Sunday, September 12, 2004

Toyota "Put It In Play" Event

Yesterday we went to Toyota's "Put It In Play" event at US Cellular field in Chicago. We arrived at noon, uh, because that's when we were registered for. Parking was free, which was nice. But there was no one there! We walked up to registration, there was no line. We entered, and there were no lines at any of the events either. We walked around and got a feel for how the events worked, and then we picked one...

"Red Light Green Light": Yep, just liked the game you used to play when you were a kid. We each got into a Toyota Matrix (automatic) and waited on the starting line for the lights down the track to turn green. When they did, we mashed the gas and kept an eye on the lights as we accellerated. The lights turned red and we all hit the brakes as hard as we could. The last one to stop had to skip a turn, so we wanted to stop ASAP! Then, the lights would turn green again, and we'd all continue down the track as fast as possible. In total, we stopped about 4 times until someone crossed the finish line. From there we were all given our ranking and we headed back to the starting line to get our cards punched (for points). On the way back there was a few turns where we got to see why they put the Matrix on a straight-lined course. It took turns rather sloppy, and the seating felt more like a minivan then a sports car. I wasn't impressed. The accelleration wasn't great either, but it stopped quickly enough. Hint: Left foot brake, and when you're at a stop rev the engine a little so you can accelerate quicker when the light turns green. I beat Ed in this competition. Twice. ;-)

"Capture The Flag": This game required a team of two plus a "Pro driver" and involved a Toyota Corolla. First you or your partner take the wheel and you line up at your home base. The team you are racing against takes their place at their "Home Base" at the other end of the oval course. On "Go" you drive around a circle track that contains a short slolum on both straight-aways. In the your opponent's "Home Base" is a post with 3 flags on it. The driver stops at the post, and whoever's in the back seat hops out and grabs a flag. When they get back in the car (and get their seat belt back on) you take off again back to your "Home Base". There, you switch places as fast as you can. When everyone's back in (and has their seat belt on) you start back around again. For the third lap, the "Pro driver" takes the wheel while you hold on tight. The last flag is picked up, and whoever makes it back to their "Home Base" first wins more points. The problems I had with this event: The Corolla doesn't handle well at all. It was really sloppy around turns -I have no idea why they used this car in this event. Other problems: Auto locking doors made the process of jumping out of the car and grabbing the flag slow and frustrating. Hint: Anything you can do to unlock the doors and put your seatbelt on faster in this game helps.

"Relay Race": You need a team of 3 for this game, which is annoying because most people came to this event with one other person. Since there was no one there, one of the course workers took the place of the 3rd person in our group. Once again you're in a Corolla, and you are paired with a "Pro driver". One of the team members starts, on "Go" they drive an oval course much like the one for "Capture The Flag", but the pro is sitting next to you as you drive. Our "Pro" kept telling Ed to slow down (?). When you get back to the start, you hop out and tag a team member. All 3 team members drive the course with the "Pro" in the passenger seat. When the third person completes the course, they tag any team member and then all three of you pile into the car with the "Pro" at the wheel for one more trip around the course "the right way". Pro driver or not, this car feels sloppy. It's not impressive at all. I'm not sure they'll be selling any Corollas at this event...

