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Friday, September 26, 2003
Six Flags Literacy Program Huge Success; Children's Financial Management Program Not So Much
Six Flags's participation in the Read to Succeed program has garnered the massive park chain plaudits from enthusiasts, parents, and school administrators alike. The program provides kids with park tickets in connection with how much they read and nearly 400,000 children have taken part.
Somewhat overlooked in the press coverage of the Read to Succeed program has been Six Flags's other children's education program, "Borrow and Spend to Make More Money." This program, instituted just a year after Premier Parks took over the Six Flags chain, gave junior and senior high school students a chance to follow the chain's planning and expansion efforts throughout much of the 1990s, and has taught thousands how to manage their money just like a major entertainment business. Students were treated to visits to corporate headquarters, visits from Six Flags accountants, and detailed training about how they could borrow and spend massive amounts of money in an effort to become wealthy and popular.
The program, unfortunately, has not been considered a success. "We had fifteen students in that program," says Leonard Brock, principal of Madison Junior High in the Oklahoma City suburbs, a pilot school for the program. "And thirteen of them had to file for bankruptcy before graduation from high school. The other two only managed to avoid that because they had rich parents."
The problem: all of the kids ran up thousands of dollars on their credit cards, purchasing cars, entertainment systems, DVDs, and vacations. "I just figured that's what Six Flags was doing," says Beth Kerr, one of the bankrupt youngsters. "They kept telling us [in the lectures by visiting Six Flags accountants] about how 'You've gotta spend money to make money!' and how they were spending hundreds of millions of borrowed dollars on rides so that they could make money in the future...but now that I think about it, they were always a little vague about how they'd be making money in the future. Something about funnel cakes, I think."
"They were really very convincing," said Kerr's ninth-grade home economics teacher, Nancy Poe. "They said you could take an ugly and unpopular park -- like, say, Geauga Lake or Jazzland -- and put piles and piles of money into it and you'd make it back in a heartbeat, somehow. And they said you could take an ugly and unpopular person -- like Beth -- and if she spent a lot of money on unnecessary and flashy stuff, she'd make a bunch of money. And become popular, too." Poe walked away, shaking her head.
Neither result has occurred for the young Ms. Kerr. In addition to her bankruptcy filing and subsequent reposession of her Hummer, HDTV-ready 32-inch television, and Versace wardrobe, Kerr remains unpopular outside her circle of French Club friends.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Travel Channel Special Mortifies Boyfriend
Barry Hemmoglobe of Round Lake Park, IL, was “thoroughly embarrassed” after viewing the Travel Channel special, “Best of Thrilling Thrill Rides and the Thrill Seekers Who Seek Thrills” on Tuesday night. “Jenna (Kophschmerzen) was one of the people on the show that they film during the ride,” explained Barry. “We’ve only been dating for a few months, and when the show aired, she was totally psyched that I’d see her segment on TV.”
Miss Kopfschmerzen, one of the approximately seven females in the coaster enthusiast community, was taped riding Raging Bull at Six Flags Great America. “The interview with her was great – but then she got on the ride," said Hemmoglobe, wiping a tear away. "The noises and facial expressions she made were so familiar...and then I realized that she makes the same sounds when we are making sweet sweet love!”
Jenna did not understand why her boyfriend insisted that they stay home from work the next day, but Barry swears it was for their own good. “I can’t believe that the entire R&D group at the lab will have seen my girlfriend making sex faces on TV!!” he moaned. “And doing them while sitting next to that creepy Ruben guy!”
Paul Ruben could not be reached for comment.
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Ride Described as "Better on TV"
Medusa, the highly-regarded B&M floorless looper at Six Flags Worlds of New Jersey Adventure, is way better on TV, claims enthusiast Donal Usher, 30.
"Everyone thinks it's so much better to see one of these things live," said Usher. "Heck, I always assumed experiencing a live coaster was way better than any other activity you could possibly do. But then I went to the park and sat there, and I realized that it's way better to see it on TV.
"First off, that park has really expensive food. The sandwiches were seven bucks. A damn Miller Lite cost me 6 bucks and came in a plastic bottle, I guess because the level of clientele at Six Flags is about like being at an Eagles game, so they're afraid of the queue area getting pelted by debris if the home team screws up, say, and doesn't run all three trains. At home, if you watch a good coaster on video or DVD, you can have lots of cheap snacks and pizza and beer right there in the fridge. Or sitting in a pile on your lap. You might also have a cute guinea pig to pat on the head, and they usually don't allow those on the actual coaster.
"Really, if you go to the coaster live, the action is way far away most of the time, and there's no instant replay or closeups. When I watched Medusa on America's Greatest Roller Coaster Thrills: The Next Generation a couple weeks ago, I noticed that you get great onboard ride footage and closeups, and you can replay all or parts of it anytime you want. They also speed up the footage to make it seem way faster, which is a cool trick you don't get live.
"And last but not least, on my DVD player, I can use freeze frame to lock Medusa in its most thrilling pose so I can masturbate in the privacy of my mom's basement. Just try that while you're doing Medusa live and in person and see what they say."
Very Special Rerun
So, you see, we're kinda busy today, and we really meant to do our homework, but we got distracted by, y'know, stuff. So we thought we'd provide our faithful readers (both of you!) with a rerun of one of our favorites that you might have missed, since it ran back when even fewer people visited. With the offseason upon us, we figure you might be looking for a hobby. No need to thank us.
