The Enchanted Forest, Hope Valley, RI
This Enchanted Forest apparently wasn’t enchanting enough. It opened in 1971 and had a fairy tale theme, including Humpty Dumpty, the shoe house that belonged to the Little Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, and the House that Jack Built. It used to have a big petting zoo, too, along with your typical theme park rides like bumper cars and a merry-go-round. It closed in 2005 and, although for sale, seems to still be sitting empty.
Picture from News Channel 10 via the Enchanted Forest Preservation Society
Chippewa Lake Park, Chippewa Lake, Ohio
Chippewa Lake Park is exactly what you would expect an abandoned amusement park to look like – old, wooden skeletons of structures with trees and overgrowth and nature taking ownership of the land again. It was in operation for 100 years – from 1878 to 1978. The first modern roller coaster was installed in the 1920s and was called the Big Dipper; you can still see the remnants of the old gal (old fella?) today.
In 1968, this theme park based on the Li’l Abner comic strip opened up on Highway 7 in Arkansas. It was a huge hit at first – in fact, a sister ski resort called Marble Falls was opened in 1972. By 1979, Dogpatch had more expenses than income and they were being sued by at least two people who had been injured at the park. The owner of the park announced that negotiations were going on to sell the park to a private group who wanted to convert the land into a biblical amusement park, but that ended up falling through. Nevertheless, a new owner stepped in and made some park improvements, including new rides, corporate sponsorships and superhero appearances. This wasn’t enough to save the park – after a few seasons of resurgence, the park again began to lose money. It didn’t help that Li’l Abner had gone out of print by this time – kids didn’t know who Li’l Abner was. They tried dropping the Li’l Abner theme so they wouldn’t have to pay money for licensing the characters, but, once again, this tactic failed. The park closed for good in 1993.
Picture from Arkansas Traveler's fascinating Dogpatch page
Enchanted Forest, Maryland
Fans of the movie Cry-Baby will recognize this park – part of the Johnny Depp flick was filmed there. It opened just a month after Disneyland on August 15, 1955, and had lots of nursery rhyme-type rides . It also had some rather bizarre attractions, such as a ride to Mount Vesivius, which was a big slide… so I guess the children sliding down were trying to escape the fiery inferno of Pompeii? Slightly morbid. But people must have liked it, because the park entertained more than 300,000 people during the height of its popularity. It was closed for good in 1997, but in 2003, a society was formed to try to preserve the park. Most of the attractions were still just sitting quietly behind nothing more than a chain link fence, so the idea of reviving it isn’t a total lost cause.
Picture from Clark's Elioak Farm
Hamel’s Amusement Park
This particular amusement park definitely wasn’t the biggest, but it was pretty beloved in the state of Louisiana. It did pretty well in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but in the early ‘90s, a tornado ripped through the park and literally bent their famous ferris wheel in half. It never really did recover – after that, it was mostly just used as a place to hold a monthly arts and crafts fair. It closed for good in 1999. Lots of the buildings are still there, though, and you can apparently see the log ride from a nearby bridge.
Picture from Haunted Louisiana
Jake Parker of Agent44 Blog didn't just wonder about what Lightning McQueen, the hero of the 2006 movie Cars by Disney and Pixar would looke like on a dissection table ... he actually drew one out!
Link - thanks kinomozg!
My old college roommate had a firm belief that if you wait long enough, science will solve all your problems for you. And he may be right: scientists have discovered factors that may help your body turn fat straight into muscles!
Although we all wish we had a little less of it, fat is essential for managing our energy balance and helping to regulate body temperature.
But there are two distinct types of fat tissue: white 'bad' fat acts as an energy store whereas brown 'good' fat, which largely disappears by adulthood, also helps in burning calories to generate body heat, which is crucial to keep babies warm.
Now one team has shown how to promote the manufacture of "good" brown fat, so we can burn more calories, while a second team, also working nearby on the US east coast in Boston, has shown how brown fat and muscle are linked, suggesting ways to interconvert the two. Both offer a new strategy to fight flab.