"Vehicular Dodgeball": This time you are issued a Celica, and then you line up at the start. On "Go" you drive as fast as you can through a oval course with one short slolum. The first part of the course is fast, there are three huge "Dodge Balls" (beach balls) laying (stationary) on the course. It's kinda set up like a slolum, but you don't have to turn. Not too challenging, but you can go fast, so it's cool. Then there's a U-shaped turn, a short slolum, and then two air-filled red balls that are suspended from strings. These balls are supposed to move, I guess, but they weren't moving when I drove past. The result: They just stood there in the middle of the course, no way for me to avoid them. I hit one, but they didn't count it against me -I'm not sure if that was a mistake on their part or not. The last part of the course is a tight, irregular U-shape and you have to take it slow. There is a short straight-away (about 20 feet long) where people on the side-lines can throw water-soaked, baseball-sized "dodgeballs" at you. If you get hit by any of the balls on the course, of if someone on the sideline hits the target painted on the door of the car with a "dodgeball" you lose. If you get through cleanly and don't make a complete stop on the course, you get 20 points. I did this event twice. The Celicas handle MUCH better in turns than the Corollas. Once again, these were automatics, but the second time I used the "M mode" which is to the left of the "Drive" in the gear shifter. At first I thought this would be "Manual Mode" like Mazda's cars at "Rev-It-Up", but it's not. You don't actually get to shift the car in this mode, it's just faster. Much faster. It really took off! I was impressed! It was kinda jerky though, I wish I had more time to get used to it. Before we used this mod, Ed asked the course worker how this worked, but the guy had no idea. My beefs with this event were with staff and layout, not with the car. The whole point of this event is to sell cars, so wouldn't you think the workers should have a full working knowledge of the cars they're working with? Also, the layout was cheezy. Their website touts this "Vehicular Dodgeball" as THE event -there's a commercial where a girl's driving like she's taking her driving test for her license when all of a sudden dodgeballs start pelting the car. She looks scared, and after a little while she stops. The instructor sitting next to her just shakes his head and says "I don't think you're quite ready yet. There were no dodgeballs! There were non-moving car-sized beach balls, 2 big red balloons suspended on string, and water-soaked squishy balls being thrown at you for about 1/20th of the course... I don't know, man... Not what I was expecting. :-(

Other Events: Um, kareoke... Select your (least) favorite tune from the early 80's and sing your heart out. You get points for it, but damn! There was a Toyota Quiz thing. And Musical Chairs. Yeah, real lame. There was non-points activities too. Hoola-hoops, big beach balls, teather ball, skee-ball, and food. $1 for a can of pop. We bought two. It was hot.

If you're pre-registered they told us we could jump the line once for each event. There was no need. We never saw a line. Hideous 80's music was played the whole time we were there and made the event seem that much cheezier. All-in-all I'm glad we went. We both ended up with enough points for T-shirts, and I learned that Celicas aren't bad little cars. I also learned that I should never waste my time looking at a Corolla or Matrix. Would I go again next year? Probably not. Most of it was just corny. I think Toyota should take a look at Mazda's Rev-It-Up Event and bring out their more impressive cars next time. (Leave the Corolla and Matrix on the side-lines!) Also, make the course either more fun or more challenging. Lastly, play some more modern music. I paid $40 to go to Rev-It-Up this summer, and I'll gladly pay to go again next year. This free event will be skipped, however.

Friday, September 10, 2004

What was that?

So I'm driving down Ogden calculating how long it'll take me to get to the auto repair place when something barely in the field of my view interrupts my brain's processor. The shape reminded me of a house, but my mind said that it couldn't be a house, it was directly above me on the interstate overpass! I looked at it again -directly this time, so I could see more than just a shape. Sure enough -it was a house. My brain tried to explain it to my eyes -it was on a trailer, surely. Even though the trailer wasn't visable -the house was moving. It's not like I haven't seen these before, but I laughed anyway. It caught me by suprise.

It was quite funny at the time.

Movie Review- Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle

I see a lot of movies. This is my first review. We'll see if I stick with this or not.

Movie: Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.
Grade: B-
Summary: Harold is an overworked, shy Asian 20-something. Kumar is his best friend -he's under pressure from his father to become a doctor. The weekend comes, and both relax with the help of a little herb. A White Castle commercial comes on and they decide the only thing that will satisfy their muchies is White Castles. The quest begins!

There's a love interest, danger at every turn, potty jokes, and they make fun of every race imaginable along the way.

The Good:
It's... unique. There's some unexpected and original humor in there. There's no doubt that I laughed. It was definitely a funny movie! If you're in the mood for mindless humor, this will definitely work.

The Bad:
It was a little far fetched. I guess that was the point of the movie, I know... Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this movie tonight. (I really wanted to go see "Garden State".) There's no doubt that this movie would be GREAT if you were high. I wasn't. I was tired mostly.

Closing Remarks:
It was better than your average "brain dead" comedy. It was original and unapologetic, definitely not a cookie-cutter movie. I liked that. Just make sure you're in the mood for this kind of comedy -you'll definitely get some laughs out of this one!.