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07/03/06 15:38:40 - POWER! POWER!! POWER!!!

Father’s Day this year was pretty low key, as far as attention being focused on Dad goes. My family apparently decided that their presence was enough of a gift and that I should shut up because this week is about Aren. (I wasn’t completely forgotten, though. When we got home, there was a really cool pair of Nike sunglasses waiting for me – courtesy of Kurt. Thanks, Kurt!)

We spent the day at Disney’s MGM Studios Theme Park. The highlight of the day was seeing “Lights, Motors, Action”, a live auto stunt show. It was really cool, seeing all kinds of crazy car stunts performed right there in front of your eyes. The show is based around the filming of a huge car chase in a movie. In addition to watching cars peeling out with unbelievable precision all over the set and seeing some great jumps and explosions, we got to learn a few cool things about how the stunts are done. For example, we learned that the “hero” car is actually a few different cars. Most of the high-speed backwards driving is performed by a vehicle customized so that the driver is actually facing rearwards. We also learned that to provide the torque necessary for the stunts, all of the car engines were replaced by high-powered motorcycle engines and that most of the “drifting” was facilitated by modified emergency brakes that don’t lock so they can be applied and released very quickly.

The best part was when the announcer walked into the audience and said that in addition to the “normal” and “reverse” hero cars, there was a third – the “remote control” hero car. She further explained that for the next scene, she needed a volunteer to control it. She got about halfway up and chose none other than Aren!

She helped him down the stairs, and then explained that this scene involved the hero summoning his car and it coming to him via remote control – a la James Bond or Night Rider. Since the car was supposed to be radio-controlled, they couldn’t have anyone be seen in the driver’s seat, so they gave Aren what looked like an oversize r/c car controller. His first task was to just get used to the controller, so they had him “gently” push the controls forward. Suddenly the car rocketed ahead, almost hitting a piece of scenery. He then (rather quickly) backed the car back to its original position, and they told him to really cut loose. Sure enough, the car started laying rubber, coming very close to hitting some props. Soon it was spinning donuts around the parking lot. That was when we discovered that the “remote control” car was not being driven by Aren at all but by an actual stunt driver – who was in a cage attached to the far side of the car. (I don’t think that Aren quite understood that, though.)

After the show, the stunt drivers came up and signed autographs for the kids, and most of the fathers tried to discreetly (or not-so-discreetly) ask how they might get into their line of work. Sadly, they vigorously discouraged anyone from trying to practice in their own cars in order to build their resumés. Oh well, I still have my sunglasses, right? At least look cool when I drive.


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