reviewed Tiffany Markman, mom to a two-year-old, tries to balance her workaholism with cuddling her daughter, reading books, consuming caffeine & reining in her intrinsic kugelry. Follow her on twitter.
BODY WORLDS, in theory, is just my sort of thing. Firstly, I really like guts and gore. Houses of horror and stuff. Secondly, I’ve always wanted to know what the inside of the human body looks like. So whether or not to go was a no-brainer for me.
The question was: should I or shouldn’t I take my two-year old along?
I decided to take her, largely because – even if it did turn out to be gross – she’d probably not catch onto the fact that the bodies are real and not ‘dollies’.
Then a couple of people told me they were going but leaving their pre-teens at home, which shocked me. Aren’t those the kids who, studying health sciences and biology at school, should be going to BODY WORLDS, more than anyone else?
Off we went. Here’s the stuff you should know: GO. Take your kids. Here’s why:
What’s it about?
BODY WORLDS, the first anatomical exhibition to display real human bodies, presents specimens that are real and preserved through plastination, a revolutionary preservation technique invented by Dr Gunther von Hagens in 1977.
Referred to as ‘plastinates’, the bodies have had their skin removed to give us a realistic and authentic look at how the human body actually works. You’ll see stuff you’ve never seen before and can’t see anywhere else. It’s just amazing.
Bodies? From where?
All BODY WORLDS exhibitions are based on a body donation programme through which the donors request that their bodies be used in a public exhibition after death.
The models don’t look as ‘plastic’ as I’d anticipated. For me, the bodies (particularly the muscles, tendons, bones, and internal organs) seemed totally authentic. The nerves and blood vessels didn’t, primarily because they are both so utterly beautiful. And the preserved fetuses in the conception section are mind-blowing.
None of it is gross. There’s no gore or blood. And the kids – of which there seemed to be hundreds, ranging in age from mine at two, through the fives and sixes, to pre-teens and teens – were fascinated: “Daddy, is that a boy or a girl?”; “Mom, is that lung like Uncle Craig’s?” [I guess Uncle Craig is a smoker…]; “Wow! Is that a brain?”
Note: There is only one model with skin – a fat guy, with his head sliced in half. A bit freaky, but not terrible. There is only one age-restricted exhibit – a couple in flagrante, in a separate area. The rest is very scientific and suitable, I think, for most ages.
How does it feel?
It’s all so interesting. I was surprised by the kidneys (they’re tiny), the liver (it’s huge), the stomach (I definitely eat too much); the intestines (there’s so much of them!), the ovaries (they’re miniscule), and how repugnant and pervasive human fat is.
I was a bit annoyed by what felt like nannyish health messaging in parts, relating to healthy eating, safe sex, good posture and exercise, but if BODY WORLDS is ultimately about health education (so says the media pack) that’s to be expected.
Navigating a pram around without driving over people’s feet and bumping into things is awkward if there’s a crowd. So leave your littlie at home and take kids aged 4+.
One more thing
There are audio guides available at a small fee, and they’re totally worth it. If you listen to/read everything available, give yourself 90-120 minutes. If you amble through with kids, occasionally listening to the audio, you’ll need 60-90 minutes.
For more information, visit www.bodyworlds.co.za
by Daniel Janks, actor, creative director, writer. Survived: 1. Being born a 2nd child, 2. Having dyslexia, 3. Studying drama at Wits University, 4. Being in love, 5. Burying 3 cats, 6. Being a professional actor, 7. Going to India, 8. Getting married. Janks’s love of film is outdone only by his love for his magnificent wife & small, odd girl-child. Visit his website
A new take on an old story, maybe told one too many times
If, like me, you’re a sucker for a good super hero movie, then I’d certainly recommend you put The Amazing Spider-man on your list for a good night out at the flicks.
That being said it seems to me that Hollywood may not have waited quite long enough since the last iteration of the escapades of Captain Creepy Crawley before trying again. I’ve decided to be magnanimous and forgive this little foible because I think this version makes for a better film.
Long time fans of Spidey beware! Some major re-imagining of Marvel’s original storyline has been perpetrated. Like in the last first film, we start with a nerdy young Peter Parker in high school being pushed around by jocks and yearning after a pretty girl. As a kid Pete’s parents fled pursuit and danger, leaving Pete under the care and protection of his uncle and aunt. Now, haunted by their abandonment Pete struggles to fit in.
But before long Pete finds himself in a room full of super spiders and gets himself bitten. Uncle Ben get’s killed, Pete beats up some bullies and catches the eye of the pretty girl, this time a storyline faithful Gwen Stacey, and then it’s off and away as Spidey is born, a baddie is born and the two do battle.
What stands out?
Andrew Garfield is wonderful as Spidey, out of costume he’s brooding and tragic, and in his tights he slinky and spidery, and clearly nails the role. The magnificent Emma Stone, is, as always wonderful. She doesn’t have much to do, but manages to do it perfectly.
