Saturday, April 30, 2016

Once Upon a Time in STORYLAND...

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived an adventure team who dreamt of a grand holiday in Storyland.  Combining their life savings, amounting exactly to one hill of beans (albeit magic), they discovered they had just enough for the railroad fare from their humble village.  And so they packed their meager belongings for the long passage north.

Never having ridden a proper locomotive, they thought the
train ride would be the most harrowing part of their journey...

That is until they came under the attack of a not-so-reluctant dragon!

Filled to the brim with immersive attractions based on history's most beloved fairy tales, Rotary Storyland (nestled in the verdure of Fresno's Roeding Park) is every child's dream come true.  So child-centric is it, that some well-intentioned locals advised us to bypass Storyland in favor of more sophisticated diversions.

They'd obviously never met the wacky tacky adventure team!

Built in 1962, Storyland, is the kiddy pool to the "deep end" that is Rotary Playland (1955).  Directly adjacent to Storyland,  Playland is a contemporary of its decidedly-overwrought neighbor to the south, Disneyland.  Within its gates, it appears that park goers can ride carnival-style rides in a lakeside setting, but as we whizzed by on the train we were barely afforded a view of Playand's many wonders.

We did, however, manage to catch a glimpse of an amazing drinking fountain where to hydrate
is to defy death; for a cool sip one must stick one's head inside the mouth of a man-eating lion!

And pictures simply do not do justice to the radiant colors being applied to the whirlybird helicopters.

As Playland was not yet open for the season, we stuck to our original plan and continued on our trek to to Storyland.  Acting the big shot, I strutted up to the ticket booth and placed my order for four adult tickets.  Imagine my confusion when the charming attendant inquired if there were any actual children in our party.  When I answered in the negative, she indicated that Storyland is closed to adults unaccompanied by minors.  Thankfully, our respectful protestations - accompanied by the flashing of a wacky tacky business card - resulted in VIP entrance to the park!

It quickly became evident that we were indeed
quite a bit larger than Storyland's typical clientele.

Large though we may be, our all-access pass revealed some of Storyland's most well-kept and, dare I say, dirty, little secrets.

Example: Humpty Dumpty didn't fall...he was pushed
Example: One word - "extensions"

Example: In spite of what Alice will tell you, eating this will not make you smaller.

Example: Little Miss Muffet was a curd thief and whey rustler; even the tuffet
belonged to Mr. Spider (Storyland's most respected cottage cheese magnate).

Example: Goldilocks was in serious cahoots with the three Baby Bear has two mommies.

Example: There was no hill to fall down; Jack and Jill were plastered.   

Example: Little Boy Blue was under the haystack but he wasn't alone...and they weren't sleeping.

Example: It is the witches, in fact, who get stitches.

Example: Hansel & Gretel were fools - every fairy tale cottage comes complete with an escape hatch.

Example: There was no house of straw...
There was no Big, Bad Wolf...
The Three little Pigs were guilty of perpetrating Storyland's biggest insurance fraud.
Example: The Gingerbread Man is totally catchable.

Example: Little Red Riding Hood was notorious for sampling the forest's many varieties of mushrooms.
The subsequent hallucinatory episodes included wolves, grandmothers, and...
Imaginary tea parties.

Example: After the foreclosure, Sleeping Beauty's Castle
was auctioned off to a new owner not of royal lineage but... 

To The Beverly Hillbillies.

Example: No matter how hard you try, the house is not edible.
Trust me.

Example: It's easy to get swept away in the fantasy but...
There would be no princes that day...
When all we had was a bunch of horny toads!!!

Example: Dorothy did not miss the Scarecrow most of all.
She left him to farm beets with his equally-brainless kin.

The best thing I learned at Rotary Storyland is that my family is much more funner than what your family is!!!

Even after the Mary-Go-Round...

broke down.

And we always live "Happily Ever After."

So when do we get our own show?!?!!

Rotary Storyland & Playland
(Inside Roeding Park)
890 W Belmont Ave
Fresno, CA


Mr. Tiny

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Chow Time: Four Clowns at a PANCAKE CIRCUS!

I finally understand the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry rooted so deeply in the '90s hip hop community.  Fundamentally, I'm pretty sure that it's about breakfast food.

Obviously, the East Coast is the undefeated champion when it comes to streamlined chrome diners, all night joints where one can unashamedly order a kitchen-sink omelette just as easily at four in the afternoon as four in the morning.  Where the West wins is corny coffee shops - Googie-style affairs with kooky rooflines and even kookier theming.

Pancake Circus (1960) - Sacramento, CA

To visit Sacramento is to learn that Pancake Circus is the Tupac of themed coffee shops.  Seriously, when told that the kitchen would not make her pancakes in the form of Tupac's famous West Coast hand sign, Mary requested that they at least arrange her bacon in the shape of a "W."

The kitchen, the counter, and some of Pancake Circus' OGs.

Waiting for our meal to arrive, we engaged in all the usual coffee shop shenanigans - shooting the paper wrapping off our straws, loosening the lids on the pepper shakers, playing the rims of our water glasses etc.  It wasn't until we began balancing spoons on the ends of our noses, that I realized what was happening; at Pancake Circus, we were the circus.  The spoons were little more than large rubber balls and we were the seals.  Here, the two-dimensional animal cutouts watched as we, trapped in our naugahyde cages, wildly tore into the food delivered by our keepers/servers.

See what I mean?!

He's an animal!

Stalking her country potatoes like big cat! 

To distract myself from the startling realization that we could easily be mistaken for circus animals (and to rethink my questionable comparison of Pancake Circus to Tupac Shakur), I decided to take some pictures...

Under the lights of the BIG TOP!

If clowns (paintings, plushies, porcelain dolls, parachuters) are not your thing, then I still say go to Pancake Circus!  Think of it as phobia therapy.

Because these people are not clowning around!!!

Or are they?

Mind if we drop in?

", thanks!'

My favorite part of the Pancake Circus went unnoticed by nearly every other diner in the restaurant;
it's that accordion-style partition (above) that closes not in a straight line but in a swoosh!

I love my family.
I love this photo.
I also love the incredible walls, slightly obscured by the elephant
cutout; the matchstick mosaic is studded with tiger-eye glass tiles. 

Prior to running away with the Pancake Circus, we met an older couple in town who told us that going there would be a waste of time.  "Oh...there," said the wife, "It used to be cool."  I tried to maintain my composure but inside I was shouting, "No duh, lady."  I mean, it doesn't often happen that bastions of mid-century morning mealtime dramatically improve with age yet it remains our duty to support them!  Sure, the edges are worn, the finishes are dulled, and the clowns are many.  But as the old saying goes, "Circus breakfast is the most important meal of the day."

If not the animals, then we definitely left feeling like the
clowns; and that still makes Pancake Circus pretty cool...

Even after hours!

Pancake Circus
2101 Broadway
Sacramento, CA


Mr. Tiny