Archive for March, 2006

I See Dead People

Bex already beat me to this topic, but I’m going to tackle it from the standpoint of someone who’s seen it firsthand.

Body Worlds 2, the “amazing display of real human bodies,” is now in full-swing at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The concept is incredible: real cadavers, preserved with a patented plastination technique that allows up close and personal inspection by the general public.

This is anatomy class like you’ve never experienced. Imagine a dissection lab, with convenient explanation placards and optional audio guides, and without the nasty smell of formaldehyde. It takes all of five minutes to get over the creepy/morbid factor, and discomfort quickly gives way to fascination as you view the amazing specimens on display. And in the event that you become momentarily uncomfortable, sharing a quick Hannibal Lecter joke with the person nearest to you is enough to take off the edge.

Most of the specimens are skinned, so it’s not like looking at a morgue cadaver. Rather, they’ve all typically had selective organ and tissue removal so that you can see a specific aspect of the body, such as the muscular system, the digestive system, the circulatory system, and so on. Many of the items on display are individual organs. A fascinating example is a comparison of hearts, showing one that is healthy and one that has experienced an infarct (that would be a heart attack). There’s also a shocking comparison of lungs: a healthy lung (relatively white), a smoker’s lung (with obvious graying from tar), and a coal miner’s lung (solid black — they don’t call it Black Lung for nothin’).

Be warned ahead of time, if such things disturb you, that most of the specimens are male, and they are left anatomically intact. That means there are still penises and testes, sans scrotum, in full view, and many of the women still have nipples and vaginas. If little Bobby and Susie haven’t had the talk about boy parts and girl parts, this could make for an awkward moment. There are also plastintated fetuses, and a plastinated pregnant woman with plastinated fetus still in utero.

Before you jump on board with the people who have decried Body Worlds as being an “offense against humanity,” take a couple of quick points into consideration.

First, all of the specimens on display were donated to science for this type of purpose. These people knowingly and willingly consented for their bodies to be used for scientific and educational purposes, so there’s been no injustice by plastinating these bodies instead of burying or cremating them. (Still, I had to wonder about a specimen posed like an upside-down skateboarder. One of the items highlighted in the audio guide was how, due to the crouching position, this specimen offered an extraordinary view of the anal sphincter. Even if I donated my body to science, I’m not sure I would want millions of people inspecting my asshole for all eternity.)

Second, all of the bodies, especially the fetuses, were donated after they had died by natural means. These are not aborted babies, so relax. Even the pregnant woman with fetus knew she had a disease that would likely kill her and her baby before the baby was old enough to be saved outside the womb, so she donated both her body and that of the unborn child in the event that she and the baby didn’t survive. They didn’t, hence the display.

A few other things to note:

There’s a touch-and-feel section where you can hold a plastinated lung, brain, and liver. This is, of course, completely optional. But if you’re squeamish, this warning is to keep you from being suddenly shocked by the thought of holding organs that used to function inside someone else’s body.

Also, there are EXTREMELY LARGE CROWDS that are expected to continue throughout the duration of this exhibit. (It’s not going to wind down in a few weeks — just look at California. It ran for six weeks to sold out crowds, then opened for an extended six week run and was still sold out on the last day.) The line just to buy tickets is typically 30-45 minutes, and the tickets are for timed entry. This means that if you buy your ticket at 1:00, your admission to the exhibit may not be until 5:00. There’s plenty of other stuff at the museum to see while you wait for your turn to hop in line, but especially on weekends, this show frequently sells out for the rest of the day by 2:00 in the afternoon.

A much better option is to buy your tickets online at www.dmns.org. If you buy in advance, there is a $2-per-ticket convenience charge, but it’s well worth the money. You pick your date and time, and then you can simply show up five minutes prior, go to the will-call kiosk, and swipe the credit card you used to buy tickets along with your confirmation number. Your tickets will automatically print, and you can get right in line to view the exhibit.

Ticket prices are $20 during daytime hours (this includes admission to the exhibit and the museum — there are no exhibit-only tickets for sale while the museum is open). Afterhours tickets to the exhibit only are $15. If you have a membership (an excellent investment, as you receive free museum admission for one year), tickets to Body Worlds 2 are $10 any time.

