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April 13, 2007

'I'm going to... Dickens World?'


In the future that might be what the winners of the English Premiership declare when the final whistle sounds.

Long stories short: Next month — in Chatham, Kent, UK — Dickens World, a theme park expected to attract some 300,000 visitors annually, opens for business.

The grand opening was originally slated for next week Friday, April 20, 2007, but problems with the animatronic figures have delayed the ribbon-cutting by at least one month.

Here's the April 11, 2007 Telegraph's story about the new attraction.

    Expectations great for Dickens the theme park

    The river is brown and pungent, the houses are haunted and the streets teem with thieves.

    Charles Dickens's England, however, never had construction workers in hard hats and high visibility vests.

    News that the finishing touches are being applied to the £62 million theme park may be unwelcome among literary purists, but Dickens World in Chatham, Kent, is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors a year.

    The complex offers a boat ride in a London sewer, a haunted house and a reconstruction of Newgate Prison. Children can get a dose of Victorian discipline in an 1832-style school, or enjoy a play area called Fagin's Den.

    Built on the former site of the Royal Naval Dockyard, where Dickens's father worked, the centre opens on April 20.


Here's today's Kent News story about the unexpected glitches that postponed the premiere.

    Dickens World opening cancelled after 11th hour problem with animated figures

    Theme park owners have been forced to cancel the opening of their multi-million pound Dickens World.

    And the month-long delay could cost the ambitious project an estimated £400,000 in lost income.

    Operators called an emergency meeting yesterday after learning animated figures shipped in from the United States were not going to be ready in time for the proposed opening on Friday.

    It is a massive blow to the £62m project which was expected to open in time for Easter. Delays had already forced bosses to settle for next Friday April 20.

    Opening celebrations are already underway with people living around Chatham Maritime already being treated to light shows to raise awareness of the major new tourist attraction.

    But last night the plan was in tatters after the animated figures of some of Charles Dickens’ most famous characters, including the ghost of Christmas Future were found to be faulty.

    Dickens World spokeswoman Emma Johnson told the Saturday Observer: “We have taken the decision not to open next Friday as we had planned.

    “The animatronic figures are built in the United States and we are still waiting for them to be delivered.

    “We don’t want to go half-cocked — this is going to be a great theme park but we know the figures will just not be ready by Friday.”

    She said the opening would now be postponed until Friday, May 25.

    It is an embarrassment for the owners RMA Ltd headed by Kevin Christie and a blow to tourism at the Chatham Maritime site.

    Earlier this week invitations were mailed out to hundreds of journalists and camera crews urging them to come and see the site for themselves just two days before it opened to the public. That event has now been shelved too.

    The £62 million theme park was expected to draw thousands of new visitors to the area each paying £12.50 to visit the clever theme park which boasted the biggest indoor boat ride in the world.

    Staff have been recruited to man the park many trained to operate the rides and there have been several contracts with local companies to provide food and refreshment inside the venue.

    One worker, who asked not to be named, said: “This is a brilliant idea and we are all very excited but this is bit of a blow and there is a real feeling of upset among staff here.”


Those unable to visit can console themselves by visiting the Dickens World website and/or sitting down quietly with one of the great writer's books.

April 13, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

OSIM uZap Oscillating Massage Belt with TPO


From the website:

OSIM® uZap™ Oscillating Massage Belt

uZap for your tummy.


uZap for your thighs.


uZap helps you relax, soothe and energize.

As you wear the uZap oscillating massage belt, feel your muscles rhythmically flex and relax with revolutionary Twin Power Osimotion (TPO).

Perfectly balanced oscillating nodes energize and soothe muscle groups in your tummy, seat, thighs and other areas — while you read, watch TV or relax.

A soothing back massage like no other.

After a long day of work or exercise at the gym, uZap increases circulation, relieves muscle fatigue and releases stress.

Its dual massage nodes provide a deep, soothing massage to the muscles of your lower and upper back.


Built-in heat feature adds warmth to all massage programs.

Heat-only program is ideal for soothing tired back, legs and calves.


Four ventilation outlets allow quick regulation of heat for optimal performance.

Features a 10-minute auto timer.

Includes a sleek remote [below].


Try uZap today, and feel the difference!

But wait — there's more!


Perfect for athletes — both before and after workouts

uZap is perfect for athletes of all types and skill levels.

Before a workout, uZap’s dual oscillating massage nodes warm up and energize leg and core trunk muscles, getting you ready for action.

