If we weren't in the middle of Texas, the air traffic center could easily be
mistaken as a really, really small lighthouse.
I was a little concerned that I wasn’t going to do anything
noteworthy this weekend, and I already planned several back-up blog topics, but
my dad had other ideas. Instead of just walking around a mall and watching a
movie, we attended the Denton Air Show. And then we walked around a mall and
watched a movie. Hey, the mall and theater had air condition.
To be completely honest with you, I’ve never really been a
fan of air shows. From a very young age, I’ve associated air shows with tediously
pacing through heated concrete runways with the sun in my eyes and sweat
beading on my neck and accumulating through my clothes. With every other plane,
I would climb into the cramped cockpit, look around, and feel nothing except hot
and slightly overwhelmed with the musk of military apparel. Even the loud crackle
of jet engines and tightly woven flybys became desensitizing, and after a few
hours, I was solely interested in hangers with giant fans and booths with plastic
To be fair, I felt the same way about boat shows, car shows,
and home expos, but all of those events had the benefit of being inside. And
they usually had free candy; events are usually better with free candy.
So when my dad initially mentioned the Denton Air Show, I
was slightly apathetic, but if anything, I could try out my new camera. It’s
not a great camera, but I always felt self-conscious while taking pictures with
my seven inch tablet. If you haven’t been to the Denton Air Show, I don’t blame
you. It was my dad’s first time visiting the Denton Airport even though he’s
lived in town for several years. While getting there, we resorted to following road
signs and eventually the long line of cars on the humble two way street. And
even though there were a few warehouses and trucking lots, you get the
impression that this was probably the only day out of the year that this road
was ever busy. While we waited, we were treated with our first taste of synchronized
biplanes carving through the open sky. They were tight and low, and it was nice
so I decided to keep an open mind and put my past experiences aside.
An island of shade in an ocean full of sun.
At my first glance of the copious amount of adults and straggling
kids, I knew that I should have brought sunglasses and a hat. These people were
seasoned veterans with nearly everyone carrying hats, sunglasses, lawn chairs,
and large umbrellas to block the sun. And even though Denton is somewhere
between a large town and a small city, there was a very strong turnout for the one
day, five hour event. The air show displayed a variety of stationary planes
ranging from World War II fighters to one or two modern jets. And while we looked
through the grounds, hundreds of other visitors lined their umbrellas and lawn
chairs near the runway while the announcer provided short descriptions of the
constant stream of planes that displayed their acrobatic feats.
Longer than the line to the porta potties.
Along with sunglasses and hats, nearly everyone carried a
camera. Some were expensive with detachable lenses and tripods while others were
small, modest camera phones. And almost everywhere I looked, there were people
taking pictures. Whether they were focused on the sky, a smiling group of
people, or just the planes themselves, we were all looking through our lenses
and capturing the moments around us. Normally I would have a pretentious rant
about how people should try to savor a moment instead of futilely attempt to preserve
it, but unlike a museum or festival, taking pictures at an air show was part of
experiencing the event. Even though the announcer chimed interesting facts
about several of the planes and previously famous pilots, no one was really
there for a history lesson. We were there to marvel at the majesty of flight, and
touch the metal capsules that cradled pilots and sent them into the sky, and just
lay on the grass with its ceiling full of puffy white clouds with friends and
loved ones while we watched streaks of smoke litter across the sky. There were long
lines for over-priced festival foods, light beer, and toy booths that enticed
eager young kids with their bright colors and spattered arrangements. And it
might sound trivial and frivolous, but we were there to ooh and aah at planes,
which we did.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... no wait, it's a plane.
And it was fun.
Also, we watched 'The Cabin in the Woods,' it was weird and I'm still not sure if I liked it.
Usually on my weekends off work, I drive to Denton,
Texas, where I spend a little time with my dad. Over the course of a few
months, we’ve developed a routine of walking around the mall, watching a movie,
and then eating at a nearby Chinese buffet. It’s nice, and to be completely
honest with you, I was looking forward to watching ‘Lorax’ or ‘John Carter’ at
the local discount theater and indulging in all-you-can-eat pork ribs. You can
judge me, you’re just jealous. Fortunately, my dad was tired of Denton with its
one story mall and historic downtown square. He aspired for bigger, better, and
most of all, different. So last weekend we visited the cultural district of
good ol’ Fort Worth, Texas.
As you may have noticed, I grew-up in Fort Worth, Texas.
Go ahead, stalk me. I’d like the attention. Throughout my childhood, I’ve been
exposed to a plethora of malls, movie theaters, and events that have spanned a
fifty mile radius of downtown, and it’s mostly attributed to my father and his encouragement
to see and do everything that the city has had to offer. And since my father
moved to Denton a few years ago, he hasn’t seen a lot of the changes that has occurred
except through passing glances on the way to citywide events. Fortunately, the
cultural district of Fort Worth offers a variety of museums across the street
from its renowned stockyard grounds. Unfortunately, the stockyard grounds were
busy last weekend. Along with accommodating an equestrian event, the coliseum
hosted several graduations that were staggered throughout the day, and the
museums were bustling with kids, families, and young adults itching to be
I have fond memories of the Fort Worth Museum of Science
and History, and as soon as my sister came into town, we immediately visited
the museum after its remodeling in 2009. It’s been a few years since my dad has
been inside, and the facility has been much improved with spacious hallways,
lecture halls, and classrooms for kids to learn and flourish. I’m aware the museum’s
primarily meant for children, but if you keep an open mind, you can still have
fun and learn something too.
