It's not even summer yet, and we've already had temperatures in the 90s. The 90s (above 32 for you folks keeping track Celcius-style). And to the onslaught of hot weather, I can only say this: "feh."
Feh feh feh feh feh feh feh.
My hair, however, is loving it. This is because along with the Oppressive Heat comes Miserable Humidity, a meteorological condition which enables my hair to play "Bride of Frankenstein!" For the next several months nary a product, blow dryer nor straightening device shall tame it. It's a good look for the recently exhumed and reanimated, but slightly less flattering for the young professional on the go.
I hope my folicles are firm.
I saw this "Movie Soundtrack for Your Life" meme on i hate peas...., and I thought "Hey, that looks like a quick bit of fun." Fun yes - quick no. It was considerably harder than I thought it would be - it took me hours. Who knew making movies was so hard?
Of course, some of the issue came from the fact I thought I'd be all clever and make an iMix of the soundtrack, but it kept coming out shorter than my actual list. It took me ages to realize that the reason the iMix on iTunes was showing up ten songs short from my list was that some of the songs I chose aren't available in the iTunes store. Pesky Beatles. (Thankfully, I was also doing laundry at the time, so I don't have to feel like a complete and total slacker. Besides, it's a holiday weekend, and I can shirk responsibility if I want to. So N'yah.)
And since that several hours spent pouring over my music collection wasn't time wasted enough, I also made a corresponding movie poster, using a combination of St's Flickr Warhol and fd's Flickr toys. I am the master procrastonator. Oh yes.
Anyhoo - here's the full soundtrack listing (the director's cut, if you will), and if you're curious about the iTunes available tracks, the iMix is here.
Groovy is My Name by Pizzicato Five
I'm Only Sleeping by the Beatles
Bring on the Terror by Robbers on High Street
Laughter in the Rain by Neil Sedaka
Falling in love:
Of Angels and Angles by The Decembrists or
For You by Duncan Sheik or
Sleepin' In by Richard Julian
Wilderness by David Poe or
Dance Me to the End of Love (Madeleine Peroux Version)
Better Be Home Soon by Crowded House
Won't Get Fooled Again by the Who or
Making Movies by Richard Julian
Getting back together:
Brighter Than Sunshine by Aqualung
Into Temptation by Crowded House
Fabulous Places by Bobby Darin
I'm Going Slightly Mad by Queen
Start Again by Duncan Sheik
Learning a lesson:
Did You by Deirdre Flint
Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters by Elton John >
Do Your Best and Don't Worry by Morrissey
Sing, Sing, Sing (with a Swing) by Louis Prima
Let's Live it Up by Brian Setzer Orchestra
It's a Sin by the Pet Shop Boys
or Dead by They Might Be Giants
Long night alone:
Hallelujah (Rufus Wainright rendition) or
How Soon is Now by The Smiths
At My Funeral by the Crash Test Dummies
Living a Boy's Adventure Tale by A-ha
What's your soundtrack?
This picture is a graphical representation of Sarcasmo's Corner, as deemed by this system. I'm not sure I entirely understand it, but I quite like the look of it. If you watch it unfold, it looks a bit like fireworks, and I dig fireworks, and so it's alright by me.
- Monday Morning Quiz: Here.
- Joey Ramone Catches Theives Just Like a Spider Can: Ok, not really. But here's an animated video of the Ramones performing the Spiderman theme song. Don't forget to follow the bouncing spider. - [SIW]
- Symbologists Do It In Code: The Norman Rockwell Code.
- Non-PC Cartoons: The Historical Preservation Library of Banned Cartoons is "a collection of vintage cartoons that have been banned from mainstream broadcast and distribution." -[I4M]
The Return of Olympus? According to the Guardian, "...an Athens court has ordered that the adulation of Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Athena and co. is to be unbanned."n (Maybe threadless should think about putting this proposed t-shirt design into production.) (J-WB)
Ok – so here's what I'm wondering: what do babies think with before they comprehend the concept of language. Yes, yes, they think in their brains, obviously (aren't you all so clever?); I suppose what I'm really wondering is how they process their thoughts. There is a time, however brief, in a child's life he develops his own secret language with which to describe his world; before he can even comprehend that the noises the adults around him make are in anyway related to them or their environment. A time before they know that there are names for things, even a name for themselves – where ever single thing and breath and moment is an act of investigative discovery – one in which doesn't have language to provide guidance or context or preconceived notions.
That must be an amazing time. The ability to learn the world and discover and rediscover it as though it were entirely new is one of the gifts of childhood that we really have to work to recapture as adults.
If we could learn how infants process this incoming data, how they define it and catalog it for future callback, I believe we could discover the true essence of Wonder and Wonderment*.
Then, naturally, we'd synthesize it, bottle it and mass market it for a quick buck; because just after learning the language of linguistics we learn the codex of currency. And, by definition, isn't it better to be a "have" than a "have not?"
*(I have to admit, when I think the word "wonderment," I hear it in my head as though it's being said by Jean Hagen-as Lina LaMont in "Singing in the Rain," with the same syllabic emphasis she gives the word "firmament" in the line, "I'm a...'shining, shimmering star in the Hollywood firmament." I don't know why.)
