Dear Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman,

I want to give you an update about where things stand with our son, Milo, whose eighth birthday falls coincidentally close to your trip to Portland and whom we will be surprising with a trip to Keller Auditorium to see you speak.

When I wrote you before, we were faced with Milo’s first shopping list:

Cars to Blow Up

You didn’t reply, so I have to conclude you might have been a little busy blowing cars up with dynamite and thermite, and shooting Buster and his Merry Band of Human Analogues.

Or maybe you DID get my first letter and now you’re coming here to help Milo navigate the choppy waters of being a sweet, non-violent pacifist with a desire to detonate with DetCord. (I thought “Debt-Core” was a kind of music revolution raging against the injustice of the current monetary system. Turns out it’s the cable you run from TNT, just like in Road Runner cartoons.)

“I need to make some dry ice,” Milo said yesterday, as we were stumbling off to do some chore which included nothing so interesting as buying nose cones from scrapped jets, or Building a Better Buster to drop him into a reef full of sharks. “Do we have the ingredients?”

Appalled that I don’t know how dry ice is made, I told him that we didn’t have the necessary tools.

“We’ll need to pick some up,” he said, making a new shopping list in his head.

“For what?” I asked innocently, believing that maybe, just maybe, he wanted to make the bathroom sink into a steaming cauldron of wizard’s punch for fun, or learn about the scientific process called “sublimation.”

“So you take the dry ice,” he said, “and you put it in a 2 liter soda bottle.”

“Wait a minute,” dim sparks of the synaptic process chugging in my head at the speed of molasses, “is this a MythBusters thing?”

He paused. “Well…”

“‘Don’t Try This At Home’,” I admonished, repeating the words you recite before every episode like a prayer.

“But…” he said.

“‘We are what you call EXPERTS,'” I said.


“‘We prepare weeks, and sometimes months, to do the stunts on this show.’

He stared at me. I stared back.

For the holiday break, he wanted to brush up on his Mythmania, revisiting years’ worth of MythBusters episodes; now he’s got all sorts of ideas about new projects. He wants to join the Boy Scouts because he heard he might get to shoot things. He wants us to buy him a shop vac so he can make a hover craft. When I told him he needed to start with the small-scale experiments, he looked at me like I was crazy. “Go Big or Go Home,” his expression read, one of amused superiority.

Milo wants a Newton’s Cradle now–that clever desktop toy which sits on executives desks, clicking back and forth between its five balls, proving Newton’s law of “Every Action…etc.” But I suspect Milo’s motivation is to construct a Newton’s Cradle out of a Bocci set; the small one will provide the model, and you guys already built one out of cranes and wrecking balls, so he’s willing to split the difference.

“You’re looking at a vegetarian from California,” Kari Byron narrates in your MythBusters Top 25 Moments Special, which ran in our house over the holiday break the way The Grinch Who Stole Christmas ran in everyone elses. “I never expected that I would be a gun person.”

Cut to: Kari, cute little dress flittering in the desert breeze as she blows away a tree with a gatling gun.

And it looks so fun that I too want to climb up on the back of a military jeep with a Dillon Minigun (Minigun? What the hell is mini about a machine gun which fires 30-caliber shells at 3000 rounds a minute?) to mow down a dead tree in the middle of the desert, spent shells tinkling musically to the earth in a waterfall of destructive beauty. Where do I sign up?

How do we, a bunch of card-carrying Portlanders who have raised chickens, believe in bicycles as a form of rebellion, and want organic, holy-granola-roller seaweed cookies massaged with love and first press olive oil–how do we enroll for shooting classes? Is it even allowed?!

“What were you going to use the dry ice for, anyway?”

“A dry ice bomb.”

So we’ll see you in a few weeks, the fervent glow of rapt attention bouncing off the lenses of our young son’s glasses as he files away every single scrap of information you share that evening. You’ll know him by the look of devotion to the scientific method.

If it involves “Big Boom,” anyway.

Yours sincerely,

Quenby Moone


PS: Milo rolls the full name of TNT off his tongue like a weapons expert: Trinitrotoluene. I can barely read it, much less say it.

PPS: And speaking of the Grinch, my kid is scared of the Grinch. He is not scared of Trinitrotoluene or gatling guns or coffee creamer explosions, but the Grinch sends him around the twist with fear.


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QUENBY MOONE used to be a graphic designer who wrote once in a while. After her father came down with a touch of Stage IV prostate cancer, she became a writer who did graphic design once in a while.