Enthusiast Planning to Get Really Into Porn During Offseason
This article originally appeared last October.
As the amusement park season comes to an end, many enthusiasts start thinking about what to do with their free time during the following six months. Some do crafts, others travel, and still others obsessively visit coaster-oriented sites every 45 minutes hoping for an update on what program the flat rides at their home park will be running.
But Paul Fedder has decided to go in an entirely different direction: pornography.
"I figured, that's something I can obsess about even more disturbingly than I do coasters, it allows me to maintain my hours-at-a-time on the computer I'm already used to, and it'll educate me enough that I'll be a real catch once I enter the dating pool," said the seventeen-year-old Fedder, who says he's "saving himself for college girls."
Fedder has already obtained several false adult identification numbers for access to those sites that require age verification, and used his dad's credit card to obtain over five hundred dollars in PayPal funds for paying for private sites. He says he's still getting the lay of the pornographic land, but thinks that he'll gravitate towards "classic porn, just like I love the classic wooden coasters, going up and down and up and down and up and down..." His voice trailed off.
"I gotta go."
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
Top Thrill Dragster Cars Recalled Due to Fuel Tank Problem
In news that stunned the amusement industry, Intamin today announced a recall of all Top Thrill Dragster trains due to fuel tank safety issues uncovered in standard government testing.
"It's the darndest thing," said company spokesman Julie Harding. "We didn't even remember that we'd put a fuel tank in there -- I guess we just got a little too excited with the theming."
According to officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Dragster's forty-gallon fuel tanks, which are attached to nothing, are prone to leakage and, if involved in a rear-end collision, could explode. No reports of injuries have occurred, but the recall is still being treated as the highest priority. The design flaw was found in the NHTSA's routine crash testing.
Cedar Fair head Richard Kinzel described the potential explosions as a "minor issue." "Really, who doesn't have problems like this with a new ride? I totally understand why Intamin included a forty-gallon tank of flammable liquid on trains that do not in fact have engines -- just a little quirk of having one of the most advanced rides on the planet!"
In the meantime, a small but vocal group of enthusiasts have started an advocacy group lobbying Cedar Fair to place the fuel tanks on Mean Streak's trains along with several lit acetylene torches.
Canada's Wonderland Announces Flying Coaster Upgrade
The mighty voice of tens and tens of enthusiasts made itself heard again this week, as Paramount Canada's Wonderland, possibly the most awkwardly-named park on the planet, announced major changes to its new Zamperla/Volare flying coaster, called, in a spasm of creativity, "The Flying Coaster."
"We heard a lot of people didn't like the one at Elitch Gardens," said spokesman Jonathan Selby. "So we've really improved this one."
Chief among the improvements, according to Selby, is the improved station music. "We've gotten rid of the stuff that Zamperla encouraged us to use, like that 'I Believe I Can Fly' crap. Instead, we've got some good Canadian music from Bryan Adams, Paul Anka, and Celine Dion. Oh, and Bachman Turner Overdrive. The kids these days love that BTO!"
Also improved are the colors of the trains. "No more orange track!" exclaimed Selby. "We now have green track! It will be much better."
When asked if Zamperla had made any modifications to the design of the coaster itself, Selby looked puzzled. "Why would they? That coaster rules. It just needed some minor cosmetic changes."
Monday, September 22, 2003
Meet Your Idols
It's official (well, as official as is possible): a significant majority of ARN&R's intrepid reporters will attend the Phoenix Fall Funfest (we refuse to use all those "ph"s). And we'll have our 350th anniversary t-shirts on, and extra shirts for sale for cheap.
Drop us a line if you'd like to meet up and will promise not to injure us. We certainly didn't mean whatever we said about your home park, website, favorite ride, or attractiveness to the opposite sex. Unless, of course, you like Frontier City. In which case, um, your park sucks.
Download Icons, Ensure Mockery
We're particularly pleased this week to acknowledge the efforts of CoasterIcons, our Site O' the Weak for this week. Not just because it offers for download -- for free! -- small coaster-related icons that you could use for...um...something...but also because each of those icons clearly required tens and tens of seconds to design.
Consider, for example, the Deja Vu icon for Six Flags Magic Mountain (and Great America). The striking two-sorta-not-that-bland-color design! The precision graphics! This is graphic design right up there with the Chopping Block, we tell you.
But what we like better is this: CoasterIcons nominated itself. Thanks, Mr. CoasterIcons! [A word of clarification: Turns out the actual operator of CoasterIcons didn't nominate it; instead, one contributor to the site did. We are uncertain if this makes the site cooler or less cool.] [Absolutely critical hugely important breaking news: As it turns out, we did hear about it from the Grand Poobah of CoasterIcons and from a contributor. ARN&R is freakin' huge among people making icons (purpose unknown to us) relating to amusement parks.]
By the way, in case you're really not too sharp, this is satire.
Our favorite review: "as a joke it [ARN&R] wasn't that funny. all of my family take parks very seriuslyand all thow we laffed after time we were apoled by the joke."
Anything you e-mail us is fair game to go on the site or to be used in any other way, including printing it up real big and posting it outside AbsolutelyReliableTowers.
Sorry, your IQ must be this high and your age at least 18 to be among the intended readers of ARN&R. Please enjoy some of our other attractions.
We like gravy and the occasional buffet. The greatest thing ever, however, would be a gravy buffet.