Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Spirituality: Astrotheology: Jesus the Sun of God

Once upon a time, an angel visited the Virgin Mary and asked her to accept the Holy Spirit and be impregnated by God; and so, Jesus was conceived of a virgin and God. When the time of birth neared, Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem and on December 25th, Jesus was born. His birth was announced by a star in the east which three kings followed to the place of his birth to bring him gifts and adore him.

When Jesus turned twelve he began teaching in the temple. He eventually acquired twelve disciples and roamed around teaching and performing miracles. As an adult he was captured by the Romans and crucified. He died on the cross and was placed in a tomb where he stayed for three days, then was resurrected and ascended into heaven.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus and Christianity are represented by the symbol of the fish. Moses is likewise represented by the ram in the Old Testament. This is evident through the Jewish tradition of blowing the ram’s horn. So what we have here is a bare-bones look at the life of Jesus and the acknowledgment that he followed Moses as the central figure of Judea-Christian religions. Fair enough?

I am not writing this to argue whether or not Jesus existed. What I am going to tell you is how the details of his life are a fabrication, modeled entirely on older religions which are actually stories detailing the movement of the stars. Jesus was indeed the Sun of God, as were many before him.

First of all, let us take a look at the zodiac. The zodiac is a calendar that represents the sun, the solstices, the equinoxes, and the twelve months of the year. Each month is represented by a constellation such as Aquarius who brings water in the spring or Virgo who represents the harvest in the fall. In addition to representing individual months, the signs of the zodiac also represent different ages. Ages occur approximately every 2150 years and are determined by the procession of the equinoxes, meaning that every 2150 years, the morning of the spring equinox occurs under a different constellation of the zodiac calendar. This is due to an angular wobble in the earth’s rotation.

If we look at the ages as they have passed through history, we can see that from 4300-2150 BC, earth was experiencing the age of Taurus the Bull. From 2150 BC-1 AD, it was the age of the Aries the Ram. We already discussed the idea that Moses is represented by the symbol of the ram. Do you remember when Moses descended from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and found that his followers had constructed a golden calf? He becomes enraged, right? It seems reasonable that the Ram would be a little ticked off that his people were still honoring the Bull. If we take it a step further we find that the next age is the age of Pisces the Fish which lasts from 1 AD-2150 AD. Pisces, the fish, is the symbol of Jesus. The twelve disciples of Jesus are also representative of the twelve months of the year and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Now let us take a closer look at the details of the life of Jesus. The birth of Jesus is heralded by a star in the east which three kings followed to find him. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky on December 24th. On this night, Sirius falls directly in line with the three stars in Orion’s Belt which are called the Three Kings. If you draw a line, through the Three Kings and Sirius down to the horizon, you will be pointing directly to the point at which the sun rises on December 25th. Therefore, Three Kings follow the star in the east to the place of the birth of the Sun.

So why was this an important enough date to be immortalized by an elaborate story, told and retold throughout history? There is another interesting phenomenon that occurs at this time of year. As the seasons progress, the sun, as visible from the northern hemisphere, proceeds south across the horizon. This occurs gradually over a period of six months until December 22nd. On this day, the sun stops moving perceptively to the south and appears to stay in place for a period of three days before beginning its journey back. For these three days of immobility, the sun is located directly beneath the Southern Cross. Therefore, the sun dies on the cross and is dead for three days before being resurrected and ascending into the heavens.

This would have been very important to the ancient people of the world because it heralded the gradual lengthening of the days and the symbolic winning of the light over darkness. We celebrate this event at Easter because Easter occurs at the Spring Equinox, the time of year when day is finally longer then night.

The story of Jesus is based on the story of sun gods that stretch all the way back through recorded history. The Egyptians had Horace, who was the Son of God, born of a virgin on December 25th, was dead for three days and was resurrected. In addition to the Egyptians, the Greeks, Romans and Indians all had figures in their beliefs that followed this same archetype. So either history has been repeating itself with eerie specificity or humanity has simply found new ways to relate the same story. The purpose of which was to remember an important movement in the heavens.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spirituality: Exploring the Concept of God

I have given a great deal of thought recently to religion and spirituality. As a former Christian, I have the benefit of knowing a great deal about the foundation and morals contained within the Christian religion; however, I have never felt comfortable with the concept of an omnipotent higher power.

I believe that religion serves an important purpose in society. Historically as well as modernly, religion creates community, gives people hope, and promotes morality. Unfortunately, it also promotes mob mentality, an inability to think for yourself, and war. I am talking in extremes here. I’m not saying that everyone who believes in God is a stupid sheep bent on killing those who don’t agree with them, but more people have died in religious wars than for any other cause and many Christians that I have spoken to do not understand the purpose or basis for their own beliefs.

In my opinion, finding religion should be a very personal spiritual journey that is about finding out both who you are, and who you are not. I find that many Christians, and assumedly other religions, have not done much in the way of self discovery regarding their beliefs. They believe because they were raised to believe but not because of any personal connection with their doctrine and condone their ignorance with blind faith.

I would encourage anyone to investigate their beliefs. Whether this means deep introspection or theological study, it is important that you fully understand where your loyalties lay and why you believe what you say you believe. The Christians believe that Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge. Because of this, we lost our innocence. We learned the difference between right and wrong and we developed a questioning mind capable of higher thought and understanding. As a result, it is our duty to utilize these skills to make the understanding of our place in the universe a constant learning experience.

Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Agnostic, the consideration of a higher power has entered your life at some point. One of the most profound questions that man asks himself and the universe is, “Where did we come from?” Humans have bantered about this unfathomable conundrum for countless centuries. From the first person who looked up at the stars and wondered what they were to the most devote holy man today, we are forever contemplating this question of infinity. Whether from a Big Bang or a benevolent hand, there is always that follow-up question of who created the creator.

In ancient Greece, man assigned gods to every event or unexplainable occurrence. The sun was a flaming chariot and lightening bolts were thrown from the hand of Zeus. Today, we have learned more about our universe and the idea of flaming chariots seems absurd. To me, the same concept is applicable to the questions we still have about the universe around us. When I think about the creation of the universe I don’t see an all powerful, all knowing presence handling the controls. All I know is that the universe is and its origin is a question that is beyond our sight. I agree that a force had a place in the creation but that the force is more like physics or gravity than Jehovah or Zeus.

I don’t believe that religion and science are opposite sides of the same coin. There is no reason why God couldn’t be responsible for the harmony of chemistry that gives us life or the mathematics that rule the paths of the planets. We, as humans, are notorious for anthropomorphizing our surroundings. We see patterns in the stars, faces in rock formations, we blame a chair for tripping us and think our pets are smarter than they could possibly be. We also feel more comfortable putting a face and name to the forces of the universe. The difference between me and someone who believes in God is simply that I have chosen to leave my higher power nameless and to not grant it intelligence but instead, to simply accept it as a force that I would like to know more about and learn how to become more in tune with the effect it has on me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Art History: Contemporary: Bouguereau vs. Freud

William Bouguereau’s Tight Brushwork Meets Lucian Freud’s Tormented Reality in the Form of a Self Portrait.

