2001-04-26 / Arts & Entertainment

C’est La Vie by Don Flood

C’est La Vie by Don Flood

© 2001 King Features Synd., Inc,

Roller Coaster Ride

The newest ride at King’s Dominion in Virginia rockets from zero to 80 mph in two seconds — straight up in the air — and then plunges you face forward 165 feet down.

Usually, of course, they try to give these rides terrifying names like Tornado or Cyclone or Two Minute Ride with the Really, Really Long Lines.

And those names are OK, but they need a name that will really strike fear in people — something like: The Nasdaq or The DotCom Death Spiral.

(Have you noticed how the financial advice magazines have changed their focus since the market tanked? Instead of articles like "How to Invest NOW So That You Can Retire in 15 minutes," they have "Flipping Burgers at 105 and Loving It!")

They call the new ride the HyperSonic XLC, but for a roller coaster I still like the stock market theme.

You saw those pictures of the Mir falling to earth in flames?

That wasn’t the Mir. That was my 401(k).

The difference was that the Mir had a much more controlled descent.

Speaking of the Mir, did you read that the Russians cosmonauts actually drank cognac and smoked an occasional cigarette while on board their space station?

The Russkies may have had their problems — they didn’t supply the Mir with enough duct tape — but doggone it they know how to run a space program with a little panache.

(Increase your word power tip: "panache" is an impressive-sounding word that I’m pretty sure fits in here. Try using it yourself, especially with someone who has a very limited vocabulary!)

I’m a non-smoker myself — if I had dined on the Mir I would have requested the non-smoking section — but for some perverse reason the image of these Russian cosmonauts lighting up in space appeals to me.

Imagine a Russian Humphrey Bogart up there coolly smoking his way through disasters.

"Help! We’ve got another fire!"

"Give me a minute, will ya? I’m trying to enjoy a smoke."

"Space aliens heading our way!"

"Any of ‘em bringing more cigarettes?"

For the International Space Station, they’ve probably set up a designated smoking area outside the space station — a move sure to have those Russian smokers grumbling.

Or they could do what the kids in my high school did — smoke in the bathroom.

In between classes, the smoke billowing out of the boys bathroom looked like a Saturn 5 liftoff.

If they saw this much smoke nowadays, they’d clear the building for two weeks.

Not that anyone admitted to smoking.

The vice principal, who always played the heavy in our school, would rush in saying, "Who’s smoking in here?"

Amazingly enough, the smokers were never actually in there!

Oddly, though, some of the boys appeared to have smoke emanating from all their body’s orifices — no doubt caused by secondhand smoke, which come to think of it hadn’t even been invented yet.

And that gives me another good name for a theme park ride — The Smokin’ Bathroom.

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