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A “Star Trek” theme park ride wish list

A “Star Trek” theme park ride wish list (photo)

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My phasers are officially set to stunned: Time reports that a full-on “Stark Trek” theme park is set to open in 2014, in Jordan of all places. That sounds like a most illogical location for a monument to all things “Trek,” but it turns out the country’s king, Abdullah II, is a hardcore Trekkie who’s investing $1.5 billion into the “Red Sea Astrarium” project, which also includes “hotels, theaters, fine dining and shopping on site as well as the chance to learn about Jordan’s history and what it’s doing in terms of harnessing green energy.”

That sounds nice, but let’s face it: I wouldn’t be writing about this if the big draw was a presentation on future environmental strategies. As a recovering “Star Trek” nerd (yes I went to a convention — just one, though!), what I want to know about is the “Star Trek” component. Time‘s article says the park will include a licensed “Trek” “space-flight adventure” that “will deliver a variety of multi-sensory futuristic experiences, culminating with a state-of-the art space-flight adventure that takes real-time immersive entertainment experiences to bold new heights.”

Sounds good to me. But one ride alone isn’t going to convince me to renew my United Federation of Planets passport and travel all the way to Jordan. If this “Star Trek” park’s going to draw geeks from all over the world, it’ll need a whole lot of cool (and by cool I mean intensely dorky) rides. Like, for example, stuff like this:

1. Captain Picard’s Phaser Funhouse
There’s a great ride at Disney’s California Adventure park called Toy Story Midway Mania! You and a friend each get a little pull-string cannon to shoot at video screens inside this giant funhouse. You wear 3D glasses and fire at various mini-games inspired by old midway entertainments: throwing darts, breaking plates, and so on. You try to rack up points and beat your partner. It’s a simple idea but the interaction between your real gun and the digital CGI is stunningly effective and surprisingly immersive. Applying similar technology to the “Star Trek” mythos seems like a no-brainer. Create a basic storyline — say, you’re Starfleet Academy recruits being tested on your skills with a weapon — give everybody a realistic-looking phaser and some 3D glasses and away we go. Instead of midway games, the ride’s themed like a shooting gallery, with pop-up Borg cut-outs to shoot at and innocent Talaxians to avoid.

2. Shuttlecraft Spaceflight
Here’s another impressive Disney attraction that feels equally tailor-made to “Star Trek” applications: Mission: Space at Epcot. The ride creates the convincing illusion of interplanetary flight by sticking guests inside a giant centrifuge disguised as a prototype spaceship. As your “shuttle” launches on a mission to Mars, the centrifuge begins to spin at incredible speed, eventually inflicting 2.5 Gs on riders (barf bags are provided in arm’s reach). A trip on the Starship Enterprise would be far too smooth and peaceful for this sort of experience, but it seems perfect for a “Star Trek” shuttlecraft, those little spaceships the crew take to land on planets or survey temporal anomalies. The “Trek” version of the ride could even adapt Mission: Space’s clever button mechanics, which instruct guests to press buttons to detach rocket boosters or activate manual flight, so that you get to play with the awesome touch-screen consoles that Data and the rest of the crew use on “The Next Generation.”

3. Space Jump Freefall
One of the most memorable scenes in J.J. Abrams’ recent “Star Trek” reboot featured Kirk, Sulu, and an ill-fated redshirt making a dangerous space jump from a shuttlecraft to a giant drilling platform hovering over the Planet Vulcan (I find this stuff easier to read, by the way, when I say it in the Comic Book Guy’s voice). Now we can’t very well throw theme park guests out of a spaceship (as much as we’d like to when they fail to keep up with the person in front of them in line). But today’s modern tech has to offer a way to approximate that experience better than, say Stuntman’s Freefall. Maybe some sort of combination of video screens and those indoor skydiving rooms?

4. Star Trek: The Experience – Klingon Encounter
This is a real but defunct attraction that was housed in the Las Vegas Hilton from 1998 to 2008, but now needs a new home. I never got to experience it myself, but it got high marks from Trekkies for its impressive recreation of iconic “Trek” elements: guests were beamed up from the Hilton to the Enterprise and then got to ride in the Turbolift and hang out on a 1-to-1 recreation of “The Next Generation” Enterprise bridge, populated by actors playing Starfleet officers (you can watch a fan’s video of the attraction on YouTube). The Vegas Hilton’s “Star Trek” experience eventually added a second attraction, a 3D ride involving the Borg, and also featured a replica of Quark’s Bar from “Deep Space Nine” I’d say they should just haul the whole thing out to Jordan, but after plans to relocate the exhibit fell through in 2009, most of the props from The Experience were sold at auction. They now live long and prosper in nerds’ basements all over the country.

5. The Trouble With Tribbles Petting Zoo
Your amusement park’s got to have something for the kids. How about a big room full of lifelike, adorable tribbles? They were specifically designed by the writers of the original ’60s “Trek” to be easy and cheap to make, so it shouldn’t be too hard to build some relatively inexpensive high-end versions complete with some basic movement mechanics and cooing sounds. Getting them to asexually reproduce on command for the tourists might be a little bit harder though.

What rides would you want to see at a “Star Trek” theme park? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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