William Adolf Bouguereau and Lucian Freud were and are both artists of the human figure. Although they focused on the same subject, their works are dramatically different. Bouguereau’s fine brush work and technical mastery of the human anatomy combined to create an idealized view of rural life. Bouguereau’s works focus on beauty, innocence and youth. Freud, on the other hand, focuses his portrait work on inner turmoil, sexuality and personal pain. He often works on multiple planes which gives his works a skewed appearance though it is obvious that he too has a strong grasp of the human figure. Though very different, these two artists are undoubtedly both masters of the human figure.

Bouguereau’s Self Portrait, which he completed in 1879, demonstrates his fine brush control in a close-up portrait style. Unlike most of his work, which includes full-body representation, his Self Portrait is one of the few pieces with a primary focus on portraiture. Also uncommon to Bouguereau's normal formula, it depicts a single adult figure. This presents a strong contrast to Lucian Freud’s self portrait. The piece is oil on canvas and measures 46 x 38cm; it was completed when Bouguereau was 54 year old.

Lucian Freud’s Man’s Head (self-portrait) presents a unique angle untypical to portraiture, and is a great example of the candid expressions so common in Lucian's work. While it is not as repulsive as some of his other works, it still holds a quality that is definitively Freud. Freud’s ability to paint emotion and to contort his subject without flattening the picture plane is worthy of further study. The piece is also oil on canvas and measures 53.3 x 50.8cm; it was completed when Freud was 41 years old.

These two works are dramatic in their differences for all that they are both self portraits. Bouguereau was a purest, an advocate of the Old Masters and it shows in his composition (Ross 2). His portrait is a straight view, formal and picturesque. Freud’s, alternately, takes the viewpoint from an untraditional angle and is a close-up of the head only. Freud focuses on creating an image that is real as opposed to realistic. The difference is that Bouguereau creates images that look like people while Freud creates images that look like how a person feels (Johnson 17).

Bouguereau was a French Academy painter who worked in at a time that the art world was undergoing some big changes. The artists that preceded him had focused on the religious and mythological scenes that had dominated the art world for so long and were a particular focus of the Academy itself. The artists that followed Bouguereau were the Impressionists and Modernists who vehemently opposed this academic type of work. Bouguereau’s art shows the transitional aspects of the changing art world (Ross 3). Half of his work is in the old style, depicting nymphs and angels, while the other half focuses on children in candid scenes of rural life. (Ross 1).

Lucian Freud was born in 1922 and entered art school at age seventeen where he quickly gained a reputation as a prodigy (Penny 7). Sigmund Freud, his grandfather, had a profound impact on his adult work. Sigmund Freud believed that in order to treat a patient you must first "strip him emotionally naked". Lucian's works depict his models stripped of their "power of censorship," meaning they are un-self conscious or, more specifically, wallowing in self-suffering. While his sketch work shows this fly-on-the-wall view of his models, his painting is where the true genius comes through. Ironically it wasn’t until much later in his career that he began painting and although his primary emphasis was in drawing he never draws in preparation for a painting (Penny 9).

While Lucian Freud's work stands out as being unique and emotional, Bouguereau shows such mind blowing skill that it would be difficult to say who had more talent. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Bouguereau's mastery cannot be challenged but many find his work uninspired. Freud has both talent and inspiration but many may find his imagery upsetting or repulsive. It is like comparing apples and oranges, they may both be fruit but the similarities end there.


Hughes, Robert. Lucian Freud Paintings. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987.

Penny, Nicholas., and Johnson, Robert Flynn., comps. Lucian Freud Works on Paper. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1988.

William Bouguereau 1825-1905. Fred Ross. 2002. Art Renewal Center. 1 Oct 2006.

Bouguereau and the Real 19th Century. Fred Ross. 4 Jan 2002. Art Renewal Center. 1 Oct 2006.

The Great Bouguereau Debate. Yoder, Shapiro, Junge, and Elliot. 6 Jun 2006. Art Renewal Center. 1 Oct 2006.

Art History: Contemporary: Duchamp vs. Boccioni

Modernist Approach to the Comparison of Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel and Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.

In both, Bicycle Wheel and Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, the primary focus is movement, either actual or implied. What separates them from each other is the intent that drove the artist. While both artists fall under the Futurist Movement, there was a distinct difference in their motivation.

Duchamp and Boccioni are both considered futurists and true to that movement, they are interested in the idea of motion in art. The futurists were enthralled with the idea of the mechanical as both beautiful and progressive. They saw the art world as stagnant and in need of revolution. Their “out with the old-in with the new” approach embraced the development of found object and collage art. Whether they succeeded in abandoning the work and views of the old masters is open to interpretation. What isn’t in question is that their destructive, violent viewpoint eventually led to Fascism and WWI, which they wholeheartedly embraced.

Like most futurists, Duchamp sought to change the face and definition of art. The avenue that he took was to disrupt the relationship between the idea and the actuality of what we conceive art to be. This abandonment and destruction of established signs was tantamount to the movement of the day. Bicycle Wheel was the first of Duchamp’s Readymade pieces, in which he took found objects and with very little alteration, simply called them art. It is helpful to know, when considering this particular piece, that Duchamp did not have an artistic intent when he created it. This knowledge makes the piece more valid to me then his other Readymade pieces. I can appreciate the idea that Bicycle Wheel was created very much in the spirit of what the futurists believed in, the love of the mechanical, the appreciation of motion, the recycling of everyday materials and, that Duchamp created it out of a love for the components, to please only himself and no one else.

Boccioni took a different approach to the incorporation of motion to a work of art. Instead of tackling the problem literally like Duchamp did, Boccioni uses a fluid, wind blown look which depicts the rapid motion of the stationary figure very well. It is interesting that although Boccioni believed in the futuristic idea of the destruction of all art before it and a separation from the masters, he chose to cast the figure in bronze which I feel is much more of a “masters technique” than the more mundane methods that the futurists were typically using. The choice of bronze was perhaps to aid in the appearance of a mechanical-man, shiny and beautiful as the futurists must have dreamed such a being would be. I believe this piece is highly successful if utterly different from Bicycle Wheel, however, one wonders which piece more closely achieved the artist intent.

From a modernist standpoint I would be inclined to choose Bicycle Wheel because it more closely represents the views outlined in the Futurist Manifesto. However, as a viewer without knowledge of the intent, a post-modernist viewpoint, I would say that Unique Forms of Continuity in Space is more successful because it combines the concept of motion into an otherwise stationary piece. In that way Duchamp kind of cheated by making his piece literally mobile.

In either case, the art of the futurists was a direct response and rebellion against all art before it. I find it inconceivable that any artist would not only want to abandon what others had learned but to actually destroy the art of others in order to make theirs more important. Iconoclasm was certainly something that had occurred before but this may have been the first time that such an action was supported by the media, art world, and government. It is interesting to look at the fact that the art world was indeed somewhat stagnant at the time and the futurist, German expressionists, and cubists were the ones that changed everything. Without these innovators opening the door there may never have been dada, surrealism or, in fact, any of what we consider contemporary art and everyone might still be painting Venus on the half shell and dancing fates.

Art History: Contemporary: Indecency of Children in Fine Art

The following is an academic paper dealing with the subject of censorship. Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, I have omitted the images that were originally included. All images were found using Google image search despite their graphic nature.

