Nov. 19 – Sometimes the world needs to begin its slow destruction to remind you to finish those things you always intended to do, before it’s too late. One of those things was to write about Shivering Timbers, a ride I think in the abstract is great for many reasons, yet also one that I have a long personal connection with, which had always made it hard to properly write about. Now with some more distance, I hope I finally did it justice.
More to come later. Maybe much later. But this site still isn’t dead yet. In the meantime, please enjoy my first full essay since 2012 devoted to analyzing a single ride:
Apr. 25 (2016?!?) – Hi. You’re still here? Wow, it’s been awhile. Uhh… so let’s catch up on what the hell happened to this website.
Needless to say, when I published that last update a little more than two years ago, I never thought it would take this long to do the next update. If it hadn’t been clear, I had already been having a harder and harder time motivating myself to keep the website going the way it once had been, and had spent the last two years trying to find new formats that would keep the flame alive… message boards, photo journals, capsule reviews (with lettered grading to really stoke the fires). Even the simplest updates would often take the better part of a day or two to complete (never mind the weeks that some of the more ambitious capsule reviews required), and I simply reached a point where enough was changing in my life that I couldn’t find the motivation to keep it going the way things had been. What started as weeks of procrastination turned into months, and on and on. The longer time went by, the harder it became to get into it again, and the more I knew that when I finally did make a reappearance, it would be under the heavy obligation to do some hard reckoning about the future of this website, which I was never prepared to do. And eventually, it seemed like Roller Coaster Philosophy had already died a quiet, natural death, and there would be little point in reviving it for parting words anyway.
Except for I really didn’t want all my hard work to end like that. And I’m assuming, if you’re still reading this, that you didn’t either. So, happily, I’m not here to officially announce that this is the end of Roller Coaster Philosophy (which I’m sure many had already assumed), although I’m not here to announce that this is a new beginning either. Looking at the creaky circa-2009 WordPress design I cobbled together when I barely understood html (and have now forgotten what little I did know back then), it’s clear the infrastructure of the site itself is in need of a major overhaul if it’s to keep thriving into 2016 and beyond. And frankly, I’m not sure if that’s possible, or even desirable. There’s something comforting about the way the content fits the pages like an old shoe.
But it is old, and what’s more, the review and analysis format that formed the basis of this site has gotten old too. I started it at the beginning of my college life when I was really excited by the idea of exploring these existing parks and attractions I was visiting with a level of depth and complexity that made the writing experience seem novel, even at times transgressive. But after a while, certain patterns emerged, and it began to feel less like an exploration and more like a catalog. Worse, the format was pressing me to give opinions on lots of things things I really didn’t have much of an opinion on, while the few topics I did find worth exploring in depth I was having a hard time fitting within any sort of established format. I’m no longer in school, looking and reflecting upon what already exists in the world. I’ve mostly made all the points I wanted to make by surveying the existing landscape, and I’m now much more interested in what isn’t out there. In what could be done that hasn’t been done. In what I could do in this not-very-well-defined world of “location-based entertainment” if I was ever given the chance. And now I’ve been working as a creative associate for one of the largest themed entertainment design firms for over two years now, I’ve finally had that chance!
So, with regards to Roller Coaster Philosophy, I’m not announcing the end, and I’m not announcing a new beginning either. Instead, I’m announcing the beginning of the end. As I said, this was essentially a college project (if not for course credits, at least for developing a certain state of mind), and now that I’ve moved on and landed in the career I needed to keep moving forward, the website has outgrown its original purpose. But, crucially, it’s still an unfinished project. There are things I promised I wanted to do with this site that I never got around to, and I’m going to be haunted by that until it’s finished.
