Monday, June 22, 2009

Whacked Groundhog & Pulp Fiction

As you know, dead things don't creep me out. I don't actively cause death, but am certainly fascinated by it. I've been known to even collect and photograph dead things. Death is a popular theme in much of my art work. 

Today was an exception. Even I was completely GROSSED out. My daughter was mowing the lawn today and ACCIDENTALLY ran over an already dead animal. (My rescue greyhound must have been in full chase mode). When she stopped the mower to inspect her handiwork, she wasn't able to ascertain the species, given its state of disarray. Who knew that a tractor mower was such an efficient shredder or that it had such a large projectile. She was understandably freaked out, but left the animal on the lawn for me to take care of.  

I quickly deduced that it was NOT a chipmunk or squirrel. The spilled brains and bloody paws were much too large. The flies had beat me to the site. I spent 30 minutes picking pieces of groundhog parts out of a ten foot plot of grass, so the dog and cat wouldn't eat it. 

I am reminded of the scene from Pulp Fiction where John Travolta and Samuel Jackson are in the car with another guy and the gun accidentally goes off, blowing the guy's brains all over the car. This scene always makes me laugh hysterically and then I feel guilty for laughing. They call in the 'cleaner'--Harvey Keitel, who makes them clean every speck of blood, brains and guts from the inside of the car. 

Let me tell you first hand--it's not that easy cleaning up carcass detritus. Just when you think you are done, there's more. I was not even TEMPTED to save, freeze or scan the debris. What did I do to deserve this?

Amusement Parks--Entertainment or Torture?

I'm sure I will receive HATE mail after writing this. For some folks, Amusement Parks are akin to a religious experience, evidenced by the large number of weddings at Disney World every year. Why anyone would want a giant stuffed smiling Mouse at their wedding is beyond my capacity for understanding. 

So after the ALL day field hockey tournament, my inner masochist VOLUNTEERED to take the kids to Hershey Park. My son had done a book report on Milton Hershey and all the philanthropic things he did for poor orphan boys. I'm thinking it will be an educational experience. (Are you laughing at my naivete?) In Mr. Hershey's defense, it was a much better experience than Disney, which is similar to getting your fingernails pulled out-- one at a time. 

I went online to check for discounts and hours, etc.. I found that if I bought the tix at a Giant grocery store, I could SAVE $33 on tickets and get FREE parking.  Total SAVINGS $43. What a bargain--I only had to shell out $128 for a day of FUN. 

The website promised that Sundays, especially Father's Day would offer a non-crowded environment. Apparently EVERYONE must have read the same claim. We arrive at park opening time, a civilized 10am. So far so good. My son measures himself and reaches the twizzler line, so he is able to ride all of the 5--extreme thrill coasters. I don't think it did much for his masculinity to be compared to a twizzler. But I digress.

I ride the first coaster with them called the Comet. It is only rated a 4. I exit the ride feeling a bit shell shocked, like I left my stomach on the first lurching plunge. I then go on a "WIMPY" ride as designated by my son. I think it is called the Falcon. It spins around in a circle. I immediately begin to pray that I will not spew vomit all over the nice little boys and girls waiting on the ground. 

I wonder why I just paid $42 to get whiplash, a day-long headache and nausea? I sit the next 4 coasters out. If they go upside down or backwards, I'm not risking it. After one ETERNAL wait on the bench, I approach the ever-so-friendly guard (teen worker). I ask if it is possible that something happened to my children, since they had entered the ride an hour ago and not come out. He then explained the WAIT line. Apparently the Great Bear coaster had over an hour wait. For a 60 second thrill. I wish I had brought my book. I wish they gave parent discounts for the LAME parents who sit on the benches all day waiting for their kids. 

While sitting on the benches, I had the opportunity to contemplate the marketing philosophies of the Amusement Park. I realize that Hershey and Outdoor World have a lot in common. Both encourage and reward for the OBLITERATION of nature--all under the auspices of FUN. Hershey had a number of arcade games in which the goal was to KILL. My favorite was WHACK THE MOLE. If you successfully whacked a.k.a. killed a number of moles with a large mallet, you won--a stuffed smiling mole. This seemed a bit strange to me, but not unlike the taxidermy prizes in hunting. Teach those kids to WHACK early and they will grow up to be great WHACKERS as adults. There was also WHACK the rattlesnake and WHACK the groundhog. 

I also noticed that throughout the park, Chevy cars were on display surrounded by lovely landscaping. Clearly Hershey is a suave marketer and has been successful in corporate partnering. I had a really good idea for a new arcade game. It would be called--WHACK the camaro. Or chevy truck, or if you are an environmentalist--WHACK the TAHOE. Or for the patriots, they could WHACK a foreign import. I would pay extra money to do this. Unfortunately I never saw a comment box to pass on my great idea. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Outdoor World

Ever notice how the line between corporate propaganda and entertainment has been just a wee-bit blurred? I happened to be in the Lancaster area this weekend for my daughter's field hockey showcase. We spent the night in between Harrisburg/Hershey at the lovely Marriott Town Suites. Directly across the street was Outdoor World. I heard they had an indoor pond, so we decided to check it out. (They had an 40,000 gallon fresh-water indoor aquarium with big-assed fish, all native to the area.)

