Monday, January 23, 2012

Totally Texas -- Dragons & other monsters

For those of you, like me, who were surprised to find the Chinese New Year coming so early, here’s the rule for this combination of lunar and solar calendars. Oversimplifying a bit, the Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon following the winter solstice. This enables me to tell my daughter, born on January 19, that she is under the sign of what appears to be the previous year, not the Western calendar year of her birth.

This year, that beginning date is today, January 23. Happy New Year!

This year is under the sign of the dragon (one of the twelve animals of Chinese astrology). My twin grandsons (year of the dog) don’t care how it’s determined. They just think dragons are cool!

(And for something really cool, see the water dragon image writer/artist Heidi Berthiaume created for the year 2012 at the bottom of this page.  Since I was born in a water dragon year, I told her I had to have it, and she graciously consented.)

If you didn’t get enough festivities this past weekend for the beginning of the dragon year, the Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art offers a reprise the first Saturday in February, February 4, during its AdventureAsia: Family Days at the Crow programs. Free events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2010 Flora St., Dallas, 75210-2335.

The Crow Collection’s ongoing exhibits are always free. The museum is closed Mondays but open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Thursdays. For a complete list of exhibits and activities, see


Can’t wait another day for big scary monsters? Try Planet Shark: Predator or Prey? at the Museum of Nature and Science, 1318 South Second Avenue, in Dallas’s Fair Park. The exhibit, running through September 16, is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Several galleries include exhibits of shark evolution and biology, including fossil jaws and teeth like those in the picture accompanying this post.

One gallery (situated to the side) includes news footage of shark attacks and their aftermath, including exhibits related to the blockbuster movie Jaws. A sign warns it may
be too graphic for young children. I found the information fascinating, but it’s not stuff I’d take my not quite six-year-old grandsons through.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum’s IMAX theater currently shows the movie Sharks, with marine biologist Jean-Michel Cousteau, and Sea Rex: Journey to a Prehistoric World. Both movies run through May 25.

I was relieved to learn that, due to the length of the movies, the museum is not showing the TI signature film featuring time lapse photography of the Dallas skyline with them. Some may grieve, but time lapse and heights give me vertigo. Visit for ticket prices, show times, and other museum events.


For my final monster suggestion, the Heard Natural Science Museum in McKinney continues its Dinosaurs Live! outdoor exhibit of life-size, animatronic dinosaurs through Sunday, January 29. The robotic dinosaurs move, roar, and in one case, spit water on unwary bystanders. My grandsons, not quite six, have seen and loved the exhibit in past years, but still find the roaring T. rex intimidating. See for times and ticket prices.

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