All material and new posts are henceforth happening over at: So get your ass to Mars!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

US Diary #2

The Not-So-Wonderful Wonderful Wonderworks.

Lounged in the pool all morning, playing with the boys and getting soaked and losing at "kerbie". We ordered some Universal and Wonderworks tickets on the net, then drove to Ponciana to pick them up. Bargain. Cheap as chips etc. Was overcome by an incredible hunger (this was 10.30am, and no, I’m not usually a Pig in a Poke at this early morning brunch slot). Stopped at Subway, and bought a foot long meatball marinara with jalapeno peppers and onion and honey mustard. Mmm. Be a pig, be a pig, be a pig! It cost, get this, $5. That’s a smidge over £2.50. Bargain! No wonder so many Americans are fat. If I lived here, I’d certainly turn into Jabba the Hutt (yeah yeah, I know, I’m getting there already).

My wife needed some shades, so we drove to Prime outlets and the Sunglasses Hut. I said to her, I said, don’t drag me in, I can’t help myself around Oakleys. But no. She had to drag me in. And what turned into a cheap shopping trip for my wife, turned into another Oakley buying session for me. I am a bad man. I cannot help myself. After all, what kind of person needs five pairs of Oakleys? Five, I tell ye? It’s just not proper. Not human. Not normal. I bought some Oakley Riddles, the polarised ones. Very, very nice. Very.. mm.. Oakley. I know, spoilt brat, more money than sense, etc etc.

Picked up our Universal and Wonderworks tickets, parked up in Pizza Hut and went into the "Wonderful Wonderworks" which from the outside looks awesomely impressive, a house which is completely upside down complete with upside down lamp-posts and palm trees. Great. In we went, through a promising spinning corridor which makes you want to puke, and out into - well, a very hot room filled with tat. Yes, some of the tat was mildly interesting, and the bed of nails was superb (although I was the only one with the balls (and steel skin) to lie on it; everybody else bottled it) and it burned a bit like a tattoo and made you wonder if you were about to be impaled. Made me feel like I was in an Arabian Knights movie. The rest of the "attractions" were OK. Some face stretching screen endeavours, some green-screen action, a few mechanical devices displaying load and effort. In the lift, an enthusiastic man kept enthusing that you were in the "wonderful" Wonderworks, but I had to disagree. For our $50 we spent about an hour there, which is always a bad sign, and left bathed in sweat (no aircon in Florida?). I think it was a simple ruse to cook you from the premises.

Anyway, on the way back to the villa stopped at an "Authentic English Pub", run by Americans obviously. I really, really, really should have learnt my lesson in these places. After all, all the authentic "Irish Bars" are 99.9% of the time guaranteed to be nothing of the sort, as any Irish-born person will tell you. So then, the English pub had English beers, and we enjoyed a few and I taught my eldest boy (5, nearly 6) to play the mainstay of all British boozers, pool. Now, I am no stalwart of pool, and in fact the last time I played in a real-world UK boozer setting, I performed the most amazing shot, lifting a ball from the felt and depositing it in a mate’s beer. In my younger years, I had been known to knock people out cold with a misplaced cue ball. Anyway, I did my best, but my five year old beat me on his first game.

Got chatting to a couple of local women who worked at Perkins up the road, and had a really good chat where I pumped them for information on Blue Shield insurance cards, and the difference between a State Trooper and a County Sherriff, and what the alcohol tolerance levels were in Florida (about the same as the UK, apparently). I thought it was zero tolerance. The women thought the UK had zero tolerance. Seems there are quite few misconceptions flying about.

Back to the villa, and chilled out for the rest of the evening. Had a Chinese delivery, which was great on volume, not so great on quality. I live in a place which is horrendous, in my opinion, but has some awesome Chinese takeaways. Orlando is awesome, but the curry is urine. I think I’ll settle for pee-curry anyday.

Had an early night. Read my Bill Bryson book (ace!). Damn this jet-lag.


S.M.D. said...

Well, just to be the argumentative type: It feels cheap to you because of the exchange rate of almost 2 to 1 and because, in general, folks in the UK make more than folks in the US. $5 is still pretty cheap (that's actually a huge campaign Subway is running right now with a collection of incredibly annoying commercials), but it seems like a steal cause of the exchange rate. I'm not raining on your parade though. It's a good thing you can get stuff for dirt cheap here :P. I was in England and broke the bank just to get things there, cause it cost me double. Things like 8 pound dinners go for $8 here.

Meh, I'm all over the place. Point is, it's dirt cheap cause the pound is worth a lot in comparison to the dollar. The whole making more money than us thing is more leaned towards the gas argument: minimum wage is pretty high in comparison to here in the states. If we made what you guys make for minimum wage, a lot more people wouldn't be complaining as much (though gas is still ridiculous).

I'm rambling. I'm hope something in there made sense. My girlfriend is visiting from England soon and she's going to explode when she realizes how many books she can buy for 100 pounds...especially at the second-hand shops...

S.M.D. said...

Okay, feel like bugging again:

Isn't it Germany that has zero tolerance? My friend's husband was talking about this the other day, but he couldn't remember the country. Whichever country it is the law on drunk driving goes as follows: get caught, you lose your license for life. I guessed it was Germany, because that would be a country where drunk drivers could do a heck of a lot of damage considering things like the Autobahn. You wouldn't happen to know would you?

Oh, and I laugh whenever I see "authentic *insert country here* pub" here in the States. It tickles me a bit because it's never run by people from *insert country here*, always by Americans and rarely very authentic.

Andy Rem said...

Sorry, I don't mean to keep banging on about what a bargain it is in the US for Brits; I know the exchange rate is very good for us at the moment. I'm just... very, very used to being ripped off skanked and otherwise stuffed in the vine leaves when I go on holiday. It's nice to have a good deal for a change :-)

With regards pubs and stuff, there's a good London boozer in one of the Disney parks (forget which one). It's run by a Cockney Geezer and everything. That's pretty authentic. I was suprised to stagger out back into Mickey Mouse Country.

S.M.D. said...

Oh, I wasn't getting on your case or anything :P. I was just trying to point out that it's dirt cheap because of the exchange rate. For us locals it's a whole different story. I wish I had your exchange rate :P. I wouldn't have spent so much money when I was in England and my suitcase would have been ten times heavier (with books of course).

And you need to call up Borders and tell them to start carrying your book...because I keep going there expecting that they'll some of your work, and they never do...and it's annoying.