She's written a book called Living in Twilight (no relation to vampires - unless dying of cancer is a part of Edward's story) in which her design skills came in handy, and includes some of her stories featured on The Nervous Breakdown.

21 responses to “Don’t Try This At Home: The MythBusters Revisit”

  1. Don Mitchell says:

    Woo hoo! Am I first?

    Dear Milo: you really need to read this.


    Aloha, Don

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Oh, sweet lordy, Don. I’m gonna hold off on this until after we visit the Mythbusters so I don’t give away the surprise, but WOW.


      • Don Mitchell says:

        I guess this means you don’t know that Milo and I have an open IRC channel already. Darknet, of course.

        But I think he’ll be OK, provided you don’t let him and the dry ice anywhere near Portapotties. Gusher!

        • Quenby Moone says:

          Damn. I knew you were gonna go behind my back. Sneakin’ off with the IRC, telling stories. Sheesh.

          He won’t go near a portapotty with someone else’s barge pole. I think he’s been scared stiff by a combo 1-2 punch: Dad’s insistence he wash his hands all the time and repeated viewings of the Mythbusters sneezing brightly colored dye all over their shop. It’s enough to make you into a Howard Hughes facsimile.

  2. Irene Zion says:

    Oh Quenby,
    The next dozen years are going to be delightful!

    • Quenby Moone says:

      I’m hanging onto the fact that you and yours are still among the fully-limbed as evidence that our next dozen years are indeed going to be delightful! You are proof of experience, Irene.

  3. Bro says:

    While I wasn’t present for any of that it come s as no surprise to me. The only thing shocking is that he hasn’t taken more things at home apart!

  4. I help Chinese students who are studying at Ivy League schools, and they all tell me about their childhoods… and they sound pretty much like Milo. Inquisitive minds go far.

  5. Maybe it’s just a phase? It could be worse, you know. Like torturing little animals.

    T. and I get a kick out of the shows. I consider myself a bit of a pacifist, but sometimes it’s plain funny to watch something blow up. T. likes the noises.

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Truth be told, I don’t think he wants to be anywhere near an explosion. We bought him gun muffs when he was very small to keep out loud noises–any loud noises at all. Cars, vacuum cleaners, Foo Fighters. (We bought them for a Foo Fighters concert, but they came in very handy for all other events.)

      And he doesn’t like the Grinch because it makes him too uncomfortable to watch Max the dog suffer, so in a toss up between emotional discomfort and scientific BIG EXPLOSIONS, he’s much more comfortable with the latter.

      In the purely theoretical, I’ll bargain.

  6. Gloria says:

    Man, please let me know if Adam and Jamie respond! T and I love Mythbusters as well, though Milo sounds far more immersed than they are. But they were thrilled to read about the cannonball mishap the other day. Please tell Milo he’s not alone; everyone in the Harrison household is way into explosions, too. Also, totally jealous that you’re going to see the guys next month. Have fun!

    • Quenby Moone says:

      Bupkus. Niet. Nada. Zero.

      No word yet. But I’m waiting….waiting….

      I can understand yours and T’s explosion household, but I have to ask: WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH I? Where’s the love of completely pointless and wanton destruction? What about taking the ball past the end zone, through the parking lot, into Montana and the realm of the ridiculous?!

      I’m completely mystified.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        I had this artist friend (the one featured in my TNB “Posing” piece, but I’m not pimping my pieces) who very rarely drank and didn’t do drugs at all. I asked her why, just out of curiosity, and she said something like, “I can generate any altered state I please using my mind, so what do I need with substances?”

        So, Quenby. Maybe, whether you’re aware of it or not, you can produce your quantum of pointless and wanton destruction, not to meaning taking thing into the realm of the ridiculous, all by yourself. And it all happens down where you’re not aware of it, and thus you have no need to act it out.

        Right? Damn. It feels right, and I feel a new career as a self-help guru coming on. Learn to find and master your own pointless and wanton (inner) destruction.

        I’ll cut Milo in for a third.

        • Quenby Moone says:

          The problem with using my mind for pointless and wanton destruction, Don, is that it always works–just in ways one doesn’t expect. I used to be the most self-immolating freak that ever turned ones mind to destruction. I was good at it!

          I think I’ll stick with dreaming about pointless and wanton destruction–with a scientific hypothesis at its root.

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