Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Bug Bites

The Houston Museum of Natural Science has everything you want in a natural history museum.  Fossils, rocks, interactive displays, rotating exhibits...and all the dinosaurs you stare at.

But it was when I was on my way out that I discovered something truly unique.  Near the gift shop is this unassuming vending machine:

Sure, it looks like the average treat dispenser but if you take a closer look you'll see a menu of science specific snacks and borderline gross grub.  Let's start with some of the more traditional fare.  And what's more at home at a museum than dinosaurs?

Gummi bears are replaced with Gummi Dinosaurs but the real find here is the top row.  Choc-o-saurus is a combination of two museum staples: dinosaurs and freeze dried ice cream!  It's chocolate with chocolate chips and, while eating it, you have the option to pretend like you're an astronaut or a extinct predator who loves dehydrated food.

Larvets!  Wondering if these things are what they look like?  Well, here's the explanation directly from their website: "Real larva, deliciously seasoned. Offered in three flavors: BBQ, Cheddar Cheese, or Mexican Spice."  And that's not enough bugs to satisfy your appetite, then good news...

Here we've got "Crick-ettes." which are, you guessed it, real crickets.  These are Bacon & Cheese flavor but they also come in Salt N' Vinegar and Sour Cream & Onion.  And if you're still hungry for bugs, you can also grab some Ant Wafers!  It's essentially what it sounds like: "Real ants in chocolate flavored round wafers."

Have you ever eaten hard candy and thought to yourself, "I wish this had ants in it."  Then you should have picked #56 or #57 from this vending machine.  You get the option of either Cherry or Apple flavor, both with Black Ants of course.

For our final selections we head to outer space for Alien Ice Cream.  This another freeze dried ice cream and is your standard Neapolitan flavor but it's either made by or eaten by Aliens.  Or maybe there's just one on the package.  Or you can have a Moon Pie!  Get it?  "Moon"

So the next time you head out to the museum, bring some change and an adventurous appetite.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Flag Wavers

Everybody loves a trip to Six Flags Over Texas.  Locals and out-of-towners flock to the park for high speed thrills and kid friendly fun.  The amusement mecca has attracted its fair share of camera crews too since the locale looks great on screen.  So today we have a couple of examples of when Hollywood came to Six Flags!

The Banana Splits Adventure Hour consisted of live action costumed characters (an ape, an elephant, a dog and a lion) having madcap adventures, playing music and introducing Hanna Barbera cartoons that couldn't merit having their own show.

To set up the fun tone of the show they shot their opening credits at amusement parks including Coney Island and, you guessed it, Six Flags!  One of the first recognizable rides you can see in the credits is the Run-A-Way Mine Train:

Another easy to recognize attraction is "El Sombrero":


 If trippy weirdo characters on trippy rides are up your alley then you'll love what comes next.  Sid and Marty Kroft designed the Banana Splits' costumes and, of course, produced their own shows like H.R. Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost and Lidsville.  When it was time to shoot the opening of Lidsville (a show about a land of magic hats) the Kroft brothers knew where to go:

The sequence involves young Butch Patrick (Eddie from The Munsters) running afoul of Merlo the Magician at a magic show at Six Flags.  You can see from the sign above that the producers felt no need to hide the identity of the park or try to disguise it as a fictional park.

With Six Flags definitely being the setting, you can spot quintessential Six Flags accoutrements like Texas Flags and El Aserradero (the Log Ride):

And since we're talking about the Log Ride (and for no other real reason), I have an excuse for posting this old school token that's been lying around for awhile.  I'm not sure what year it's from:

Our last stop at the park involves a much more recent production.  Texas native Robert Rodriguez is known for his gritty, violent action movies but he's also been known to make fun kids movies too.  So when it was time to shoot an amusement park sequence for Spy Kids 2, you can guess where he went.

The Oil Derrick Tower is one of the most recognizable elements in the park.  It's 300 feet tall and was perfect when Rodriguez needed to create his own special effects thrill ride:

Of course, that's the late, great native Texan Bill Paxton as "Dinky Winks."  And that's our last ride of the day.  Time to head back to the parking lot for the long drive home.    Hope you had fun today and that the lines weren't too long.