Monday, October 10, 2022

Denver 2022 day 7: May 10- The Ugly Monkey Doubles Down on Nature

We woke up to find Titi Luzma in the middle of Superman Returns. It was the best part of the film. (Do I need to mention that it is the jumbo jet rescue? I think not.) Therefore, it caught Anabelle’s attention. Explaining the back story up to that point, yielded many incredulous “What?!”s from my daughter.
We began the Ugly Monkey’s journey to the Science and Nature Museum, which is in the same park as the Zoo. The construction shifted a tad on the Route 70 exit ramp. This meant what was normally a no issue any time of the day Western U.S. stop sign transitioned into The Merge nightmares are weaved from.
Following a bit of starting, stopping and swearing, we were back on the way. Due to the stress we may have laughed harder than usual when one of us pointed to the Church’s Chicken restaurant sign and asked, “Is it blessed?” as we did every time.
At the Science and Nature Museum we parked near the entrance to the garage to allow us (possibly mostly me)  to view the life size Camarasaur…Woo Hoo!
And more importantly to let Anabelle wander the lot looking for license plates missing from her list. I did a stair run instead of taking the elevator to get to the sauropods “pods” for the picture, insuring I was out of breath before we started walking the museum.

At the entrance by the Doctor Bakker posed Tyrannosaur a little girl and I complemented each other on our multi colored sneakers. It’s nice to know some aspects of the future are in safe hands. (or feet) We all got Dinosaur hand stamps as we entered. Mine vanished instantly as I have the attention span of a gnat on acid and forgot about it the first time I washed my hands, which, in the plague times, was immediate..
Because the museum is, in Anabelle’s description, “One Square Foot” we all had the patience to follow her suggestion of leaving the Dinosaurs for the grand finale. Much to her and her Mother’s excitement we started by targeting the Shiny Things.
However, before reaching that hall, we stopped briefly at the bug exhibit where Anabelle had two revelations.
1) If she saw a Cricket as large as the one that was on display near her home she would simply move.
2) She likes Dragonflies and Butterflies creep her out because Butterflies can walk, which is unnatural looking, and Dragonflies cannot.
Then Anabelle continued with her “grand finale” idea for the day and decided to do the Space exhibit before the Shiny Things on this floor. The section had been redone and was a very kid friendly and interactive space. I spent a bit on the floor projected gravity demonstration myself.
We wandered through one of the huge, hands-on exhibits and got lost, ending up back in the main hall. Being not the age of kids that it was friendly to, and having seen the moon rock, we decided to head over to the Shiny Things.

New York museums spoiled us again, and seeing replicas of diamonds and other stones was less than impressive.
However, there were massive amounts of Colorado gold and silver to take in. Plus Anabelle could geek out about the chemistry sections of the exhibit.
We paused long enough outside the Shiny Things hall for Rosa to identify which of the large mineral samples would be countertop choices for our kitchen and bathroom. While we did this, a live piano player performed selections from Cats and Beauty and the Beast.
Up the stairs under the awesome Whale skeleton took us to the Dead Animal and Native American floor. We followed a newly rediscovered method of museum exploration my family had used when I was a kid, from the last time we had visited the AMNH.

We went left through the whole floor, instead of one room at a time. We would pass through multiple exhibits and then back again, always turning left, adding variety to what was seen.
Again, New York spoilage- the Native American stuff had all the tribes in one hall, rather than several separate massive ones. As usual for the Denver Museum, what it lacked in quantity it made up for in information and interaction. There was a demo with manikin hands on how to do hand shadows.
There was also a new “thread” running along one wall about progress on steps to scale back racist depictions of Native Americans in various media. Included were recent improvements in Cleveland and Washington DC sports teams. 
Nicely done folks. 
(*Stares angrily at Atlanta*)

I added to the educationalness, as always, by saying “What’s a Ute?” in my best Fred Gwynne impersonation. This may have been when Anabelle decided to hide in the little house she loved as a child. 

