A little before 8 this morning, huashan pulled up in my driveway, with his two nieces A (age 16) and Z (age 9), and a Brazilian exchange student J who is staying with them. We drove to Indiana, where we first went to EFRC, and I played tour guide (hopefully doing a decent job), showing them the cats in the main compound, and then taking them to see Max. Max is now 11 weeks, but he's only just starting to bite (and he seems to have some notion of being polite about it) and not showing any tendency to come flying through the air teeth first, so he may be able to have visitors for longer than I'd expected. Z was a little intimidated but seemed to warm up to him by the time we had to leave, and A seemed quite smitten and was playing with him despite allergies to "anything with fur" that were starting to kick in. I did fail significantly in one aspect of being a tour guide; I completely forgot to give them a newsletter and offer them merchandise.
From EFRC, we drove to Cloverdale where we had KFC, and then to the Indiana State Museum for the other main event of the day: the Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Indiana State Museum. I've never really paid attention to how the craft of moviemaking works, or really watched or read those "making of (show)" shows/books, and I really found this show fascinating. It explained the camera tricks that allow normal human size actors to be hobbits on the screen (though even with it explained it still seemed amazing that they could make a whole movie, with many scenes and many camera angles and lots of stuff going on, work so well). It showed some stuff about how the CGI is integrated with the live action that similarly reinforced how impressive the movie was. There were lots of props and monitors that showed little clips about how different parts of the movies were made. All in all, definitely an interesting thing to see if you can get to Indy in the next 10 days or so before the thing ends, or if it shows up in your city later (I assume it is a traveling exhibit, but I'm too lazy to look up where it's traveling to), and probably worth the price of admission if you're into that sort of thing. And it's leaving me wanting to see the movies again, so I'm wondering who I know who has a good TV. (I think everyone I know who has a TV worth watching the films on already has the DVDs.)
One downside to the trip came between the time we arrived at the museum and the time our tickets would let us into the show. huashan wanted to just chill out for a few minutes and the girls stayed with him, but I wandered off to explore a non-LOTR exhibit. This was a fairly high-production-values exhibit about Indiana's future, obviously aimed at high school age kids coming in on tours, and though I didn't have time to sit through all of the little presentations, I saw enough that I think I know what the whole thing was like, and what I saw bothered me, because it's a big load of Republican propaganda disguised as objective presentation and polling. One part of the exhibit was asking questions about genetic engineering and cloning, subtly biased to push the respondent toward the idea that Man Was Not Meant To Meddle With God's Work. Another asked questions about whether sound environmental policies or pro-growth ones should be pursued, and though it allowed me to make my own choices and gave me a summary that said that I favored a green approach, it loaded it down with a bunch of lies about how I could choose a healthy environment if I thought that was the right thing to do, but I had to accept that that meant economic sacrifices. I needed to leave at that point, since it was the time when our tickets would let us in, but I felt the need for mental floss to clean the slime out of my head. It was subtle, it was slick, and what I sampled was very insidiously evil.
huashan and I spent most of the trip home engaged in a mutual rant about how our country is going to hell in a handbasket.