a car which is really a motion simulator giving the illusion of a very rough flight, in this case at a theme park. I quite liked it but my dad didn't care for the fact that it felt like a real roller coaster
* Revenge of the Mummy (first time): Intense but pretty quick roller coaster. Dad skipped
* Jurassic Park (revisit): Flume ride with great robotic dinosaur effects, including spitting water at you.
* Universal Experience (first time): Cute but nothing special short walkthrough; it replaced Lucy: A Tribute
* Backdraft (revisit): Simulates a fiery scene from the movie. Nice effects
* Special Effects Studio (revisit): Three sections show how various effects are done. Interesting and more fun than my last visit, where the narrator was pretty sarcastic; the new narrators are more people friendly
* Studio Tour (revisit): The classic tour through the studio backlot, with various effects along the way. We saw where the recent fire was, a stunt rehearsal apparently for an actual shoot, Bruce the shark from Jaws, Desperate Housewives' Wisteria Lane, etc.
* Terminator 2: 3-D (first time): Show combining a 3-D movie with live action. Unsurprisingly I liked it more than Dad.
We had lunch at Doc Brown's (a good chicken place) then:
* Blues Brothers (I'm pretty sure I saw part of it in 1996 but didn't see the full show): Amiable live musical
* Waterworld (revisit): Incredible live stage performance on an elaborate watery set. It has to be seen to be fully appreciated; essentially even though the movie bombed in the early 1990s, the stage show still draws in a packed crowd.
* Universal's House of Horrors (I think it was there in 1996 but this was my first time visiting it): elaborate playful walkthrough based on the early monster flicks
* Shrek 4-D (first time): Cute 4-D movie where you get squirted for real a lot (but not too wet)
* Animal Actors Studios (revisit): Live animal celebrities do their thing.

I quickly looked in the Marvel Shop, and then we exited the park. While my dad waited for the bus, I explored the CityWalk area outside the park proper, buying a trade paperback at the comic shop Things from Another World (I visited another branch in Portland but didn't buy anything there).

Upon returning to the hotel, my dad and I watched the fireworks again (I shot some videos) and I bought some Nyquil from the hotel store, which helped quite a bit.