Thursday, April 29, 2010

NU14 Has Moved!!

Hey there. If you are looking for new NU14 updates, please visit the new, permanent URL:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Something has gone terribly wrong at NU14.

Oh noes!
Please bear with us as we get our ducks in a row. We'll be back in full force—and with full disclosure—soon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Guest Blog

Today's post is provided by my wife, as I have been commanded to have the car packed for our trip to Moab by the time she gets home, "or else..."

Pictured: Or else.
Dear devoted readers of NU14. Let me first apologize for Adam's severe lack of blogging in the last few weeks. He has been rather busy, what with getting a new job and throwing his back out while inline skating on the Wii (stories to follow soon I'm sure). So to halt the inevitable pitch fork waving mob scene that is sure to ensue if you are faced with one more day of waiting, I have agreed to provide today's post.

As today is April Fools Day, I thought that I would share with you a prank from WWII.

One of the largest scale and most expensive pranks in human history was kept secret for 50 years. The perpetrators were a team of artists in the U.S. Army, and the victim was Hitler. And what they did was more ridiculous than anything the zaniest of movie fraternities could have come up with.

After the American military landed in France after D-Day, they faced a German war machine that by this time was good and mad. Borrowing something straight out of Wile E. Coyote's playbook, they set out to baffle the Nazis with a completely separate army armed with nothing but fake inflatable tanks.

Yes, the tanks were literally inflatable.
What the Germans thought was a 30,000-man armored battalion was in fact a thousand artists (mostly art students recruited for the task) wearing fake uniforms, sending out fictional battle reports over the radio (complete with a war sound effects record playing in the background) all while trying to keep their tanks from getting knocked over by the wind.

They would then intentionally do a mediocre job of covering their tracks, so that German planes and scouts would spot them and report back about this huge army waiting at the location. The Germans had to completely rethink their battle plan each time, while the real American forces were sneaking around, causing trouble somewhere else.

How convincing were they? Well, it's thought they saved up to 30,000 allied lives purely with the power of BS. Oh, and some German units even surrendered to them. Which must have been pretty humiliating when they were marched past an armored division they could have taken out with a sharp stick.

Tune in next week when Adam will have another rousing game of "Guess that...", complete with bonus points and prizes!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Super-Awsome Find of the Week, installment 12

As a former Blockbuster employee, I fully support this message.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dumbo: A Tragedy in Three Acts, part III

Act III: Redemption?

As usually happens, time went on, and that fateful autumn day receded further and further into my past. I began to outgrow my affinity for all things Dumbo and moved forward to more important things, like elementary and (subsequently) middle school. In fact, I would dare say that at this point in my life, I had forgotten all about the heartache I had twice experienced in southern California.

There was one slight hiccup in my thought-repression, however. At the end of middle school, as was the custom at the time, all 9th graders got to take a day off from school and go to Lagoon. For the uninformed, Lagoon is an amusement park in Utah that prides itself on being the most-visited amusement park within a few hundred miles; they fail to note, of course, that it is also the only amusement park within a few hundred miles. Pride-by-default notwithstanding, "Lagoon Day" was something most 9th graders looked forward to, if only for an opportunity to rub it in the younger classmen's faces. As I had not been to Lagoon (or any other amusement park) for quite some time, I explored every nook and cranny of the park, determined to get the most out of my trip. Because, you know, that's what cool fifteen-year-olds do.

Pictured: one cool fifteen-year-old
In my exploration, I discovered something that struck an all-too-familiar chord with me: a ride whose cars spin around in a circle and can ascend/descend at the rider's will. Had I accidentally stumbled into a wormhole and been transported from Lagoon back to Disneyland? Upon closer inspection, I realized I hadn't; for you see, the cars at the Lagoon ride were helicopters, not flying elephants. While it may have offered some solace, I knew I would not only be lying to myself by riding it, but I would feel a degree of guilt—much like someone who marries a girl's younger sister when she shuts down his proposal... twice. I realized that no, this was not the time nor the place for me to settle. It was Dumbo or nothing.

Pictured: nothing
When I was in my early twenties, my father surprised me with the most interesting news I had heard in quite some time: that winter, we were going to Disneyworld. Perhaps he had had his fill of Anaheim, or perhaps he wanted his grandchildren to have the Disney experience at its fullest. Whatever the reason, a few months after the announcement, this supposed "Magic Kingdom" was the destination of my family—including my nieces and nephews, a whole new generation of younglings ready to be hewn down by the lightsaber of crushed hopes wielded by none other than Darth Disneus.

Star Wars metaphors, anyone?
Much to my surprise, Disneyworld was actually pretty fun, even as an adult. Actually, perhaps it was because I was an adult that made it so enjoyable. After all, a child wouldn't have received the same degree of enjoyment that we did after convincing the operator of Splash Mountain to break the rules and let us go twice in a row; nor would a child have found the humor in Snow White's Scary Adventures completely shutting down because our cart—full of seven fully-grown adults—weighed too much and caused a malfunction in the driving mechanism.

