Day 83: Interstate Tour 2018

Eating has become part of my purpose-driven life.  Sometimes, I eat for jollies, yes, who doesn't? But most of the time, I eat practically and choose exactly what I need to get through each day, without having to make a bunch of choices that could suck time away from everything else I've got going on.  

So, for the past 83 days, I've had exactly the same thing for breakfast; air-fried potatoes and scrambled eggs, served in a glop atop each other with jalapeño ketchup and hot sauce.  Same thing.  Each time.  5 Weight Watchers points per serving and it kicks my day off with just enough protein to power and just enough carbs to get me rollin'.  I typically follow that with raw veggies and about 4 ounces of hummus, plus some smoked turkey deli slices for lunch, then I'll have air-fried chicken with sugar-free BBQ sauce and steamed veggies for dinner, or will eat out if I'm sick of cooking and/or eating the same damned thing.

 Sweet, beautiful ride!

Sweet, beautiful ride!

I've done great with my weight and activity this summer, but needed to kick up the activity a notch this week after the great New England seafood binge-fest last week, so I drove from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania to Fredericksburg, Virginia and hopped on the Virginia Central Railway Trail for some more pedal-pounding.  

It rained all the way from PA and miraculously ceased just as I rolled into the park where the trail head was located.  Huh.  Well, no turning back now.  According to my TrailLink app, this was a 4.5 mile path that followed the old Virginia Central Railway route.  The railway operated between 1850 and 1868 between Richmond and Covington; it was used by both Union and Confederate soldiers at various points during the Civil War.  

This small portion of the line ran behind a number of businesses and affluent housing, though the incursion of the outside world happens infrequently along this trail.  It's a nice ride, moderately challenging, but it's over so soon that I ended up looping around and riding it a number of times. 10.4 miles in 1 hour.  

Along the way, there were a few other people on the path.  Jogging, walking, riding, making it happen.  Whenever I'm out there doing this sort of thing, I'm always keenly aware of the other people on the trail, path, whatever the heck.

 Glorious!

Glorious!

They're of like mind in many ways, wanting to be outside, wanting to be active.  Some look like pros, bodies just cut and marbled, effortlessly making their way along, while some look like they just want to roll over and pass out, and they're not in the best of shape, but kudos to them for getting out there and giving it a go. I tend to be focused when I'm riding and don't engage anyone, which is sort of how it goes when you're out there, all sweaty and cross-faced and fighting the battle against yourself, but some folks are out there on a pleasant stroll and will look over at you and say, "good morning!" or something.

If you're rocking it, reciprocating the greeting is easy.  If you're ugly-sweating-panting-crying-grunting, it can be tough to say, "hey! morning to YOU!" without sounding comically winded.  I usually do a nod and a smile because I sound jacked when I try to speak in the midst of a workout. "Jacked", not in a good way.

After the ride, it was off to the Walmart Resort.

I've got one show left on tour, that's this Saturday in Georgia.  With a Cedar Fair Platinum Pass in hand that I purchased earlier in the summer, I had two theme parks that I'd be passing on the way back south; Kings Dominion and Carowinds.

This is the first year that I've produced Coaster-2-Coaster for Patreon, so every stop has been a combination of mental health scream-your-ass-off day and production opportunity, in that order. Here's an example of what that's all about:

This is what I get off on, man, the rides.  It's a little wild for some folks and it's not wild enough for the people who jump out of planes and surf gigantic waves, but it's some delicious stuff - and my love affair with it all goes back to childhood.  I blame it on my parents, because they took me to some amazing places, with classic rides, and threw me onto them, despite the tears, so I could see just how awesome it all was.

And I've been a theme park junkie all my life.

So, a 10-year old me, already a theme-park freak, was at a drive-in movie with my mother and her boyfriend at the time, in the snack bar in the middle of the lot, right behind where the projector was set up, and saw a poster for a movie that was coming from Universal the next year, which was 1977.

 OMFG!

OMFG!

you have got to be kidding me!

The studio with the backlot tour attraction (which I'd later work) was putting out a movie about my favorite subject in the WHOLE FREAKIN' UNIVERSE???  Moms and her dude were hoping I'd go to sleep during the second half of whatever we were watching, but I was too hyped.  What really got me was that the poster art featured a brand-new rollercoaster that had just debuted in 1976: The Great American Revolution at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California - not far from where I was living. 