Child Pornography is a subject that has become a serious topic of debate in the last thirty years. Before 1977 publications that would be considered pornographic today, were still legal in the United States. Even today, the laws are ever fluctuating and differ wildly internationally. While child pornography is a topic that few would openly defend, there is an ever growing need for stricter laws to quell a growing industry that forever seeks out loop holes. With the laws and definitions regarding what constitutes a lewd image getting ever tighter, there is a very real danger for valid artistic expression. What was once considered a beautiful image of innocence may now be viewed as dangerous and detrimental. Photographers have born the brunt of legal scrutiny as there is concern over the adverse effect such art may have on the
child models. Unfortunately, censorship walks a dangerous line that can step on the toes of personal freedom while trying to protect the innocent. Intent has become the deciding factor for determining whether an image is appropriate or not, but there is
still the ever present problem of deciding where the line should be drawn.

In 1977, child pornography was first made illegal in the United States through the Kildee-Murphy proposal (Wikipedea, Indecent). Currently, in the United States, when concerning child pornography, there is no difference whether the depiction is a photograph or a painting. This is a definition that has flip-flopped considerably in recent years (Laws). Recent legislation has added images that do not use children at all in the production. This is to combat the advent of virtual-pornography (Cisneros). Any image of a child (or adult that is put forth as being a minor) that is engaged in a sexually explicit act or is obscene and does not hold valid artistic or medical merit is considered to be pornography (Laws). When a picture is under question it is evaluated with six criteria:

• whether the focal point of the visual depiction is on the child's genitalia or pubic area
• whether the setting of the visual depiction is sexually suggestive, i.e., in a place or pose generally associated with sexual activity
• whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose, or in inappropriate attire, considering the age of a child
• whether the child is fully or partially clothed, or nude
• whether the visual depiction suggests sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity
• whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer (Utah v. Morrison)

The criteria are necessarily loose yet comprehensive in order to throw a net over any possibly lewd imagery as needed. But who is to decide whether an image holds artistic merit? In general, it comes down to determining intent, a sort of "I'll know it when I see it" approach.

The laws in this country are maintaining a middle-ground when compared to laws worldwide. The United Kingdom, for instance, defines any indecent depiction of a child as pornography and makes no special requirement for sexual content. Nudity alone can make an image indecent (Wordnet, child). In the world of fine art this is unnecessarily restricting and works such as Bouguereau's Cupidon may never have been created if they had been subjected to such legislation. Most would consider this work to be fine art and not pornographic yet when viewed through the eye of a pedophile, this child is nude and even provocative. If one imagines this same image but with an adult subject, the position and expression can very easily appear coy and seductive rather than full of youthful innocence.

Japan did not outlaw child pornography until 1999 and still does not include anything but actual photographs in its definition. Lolicon publications, which are cartoons of prepubescent girls involved in sexually explicit acts, are perfectly legal and sold openly at newsstands there (Wikipedia, Lolicon). Lolicon and Shotacon (its male equivalent) are currently illegal in the United States but only recently so.

It is the very fact that adult sexuality attempts to approach child-like imagery that children appear sexual when that may not be the intent (Bertin). Innocence and youth have always been sexually appealing and it is therefore not surprising that this appeal has crossed over to include that which adult women are attempting to emulate. If a grown woman dresses up in a school girl uniform to appear younger and more desirable it is not considered abhorrent but a thirteen year old girl in the same outfit has naturally what that woman is attempting to emulate. In addition to this, the idea of the forbidden fruit that is adolescent sexuality is hardly a new or unheard of theme in modern culture. The 1999 film American Beauty, which won the Oscar for Best Picture that year, dealt heavily with the idea of an adult man becoming infatuated with a young girl. It is by this argument that Cupidon's decency can be questioned. Even with this understanding, however, should a borderline image be condemned because a pedophile somewhere might see it and act on an impulse that said image helped to generate? The world would be poorer for the loss of these images.

There is also the question of the difference between paint and film. Would Cupidon have the same meaning if it was a photograph rather than a painting, but otherwise exactly the same? With the use of paint, an image gains some opacity that a photograph does not contain. As a viewer of a painting, you know that you are not looking at a real child and possibly not even a painting of a real child as it is, in most cases, unknown whether the artist used a live model. Even if you are not consciously thinking about this difference when you view the picture, subconsciously you are making a decision whether the image is acceptable or not in part based on this very difference. Gauguin created the Spirit of the Dead is Watching while married to a pre-adolescent in Tahiti. It is evident in the positioning of the figure that it is meant to be subservient if not openly erotic, and the proportions are indicative of a girl nearing puberty. Despite the knowledge that this work was likely to have been created using a live model, and one that was in a sexual relationship with a much older man, it still holds a different level of impact than that of a photograph. For years it was perfectly acceptable for children to be exposed to violence in cartoons because of this same effect. Watching a cartoon cat getting hit by a sledge hammer is funny; watching a film of a cat getting hit by a sledge hammer is horrifying.

Lucian Freud is a contemporary painter that is known to work exclusively from live models. In his painting, Large Interior, Paddington, the subject looks distraught and uncomfortable in her nudity. Considering that Freud intentionally portrayed his subjects emotionally rather than realistically, it is difficult to determine whether this child actually felt anxiety over the conditions she was being subjected to but it is likely that if this painting had been created today rather than the late 60's, it would likely have received negative attention (Hughes).

Many contemporary photographers have been investigated for their use of nude children in their work. Jock Sturges and Sally Mann are two examples, though there are many others. Jock Sturges uses nude children as models and claims to do so in an effort to portray innocence, not sexuality. His subjects are primarily photographed at clothing optional beaches and resorts with the permission of their parents. Sally Mann, another photographer working with children, uses her own children as models and also claims to be depicting innocence rather than eroticism. Both artists have been investigated in regard to the appropriateness of their work and both have been cleared of guilt (Wahmond).

The United States Supreme Court has deemed it unconstitutional to ban an image based solely on the possible interpretation by a person of lewd intent (Rossen). One cannot condemn an image for possibly contributing to the possible abuse of a child at a possible future time by an imaginary criminal. Besides, by that argument, who are we to say that these images aren't preventing a would-be criminal from acting out impulses, perhaps the images are enough to quell the desire to act on a desire to sexually abuse children (Bertin). After this consideration, all that is left is to determine whether there is a danger to the child that has been photographed. If a child has not been posed in a way that is lewd or graphic then it can be truly accepted that the image is made innocently and not intended to elicit a sexual reaction and therefore legal. Conversely, even a picture of a clothed child that is posed in a lewd manner intended to be arousing should be considered pornographic and indecent apart from the presence of nudity.

Even if you take the nudity out of the equation there are still grey areas that come down to intent. Child-supermodel sites are easy to find and are often full of erotically posed preteens. Is an erotically posed child with clothes on better or worse than an innocently posed nude child? Sparkle is a child model whose site has a members-only area with promises of more evocative images than the comparatively innocent picture like the one shown here. Sparkle's site is also the launching pad for other similar sites which contain girls as young as five in positions that leave no room for doubt as to their intent. Though the primary question would be whether these children are being abused, even if they are not they are producing images that are aimed to appeal to the lewd eye of deviants and spawn the debate regarding whether they may somehow encourage pedophiles to abuse other children. This is the same controversy that we see regarding violence in video games. Does the media encourage the action or does the sick mind seek out the media?