After we were asked to leave Snow White, we were debating what ride to visit next; while we were in mid-discussion, I glanced across the walkway and saw something whose beauty surpassed anything I had ever seen: Dumbo the Flying Elephant in all its remodeled glory. The center turning machine had been outfitted with gold beams and brass filigree. There were sixteen elephants instead of the original ten. And the best part of it all: a line of children were standing in front of it. A line meant proper operation! Nearly two decades after my original encounter, I finally reached my destination.

Or so I thought.

As I neared the ride, I realized that the line was slowly dissipating. I quickly maneuvered my way upstream through the dispersing crowd and reached the operator. His back was turned, so I desperately tried to get his attention. He was busy working on something and paid me no mind. Just as I was about to start throwing things to get him to turn around, he walked away from what he was working on. While I was racking my brain, trying to figure out exactly what was going on, he was busy posting...

...a sign announcing that Dumbo the Flying Elephant was closed for repairs.

the sign, as I remember it
Le sigh.

It has been over four years since that day, and I have yet to return to a Disney park; a man can only take so much punishment, after all. Will I ever go back? My initial thoughts were akin to "not in a million years". However, with the recent announcement of Fantasyland getting an expansion and makeover—including an entire area devoted to Dumbo—I may be forced to once-again swallow my pride and venture forth again in a few years. Perhaps the fourth time will be a charm?

It looks good, Lou. But we really need to convey the feeling of despair children are going to have...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dumbo: A Tragedy in Three Acts, part II

Act II: Despair

After I returned from the ill-fated trip, life went back to normal. That is to say, as normal as one's life can be after having one's dreams obliterated by an uncaring rodent juggernaut. My friends would ask me how my trip was, and I would respond that it was as good as could be expected. This, of course, was just a façade, put forward for appearances. In reality, the trip was anything but fine; yes, Disneyland was still fun and I had an enjoyable time, but deep on the inside, I was a broken man.

A GoogleImage search of "melodrama" brought up this picture.
As time went on, my wounds began the healing process. After a few years had passed, I had buried the incident deep down and had gone on with my life. Then, one day at school, we were discussing past American presidents and their various quirks. When we got to Harry S Truman, my first thoughts were that he was a champ; not only did he seal the deal on WWII for America, but he also was too cool for a middle name. These thoughts of adoration quickly ended, however, when I was told the following tidbit: when Truman visited Disneyland in 1957, he refused to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant because he didn't want to be seen with the main symbol of the Republican party.

What an f-hole.
Much like in the Manchurian Candidate, a few simple words had triggered a reaction in my head. Images and feelings of heartbreak and sorrow from the past filled my mind. These images were joined by a new-found disdain for the 33rd president. He had the chance—nay, the privilege—to ride Dumbo and he blew it off? Korea may have been forgivable, Mr. Truman, but not that.

For those confused about that last comment, this is an f-hole.
A few short weeks after Truman, with one single act, secured the "Worst President of All Time" position in my young mind, my mother surprised me with the best news I had heard in the past three years: that fall, we were going to Disneyland. While all my siblings were excited about the newly-built Splash Mountain—and, I'll admit, there was interest on my part as well—I knew there was only one ride that called my name. And to make matters all-the-better, we were going to visit the park for two days. Two whole days! This time, nothing could get in my way. There would be no one to stop me this time.

The cold, hard look of determination.
The air was crisp that cold, autumn morning. The cool sou'wester that frequents southern California caused the temperature to be almost perfect. And, due to Utah's habit of coinciding the fall school break with the opening weekend of the deer hunt, we were there on a Thursday, which meant the lines would be at a minimum. My parents suggested that our first stop be the aforementioned Splash Mountain. I didn't object; after all, there would be plenty of Adam/Dumbo time later.

As the day drew on, I grew more and more impatient. Finally, when the rest of the family was taking a breather after a particularly nausea-inducing spin on the Mad Tea Party, my mother agreed to escort me to Dumbo. As we walked, we saw Timothy Mouse—the ornament resting atop the center of the ride—emerge above the treeline. I started running at this point, for I was only a few feet from my destiny. Only a few feet from my white whale. Only a few feet from...

...a sign announcing that Dumbo the Flying Elephant was closed for repairs.

I was crushed. Had I really been snubbed twice by a ride that I had showed nothing but love, compassion, and ultimate devotion towards? My mom put her hand on my shoulder in an effort to console me. While I appreciated the effort, the damage had been done, and was far too deep. I sulked back to my family and back to Utah. It seemed that Dumbo would be forever out of my reach... until the fates would once again intertwine my life with my big-eared friend's, 2500 miles and 16 years later.

the sign, as I remember it
Coming up next time: a final chance at redemption...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Super-Awsome Find of the Week, installment 11

The lament of a video game villain.