What are you doing for your next vacation? If you're loaded, may I suggest the $1 million vacation travel package (and that you take a great traveling companion with you. Who? Oh, say, someone like me!):
Here's some of what you get with the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi's Million Dollar Package:
• Chauffeur driven Maybach at your disposal daily during your stay in Abu Dhabi
• Daily spa treatment in the Anantara Spa
• Day trip in private jet to Iran to create your own Persian carpet from the most exclusive and well-renowned hand-maker
• Day trip in private jet to the Dead Sea Jordan to experience the famous sea and an afternoon Anantara spa treatment in the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar
• Day trip to Bahrain in private jet for a pearl deep sea experience. Your pearl will then be hand designed with jewellery settings
More on Wall Street Journal's The Wealth Report
Like many 16-year old teenagers, Blake Peebles dreams of being a professional video game player. That's not unusual. What's different here is that Blake's parents actually let him quit school (he's still homeschooled) to focus on a career as a pro gamer.
Matt Ehlers of The News & Observer has the story:
Inside his upstairs bedroom, Blake's environment is set up specifically to make him a better gamer. There is a PlayStation 2, a Nintendo Wii and an Xbox 360. He also has a stack of plastic guitars, but no real ones. Blake doesn't play an actual guitar, a skill that doesn't really transfer to playing the virtual kind, anyway.
The frame for his bed is on the back porch, with the box springs and mattress on the bedroom floor. That puts his bed at a more comfortable level for sitting to play "Guitar Hero III" for extended periods. At the moment, he plays just a few hours a day, but that number will increase as the California competition nears.
Blake seems happy with his home school arrangement, as you would expect from a teenager who is allowed to stay up into the wee hours to play video games. Sometimes, when Mike heads to the gym before 5 a.m., his son is still playing video games. Blake calls it working "the late shift."
He didn't enjoy school, he says, and especially didn't like the rules associated with attending the Christian academy. Shaggy hair is more his style.
He's good at video games. "I wasn't really good at anything else that I liked."
(Photo: Corey Lowenstein)
Ah, the Olympics: the intense competition, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and ... a butt pinch by Hitler? If you are sick and tired of the greatest moments in the Olympic Games sort of stories, this Neatorama list is for you. Here are the 5 Dubious Moments in Olympics History:
1. Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards, Ski Jump
No, despite all predictions, Eddie the Eagle didn't crash [YouTube Link]
If, at 5 feet 8 inches and 181 lb, Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards looked more like a construction worker than an world class athlete, that's because he was one. The then 25-year-old plasterer from Cheltenham, England, was the only British applicant for the 1988 Winter Olympics ski jumping competition in Calgary, so he was accepted. This was even more remarkable when you realize that there was no ski jumps in Britain at the time.
Almost immediately upon arriving in Calgary, things started to go wrong for Eddie: his plane landed late and his bag ripped open on the airport carousel, so he had to jump on and chase his pants. Then it got worse:
By the time he arrived at Calgary, he had been given the ironic soubriquet Eddie the Eagle (critics suggested that the Briton, who was 20lb heavier than the average ski jumper, flew like a brick). He was widely expected to wind up in traction rather than on the medallists' podium. But first, he had to get out of the airport without major injury. For a few minutes, it seemed unlikely that he would. "As we were walking to the arrivals lounge, I saw a huge sign saying, 'Welcome to Calgary, Eddie the Eagle.' I said: 'Who's that for?' And somebody replied: 'You, you twerp.' So I walked towards it. It was 2.30 in the morning and the automatic doors had been turned off, so I walked into the glass and my skis bounced off the doors." And he says he doesn't want slapstick. "That's when I got the nickname Mr Magoo." (Source)
Olympics purists were also appalled that Eddie was making a mockery of their sport. True to form, Eddie the Eagle's thick glasses fogged up so much as he wobbly jumped that he couldn't see. Needless to say, he landed dead last (though he didn't crash).
