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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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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