Goth Tea Party

Tea-and-Shingle.jpgSo I have this alter ego as a freelance writer, and in the course of that alter ego’s duties I found myself pleasantly occupied in interviewing Cee Dolenc, the owner and operator of Longmont’s historical Thompson House Inn. (I was writing about tea houses.) At the end of that particular project, I had a photograph to return to her, and I really didn’t want to consign it to the tender mercies of the U. S. Postal Service.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who was working on a hellish paper for school about the same time as I was working on my freelance project, which while not being inherently hellish itself had been endowed with hellish proportions due to my tendency to procrastinate. I think we were each doing about 6,000 words a day for a couple of days there. So when it became apparent that we would both meet our deadlines, we hit upon the idea of tea at Thompson House to celebrate. I’d get to return the photo, we’d get to have tea, and life would be very sweet indeed.

And so we did. Reservations were made. Come Saturday, me, hubby, and friend all piled on the black eyeliner, black fingernail polish, and, in us gals’ cases, elegant shoulder wraps that we don’t get nearly enough excuse to wear, and we drove up to Longmont.
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Can you stomach this?

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science are hosting the Body Worlds exhibit through July 23rd. If you have not heard of this exhibit before, it is an ‘anatomical exhibition of real human bodies’. This anatomist has found a way to preserve bodies through plastination and has taken these real human bodies on tour. In doing some research about this, I came across some photos of the exhibit and I am not sure I could handle seeing this. The muscles, tendons, veins and various organs are visible and preserved. The Denver exhibit contains 20 whole bodies, with both healthy and unhealthy body parts, organs and several other ‘bits’. Again, do I really want to see what our insides look like, up close and personal? Some of the parts are sliced up in 3.5mm pieces or displayed inch by inch. While this may be a fascinating visual, educational experience, would I, let alone a child want to really see this?

Check out the Denver Museum of Nature and Science website or the Body Worlds site directly.

And you call yourself an Irish pub.

OK, so now it’s Saint Patrick’s Day. Being all on my lonesome with it, my husband gone to visit his sister for the weekend and all, I spent the evening on a sort of Boulder walkabout (well, walk-and-Hop-about, what with that bus being free this evening). I had this vague notion that I wanted something heavy and yummy for dinner, like a hamburger or a shepherd’s pie, and that maybe I should seek such things out at, I dunno, someplace purporting to be Irish.

Look! I even wore green! See that splotch down the middle of my YES concert T-shirt? So there.

Kerrigan’s supposedly would fit the bill. A ten minute walk from my door, bands playing all night long, sure, why not. Well, here’s why not. Not the crowd–you’d expect a crowd at anywhere purporting to be Irish on March 17th, and anywhere else that might serve beer, and anywhere else that might, by serving dinner, possibly attract all those crowds of people that are desperately avoiding the crowds–no, the crowd wasn’t my main reason for not going inside. Nor was it the loudness of the place. Nor was there anything wrong with the music. It wasn’t that.

It was this: A whiteboard sign outside the door that said, “IRISH MENU TODAY 10AM – 10PM”.

OK. The place is called Kerrigan’s. That sounds pretty Irish, right? Right. And all year round there are mobs of Guiness-logo shamrocks scattered all over the window facing 30th Street along with a far too cute cartoonish leprechaun. And the font in which the windows are lettered is extra gothic calligraphy. And the “K” in “Kerrigan’s” is done up all Book Of Kells style.

But the whiteboard sign said, “Irish menu today.”

Look. If you’re going to puport to be running some kind of Irish pub, me bucko, you’d better bloody well have an “Irish menu” all year round! Every day, from open to close, not just for a paltry twelve hours every March! Good lord, man, if I’m going to brave the crowds on Shamrock Day for a good hot plate of bangers and mash and a pint of something dark and frothy, it ain’t gonna be some Steel Yards upstart that only manages to get its Emerald Isle on for one day out of the three hundred and sixty four!

