Plastic people.

One of Kate’s friends was over yesterday, and when her father came to pick her up, he committed the cardinal sin of male rudeness: He pulled into the driveway and honked.

I went outside to scold him. He said he didn’t want to leave the comfort of his heated seat. Then he told me about his friend’s 1986 Mercedes, which has two horn settings — standard and, with the flip of a switch, “polite,” for driveway honkers, I suppose. We talked about the neighbor across the street, who had all four of his 2006 Escalade wheels stolen one morning last week, from his driveway and in early daylight. They left it precariously balanced on landscaping bricks, one of which collapsed, giving the thing the look of an elegant, chrome-trimmed dinosaur drowning in the La Brea Tar Pits. Then we discussed whether his friend with the 1986 Mercedes should get the Michigan Heritage license plate for classic vehicles of a certain age. You pay one price and never have to renew again. Then his daughter came out and got in the car to go home.

Detroit: Where all the small talk is about cars.

(After the Escalade wheel theft last week, some of the neighbors gathered on the sidewalk and talked it over. It took approximately 40 seconds for the discussion to shift to whether GM should make locking lugnuts standard on all models above a certain price point. After living in one place where all the small talk was about the weather, and another place where it was all about the Buckeyes, it’s a nice change.)

I told Alan the other day that I want my next car to be an American-made minivan with a pumpin’ sound system and spinning rims. That ought to confound ’em in the carpool lane.

OK, then. Detroit will soon host one of those plastinated-body exhibits (at a rather staggering ticket cost, I notice — $70 if all three of us go). It looks simultaneously fascinating and repellent. I have no objection on religious grounds, but whenever I hear “all the bodies were freely given” and “in China” together in a sentence, I just don’t quite want to swallow it whole. It’s rated PG-13 as well, which makes me wonder why — genitalia? I suppose so. Gruesomeness? Most likely.

Ever been to one? What was it like? How did it make you feeeeeel?

Posted at 12:09 pm in Popculch, Same ol' same ol' |

23 responses to “Plastic people.”

  1. brian stouder said on January 12, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    My brother Alan and his wife caught that show, and they both LOVED it!! I can honestly say I have zero interest in going… but he saw that the show was coming back to Detroit, and was regaling us all at Christmas about how wonderful and fascinating the show is, and how he is definitely going to the show again.


    In other news – Please Please Please, indeed!

    James Brown died Christmas morning, and his 5 year old can’t even claim a lump of coal in his stocking!

    The 5-year-old child of James Brown and his partner, Tomi Rae Hynie, is not included in the will read Thursday to six of the entertainer’s children, attorneys for the late singer say.
    While the will provides for six children, Hynie’s son, James Jr., is not one of those listed in the document, attorney Strom Thurmond Jr

    Strom Thurmond Jr?


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  2. Jenine said on January 12, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    I went to one a few years ago. It was very interesting, often gruesome and fascinating in a surprising mix. I would have preferred not to have to share the experience with strangers.

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  3. MarkH said on January 12, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Nancy, definitely go see the exhibit. I went to it when it was in Denver last spring (I don’t remember that we paid that much, though).

    I’ll just speak for Deb, Chris and myself. After we got over the initial, let’s say, shock, of what we were seeing, it just became more fascinating. Of course, wanting to get your money’s worth does take over a bit. It is incredible what they’ve done with these bodies and body parts, and how they did it. Full-bodied athletic poses are very revealing of how the entire muscular/tendon/bone/cartilage, etc. structures work. Displayed layer-by-layer, too. Indvidual organs, both healthy and diseased, are on display with thorough enough explantions of everything. Looking at cancer-ravaged lungs from smoking, for example, should be enough to make to you stop, NOW.

    Lots more examples, and the promotional material is an accurate preview. Let’s just say it’s an amazing lesson in anatomy. By the way, the genitalia aspect is, of course, not avoided, but definitely not exploited . PG-13 is an appropriate label, and I’m sure you’ll have the requisite discussions with Kate about what to expect. By all accounts (at, what, 10 years old?), she’s pretty smart, and if she’s already seen anything in an anatomy book, may not be too surprised. We saw lots a kids her age there.

    What I came away with most, however, was the amazement at the actual putting together of all the displays. I couldn’t even imagine doing this.

    Well worth your time and expense, IMHO, and please post your impressions.

