Today is Pi Day (3.14… get it?) and in honor of such a momentous event, I want to share this link (courtesy of the StarTribune) to someone who only can be described as Carman‘s mathmatician brother, parodying Eminem with…
We have a 3-year-old son, which means, inevitably, that our house is filled beyond capacity with Thomas the Tank Engine paraphernalia.
Over the year-plus of his ongoing obsession with the little blue “Really Useful Engineâ„¢,” we’ve learned that the owners of the Thomas trademark will spare every expense where quality is concerned. They know, 3-year-old boys don’t care about quality. They want it, even if it’s crap, and they’ll whine until their parents shell out $20 for 10 cents’ worth of Made-in-China plastic.
Then, of course, there’s the wondrous phenomenon that is “Day Out with Thomas.” This is basically a traveling Homer Simpson-quality carnival (minus the moldy mattresses, but including several barely-appealing attractions partitioned with soggy hay bales), topped off by a teenager in a Sir Topham Hatt costume and an overpriced ride on a train pulling a flimsy full-scale model of Thomas the Tank Engine, apparently constructed of plywood and fiberglass, with a dry ice machine inside the funnel.
Now, if I seem a bit cynical and negative when it comes to an event designed to appeal to people just discovering the fascination of smelling their own underpants (trust me, it’s true), it’s only because the coordinators of said event went beyond simply doing everything on the cheap; I am convinced they threw in added touches that didn’t cost — or save — them so much as a penny, but were sure to add to parents’ frustration and dismay with the overall experience.
We arrived in Stillwater, MN for our own Day Out with Thomas today around 1:30 PM, a full hour and a half before our scheduled train ride. By 2:45, our son’s excitement was at fever pitch, so we were relieved and genuinely enthused, if not excited ourselves, when we could begin boarding the train. My wife and I viewed it mainly as an opportunity to get a taste of riding the Minnesota Zephyr without shelling out $71 each for the full-blown experience that includes a gourmet 5-course dinner.
But… oh, man.
We knew going into it that our $17 (each, mind you, including our 3-year-old) was only buying us a 20-minute ride. But we knew nothing of the distance, or lack thereof, involved. The ride consisted of 10 minutes out, stop, reverse, and 10 minutes back. Fair enough. But the train never surpassed the pace of a brisk stroll. At one point the train was passed by a guy on a bike. Seriously. The outbound limit of the journey, on a track that runs parallel to highway 95 on one side and the St. Croix River on the other, was just slightly beyond, but still within sight of, the wayside rest we used as a turnaround while trying to locate a parking space.
But our son loved it, which made it all worthwhile.
Wait, how much did I spend on those tickets…?
My mother-in-law bought me the 2-DVD Rush concert set “R30: Rush 30th Anniversary Tour” for Father’s Day. (No, I don’t think she knows about my prog rock obsession, she’s just good at selecting from my Amazon.com wish list.)
Anyway, I was watching some of it today, and it was nice to see how the boys have loosened up with humor in their concerts. (OK, the humor’s always been there; it’s just more blatant now.)
In particular, I was stunned to see what was on the stage behind Geddy. No, it wasn’t a pair of Marshall half-stacks. It was a pair of Maytag half-stacks. Yes, he had two Maytag clothes dryers behind him on stage, spinning nonstop throughout the show. And next to them, one of those rotating sandwich vending machines from a cafeteria. (Well, I didn’t get the best look at it… that’s what it seemed to be, although it might have been a pie display case like those often seen at lowbrow coffee shops.)
Clearly this made quite an impression on me. It wasn’t enough to tell a pair of coworkers plus SLP, as well as emailing two old high school friends who were also Rush fans back in the day. (And when is anyone more of a Rush fan than in high school?) I had to take it a step further and share it with the two and a half people who actually read my blather.