Just the Wax, Ma’am

I was watching a TV show the other day, and one of the characters said, “I’ve got good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear first?” They (obviously) chose the bad news. Duh. Does anybody ever pick the good news first? I’m the kind of guy who likes to end on a high note. When I’m eating dinner (or breakfast, or lunch), I save the best bite for last. I will save the crispiest cheese skirt, the juiciest bite of meat, or the maraschino cherry for the very end. I think that’s a universally human experience, but I could be wrong. Please enlighten me: are you a good news first or bad news first person?


I’m currently reading one of the most disturbing books I have ever come across. Even more so because it’s non-fiction: Midnight in Chernobyl. There’s a popular HBO miniseries based on the book, but my understanding is that the pay-TV version mixes fact and fiction. I wanted the real skinny, so I “checked out” the book from the library (90 percent of the books I read are on my Kindle, so this involves the Libby app (far superior to Overdrive IMHO) and a Wi-Fi connection) and dove in. It’s a weighty read, chock full of nuclear physics early on, but holy shit…once you get to the actual explosion in Reactor 4, it’s un-put-downable. So terrifying, in fact, that the first night I started reading it, I had dreams about fires and radiation and nuclear fallout.

Fun stuff, lemme tell ya.

But it’s fascinating. I’m only 20 percent in—like I said, this bugger is a long read—but totally hooked. Out of curiosity, I Googled Chernobyl (spoiler alerts be damned!) and learned that there is a bustling tourism trade involving illicit trips to the exclusion zone. Tourists venture into Pripyat (now a ghost town) and other cities that were evacuated in 1986 and, no shit, post selfies on Instagram. ‘Tis true; I’ve seen them. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Part of me applauds their bravado, the way they thumb their noses at Iodine-131 and other radioactive isotopes; another part of me thinks they’re fucking nuts. It’s a fallout zone, for god’s sake. Seriously?!

Nuclear energy is scary stuff. The fact that we haven’t managed to obliterate the human species while messing around with this stuff is nothing short of a miracle.


Yesterday, I went on a “content blitz” to Keystone with two coworkers. This was a great excuse to get out of the office and spend the day visiting businesses in the tourist town closest to Mount Rushmore, all in an attempt to drum up ideas for blog posts and social media campaigns. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’ve got the best job ever.

Our day included iced caramel macchiatos; a successful putt at the Holy Terror miniature golf course; a visit to the National Presidential Wax Museum; a delicious lunch at Ruby House; a tour of the Big Thunder Gold Mine; and a drink at BaRLees before heading home. Granted, I took a solo trip to Keystone last month, but this was even better. We had an actual agenda, and the company paid for everything. Minus the t-shirt and chainsaw sculpture I bought, but whatevs. The best part is, we’re going to be doing these content blitzes every month, visiting various communities throughout the Black Hills to gather ideas for blog posts and promote local businesses.

The wax museum was probably my favorite stop. I’d never been to one before, and quite frankly, I was blown away by the realistic sculptures. It was impressive how they created not just figurines, but entire tableaus. And they weren’t all presidential figures.

It was such a fun day!

The only downside? One day out and about is one day less to work on my assignments, and things have been super busy lately. I’m not complaining; with so many people furloughed or laid off, too much work is better than the alternative.

But I’m thankful it’s the weekend. Tara and I are going exploring. It should be fun!



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30 replies

  1. The heaviest Chernobyl story I’ve heard is about the poor guys in the helicopter hovering over the blown reactor trying to cover the core. The radiation killed them very quickly and the copter crashed, just dropped into the reactor. Brutal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Come on, man! I only JUST read your last post! I gotta admit I only looked at the pics this time around, but they were cool. Thanks for that. Even if I couldn’t spot a single flamingo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bad news first. Always.

    Once you’re finished with the book, do watch HBO’s Chernobyl. It’s fascinating, and you’ll be able to distinguish fact from fiction and write a blog post about it so we all know.

    Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London is superb. Would definitely return and also see any other waxworks museum out there. I had no idea that presidential one existed. I don’t know where Keystone is, but I’m going to Google it now. Maybe we can hit it on the way back from Colorado next month.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I intend to watch it for sure. The book may take me another month to finish, but at least I’ve got my August viewing all figured out now.