After your workout, uZap helps loosen muscles, release tension and increase circulation.

Muscular back strain from too much lifting?

Try uZap!

Whether you do strenuous physical work or sit in an office chair all day, uZap delivers a soothing, lower-back massage like no other.

Dual massage nodes work with the shape of your body to relieve tension, increase circulation and energize tired muscles.

Single-node massages just can’t offer this type of massage.

A few minutes of uZap lower-back massage can help you feel more relaxed and refreshed all day long.

Superior design: dual oscillating massager nodes

Unlike single-motor massage belts, the OSIM uZap employs perfectly balanced dual massage nodes to deliver a more invigorating massage by working on both the right and left sides of each muscle group.

Dual massage programs

Rhythmic massage program varies speed and intensity.

Manual mode lets you choose five levels of speed and intensity.

Built-in muscle-warming

The heat feature adds warmth to all massage programs.

You can also select a heat-only mode that is ideal for warming and soothing sore back, legs and calves.

Additional features:

• Sleek, easy-to-use remote.

• 10-minute auto timer.

• Four ventilation outlets allow quick regulation of heat for optimal performance.

• Free carry case [below].




Gives a whole new meaning to "shake your booty."



April 13, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

What the 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' wears when she goes clubbing


[via dixi]

April 13, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Best sign of the month


Above, it's to be found outside the Little A'Le'Inn (pronounced Little Alien), a bar and restaurant in Rachel, Nevada, along State Route 375 (below),


officially known since 1996 as the Extraterrestrial Highway.

It has more reported U.F.O. sightings than any other road in the United States, according to today's informative New York Times story by Stephen Regenold.

Rachel, Nevada is less than 10 miles from the unmarked edge of Area 51.

'Nuff sed.

Here's the Times article.

    Lonesome Highway to Another World?

    A moment before the sonic boom hit his trailer, Joerg Arnu’s UHF radio scanner crackled to life. “Cylon 1, got you on radar,” said a voice just barely perceptible through the static.

    And then — badamm-booom! — the whole trailer shook in a shockwave, and Mr. Arnu jumped, a big plexiglass window reverberating as a jet streaked overhead and through the sky.

    “That was probably an F-16,” Mr. Arnu said, peering out the window and squinting into the sun. A telephoto lens sat on a countertop nearby.

    “They’re testing a new weapon lately, and a laser system to shoot down missiles,” he said.

    From his trailer in the town of Rachel, Nev., Mr. Arnu is less than 10 miles from an unmarked military boundary, beyond which the top-secret Air Force base known as Area 51 sits on a dry salt flat guarded by big arid mountains and bleak desert on all sides.

    To the east, tracking past Rachel in two asphalt lanes, Nevada State Route 375 bisects a wide basin, coursing northbound before disappearing into a haze of nothingness beyond.

    This is Alien Country, where more U.F.O.’s are sighted each year than at any other place on the planet, at least according to Larry Friedman of the Nevada Commission on Tourism.

    A sign outside Rachel declares Nevada State Route 375 to be the Extraterrestrial Highway, the name given to the road in 1996. Renaming the road, the tourism commission had hoped at the time, would draw travelers to the austere and remote reaches of south-central Nevada, where old atomic bomb test sites, secret Defense Department airstrips and huge, sequestered tracts of military land create a marketable mystique.

    Oh, and don’t forget the flying saucers.

    “People now come all the way from Japan to see what this place is about,” Mr. Friedman said.

    Indeed, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, after a two-hour drive up from Las Vegas through the utter emptiness of Lincoln County, the first tourist I met on the Extraterrestrial Highway was from Yamaguchi Prefecture in southwest Japan.

    “We came for an alien souvenir,” said Shihgo Miyamoto, 29, who was holding his wife, Yoko, both shivering in the high-desert wind. I took their picture under an official Nevada Department of Transportation Extraterrestrial Highway sign, a sprawl of trailer homes in the background.

    “So cold, so empty,” said Mr. Miyamoto, looking to the desert beyond his rental car.

    South-Central Nevada is, by and large, a vast wasteland, scrubby and unpopulated, dotted with dry lakes, streaked with tan rocky peaks, ravines and wide alluvial plains. Government land is ubiquitous. Cattle guards rumble under tires on the barren highways, which cut through sand and open range. To drive the Extraterrestrial Highway — a route that snakes northwest for 98 empty miles, intersecting no other major roads — is to drive one of the most desolate stretches of pavement in the country. Gasoline is unavailable for its entire length. R.V.’s cannot hook up in Rachel, the only town on the road.

