Don’t Try This At Home: The MythBusters RevisitBy Quenby Moone
January 03, 2012
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.
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.