(It didn’t turn out to be Conor O’Neill’s for me, either, because that line was constantly out the door and aronud the corner all night long. Since they do run an Irish menu all year round, I don’t have to stand in that line and brave the mobs of drunk college students wearing glittery green sproingy antenna headbands just to get me some black and white pudding and a pint of Craic. I can wait until tomorrow noon, or next week, or halfway through the summer if I have too.)

(And it’s just as well that I didn’t go tonight, because apparently Conor’s also was advertising “Irish menu tonight”–how is that different from any other night there, really?–and they were serving green beer. I am content to continue going along with my life without encountering more green beer than is strictly necessary.)

I ended up downtown at Tom’s Tavern on the northwest corner of Pearl and 11th. Pleasantly casual, busy but not a long wait for a table, perfectly adequate burger, decent selection of beer, surprisingly good macaroni salad alongside the tasty fries, toleably thick chocolate milkshake. And apparently the place is directly under one of the Pearl Street Mall wi-fi repeaters, because I had five bars on SSID “Pearl”. So I munched on hamburger, read online forums, drank my Odell’s 90 Shilling Ale, and then headed home again.

Like I said, the Hop was free tonight. What with Saint Patrick’s Day being associated with drunken revelry and all (and isn’t that a change from its original religious significance across the pond), Go Boulder probably wanted to keep as many of our ruffian hands off our steering wheels as possible. I caught a ride on Hop #9 all down Pearl to 30th and walked home from there. Got to see a police car setting up the cutest little speed trap I ever did see up by the RV supply place, and hear some guys yelling to their buddy in the fitness center next-door to Big O’s Tires “Got a CD? You got a CD?” while a black stretch limo waited for them to pile in. So it’s all true, the drunken revelrous ruffians are out tonight. Safe drive, y’all.

Happy Weekend Before St. Patrick’s Day

Yeah, so it’s still snowing. Still. But I needed groceries. So. Whole Foods!

Whole Foods is like the consolation prize for having to go grocery shopping. If you gotta shove a wheelie basket down innumerable crowded aisles, it might as well be where the selection is interesting and healthy and the experience includes random sampler goodies around odd corners.

Today was apparently St. Patrick’s Day come early at Whole Foods. The PA system was treating the shoppers and staff to a lively mix of traditional jigs and reels and ballads and such. I totally got my recommended daily allowance of “whack-fol-diddle-daddle-di-do-day”s. And lined up along the middle of the back aisle (making it a little tricky to acquire the chicken liver component of my cats’ home-mixed kibble) was a sort of “Taste of the Season” buffet line. The theme, of course, was Irish Cuisine. Here’s the menu:

  • Corned beef slices with horseradish spread
  • Boiled cabbage and carrots
  • An unseasonal colchannon (of the cabbage variety)
  • some sort of oniony salmon spread
  • Irish cheddar on crackers
  • Irish butter on raisin-studded tea bread
  • And mint patties, possibly because “patty” reminded someone of St. Patrick’s nickname.

It was all very yummy. And yes, I know that corned beef and cabbage is not The Great Traditional Irish Dish we all seem to think it is, but my mouth was very happy that my fork found it on my plate.

Also, it was all going to a good cause. The price of the yummies was a $3 minimum donation. It shames me to admit that I can’t remember the name of the organization benefiting, but it had a lot to do with childhood cancers. That I remember, because just everyone in the service line had just had their heads shaved, or were about to, to show solidarity with kids undergoing chemotherapy. (I think maybe the hair might then have been donated to make wigs, but that might have been a separate anecdote.) As I told the lady collecting the money, I’ve already done my time bald (acute myelogenous leukemia, age 11) and am rather fond of keeping my hair these days, but it’s awesome to see so many people willing to make what really is a personal sacrifice on top of the monetary donation. Solidarity is a good thing. Let me tell you, that first time a chemo-bald pre-teen girl walks into a women’s restroom and causes all the rest of the girls to start screaming “Boy in the girl’s room! Get him out, get him out!”, she needs all the solidarity she can get.

So. Lovely lunch, great cause, awesome music. Even if St. Paddy’s Day ain’t ’til Friday. (“Well, if you want a weekend celebration, it’s this weekend or it’s late, right?” as the guy behind the seafood counter said.)