      The mailing address for Mount Rushmore is technically Keystone, so that gives you some idea how close the town is to the monument. You can see the granite faces from a few spots downtown, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve never had anyone ask me about good or bad news first. Tells you how few people talk to me… 😉

    Your job is fantastic.

    And I too would probably read the book first before watching the series. Overdrive had me almost quit libraries forever but Libby is amazing and I have at least 3 books on the go in there at any given time. Best part, when it expires and I put it back on hold it comes back and remembers where I left off. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really liked the HBO Chernobyl series and am now disappointed to learn they played loose with the truth.
    That does sound like a fun day, even more so because it was on the company’s dime. But I have to say…. Barack looks positively demented in wax.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everything’s better on the company dime, ha!

      You’d be feeling demented if you lost to that moron, too! I thought Barack looked pretty good. Most of the Founding Fathers were spot-on, and Teddy Roosevelt was a dead ringer. Oddly enough, Clinton and Reagan weren’t the most accurate depictions.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. But if you switch it up with the bad news last, your buoyancy at hearing the good news will put the bad news in perspective…there is more than one way to skin a cat as my friend, an attorney used to say.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I watched a documentary on Chernobyl and that was enough. It’s the slow, creeping dread of one stupid decision after another…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bad news first. Maraschino cherry last for sure.

    Is that gold mine thing like a scary amusement park ride? If so, I’m all for it.

    The wax museum is cool but creepy. We had a small one in Phoenix that had a creepy section us kids loved and were terrorized by with a guy being stretched on a rack and rats around him in the torture chamber and Lincoln shot in the theatre booth. WTF, Phoenix???

    I watched the HBO series on Chernobyl a lot. Had me on the edge of my seat. Adding the book to my TBR.

    Can’t wait to hear about you and Tara’s weekend adventuring! (Yes I know that sentence is full of bad grammar).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes, if I’m feeling especially adventurous, I’ll have a maraschino cherry first…and then another one last. I KNOW!! Party animal, right?!

      The gold mine tour is an actual gold mine tour, not a ride, lol. The Black Hills Gold Rush was a big deal and there are lots of old mines in the area. This particular one never yielded much, but it’s still pretty cool to see.

      Liked by 1 person

      • To be honest, I usually request a total of three maraschino cherries so if I wanted to I could do a before, after and during. But I usually save them all for the end. Except that one time I accidentally threw my cup in the trash without eating any of them!!! I was pretty upset about it.

        Laughing at myself about the Gold Mine “ride” being an actual tour. It would definitely be interesting to see it!!! In Arkansas I guess we have a still-active diamond mine where people still find pretty massive diamonds.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Enjoyed the pics. I’ve been reading deer , trees and other wildlife flourishing all around Chernobyl. The radiation is still contaminating the Pacific from Fukushima , Japan reactors blow up.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Do you know what’s funny, Mark? I just discovered a FREE channel on HBO that allows you to streaming certain shows and one of them is the miniseries, Chernobyl! I haven’t watched it yet, but now I will that you posted about the book because it sounds very interesting. I love anything scary.

    Those waxed figures look SO REAL!!!

    Hope you have a fantastic weekend, exploring!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m looking forward to watching it too, Ron. After I finish the book, of course!

      I, too, was impressed by the realism of the wax figures. I have so many questions: how long does it take to sculpt one? How long do they last? If there’s a fire, will they burn for days?

      Happy Sunday!

      Like

  11. You have a nice variety of destinations for visitors coming your way! Have you checked out K Bar S Lodge in Keystone? We only stayed there one night because they were so booked, but what a great place!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Those wax presidents are kind of creepy, if’n you ask me. Not that you did. I think you were brave to get close enough to them to take photos. Your part of the world looks so unique to me. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What were they going to do, jump out at me?! (Actually, speaking of that, Keystone holds a big Halloween event called The Haunting every year, and one of my coworkers suggested they add real costumed people to some of the sculptures and have them jump out at unsuspecting visitors. I think that’s a brilliant idea!)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Wax on, wax poetic, wax off. A fusion of history.

    Liked by 1 person

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