Hey, know what I learned!? The idea that Manatees were mermaids (no doubt due to exhausted, drunk and lonely sailors) was another contribution from the foolishness of Christopher “Hey, this doesn’t look like India, better kill and kidnap a bunch of people to make sure” Columbus.
Aside- Please don't accuse me of "going" woke now. Based on a minimum of extracurricular reading in grammar school (as a young lad with a reading addiction, in actual books back in the "fossil times") I knew why Italy didn't want to sponsor Columbus to begin with, why he was thrown in jail as soon as he returned to Europe, and that the Earth not being flat had been common knowledge for a LONG time when he lived. Trust me, there are a HUGE number of Italians worthy of praise and celebration. (Many among my family and friends.) Pick someone else. If it wasn't for Washington Irving writing a completely fictional biography of him, there's no way Columbus would have been as well regarded as he became. He's one of many historical figures who is remembered far better than he should be due to popular fictional accounts, songs or poems instead of what really happened. 
*Waves briefly at Paul Revere* 

Also, I wrote this whole vacation series including this specific museum story with bits about Native Americans and Columbus back in June. The fact that this posted on "Indigenous Peoples Day" and/ or "Columbus Day" is one of the weird coincidences in my life I've just learned to live with and accept.
The animal halls on this floor had many interactive buttons to press and add to the atmosphere by playing the sounds that creature made. Cool! 
There were also many giant puzzle blocks, spinning chairs and other toys in the exhibits to keep bored children from annoying the other visitors. 
Also cool!
A comparison of the “tree ring” demonstration summed up the difference between New York museums and anywhere else nicely. Although old, the over 500 year old sectioned trunk here in Denver was shorter than Anabelle, while the 1400 year old Giant Sequoia in the AMNH wouldn’t fit on any of the walls in the Denver Museum.  And yet... 
They still conveyed the same information, and the Denver one is presented in a more directly understandable way.
Back on the stairwell heading to the top floor, we heard the piano player working on a selection from Les Miz. It was only then we realized he was playing all show tunes. The Beauty and the Beast one threw us off.
On the top floor, we spent a bit of time in the Egypt exhibit, learning the Moon Knight series had some educational value after all. Mummies give Anabelle the Heebie Jeebies, and we left quickly to spend a rapid wander through the dead bird exhibits.

In a room off to the side of the local animals (unsurprisingly on our left) was the random appearance of Russian carvings. Nearby, there was also one diorama each to cover Australia and South America. (New York museums REALLY spoil us.) 

Hey did you know Buffalo are Antelope? 
Apparently I did! 
Anabelle pointed out I am surprised by this near constantly at all the zoos and museums we frequent. I was also surprised by her sudden, unprovoked, spot on, and hilarious grouse impression.
Anabelle pointed out support of her “one square foot” claim by noting we had done the entire museum except the dinosaurs, in detail, in two hours. While we love New York museums (they are home) it was nice to get this much information without being too tired to move.
It was time for the Prehistoric Grand Finale. We took in the earlier eras’ rooms and headed to the Dinosaurs. WOO!
Passing the Stygimoloch display, Anabelle decided the boneheads were cemented as her third favorite Dinosaur. (Doesn't everyone have a detailed ranked list? And why not?)
They did have a large percentage of local fossils there. However, this time I noticed along with the Tyrannosaur skull, the Edmontosaurus (duckbill) and the Moropus (early mammal) skeletons were also cast from the AMNH. The other prehistoric mammals were almost all native however.
I got to talk with me again in the main Dinosaur room that had a Diplodocus. A group of small boys were running around. Many were asking questions, but one lad was answering them instead. I answered a couple he didn’t know and we had a short, yet high level, Dino discussion before parting ways.

