Omnibus Book Tour

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

FTL Photos

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Press Event at Dana Centre, 10/17/06

Finally, after my return from my London trip, I'm finding the time to properly blog some photos and my reflections on the Fairground: Thrill Laboratory events. I may repeat some things I blogged in my earlier posts.

Bright and early on my first full day in London, I went to a press event at the Dana Centre. The Miami Trip ride was our guest of honor for the first few nights, and members of the press vied for the chance to ride it while wearing the telemetry rig.

Here's Brendan Walker, the creator of the event, holding the telemetry jacket for a reporter.

The reporter being "kitted out". The jacket contained monitors for heart and breathing rates, and an accelorometer to measure g-forces, as well as various Wi-Fi and Bluetooth widgets to transmit the signal to the audience.

Now she's wearing the helmet, with its tiny infra-red camera pointed at her face. This allows the audience to see to see facial expressions of the test subjects.

Here she is, no doubt feeling a bit Bridget Jones, on the ride.

When we were nearly finished, this tabloid twerp finally got his chance to ride, after whining that there were very few other passengers left to ride with him, so his photos would look bad. I got the distinct impression that he was one of the runts of the press litter, and was used to being last in line -- and was not the sort to take that gracefully.

Here's Brendan with the press officer for the Science Museum, Lauren Gildersleve.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rode the London Eye yesterday!

The trick to getting pictures of yourself when you are travelling alone is, look around for couples who are taking snaps of each other, and ask, "Would you like a picture of the two of you together?" They'll gladly take your picture if you offer first to take theirs.

Gorgeous, isn't it? What an engineering feat. I hope it's there forever.

Here's one of the capsules. They are self-righting, and use a mechanical system to keep upright, rather than using gravity, like most Ferris Wheels. During the early tests, a couple of the capsules locked, and British Airways had to delay opening day (New Year's, 2000) until everything was operational.

If it can be said to have a theme, it's civil avation. I guess calling your ride on a great wheel a "flight" and your ticket a "boarding pass" would qualify as theming...

The drive wheels. This is the same principle as any fairground "Big Eli" wheel, just on a much grander scale.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Press event this morning at the Dana Centre in London. We're getting ready for the first of six "Fairground: Thrill Laboratory" events.

The Dana Centre from the front.

This is one of the production assistants in the monitoring rig. It includes a camera to record facial expressions, and numerous physiological monitors.

Here's the ride for this evening, a Miami Trip.

Here's a nice shot of Brendan Walker, the organizer of the events, looking very MST3K in his red jumpsuit. He had custom patches made with the "Fairground: Thrill Laboratory" logo.

Brendan tells me he filmed some video at a funfair in this outfit, and there a gaggle of children pestered and teased him. One of them came up and quietly uttered the tagline to an advert which features nerds, geeks and boffins in funny glasses, "You should have gone to SpecSavers!" Cheeky!

More soon.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Now it can be told...

I've held off announcing this until I was certain it was going to happen, but now since I have my passport and plane ticket in hand, I can finally tell everyone... I'm traveling to London in October to speak at the Dana Centre, an offshoot of the Science Museum.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the end of October and beginning of November, the courtyard at the Dana Centre will be converted to a combination of fairground and laboratory of thrilling experiences. Visitors will be invited to ride one of three fairground rides -- the sideways-spinning Miami Trip, the looping Booster and the spook house dark ride Ghost Train -- while video, audio and physiological data transmitted from the riders will be viewed by the audience and commented on by a panel of experts, including a space flight surgeon and a criminologist.

My job will be to sit in the ride control booth and present a brief history of each of the rides, complete with low-tech cardboard models and diagrams, and then to introduce the poor guy who will take the first ride. The two of us will join the other panelists inside afterwards.

In addition to this speaking engagement, I'm looking forward to making a couple side trips. I will definitely go to Sheffield to visit the National Fairground Archives, and I'll probably scurry off to the Netherlands for a few days to visit De Efteling, which is considered by many in the industry to be the most beautiful theme park in the world.

I am excited beyond measure. I have been waiting for someone to pay me to yak about amusement park rides for years!

More information about the Dana Centre.

More information about the event (PDF).

Buy my book and see what the fuss is about.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Went APE

I had a great time at APE. Didn't sell much, but got to meet a lot of people whose art I respect, like John Marr (of the zine Murder Can Be Fun) and Jaime Zollars (a great artist who also does the blog Paper Forest).

Here's my merchandise, which didn't sell all that well.

You know what sold well there? Zombies.

The place was lousy with zombie-related products. Zombie comics, zombie t-shirts, zombie stickers, zombie plush toys... I actually saw a zombie sock monkey at one table.

And boobies. Boobies always sell.

I decided next year, I'm gonna make a totally cynical zine about an undead stripper named "Zomboobie!"

Then there are the weirdos. San Francisco has a lot of them. One guy returned repeatedly to a cookbook on our table that had spicy recipes "for Hungry Banditos." He kept pointing to that part of the cover and asking, "So, this is for... banditos?" (He bought two copies. He must know some banditos.)

Another guy said, totally out of the blue, "The one good thing that came out of Hitler was that white people learned a lesson." Then he paused, looked up at me, realized I was a white person and added, "No offense!"

A third guy asked me if I had anything with characters in it. I had no idea what he was talking about, so I said, "What kind of characters?" He replied, "Oh, you know, marketable characters, like the kind you could make toys out of to sell at Hot Topic."

Okay, that last one was more cheesy than weird, but I should have tried to sell him on the image of myself on my business cards, which show me as a portly carnival barker -- "Oh yes, portly carnival barkers are the big thing in Japan these days!"

And then there were TIKIS!

Went with friends to San Francisco's fabled Tonga Room tiki bar. Located in a posh hotel, it's a perfectly preserved example of 1950s exotica. There was a band playing in a boat that moved back and forth in a lake in the middle of the room, and every twenty minutes or so, an indoor thunderstorm would break. Oh, the gods must have been angered by all the celly-bratin'!

Did I mention that those were virgin drinks? I'm just high on life. And tikis. Oh, and by the way, that's not a Hawaiian shirt I have on, it's a "How-Ah-Ya?" shirt from the New Orleans Jazz Festival. The pattern is red beans and rice, and it has bean-shaped buttons. Oh, I am a goofy man.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Going APE

I will be at the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on April 8th and 9th. Booth #610 -- I'm sharing the table with Microcosm Publishing.