Eddie's warm demeanor, fun personality, and, let's face it, lack of success, made him a darling to the press and to people around the world. So he became a legend:
"They said I was afraid of heights. But I was doing 60 jumps a day then, which is hardly something someone who was afraid of heights would do." But he was afraid of jumping? "Of course I was. There was always a chance that my next jump would be my last. A big chance." (Source)
Afterwards, the Olympics committee instituted the "Eddie the Eagle rule," stipulating that athletes must place in the top 30% or be in the top 50 to qualify for the games.
Nevertheless, it was Eddie's moment in the sun:
The high point of Eddie’s career was when the President of the Games gave his closing speech. He said: ‘at this Olympic Games some competitors have won gold and some have broken records, and one has even flown like an eagle.’ At that moment, 100,000 people in the stadium got up and roared ‘Eddie, Eddie.’ It was the first time in the history of the Games that an individual athlete had been mentioned in the closing speech. (Source)
2. Jamaican National Bobsled Team, Bobsleigh
The Jamaican National Bosled Team, however, did crash [YouTube Link]
The 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada also saw another great example of guts over glory in the Jamaican National Bobsled Team.
Now, the whole thing got started when two Americans, Mayor of Warrenton, Virginia, George B. Fitch and his business partner William Maloney noticed that pushcart derby in Jamaica looked very similar to bobsled (technically called bobsleigh). So they decided to persuade the Jamaicans to train for the winter Olympics.
At first, they tried to recruit Olympic-class sprinters, but there were no takers ... but the Jamaican military was game! The first members of the Jamaican National Bobsled Team were soldiers. They started practicing on push carts and makeshift sleds on the flat concrete floor at a military base in Kingston.
The epic struggle of the Jamaican bobsledders (they crashed spectacularly in the third heat of the four man bobsleigh event) won the hearts of viewers worldwide. Their courage, determination, tenacity and sheer what-in-the-world-were-they-thinking-bobsledding-in-Jamaica even landed them a movie deal: the Jamaican National Bobsled Team were immortalized in the 1993 Disney comedy Cool Runnings.
The Jamaican National Bobsled Team actually improved dramatically afterwards. In 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, they placed ahead of the US, Russian, French, and Italian teams!
3. Philip Boit, Cross-Country Skiing
In 1996, Nike decided on a sports experiment / PR stunt - it would pay for two Kenyan long distance runners, Philip Kimely Boit and Henry Bitok, to train in cross-country skiing for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The two Kenyans have never skiied before in their lives - heck, they've never even seen snow until they arrived in Finland to train.
Bitok never qualified for the race, but Boit did. He cross-country skiied in the 10-kilometer classic in Nagano ... and came in dead last. The awards ceremony for the race had to be delayed because the winner, Norwegian cross-country skier and legend in the sport Bjørn Dæhlie, insisted on waiting 20 minutes for Boit to cross the finish line so he could cheer Boit on!
Boit's participation in the Winter Olympics was controversial - many people accused Nike of exploiting the Kenyans and making a mockery of the sport. Boit, however, was determined to ski and even when Nike dropped its sponsorship, he continued to train on dry land in Kenya. He qualified for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and finished ahead of 3 competitors in a sprint race. (Image: BBC)
4. Eric "The Eel" Moussambani, Dog Paddle ... er, Swimming
In an effort to encourage athletes from developing countries to compete, some swimmers were invited to perform even though they never qualified. One of those athletes was Eric Moussambani from Equitorial Guinea.
Eric, who later earned the nickname "The Eel" after his epic performance, learned to swim just a few months before the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In fact, he had never seen an Olympic-size swimming pool before in his life (he practiced swimming at a hotel's pool, one of the only two pools in the entire country).
When his two other competitors were disqualified for a false start, Eric swam all by himself. Technically, he dog paddled:
Moussambani would plough a lonely lane for his finest 1mins 52.7sec, though it felt like an hour. Equatorial Guinea’s aquatic answer to Eddie the Eagle - Eric the Eel - churned the lane in which Ian Thorpe had raced to a silver medal in 1min 45sec over double the distance the day before.