In case you are unfamiliar with Outdoor World a.k.a. Bass Pro Shop, it is a mega-retail store where you can get everything to both ENJOY and OBLITERATE nature. This seems to be a bit of a paradox to me, but apparently normal for everyone else who patronizes the store. If you haven't been there before, it's a weird mix of history museum diorama combined with arcade and retail consumption. 

Upon entering the store, you might think you've mistakenly wandered into a taxidermist or British Hunt Club. The walls are covered with dead animal heads staring accusingly at you. Besides the deer and fish heads, there are rhinos, cats (not the domestic kind) and other exotic creatures which do not roam Harrisburg or the North American frontier. I'm immediately suspicious. Where do these dead animals come from? Do people who illegally hunt/poach in Africa donate their kills to Outdoor World?  

I confess to touching a large musk ox located at the top of the stairs. It felt 'real'. The sign said that it had come from an Arctic expedition in the 1960s. I also saw a strange gazelle like creature which also felt 'real', but his legs were attached with metal screws. Is this normal taxidermy procedure?

Next stop was the gun section. There was an arcade area where for 50 cents, you could practice shooting targets--25 rounds. My son was very excited to do this. The object was to hit the target and make an animal move. I watched the man next to me, who didn't make a single shot. Hopefully he wasn't one of the local police officers. My son was rather dreadful as well. After 24 misses, I took the gun from him and nailed a ground hog. It is my curse as a somewhat anti-gun person to also be a sharpshooter. The groundhog didn't explode or anything, but his tail moved up and down. My daughter was a bit more successful. She managed to get the rattlesnake to shake his tail and the bear to move out of his cave.

After this, we progressed to the REAL guns. Unfortunately the FINE gun boutique was closed. I was curious as to what differentiated a fine gun from a not so fine gun. Does one kill better than another one? The friendly gun man with a twang in his voice, behind the counter was very anxious to assist. My first question--How much do the Glock 9 mm go for? He wants to know what size of Glock? Is this for me to shoot? I respond--I want to know how much my husband spent when he bought a gun without consulting me and hid it under the bed. All of a sudden, the guy loses his helpful demeanor. You can tell all those gun people stick together. He doesn't want to get a fellow GUN BROTHER in trouble. So he hems and haws. I am persistent. I find out that Glocks can go for $1K. My daughter suggests that I store this info away for future blackmailing. I've taught her well. 

My next question is tough, but he keeps a straight face as he answers. I want to know if there are gun engineers who can manufacture me a gun that will shoot salt bullets. He doesn't look around for a hidden camera. He actually gives me a legit answer. I need a chemist who can figure out what kind of propellent won't burn up the salt. He suggests calling a chemist from Penn State. I can tell that I-- a.k.a. the crazy lady will be a topic of conversation later over a beer with a shot of J.D. while gun-cleaning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More News of the Weird

This is from the May 29th issue of Noreaster magazine. 

Cultural Diversity: Last July, France turned down a petition for citizenship by a French Moroccan woman on the grounds that her submissiveness makes her "insufficiently assimilated" into the country's ethos of gender equality. Because she veils her body in public, rejects the idea of voting and leaves important matters  to the discretion of her husband, she's unfit for French culture. Does this sound weird to you? Isn't this someone who France should welcome into their country? Perhaps the opportunity for more freedom would be beneficial. 

Acupuncture:  Japan's Osakana Planning Co. administers acupuncture to each fish prior to its death to reduce stress. The benefits--superior quality of sushi. Is it me or does this seem a bit excessive or extreme? I can't even afford acupuncture for myself on a regular basis. Also does the doctor insert needles into the fish while in a tank of water? Or is the fish gasping for air as tiny needles are poked in? Do fish have chakras and meridians like we do? 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Jesus & Virgin Mary World Tour

I happened to be reading News of the Weird by Chuck Shepherd on Sunday and came across a paragraph entitled, The Jesus and Virgin Mary World Tour. Perhaps this is the latest musical on Broadway. Godspell was revived last year to great acclaim and Jesus Christ Superstar is always a hit. The brief article listed recent playdates and cities--Salt Lake City, Salinas, Monterey, Darlington, England, Lorain, Ohio, Iowa City. The tour didn't make sense from either a timing or geographical perspective. 

Then I notice it's not a musical or play, but the REAL DEAL. Or at least the claim of the REAL DEAL. Jesus appeared in a 3 gallon container of Spumoni ice cream (Salt Lake City). Mary appeared in the floor drain of a restaurant (Salinas). (They weren't even traveling together for this world tour). Mary again appeared in the LEG WOUND of a biker who slid 50 feet along the pavement when he crashed his motorcycle. (Monterey). Jesus appeared in a woman's ultrasound image. (Lorain). Just to show you that Jesus supports consumer culture--he appeared on a Walmart bag in Iowa. 