    According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, an average of about 200 cars drive some portion of the Extraterrestrial Highway every day, making it one of the state’s least traveled routes.


    On my midday drive up the highway in February, I saw only six other vehicles.

    Coming north from the town of Alamo, where I stayed overnight in a cabin, the Extraterrestrial Highway began as an innocuous flat road through scrubby highlands. A mile or so in, a large silver Quonset hut announced itself as the New Alien Research Center, but its driveway was gated, so I drove on by.

    The road bobbed through a Martian landscape, red valleys raked with lines, flat expanses of gravel and dead shrubs, all ringed by hulking mountains of stratified stone.

    A hawk hung high in the air. Joshua trees reached for the sun, their bristled bunches aglow, seemingly illuminated from within.

    But soon I forgot about the nature and started looking for U.F.O.’s. A sign warned of low-flying aircraft. Contrails streaked the blue yonder ahead.

    In Rachel, 40 minutes into the drive, I stopped at the Little A’Le’Inn (pronounced Little Alien), a bar and restaurant, which sells extraterrestrial-themed mixed drinks alongside self-published books like “The Area 51 & S-4 Handbook.” Its walls were covered with sun-faded photographs featuring aliens, glowing orbs and obelisks zooming through clouds.

    The bartender was polishing a glass, standing near a man slumped over a drink, when I approached to inquire about area attractions. “You should talk to Pam,” the bartender said, pointing to a woman standing near the door.

    And so I was introduced to Pam Kinsey, the first of several residents I met eager to talk about Rachel, and Area 51, and government sensors hidden in sand, and glowing dots hovering on high.

    But Ms. Kinsey, 42, who has lived in the area for almost two decades, is not herself an ardent alien believer.

    “We have a military base next door that can explain a lot of the lasers and other weird things,” she said.

    Ms. Kinsey said that only a couple of Rachel’s 75 or so residents talk about seeing saucers and little green men. The tourists — whom she confirmed come from all over the world — are often the only extraterrestrial seekers found in Rachel.

    “There are conventions held in town, and the alien people like to come here and congregate,” she said.

    (On Memorial Day weekend, May 25 to 27, the Little A’Le’Inn will play host to its sixth annual U.F.O. Friendship Campout, which includes seminars, book signings and nightly sky watches led by a “certified U.F.O. Investigator.”)

    DeWayne Davis, a 72-year-old retired Air Force engineer who came to the Little A’Le’Inn for dinner, said he has seen saucers in the area, including a glowing craft that hovered at high altitude before tracing a rectangular pattern in the night sky.

    “It was at 55,000 feet or higher,” he said. “And it emitted an orange sodium-vapor color, not the xenon glow you’d usually see.”

    Mr. Davis, who said he worked at a military installation in Roswell, N.M., during the mid-’50s, moved to central Nevada in 1997 for the clean air, the solitude and the scenery. He now lives in a trailer a couple of blocks off the Extraterrestrial Highway. The frequent sonic booms of test planes breaking the sound barrier overhead are music to his ears, he said.

    Outside the Little A’Le’Inn, I walked a few dusty blocks to take in the sights around town, including an ad hoc air-traffic control tower draped in camouflage netting.

    Jets streaked overhead, silent at high altitude, blazing west toward a setting sun.

    Before leaving the area, I drove out of town a mile to find Mr. Arnu, a 45-year-old software developer from Las Vegas who keeps a trailer parked on some land he purchased in 2003 as a retreat from the city. Mr. Arnu, a native of Germany who runs www.dreamlandresort.com, a popular Web site on Area 51, said that he files a Freedom of Information Act petition each year to procure dates and times of major military testing periods. “That’s when all the action happens,” he said.

    My visit to the area coincided with Red Flag, the name Mr. Arnu gave a period in mid-February when military exercises out of nearby Nellis Air Force Base send a proliferation of jets into the air.

    “Earlier today, I saw British Tornados, American F-22s and an Australian F-111,” said Mr. Arnu, who hikes the hills around town to photograph supersonic planes. He lives for the simulated dogfights that take place in the air above the Extraterrestrial Highway.

    Like most local people I met, Mr. Arnu thinks the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s fixation with aliens is a bit silly.

    “I’m a plane-spotter,” he said. “I have no real belief in the alien stuff.”