In my neighborhood, there is a corner lot for sale, with a sign promising it can be "built to suit." The lot is fairly small -.to adequately take advantagee of the available square footage one would have to build up rather than out - but I have a little fantasy wherein I buy the propery, plop a one-story, thatched cottage smack dab in the middle, and then landscape the remainder of the lot with a copse of broad-leaved, thick-truked trees, wild flowers, fairy rings, and a stone pathway emerging from the cool shadows and onto the sidewalk.1 This way I could have the illusion of cozy, peaceful solitude and ease of access to culture, excellent take-away, proximity of emergency health care2 and the hustle and bustle of city life I so thrive on and enjoy.
My own forest enclave in the heart of the city. If someone could build me that to suit, I'd consider undertaking the joys of home ownership.
1 Ideally, there would also be room for a small brook or pond, but it is a very small lot, and even my flights of fancy are sometimes restricted by basic laws of physics. As it is, the cottage would have to be outfitted with the space-folding technology of the TARDIS to both fit in the lot and hold the expansive library (complete with a roaring fire in the fireplace) I see in my head.
2 Not that I need it often, but I am accident prone, and one of the things that stops me from retiring to become a mad, book-obsessed hermit in cave somewhere is the fact that I'm sure my bad habit of reading while walking - dangerous enough in the cty - would be distarous in an area riddled with hidden roots, surprising crevices, and hungry bears. And since I'm not likely to give-up readwalking like a sensible person, doing so in areas where I can subsequently readwalk myself to the ER after a book-related injury seems the most prudent option.
- You'd Think After Being in All Those Hitchcock Films, Stewart Would Know Not to Answer Random Calls: Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart doing phone booth shtick. (And speaking of Hitch, here's home giving Psychothe big sell.)
- And You Thought Those 5-Bladed Razors Were Something Special: In the 1940's, they had Atomic Razor Blades. (AND Radium Condoms). You know; back when men were men and women apparently had to carry geiger counters in their lipstick cases, just to be on the safe side. (Of course, this may have pre-dated those pesky truth in advertising laws...) [N]
- My Plans for Global Dominion Grow Ever Nearer: Evil villain wanna-bes who like to think about world domination but are too lazy to actually do anything about it, rejoice...Honda's Asimov is now mind-controlled. - [E]
- Speaking of Robots: I wish I was in Santa Cruz yesterday, because I would have liked to have gone to this lecture. (See, the debates are starting already.) And please let me assure our future Robotic Overlords that I think the answer is a resounding "Yes." Now please don't hurt me. [ig]
- MySpace Has Now Gone Too Far: It's broken the video game barrier: Luigi's Band Blues.
No, not really - it's just a a surprise, bonus mid-week link dump, as my clip folder runeth over with good stuff to share. Maybe it's because the Internet is extra full of fun and exciting goodies this week, or perhaps it's that I've got a handful of writing deadlines rapidly closing in on me, and there's nothing I like better when the pressure's on than to buckle down and aimlessly surf the web.
My middle name is Christina, but it should have been Procrastination.
Ah, my irresponsible habits. Bad for me...good for you!
- I Think Kate Bush Got Her Stories Mixed Up: It wasn't Wuthering Heights with the mad woman in the attic, it was Jane Eyre. (That is who she's emulating here, right? And that strange glow behind her is obviously the glow cast by Rochester's burning bed? Otherwise I don't know what's going on in this video.)
- He Should Have Used a Phoenix Down: Robot Chicken takes on Final Fantasy VII...and it hurts me. Mostly because there's a distinct lack of Chocobo action. ( I can't get enough of those Chocobos.)
- The Studios Always Cut the Best Stuff: Directors Cut 7 from Worth 1000. Fun stuff, as usual. - [MV]
- Dear Parents of the 70s, Why Did You Dress Us That Way?: 7 minutes of 70's Toy Commercials may make you nostalgia for the toys of yesteryear (if not the fashion.) I don't think I've ever seen it before, but I now feel compelled to try Bing Bang Boom. But not in my own house....somewhere where I can make someone else chase the pieces when they bounce in the wrong direction, which I assume happened more often than not. -[BB]
- The Bear Wit Project: Wakka Wakka Wakka. - [N]
Chronon is a new game from the same fella who did the Grow series. And like the Grow series, this one is completely driving me bonkers.
Bonkers, I tells ya.
Well, ok, more bonkers.
Thank goodness for blogging. It gives me something "constructive" to do when, after having consumed coffee after 7PM, I find myself unable to retire come 11PM. Thankfully, I will also have coffee to shake the lack of sleep blahs in the morning. (Hey, step off. It's a legal drug.)