The whole thing?
Bottom line: The Amazing Spider-man is not amazing, but it’s a good, fun film, that’s worth a watch and should be seen on the big screen in 3D.
Age Restriction: T.A.M. is rated 13M for violence and it probably deserves it.
Kerry Haggard is mom to the two most beautiful boys that ever there were. She juggles her roles of writer, mother, wife and daughter, and manages to keep the balls in the air most of the time. Follow her on Twitter @KerryHaggard.
I visited SciBono for the second time today – my four year old son Matthew asked that we come here on his birthday because he had such fun when we visited in December.
If you’ve not heard about it, SciBono is a playful science learning centre, located in Newtown opposite the Turbine Hall and the SAB World of Beer. I would not be exaggerating when I say that there are hundreds of interactive exhibits – there’s everything from a MIG replica and a replica of the Wright brothers’ plane to interactive science experiments that make understanding physics and electricity as easy as pie.
There are quite a few-related soccer games, so the kids can be active as well, and then there’s the Murray & Roberts construction site, where larger than life foam ‘bricks’ and ‘mortar’ are used by the children to build with – with the help of pulleys, bucket lifts and conveyor belts that they power themselves.
And that’s just the beginning – there’s really too much to describe in one blog post.
The several floors of exhibits are staffed by friendly people all dressed in bright orange jackets who will explain each exhibit to you, should you wish. They are also really good at keeping the place spotless, by asking politely that you refrain from eating or drinking on the exhibition floor.
There’s a lovely coffee shop with possibly the cheapest prices in Johannesburg – where else could you enjoy a 250ml cappuccino for R10, each served with its own decoration by a smiling gentleman who is pretty inspirational in his own right..
SciBono has a separate room for hosting parties – the children can have the run of the warehouse for the duration of the event, but you can keep your drinks and snacks and the all-important cake time away from the rest of the visitors.
This is really one of the gems of Jozi – it feels secure enough that mom could take her laptop or book and sit in the coffee shop and let the littlies have the run of the place – and they’re learning all the time, even though they’re not aware of it. My boys are 4 and 6, and love it, but we had guests in the early teens in December who had a blast too.
If you’re in Jozi over the holidays or over the weekend, and are stuck for ideas for things to do, this spot should be top of your list. And with adult tickets costing just R20, and kids over 6 costing R10 (under 6 are free), it’s affordable enough to visit several times.
Click here to find out more about the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre
by Sine Thieme, a writer and mother of four who is new to South Africa and busy chronicling her experiences on her blog, Joburg Expat.
The world is so fast-changing in many areas of life that our kids don’t have much of a connection to what we, their parents, would consider the more recent past. They have no idea what a walkman is, they have never seen a phone that’s connected to the wall with a cord, and they certainly would chuckle at the idea of a “floppy disk.”
But while that’s okay in the realm of technology, it’s not such a good thing when it comes to history. If you’re a kid in South Africa today, you have no idea how different your life is from less than twenty years ago. Apartheid sounds like a technical term, and putting an end to it seems almost like a foregone conclusion from today’s vantage point.
Fortunately, there is a great way to bring this history alive, right here in Jozi at the Apartheid Museum. Especially older kids, anywhere from age ten upwards, will benefit greatly from a visit. In addition to learning a lot of new facts, they will experience what Apartheid might have felt like for those who lived through it
This point will come across right when they enter the museum. When you purchase your ticket, you are classified as ‘white’ or ‘non-white’, which will determine which entrance to the museum you must use.
It seems like a small thing, a little trick, but it actually has a profound impact to set the right tone. You walk through a cage-like structure with hundreds of replicated ID-cards on display, and you cannot help but feel a chill when you approach the race classification board at the other end.
From there you are channeled back to the outside where you walk among mirror-like displays of “ordinary people,”to contrast the rigid separation of the apartheid state with the free mingling of people of all races taking place today.
Some of the most haunting displays are life-size photographs taken during the various uprisings in black townships and the brutal response they elicited from the police.
Towards the end of the museum you will find a truck on display, the kind that was used by police to drive into townships and quell uprisings. It looks more like a tank and gives you a strong sensation of the power of the state versus the oppressed masses, but also of the fear most whites must have felt in the presence of so many black people.
While most of today’s kids were born after the early 1990s, adult visitors will be struck by how recent all of this history is. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. In 1993, he and then president FW de Klerk received the Nobel Peace Prize for their tireless efforts to ensure a peaceful transition to democracy. But during those few years in between South Africa experienced a lot of turmoil and it was not at all clear that any kind of consensus on the future of the country could be reached.
All in all, the Apartheid Museum is a worthwhile visit for your family. You could combine it with a trip to Gold Reef City, which is right next door – and “sweeten the deal” with the promise of roller-coaster rides after the museum “drudgery,” but it might be a bit exhausting to do both in one day.