Mambo at Mixers!

Bell and Howell Regent 8mm
Creative Commons License photo credit: aka Kath

I know that for a lot of my friends and co-workers this tends to be their busiest time of year and everyone is craving those lost summer days when they were able to forget about their troubles and play outside, lay on the beach, or catch the latest flick at the movie theater.

It just so happens that we have the best movie theatre in town -because our movie theatre is bigger than your house. I’m talking about 6 stories of in-your-face action with surround sound so sharp you’ll feel it vibrating your chair. 

We wouldn’t take pride in our movie theatre without bringing you the latest flicks, either. And I’m not talking about Hollywood starlets, fake explosions, and trailers so long that you realize that it’s been a full hour since you sat down and the movie still hasn’t begun. When you get to HMNS you have several 3D movies to choose from. Trailers? What are those? We get straight down to business in IMAX by showing you the film and nothing more. All that’s left is what movie to pick!

Here’s a little preview…

Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia is an amazing film that follows a real explorer on the frontier of the field of paleontology. A true adventurer, Rodolfo Coria won’t let anything stand in the way of his curiosity while he pieces together the mysterious lives of creatures who have long been extinct. Watch as he reveals the dynamic between the two largest dinosaurs who have ever lived – Argentinosaurus and Giganotosaurus – and what life was like in Patagonia when giants roamed the Earth.

Galapagos 3D explores the volcanic archaepelago of the Galapagos Islands of Darwin fame. One of the most unique environments on the Earth, this area has a wealth of fantastical creatures you would never believe unless you saw them. Dive deep with researchers to discover these incredulous life forms with technology that Darwin could only dream about.

Grand Canyon 3D: River at Risk is an action packed adventure as two father/daughter teams tame the rapids of the mighty Colorado. Portraying the importance of the river and all that it provides to those around it from start to finish, this film is the perfect marriage of education and entertainment.

Mixers, Elixirs, & IMAX provides you with an opportunity to see any one of these films. Did you come in to see an IMAX film for $10? Why not pay $15 for your Mixers, Elixirs, & IMAX ticket? You get hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, a DJ, a live band, and dancing all night.

So if you’re really looking to unwind, get your weekend started off right. Kick back with a cocktail, money in your pocket, and your favorite dancing shoes at Mixers Elixirs, & IMAX. This week get down with the band who put the capital “S” in Soul. The Mambo Jazz Kings are bringing down the house this Friday at the Houston Museum of Natural Science from 6 to 10 p.m.

Grand Canyon Adventure: A Fun, Yet Totally Unrelated Interview with Narrator Robert Redford

Regina Scruggs, producer and host of Music from the Movies on KUHF-FM, met and interviewed Robert Redford in Houston just a few months ago. When she heard we would be playing Grand Canyon Adventure – which the Sundance Kid narrates – in our IMAX theater, she was kind enough share her story:

I grew up in New York City, and I also spent a couple of years living in Los Angeles (Venice Beach, in particular). Anyone who lives in either city is used to seeing movie stars and celebrities around town. It’s easier to do in New York, because it’s a walking city, and you just have more personal encounters with people in general. (L.A. has a different vibe. It’s considered not cool to acknowledge that a celebrity is sitting at the next table to you in a restaurant; gushing is only done by the tourists.)

So I’ve seen or met a lot of famous folks, but it was a particular thrill to meet and interview Robert Redford…I’ve had a 40-year-long crush on him. I’ve been enjoying his movies ever since 1967 and “Barefoot in the Park” through “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting,” “The Way We Were,” “The Hot Rock,” “Three Days of the Condor,” and even “Legal Eagles” where he convincingly plays a klutz with insomnia who likes to tap-dance when he can’t sleep. When he turned his talents to directing in 1980, he won the Oscar for his first effort, “Ordinary People.” He’s also directed such fine films as “Quiz Show” and “A River Runs Through It.”

Music Cafe at the Sundance Film Festival
Creative Commons License photo credit: atp_tyreseus

Sundance Film Festival

A documentary his Sundance Center had commissioned, “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars,” was having its Texas premiere, and he was making his first Houston visit ever to introduce the film and participate in a panel discussion afterwards with Mayor Bill White and other dignitaries. I had the distinction of having been granted the only one-on-one interview with Redford while he was in town. My time with him was after his working lunch and before a scheduled press conference where he would meet the rest of the media.