I'm having a heck of a time with technology lately1. I've already mentioned that I am out a digital camera (my own fault, really. A girl can only blame so much on the martini and strippers. Ah...but I've said too much.) And now, my uberphone has stopped acting like a useful, versatile communications/organization device and much more like a sleepy answering machine that requires a bizarre ritual of button mashing and swearing to reactivate and connect to the network when I actually want to use it as something more than a paperweight. It fooled me once before by mysteriously repairing itself right after I made arrangements to ship it back to my service provider for a replacement. However, it finally pushed me too far, and so I shipped the little bugger out today. In the interim, I have a crappy little loaner phone from my service provider which I still haven't quite worked out how to use, and with which I can barely hear the person I'm talking to, or make myself heard by them. What these means for you? Very little, other than that although I kept my sim card, so you can still reach me at the same number, talking to me on the phone may prove especially frustrating. Email is, as per usual, the better option. (Although since I can't get my email or surf the web on this phone, I'll probably be checking, and ergo answering email, with less frequency. Not altogether a bad thing.) Also, it means if you do call, I'm likely to jump ten feet out of my skin. This is because although I have become accustomed to the sudden noises my original cellphone made, I'm not at all familiar with the noises this one makes, and they keep startling me. So that's fun.
In a no way related topic, I've recently finished watching the final season of Six Feet Under2, thanks to the magic of television series on DVD and the friends who are willing to loan them (thanks, guys!). As Six Feet Under centers around a funeral home and the family that runs it, it naturally raises some heady issues, such as the nature of death, the meaning of life, and the significance of our personal histories and the relationships we cultivate. In watching the show this weekend (several episodes at a time, as one does with DVDs), I had a moment of clarity; an epiphany, if you will: There must be people in the world, who when asked what they do for a living 3 can honestly answer, "I make toe tags for corpses."
What can I say? I'm not always deep.
I find the idea of professional toe tag makers simultaneously amusing and comforting4; I'm not sure why. After all, I'm sure their tag-making skills aren't limited to toe tags. Likely they also make luggage tags, box tags, price tags, and a wide variety of other tag and tag-like objects. And yet, I am in love with the idea that somewhere, out there, someone is laboring passionately on a toe tag, dreaming of a day when they are promoted to composing t-shirt tags, so their work can finally have the larger audience it deserves.
Actually, I really do wonder about them. Do they consider the ultimate end of the fruits of their labor? And if so, do they find it futile or depressing? Or do they spend their days tieing the twine into a little loop through that punched out hole, trying to imagine the clammy toe it will soon be tied around, and the back story of the person to whom said toe (and tag) is attached? Or do they separate themselves from the product and its eventual destination, seeing them as just another pile of papers on their desk?
The other thing I wonder when watching Six Feet Under is how the actors whose characters die in the course of the series5 feel about watching their own funerals. I mean, I realize that they're actors, and that they understand that it's fake - the same way the bar fight they had the week before on another series was fake, or how they've already forgotten the name of the 2.5 children who appeared with them in a regional car commercial as though they were a happy family. It's not their funeral, it's the characters funeral, and although their photo (or body) might be on display during the course of the funeral sequence, there's an excellent chance that the room is filled with mourners with whom they've had no personal connection. In fact, given the non-contiguous nature of TV filming, there's even a good chance the room is full of people they've never even met. And yet...surely they must be something unsettling about it. In their real life, they may get to experience actual bar fights and raise real families, and even someone's funeral, but not their funeral.Funerals are the one milestone in our lives that to which we aren't able to bear witness6, so getting to see it, even in mock up, must be interesting. Or unnerving. Or fascinating. Or liberating. Or just...weird.
For the record, no funeral for me, please. Let them harvest my organs and whatnot for science and torch and scatter the rest. Use the life insurance money to throw me a small going away party full of laughing and music and silliness and dancing. After that, my beneficiaries should feel free to use the remaining funds on whatever brings them the most joy. Seriously, I don't want anything done with my remains that involves "upkeep" or "maintenance" or future spending of any kind...and that includes annual memorial flowers. (I'm not really a huge fan of cut flowers in real life, it seems a shame to kill something just because it's beautiful. I doubt very highly I'll appreciate them more post mortem .) Remember me in stories and with wacky adventures; that's what I say.
As for the nature of death, I don't worry about it too much. I figure death is a mystery I'll experience when my time comes. Which isn't too say I'm in any hurry for that particular adventure. Quite the opposite, actually; death is inevitable, but there's loads in life I haven't had a chance to try yet, and that I'll only get to try if I initiate the opportunity. So that's where my focus is. As for death, I just not to presuppose too much about it; that way I won't be too disappointed or jaded when I get there. (Besides, the way science is continually progressing, it's important that we retain some mystery...even if it is the final one.) In the meantime I do what I can to stave off the end, like eating my vegetables,
getting plenty of sleep, not leaping head first into situations that sound interesting without fully examining them first, looking both ways before crossing the street, always drinking my Ovalltine, not voluntarily putting myself in the path of deadly creatures and (mostly) keeping myself out of trouble. None of which will help me if I get picked off by a runaway bus, but at least I can say that I tried.
Well, I can say it posthumously.
They can put it on my toe tag.
1 Also, the USB port on the front of my PC, which I frequently use to charge and update my MP3 player, seems to mount and unmount the devices at will, sometimes cycling several times a minute. Feh.
