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7 Fantasy Camps Where You Can Live The Dream

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You might play fantasy football, but what if your fantasy is to really play football with the stars? If you've got some time and a little bit (okay, usually a lot) of cash, you can get the experience of really being on the field through a sports fantasy camp. You might not even have the requisite skills to be traded for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, but once your check clears, you can get in the game at any of these fantasy camps:

1. Hot Shots Curling Camp

Imagine curling alongside Glenn Howard. It sounds almost too good to be true, right? Wait, who's Glenn Howard? If you're one of curling's legion of passionate fans, you know. Howard, a three-time world curling champ, is just one of the celebrity instructors who can give leads, seconds, thirds, and fourths pointers on how to elevate their games at this camp. Clinic topics covered at the weekend-long camp include "Effective Brushing," "Reading the Ice," and "Matching Stones." The curling camp is offering three dates in Oakville, ON, Ottawa and Utica, NY, throughout the late summer and early fall, so you, too, can learn the finer points of curling in time for the 2010 Olympics.

2. USA Luge Lake Placid Fantasy Camp

luge-camp.jpgCurling's not the only Winter Olympic sport you can brush up on before the torch lights up in Vancouver. USA Luge is offering a fantasy camp at Lake Placid, the site of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Games, and for $2,000, you can learn how to slide down an icy run on your own. Since flying down the chute with no experience is probably incredibly dangerous, the camp breaks newbies in on start ramps in a refrigerated facility before taking on the big drops. Although it sounds a bit pricey, how many chances do you get to race down a world-class luge run? Instead of watching the Olympic luge and saying, "Wow, that looks like a lot of fun!" you'll be able to just nod your head knowingly like an ice-tested veteran.

3. Michael Jordan Flight Schools

Want to shoot hoops with His Airness? Are you at least 35 years old? Do you have $17,500 you're just dying to spend? If so, you can hit up MJ's senior camp at the Mirage Hotel in Vegas from August 15-18. For all that dough, you get to run with a team of other camp contestants in scrimmages. That might not sound all that cool, but each team gets two "elite coaches," and Jordan's not throwing the term around loosely. Last year's event boasted a coaching staff that was a veritable checklist of coaching royalty, including Dean Smith, Larry Brown, Chuck Daley, and Hubie Brown. (I counted at least dozen NCAA championship rings and a handful of NBA titles to the staff's credit.) If everything breaks just right, you might even get to take on Jordan in a game of one-on-one, and you might just beat him. In 2003, Ariel Investments CEO John Rogers pulled off the rare feat, and he's got the YouTube video to prove it.

4. Notre Dame Football Fantasy Camp

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Scores of Golden Domers have dreamed about slipping on the blue and gold to take the field in South Bend, and if you've got the cash, you can make it happen from June 17-21. Participants get four non-contact practice sessions with Notre Dame coaches, sit-downs with the coaching staff to talk about strategy and recruiting, and tours of Irish football facilities that generally aren't open to the public. The price is steep, though; a ticker in will set you back at least $5140, more if you're not a Notre Dame alum. Still, for some people it's a small price to pay to be a part of Notre Dame's glorious football tradition. (I'm assuming this camp focuses on Notre Dame's glory days, not the more recent Charlie Weis-led campaigns, if only because "Making Excuses," "Deflecting Media Questions About Your Coach's Competence," and "Wishing You'd Gone to Ohio State Instead" aren't listed as camp activities.) [Image credit: Michael & Susan Bennett.]

5. Pro Wrestling Fantasy Camp

It's easy to mock pro wrestling for being fake, but even if the outcomes of the bouts are scripted, the moves look like they take quite a bit of skill to pull off safely. The wrestling coaches at Toronto's Squared Circle Training can apparently turn any Joe off the street into, at the very least, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, though. In November 2008 the trainers ran a weekend fantasy camp that promised to teach attendees holds, rope running, match pacing, and how to cut a killer promo, all for just $150. Let's hope they also taught campers how to come up with an unstoppable gimmick to win over fans everywhere. (If not, I'll offer one can't-miss suggestion for any aspiring grapplers: a cowboy/Frankenstein hybrid.)

6. Iditarod Dog Mushing Trip

The Iditarod is one of the truly unique events in all of sports, and it's also nearly impossible for a casual fan to replicate. After all, very few of us have our own teams of sled dogs. Alaska Dog Sledding offers weeklong sled dog mushing tours for $2500, and for an extra grand you can time your trip to overlap with the Iditarod in March, which gives you the chance to see the end of the race, meet the racers and their dogs, and generally soak in the chilly Iditarod vibe. Sure, the trip isn't cheap, but compared to buying your own sled and team of dogs, it's a steal.

7. Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp

gretzky-camp.jpgThe Great One definitely gets the award for cleverest pricing plan; an admission to Gretzky's six-day camp costs $9,999, a play on the 99 he always had stitched on the back of his sweaters. Like Jordan's camp, Gretzky's offers teams of weekend warriors the opportunity to take the ice with their hero, get pointers, and play some hotly contested scrimmages. Members of the camp's winning teams get their names engraved on the Gretzky Cup, which Wayne displays at his restaurant in Toronto. (Any former champion who makes a pilgrimage to see the cup gets a free lunch.) Last year's camp included appearances from NHL stalwarts like Lindy Ruff and Bobby Hull, with all the proceeds going to Gretzky's charitable foundation, which helps provide hockey equipment for underprivileged children. For added realism, sign up for a stint at Gretzky's hockey camp while sending your wife to a fantasy sports gambling camp.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.

1. ON SCIENCE

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.

2. ON NASA FUNDING

"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles

3. ON GOD AND HURRICANES

"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole

4. ON THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY INVENTED FOR USE IN SPACE

"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles

5. ON THE DEMOTION OF PLUTO FROM PLANET STATUS 

PBS

"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

6. ON JAMES CAMERON'S TITANIC

"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole

7. ON DEATH BY ASTEROID

"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles

8. ON THE MOTIVATIONS BEHIND AMERICA'S MOONSHOT

"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit

9. ON INTELLIGENT LIFE (OR THE LACK THEREOF)

Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html
Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/n/neildegras615117.html

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."

10. PRACTICAL ADVICE IN THE EVENT OF ALIEN CONTACT 

A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.

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