Once upon a time of changing family dynamics,‡ two boys went to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science with their dad, their grandpa and their dear ol' AntiM.
Every exhibit started with a movie.§
In the Space Odyssey, there was a really boring movie with no rockets or asteroid fields or supernovas and some of the grown ups¶ in the group wondered how in the hell the museum planned to keep kids interested.
Fortunately, Dave Cuomo showed up# and saved the day with a reasonably engaging Q&A about what hurricanes and big cities and Dubai look like from space.
Then the happy family went out amongst the displays and interactive educational experiences and played to their collective hearts' content. Tallest Hairiest Nephew liked to push buttons -- any buttons -- and Dr. Doom went to the museum to shoot things.
One toy they all played with was the shooting-metal-balls-into-the-sand thingie.††
A video recorder captured all the scientific action, after which whomever was big enough and strong enough to muscle everybody else away from the controls could watch it backwards and in slow motion.
This is what it looked like when AntiM shot the ball into the sand‡‡:
What scientific lesson was to be learned from this was unclear, but it was button-pushing, shooting-stuff, video-editing fun for the whole family.
Once Space Odyssey ceased to capture the attention of certain short attention spanketeers,§§ they moved on to the Prehistoric Journey, more fondly known as "dinosaurs."
Of course, no self-respecting prehistoric exhibit gives you dinosaurs right off the bat. AntiM and the boys puttered through many dioramas of trilobites and the crinoids and brachiopods they lived and loved with in the Cambrian world.¶¶
They learned one very important thing:
"Well, duh," said AntiM.
"What?" asked Tallest Hairiest Nephew.
"What? Nothing!" said AntiM.
"You said, 'duh.' Duh what?"
"Where's your dad?"##
So they moved on to the dinosaur bone room††† where they were just in time to catch the dinosaur repairman‡‡‡ with that part that was ordered nearly a year ago.§§§
"Yay!" said the intrepid explorers.
They headed to the rock exhibit, where there were no good picutres to be had. Then Dr. Doom announced he was ready to go home.¶¶¶
They lunched on crackers and ham and tiny carrots and Danish puff### and lived happily ever after.
†FOOTNOTE (crossed): Am I going to hell for the evolution thing or bridging the worlds of science and theology through my saintly works?
‡FOOTNOTE (double-crossed): Understatement of the century.
§FOOTNOTE (swerved): The dinosaur movie had a narrator with a mild speech impediment. I said, "Mawiage..." and Brother and I giggled madly.
¶FOOTNOTE (paragraphed): And I use the term loosely.
#FOOTNOTE (pounded): OK, it wasn't actually Dave Cuomo, but it LOOKED like Dave Cuomo, it SOUNDED like Dave Cuomo and it even LAUGHED like Dave Cuomo. I went to college with Dave Cuomo. Turns out Dave Cuomo looks, sounds and laughs a lot like Dustin Hoffman.
††FOOTNOTE (ddouble-ccrossed): I have better pictures, but I like this one because Brother looks like a light bulb.
‡‡FOOTNOTE (doubble-crossssed): That would be a video of a video, which I'm pretty sure is meta.
§§FOOTNOTE (don't get confused): Span-keteer, not spank-eteer. That's a whole other subject, which I'm pretty sure shouldn't involve my five-year-old nephew.
¶¶FOOTNOTE (bunny ears!): My version of the Cambrian world resembles Peyton Place more than the Burgess Shale.
##FOOTNOTE (pounding a dead horse): To Brother: "I get saint points for today, right?"
"I think you get saint points if you actually come back from the dead on Easter."
"Did you *see* me Friday night?"
†††FOOTNOTE (Oh, Golgotha): That would be the room where the dinosaur bones are, rather than the room where dinosaurs go to bone. Though that would be interesting too.
‡‡‡FOOTNOTE (wires are crossed): You get an appointment and they say, "Some time between ten am and five pm and you go out real quick to drop the mail off and you come back to a tag flapping on your front door that says, "Sorry we missed you"...
§§§FOOTNOTE (giddy with laughter): I crack me up.
¶¶¶FOOTNOTE (bunny hops!): Which is a little like pulling the pin from a grenade.
###FOOTNOTE (pounding the pastry): Danish puff is something that Mom used to make almost every Easter. It has almost no sugar, about a pound of butter and enough almond extract to disguise a gallon of cyanide. It's the one thing Brother requested for Easter dinner.