Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Day at Channelside but a Night at the Museum

Channelside is one of the popular places in the Tampa Bay area and boasts of the Florida Aquarium and the IMAX theater, which is located within a courtyard area. The courtyard, accessible via a tunnel-like passage way, is surrounded by stores, eateries, and a bowling alley, Splitsville, on three of its sides. The remaining side admits an unobstructed view of the Cruise ship terminal beyond. So while relaxing at the many tables that rim the courtyard area, visitors can view the departure of cruise ships, transiting ever slowly through the channel out of the Tampa Port Area and into the Bay proper for their onward journey to many Caribbean and other destinations.

We have never been inside the Florida Aquarium, with its flashy animated display of quick-stepping penguins at its entrance. But the courtyard is no stranger to us, the most recent visit being to watch Happy Feet. But this time we arrived early, with about two hours to kill before the evening screening of Night at the Museum. Shown here is the biggest bowling bin in the world (really, that's the small print below Splitsville that you couldn't read), extending beyond the upper floor level and towering over an obviously over-matched bowling ball by its side. The IMAX theater is located on the upper level.

Having exhausted the stores to window-shop, we (actually the wandering party excluded me as I for one do not fancy expending the leg work in that manner but more importantly, I could not put down the book that I was reading: Blowback by Brad Thor, who has the plot thickens by the pages) bought some ice-creams to share, and planted ourselves on the chairs surrounding one of the many tables spread around the courtyard, while watching the cruise ship sail by one by one. After the ice cream feast was over, the siblings continued with their discussion of the Chinese song offering from the IPOD while those in the party who are more chronologically challenged lazed around, affording me some opportunities for executing several Kodak moment-like photo-shoots.

Then it was time for our date with IMAX. Initially our search for the 3D goggles turned out abortive, only then did we realize that the advert says Come and Enjoy the Movie on the BIG Screen, but the 3D part was purely our own leap of imagination.

Night at the Museum, is about the museum exhibits coming to life at night, due to the magic power bestowed by a golden tablet, which dates back to the days of King Pharoh of Egypt but was a recent archeological find. The museum exhibits included Theodore Roosevelt (played by the redoubtable Robin Williams), the 26th US President, or rather his waxen look-alike; Lewis and Clark, the famed explorers; a Roman Legion led by Octavius; a posse of cowboys led by a maverick played by Owen Wilson, the last two being cast as tiny people (think Lilliputian); Attila the Hun and his cohorts; some Cavemen; and Christopher Columbus, which concludes the human exhibits.

Then there are the non-human and animal exhibits: a Moai, which is a stone statue carved from compressed volcanic ash now located along the coastline of Easter Island (but in the movie it can mumble “dumb dumb”, “gum gum” and “run run”); a horde of wild animals including Dexter, the primate that managed to steal the limelight from the human actors in several scenes; and a skeletal dinosaur that responds to the dog name, Rexie (from T. Rex, get it?).

But the movie actually revolves around the father-and-son theme in which the father tries to live up to the son’s expectations as being a symbol of stability, respect, and one the son can stand tall with in front of his peers and friends.

You see, Larry Daley, played by Ben Stiller, is a divorcee and in between jobs. And Nicky is his ten-year old son, whose disappointment with his father’s inability to be gainfully employed was starting to slide into the proverbial bottomless abyss. Then Larry landed a job as a night guard at the Museum of Natural History and with that came the last chance for him to salvage his last remaining vestige of respect that his son so desperately clings to.

Through all the ensuing actions, starting with Larry bringing Nicky to work one night, which I shall not bore you with, or rather spoil the fun of, Larry was able to take command, which he has so often in his life relinquished, and showed Theodore Roosevelt what he was made of when an earlier prodding using the famous adage ‘Some men are born great; some have greatness thrust upon them” did not seem to work.

Suffice here to say that it has a happy, one that warms the heart of a father, ending. The movie did not win the highest box office last weekend for nothing. I strongly urge you to watch it with your children, on an IMAX if there is one nearby. Perhaps some of the enhanced appeal of the movie could have been due to the unique cinematic effect only an IMAX can deliver.

The last business of the day was a dinner at the Carrabba’s Restaurant along Dale Mabry Highway. Perhaps it was the carry-over effect from the movie, the nearly one-hour wait did not dampen our spirits, though I did close my eyes for a brief period to tide over some of the fatigue that had started to creep in.

It was our second visit to the restaurant, except for CY and Dan. I ordered Pasta Carrabba, my wife Pasta Rambo, Dan a pizza, CY another Pasta dish, CE Lasagna, and WT, a bowl of spicy chicken soup (don’t ask my why). But the bread condiment was fabulous. The portions were big and so the three ladies had to box their remaining portions.

I hit the sack soon upon arrival at home, which explained why there was no blog yesterday.


CY said...

That movie was pretty darn funny; I like to relive the part where he and the monkey are having a slapping match. Haha!!! And Dan already has a place in mind to return to when he goes back to Tampa: Channelside, at night! He's excited about the nightlife there. Also... Is there anyway you can post the pictures online, like on Snapfish, or send them to me? I would like to have them! :D

CY said...

Oh, yeah...and did you manage to get your hands on your own copy of Blowback? I finished it, and it was really good! Now I'm interested in learning about ancient warfare and how radical Islam came about.

Say Lee said...

Actually I've forgotten about the book in the throes of having to go back to work.

Now it's slowly coming back and I will check out my local library.

I will talk to Mei about the pictures or I will downsize them to email them to you as long as you don't need them to print.

CY said...

Well there will probably be some I would like to print... Actually why don't you just have May upload them to Snapfish? Then no resizing is needed, and I can print whichever ones I want. :D

Say Lee said...

OK. Will talk to May, if she is not too busy. Come to think of it, she does have a 3-day weekend, Monday being Martin Luther King Day.