To take it a step further, what if we take the child out of the equation? The concern here is not over the banning of sexually explicit photographs or videos but about fine art and virtual art that does not harm children mentally or physically as well as what the definition of "sexually explicit" really is. Computer generated child pornography, like Lolicon, depicts children in sexually compromising positions but does not use children in the production process (Cisneros). If someone creates an image of a child that is either sexually explicit but does not use a real child as a model, or is of a child but is not intended to be sexual, the line of censorship is very hard to define. The whole reason that these laws are in place is to protect children. If child pornography becomes victimless, there may cease to be a reason for it to be illegal. It is frightening that there is even a market for this and it is unfortunate that this far end of the spectrum is causing other pieces with obvious artistic merit to be scrutinized. This is where giving censorship free reign can turn into something very dangerous. Today it may be Lolicon and virtual pornography; tomorrow it may be Cupidon or even other unrelated personal freedoms that we are setting precedent for in the future.

Those that would accept the infringement on their personal rights in exchange for a more conservative stance on child pornography may be giving up more than they know. Since before recorded history, man has connected nudity with sexuality and because of this, found reason to condemn it. Americans may be appalled by the practice in some countries of keeping their women covered from head to toe but this is simply the opposite end of the spectrum from what we have become accustomed to here in the States. The battle over pornography, regardless of age, has been raging for centuries. Although it is unclear who was responsible, (the Dan Brown Theory being popular but unsupported), it is a fact that Vatican art was castrated en masse at some point after the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Michael Angelo's figures were defaced, their genitals covered over with fig leafs. The statuary throughout the city were quite literally castrated with hammer and chisel then repaired with plaster leaves. The probable reasoning was that the nude statues and paintings may have inspired lewd thoughts among the otherwise pious clergy and were therefore defaced. It would appear that at one time this iconoclasm was acceptable, at least for long enough for the deed to be done; all in the name of saving adults from the crudeness of their own thoughts. Let's just hope that no one decides to save us from any more masterpieces. This is merely another example of censorship at its worst and something that we ought to be aware of as a possible outcome to the baby steps we are taking in that direction.

We must be given the right to chose without overshadowing that choice with fear. The laws surrounding child pornography should be restricted to photographs or images of children that are lewd in nature and intent whether clothed or not that used a child in the production of that image. All other images, as repulsive as they may be to some of us, are not harmful to children and therefore the censorship of these images is an infringement on the rights of artists and patrons. This avenue of censorship goes down a dangerous path that can only lead to inhibition and blatant violation of our rights. Art must have boundaries to its definition and it is often difficult to name where these boundaries belong. However, it is never appropriate to confine art due to fear, to define creative expression by turning a blind eye to that which we find distasteful.


Bertin, Joan E. "Pornography Law Goes Too Far." Los Angeles Times. 1997. "Why Defend Child Pornography." Los Angeles Times. 1998. NCAC Resources Online.

"child pornography." WordNet 1.7.1. Princeton University, 2001. 14 Dec. 2006.

Cisneros, Dannielle. "Virtual Child Pornography on the Internet: a Virtual Victim." Duke Law and Tech Rev. 2002. iBrief Media and Communuications. 12 Nov 2006.

Eichenwald, Kurt. "With Child Sex Sites on the Run, Nearly Nude Photos Hit the Web." The New York Times. 2006. Lexis-Nexis. 12 Nov 2006.

Flam, Faye. "Is Nudity Profanity? The Fine Art of Perception." Philadelphia Inquirer. 2006. Lexis-Nexis. 12 Nov 2006.

Hughes, Robert. Lucian Freud Paintings. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987.

Hutsul, Christopher. "Child Porn Bill Disaster." Toronto Star. 2004. 9 Dec 2006.

"Indecent Pseudo-Photograph of a Child." "Lolicon." "Shotacon." "Nudity in Fine Art." Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia. 2006. 10 Nov 2006.

"Laws Concerning Child Pornography." National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2006. Federal and State Law. 8 Nov 2006.

Rossen, Benjamin and Schuijer, Jan. "The Trade in Child Pornography." IPT Journal 4.4 (1992). The Institute for Psychological Therapies.

Whamond, Ashley. "Seeing Bettina." Faculty of Education Arts. 2004. University of Newcastle Australia. 8 Nov 2006.

Art History: Labyrinth

As a child of pop-culture, I thought that a labyrinth was like what we see in the movies; a tall, stone or hedge maze with turns and dead ends, pitfalls and obstacles. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that our town had at least three of them for patrons to enjoy. In fact, a labyrinth and a maze are different, though the terms are often used loosely. The thing that I had in mind was a puzzle, a maze, which is a left brain task to be solved with logic and problem solving skills. A labyrinth is symbol of the path of life. It has no blind alleys and has only one path, the way in is the way out. The labyrinth is about meditation and imagery, a right brain task that leads you to get out of it only what you put in.

The labyrinth has been a part of history since the time of the Egyptians where the labyrinth housed the bodies of kings and was intended to be completed in darkness. The most famous labyrinth was probably that of the Minotaur in Crete and was depicted as a maze. It is ironic that, although the palace there is full of complicated levels of stairs and chambers, and quite possibly the source of this story, no actual labyrinth was ever found under the city as the legend dictates.

Today the labyrinth is most often found in churches and is of the sort that has no way to get lost. These labyrinths arose in the middle ages when the crusades made pilgrimages difficult. Christians were expected to make a journey to the holy land in their lifetimes but war made these trips hazardous. The labyrinth was created in churches as a substitute. Christians would travel to these churches and perform the circuit in prayer as a symbol of the longer journey to Jerusalem. The labyrinth could also be used as a penance for sin or as a sort if guided meditation, much as the rosary is used today.

I took this whole idea of the meditative labyrinth with some trepidation. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to learn that I wouldn't be walking a maze and struggled with how I could do this task with an open mind. Personally, meditation for me is much more structured. I never approach a problem with the intent of sitting quietly and directing my thoughts to not wander from the task at hand. I generally approach problems with a much more concrete and left brained method. I am a list maker and when I have something that I need to discover a solution to, I write a list of the pros and cons of each option. To try to focus on a single issue to the exclusion of all else, without a pen in hand, generally doesn't work for me and I end up thinking only about what is making me mad about the situation.

I began to wonder if my idea of mediation wasn't skewed just as my perception of labyrinths was. I did some additional research on meditation techniques specific to the labyrinth. In Dan Johnston's 101 Ways to Use a Labyrinth, I found a whole list of different ways to approach the meditative path. As you may imagine, the list was quite lengthy, ranging from using the labyrinth as a team building exercise to helping someone through the grieving process. The option that most appealed to me, ironically, should have been the one that was apparent without ever reading Johnston's paper. This method was entitled, The Journey of Life. The entire idea of the labyrinth is that it is a representation of the path of life and Johnston suggests entering a meditation while focusing on this metaphor. He believes that the labyrinth should be entered, not while trying to discern "what does it mean?", but trying to understand what it means to you. Because the path of the labyrinth has no dead ends you can realize that you are exactly where you are supposed to be on the road of life and will never get lost.

I went to Shove Chapel and walked the labyrinth there on a warm but not hot day, well into the afternoon when I thought I would be likely to have it mostly to myself. I entered in with the idea of trying to relate the path with my life, where am I now, where am I going? Those thoughts immediately took me to the very place that I didn't want to go which was the anxiety of uncertainty, particularly the fear of change. I stopped and looked at where I was physically standing. I was perhaps one step from the first turn of the path. I tried to clear my mind and tell myself that change is the only way to move on in life just as the first turn in the labyrinth is necessary to completing the whole.