2 Which, for some reason, I keep wanting to call Dead Like Me, even though I know that's an entirely different series.
3 And we all know how much I love that question.
4 After all, I don't get the same strange glee from considering the fact that it is someone's job to produce formaldehyde.
5 (it's about a funeral home, folks, so there's a least one death an episode. In fact, much like the Red Shirts on Star Trek, there are characters who appear in the program specifically to end up as Corpse of the Week.)
6 One could make the same argument for our birth, but just because most of us don't remember it, doesn't mean we weren't there.
Things not to do when you have tendonitis: go to the Sex Dwarf Prom. Oh sure, you might think you'll be able to control yourself and keep your dancing to a minimum, but deep in your heart you know better. (Who can resist dancing to Ballroom Blitz, I ask you?) In short, prom was awesome. I wish DJs Robert Drake and Pussy Galore provided the soundtrack to my original prom. Conversely, I wish I had the knees from my original prom for the Sex Dwarf prom, because I'm more than a little achy today. (Looks like I'll have to pass on the planned Salsa dancing class next weekend.) Ah, the price we pay for fun.
And speaking of fun:
- Monday Morning Quiz: Here.
- Caught in a Landslide: Following this version of Bohemian Rhapsody I posted about previously (and the version Notshakespeare posted about in the comments), I feel compelled to share this version, put together by the Kleptones. It's...well, it's certainly something.
- Ronnie James Dio Did What?!?: What do Ronnie James Dio, an trippy animated frog and a 19th century poem about an animal's party have in common? This: The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast. - [ErB]
- Cereal Comics: Breakfast of the Gods!- [GAoH]
- Advertising Surprises:
1 For those of you who inexplicably demanding photos, I must admit I am sans digital camera (a fact I hope to soon correct). However, there was a photographer on premisies, and I know a few other folks were there with cameras, so I'll let you know if and when photos are available for your voyeuristic consumption.
Robot surgeon performs long-distance heart operation on its own.
If anyone should happen to see me wandering about town tonight wearing a formal gown, makeup, and looking generally girlie: Do Not Panic - it is not a sign of the apocalypse...it is merely that I am going to prom. You can tell it's prom, because in that grand prom tradition, my skin has broken out. Thanks a bunch, hormones.
Here's some links for you to look at while I ponder the age old prom question: do I dare tease my hair? (I mean, I didn't bother the first time around...)
- Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner Should Do More Teen Movies: Ten Thing I Hate About Commandments; not as ingenious as sequencing the last chromosome in the human genome, but pretty close. [SH & VM]
- Errr..What?: The NFCTD interactive flash thingie is beautiful, haunting, disturbing, and likely to make you wonder who slipped what into your afternoon tea. (I say "thingie" because I'm hard-pressed to call it a "puzzle." It's one of those dealies where you click things until something happens, then keep on clicking until you reach the next level.) It's both nifty and nightmarish- [N]
- Seamless Pictures: Pretty darn cool. (When I am Ruler of the Universe, I am totally going to pay someone to pave my grounds this way. Did I say pay? I meant command. Obey me! - [SH]
- Flatmate Project: Want ads are good places to find roomates...and photo subjects. And potential roomates to make into photo subjects. -[CT]
- Probably Kraft Singles or Any Faux 'Cheese Product', (Well - except Cheez Whiz. That can stay. Mmm..Cheez Whiz ) Because No One Should Do That To Cheese: "If you could cause one invention from the last hundred years never to have been made at all, which would it be, and why?" - [k]
- This Rodent Was Ready for Its Closeup: I think I know why my squirrel situation ceased...clearly the squirrel has fired its agent and gone with an agency who could get it some screen time. After all, all I did was freakout and blog about. This local family freaked out and called the local news team. And, surprisingly, a camera crew showed up. Maybe it was a slow newsday...or maybe they thought it might have that pesky plague that's going around?
Update: Oh - also: I totally need this Threadless T.
Harry and the Potters may be the most adorable band ever. At the very least, they are the most adorable band consisting of two brothers who both dress-up as Harry Potter and sing songs about the Harry Potter universe ever.
And as for their unbilled opening act, The Hungarian Horntails, I can only say that it's good to know that the spirit of true Punk Rock is alive, well, and apparently trapped in the body of an 7 year old boy.
I had been working on a post about how I sometimes regret the fact that I've never been in a fist fight. In the end though, it turns out I'm not curious enough about the experience to actually cause harm to a human being...most particularly to myself1. So instead of boring the tears out of your long form, here some amusing bits short form:
- I think I'm developing a blog crush on ze frank. I'm sure I'm not the only one, but all the rest of you better step off...he likes me best. (Language in "the show" is often not safe for work and may also be dangerous to easily amused, geek girl hearts. I mean, the man made a Magritte joke - who can resist that? I'm not made of stone, people.)
- New Bunnies: Casablanca.
- Everything is more fun with a catchy song...even conspicuous consumpton.
1 Besides which - everyone knows that (1) wit is a much more satisfying weapon, because although bruises fade over time, some emotional scars never heal and (2) you don't get blood on your own hands; that's what your elite cadre of hired goons are for.