Brad Sayles, KUHF’s Senior Recording Engineer, agreed to handle the taping. So he and I (mostly he) hauled audio equipment to the designated downtown hotel where The Sundance Kid, no kid any more at 71 years old, would be waiting for us. I waited for Brad on the street while he parked the car, and watched a FedEx van run a red light, slam into a pickup truck and take off most of the pickup’s left front end. (Fortunately neither driver was hurt; both pulled over and talked on their cell phones before they talked to each other.) I was hoping that it wasn’t a bad sign.

Inside the hotel, the room where we were to set up was very small, freezing cold, and strewn with the remains of some group’s breakfast. I cleared off the table and put everything on the sideboard. Fortunately a waiter came soon after, and cleaned up, then brought us water and cookies. I ascertained that R. Redford was in a room next door having his lunch with a group of other folks.

Then Eric Mayer from the Susman Godfrey law firm, who was also participating in the interview, came in and I was talking to him while looking down at my notes, and so didn’t even notice when RR entered the room. “Hi, how are you…” Well, at least he didn’t see me clearing tables.

I ask if I can call him Bob. “Of cooouuurse” he says. His first name is really Charles (the dominant male name in my family, by coincidence), but he’s always gone by his middle name. He looks awfully good for a “mature” individual, even up close. Still maintains the mop of blonde hair, accented by grey at the temples. Lovely blue eyes, great smile, wonderful presence and engaging personality when he turns it on. He’s really a star, he knows it, but doesn’t seem to be a jerk about it. Before we roll tape I announce to the room, “Please silence your cell phones and other ringing devices.” Redford laughs, pulls out his phone and checks it, then says, “No one ever calls me, and when someone did once, I was on stage.”

We tape for about 15 minutes, and he’s pretty serious, focused, and on topic. Then as soon as we’re off mike, he’s relaxed and chatty. He asks me about my show “Music From The Movies” (he actually looked at my business card) and I give him a 2-CD set that I’d made up a couple of days ago. It had musical selections from a number of his films. He seemed to appreciate it, and started talking about how he’d spent 3 or 4 months filming “The Great Waldo Pepper” (my first selection on the CD) in Texas back in the early 70s. He mentioned that his mother’s side of the family are longtime Texans: five generations in fact. As a boy he would spend summers in Austin and San Marcos. His grandfather built one of the first houses on Lake Travis.

I told Bob that KUHF was in the first day of its spring pledge drive, and would he mind taping a testimonial (which I had written mere moments before). He asks me where I’m from, then starts talking about New York and how he’d gone there from California in the early 1950s to study art, but gave it up because he was “on the bum” as he put it; then he turned to acting and stayed broke, at least for a while until he started getting some parts on live television. Then he was slightly less broke. I’m guessing he’s not broke now.

He was great about everything. Brad, who had brought his camera, took some pictures while we were talking.

Redford’s gabbing away (no prompting from me), and just as he was warming to the subject of his movies, one of his minders came in and dragged him away so he could get to his press conference. I did get a hug, though (I’m currently in recovery from that), some pictures, and some too-short-yet-memorable time with my new pal Bob. The interview was aired on KUHF’s arts magazine show, “The Front Row,” on Thursday March 27th. I featured some of his film scores on my Friday night March 28th program “Music From The Movies.”

 

In case you, like Regina, just can’t get enough of Robert Redford, you can catch him narrating our newest 3D IMAX, Grand Canyon Adventure, when it opens here on May 30.

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If you just can’t get enough of adventure in general – let us know by entering our Blog Contest, “What’s YOUR Greatest Adventure?” All you’ve got to do is send an essay, photo slideshow or video that shows us your adventure – and what it taught you – to blogadmin@hmns.org. Winners score a $300 REI gift card or a private IMAX screening of Grand Canyon Adventure.

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Grand Canyon Adventure: making water conservation cool

Glen Canyon
Creative Commons License photo credit: mandj98

We had a staff preview of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D a few weeks before it opened, and it is a fascinating film – though it was way more effective at inspiring me to go white-water rafting than to install a low-flow shower head (one of the main character’s stated goals). So inspiring, in fact, that Jamie recently announced our first Blog Contest – where you can share YOUR greatest adventure with us for a chance to win some great prizes, and to see it posted on BEYONDbones.