    Driving alone later that night, the Extraterrestrial Highway a dark winding lane in my headlights, I wasn’t sure what to think. On a mountain pass 20 minutes from town, I parked my car and shut off the engine, an inky abyss closing in from all sides.

    Stars packed the deep velour above, hundreds of thousands of humming and twinkling little jewels. A blinking red dot dipped behind a mountain in the distance.

    I waited, searching the sky.

    But nothing moved, nothing came, and I started to get cold. My red dot was just a jet, probably descending to a landing in Las Vegas 100 miles to the south.

    The desert wind howled in a valley below. It was black and cold. On the Extraterrestrial Highway, I was all alone.



April 13, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New York City Ballet's 'Romeo and Juliet' — Episode 3: Update on free ticket distribution for April 29, 2007 dress rehearsal


Above, the headline of today's (Friday, April 13, 2007) New York Times ad for the upcoming ballet's open final dress rehearsal.


You may recall that yesterday's 2:01 p.m. post here, citing Times reporter Roslyn Sulcas, reported that free ticket distribution would take place at the New York State Theater box office this coming Sunday, April 15, 2007.


That's not true.

Fair warning, then: Free ticket distribution begins on Sunday, April 22, 2007 at 9 a.m. at the New York State Theatre box office.

April 13, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Salmon Tweezers — For the cook who's got everything


No more pin bones.

From the website:

    Salmon Tweezers

    Remove those hard to see pin bones with these stainless steel tweezers.

    Their unique shape gives you the best in comfort and precision.

    5.25" Long.


Note to fashionistas: Wear yours on a necklace and people will think it's from Frank Gehry's


new line of jewelry for Tiffany.


April 13, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

corank.com — Somewhere, Thomas Bayes is smiling


From the website:


    coRank is a site where you can share whatever you find interesting on the web with people who value your opinion, and where you can also find what's interesting to people whose opinions are important to you — your sources — whether they know who you are or not.

    In coRank, your Front Page is yours only, and likely different than any other, as it is based on how the people you select react to upcoming stories and submitted websites.


Too much for my TechnoDolt™ pea brain but a snip for you.

April 13, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jonny Glow — Episode 2: Landing Strips


Back on October 22, 2006, I featured the Johnny-Light (below).


Different streams for different teams, what?

Pretty good if I do say so myself... who thought that one up?

But I digress.

Now comes a lower-tech approach to micturation-stream direction.

From the website:

    Jonny Glow Toilet Locator

    Jonny Glow is uniquely designed to "help you see where you are going" in the middle of the night.

    Once applied to your toilet, the glow-in-the-dark strips of Jonny Glow will help you to accurately use the facilities without missing.

    With Jonny Glow, trips to the bathroom can now be taken without turning on the bathroom light!

    Jonny Glow lights the rim of the toilet for use in the dark, eliminating unwanted mess.

    One of the first must-have products of the 21st century!

    Jonny Glow has been featured on the radio, in the New York Times and hailed as a funny and incredibly useful item that no home should be without.

    Top Ten Reasons To Get the Glow:

    10. Never have to feel for the bowl during a power outage!

    9. Fabulous wedding or baby shower gift!

    8. Help your guys perfect their aim!

    7. Save electricity! Who needs a bathroom light... follow the glow!

    6. Great retirement or "Over the hill" gift for friends and family!

    5. Get the kids in the game — great for night time potty training, save your Cheerio's for breakfast!

    4. No more painful bright lights necessary when you are "praying to the porcelain god!"

    3. Great Father's Day or birthday gift!

    2. Great for camping, wrap Jonny around a tree!

    1. "You won't go back to bed with two wet feet!"


    • Charges in normal light

    • 15 minutes of charging yields a 10-hour glow

    • Easy to clean

    • No batteries or electricity needed

    • Inconspicuous in normal light

    • Lets you know if the seat is up or down in total darkness.

    • Jonny Glow is the only nightlight with a lifetime guarantee to glow.

    • Jonny Glow applies quickly and easily to all types of toilets.


Jonny Glow costs $11.99.

Johnny-Light will set you back $16.99.

Of course, you could opt to trick out your W.C. to the max and install both — wouldn't that be the cat's pajamas?

If push comes to shove, I'd probably go with the Jonny Glow if only for the fact that it has its very own theme song, which you can listen to — and even sing along with, if you're as bored as you look — right here.

[via gizmodo and Shawn Lea]

April 13, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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