austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Our favourite little engine

Come to Funan the IT Mall today was a Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends show. I arrived as it started and whilst poking around the various stores and deciding whether I needed Tiger enough to pay for it, caught various bits. The premise was that the mall was Thomas's newest station, and they had little bits of a generic small-town train station set up on stage. Leading things was an exceedingly British fellow, the Station Manager we may know as Tim, so I hit the Monty Python moment early and never lost it. The lone passenger was a pleasant woman named Miss Laura. Hanging about for some reason was an Isambard Brunel impersonator. I couldn't hear his name or specific role, but he seemed quite concerned about his pocket watch.

Tim wanted early on to impress upon the kids the importance of cheering only at appropriate moments, and asked the crowd, ``We wouldn't want to interrupt Thomas, would we?'' to which not a single person answered anything. (The answer Tim wanted was ``No,'' and after modest coaching he got it.) Tickets for a ride on Thomas were awarded to kids who answered questions; Tim had to remind them to ``raise your hands only after I've asked the question.'' Tim wouldn't refer to any of the kids as prize-winners, but instead as ``guest relations,'' a term he also applied to those who wanted to take a picture with Thomas after the show.

During the show the station manager we might call Tim spent a lot of his time wandering onto the cardboard tracks set up for Thomas to later ride. Granted there's not much space on a mall-setting stage, but it was amusing both he and Brunel danced happily on the tracks, even when Thomas arrived, while Miss Laura quite wisely stayed away. You'd think a station manager and a great 19th century engineer/industrialist would know better.

Thomas's appearance was limited to spraying out a little steam, rolling forward the six feet on the `tracks', and then having his eyes rotate back and forth while the rest sang a song of love. At the end he shot confetti out of his smokestack. There was also a little miniature train ride, no tracks and no obvious means of motion, several floors up (outside the AppleCentre), with a miniature pagoda and a few people waiting to ride.

Trivia: The original X-15 specification was for a plane capable of reaching Mach 6.6 or an altitude of 250,000 feet on a flight. Source: X-15 Research Results, Wendell H Stillwell, NASA SP-60.

Currently Reading: Quest for the White Witch, Tanith Lee. I never know what's going on in a Tanith Lee book, but I always enjoy the experience.


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