Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blackpool is a Black Pool of Weird

When my brother graduated from high school (10 years ago. I feel so old. He probably feels older. He is older.) instead of going to the beach with his friends like everyone else does for Senior Week, he let me tag along on a trip to England to visit family.

They were living outside of Manchester, and one day took us to a place called Blackpool.

It is weird.

Wikipedia gives us these tidbits regarding the city of Blackpool:
  • In 1879, it became the first municipality in the world to have electric street lighting.
  • Documents have been found to suggest that the reason Blackpool escaped heavy damage in World War II was that Adolf Hitler had earmarked the town to remain a place of leisure after his planned invasion.
  • Blackpool has, like all of the UK, a temperate maritime climate.
  • A number of shipwrecks have occurred on the coastline of Blackpool.
I remember, and always will remember, two sites in particular.

First, I remember going up Blackpool Tower.  Blackpool Tower is a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower.  It is also almost completely rusted through.  Up to the top you go in a glass elevator, and at the top you stand on a glass floor and are able to look around.  If you look down, your view of the ground beneath you is disrupted by the strips of Duct tape that are holding the platform together.

So there's that.

The second attraction I remember is the UFO Museum.  It's no longer there, unfortunately.  But it sure was there in 2003.  
You have to pay cash because "The Man" tracks your credit card payments (which might be true, but I'm not quite that worked up about it).  Then you get the introduction from the stumpy man wearing faded navy trousers and a stained white (now yellow) shirt.  The conversation went like this (as reported by my cousin David, a genius whose memory I trust completely):

Guy: What do you get when you mix a man with a fish?
Us: A mermaid?
Guy: Merman, merman.  OK, what do you get when you mix a man with a bull?
Us: I don't know, what?
Guy: A minotaur.  OK, but what do you get when you mix an ape with a lion?
Us: I don't know, what?
Guy:  Look in the mirror.
Us: (laughing)
Guy: No, really.  Think about it...a woman doesn't have a beard...a lioness doesn't have a mane.  That's a fact.
Us: (still laughing)
Guy: Don't take my word for it, check it out for yourself.  It's all on the internet.

"Star Wars is a record of humanity's past, Battlestar Gallactica is our present, and Star Trek is a glimpse into our future."

After our riveting introduction, we walked through a tableau of equally riveting extraterrestrial scenes.  The grand finale at the end of the maze of glass cases was a scene, undoubtedly from Area 51, of your typical green, giant-eyed, saladfingered alien, asleep/dead on a surgical table, and guarded by none other than cardboard cutouts of our planet's fearless alien police force, The Men in Black.  

The curator of this fine establishment also constructed a replica of an authentic UFO that, if one felt compelled to do so, one could climb into in order to really get the full UFO Museum experience.  

So, ladies and gentlemen, that is Blackpool.  Go get it.

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