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February 2011 – Stephen Skory

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Month: February 2011

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science


Yesterday Melissa and I went to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Like many big-city science museums, it is targeted towards the ankle-biter set, but it is still fun for fuddy-duddy adults like us. If there is a theme for the museum, it's Colorado and Western history, which is dominated by mining and resource extraction. There is a very large and impressive collection of gems, many of which originated in Colorado. I didn't take as many photos as I should have, and it was difficult to take good photos in the dim light, but below is an example of how amazing some of them are. For some reason, they have a very large topaz gemstone that was previously owned by Salvador Dali.


There is also a space sciences exhibit with plenty of hands-on displays for children to interact with. The one I liked best is a meteoroid simulator that is Rube Goldberg-esque. Enclosed is a sand pit with a pressurized nozzle above that shoots ball bearings downward into the sand. The bearings make a crater in the sand that is similar to what a meteoroid does to a planet. When all the bearings have been shot, an automated rake sweeps the sand, dumping them into a sluice that feeds a chain lift, closing the cycle. It's debatable how much some of the children were learning from it, but it is fun.

On the West side of the museum is a very nice atrium with an excellent view of downtown Denver and the front range. I'm sure that the foreground looks better in the summer when the grass is green, but in the winter the snow-capped peaks make up for that. If you look carefully in the full-sized panorama, you can see the gold dome of the State Capitol, and a flock of some ubiquitous Canada Geese.


Styx – Paradise Theater

Styx – Paradise Theater

The album Paradise Theater by the band Styx does not include their song "Mr. Roboto". For most of you, that is your signal to stop caring about this review and move on with your day. The brave, the steadfast, and the bored may continue on!

This album is not terribly dissimilar from last week's album, which is somewhat disappointing. I was not thrilled with REO Speedwagon, and this album isn't any different for me, if I'm honest. The most I can say about this album is about one song, which is the only one that made an impression on my brain. The song "She Cares" has the line: "she treats me like a human", which is such a vacuous (*) statement that it needs to be commented on. How else might "she" treat the singer of the song? Like a dog? A teacup? A 1953 Studebaker Commander Starliner? I can understand the need to rhyme in a rock song, but that line is insulting to either "she" or the singer, and definitely to the listener's intelligence.

My recommendation for this album is identical to last week's album: skip it, and if you must, just listen to bad radio and Styx will come on eventually. "Mr. Roboto" is kind of fun, so if they play that, consider yourself lucky. Note that the content of the top-10 albums list does not change for three weeks, which is how long it will be until my next review.

Last Week: REO Speedwagon - Hi Infidelity

In Three Weeks: Kool & The Gang - Celebrate!

(*) I wanted to pick a good synonym for "stupid" to describe the line in the song, so I went to the Mac OS X system Dictionary application which includes a thesaurus. The entry on "stupid" synonyms has a bonus section apparently unique to this word titled "Choose The Right Word" that advises which synonym is appropriate for each situation, and how to avoid insulting someone unnecessarily. I think the next iteration of IBM's Watson should include the ability to scan an email for misuse of "stupid" synonyms. Think of all the marriages and friendships that might be preserved!

REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity

REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity

Named for a precursor of the pickup truck (the O stands for Olds, who also founded Oldsmobile), REO Speedwagon reached the zenith of their popularity in 1981 with the album Hi Infidelity.

If you do not know what REO Speedwagon sounds like, think of the band "Journey", and that will be close enough most of the time. One exception is the song "In Your Letter", which sounds like 1950's bubble-gum rock, and even includes backup female doo-wop singers. I have to admit that for one of the hits on the album, "Take It On The Run", I had previously only heard covers of the song. I think I like the covers better.

The main problem I have with this album is that it is the kind of music I hear played incessantly on the worst FM radio stations across the country. These are mostly owned by Clear Channel, including Jack FM, which I loathe. REO Speedwagon isn't awful music, it's just bland, and it gets played by radio stations that purport to have wide variety, but don't.

Therefore, my suggestion is to not listen to this album. If you need your dose of this music, there is almost certainly a Jack FM in your town, and REO Speedwagon will be played eventually.

Two Weeks Ago: Blondie - Autoamerican

Next Week: Styx - Paradise Theater