Anabelle stood under the “Spock’s Brain” helmet to finish the floor. Then the three of us sat on a bench and marveled at an individual wearing his jeans so low they impeded his ability to move. He was apparently neither a fan of Science nor Nature.
Down in the gift shop Rosa "subtlety" made fun of me by asking, “Isn’t this the place you left my camera behind?  Good times.”  A group of little boys (and me) were checking out the toy dinosaurs, but there were none that any of us needed in our collection.
Pausing briefly for me to get a new Dinosaur stamp, we exited to head over to Anabelle’s “Aversion Therapy to See the Dolphins in Disney World.”
On the way to the Downtown Aquarium, we saw a van with a painting of the Holy Family on the back…
And a custom license plate that spelled “SHAG.”
Clearly a vehicle of mixed signals.
We got used to free parking for the Ugly Monkey in this (far less crowded that our home) state, but the Aquarium is in a marginally denser portion of the city, requiring minor payment. It worked out to about a half hours’ worth of New York parking time for the whole day.
On the way across the street we passed a woman coming out of the Downtown Aquarium. Anabelle thought she might be a “mermaid” because of how she looked. I thought she might be a “mermaid” because I smelled sea water. As there were no “Mermaid Shows” that day, perhaps she was smuggling out some residents of the aquarium in her underwear.
We started with lunch at the Landry (Rainforest Café) owned restaurant. Anabelle immediately declared the tanks to be pretty! Progress continued.
The waitress was hugely helpful, saying she wasn’t sure what was gluten free, but would get the chef. 
The chef did not come. Instead the manager did.
In contrast, the manager was hugely UNhelpful. Her only suggestion was they could grill a piece of chicken, with no indication of what would go with it. After what was a far longer inquisition than it should have required, Rosa was able to determine she could get the grilled chicken on a salad. That they did not heat the chicken when included in a salad added insult to the already large pile of insult.
Anabelle and I split a large, broiled “Fisherman’s Platter.” The awesomeness of our waitress came into play again, as she split the items of the dish in half on two plates, and gave us a set of the sides each to go with them.
Anabelle was distracted by being incredibly excited by watching the fish without fear, and a newly discovered love (bordering on obsession) with butternut squash- continuing her possible pescatarian journey. Therefore she found it quite easy to ignore me when I put each of our halves of a crab face in front of me like a mask.
On the way to the rest rooms before heading up to the aquarium proper, we passed the huge grouper who always stops by the bar window to say hello to us.
We entered the opening areas, Anabelle in her Aquarium shirt (because it is her only Denver shirt that still fits, and maaaaaaaaaaaaybe because she wondered if this would happen) and me in my Dog Food For Chairs shirt, because confusing people while looking at fish is now my one of my many inexplicable shirt traditions.
We watched the Otters for a bit, then entered the darkened space next to the first big tank of the location- a huge environment filled with giant Sturgeons, the largest of all fresh water fish. (Something I just learned this moment, doing a quick look up to make sure they were, in fact, fresh water fish.)
Anabelle’s response after years of hating the big tanks, initially triggered in this very aquarium?
“This is cool!”
We celebrated by standing in the “flash flood” demonstration and getting wetter than we ever had before. Rosa stayed in the background, per usual. In the past I was required to stand next to Anabelle here as payment for her putting up with my fish obsession. Now that she likes them too, I feel I should renegotiate my contract.
Another large tank featured rays, which were “cool,” but seeing their gills from beneath still gave her a bit of the Heebie Jeebies. (Why do I capitalize that? Perhaps I think a Heebie Jeebie is an animal of some sort?)
Rosa immediately identified the ultra-shiny Tarpon…
As Cybermen-fish.
I’m so proud.
Anabelle also enjoyed the walk through tunnel (surrounded by water) greatly, remarking it was not nearly as big as she remembered.