I walked on and soon realized that I was no longer thinking about the labyrinth or life at all but was watching my feet and increasing my pace as though rushing to complete the task. Again I stopped and contemplated, was this how I walked through life? With my head down and my blinders on, ignoring my surroundings? In truth, I think that I sometimes do. But is this really a bad thing? I think that at times it is better to focus on the completion of a task rather than the distractions of the moment.

I took a deep breath, refocused and kept my head up, trying to use all of my senses. After a short time I realized that I was uncomfortable. My clothing (work uniform) was too warm for the weather, the sound of the street and other people, distracting. I wished I had my sunglasses. I also realized that the bag I was carrying was heavy and unnecessary. I had left my car thinking I might go into the library and do some homework afterward and didn't want to have to walk back to my car to get my books, so I had everything with me. This realization made me laugh out loud! Here I was, on the symbolic path of life carrying the reality of life with me. The clothes on my back were the reality of my job, and the bag of books was the reality of school. The very fact that I had decided to consolidate the trip to include study time and completion on the way to work was the very essence of the hectic pace and rigorous schedule that I am forced to keep to find enough hours in the day.

Since I was alone in the labyrinth I decided to leave my bag there and removed the heavy work shirt, leaving myself in a more weather appropriate tank top. I walked on and felt much better. Unencumbered and cool I was able to appreciate my surroundings much more. While I admit that the rest of the walk had very little focused thought to it, I was enjoying the experience on a different level. I returned to reclaim my belongings and left the labyrinth to contemplate the experience. I came to realize that the point where I shucked my things to continue the walk was a representation of my idealistic perception that when I finish school and get a real job, things will be so much better. Logically, I know that there will undoubtedly be new burdens on the way but it is still a symbol of reaching a goal and leaving behind the trappings of the process needed to get there.

On the whole I found the experience amusing. I wouldn't say that I was skeptical of the experience but I certainly didn't expect to find such a concrete relationship between the symbol and the reality. Even after this experience I don't know that I wouldn't have preferred the maze. I have always pictured life as something that does have dead ends and choices to make. The very fact that I am still trying to get a degree after eleven years in and out of school proves that I have gone down more than one dead end and had to back-track to find the correct path. While the idea that the labyrinths path of life shows you that you are always where you are supposed to be, it is not mutually exclusive with the idea that you can sometimes get lost.

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Cedar Point: Put-in-Bay/Wine tour

After spending a full day at Cedar Point, you may want to take a break and visit some of the other sites in the area. My favorite non-Cedar Point day trip was spent visiting the local wineries and taking the ferry to Put-in-Bay Island. The Put-in-Bay Island is advertised as being a night time hot-spot but honestly, I’ve never tried it for the late night bar scene. When we went it was during the day and boy did we have fun.

We started on the mainland and picked up brochures for the local wineries at the diner we had breakfast at. It doesn’t matter where you start, all of the wine sucks but it was still fun to see the wineries and take the tours. Most of the wineries had deals where you could pay less than ten dollars and try a selection of the different wines. If sweet is your thing, then Ohio wineries will be a great experience. For the more educated palate, get ready to drink a lot of fancy grape juice.

Among the wineries we toured were the Firelands Winery, the Mon Ami Restaurant and Historic Winery, the Sand Hill Winery, and the Heineman Winery. The Heineman Winery is located on Put-in-Bay Island and is also the home of the World’s Largest Geode which you can tour for $7 per person. Along with your ticket to the geode you get a complementary glass of wine. When my friend and I went, we didn’t feel that the tour was worth $7 but when we decided against going the management insisted that we take the tour for free since we had traveled so far. If standing in a big rock for a few minutes and drinking a small glass of sickeningly sweet grape juice is your bag, then by all means, pay for the tour. Otherwise, pretend like you are leaving and maybe you will get to go for free!

I should rewind a bit and tell you how to get to Put-in-Bay. There are two ferries available to get you from the mainland to the islands. The Jet Express is the best advertised and incredibly expensive. To get from Sandusky to Put-in-Bay and back on the Jet Express, you will pay an astounding $32 per person. Don’t be duped! The ferry that you want to take leaves from Catawba which is quite close to Sandusky. Miller Ferry is the ferry that the natives who live on the islands use. It costs just $12 per person for a round trip! With that kind of savings you can afford to rent a golf cart once you reach the island, a plan that I highly recommend.

Aside from the World’s Largest Geode and the Heineman Winery, Put-in-Bay also has the World’s Longest Bar! There are other small bars, ice cream joints and at least one brewery mixed in among the tourist traps and souvenir shops. The thing that was great about having a golf cart was that there are no (or very few) cars on the island. We drove all over Put-in-Bay, visited some of the bars and restaurants, went to a baseball game, and generally just had a great time. It might have been all that grape juice we drank, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Cedar Point: From Blue Streak to Maverick

Cedar Point has 17 roller coasters, totally an amazing 53,963 feet of track spread over, around and through the park. Listed below are my personal critiques of each one, in the order that I think of them.

Blue Streak

The Blue Streak is Cedar Point’s oldest roller coaster. It is located to the left of the entrance and is tucked away behind the Raptor. This is a great coaster, despite it’s age, and very rarely has much of a wait. The Blue Streak is a wooden roller coaster with a first hill of 78 feet. It reaches speeds of 40 miles per hour with a series of small hills and hairpin turns. Although it may sound tame, the slower speeds give you time to feel the drops. If roller coasters typically make you feel sick, do not think that small and old means gentle. I recommend sitting in the front seat especially if you have any lower back issues as the ride is a little rough. Also, the seatbelt isn’t just for appearances, the drops will lift you right out of your seat and the lap bar does not snug down as well as you might wish.


Absolutely a great ride. Built in 1978, the Gemini qualifies as a classic. As the name indicates, this coaster has twin trains that race each other around the track. As far as I can tell, neither train is ‘faster’ than the other so take your pick. Located in the center of the park and toward the back, the Gemini usually has a wait of less than an hour. The first hill is 124 feet and this wooden roller coaster reaches speeds of 60 miles per hour. At various points in the track you can reach out and touch the people in the other train, an action that is not sanctioned by Cedar Point but is nevertheless part of the Gemini experience. My favorite part of this ride is trying to keep my arms at full length throughout the ride. It’s harder than it sounds; in one place there is a beam that looks like it will hit you across the forehead if you don’t duck! Don’t worry though, even with arms up, the beam is well out of reach. For the same reasons as with the Blue Streak, I recommend sitting in the front car to save your back from the heinous vibration.

Mean Streak

Once the record holder for tallest and fastest wooden roller coaster (a record it snagged from The Beast at King’s Island) the Mean Streak is really an incredibly boring ride. Traveling at 65 miles per hour, this 2 minute, 45 second ride is a series of uninteresting banked curves. The Mean Streak was added over 16 years ago and when I think back to the year that it was new and I waited over four hours to get on this ride, I cringe. Thanks to its distant location at the very back of the park, the wait is rarely that long any more. Personally, I would never wait more than half an hour for this ride and unless you want whiplash, I recommend sitting near the front with one hand bracing your neck.