What does that mean? Basically, I’ve decided to lock down Roller Coaster Philosophy to become the journal of my years when I actually studied philosophy in college and had the time and state of mind to wander the world riding and writing about roller coasters, from 2008 to 2012. Anything beyond that point in time becomes the domain of Twitter and Flickr, at least for now. It’ll give the project the closure that’s been missing all this time, and help write the full arc of that chapter of my life. And that actually means there’s quite a lot of content that’s still to come, which is why I’m not declaring this the end yet, not by a long shot.
To begin with, there’s the last of the photo journals from my 2012 travels, Hersheypark and Canada’s Wonderland, now published with links below. Then there’s the massive 2011 Asia trip which I’ve still not written a word about. That by itself will be massive, accounting for nearly 50 parks! It will probably rely mostly on the photo journal format, because that’s how I can be laziest without writing a full novel like I did for Europe 2010, and many of the details are fuzzy enough in my head by now that I really need the photos to help narrate just what the heck happened. There will probably also be a long-form essay (or three) to accompany those. And lastly, how about a throwback to a couple of honest-to-goodness, old school Ride Analyses before I ride off into the setting sun? Shivering Timbers, Magnum XL-200, and Maverick will all finally get their own in-depth boarderline-aspergers reviews, publication date unknown… but until they are, consider this site unfinished.
After that, I don’t know. Maybe the spark will be renewed and I’ll decide to start updating from 2013. I might have a few other topics I’d like to touch on. I might start a secondary site, more flexible and with a new focus, or maybe I’ll find a new place to express my thoughts somewhere offline in the real world. Most likely, the site will get locked down and preserved with an actual, proper goodbye and parting thoughts. My hosting is currently paid through to 2021, and I’ll make sure beyond then it finds a place to live out a long retirement so these pages will never disappear completely.
So I guess that’s it for now. Please enjoy this long overdue update! As always friends, thank you so much for reading. And we’ll see each other again soon, this time I promise!
Dec. 21 – Possibly the last update for this year, a photo journal reporting on Six Flags Great Adventure from 2012. It’s been a while since I’ve covered a big ol’ heavy metal coaster park, so please enjoy all 172 captioned photos in this set. Some of you may already know this through Twitter and the like, but I should probably announce it here: in October I was taken on as an intern in the content and design department at the Thinkwell Group, and I will now be staying full time as a show writer/research assistant, hopefully to work my way up to a creative director someday. Needless to say it’s been an amazing and amazingly fortunate experience, and there are so many stories I wish I could share that would make the theme park geeks reading this start to foam, if only it weren’t for the dastardly non-disclosure agreement!
Anyway, as you can imagine this job sort of sucks up a lot of my energy to want to write about theme parks in my spare time, but I still see no reason to declare this site done as long as people are okay with a photo journal trickling in every several weeks or so, maybe with the occasional written piece when there’s something I really want to share. Hersheypark and Canada’s Wonderland will probably be the next updates, so check back for reviews of more almost-new coasters.
Nov. 25 – I finally published a photo journal from my trip last year to Philadelphia. I even tried putting captions and personal thoughts with each of the photos, and did stuff like look up the names of the buildings or statues I took pictures of. Just a note, even though the photos are arranged to appear as if everything happened over the course of one day, it was actually spread over two, or else I’d have run a marathon.
This is also the first update to be broadcast from my new computer, after my trusty laptop since 2007, upon which this entire website was created, finally BSOD’ed on me last month. It was the end of an era, a pivotal turning point in life that represented an emotional roller coaster ride for me, if that coaster was manufactured by Intamin and spent the whole time broken down with me cursing at it for a while before finally deciding to move on to that sleek new B&M down the midway. That also might have something to do with why this update is so abysmally late. I think I can feel confident that the next update will come sooner, maybe.
Sep. 14 – Yep, it took me nearly two months to make a photo trip report – of Dorney Park, no less! – that’s well over a year past the actual trip date. That’s just the kinda place this site has become, apparently. I’ll save for another time the story of how, since the last update posted below, I bought a one-way plane ticket to California. Most of the activity is now happening on Twitter anyway, so follow @jkthompson72 if you haven’t already.