We love this film, because anything that gets people to appreciate nature surely also inspires them to help conserve it. So, we hope you’ll share your adventures with us – and possibly take home some cool prizes, too. In the meantime:

Author/anthropologist Wade Davis and his adventurous daughter Tara were a part of the river-rafting team that follow the Colorado River in the movie (now playing at HMNS). Davis is Explorer-in Residence at the National Geographic Society – and his globe-circling work exploring indigenous cultures has inspired feature films, documentaries, TV series and best-selling books, while taking him from African plains to Tibetan mountains. Tara, an apprentice river rafting guide, began attending Colorado College just as filming ended, inspired to pursue Environmental Studies.

Q: Wade, you’ve traveled the planet for a wide range of projects. What compelled you to become part of Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D?

Wade Davis

Davis surveys the Grand Canyon

WADE: The real inspiration behind it was Greg MacGillivray, who somehow intuited that by putting myself, Bobby Kennedy and our daughters, Tara and Kick, on a boat going down the Colorado that it would become a magical experience. It was a real risk, and, honestly, I had no idea just how magical it would be until I got on the river. The trip became one of those rare times in life when you are living through an experience and, at the same time, are cognizant that it will become one of the greatest memories of your life.

Q: What made it so memorable?

WADE: As a father, it was a chance to get to know Tara in a way I never had before. You know, children grow very much in the way a river does – becoming richer, fuller and more intriguing everyday – and there was a real feeling on the river of launching this wonderful person into a new life.

Q: Tara, you literally grew up riding rivers; what has kept you so intrigued by them?

TARA: My very first experience was when I was around 6, on the Turnagain River [in British Columbia] – and it rained for days, while my sister and I played “think of an animal” in our tents! But what I fell in love with were the campfires, the stories, the laidback feeling. You become part of the wild and you forget social constructs. Rivers are also just a lot of fun!

Q: Wade, did you already know RFK Jr.? You seem like old friends.

WADE: We’d only met a few times but we share many reference points. We have friends in common, we’ve lectured back-to-back, we were even at Harvard at the same time. There’s also something about us both being Irish – me the storyteller, he the raconteur. And we both equally love rivers. On the Colorado, I became quite enamored of Bobby in the sense that I truly felt that here is a man who could lead us out of the wilderness.

Colorado River, Marble Canyon
Creative Commons License photo credit: Gonzo fan2007

Q: Tara, you also hit it off with Kick; how did that happen?

TARA: Initially, I think it was our humor that brought us together – she and her dad are so funny. Also, a river is a great place to make friends. Everything else kind of falls away and, no matter who you are in real life, everyone’s a kid again.

Q: Wade, as a whitewater guide, did anything surprise you about the Colorado?

WADE: I thought Lava Falls would be even tougher! (laughs) But perhaps the biggest surprise was seeing Tara and her spontaneity with Kick.

Q: What were your favorite moments, Tara?

TARA: The nighttime scorpion hunts were pretty classic. If you turned on a “black” flashlight at night you’d see scorpions everywhere; it’s pretty cool to realize that all this life surrounds you. It was also great to spend time with my Dad, who has taught me so much about the world, in this amazing place.

Grand Canyon waterfall

Shana Watahomigie, a member of the
Havasupai tribe and the first Native American to
become a National Park Ranger and river guide,
at a waterfall on the Colorado River.

Q: Wade, do most indigenous cultures you’ve studied have a sacred relationship with water?

WADE: Around the world, water is fertility, water is life. In so many ways, people around the world recognize rivers as the arteries of the planet, metaphorically, spiritually and culturally.

Q: Do you think there’s still time to change our approach to water to one of conservation?

WADE: Water will become an increasingly precious commodity and a big battleground, even more so than oil. Everywhere there are rivers, these issues will play out. It’s really a question of what kind of world we want to live in. How are you going to feel when the last wild river is gone? I feel so fortunate to have been able to follow so many rivers untrammeled all the way to the sea. It’s one of the great experiences of life. But I also believe that Margaret Mead was right when she said “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

Q: Tara, is your generation up to the challenge of making those changes?