Disaster Transport

This roller coaster is a piece of crap. The Disaster Transport was completed in an effort to revamp an already crappy ride previously known as the Alpine Slide. The Disaster Transport is a non-traditional roller coaster that does not run on a track but in a U-shaped slide something like a bobsled run. Originally, the Alpine Slide was an open air coaster located close to the entrance behind the Demon Drop. While the location was not changed, the Alpine Slide was moved indoors and renamed as the Disaster Transport. Despite black lights and air conditioning, this ride really is the same as it was 20 years ago. Traveling at 40 miles per hour, it still holds the record for the fastest bobsled type roller coaster in the world. One of biggest complaints I have with this ride is that the wait time they post at the door is never accurate and because of the way the line goes in and out of several different rooms, you can never see how long you have left to wait. If you are dying of heat exhaustion and happen to be in the area, by all means, go spend some time waiting in an air conditioned line; however, don’t expect much.


Hands down one of the top three rides in the park. The Raptor is located close to the entrance on the left hand side. This was Cedar Point’s first unenclosed hanging roller coaster. At the time of its opening, the Raptor held the record for the tallest fastest inverted roller coaster in the world. With an initial drop of 137 feet and top speeds of 57 miles per hour, it may look tame in comparison with the Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster but the loops and rolls make it an extremely thrilling ride. Depending on when you hit this ride, the line wait is extremely variable but generally less than two hours. I recommend riding the Raptor later in the day as the lines are generally shorter in the afternoon.

Magnum XL-200

When the Magnum debuted in 1989 it was the tallest fastest roller coaster ever built, records it maintained until 1991 and 1994. Oddly enough, the Magnum, which once dominated the Cedar Point skyline, is now dwarfed by its two record breaking neighbors.

Located on the right hand side, just past Soak City, the Magnum boasts a first drop of 205 feet and travels at speeds of 72 miles per hour. The front and back design gives a great view of Lake Erie as you jump over bunny hills and through blackout tunnels. This is a great ride that generally has short lines. It was the first roller coaster at Cedar Point to have misting fans and a DJ booth in the queue line. That may not seem that significant but if you go there in August you will be relieved at this innovation! I recommend the third seat of the first car. I know it sounds weird, but I swear the air time is better there and it’s generally one of the shortest lines.

Cedar Creek Mine Ride

My opinion on this one may be tainted my nostalgia. I love this ride. It’s tamer than most of the roller coasters in Cedar Point but it has some life in it yet. Never a long line and quaint scenery, this ride is perfect for any park goers who don’t want to lose their lunch. When I used to go to Cedar Point as a kid, this was the only ride besides the Ferris Wheel that my motion sick mother would ride. With an initial hill of 55 feet and variable speed, the most exciting part of the ride is a corkscrewing turn that makes you feel like you are in danger of losing your extending limbs. A little disconcerting, especially as a child, is that the lap bar is shared with your neighbor. If your neighbor is, say, your 300 pound father and you are a 70 pound ten year old, you get to ride with a foot of clearance between your lap and the bar.

Iron Dragon

The Iron Dragon is a great little ride though to get the maximum effect it is imperative that you sit in the very front seat. The Iron dragon is an enclosed, hanging roller coaster with fun drops and banking turns, located in the shadow of the Mantis. With a max speed of 40 miles per hour and an initial drop of 76 feet, it is an easy ride for less adventurous riders. Since the cars are connected, the front car gets the most swing out of the lake skimming turns. At 20 years old, it is still a great ride to take in between longer lines.


The Corkscrew is typical of its type, though when it was built in 1976 it was the first of its kind to span a midway and take riders through three inversions. At 85 feet tall and 48 miles per hour, it is still a fun ride. As a child, the Corkscrew was one of my favorite but as an adult I have found the ride painful and I try not to ride it until just before I leave. The Corkscrew is located in the center of the park and is impossible to miss as you have to walk under it to get to the Top Thrill Dragster and other rides.

Millennium Force

Best freaking ride in the park! Even with a three hour wait, this roller coaster is completely worth it. At 310 feet tall and 93 miles per hour this roller coaster shattered a slew of records when it debuted in 2000. After nearly 8 years, it still ranks number 6 worldwide for height and speed. One of the best things about this innovative design is its lack of a chain for the ride to the top of its monster first hill. The Millennium Force has a nifty gadget that comes down the hill to collect the train and brings you to the top with a smooth fast ride. It’s location on the far left side of the park offers a great view over the lake and it’s even more spectacular at night. I cannot stress enough how incredible this ride is. With its central location, this is a great ride to hit again and again throughout the day and a great option for you fast lane stamp.

Wicked Twister

My advice on this ride is to hit it whenever you see it running. Just like the Top Thrill Dragster, the Wicked Twister will shut down with even the slightest bit of rain or high winds. That being said, it’s a fun little ride. Once again, I recommend sitting in the front seat for maximum effect. The Wicked Twister is a unique roller coaster with an inverted style and a double ended track. Riders are launched at 50 miles per hour toward one of two towers which the train scales and then returns through the boarding deck in reverse to scale the second tower backwards. On the return trip, riders are launched again, this time at 63 miles per hour and then for a third time at 72 miles per hour. Each launch results in a higher climb up the towers. Since the ride is located right on the beach, waiting in line can be a bit chilly after the sun goes down or if there is a healthy breeze off the lake. Generally the line for this ride is about an hour give or take thirty minutes depending on the time of day. Once again, if you notice that this ride is only running on occasion, get on it when you get the chance. Its location close to the MaXair is convenient since you can ride this non-roller coaster yet extremely fun ride, while keeping an eye on the line and operational status of the Wicked Twister.

Top Thrill Dragster

Great freaking ride! Although the line wait can be somewhat excessive for a ride that lasts less than a minute and a half, anything less than four hours is still worth it. Unfortunately, the Top Thrill Dragster is very prone to being shut down. With even the slightest rain, high winds or lightning, your ride could be cancelled regardless of how long you’ve been waiting. The Top Thrill Dragster broke the world record for tallest and fastest roller coaster with its 420 foot peak and a breathless 120 miles per hour, reached in under 4 seconds. Riders board the train and are brought out to a randomized starting line complete with red, yellow, green count down light. When the light reaches green, the car is launched out with surprising velocity, regardless of how many times you have watched it happen to others. You spiral up to the top and barely have time to take a breath before shooting back down at 90 degrees. Make sure to take the opportunity to look around when you are at the top as you will not get another view to match without getting on a plane.


The Mantis is Cedar Point’s only stand up roller coaster. Despite its impressive appearance, I feel that this ride falls a little short of the mark. The rig that you ride in is incredibly uncomfortable, especially to men, and the ride is blasé despite its 145 foot drop and 60 miles per hour speeds. The first time I rode this ride it got stuck and let me tell you, standing on a platform with a ridged, spring loaded crotch-piece jamming you into the shoulder harness for ten minutes was enough for me that day. The Mantis is still one of the fastest tallest standing roller coasters in the world, even after 11 years of operation. It boasts 4 inversions and a figure eight finale.


This roller coaster barely counts as a roller coaster. It is the typical carnival design that you can find in most older amusement parks and is basically just an over grown kiddy ride. Since its addition in 1970, the Wildcat has been moved twice which may give you an idea of its construction. I haven’t ridden it since I was a small child and if you can’t impress a seven year old, you probably aren’t worth mentioning as a roller coaster. The one redeeming factor of this 50 foot tall ride is the g-forced created by its variable speeds as riders race around the track in individual four-seater carts.

Gemini Jr.

