Something Smells

We find the funk in Branson, ride along with a stunt pilot and check out the STL Zoo's new species; plus, a local Gephardt gaffe

Branson wants the country's youth. Silver Dollar City, an 1800s-themed amusement park just outside of Branson, recently announced a new million-dollar kids' festival "creating funkiness at the Silver Dollar City theme park." Having no idea what all this means, Unreal phoned Silver Dollar City attractions publicist Crystal Boulware.

Unreal: What exactly does "creating funkiness" entail?

Crystal Boulware: Well, what we do is we always listen to our customers. We always want to be able to know what they want to do at the park. What we've created this year is the "Circus of Dreams" parade, which is a parade from a child's imagination. So the elephants that are in it aren't gray, and the tigers aren't the colors that they should be. But it's a ton of fun.

Bona fide funkiness
Bona fide funkiness
Funkiness, Branson-style
Funkiness, Branson-style

You say you're chasing the "Gen-X" and "Gen-Y" crowds. Which one do you think is more likely to appreciate the creation of funkiness?

I really think everybody will -- even the Baby Boomers will have a blast here. From the Xtreme Air show to Veggie Tales -- with Bob and Larry and all their friends -- it's a little bit of everything for everybody of all ages.

You have an attraction called "Ride the Ducks" where everyone who boards gets a "wacky quacker," which, apparently, is a duck bill-shape kazoo. Do you think the wacky quacker is the most efficient way to create funkiness?

The wacky quackers? That is totally a Ride the Ducks thing, and they're their own entity. You'd want to talk to [the Ride the Ducks publicist] about that.

Is it possible to create funkiness for less than $1 million, or is that how much funkiness costs?

That's what we started with. Silver Dollar City is always changing and expanding, but for this year we decided to do that, and that parade will continue to expand and grow.

After my grandpa takes his Metamucil tablets, he is said to "create funkiness." Is this the kind of funkiness you're talking about?

Um, we're just trying to make Silver Dollar City fun for the whole family. I guess I'm not really understanding that aspect of the question.

Here We Go Loop-to-Loop

Does vomit rhyme with comet? Such was the rhetorical comeback last week when Unreal was extended an offer to tag along with the stunt pilots of Fair Saint Louis.

Little did Unreal realize those words would come back to haunt. Fueled on Red Baron frozen pizza and a half-dozen Red Bull energy drinks, Unreal took to the skies with the Red Bull aircraft team. (Alas, a thunderstorm grounded our Red Baron ride.)

Note to self: Lay off the freebies prior to pulling G-force loop-to-loops in a flying pocket rocket.

As the able pilot completed aerobatic maneuvers ranked one through ten by degree of difficulty, Unreal developed an equally challenging sport: Aerobatic Retching. With apologies to the crowd assembled along the Arch grounds (that wasn't pelican poop), here's a list of some of the most challenging targets within striking distance of the St. Louis riverfront.

Busch Stadium home plate: This target is particularly vexing because one might think that points should be awarded just for landing a few chunks in the doughnut-hole hollows of Busch. Not so. After a few foul balls, Unreal was able to spray a line running from the warm-up deck through home plate and into the visiting club's bullpen. Degree of difficulty: 6.9.

Eads Bridge: Bridges have long been strategic targets of invading bombardiers. In this case the challenge is not to waste any peptic morsels on the brown swath of the Mississippi, as it can cost you points. Degree of difficulty: 4.5.

Gateway Arch: Although one might think that its sheer magnitude would make the Arch an easy target, its surface area is relatively small -- just a silver sliver among so many fatter targets. A perfect score is awarded to anyone who lands a "gateway slide," in which the barf snakes its way from the top to the bottom of the monument. Degree of difficulty: 8 to 10.

St. Louis Centre: It's white, which makes it particularly appealing to those of us who prefer a blank canvas on which to create a Jackson Pollock-style masterpiece. If you gauge the crosswinds properly, gravity will paint with puke the entire east side of the soon-to-be-foreclosed retail failure. Degree of difficulty: 5.6

Fair Saint Louis Main Stage: Unreal is a sucker for irony, so we couldn't resist the allure of heaving on a band called Saliva while they kicked out the crap rock during the fair. It ain't easy hitting a moving target, especially one banging his head so furiously, but yes, we nailed singer Josey Scott right in the noggin. He deserved it. Degree of difficulty: 9.2.

Edward Jones Dome: We were flying straight and clean, our stomachs sapped of all fluid, when we spied the monstrosity. The mere sight of the dome, which looks like a toilet bowl from way up here, caused us to pour forth with one last gush of bile. Bull's eye! Degree of difficulty: 2.9.

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