According to new government health guidelines, we are all either pregnant or pre-pregnant up until the time we're menopausal. That means from now on, we're all advised to abstain from drinking, smoking or otherwise acting up, you know, just in case.
Don't get me wrong...good health practices are important no matter whether you plan to get pregnant or not, and finding yourself fit and healthy in the event of an unplanned pregnancy is certainly preferred to the alternative. And I think these guidelines are well-intentioned. But suggesting women structure their behavior and lifestyle around their fertility does smack a wee bit of behavioral control to me. After all, the guidelines don't seem to address the role the sperm has in fetal development (which would apply to both planned and unplanned pregnancies.) According to this website, smoking, drinking, and taking recreational drugs can damage the sperm, which can lead to birth defects - so surely all men of fertile age (roughly from puberty through death) should be actively cautioned against that behavior as well. Somehow I don't see it happening.
The good news is, cat feces is apparently a concern for the pre-and-possibly pregnant danger - so we should all be relieved of being expected to clean the litter box. The bad new - "workplace hazards" are also a danger. Guess we're better off foregoing those pesky careers too. We can use the time that frees up to take our folic acid supplements like good little breed mares.
I know - I know - this news is not precisely nefarious. It just...portents badly. And, frankly, it sticks in my craw.
- Monday Morning Quiz: Here.
- I Think Fozzie Got Robbed: Muppet Star Wars Screen Test
- Soul Dracula: Is it just me, or do the Bride's of Dracula in this music video look as though they'd be more natural on roller skates?
- You Mean the Actors Aren't Standing Behind the Screen?: Finding HIs Voice - an animation explaining how the Talkies work. - [BB]
- Possibly The Oddest Game I've Seen Yet (And That's Saying Something: Naked Melee Armageddon - [FJ]
- Not Logical Indeed : Imagine, if you will, a flash animation in which characters from an anime I don't recognize perform Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody as though they are the cast of Star Trek, The Original Series. Actually, you don't need to imagine it, someone's already gone and made such an animation. What I need you to do is explain why.
- And While We're On TOS: Star Trek, 2.0. Yes, it's a G4 commercial, but that doesn't stop it from being amusing.
- That Chicken Butt Joke Never Grows Old for Me (I Blame Penelope Spheeris): Let's stay on the re-imagining the classics track with this: The Skeletor Show. .-[I4M]
- Hey - I Got a Joke: Jokes with Einstein. Who doesn't love a dance party?
- From the Wilco Tango Foxtrot Department:
- Stilton is, without question, my most favored of cheeses; but even so, I don't believe I'd want to wear it as a perfume. -[SF]
- The Ham Violin. - [gab]
- I...er...this...um..eww. This hurts me on a very primal level, and I'm not even really sure what it is...so I share it with you so we can all suffer together: The Meat Cyborg. - [SH]
- Shameless Self Promotion: Because, let's face it; once you've sold your soul to the Internet, you have to admit to a wee-bit of vanity:
- The Schmaps Philadelphia guide will include 11 of my photos. You can see which (and get the guide) here.
- I'm now playing with the monsters over at local review site, Monsters at Play.
Have you ever fixated on a stranger's body parts? Like maybe that guy on the bus with the understated, regal nose which sits unbelievably above bee-sting swollen lips? Or that wisp of hair gracing the back of the neck of the person walking in front of you? Someone's unpainted toenails staring aggressively up at you from what are clearly very expensive, open-toed sandals? Well, last Thursday I saw a pair of hands that absolutely arrested my attention, and I still can't get them out of my mind. They were well-formed hands; wide wrists, broad palms and heavy fingers. Even though the skin around the wrists and joints was wrinkled and puckered, it seemed to me that they once been strong hands; hands that could have just as easily created elaborately delicate designs from fire and iron as mercilessly crush a man's windpipe. Chances are good they did neither - or maybe they did both. I don't know.
It troubles me that I can't recall whether the fingertips were more square than round, or if the nails were well-manicured. For as long as I spent studying them, one think I'd remember. I can tell you what I do remember though: they were bloodless pale, indeed, a ghastly white behind a faint green-hue, and floating, armless in a glass specimen jar.
Certainly, hands can tell you a lot about a person, but it's difficult to put that information in context when the person and the hands are no longer attached.
Before you become too concerned that I've thrown my lot in with body-thieves or cannibals, let me reassure you that I saw these appendages in the local medical museum (where Sarcasmom and I chose to spend last Thursday afternoon), where looking at disbodied body-parts ceases to morbidly disturbing and is, instead, educational. Morbidly, disturbingly educational.
I'll let you in on a little secret; I quite like museums. Museums feed my fetish for the interacting with the past on a tactile level; I've mentioned before that I like to touch things and breathe them in; as though I could experience all of human history through temperature controlled, tirelessly cataloged proximity. In fact, while in college, I often spent my free afternoons in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and the adjoining Carnegie Museum of Art1. (I found I often myself drawn to the bird room, which contained glass cases with rows and rows of taxidermied birds with ever-alert glass-eyes arranged in pseudo life-like poses. My particular favorite was a owl I had nicknamed Merlin.2) I sometimes took my journal with me, to take notes, write down questions exhibits raised for me, or story ideas they sparked. I don't name so many exhibits these days, but I have carried on my practice of taking my notebook. To most museums..3
However, I never take my journal to the Mutter Museum. It's not that I don't want to...I rather desperately want to. Here is human history at it's most primal level - not just humanity but human; not just the exploratory expression of our souls but the very physical core of our beings - our spines and our spleens splayed for the world to see; brains literally split, sectioned and dissected for universal exploration. Blemishes apparent, internal imperfections revealed - the people on display are utterly vulnerable and exposed..and yet they are not without their secrets. And their secrets are exactly what I want from them.