As I extricated myself, my car, and my groceries from this most notoriously labyrinthine Boulder parking lot, I saw a little girl in a pink jacket and pink snow boots stop and tilt her head up to catch a snowflake on her tongue. Hey, just ’cause snow makes me grumpy doesn’t mean other folks can’t enjoy it.

Frozen Dead Guy Days

Frozen Dead Guy Days

If you’ve not been up to Nederland for Frozen Dead Guy Days, I suggest you check it out. While I’ve never actually participated in these festivities, I have heard it is quite fun and worth the drive up to Ned. FDGD is going on March 10th – 12th. I am going to see if we can make it up there this year and here is a brief list of the things I would like to do … but don’t forget, there is so much more to do than what I list below.

– See the film ‘Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed’
– See the FDGD Cryonic Parade
– Watch the Tuff Shed Coffin Races
– Watch the Rocky Mountain Oyster Eating Contest (there is no way I’d ever participate in this, but very funny to watch!)

If you never heard about Frozen Dead Guy Days, then here is a brief summary of what it is. Some crazy Norwegian guy died in Norway back in 1989, was cryogenically frozen and shipped off to Nederland, Colorado. His Grandson took it upon himself to freeze ol’ Grandpa and apparently no one really knows if Grandpa had wanted this. He now lies in a Tuff Shed and will be ‘brought back to life’ at some point (who knows when this will occur, because it’s all really just a bit silly). Anyway, you can read the entire tale on the Nederland Chamber of Commerce website and check out the list of events that will be taking place.

If anyone does take the journey up to Nederland for FDGD, be sure share your stories and/or pictures!

Overheard in the Grocery Store

Somewhere in Westminster…

Girl 1: I get paid on Friday.

Girl 2: ‘Cause I’m having internet withdrawls.

Girl 1: I am too, trust me!

Denver, A Crime Hub, Huh?

According to an article on MSNBC, metro Denver has been a base for counterfeit documents and distributing millions of dollars worth of fake IDs, drivers’ licenses, Green Cards, birth certificates and other important Government issued IDs. This crime ring has been investigated by various Government agencies, DHS-ICE, IRS and US Postal Service, to name a few. (Read the full article here)

The article states that there is a ‘heavy presence in Denver’ and more than 50 some people have been detained or deported. Also, the alleged ‘rivalry’ between counterfeiting groups is astonishing to me. What you are doing is illegal! How can you raise a fuss because another group is attempting to take some of your profits? All this does is bring more attention to your illegal and highly dangerous activities. Overall, it is a good thing that these criminals are a little slow off the mark, makes it easier for Law Enforcement to catch ’em.

I guess I am na├»ve in thinking that these types of things don’t occur, at this magnitude, in Denver.

But it’s going to snow tomorrow

Life is good.

The sky is blue, the air is cool, it’s not even nine o’clock, and I’m back in Boulder. Well, that last is sorta mixed–I’m homesick for New Orleans again, and after a week biking around down there below sea level, I’m out of condition for climbing stairs at a mile high. But if I can’t be there, Boulder is a gorgeous place to be.

And I’m having tea at The Tea Spot.

Life is very good indeed.

They’ve tweaked the decor since my last visit. Just a tweak. Instead of flowers in vases, each booth table sports a bamboo plant in tea cups full of black and white pebbles. There is no good reason why this should make me as happy as it does. If I had to explain it, I’d say that maybe it’s the way the bamboo completes the light gloss of clean, minimized Japanese decor laying contentedly over the international flavor and the Bouldery wi-fi cafe functionality. Sometimes a body just wants a lack of audiovisaul clutter.

This is one of my favorite places in the whole world, and y’all should come on up and try it out while the weather’s still nice.

(‘Cause I hear it ain’t gonna stay that way and I’ll be hatin’ life tomorrow.)

Bloggers at Biersch

– I met my first blogger tonight. I’ve met people that had blogs before. Many of my friends have blogs themselves (I got ya hooked didn’t I?). But until tonight I’d never met a blogger from ‘out there’ face to face.
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