Thursday, January 08, 2004

Dungeons & Douches
In each of our lives, there are destinations that beckon, grail-like, to the deepest parts of our psyche—places that call to us but that we do not dare to dream of actually seeing with our mortal eyes. For one soul, that destination might be the Pyramids, for another Mt. Everest, perhaps Paris in autumn or the Sistine Chapel. But C-Baby… her heart pined for one enchanted place above all others—Medieval Times.

Wait, you might think—are you talking about that restaurant with the fighting suit-of-armor overgrown Dungeons & Dragons guys? Affirmative; but it is so much more. Let’s begin…

As part of an impromptu holiday tour of California’s Southerly regions, C-Baby and I made our way down the coast—braving antique-rattling earthquakes in Morro Bay, lightning-fast highway speedsters down U.S. 101, and terrifying abandoned outlet malls in Oxnard—until we found ourselves at the end of our quest: that tourist Mecca of the West Coast, Anaheim. (After a mid-state visit with the extended WULAD Clan to partake in holiday familial festivities, we had decided to kill the twin birds of D’Land and The Grail with one stone of a two-day stop.) As we pulled into the parking lot, her eyes widened at the sight of not the small cult following she expected, but a thousand people—not only nerds, but men, women, and children of every stripe, gathered from far and wide across The Realm—waiting for entry to this magnificent spectacle of medieval cheese and death.

We managed to take a short-cut past the horrendous line—we had purchased the “Royalty Package”, after all—and as triumphant red and yellow paper crowns (constructed á la Burger King) were placed atop our heads, I surveyed the less regal souls surrounding us in their inferior blue, red, green, etc. crowns. “I can’t believe,” I remarked with pinched nose, “that they make us mix with all these commoners.” On to a quick photograph with “the Princess,” a heavily made-up tart who called me “M’Lord”—and don’t tell me she didn’t have the hots for me, as resplendent as I was in my crown—and flowed with the crowd into the large outer hall, where we viewed all manner of medieval Taiwanese merchandise available for purchase. (C-Baby decided on twin inflatable weapons sets with the intention of staging chivalrous battles among her friends.) We sidled up to Ye Olde Margarita Bar to refresh ourselves with authentic period cocktails—a Dragonslayer for the Lady, and an Executioner for myself, in authentic plastic goblets and tumblers, although we declined to splurge on the golden knight-head beer mug—and listened to our Master of Ceremonies milk the expectant crowd in his booming baritone, which was evocative in equal parts of Shakespeare In the Park and WrestleMania XVIII.

"Now, my Lords and Ladies," he bellowed, "I have heard tell that Valley High School is a meek, quiet, lot—have I been misinformed?" (Roar, roar.) And so on. Finally we were ushered into the arena, which had already begun to fill with a billowing dry-ice fog that would eventually become so thick as to cause us to doubt whether we would even be able to see the bludgeoning that would presumably be taking place under the clouds—and were seated at a long no-you-can’t-go-to-the-bathroom table and given little flags to cheer our champion. As the lights dimmed, the Robin Hood-esque soundtrack began to drown out the shouting of our Polo-shirted serf-waiters, who were attempting to explain that—in the interests of authenticity—although we would not be given silverware, a (medieval) wet-nap would be available following dinner.

The following quotes occurred during the show and its immediate aftermath:

C-Baby: Is this a medieval light show?
Waiter: Some Coke, M’Lady?
C-Baby: Our knight looks like an REO Speedwagon fan.
Me: Is that horse supposed to be drooling so much?
Her: Is this a medieval toaster strudel?
Some kid: Dude, I like, ate so much, my stomach’s full.
Me: Are those guys medieval ninjas or something?
Some old guy: He shoulda just pulled out a 9mm and capped his ass.
Some other kid: The Blue Knight rocked, until he died. And then I was sad.
Same old guy, 30 seconds later, louder: He shoulda just pulled out a 9mm, and capped his ass!
At the end of the show—after the various intrigues had been played out and the medieval ninjas defeated—the victorious knight rode his steed into the center of the arena, inexplicably holding aloft an American flag to cheers from the greasy-fingered crowd. “All hail the King of America!” said C-Baby.

We made our way towards the entrance of the nightclub (cocktails and dancing with the Knights of the Realm until the wee small hours) to meet our Red and Yellow hero—who was robbed, incidentally, by the script—and memorialize this moment. Note how tall he is.

Personally I was so won over by the experience that the following day, when we spotted Kobe Bryant and Mrs. Hotness Bryant being hustled out of It’s a Small World, I couldn’t help but unfavorably compare the star-power of that basketball and courtroom luminary to that of Sir Dies-A-Lot and the other celebrities of the Dark Ages who had so valiantly hammed it up on our behalf the previous night. “I don’t care,” said C-Baby as Mr. Trial of the Century and spouse disappeared into the Disney night, “If you cheat on that, you should go to jail.”

Whet your appetite for medieval pageantry and light shows? Watch the mini-feature here. Our knight was the French dude who I must admit does look like an REO Speedwagon fan.

Take Me Out to the WULAD, Continued
I’ve heard the rumors, and I want to go on record saying that until I see the signature of That One Dominican/Canadian Guy Who Shall Remain Nameless on a contract, I don’t believe a damn word, nor will I dare to entertain the possibility in my increasingly paranoid mind. As far as I’m concerned it’s a bunch of evil propaganda designed to falsely elevate the hopes of Mets fans before bringing them crashing to the ground, and turn what could be considered a fairly productive offseason into one which could be viewed by the fervently Yankee-biased New York sports media as a spectacular failure. So, Mets fans: plug your ears, hum “Meet the Mets” loudly, don’t read a newspaper or turn on the news, and—if I may modify an old Zen proverb—if you meet Budd Mishkin on the road, kill him.

Note: Don’t really kill him. It’s just an expression. It means don’t listen to him fill your head with a bunch of fantastic nonsense about some guy taking less money to sign with some team because he wants to be near a community of some cultural group, etc.

Also, Pete Rose is to jerks what Arnold Schoenberg is to 20th-century composers who pioneered the use of atonality and dodecaphonic composition. Later, kids!