We collectively wondered why the water breathing rays were blowing streams of bubbles as they travelled, but (alas) this was one of the few sections of the aquarium without question answering volunteers.
Two gorgeous Amur Tigers from the Washington D.C. zoo were wandering impressively in their enclosure as per usual. Also as per usual, there was no explanation whatsoever why these animals were in an aquarium. Anabelle handled the nearby Macaw well, saying they are pretty if they stay quiet and “way up there…but I can see the devil in its eyes.”
The oddness of the big cats caused a slight delay in noticing they removed the few animatronic animals that used to be in various exhibits. This was something we found stranger than the oddly placed Tigers and were happy to see them go.
By this point Anabelle was brave enough to crawl under one of the smaller tanks to use the bubble underneath and get a fish’s eye view of the exhibit.
I was brave enough to join her, scraping my knees and bonking my head. I think I spelled “brave’ wrong. I meant “stupid.”
Anabelle still does not really like leggy things, and avoided the horseshoe crabs in the petting tank. She did remember her masterful performance in the high school biology class invertebrates section and had a long discussion with the “Sea Creatures Lady” about starfish and how they throw one of their two stomachs out to digest their prey. We’re a fun family! I looked directly at the woman as she explained how to gently pet the creatures with one or two fingers facing down. Then I did it wrong, because there are some days I am worn out to the point that  I shouldn't be allowed to interact with any species, human or otherwise. 
Then it was time for the big test.
The gigantic shark tank with the glass sections on the floor, where a randomly appearing Sawfish triggered the phobia Anabelle was conquering on this day.
Like the rest of the place, she found it smaller than she remembered and very cool. The woman from the petting tank came over and was chatting with us and giving us nifty bits of information. You can tell if a Sea Turtle is male or female by its tail length. The only male was named after Donatello, Anabelle’s favorite. Raph and Mike were the females. 
(There was no Leo. How sad.)
We saw Reef Sharks, Sand Tigers, and Zebra Sharks, which are spotted. Their name is from them being striped when young. However, they are also known as Leopard Sharks.  These are not to be confused with Leopard Sharks, which are also known as Zebra Sharks because of a reversal of the striped and spotted ages.
(Apparently there is some shark naming kerfuffle between Australia and the U.S. that I refuse to get involved with.)
Anabelle was even able to handle the massive Sawfish and we chatted with Petting Tank Lady about them for a bit.
Like, she was able to handle seeing the massive sawfish swimming around, she wasn't hoisting a massive and spiky ray relative out of the tank.
Do I need to explain everything?
Oh look, the famous feet picture could return now!

In the continued fun tales of Jeff's clumsiness: I nearly fell over and crushed a small child, startling them into hysterics. This was not my fault as the child’s mother thought the best place to park her stroller in the huge and mostly unoccupied viewing area for this tank was…
My butt.
There was several times we spotted a cool looking fish with a yellow tail in many of the salt water environments that we were finally able to identify with the help of our personal volunteer right before we left this room.
This story would be much better if any of us remembered what it was called.