This is a kiddy ride that is, or was, a ton of fun. Riders must be 36-54 inches tall or accompanied by a child. The best thing that I remember about this ride from when I was a child, was that I was able to ride it over and over while I waited for my dad to get off the Gemini, located directly across the midway. It runs an astounding 6 miles per hour with a drop of 19 feet.

Woodstock Express

This is the only roller coaster in Cedar Point that I have never ridden (with the exception of the Maverick which was not yet built the last time I was there).


Since I did not have the opportunity to visit Cedar Point last year when the Maverick opened, I have not had the opportunity to ride this new roller coaster. The Cedar Point website does have a fun virtual ride that I have viewed many times and, roller coaster gods willing, I will be riding it in about 6 months and will review it at that time.

Cedar Point: Roller Coaster Heaven

With the newest addition of The Maverick, Cedar Point now boasts an amazing 17 roller coasters, more than any other location in the world. With the distinct exception of the Disaster Transport, all of the roller coasters are amazing and always worth the wait. I will say this; however, if you are under 52” tall, or if you are not a DEDICATED roller coaster enthusiast, Cedar Point may not be for you. I’m not saying that kids can’t have fun, I know I did as a kid, but considering the distance and expense that this trip entails, you will be wasting money better spent at your local Six-Flags.

Cedar Point was originally opened in 1870, making it the country’s second oldest amusement park. When it first opened, Cedar Point was an island with natural park and beach front areas open for family fun. Rides began being a feature of Cedar Point in the late 1800s with its first roller coaster added in 1892. The oldest operating ride in the park is the Midway Carousel which was installed in 1945 though it was originally built in 1912. In the mid-sixties, Cedar Point added the Blue Streak, the oldest and still-operational roller coaster in the park. Since 1964, Cedar Point has added 16 other roller coasters, many of which have held or broken records for tallest, fastest or longest, at one time or another. Additionally, Cedar Point boasts 51 non-roller coaster rides.

Although the awards for “best rides” varies from list to list, one thing is for certain. Cedar Point will never be a disappointment for roller coaster enthusiasts. Most of Cedar Point’s roller coasters have been on the top ten list at one point in their lifetime and Cedar Point has held the record for tallest/fastest roller coaster three different times with the Magnum XL-200, Millennium Force and Top Thrill Dragster. Cedar Point has been at the top of the industry for decades, trying new technologies and innovative designs. The park offers a huge variety of roller coaster types including steel and wood, stand-up, hanging, and magnetically propelled, as well as a plethora of different null-g hills, turns and rolls.

While I wouldn’t recommend going to Cedar Point if you don’t love roller coasters that push the limit, the park offers a wide range of intensities for the fainter of heart. Don’t judge the book by its cover, though. Size doesn’t always matter! The Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Iron Dragon, Disaster Transport and Mantis are of variable sizes but can all be considered tame. Alternately the Blue Streak, despite its size and age, has thrills that you will feel from the bottom of your belly.

Cedar Point: Fast Lane Stamps

As you are walking through the park you may notice booths offering Fast Lane stamps. Chose carefully! You can only get one stamp in a day but if you play your cards right, you may get two rides out of your stamp. The way that Fast Lane works is this: you get a stamp that has the name of the ride and a window of time. When you arrive during your time slot, you are allowed to enter a shortened line that lets you bypass most of the queue.

So you want to know how to beat the system? First of all, don’t pick a stamp for a ride that doesn’t have notoriously long lines. It’s a huge waste! I would recommend picking the Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, or Maverick. These rides will typically have lines in excess of two hours but with a stamp you can cut that time down to as little as 30 minutes. With a little planning and a little luck you may be able to slip through twice! Be sure to arrive at the earliest moment for your slated time. When you get off the ride, if you are still within your timeslot, try to get on the ride again. If the attendant notices that you’ve already been through once, play dumb or beg. In general, they don’t care and would rather just let you on then listen to you whine about it. The last time I went, we rode the Millennium Force twice in an hour while people in the main line were waiting over three hours for a single ride.

Cedar Point: Tips for Travel

I would highly recommend that you visit the park at the end of June. Not only is the park much less crowded (waiting lines shorter by 1-2 hours), the weather is perfect. Being that Cedar Point is located on a peninsula, the window of opportunity for temperatures that are not overwhelmingly hot or freezing cold, is relatively short. No matter when you chose to go, be sure to take a variety of clothing as weather on the lake can be unpredictable. I also recommend that you take a water resistant windbreaker for wear in the evening as the breezes across the water can get quite chilly after the sun goes down.

Cedar Point is also notorious for its mayfly season. If you have never experienced it, take my advice and don’t. The mayflies are in season from the end of May through the end of August but are generally heavier before the middle of June. While completely harmless, they don’t even bite, they are gross and at the heaviest point in their season, they cover everything. One year in Cedar Point, the park had to be cleared with a snowplow each morning before patrons arrived.

When you are packing up to enter the park, pack very light. I know they are dorky but your best bet is a fanny pack with a zipper closure. Everything that you have in your pack should be enclosed in waterproof zip lock bags. Even if you don’t intend to hit the water rides, you may change your mind after walking in the heat all day.

If at all possible, don’t carry anything that can’t fit into your fanny pack. This includes baseball caps. Although some of the rides will allow you to remove your hat and sit on it, some of the rides do not. If you have to pay for a locker every time you get on a ride, you are going to be pumping out quarters all over the park. This is true for shoes as well. Pick shoes that you will be comfortable walking in all day but that you don’t mind getting wet. I recommend Tevas, Crocks or Burkenstocks with heel straps. All footwear is permitted in the park but rides such as the Wicked Twister and the Raptor won’t allow you to wear shoes, while riding, which are not securely attached to your feet.

If games are you thing, I would suggest playing at the end of the day where you will not be required to tote your prize around all over the park. The same goes for any non-wearable souvenirs. Most of the lockers are too small for large stuffed animals. The lockers in the park are single use only. Therefore, if you have things that you have to bring into the park but don’t want to carry around, be sure to select a locker of appropriate size in an area where you think you will need the items. For instance, if you bring towels and sunscreen you should lock them up close to the water rides.

Depending on how many days you plan to spend at the park, you may benefit from a 2-day or even a season pass. In previous years, season passes were only good for Cedar Point, not Soak City or Challenge Park. This year they have added a Platinum Season Pass which includes all of the Cedar Point parks as well as free parking. As a die-hard roller coaster junkie, I could care less about water slides and go-carts but to each his own. Whatever you decide, it is probably best to plan your lodgings first since some of the local accommodations offer discounted tickets. With my hotel package one year, we got our 2-day passes which included Soak City, as well as passes to starlight Cedar Point and early entry passes. Starlight Cedar Point was great because we were able to spend one day outside of the park and then go enjoy a few rides late in the day when the crowds were thin.

Any day that you plan to spend at the park, be sure to arrive early. Not only will you enjoy much better parking, but ride lines will be much shorter. Once you are inside, resist the temptation of hitting the rides closest to the door first. Instead, RUN to the newest ride and get in line right away. The difference in wait time could be several hours depending on how new or popular the ride is.

When you are putting together your travel plans, it is imperative that you rent a car. While there is a limited shuttle and bus system as well as available cab service, the amount of freedom you will gain by having your own car is well worth the added cost of car rental and parking. Despite the busy tourist season, the restaurants in the area close early, and if you plan to eat after 9:00pm, you will need to drive out of town.

