Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

December 10, 2014 at 11:14am

When dinosaurs rule the Tacoma Dome

Raptor 1: "Hey, isn’t that Weekly Volcano theater critic Christian Carvajal?" Raptor 2: "Yeah, and they say WE'RE cold-blooded."

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I guess every kid goes through waves of fascination. Some are mere passing phases; I doubt I've composed a sonnet or drawn a comic strip in years. Some endure. I'm as interested in astronomy and visual effects now as I was at age 12. Decades after my addiction to Land of the Lost (the show, not the godawful movie), I remain a shameless dinosaur geek. There's a majesty and mystery to those tyrants of the Age of Reptiles, before the six-mile-wide Chicxulub impactor smashed into the Yucatan peninsula and launched debris as far as the orbit of Jupiter. So when you inform me there's an arena show in which species from infant Plateosauri (a late Triassic herbivore) to mighty T. rex, eater of goats and corporate attorneys, make up the cast, well, you have my full attention. It's the type of show for which I'd love to get a behind-the-scene glimpse of how the magic is done - hint hint, Tacoma Dome! I've resorted to begging!

Of course, it'd be just as much fun to watch this show through the wide, ecstatic eyes of a preschooler. The creatures in Walking With Dinosaurs - The Arena Spectacular are so lifelike, it's easy for young viewers to imagine John Hammond and those mad scientists at InGen have been at it for real. But these aren't the modified movie monsters of Jurassic Park, these are puppets and animatronic actors that have been updated to keep pace with scientific discoveries. Instead of shooting 'roids into a featherless Deinonychus and calling it a Velociraptor, this show (with input from BBC Worldwide Ltd) gives us the ostrich-like (but still predatory) Utahraptor. In lieu of Tyrannosaurus duking it out with Stegosaurus -two species separated by almost 90 million years - Walking With Dinosaurs pits the plated herbivore against its contemporary foe, Allosaurus. The aim here is to educate as much as to entertain, so kids get a better idea how dinosaurs actually lived and died. They may even grasp paleontologists' current view of present-day birds as the direct descendants of Mesozoic dinosaurs. Yeah, that's right, folks: Big Bird has more in common with Grumpy from Land of the Lost than he does with Mr. Snuffleupagus.

Some experts believe we humans project ourselves into the juggernaut strides of tyrannosaurs. They think pretending to be dinosaurs allows kids a parent-like feeling of power over their lives and environment. I don't know about all that; I just think maybe it's fun to roar and stomp and kick over sand castles. What I do know is this: when a Brachiosaurus, a species that weighed 30 to 60 tons and was able to reach foliage 30 feet off the ground, lumbers into a sports arena before our very eyes, there's a part of even the most jaded adult that turns 5 years old all over again. And that, my friends, is spectacular indeed.

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS-THE ARENA SPECTACULAR, 7 p.m. Dec. 17, 19, and 20, 11 a.m. Dec. 19-20, 3 p.m. Dec. 20, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 21, Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D St., Tacoma, $27.50-$85.50, 253.272.3663

Filed under: Events, Nerd Alert!, Tacoma,
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News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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