Unfortunately the article did not contain any pictures!

This brings up a number of questions. If you eat the Spumoni ice cream, is it the same as the host in communion? Ice cream is much tastier than those communion wafers. In many cases of sightings, the object or location of the sighting is preserved and becomes a destination or shrine for pilgrims or just regular tourists who are looking for a thrill. With the case of the leg wound--does the guy let the wound fester, so Mary is preserved? Or cut off his leg and preserve it in formaldehyde? This begs another question. Why would Mary bother with floor drains or leg wounds? Why not make a BIG appearance like at a human rights protest march? 

Now I don't know about you, but if I went in for a sonogram to see if my baby was healthy and perfectly formed and saw Jesus instead, I would FREAK out. Joseph was a very understanding man. Despite being a man of faith, there's no way my husband would believe that Jesus appeared as part of an immaculate conception. Once you got over the shock that Jesus is in your womb, you would then have to contend with the fact that you are going to be the mother of the most important human in history. How's that for pressure? What if you screw-up in your parenting duties? What if your flawed parenting created deep-seeded psychological issues requiring years of therapy? It might impede his important job of saving the world. 

There is a division in the Catholic Church which verifies sightings for authenticity. I'm not sure exactly how one might prove this. I put in a call to the church for comments, but they have yet to get back to me. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mars vs Venus & Woody Allen

Just watched Woody Allen's Vicky, Christina, Barcelona film last night. I've had the film for at least 3 weeks now from Netflix, but the husband refused to watch it with me. Now I'm not a huge Woody Allen fan, but the cast and storyline looked good. He refused to watch the film based on moral issues. It had nothing to do with the fact that the film was about adulterous affairs, but had everything to do with the fact that Woody Allen is a despicable human being. 

In case you don't remember, Woody Allen had a relationship with his stepdaughter Soon-Yi Previn while in a committed relationship with her mother Mia Farrow. Farrow had accidentally found nude photos that Allen had taken of Soon-Yi. The judge eventually concluded that the sex abuse charges were inconclusive, but called Allen's conduct with Soon-Yi "grossly inappropriate". (wikipedia)

I agreed that Allen's actions were despicable. However, Soon-Yi was legally an adult. I did not buy the film and to my knowledge, Allen doesn't benefit financially from a netflix rental, so am I really condoning Allen's behavior by watching his film? Can we separate the person from their work? 

My daughter had an interesting take on it. She said that the illicit affairs depicted in the film led to unhappiness for all the characters. So perhaps there is a good moral lesson to be learned from the film. 

This is yet another example on how my husband and I live on different planets. Somehow in his mind, we condone pedophilia and incest by watching Woody Allen films. Some of his other 'outrageous' claims include a comment about tattoos and why his daughter and wife can't have one. (I don't really want one, but just like to rile him up)"Tattoos today, heroin tomorrow." (I so didn't make that one up. That was said in the presence of an attorney, who took him to task for that comment). Another recent comment was "Facebook is the first step towards cheating." This was in response to my opening up a facebook account. I have gotten very proficient at laughing at his ridiculousness. 

Young Love

My son just broke up with his girlfriend. In itself, not a particularly unusual event--except that he is 11 (technically 10 when the big break-up occurred). He had 'gone out' with his girlfriend exactly one week. Actually they never went out anywhere together besides school. However they did manage to have virtual dates via the cellphone and computer. I 'caught' them watching t.v. together; both in front of their televisions in their respective homes, giving each other a 'play-by-play' over the phone. I guess I should be thankful that they weren't practicing phone sex. Although I can't be sure. 

We often hear how 'times' are different--more danger, more violence, more drugs, more sex....We often hear how the media is to blame--violent video games, explicit sex on t.v., porn on the internet, etc... Well I'm blaming texting. After one day, my son is texting his undying love for his girlfriend. I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER. I LOVE YOU, BUT WE MIGHT NOT BE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER, SINCE WE WILL BE AT DIFFERENT SCHOOLS NEXT YEAR. In one week, he managed to send and receive over 200 texts on a phone with no text plan. I am told that this is not a lot of texts. However given that he does not have his own phone and is only home and awake for a few hours each day, this seemed excessive. 

I wanted to know how you could love someone you just started going out with. He explained with exasperation that THIS IS HOW IT'S DONE MOM!  Apparently you declare love first and then get to know your paramour. At first he refused to divulge the reason for the break-up. I was totally surprised and unprepared for the reason. It wasn't because he liked someone else or stopped liking her. He found out that she SMOKED.  How could she smoke? She's 10. Where would she get the cigarettes from? He said that he could not be with someone who smoked, because it would be like kissing an ashtray. (he totally ripped off that line from me)

He will have the summer to contemplate his ex as he works to pay off that texting bill.