TARA: Oh, I definitely think we are. I’ve met so many people my age who are passionate about the environment, and who are ready to think in more innovative, creative and far-reaching ways.

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Shana, leading the group down the Colorado River.

Q: There’s a focus in Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3Don sharing outdoor experiences between generations. Wade, what does that mean to you?

WADE: I’ve always tried to live a life in which knowledge and seeking are the benchmarks of existence and I’ve tried to share all the wisdom I can with my children. But I also believe in what Kahlil Gibran said about children being the arrows and parents the bow. In a wonderful way, this was a journey about passing on the torch.

Q: Tara, how do you think young people will respond to Grand Canyon Adventure: River at Risk 3D?

TARA: The 3D is going to amaze them. There’s no better way to understand the vastness of this landscape- and then to feel the waves flying up in your face, it’s going to be really fun! I think the Grand Canyon inspires everyone who sees it. Every day on the river I wondered how such a place could have been created, and about how to protect it for the future. I really hope to return to the river when I’m older, maybe even with Kick.

Blog Contest! What’s YOUR Greatest Adventure?

It’s not often people watch movies at 8:45 a.m., but if you haven’t noticed, the staff at HMNS tends to do things a little differently. You would think that getting to watch a movie at work would be a perk I enjoy, but at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning, it’s hard to get inspired. You can imagine my surprise when I recently left the IMAX theatre having planned my summer 2009 vacation, with ideas bouncing around in my head like Mexican jumping beans after viewing Grand Canyon Adventure 3D: River at Risk.

Jamie on safari

Photo Safari in Kreuger National Park, South Africa

I am a huge fan of the outdoors; hiking, camping, biking, rafting, running – you name it! It was pure heaven to watch the adventures of this incredible team unfold as they navigated through the Colorado River via raft, inside of the majesty of the Grand Canyon.

I was reminded of all of the great adventures I’ve been on in the outdoors and all of the knowledge those experiences have brought me. Recently, I went on a Photo Safari in South Africa and was able to view lions, giraffe, rhino, honey badgers, and cheetah among many other animals. My trip affected my outlook on ecology and the effects of the actions of one being on another; it was truly a life-changing experience.

Lion

Doesn’t it look like he’s roaring? Actually,
he’s yawning! If you look you can see the
lionesses lying down with their heads turned
away from the camera. If they were actually
feeling threatened by our presence they
would be rounding up the baby lions
for protection; they are very used to the
jeeps that bring people into the habitat
to observe their lifestyle.

These experiences – the ones that change our habits and perceptions – are a part of growing up, and our continuing education as we move through our life’s journey. Here at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, we believe that part of education is sharing your experience with others – so we’re instituting a giant game of Show and Tell!

Do you have a Great Adventure that’s inspired you and changed your life? Share it with us! You can write an essay (600 words or less) submit a photo slideshow (with captions) or a narrated video (or all three!) – we love creativity and we’re open to pretty much anything that we can post here. Send it to blogadmin@hmns.org. You have until noon on June 27, 2008.

And now, for the best part of any contest…drumroll, please…the following prizes will be awarded to the two most well-versed and meaningful submissions.

Winner, ages 18 and under: a private screening of Grand Canyon Adventure 3D: River at Risk, for you and 50 of your closest friends.

Winner, ages 19 and over: a $300 gift card to REI and twenty passes to see Grand Canyon Adventure 3D: River at Risk.

So get crackin’! We can’t wait to see where you’ve been – and what it taught you.

View contest rules here.

Giraffe

Did you know giraffes are most vulnerable
when they drink? They spread their legs
like they’re doing the splits and lower their
long necks into the water. This position
is stable to accomplish the task at hand
- drinking water – but leaves their long necks
exposed to attack.

safari

African buffalo look and act like cows, but you don’t
want to run into these when you’re on foot.
The trick to being on Safari is staying seated in the
truck. They recognize the vehicle and the people
in it as one being – they don’t recognize
individual parts. In this way, all of these wild
animals have come to accept humans in their
world on a regular basis.

Elephants

African elephants are amazing creatures and this pair
(a young bull and an older male) let us come quite close!
At night when they want to sleep they rest
against giant 8′ termite mounds because they
can’t lay down. When elephants do lay down they must
immediately get up or risk crushing their internal organs
under their own massive weight.