Fish Are Really, Really Fun!
Previous Article - X-Entertainment - Next Article --- By Matt - 7/29/'02

Continuing on, one of the most fascinating exhibits, in my eyes, was a dome-shaped tank full of jellyfish. Not sure why, they just looked neat. I remember being terrified of the dead jellyfish on the shores of Jersey as a kid, till I saw other children picking 'em up to play frisbee. After that, I fell in love. Of course, the love doesn't extend to live jellyfish - one of the reasons I haven't been in an ocean in over 350 years.

Some jellies are pretty deadly, too. The Portuguese Man-of-war, one of the largest species, carries toxins strong enough to injure us severely. It's something to think about the next time you consider wearing one as a hat. Man-of-wars aren't just one animal either, rather a colony of hundreds who all do particular jobs. So basically, if you piss off a Man-of-war, you're agitating a whole troop of jellyfish. It's never a good idea.

Here's another cool one - a deep-sea isopod, which is basically like a giant underwater pillbug. They're fairly large and scary looking, but there's no reason to have nightmares since they generally only eat decaying plants and sunflower seeds. They also had a tank full of nautilus - shelled sea creatures who've remained mostly unchanged since prehistoric times. Freaky looking fuckers - like giant, tentacled snails with big spooky eyes. I couldn't take a picture, sorry. After trying to make the flash work properly three times, I noticed a small 'no flash photography' sign right above the tank. Then I turned to see one of the aquarium staffers staring at me with hatred in his eyes and a bayonet in his hands. Nautilus aren't worth that much trouble.

The gift shop sure has changed a lot since I went as a child. I remember the most extravagant thing there in the older days being a dolphin necklace made of pewter. Now? You could probably buy gold bars and small islands shaped like lobsters if you looked around hard enough. They had everything - plush dolls, themed soaps, books, videos, decorative home fountains, a full clothing line, puppets, stickers, jewelry, old Star Trek collectibles, chandeliers, art supplies, Lipton soup, James Lipton, Tons of Lips...everything. Course, they were selling glow-in-the-dark rubber squid, so I don't see the point in offering all that other crap. You know everyone's gonna go for the squid.

I mean, who is going to go into an aquarium gift shop and drop 200-1000 dollars on a crystal statue? It's just not the right target demographic here. People with that much money who are nuts enough to spend immense amounts of dough on crystal fish statues are likely the type who've already bought their own mobile home underwater bubble submarine so they can watch game shows on the ocean floor.

Fortunately, they also stock just the right amount of cheap useless shit to keep the rest of us happy. Notably, shark masks. A bargain at 5.95, the only downside to this impressive costumewear is how many kids end up buying them, wearing them around the park, and knocking into my groin twice as much as usual. Whatever happened to good ol' twelve-inch rubber whales? They never hurt anyone.

I thought it'd be nice to show you a few pictures of the aquarium's large octopus. But ten thousand people were standing in front of it. So, here's a picture of a model octopus tentacle. Enjoy.

The big thing at the aquarium is the daily dolphin & seal show. Admittedly, it was pretty cool. They taught a seal and a dolphin to do people things! People things...from seals and dolphins! The dolphin got top billing and went on last, but the seal really stole the show. Nobody expected such theatrics from it. By the time the dolphin finally came on, everyone was completely gassed from the seal. Poor Flipper could do nothing short of jumping through rings of fire to get applause from us. I bet the seal asked for a raise after the show. I pity that dolphin. Nobody, nobody should have to hit their life peak at age 12.

Argh. I wish I was a poet. Then I could just pull out a little marble notebook and jot down clever lyrics every time something went awry.

Hooray for heads, they make me pleased
Especially bald ones, especially with fleas

That's pretty much it from the aquarium. Don't pay attention to my complaints - unless you're willing to drive down to a Sea World, this has gotta be one of the best around. Now, we skip right across the street (literally) to Astroland Park, Coney Island's famous beachfront amusement pier. I have nothing terribly important to share about the place - it might have a storied history, but doesn't offer much that every other boardwalk amusement pier does. Except maybe rats. It's just a bunch of beach restaurants, video arcades, kiddie rides, and the occasional drunken panhandler. But it's got character, so nobody ever tore it down.

Picture the carnival from The Lost Boys, and that's Astroland in a nutshell. Only you'll have to ghettoize all the 80s new wave kids. And instead of vampires, you're terrorized by fat guys peddling stolen stereo equipment at half the price.

There's the Cyclone, which does indeed look like a scary ride. We didn't have enough money to go on, but we did overhear someone say 'boy, was that scary!' as they walked off. That's proof enough for me. Well that, and the dozens of steel pillars being held together with yellow garbage ties.

On the flipside, this year the coaster celebrates it's 75th anniversary. 75 years, and still not one urban legend about a kid getting scalped while riding it. Can Six Flags say that? I don't think so. Long live the Cyclone. And while we're at it - long live Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers! Made with real cheddar!

Long live real cheddar!

The Pokemon Water Balloon Race. Sadly, the prizes were just generic scary looking clown dolls. It was still fun to see, though. They look like Pokemon with bullet wounds, and we never get to see that shit represented on the show. Only in Coney Island. I'd call it a utopia if it wasn't so god damned filthy.

I'm not sure what you won by playing their Skeeball games, there wasn't any prizes or attendants around. Maybe it was just for the thrill of getting over a hundred points? That's gotta be worth a quarter. I was happy to see that this variety of Skeeball didn't include the two extra 100-point rings at the upper left and right corners. Those are the real killers - you always end up shooting for 'em even though over the course of written history, nobody's ever successfully gotten a ball through those holes on purpose. It just doesn't happen. They're purely cosmetic. Avoid them.

Do any of you guys have the Dante's Inferno ride in your amusement parks? This is the fourth of fifth place I've seen one of the things. The ultimate classic horror ride, which is to say, completely not scary. Watch your heart skip a beat when you're thrown into a room with an animatronic ogre puppet who spews blood into a toxic waste barrel. May God favor your soul as you're whisked away to a world where sporadic laser light shows are intended to inspire terror. The spookiest stuff about Dante's Inferno rides are how they're decorated on the outside - the inclusion of the 30' yellow devil is something that's haunted me for at least fifteen years. This particular version of the ride went the extra mile - check out what they've got hanging off their 30' yellow devil:

Gotta feel bad for the kids on the baby bumper cars a mere five feet away from that thing.

I think we've finished up, I've got no great climax to this story. Maybe I should've introduced a running gag where I'm trying to steal sturgeon from the aquarium to sacrifice for the Dante's Inferno Demon. At least we'd have some kinda continuity. As it stands now, I can't help but feel like there's something missing, like I still owe you something. If that's the case, here's my penance: a steamy hot gallery of Alyssa Milano. Enjoy yourselves!

- Matt
Note: If you've sent me mail in the past two weeks, chances are I didn't get it. Feel free to resend it by using the link below.
E-mail me!
Instant Messager: xecharchar

Only on UGO: If you liked this look at an aquarium, you might like my review of the zoo!