GeekDad: We Need a Secret Handshake or Something


We met some friends and their kids at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey last weekend, which has been remodeled and expanded since we were last there a few years ago. Although we only got to spend a couple hours, we visited the creepy crawlies in the Eat and Be Eaten exhibit, made virtual paleolithic handprints and learned Chinese karaoke style, and looked at some big fish from the brackish estuaries of the Hudson.

But of the exhibits we got to see, the coolest by far was Skyscraper. After making like Weather Channel reporters, complete with slickers and goggles, in a compartment that shows how windows are designed to hold up to hurricanes, our friends’ kids made like ironworkers and walked a steel I-beam 18 feet in the air. (Mine didn’t get on line fast enough before they closed for the day, but we’ll try again on our next visit.)

However, the funniest moment of the afternoon was when my friend Andrea and I were watching a screen in the exhibit showing clips from movies featuring skyscrapers. There was Spiderman, that one was The Day After Tomorrow, but what movie was that? It looked like David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust climbing on a ledge high above Manhattan.

"Oh, that’s The Fifth Element," said a dad standing near us. "Bruce Willis. Milla Jovovich."

"Really," I said. "A Bruce Willis movie? I never heard of it."

"That’s because it was awful!" said another dad nearby, and the two of them burst out laughing. Then, they proceeded to tell us the entire plot in loving detail.

After they were done, I turned to Andrea and said, "I should be handing out my business card. I’ll bet they’re readers. Or if not, they should be."


UPDATE: Well, it must be a guy thing. I tried watching The Fifth Element — given all the accolades in the comments below, I thought it would at least be fun — but gave up after about an hour. The kids finished watching the end, but didn’t recommend it. The consensus seems to be it’s no Twelve Monkeys or even Total Recall (two movies we enjoyed recently). All I want to know is, if Leeloo was so perfect, how come she had that horrible dye job?

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