Fascinated as I am by just what the human brain looks like when it is cut, cross-sectioned, with each slab displayed side by side, I find I'm more curious about the story of what went on inside the brain before it went under the knife. What was the Soap Woman thinking the morning of the day before succumbed to Yellow Fever? 4 What are the individual stories behind each of the 2,000 objects in those long drawers that were extracted from people's throats? Did the person who made the shrunken heads with the trimmed bangs (in order to show off the face for tourist sale) also make the more traditional shrunken heads - and if so, was that his or her job, or was it a more universal skill that anyone could do? In the same way men once sat with notebook and pen and observered and recorded scientific phenomenon with a notebook, a sketch pad, and an intense patience (and surety of penmanship) I can never hope to match in order to tease out the secrets of natural science, life, and the universe, I long to bring my notebook and the case full of Joseph Hyrtl's carefully arranged skulls (with their pertinent information prettily tabled on their craniums in black lettering) as they stare back at me, and try and puzzle out their stories.5 I want to be calm and still and hope to hear the ghost of the reverberations that once bounced against the ear bits in the Osteo exhibit. I want to ask them all about their lives and their pains and also their joys and the way they lived with things we can't even fathom suffering anymore.
And above all else, it is strangely the hands I wonder about the most. Maybe because they signify communication to me (I spend more time typing than talking), or because in modern culture, they represent control. Hands are the appendage most of us use to shape our destinies: they steer cars, exchange money for goods and services, steal the blankets and push the buttons on the shiny remotes that make the people inside the box dance for our pleasure. They even include that most important opposable thumb, which helps us justify our feelings that we are somehow greater than all the rest of nature combined. Our brains may be in charge but our hands, our hands do stuff.
Or maybe it was because, among the cancerous growths, the skeletons and the choked-on-buttons, a pair of hands seemed surprisingly out-of-place.
They hands can be found in the newer section of the museum7 which explains about the different types of displays (wet, dried, wax) and how they are created. Many of the exhibits here are presented without much background information. I believe the hands didn't have any label at all. They didn't seem to be exhibiting a particular medical condition, or to have belonged to anyone whose hands were of particular note (a painted, a pianist?) They were simply hands, in a jar and without comment. And as such, they gripped my imagination more strongly than any of the more detailed exhibits in the museum. To whom had they belonged? What had they touched? Made? Destroyed? Felt? Done? How had they ended up in a jar on and on display in the lower level of a strange and often-overlooked Philadelphia museum? When was the last time they felt the rain? Skimmed the hair of someone they loved? Touched a substance (blood? sugar? drugs?) to their tongue? And where was their tongue now?8 Why had they been silenced? So many questions without answers. So many possibilities. I imagine I could pass whole days scribbling away among the dark wood, corpses and glass cases.
However, I imagine that after about an hour of my trying to commune with bits and pieces of the dead, a docent (or security guard) would likely come over and say, "Excuse, miss? Miss? Hello? Yes, pardon me, miss. I'm afraid your intense, fanciful and not-at-all scientific study of our curiosities is creeping the other museum-goers out. And it's also creeping the museum staff out. Quite frankly, miss, you're freaking the plaster cast of Cheng and Eng out. I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave. And I'll have to ask that you don't simply go out into the medicinal garden and begin cataloging and attempting to draw the various plants and herbs as though you're a Victorian gentlemen of with the excessive time, wealth and education necessary to pursue such activities, because that will just freak the plants out. This is a serious museum full of dead people, miss. We can't have you here creeping people out."
And I'd sigh and say, "That's ok," packing up my things. "That's what the Internet's for."
Here's the biggest question the hands have left me wondering....would I allow what remains of my remains to be displayed in a museum? On the one hand, I am a declared organ donor; as I won't actually need my body as a vessel for post-death activity, I'd just as soon see the parts that I don't ruin put to good use. My plan for the rest was to have it creamated and the cremains scattered.9 This last bit is has always been crucial for me - as10 I really don't relish the idea of my body being trapped in any sort of container for the rest of eternity; I suppose in case what's left of the body also retains some sort of consciousness. I realize it makes little sense, especially since any donated body parts would also technically be contained (and I'd have no control over what happened to them once the donee was finished with them) - but it's just this thing that I have. Sort of a spiritual claustrophobia.