Picture courtesy of Google. Although I may have failed to ask if I could use it.
Please and Thanks. -Ryan
Across from the main entrance lies the Innovation Gallery.
Recently, I’ve been playing a game called Psychonauts, and it’s about a boy who
can explore the surreal subconscious of his teachers and companions. And in the
best possible way, I hope the inner workings of a child’s mind resembles the
Innovation Gallery. Along the gallery’s main hallway, glass rooms encompassed centers
where kids could create anything from illuminated drawings to elaborate Rube Goldberg
contraptions. The exhibit was hyphened by a section devoted to aircrafts where
kids could create different airplanes and launch them on an air propelled launcher.
Also, the section included paper cups to create pine wheels that you could
float inside vertical wind tunnels, fond childhood memories.
Portion of the chandelier in the Innovation Gallery. I didn't take the picture,
but I swear it looked the same way.
Tucked in the corner of the museum sat the mandatory dinosaur
exhibit. Seriously, it’s not a science museum unless they have a giant brontosaurus
or tyrannosaurus skeleton. I imagine every museum across the nation has a heated
debate whether to have a brontosaurus or tyrannosaurus skeleton; everyone picks
sides, families and friends are divided, and the final decision is always controversial.
Fort Worth chose team brontosaurus, and I know brontosaurus aren’t considered
real dinosaurs anymore, but I’m too old to learn new things. It was a nice exhibit,
but I thought it was a little small. Of course, I’m a boy, and I’m bias toward
Me: Apparently triceratops didn’t exist either; that means two fifths of ‘The Land before Times’ cast
didn’t even exist…
You: I don’t want to disappoint you, but talking dinosaurs
probably didn’t exist either.
One of the newer exhibits was Energy Blast, and it begins
with a 4D film about the history of the universe and the justification for
drilling for natural gas. It’s an ambitious short film. Essentially, every 4D
film equates to 3D glasses and water spraying into your face. Get ready, it’s
the next dimension. Since I’ve previously seen the film, I knew water was about
to spray into my face, and I flinched every time we approached any giant bodies
of water. Sprays aside, I liked the film, and it was very entertaining. After
the film, the side doors opened, and we were ushered into the energy exhibit
with a miniature (and still gigantic) natural gas drill as its center piece. The
exhibit was informative, but it felt a little bias toward drilling instead of
other alternative energy sources. Sure, there was a diorama for other forms of
energy sources including solar and wind, but considering that the film and the
exhibit's center piece focused on natural gas, it felt a little underwhelming.
Dioramas always tempt me to jump on the stage and
act like a giant monster. Really, just me?
Upstairs, the museum had four exhibit rooms: the planetarium,
a cattle raising exhibit, and two special exhibits. Currently, the two special
exhibits were grossology and risky jobs. And to be completely honest, I was
sorely disappointed with both of them.
As a mid-twenty year old college graduate, I am fully
aware that I'm not part of the museum's target demographic, but I feel like
they missed the potential of grossology. While I waited for my dad near the
exhibit room, I was genuinely excited. From my previous microbiology and
parasitology courses, I've seen some really gross stuff. I was expecting to see
bacteria growing on presumably sterile places like food and surgical equipment and
infectious parasites that buried into your feet or wiggled into your eyeball
while you slept. There were going to be kids screaming and traumatized for
life, it was going to be great. Unfortunately, the museum chose a different
route. Through the winding corridors, the museum displayed interactive stations
that pertained to 'gross' bodily fluids. There was an animatronic faucet with
snot hanging from its nose, a small to large intestine slide, and a game show
style quiz on urine. There was even a station where kids used air cannons to
shoot tennis balls into a nose shaped target to display the effects of
sneezing, although I'm pretty sure that's the complete opposite of sneezing. I
get it, the exhibit’s meant for children, but it was clearly a case where the
museum tailored to the children instead making any real attempt to educate
them. I highly doubt a lot of kids thought a running nose was disgusting,
especially since a few of them wiped their dripping nose with their hands and
continued climbing up the slide.** Trust me, they didn't have a care in the
world. Sure, there were fun facts scattered across the walls, but they were
primarily there to remind parents that they were still in a museum.
Essentially, it was a science themed play center. At the very least, the museum
could have made an attempt to emphasize the importance of hygiene by displaying
how many bacteria colonies grew on public doors, buttons, and shared toys. I'm
sure if you swabbed any of the stations, you'd be way more grossed out by the
amount of bacteria colonies on the equipment than any of the displayed 'fun facts.' Keep in
mind, it looked like the kids were having fun and maybe that's all that counts.
The risky jobs exhibit had less interactive sections and
more descriptions about dangerous jobs, but it was ultimately forgettable.
