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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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The chance to board a pirate ship is always a win with kids.
The chance to board a pirate ship is always a win with kids.
A team of 10-year-old reporters on the pirate beat.
A team of 10-year-old reporters on the pirate beat.

Real kids review "Real Pirates"

In mid-December, Bobby Tanzilo wrote a great preview piece about "Real Pirates," the current temporary exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. I returned yesterday with three kids in tow – ages 10, 10 and 9 – to get their perspective.

The show focuses on the Whydah, a real pirate ship that sunk in 1717 and remains at the bottom of the sea. In 1984, explorer Barry Clifford fulfilled a childhood dream and found the wreckage. He excavated many artifacts which are on display in the exhibit and he continues to return to the site to search for more.

The most fascinating aspect of the show for the kids, as the name reminds, is that these pirates were real. Prior, they believed pirates were fictitious characters in movies or cartoon people that appeared on lunchboxes, stickers and T-shirts.

Learning that pirates actually existed paved the way for the debunking of myths and stereotypes, which is always a good thing. They learned that most pirates didn't match the patch-eyed, stripey-shirted chaps with a parrot on their shoulder that they were familiar with.

They also became aware that it wasn't customary for pirates to bury their treasure or have their captives walk the plank.

The interactiveness of the exhibit was particularly appealing to them. They enjoyed tying knots, boarding the rocking recreation of the Whydah and playing dice atop a barrel with a couple of pirate actors hired to add another dimension to the exhibit.

For obvious reasons, they were also fascinated by the story of John King, a 9-year-old boy who was part of the crew – led by Captain Samuel Bellamy – and the youngest pirate on record.

King demanded to sail with Bellamy and said if he wasn't allowed he would kill himself or harm his mother.

The exhibit opens with a four-minute movie, which could be too dark for younger kids. There's also realistic lighting flashes and thunder in the theater at the end of the short film.

A recreation of a man getting his leg cut o…

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Hi again, Sydney Hih!
Hi again, Sydney Hih!
Written next to The Unicorn's door days before the demolition.
Written next to The Unicorn's door days before the demolition.
Hello, Milwaukee.
Hello, Milwaukee.

Sydney Hih letters to become public art

Last year, the iconic Sydney Hih building was torn down, causing great controversy among Milwaukeeans. Some believed it was a terrible eye sore that simply needed to go whereas others – particularly those who had memories of seeing bands at The Unicorn or eating at Siam's – wanted to see it renovated.

On Friday, Jan. 18, the nine metal letters that spelled out "Sydney Hih" on the front of the building will be reborn as public art at The Shops of Grand Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.

The letters have been preserved and restored and will be placed permanently in the windows of the walkway over Plankinton Avenue.

Personally, I have my own collection of memories from the building. A construction worker gave me a brick during the demolition process and a kind reader sent me a piece of the Unicorn's yellow-painted door.

The installation of the letters in a highly visible area is a great idea. We need more public art in Milwaukee and for those of us with crazy, hazy memories of the brightly-colored monstrosity, it will be fun to see a small portion of it that's still intact.

I don't think grandma ever stitched this on a dish towel.
I don't think grandma ever stitched this on a dish towel.

Tool Shed's new show is sure to generate buzz

If you, like me, like a little sass in your crafts, swing by The Tool Shed, 2427 N. Murray Ave., on Friday to see the "Subversive Stitches" show.

The adult-themed display of needlepoint, cross-stitch and knitting projects kicks off on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. during Gallery Night and then continues until April 2013.

"The pieces are about sexual freedom and sexual expression," says Tool Shed's education coordinator Lucky Tomaszek.

Five artists contributed to the show and they will be on-site on Friday to chat about their work. Complementary refreshments will be available. Plus, shopping at the East Side erotic boutique often results in surprising purchases you never regret.

Large. But not large large.
Large. But not large large.
A mere 35,000 LEGO blocks.
A mere 35,000 LEGO blocks.
Tribute to the inventor of the modern typewriter and the famous writers who have typed on them.
Tribute to the inventor of the modern typewriter and the famous writers who have typed on them.

MSOE library houses large light bulb, LEGO stadium

Sure, kids love trips to Disney World and water parks, but the beauty of the little people is they often are just as impressed with the smaller stuff. I am reminded of this again and again, most recently, when we stopped off at the Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Walter Schroeder Library, 500 E. Kilbourn Ave.

We stopped in to check out the world’s largest light bulb – well, at least it was in 1973 – because I have an unexplainable penchant for ridiculously over-sized items. (No, that’s not what she said. Ahem.)

According to Sarah Rowell, who works at the library, the lamp MSOE has was built by the General Electric Company in 1939 for exhibition at the World's Fair. It has a 50-kilowatt bulb, but its output is equivalent to 100,000 watts.

"Though now it is just on display, when lit the bulb could set a newspaper on fire from six feet away," says Rowell. "For cooling purposes the bulb needed to be shut off every 10 seconds. As you can imagine, it is an object of some curiosity and regularly viewed by those finding their way to our library."

This information is actually more interesting than the bulb itself, which is under three-feet tall. I guess I expected it to be giant, at least six feet, and so seeing it was a bit anticlimactic. My kids thought it was pretty cool, except they kept asking if we could turn it on.

Even more impressive to them, however, is the massive LEGO sculpture of Miller Park made by former MSOE student Tim Kaebisch. It features approximately 35,000 LEGO blocks (that’s $7,500 worth!), including a retractable roof, and it took him six years to build.

The model, which was not anticlimactic in the least, will be at the Shroeder Library through Feb. 13, 2013.

We also enjoyed the display that pays tribute to Christopher Latham Sholes, a Milwaukeean who invented the modern typewriter / QWERTY keyboard.  The display features vintage typewriters, along with black-and-white photos of famous writers from Dorothy Parker to William Faulk…

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