First of all...
That said, it took me six fucking hours and more than 15 tries to upload the crappy pictures I have to offer you today. Argh. Add to that the decided lack of good monster/slasher/gore/horror flicks on the tube, my advancing illness (as well as Hubster's), and the coffee I spilled down the front of my clean jammies, and you have the makings for a truly memorable Halloween.
Today's picture show is all about our foray into Universal Studios, where they still make a lot of movies (they were actually filming some new Terminator thing and an episode of Scrubs when we were there), as well as a blurb about our incredible luck in outrunning the SoCal firestorm.
If you'll recall, I left you with my declaration of spotting smoke in the sky. Well, I did indeed. Very close smoke, to be more accurate. It turns out we left Poway one day ahead of the fires roaring through that part of the state. It saddens me immensely to see such natural beauty wiped out so quickly. Keep in mind that Universal, Disneyland, and the other places we were at are in Orange County, where a few of the fires were caused by arson. All in all, a horrible tragedy. It also made the air very dense and tasting of smoke, not to mention raising the temperature quite a bit above normal. It's a good thing I have to ride scooters around the parks now, or I would never have it made it through the remainder of the trip.
We began the second half of our vacation at the Hilton Universal City, which is a gorgeous, luxurious hotel right next to the studio. Our room overlooked the pool, spa, and Highway 101. Nevermind. My eye was on the spa and pool. The first night, though, we did nothing other than eat room service, watch TV, knit (me), snore (him), and try to get to bed early enough to get to the studio early the next day.
We took a taxi next door because it's up a rather steep hill - you can see this incredible set of escalators running down the side of what looks like a sports arena (their meaning will become clear soon). Upon exiting the taxi, we were faced with this:
I love the Art Deco architecture of the gates and entryway. By the way, those are pictures of Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface on the gates advertising their annual Halloween Horror Tram and haunted house thing. Of course, it was just on the weekends and Halloween, none of which would see us there. That little booth to the front right of the gates is the ticket booth. What you DON'T see are the prices to get in. We got the "Front of Line" passes, which cost us $100. EACH. That's right - $200 just for the privilege of walking in a special line so we could get on the rides early. Had I known how few rides there were, I never would have let Hubster buy them. In order to get the really good tour (where you could go on closed sets, meet stars, blah blah blah), you had to fork over $200 EACH. I don't think so. Universal makes some primo movies, but fuck me if I'll pay that kind of money for tickets anywhere. Unless it's Stitches West.
Once you enter those hallowed gates, you see this:
It's actually pretty neat and a fine example of bronze work. It's also nice and cool on a hot day.
So we wandered through the studio, took the standard studio tour (which does take you right next to the Psycho house and the Bates Motel - it didn't go that close when I went there as a kid, but how did we know that they would still make Psycho movies?; however, the tour still featured some of the same tired exhibits they had there 35 years ago), and then we went into some of the shows. There really weren't that many of interest; in fact, some of them were shut down due to filming or renovation. Here's me escaping the wrath of the Terminator or his enemies or something - I hate those movies:
I think they need a larger backdrop.
Here's a picture from the upper level looking down on the backlot (hence the escalators - they get you around all the different levels). In the distance are some of the other studios in the area (Warner Bros., Disney, Sony, etc.).
Here is yours truly pretending to be a Foley artist (I was banging on an empty plastic jug attached to a 55 gallon drum to make the sound of footsteps made by a really big monkey):
Hubster and I decided to go on the couple of rides they had. Here's what looks like the enormous Jurassic Park ride (or at least the front of it):
In reality, it's a very short, very tranquil (until the last 10 seconds or so) ride with a minimal drop. Bear in mind that it's a flume ride, and I expected a flume more like the one that Splash Mountain has. Nope. Most of it was inside a building. Actually, it sucked, but I like hokey. I guess I was expecting a lot more from a movie studio. Making things look real is their business, after all. There was also a Mummy ride, which was the worst roller coaster I've ever been on (and this from someone who hates roller coasters).
Last but not least is my Blond Love God posing next to some poor tourist who bought the $200 tickets and then found out he had nothing left to buy food or drink with.
We did go through a haunted house (which is the first time I've gone through such a thing since I was in high school; clowns, dolls, and haunted houses/dark rides scare the shit out of me) where Leatherface came after us with his chain saw, a mummy fell out of the wall and scared Hubster, and the worst part was walking through a bunch of plastic-wrapped bodies hanging from meat hooks (that one really scared the crap out of me). Then it was back to the hotel, where I insisted on going down to the pool/spa. Unfortunately, there were people down there, so I had to swim in my shorts and tank top (wheezing all the way - I was already sick), but as soon as they left, off came the clothes and into the spa I went. Hubster went into the hotel to get me some jammies and some broad walked by, took one look at my floating fun bags, and decided that she didn't want any part of the spa or it's hyper-chlorinated water (or me). She took off in the other direction rather quickly and rudely, not even returning my cheery (albeit wheezy) "Good Evening!".
Now I feel like a giant dog turd again from sitting up so long, so it's back to the Monster to knit some more (or pass out, whichever comes first). I'll do my best to post tomorrow, but I'm really hoping to get some sleep. It's in short supply these days.
Be well, dear readers.