February 24th, 2014

krazy koati

Did you ever want to live forever?

We'd wanted to do something special for Valentine's Day and couldn't make an outing to Ann Arbor on the Saturday after, but we could go somewhere new to us on Sunday: Marvin's Marvellous Mechanical Museum. This is a spot bunny_hugger has known of for years, and wanted to get to, but never quite managed to visit. Now we had a good reason to take the hour or so trip specifically for it. The drive is a very easy one, right up to the last leg: you'd think an attraction substantial enough to be on Roadside America and to have directions saying ``drive underneath the big overhanging clock'' would be easy to see from the road, but it's not. It's tucked in kind of the alley way between a pair of box-store-anchored strip malls, so we needed a second try around to locate it. Also it started snowing because that's the kind of winter this has been.

The museum has a huge collection of mechanical gadgets and gimmicks of various kinds. Some are your classic fortune-teller-type gadgets, torsos sitting in glass boxes and dealing out proclamations. Some are tinier automatons --- there were a couple, modern constructions, of things like a pair of foxes walking and one looking over his shoulder and whatnot. One that sadly wasn't working looked to be from the 50s and would be a whole puppet show doing Old King Cole, but it just ate our quarter. There's also a long track of airplane models which, for a quarter, will swing into motion and ride along for a while. (We didn't know this was a purchasable thing the first time we saw it; we thought they just turned the airplane track on every now and then.) There's also mechanical jukeboxes. And it's got a tic-tac-toe-playing chicken, or chicken automaton anyway. The web page is not clear that this isn't a live, trained chicken and I'd had reservations about going to see that, but, I should've realized. There's also signs and banners and posters ballyhooing stage magicians and daredevils and clowns and other acts of the golden age of vaudeville and travelling circuses and shows. (Or replicas. They're in extremely good shape, anyway.) Also a poster for the upcoming new Disney movie Dinosaur, which I'm pretty sure even the people who worked on never think about anymore.

Oh, yeah, and it also has the Cardiff Giant. Well, it has a Cardiff Giant, specifically, the fake giant which P T Barnum put up when he couldn't buy the actual fake. The world has much to thank Barnum for, and among those things is that we have a forged fakery. At least I trust it's Barnum's Cardiff Giant. Sadly, the Giant isn't very visible: it's tucked way in the back, beside the ticket redemption counter, and it's partly blocked even out front by other gizmos. The museum is packed tight --- everything has something else on it, below it, or in front of it, pretty much --- but I have to assume that the Giant is in fairly bad shape if they aren't going to show it off below the shoulders.

Trivia: The International Olympic Committee relocated the scheduled 1940 Winter Games from Saint Moritz to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in a secret vote held during June 1939; the specific issue was the Swiss Organizing Committee's decision to cancel ski jumping as even an exhibition event (to avoid a dispute with the International Ski Federation regarding the amateur status of ski instructors). Source: Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement, Editors John E Findling, Kimberly D Pelle. (The games had already been taken away from Sapporo due to the Pacific War.)

Currently Reading: Elevator Music: A Surreal History Of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong, Joseph Lanza.