Friday, June 25, 2010

Our Body: the Universe Within vs. BodyWorlds, an immoral spoonful of the same bullshit

I visited an exhibit called Our Body: the Universe Within with my “little brother” last week. It’s an installation at the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center (until September 22) that calls back the famed BodyWorlds exhibition. What is it, you ask? It’s collection of 200 cadavers, skinned and gutted and strewn about in dynamic vogue for macabre entertainment or a very real examination of the human body. The bodies are preserved by a “plastination” process for BodyWorlds and a “polymer impregnation” process for Our Body: the Universe Within. Both methods essentially replace organic material with a plastic substance that hardens and preserves tissue as it was when it was still metabolizing.
We were there for the education.
In fact, I had seen the BodyWorlds exhibit a few years ago in Houston and certainly wouldn’t have laid down $32 for an encore had I not thought it to be such an educational experience for an eleven year old. And he enjoyed it, to my delighted surprise. For two hours, we patiently studied each display, and though he asked no questions, he listened attentively to my every elaboration. I love saturating young sponges with knowledge and I equally love hearing my own handsome voice, so it was a win/win situation.
See, I noticed both the BodyWorlds and Our Body: the Universe Within specimens were entirely of Chinese origin. Ah, I take that back. The BodyWorlds website explains that they take their bodies from consenting donors who are fully informed of the “plastination” process. Their website never actually says they’re from China, and though the German company is weaseling out of my half-assed investigation for not providing full disclosure, I know reds when I see ‘em. As a parallel confirmation, the Our Body exhibition actually admits pooling their specimens from “accredited Chinese universities, medical schools, medical institutions, research centers and laboratories” for the Anatomical Sciences & Technologies Foundation in Hong Kong. But it’s okay because “In China, all donors (or their immediate family members) are clearly told that the donated bodies will be used for medical research and educational purpose.” Honestly, who gives a shit if donors are “clearly told” that they’d be used for educational purposes. Did they clearly know they’d be propped up and paraded around museums in the United States? That’s the stuff poltergeists are made of for Christ's sake.
My little friend and I were respectful and mature, and I hope he learned something that he will remember for a long, long time but I can’t get past the indignity of people donating their bodies to further science only to become a grotesque curiosity for the price of general admission. Perhaps my kicking tantrum is for nothing, but if so, Our Body: the Universe Within should add some plastified Americans to their carnival and see what kind of crowd that draws. If nothing else, they ought to at least consider rewording their public information if they don’t want people who still have gooey brains to call bullshit.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Military drones and standard issue 'Fleshlights'

Folks, I saw an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV last Friday. There I was sipping my coffee, enjoying ACC’s panoramic view of Austin from the Pinnacle’s 6th floor when zoom it flew, straight and predetermined, watchful and watchful and watchful. I know there are many types of military drones and I couldn’t/still can’t distinguish exactly which one I saw but it looked something like this:

In other military news, the wildly popular artificial vagina known as the “Fleshlight” is now available, discounted, and proudly advertised at North Austin’s News & Video.

Oh, America.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Feature films need money too

Dear friends and stalkers,

My people at Pepper Island Films are in the passionate throes of feature filmmaking, and as an immovable supporter of the production company, I’d like you, dear reader, to know about it.

The Man from Orlando is a film that pits an absurd faction known as the Lifeguards against an equally absurd gang of volunteer firefighters. Orlando, an ex-lifeguard who has escaped a world of lazy rivers and wave pools, holds the key to the Lifeguards’ relentless harassment in his mysterious red fanny pack; he has chosen a path of betterment but when the Lifeguards threaten his love interest, Orlando’s scandalous lifeguarding past can no longer be ignored. Can Orlando avoid aligning himself with the Firefighters in order to stop the Lifeguards? Or will he succumb to a life of affiliation that he’s so desperately tried to leave behind him?

The feature follows Pepper Island Films’ internationally screened “Petting Sharks,” a short that opened and was awarded 2010 SXSW Jury Award here in Austin. The brain at the helm of The Man from Orlando is writer/director Craig Elrod, moving picture savant and, as of one score and two years ago, a friend.

Now that all this pesky exposition has been mechanically digested and massaged down your precious gullets, we (not “I” or “you,” we) can roll back our sleeves and help Pepper Island Films give birth to this farcical baby. For a measly ten bucks (my personal contribution), you can have your vanity powdered with a gracious nod in the film’s credits. Had I known a single ten-dollar bill would buy my name’s visibility to people across the United States and now overseas, I’d have laid down a twenty two shorts ago. For those of you with signifiers not as beautiful as mine, use the name of your company as a handsome surrogate or let someone else in on the plan. We all know movie buffs, and most of us know a business owner or two who is constantly on the lookout for new avenues of publicity. This is a good one.

Second-to-lastly, keep your schedule open on July 16th for a Pepper Island Films fundraising event at Salvage Vanguard Theater. As you know, anything that happens at SVT drips with hip. It is, in fact, the only place on Earth I’ve ever been sauced enough to not only dance, but to boogie my hound’s tooth socks off. True story.

And lastly, for more info on contributing to Pepper Island Films and to read about The Man from Orlando straight from the beast’s mouth, visit

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