Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Skinless Corpse Museum: Or Why I'll Never Eat Roast Beef Again

As summer vacation draws to an end, I decided it was time to do something "educational" with my kids, because let's face it: their marathon sessions of Sponge Bob and playing online Tetris for hours at a time will only get them so far in life.

My 11-year old daughter had heard of the traveling "Body Worlds" exhibit when it was in LA last year and had surprisingly, albeit morbidly, expressed interest in going. For anyone who hasn't heard of the "Body World's" exhibit, here's a rundown: it's an exhibit of real, dead skinless corpses, which have been cut, sawed and sliced every which way and then "plasticized" into a shiny gleam of muscle, bone, organs etc.... The mastermind behind this exhibit is some German scientist named "Gunther Van Hagens" and if there is any question as to whether or not this dude is completely psychotic, here is a picture of him - which begs the question, "Isn't that the same Nazi dude who got that medallion imprint burned into his hand in Raiders of the Lost Ark?" It's not, but this guy looks as creepy as they come:

Although his exhibit of naked, skinless dead folks has been touted as "Magical, Amazing and Educational," I have to admit it was a bit creepy as well. When you walk into the exhibit, the first thing you see is a glass case with a spotlight on a dead, soggy human brain - and this my friend, is the least disgusting thing on display.

Me and the kids meandered through the museum, checking out the "ballerina" (complete with exposed tendons, muscles, anus - yes "anus"- and real life pink ballet shoes). Great, now I know that a ballerina uses a lot of bloody tendons (and tightens her anus muscle) every time she pirouettes. Other "highlights" included the teenage skateboarder (as seen above), complete with dangling "man junk", a pregnant lady with stomach and uterus carved down the middle and the not-to-be-missed "Exploding Man" which looked like it could have been the body of the 7 ft villain from "Goldfinger", but without skin and hair it was impossible to tell for sure.

Additional dandies on display were: the lung of a coal miner (which brings me to my "roast beef conundrum": This morning I put a 3 lb roast in the crock pot despite the fact that when raw it looked exactly like the right buttock from "the Ponderer" and as it cooked began to look more and more like the coal miner's "black lung" from the museum. I knew that I would never be able to eat the muscle-butt, black lung roast and finally dumped it in the trash). In addition, The "Slices of brain" looked suspiciously like thinly sliced deli ham and don't even get me started on the reproductive organs display.

All joking aside, it really was educational and indeed, pretty "amazing". Once my daughter got over the fact that they really were Dead Bodies (and not dummies as she had originally thought - a bit of miscommunication on my part) and overcame her almost-fainting spell when she saw the chicken's capillary system display, we actually enjoyed ourselves. Sadly however, we may never visit the deli again. I rest my case with this picture of Dr. von Hagen at work with creepy mad scientist fedora, hard at work slicing brain matter:

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