Cedar Point: Camping

There is an RV/camping area located just outside of Cedar Point which offers ‘early entry’ deals as well as shuttle service to the front gate. When I planned my trip that involved camping, I found that the cost was too much for the benefits gained by staying in the on-site park. We opted for the East Harbor State Park located about 15 minutes from Cedar Point. The sites range from $14-40/day depending on what services you would like available. The campground was clean and offered beach front and miles of trails for walking or biking.

If you decide to stay here or in any campground in the area, be sure to make a reservation! We were surprised to discover people who had not reserved their site in advance waiting in line for a site to come available. This is especially true over the weekend and during the prime months of July and August.

While I do not recommend driving to Sandusky if you live as far away as I do, I found my stay at the campground very pleasant and would do it again without hesitation. The bathrooms and showers were well maintained and conveniently placed throughout the campground for easy access from any site.

Cedar Point: Hotels

There is a huge range of options for hotels in the Sandusky area. No matter what your budget, you can find somewhere to stay. The year that we stayed in a hotel, we chose the Breakers Express which was very close to the park and offered an ‘early entry’ deal. We found the hotel through the Cedar Point website and bundled our tickets with our hotel. The hotel was around $60/night not counting park admission. You can visit the Cedar Point website which offers all the information on packages, as well as a comparison feature that allows you to look at side-by-side lists of available rooms at all of the Cedar Point endorsed hotels and resorts.

Early entry is a big deal if there has been a new major ride addition within two years of your visit. Since we were visiting during the first year that the Top-Thrill Dragster opened, we were very excited to get admitted to Cedar Point an hour before the gates opened to the general public. We were able to ride the newest roller coaster at Cedar Point with a wait under two hours. This may not seem like a big deal, but the rest of the time that we were there, we never saw a line less than five hours for that ride.

Another benefit of the local hotels is that many of them offer pools. We found that it was a better use of our money to get a hotel that had a pool to enjoy during the heat of the day, than spend extra money on admission tickets which included the water park. Between the in-park water rides and the hotel pool, we found the kid choked Soak City to be a waste of money entirely.

If you have no interest in early entry or pools, I would recommend not booking your lodging in advance. When I did searches for hotels in the area around Cedar Point, I found that the cheapest ones were often not included on the Cedar Point web site or in bundled offers through the airlines. There are also a million hotels and motels just outside of Sandusky that offer better rates than the ones closest to the park and with all the different options, there is little danger of being unable to find a vacancy.

Cedar Point: Bed and Breakfast

The Sandusky and surrounding area has a ton of Bed and Breakfasts. When I was planning the trip that included choosing this type of accommodation, I found a plethora to chose between. The final decision rested on location and price, and I must say, we were very happy with our choice.

The Simpson-Flint House is located in central Sandusky, close to Cedar Point and several restaurants. The cost ranges from $100-$150 a night and varies a little from year to year. The owners were very helpful in giving directions and recommending places to eat. The room was beautiful and the breakfast was AMAZING. Homemade muffins, French Toast made from fresh bread, and Eggs Benedict were among the delicious offerings served at the Simpson-Flint House and every bite was heaven.

The year that we stayed in the Simpson-Flint House, we flew into Detroit and underestimated the amount of travel time we needed to get to Sandusky. Despite our arriving at three in the morning, the owners were accommodating and even gave us a snack upon our arrival.

If you are considering a Bed and Breakfast as your accommodation, be aware that several of the available locations are located on the islands out on the lake. This is important because you will have to juggle ferry service which does not run all night. You also will be charged each time you use a ferry and depending on which one you take, you may not be able to bring your car with you.

Cedar Point: Amtrak

I have not tried this method yet, but as it offers a savings over flights and driving, I plan to attempt it this summer. The Amtrak train travels from Denver right into Sandusky with a layover of a few hours in Chicago. Prices are roughly $100/person less than flying and since you arrive directly in Sandusky, you avoid the time and effort of driving yourself to and from the airport.

The one problem that I foresee in using this method is that the arrival and departure times are inconvenient and may require that you take a cab to a hotel, and pick up your car in the morning as well as finding a way to return your car and still get to the train station for departure. As Sandusky is relatively small, cab fare should not be exorbitant and some rental car agencies will come and pick you up during their office hours.

The benefit would be that it appears to be the perfect balance of saving money and not having to drive. Expect to spend about 24 hours in travel, not counting layover. This may seem like a lot but when compared to the time spent arriving early for flights, and driving to and from the airport, it’s really not that bad and is certainly better than driving yourself. I anticipate a savings of around $100-150/person for the additional time spent in travel.

Cedar Point: Driving

I don’t recommend this method unless you have a heap of people and a camper. While the Sandusky area has a great campground convenient to the park, I found that the hassle and time that was expended on the trip was not worth the savings. If you have at least four people that can share with the driving, this may save you a great deal of money but staying in the campground gives you no advantages in comfort or any of the ‘early entry’ benefits that some of the hotels offer during park season.

With gas prices being highly unpredictable, it was very difficult to budget for the trip this way. When I drove, we took a van and pulled a camper. Headwinds while crossing Kansas caused our gas cost to double for the trip out. We also saw a price increase in gas jump almost thirty cents/gallon between the time that we planned the trip and when we actually reached Sandusky.

Construction, weather, and a traumatic break-down all worked together to make the trip frustrating and exhausting. Even with two licensed drivers, we were unable to drive straight through and counting the time we spent sleeping, the total trip exceeded 35 hours each way. We drove through torrential rains, lightning storms, heat exceeding 115 degrees, heavy construction and traffic jams in both directions.

Cedar Point: Flying

If you have two or fewer people traveling long distance to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, you will probably want to fly. Without a larger group, there just isn’t enough savings to warrant the endless hours spent traveling, the possible breakdowns and the unpredictability of rising gas prices.

Since there is no commercial airport in Sandusky, you will want to compare prices of flights into Columbus, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Toledo. Keep in mind that no matter where you fly in, you will have to rent a car, so it is important that you pick flight times that correspond with when the car rental desk is still open. The cheapest city to fly in and out of varies year to year. When figuring the price of flights, be sure to take into consideration the amount of time/gas you will spend driving from the various airports into the Sandusky area.

Cedar Point: Overview

As a dedicated roller coaster junkie, I just can’t get enough of Cedar Point. It would be much more convenient to visit the Sandusky, Ohio amusement park if I didn’t live in Colorado, but regardless, I just can’t get enough.

I grew up in the Detroit Metro area so I had the benefit of cutting my teeth on Cedar Point, the best amusement park in the world, located just four hours away. As an adult, I have never quite lost the addiction and continue to plan vacations there despite the immense distance and complexity.

In the following blog I will relate to you my experiences through three separate trips to my favorite place on earth. In each instance I, and my travel partner, tried a different method of attack. Whether you decide to drive or fly, stay in a hotel, bed and breakfast, or camper, I’ve tried it all! Please keep in mind that the focus of this blog is traveling to Cedar Point from an extreme distance, recommendations on travel may not apply if you are less than 24 hours away.

Because of the distance and expense of traveling so far, I generally plan trips that include two or three days at the park and at least a half day doing other things in the area. You will find that after walking all over Cedar Point for a full day, you may not want to repeat it with gusto the next day. Sandusky is a fairly small town but the Put-in-Bay area and numerous wineries will offer at least a full day of alternative enjoyment.