And yet - I'm fascinated with the idea that
my hands, with their tiny scars, ragged cuticles, crooked knuckles, and minor fingers all curved in towards the middle as though it was some sort of Finger Deity, might capture someone else's imagination just by sitting, pickled, on a shelf.11
Of course - this raises the question of what happens if the individual bits of the mortal coil retain some sort of self-awarness after having been unceremoniously shuffled off? I have this wonderfully, horrible vision of the Mutter taking on a macabre, party-like atmosphere after hours, where all the bits and bobs spring into some semblance of life, 12 and there would be my poor hands, unable to participate because they would lack the torque necessary to be able to unscrew the jar they were housed in from the inside, so instead they'd be forced to watch from the murky depths of their prison of glass behind glass. Only they couldn't even watch, having no eyes, or listening, having no ears; instead they'd just have to know there was a party going on all around them, and without them. It's almost too sad, really.
Maybe, if I decided to will my hands to the museum, I could specify that they be kept in an unlocked, hinged box on a table, a la Thing, so they could be free to move about the museum if they so wished.
A request which would, no doubt, make my brain of considerably more interest to medical science, I would imagine, than my humble hands.
1 I know - was I a party girl or what?
2 Yes, I did have friends in college. Yes, real, live, human friends. Why do you ask?
3 Especially the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which seems to be eternally adding words (usually the names of medieval armour) to my vocabulary; words I inevitably forget due to lack of frequent usage. For example, cuisse ornaments very rarely come up in my every day conversation.
4 I'm guessing she wasn't wondering if the fat in her body would saponify, thereby perfectly preserving her remains and making her corpse the subject of continuing scientific study (and some shady social engineering to get her to the museum).
5 I'm not very proud to admit that, when faced with such an overwhelming number of skulls looking back at me all at once, I have a tendency to make faces at them. It's not that I'm pulling faces at them, I don't stick out my tongue or bug out my eyes or anything of that sort. It's more that there are all these skulls, the same in their skullness but each recognizably different from the other, that I try to make my face shape mimic there's. I can't explain the compulsion, although I'm sure it's related to my instinct to mimic the faces of particularly unpleasant seeming people I see on the street after they pass by me.6
6Those of you who like to ponder as to why I'm still single - this particular compulsion could be a contributing factor.
7Dedicated to the memory of former museum director, Gretchen Worden.
8Underground? At the bottom of the sea? In the next case over?
9Obviously, if it turns out that I'll be facing the afterlife as a vampire or as a particularly erudite and charming zombie who leads a vast army of the undead, it's probably in your best interest just to leave the animated corpse intact for all intents and purposes.
10No doubt due, in some small part, to the proliferation of Poe stories I devoured in my impressionable youth. The poems I'm ok with (no worries about the Conqueror Worm) - it's the idea that I might be buried while not quite dead that freaks me out.
11And, let's face it, they're hardly going to be worth donating to anybody; they're clearly carpal tunnel/arthritis bound.
12 Imagine, if you will, a real-life version of some of those old, black-and-white musical Merrie Melody episodes with dancing skeletons and bouncing body parts.
- Monday Morning Quiz: Take it here.
- Too Much Technology: The video for Styx's Mr. Roboto. Or, if you prefer, the same, but starring characters from the Mario Brothers games. (Has anyone ever done a full length movie version of the Kilroy story? Because someone totally should.)
- Now I Totally Want to Play Monkey Island Again: Press Play on Tape (self-proclaimed "Geekiest Band in the Whole Wide World") is a band that covers songs from video games...and sometimes plays them on game controllers. They need to tour and come to Philadelphia. - [MF]
- And If You Listen Very Hard, The Tune Will Come to You At Last: 37 Versions of Stairway to Heaven. - [MF]
- Would You Stay in Bed for Three Months in the Name of Science? These bloggers are. - [k]
I bet you think I forgot that Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Not a chance. You know I never miss it; it's the day they give me comic books for free. What's not to love?
Right - less chatty, more linky:
- But That's Where I Keep All My Stuff!: Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth: A host of methods for ending the planet as we know it. "This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore." (Never let it be said Sarcasmo's Corner isn't occasionally educational.) Personally, I'm going with number 10. Sure, it's "utter rubbish," but it takes the least amount of effort on my part, and I'm ok with that. It's certainly easier than tracking down 2,500,000,000,000 tons of antimatter.- [N]
- Mmm...Sisyphusian: Jane McGonigal is planning to spell out Albert Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus in cookies, one word at a time, all over the world -[BB].
- So - It's a Cover Cover Band?: Matthew Taylor performs Pixies songs, as though they were being preformed by other musicians (such as Prince, The Bee Gees and Frank Sinatra).
- When Life Hands You
LemonsUnlucky Feet: Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot - [SH]
- Steady as She Goes: White Stripe Jack White has a new band, and their website has an awesome interface. - [MF]
- But Will the King Come and Belittle Them When They're Done? San Franciscans to roll a giant Katamari across the city. - [N]
- Crass Consumerism: Stuff that looks cool
In light of the good news the original versions of the original Star Wars trilogy are finally coming to DVD, I share with you the following video (which I found via The Good Reverend). The first half looks like a movie I would definitely see, and the second half, well, it's just plain awesome: Star Lords
Jonathan Harker's fateful journey began May 3rd - which means it's time once again for Dracula Blogged. Even at a journal entry a day, the tale remains chilling.