At first, the crowd clapped politely. But the mood turned upon Moussambani’s turn, for here was a man with an Olympic courage bigger than Thorpe’s feet. Confusion reigned for a moment - was he facing up or down, and did he know himself? A sense of relief washed over the pool as the man from Molabu surfaced to take a breath.
The largely Australian crowd - nearly every man, woman and child probably capable of swimming faster than Moussambani - warmed to the occasion and lifeguards stood by poised to plunge in for the rescue as the swimmer’s stroke shortened, and his legs sank from the surface. With a final desperate lunge, Moussambani was safe. It would be some while before he could get dry; an hour after clambering shattered on to the deck, he had still not made it through the gauntlet of cameras, microphones and media. (Source)
Later, Eric the Eel said, "The last 15 meters were very dificult."
5. Helen Stephens and the Butt Pinch by Hitler
As promised. here's the story of the Hitler butt pinch:
Photo via octopusmagnificens blog
Eighteen-year-old Helen Stephens, nicknamed "Fulton Flash" after her birthplace of Fulton, Missouri, ran in the 100 m dash in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin ... and won.
As was the custom at the time, Stephens made the obligatory visit to Hitler's box after winning gold. In his Complete Book of the Summer Olympics, David Wallechinsky wrote:
She offered a firm handshake (Americans didn't give the Nazi salute), but Hitler offered a firm grope. "He gets ahold of my fanny," the Fulton Flash said, "and he begins to squeeze and pinch and hug me up, and he said, 'You're a true Aryan type. You should be running for Germany.'"
Then Hitler laid on the big offer: a weekend at his retreat in Berchtesgaden. She turned him down. (Source)
Side note: At the Olympics, Helen Stephens beat the reigning champ, Stanislawa Walasiewicz of Poland and there were accusations that Helen was actually a man. After a genital inspection proved otherwise, the matter was dropped.
Walasiewicz, who subsequently changed her name to Stella Walsh was killed in an armed robbery many decades later. In an ironic twist of fate, the autopsy showed that she actually had male genitalia (though she had both XX and XY pair of chromosomes). From that point on, she was often referred to as "Stella the Fella."
Where did the nerd originate, both as a word an individual and, possibly, a species? What were the original societal perceptions of the nerd? How have these changed over the decades? Enter the world of the nerd and discover for yourself this fascinating and light hearted illustrated history of the origin of the species. Darwin, eat your heart out.
Link -via the Presurfer
(image credit: bayat)
For the past 110 years, a colony of snails has managed to crawl unnoticed from an imported stone balustrade brought from Italy in the 1890s, to claim a piece of British territory up to the terrace of the house just 27m (88ft) away.
A National Trust volunteer spotted the snails while cleaning some statues in the garden. It was the first time that anyone had realised that the Mediterranean mollusc had managed to establish a bridgehead into Britain – at the dizzy pace of about 25cm a year.
The snails are tiny, only about a centimeter in length. Link -via Digg
Mr. Grass at Watching Grass Grow ("The Most Boring Website in the World") trained a webcam on a nest of finches and recorded their progress as they tended their babies. The story is chronicled in a series of pictures. Warning: not all the finches made it. Link -Thanks, Jon!
Today's collaboration with the What is it? Blog brings us this strange object. As you can see, it's a driving instruction of sorts - but what is it specifically for?
Place your guess in the comment section - no prize this week, you're playing for fame and glory. For more clues and guessing game fun, check out the What is it? blog.Update 8/24/08 - The answer is: Pre-satellite navigation driving instructions, according to the owner these devices were used by substitute bus drivers. Congratulations to Blakesta who got it right (or as close to it) first!
It's Imperial Fleet Week! I could've sworn I posted this last week, but looked and found that I was mistaken. Check out this video by Mike Horn of an alternate reality in which the Emperor runs earth, including San Francisco. -Thanks, RyeBokeh!