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May 2005

Location: Lucky in London, but currently getting down with Walt in Orlando….

I’m sitting here, reflecting on the past couple of weeks (which have been more insane than usual) and listening to the B52’s while eating a rather smashing pot-pie lunch. If you are ever in the vicinity of the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, stop by ‘The Kitchen’ for some really good grub and what I’d consider perfect ‘comfort food.’ Marie Callender ain’t got shit on this place 😉

London was productive. I was glad with the outcome of things and now feel much better about the road ahead. Life is getting back onto track and the overall game plan is seemingly working. I’m relieved, but mostly thankful: I’m very lucky to have such supportive people in my life, some of whom are reading this column right now. I can’t express it enough, but thank you again.

… and to those who don’t particularly like what I have to say: Quit reading. It doesn’t do much for your argument when you quote (and misquote) me word-for-word like some obsessed, camera-ready Mary Hart impersonator.

It’s flabbergasting how weak the US dollar is in comparison to the pound. I had some free time, so I took the tube to Knightsbridge and salivated my way through Harrods. It’s roughly a 2-to-1 ratio, which kills American tourists who want to shop. The particular shoes I was wearing were MORE than double in the UK than what I had paid back in Texas. Insane. However, I’m sure that British tourists are having a field day for shopping in the states when they come for a visit.

I noticed the many banners up and around for the Labor Party: Tony Blair is pushing hard, as he knows the people aren’t incredibly enamored of him. Blair also knows that he’s the lesser of the evils running, so he’ll probably get nod once again. Does this remind you of a certain Bush/Gore Presidential race from years ago? How depressing. God, we need better candidates…

My nights were free, so I took in two shows in the West End: Blood Brothers (an oldie, but goodie) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. While Blood Brothers was showing it’s age with a particularly weaker cast I’ve seen, Joseph was fantastic. It really made me smile, got me in a great mood and had me leaving the theatre on cloud nine. If anyone happens to be in London soon, I highly recommend heading over to TKTS in Leichester Square and snagging some inexpensive tix to see this show. It’s mindless fluff, but it’s good mindless fluff. Added, they’ve got a really cute twink in the lead who’s shirtless for most of the second act.

A good show AND eye candy? Life is good. *grin*

Other free time was spent at one of my favorite UK stops: Madame Tussauds, the finest wax museum in the world and one of the most expensive in terms of admission price. Here are some snapshots from my last jaunt there:

… and my favorite one. A little spotty perhaps? Sort of like her personality.

I’ve said it before here, but the Brits really know their stuff when it comes to public transport. The Tube is just awesome. It’s quick, cheap, convenient and it goes just about everywhere. I was stoked to find out that they’ve added handicap ramps at the Earl’s Court station.


This meant one of many things: I didn’t have to lug my luggage up those never-ending stairs to the street level. It seems they’ve added handicap accessability to some of the more crowded Tube stations. Very cool, as I’m sure it’s been helpful to many. One of the most interesting things happening to the stations is the redesign of several by famed architects. It really makes for a surprise when you head into the underground and are suddenly faced with a truly incredible work of art in front of you.

The flight home was uneventful. I’ve learned not to eat on airplanes since my whole vomiting-exorcist-experience coming back from Rio last time. I played it safe and stuck to water, trailmix and pretzels. Although, they did show an in-flight Nicholas Cage movie, so the percentage of getting sick was pretty high overall…

I think that most flyers are thankful nowadays for anything the airline throws at them. In terms of perks, they come few and far-between no matter how high on the elite totem-pole you sit. American is taking away pillows and blankets, Continental no longer serves ‘meals at mealtime,’ USAir practically asks for your firstborn at the gate for collateral and the low-cost guys are suddenly becoming the ones who dole out the extras. I’ve heard that both JetBlue and Song are fun to fly and offer many amenities that keeps people coming back. Sadly, from San Antonio, neither are a choice for me.

I can see it now: In 10 years, the in-flight meal will consist of an apple and a pocket knife being passed around the cabin… A very, very small plastic pocketknife at that.

I got back into Texas, had a night at home and then had to be back at the airport the next AM to head out to Orlando. I wasn’t in London long enough to really mess up my timetables, so I got some good rest at home and woke up ready to roll.

Orlando was rainy, which seems pretty typical for spring in central Florida. While I had some business of my plate regarding my mom, I also built in some time (albeit a short time) to visit some theme parks and get some downtime. For those ACE members out there (‘American Coaster Enthusiasms), here’s a rundown of my favorite rides and where they’re based in Orlando:

1) The Adventures of Spiderman – Universal Islands of Adventure (UIA): This could definitely be my favorite ride in Orlando and possibly the whole USA. It’s an indoor ride with the agility of a coaster, but the controlled experience of 3D imaging, fire & water effects, along with other surprises that Universal pioneered. Very shagadelic and VERY entertaining.

2)Dueling Dragons– UIA: Two side-by-side outdoor coasters, which at several times come within 6″ of hitting each other throughout the 2 minute ride. After riding both, I prefer the ‘Fire’ coaster over the ‘Ice.’ It’s faster and a bit more thrilling overall.

3)The Mummy– Universal Studios (US): Amazing technology and a true indoor coaster combined with some major fire effects. Worth the wait in line. Words of wisdom from personal experience…. Hold onto your sunglasses. It’s a wild ride.

4)The Hulk– UIA: Imagine being shot forward at 70 mph and then twisted upside down into a corkscrew. That’s how this ride starts out and it’s relentless in it’s pursuit of getting a scream. I can imagine it’d be a better ride when it’s dark out, but don’t let daytime damper your spirits.

5)The Tower of Terror– Disneyworld Magic Kingdom: Amazing. The detail in the preshow was fantastic, as well as the technology behind the whole ride. The great thing about the Tower is that you never quite get the same ride tw
ice. A random drop program makes sure that every ride is different and surprising. Make sure to take some time and notice the great detail in the hotel on the way to your elevator. From the spiderwebs on the lamps to the cracks in the walls, it’s all deliciously artful.

5)Shrek The Ride—- HA! Just kidding… it was sucktatic.

I will say that a weekend in Orlando would seriously make me rethink my want for children someday. You unfortunately see the best and worst of parents and their kids in situations like this, eventually forcing you to find anything blunt nearby and just lug it at them. Don’t get me wrong…. I like kids, but I also like the comfort of being able to give them back to their real parents when the tough gets going.

I’ll make a perfect grandparent 😉 Spoil em’ rotten. Send em’ home.

The advantage to hot Orlando weather is definitely getting to see various athletic guys in very little clothing walking around the parks. Wifebeaters seemed to be the shirt of choice (which I’ve always found to be friggin hot on a nice body), while some chose to go shirtless. Lots of well-tanned surferboys lined the park and I got more than my fair share of eyecandy in terms of defined abs and sculpted chests.

No, I didn’t beat off in a restroom at Disney. I may have wanted to, but there was just something about hearing ‘A Small World’ in the background that made it tough to keep an erection. Added, it’s not that fun walking around the Magic Kingdom with wood that makes you closely resemble an excited divining rod.

… and speaking of EYE CANDY: Enjoy this week’s selection of top-quality manmeat. I think this group of guys is an especially muscular lot. The male physique never fails to impress:

I’m beat. I’m also stuck in Orlando due to inclement weather in Houston. Argh. Looks like my upcoming trip to New Orleans may be delayed a bit, but we’ll see what happens. Until we blog again, this is Benjamin Nicholas and this has been your ‘15 Minutes’ as always. Thanks for taking the time to catch up with what’s cooking 😉

“Snozberries? Who’s ever heard of a snozberry?”