" No animal, according to the rules of animal-etiquette, is ever expected to do anything strenuous, or heroic, or even moderately active during the off-season of winter. All are sleepy--some actually asleep." - The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
That about covers how I feel during the winter months. But then, there are three things that happen to me every Spring:
- I am overtaken with the undeniable to desire to throw all my windows open, and spend as much time as possible outside.
- I am overtaken with overbearing allergies, which make the my undeniable urge to breathe the Spring air very inconvenient.
- I find myself blinking like a waking somnambulist at the world, suddenly aware that I've been sleepwalking imposter during the past few months, and am now newly engaged and interested in the world around me.
When Spring explodes around us in a hail of flora and warm zephyrs, I find I am Persephone1, newly paroled from her exile in Hades; a certain carpenter's son pushing back that rock to blink against the morning sun after three days of darkness; I am the Phoenix rising from ash made of dead leaves and snow; or Dracula, renewed and reinvigorated as he first steps off the Demeter and into the protective fog of a London night; I am Arthur, healed and triumphant as the mist finally parts and reveals to our modern world the divide between myth and reality that is Avalon.
I am, perhaps, pushing this metaphor too far. Just a bit.
In any case, Spring is here and I feel a new person - really alive and aware and happy despite accidental housepets2, itchy watery eyes, and my ongoing failure to wake up one day to discover I am independently wealthy. I'm noticing Nature's hues like someone's slipped something nefarious into my morning coffee and I'm loving it. It's been suggested to me more than once that since I prefer this sort of weather, I should move myself to more temperate climes, like say California. To which I reply, "No way!" In part because I have an irrational fear that California will be beset upon by simultaneous earthquakes, mudslide and rampant fires, and subsequently detach from the mainland and sink into the Pacific Ocean the moment I set foot on its soil3 , but mostly because I would miss this feeling of rediscovery & renewed excitment4. It makes me happy; it makes me giddy; it makes me laugh at little children chasing puppies and sing jazz standards in the shower and write long, rambling blog posts that aren't really about anything at all.
Last night after dinner, the weather pleasant and the sky still light, I took myself to the park to read The Wind in the Willows. If there is any book more suited to reading whilst one is lying beneath a canopy of trees with the sun drenched sky peeking out blue between the leaves, I can't imagine what it would be. Immersed in the adventures of Mole, Rat, Mr. Badger and Toad, I was quite able to forget the urban landscape that surrounded me - allowing the dull hum of traffic to become the swift babble of the river, and the rest of the park dwellers to melt away into the background.
As much as I read for pleasure (more than some, not as much as I'd like), I have to admit this is my first time reading Wind in the Willows. I've been aware of it for a long time5, but it's only because I went to a bookstore for a lecture of the weekend (naturally leaving with my bag considerably heavier and my checking account significantly lighter) and spotted it like a beacon on the shelf that I'm getting around to reading it now.
I'm only half-way through, but I'm already sad it's taken me this long to meet these characters. I see much of myself in Mole (although I hope I can escape his resolve to only explore in "the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime.") and I'm absolutely in love with Ratty. I find myself wishing I had read this earlier in my life6, so I could have carried it with me all these years, and that I was now spending my evenings re-discovering and re-reading it in the park.
So many books. So little Spring time.
1 Why yes, I did just reference the myth of Persephone for the second time in a one week period. Apparently, I am that pompous. Who knew?
2 I know, I know. You're tired of hearing about it, and frankly I'm tired of talking about it (but not as tired as I am of living with it). I'm hesitant to mention it, lest I tempt the Fates, but for two mornings in a row now I have awoken without the benefit of it's crittery matins. I like to think it's because it has vacated the premises, but chances are better that it's still up their in my ceiling, doing the opposite of being reborn. Shudder.
3 I really have no idea where this comes from. Maybe it's the odd manifestation of an inherent and heretofore unrecognized fear of Hollywood. They are responsible for all those dreadful remakes that upset me so, after all.
4 And snow. I'd miss snow. Ditto Autumn; I'm rather fond of that. Don't think I'd miss hot, humid sticky Summers though. Y'all are more than welcome to keep those to yourself.
5 Mostly because people seem to like to use the phrase "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" euphemistically. And shame on them, too.
6 I had a similar reaction to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I just read for my book club; my only previous knowledge of which came from an end-joke to an old Looney Toons cartoon in which a dog dashes across the Brooklyn Bridge after spying the title of the book. Sexual metaphors and bodily humor - this is how I've grown up with these unbearably charming books. Way to go society. I hope you're very proud.
- Monday Morning Quiz: Here
- More LEGO Goodness: Venice, in Lego form. -[BC]
- I'm Not Sure This is a Talent, But It Certain Shows Dedication: Super Mario Bros. reenactment - [ErB]
- Apparently, Jedi Make Crappy Roommates: Jedi Breakfast -[SH}
- Some of the Monkeys Read Nietzsche: Dance Monkeys, Dance. -[LS]
- She's Back: The Return of Pink Five; perhaps the only film I'll forgive for trying to alter my man Han's piratey reputation.