About a month later, I spotted a paperback novel with the same artwork and promptly took it to my mom's boyfriend and asked if he'd buy it for me. I knew what was up, and I exploited the hell out of that moment.  This book...it was the bridge between now and when that everlovin' movie came out.  

And what a great book.  Written by Burton Wohl, it was based off of the screenplay, so there were key sequences that translated directly to the screen.  I read that thing until the pages fell out of it.   Some of it was so unbelievably foul and I memorized the cadence of passages like "the boardwalk was beautiful. If you could call a ticky-tacky, gut-busted, son-of-a-crazy-architect's wet dream 'beautiful'."

 I used to own this one-sheet!

I used to own this one-sheet!

When the movie finally came out, boyfriend was obligated to take us all to the Mann Westwood on July 10th, 1977 so that I could experience "Rollercoaster" in SENSURROUND on opening day. Again, I was workin' that shit.

Just a quick aside that, for you young-uns, SENSURROUND was a crazy movie-theater gimmick that wired hardcore bass speakers into the auditorium where the film was showing.  The extra bass "shook" the seats and promised a more immersive experience.  I'd seen some of the former SENSURROUND epics like "Earthquake" and "Midway", but neither of them had anything to do with amusement parks, so this was clearly going to be a total sensory overload.

And it was.

I was vaguely familiar with the actors, but it didn't matter because the story hooked me from the get-go.  In a nutshell, a young man (Timothy Bottoms) plants a bomb on a rollercoaster, kills a train full of people and then causes another incident in a dark ride at another park.  A safety inspector (George Segal) who had signed off on the coaster, follows his suspicions and ends up entangled in the mad bomber's web which also draws in an FBI agent (Richard Widmark), the inspector's boss (Henry Fonda), the inspector's girlfriend (Susan Strasberg) and an L.A -based rock band (Sparks.)

I didn't know anything about how it was made but JIMINEY the movie just blew my everlovin' mind.

Years later, the pieces began to come together.  The director, James Goldstone, was a veteran of episodic television.  The writers, Richard Levinson and William Link, came from the same camp. The team had produced such far as "Columbo", "Kojak" and "Murder: She Wrote".  The composer. Lalo Schifrin, had played piano with Dizzy Gillespie, but also had written the famous "Mission: Impossible" theme.  Sparks were a real band, come to find out, and they'd become my favorite act - actually based off of their art, but it didn't hurt that they'd been in my favorite movie in the world.

Yes, number one with a forever bullet. 

 George Segal during shooting of "Rollercoaster" on the Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion Park.

George Segal during shooting of "Rollercoaster" on the Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion Park.

And I've seen great films, THEGREATFILMS, and still, this cheesy, dated, curious thing is still my favorite film of all time.  I guess a lot of it has to do with what it represents, the time and place where it was first seen.  A more innocent time - this was the summer of "Star Wars" - and it seemed like a perfect film at the time. It's got corny, cheesy lines and terrible 70's wardrobe, but there's a thin thread that runs through the whole thing, unlike any other film I've seen before.  A world-weary approach to high-grade explosive drama with a wry sense of humor.

 Timothy Bottoms plays a very bad man.  Very  bad.

Timothy Bottoms plays a very bad man. Very bad.

It's still a machine of elegance. Tightly plotted, suspenseful, has a few really amazing heart-in-throat moments.  As I've watched it over the years, it's been a joy to see just how subtle it is as a character study, as a social commentary.  One of the things that always tickled me about this film is how just about everyone is pissed off about something.  From Segal's character, Harry Calder, trying to quit smoking all the way through the picture, to the minor interactions that the main characters have with seemingly background personnel.  It's one of the few films where the "extras" actually seem to leap off the screen and become their own characters, and the interplay between Segal and a few of them are simply gold. It even featured faces of future stars like Steve Guttenberg and Helen Hunt.

While it's largely seen as a profitable, yet forgettable film, it has its champions and many consider at least one extended sequence to be comparable to the best of Alfred Hitchcock.

I don't want to spoil the movie for ya, so I'll just say this: Calder has been ordered by the bomber to make a drop of $1 million in a theme park and things just don't go as planned.  The theme park used in the filming of this sequence is Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia and that's where I'm heading tomorrow morning.

I've been there once before, so my "Rollercoaster" jinkies have all been lived and rejoiced over. ("Oh. My. God.  THAT is where Harry stood when he put on the HAT!")  Still, it's a thrill to be back at the park where this fabulous film was partially created.

And I just found out that it's on Netflix.

Yeah, you'll have to excuse me - geek-out in 3...2...1...

Day 84

 

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