Sorry, but it was very unimpressive list of stereotypical jobs like
construction workers, firefighters, and medieval knights. They didn’t even
mention the risk of the plague. I thought it would have been interesting if
they mentioned less predictable risky jobs based on stress; they could have had
statistics on the amount of strokes and heart attacks that occur with emergency
room nurses, doctors, or lawyers. I don’t know, I guess it lacks sex appeal.
didn’t get tickets for the planetarium, but I couldn’t include this picture if I
didn’t mention it.
Next, we visited the permanent cattle raising exhibit,
and when it comes right down to it, I’m pretty sure most science and history
museums don’t have a cattle raising exhibit. You’re missing out. Fort Worth has
had a very rich and proud history associated with the cattle drive and all
things western. Due to its location, Fort Worth has always been a rail road center
piece and it’s claimed to be where the first indoor rodeo was conducted. It’s
kind of a big deal; we have the national cowgirl museum within skipping
distance of the science and history museum. Past the stuffed cattle and computer
simulated cattle drive, where kids can literally pretend to ride a cotton horse
back in front of a television full of animated open pastures, the museum
displayed a variety of barbwire twines, boot spurs, and a ceiling full of
branding irons. It’s great and very informative with a short film about the ups
and downs of the beef market in the early 1920’s and a room devoted to
displaying the many different uses of the cow from food to pharmaceutical needs.
It was a little weird that they didn’t mention that most cattle are subjected
to hormone enhancement drugs, but I still felt like eating a Big Mac afterwards.
I’m going out of chronological order, but lastly, we went
to the gift shop. First and foremost, museum gift shops are amazing. They’re
the only place where you can simultaneously buy freeze dried ice cream, cute bacteria
plushies, and element themed shot glasses. It’s great, and the Fort Worth
Science and History Museum even has a dinosaur themed slide. They also have science
books and stuff.
It might sound like I’ve been hypercritical of the
science museum throughout this post, but I really love science museums and I
think they’re crucial for children to develop their curiosity. The main objective
of science museums shouldn’t be to teach children everything there’s to know
about science, but they should spark an interest and nurture an un-tampered mind.
Science museums should tell kids, ‘Here’s what we know, and here’s everything
left to be discover.’
Wait, there’s more.
After we left the science museum, we walked across the
street and visited the Amon Carter Museum. It’s free, and they have air
condition. Also, there’s art and stuff. Whenever I’m in an art museum, I’m
reminded of when I went to the San Antonio Art Museum with a friend last
summer. And although we originally strolled through the hallways and read a few
of the descriptions, we eventually resorted to making preposterous interpretations
of modern oil paintings and daring each other to touch really, really old
things. Seriously, there were hundreds of art work in the San Antonio Art Museum,
and the only ones we mutually enjoyed were the landscapes. The Amon Carter is
nice because they have collections from early American artists and they
primarily pertained to landscapes, still life, and romanticized versions of the
Wild West. There’s also a section devoted to metal work, and they have a
variety of different sculptures on display and provide a detailed step-by-step instruction
to forming sculptures. It was great, informative, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Amon Carter Museum. I'm just speculating, but there's a good change someone
considered suing the museum before they put up that sign.
And although we were tired and slightly hungry, we walked
down the hill and visited the world renowned Kimbell Art Museum. Unfortunately,
they’re still renovating the area, but we were still able to view the permanent
collection, which is open to the public. Even though I’ve been to most of the
major places in Fort Worth several times in my lifetime, I don’t recall going
inside the Kimbell Art Museum. Although it’s modest with its unimposing
building and small first floor lobby, it displays several of the world’s most prominent
and prolific artists’ works including Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and
Joseph Mallord William Turner. I honestly don’t know if Joseph Mallord William
Turner is famous, but everything sounds better in lists of threes. Plus, his
paintings were cool. Personally, I view artwork as a visual version of poetry.
Sure, you can enjoy a poem because it sounds pretty, but if you really want to
appreciate it, you have to take the time and interpret the poem line-by-line
and realize that every little word has a meaning and purpose. I was never an
art major so it’s hard for me to appreciate every little brush stroke, but I
enjoyed reading through the descriptions and realizing the circumstances behind
a painting. Also, it’s interesting to think about paintings and sculptures of famous
leaders and kings. They’re all forgotten, and instead of keeping their portraits
because of their accomplishments and effects on the world, we keep them because
a famous artist painted them. We spend so much time attempting to be
remembered, and even some of the world's greatest of leaders will be remembered for a small
statue with the title, ‘Statue of a head, possibly a king.’
We were famished so ate a nearby Chinese buffet.
browsed through a store and then walked through Ridgmar Mall. And although
there were a few closed shops, we recalled a time when they considered closing
the entire mall before they opened an adjacent movie theater and the mall
became a relevant hotspot for teenagers.
To a small extend, I was able to view the evolution of
Fort Worth due to my father. Together, we were able to see the opening and
closing of stores and expansions of malls, theaters, and citywide events. When
I was growing-up, I wasn’t just cultured by the places where we visited, but I
was nurtured by my father’s curiosity and willingness to expose his children to
everything that he could offer.
So if you ever stumble upon this blog someday, thanks,
dad. Love you.