We spent some time with the Jellyfish, because OOH JELLYFISH! before bidding farewell to the final "inside looking" room."
In the tanks of the last area that pretends to be outside we strained to see the hiding Giant Octopus, and stopped by to see the official “Big Ugly Fish.” (The Wolf Fish.)
We finished at the Ray petting tank, where Anabelle was much more experienced after the zoo encounter. Per normal operations, she told the Big Ugly Stingray to, “Stay over there.” She also wanted no part of the weird looking Guitar Fish.
She was happy to pet the Flappy Rays that came to see her, and one gave us a big splash to say good bye. She called it the “Best. Day. Ever!” and said
“The Fish are so BIG! And in your FACE!”
Overall a fantastic Aquarium Adventure!
Her excitement led to a heavily Pigeon choreography infused Ugly Monkey drive to Yogurtland for a celebration. We had a Disney chat with the lady wearing a Haunted Mansion Stretching Room shirt before filling our cups.
We believed we had programmed in the Yogurtland near Titi’s house, and traffic forced us to take a strange route home.
Naïve, aren’t we?
There was more Pigeon dancing on the way home. When we got there, we adjusted the next day's Anabelle and Daddy Ad-veeeeen-tures! Yeah! *Jazz Hands* trip to the zoo to have an earlier start time. This way we could take advantage of members' only Extra Magic time, and spend the afternoon with Mami and Abuelita.
Uncle Roy made Buffalo burgers. It was his first attempt at cooking them rare, and he did a good job.  We washed up and returned to Superman Returns which, being as fair as possible, is kind of a mess.
Routh deserves a chance to be his own Superman, not just a copy of Reeves. After seeing the bits with them in that Crisis crossover the CW did, I think they should cast him, and Kevin Conroy along with Lynda Carter and make a Kingdom Come miniseries.
After a lifetime of reading comics, watching shows and movies, and (most important) living with me, Anabelle had much to say about this film.
In general she was not a fan of twenty-three year old Lois (with a five year old son) when she's clearly supposed to still be Margot Kidder. Superman leaving Earth for a long period of time, or “Cyclops” getting screwed over again.
Displaying her knowledge of the character, at the appearance of the Kryptonite Island she immediately asked, “Will he wear a lead suit?”
Shortly followed by demonstrating her knowledge of this film by stating:
“Of course not.”
She was excited to see Superman use Freeze Breath, her favorite power of his. And Inquired, “How often does that ball fall, like once a week?” When the Daily Planet Globe plummeted. 
She greeted Frank Langella as Perry White’s reaction to being saved from that globe:
“Great Caesar’s Ghost!”
With, “He said the thing!!!!”
She was a big fan of Richard (Cyclops), and pointed out, “Richard hates Superman and I’m here for it.”
Rosa was asking a lot of questions, leading Anabelle to ask if she had seen it.
Naturally she wasn’t sure, but I answered, “Yes, twice. Once in the theater and once at home.”
("Plbbbbbth" says Rosa)
For Superman’s unique solution to the Kryptonite Island, Anabelle had a running commentary:
“He’s not picking up the island?
He is picking up the island.
 What’s he gonna do with it?
That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Her suggestion after his crashing back to Earth once more showed her understanding of the character’s powers:
“Shine a UV light on him.”
She was sure Superman wasn’t really dead and sided, once more, with Richard, who was gauging Lois’s reaction with a lot of emotion.
“I love Richard.
Richard knows.
Richard is a smart man unlike any of these other people.”
Lois kissing the apparently deceased man of steel led to another short rant by Anabelle:
“She’s kissing a corpse. What is this Snow White?”
Titi Luzma said she liked the old Christopher Reeve Superman movies and really didn’t like the modern dark one she saw recently. (It was Batman Vs Superman.)
It got me going into a long description about what was wrong with that version and what makes a good story for the Last Son of Krypton.
I apologized and Anabelle said, “No it was great. It was like the sermon on the mount but with Daddy ranting about Superman movies.”
That exhausted us and we turned in for the night.


Dina Roberts said...

The buffalo-are-antelope thing reminds me so much of me. Learn something. Be amazed by the fact. Realize I already learned it. And then repeat.

Very cool about the posting on Columbus/Indigenous coincidence. I like things like that.

I haven't finished reading yet but wanted to comment on that stuff...because I'm afraid I'll forget by the time I finished reading.

Jeff McGinley said...

Many thanx.

Usually I remember stuff like that...but for some reason the buffalo one falls out of my head. Probably all the singing.

Dina Roberts said...

I'm intrigued by the mermaid woman.

Jeff McGinley said...

That was a confusing moment to say the least. It tells a lot about our family that the first thought wasn't "normal aquarium worker" but "Mermaid show performer."

Dina Roberts said... says a lot about me that I was thinking "Maybe it's a real mermaid!" and my heart sunk a little with your "Normal aquarium worker". I didn't even consider that. It's kind of a miracle I didn't join QAnon.

Jeff McGinley said...

I don't think they take whimsical and fun irrational beliefs there, just the ones that are a danger to others.

Dina Roberts said...

Still reading...

I think you guys forgetting the name of the fish actually makes the story better. More relatable. guys are really good at filling up the yogurt cups. They're all beautiful. I especially like the multi-color without the toppings. But the other ones are lovely too.

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you. That yogurt is Rosa's. Anabelle likes the little "Boba balls" that she gets in her tea as well. My (skewed) logic is that since the Nutter Butters are "toppings" and not "cookies" they don't count. (Most of the yogurt under them is fat free and sugar free.)