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05/06/2006: the chamois joke is best read out loud
Exactly two years ago at this time, I was at Epcot. I rode that Mission: Space ride. Came out green as a lima bean and clammy as a chamois. Horrible! I had to be led, shaking, to a place called something like "Ice Station Cola" or god-knows-what, for a cold drink and a bit of a sit-down. Didn't feel right for about eight hours. During those hours, my first development deal closed, so I felt richer. But still barfy. Better than poor and barfy, but still.
The way I understand how the ride works is that you're spinning in a centrifuge, while at the same time, being shown footage that suggests you're moving forward. Your brain is telling you two things at once… that you're whipping forward and that you're slinging to the side. Stomachs don't like it when the brain can't agree about basic stuff like this.
Other tourists expressed their dissatisfaction with the ride, too. Some went so far as to fall down dead. And to their credit, Epcot has introduced a new, milder version of the ride which eliminates the centrifuge part of the fun. This is very very cool of them, and I would actually hop on the ride again in this new version in a second – the basic adventure framework was great. Of course, others aren't as excited. Here's a quote I pulled from a news story:
"How on earth can this ride be fun without spinning?" a post on the website ThrillNetwork.com asked. "People might as well stay home and watch TV."
Well, yes. I am also a big fan of staying home and watching TV. Can't argue with that. Television, when done right, can be a thrill ride too. Look at your spec again. It might've undergone a lot of changes as you've worked and reworked it. Does it still have at least one genuinely surprising moment ? A moment that a savvy audience won't be expecting? And is the surprise motivated… in other words, not a random event or out-of-character decision, but a surprising action grounded in character? Make sure that in smoothing and fixing and punching up your script you haven't lost that moment. Hopefully it won't nauseate us, but it's okay if it jolts us a little.
By the way, I'm not blaming Disney for anything. They gave me my start, they're surely welcome to the contents of my stomach. Speaking of which:
Lunch: more of that noodle-shaped tofu. How can it be tofu when the package clearly says it's made from yams, not soybeans? Oh, wait. It's both. Soybeans and yam flour. Mystery solved.