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  4. LA mary said on January 12, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    My kids saw it twice. Once with their dad and once with the school. They liked it. Yes, they were a little shocked and creeped out, but overall I think it was a good thing. The PG-13 is about genitalia and reproduction. Also it has to be about seeing dead people preserved, I would think. It is a bit disturbing.

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  5. Connie said on January 12, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    I saw it in Chicago and found it fascinating and amazing, and not too creepy. At Chicago the pregnant body, and plasticized fetusses were in a clearly labelled curtained off area.

    I did get to see it at a private ALA conference event when the museum was not open, so I didn’t have to share my experience with too many strangers.

    Before it moved to Chicago it was in LA, and it was so popular that during its last weeks there the museum open hours were changed to 24/7 in order to meet demand.

    Nancy, I have one of those mini-vans, but no sound system or fancy wheels. I need new tires though, and my brother is in the tire business. ( Back in the early 90s when I was driving a Pontiac 6000, I am quite sure I had the only one in the world with Perelli tires.

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  6. Dwight the Troubled Teen said on January 12, 2007 at 2:00 pm

    Posts like this are great examples of why you should be writing fiction.

    The visual quality of this scene is engaging, funny, while crafting a sense of tension.

    Journalism Schmornalism. You should write a novel, Nancy.

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  7. Danny said on January 12, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    When I see a car with a set of those very distracting (IMO) spinning wheels or a loud, fat tailpipe or some useless spoiler that is half again the height of the car, I can’t help but think the driver is overly proud that they shop at Pep Boys.

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  8. LA mary said on January 12, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    I like the spoilers that look like they made it themselves in high school metal shop. I saw a set of spinners on a twenty year old volvo wagon a few months ago that were a good addition as well.

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  9. brian stouder said on January 12, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    I have read that Chrysler is indeed going to bling-out their minivan, in order to recapture the minivan market (that they invented) – in fact, when Nance brought it up I thought she’d show a pic of one (which I have yet to see elsewhere) from the Detroit show.

    I confess, I like the spinny wheels, although I can’t imagine buying them (they look like just another thing to break; plus you’d have to keep your wheels a lot cleaner than I generally do). I’ve read that the ‘in’ thing to do is to buy an old, big beater – say, a Buick Electra 225 or an Olds 98 – for $1200 (or whatever), and then drop a $5500 set of blingy wheels onto it.

    When I have my mid-life crisis, I intend to buy one of those Cooper Minis….

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  10. Laura said on January 12, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    That honking in the driveway becomes less rude as your kids get older.

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  11. brian stouder said on January 12, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Laura – I disagree! – and I also disagree with Madam Telling Tales’ characterization of this as the cardinal sin of male rudeness!!

    I have never done this – and it will never be acceptable for anyone to do this in our driveway, especially as the young folks get to the point thaty their friends show up in cars.

    Yes – I have seen the classic bone-headed boy blare his horn while awaiting his girlfriend – and this has never failed to irk me. But I have also seen females of all ages pull the same move – so it is not a gender-specific offense.

    Just sayin’

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  12. alex said on January 12, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Never occurred to me that honking in the driveway was rude. When I was a kid, that’s what all parents did when picking up their kids from friends’ houses, mine included. And that was back in the day when households were single-earner and nobody was particularly pressed for time.

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  13. LA mary said on January 12, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Here where driveways are scarce and parking is scarcer, I honk. No apologies. I call the kid on his cellphone and tell him to be outside when I get there. If he isn’t, I honk.

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  14. Laura said on January 12, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    I’m with you, LA Mary.

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  15. Danny said on January 12, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Man, Brian! You disagree with Nancy and Mary. Are you feeling okay?

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  16. LA mary said on January 12, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Brian must live someplace where everyone has a driveway and there is street parking.

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  17. brian stouder said on January 12, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Indeed – that pretty much sums up Fort Wayne!

    And not for nothing – if you got re-located into Fort Wayne/Allen County Indiana, and sold your house in LA and then had to re-invest the proceeds into a home here (so as to avoid getting rolled by Uncle Sam)

    you would no doubt have to buy a very very (very) nice house in the one of the upscale areas. (I used to always wonder who on earth could afford a house priced 350-650 thousand dollars – which they never seem to stop building around here…and then learned that many of them are people in just that situation from the east)

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  18. Connie said on January 12, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Brian, I thought Uncle Sam had ended the home tax, or part of it. Last time I bought and sold anyway.

    In the mid 90s when the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library hired the Director away from Pasadena PL he found himself in that position when he sold his house in California.

    He ended up with a grand house in Geist, his next door neighbor was Bob or Tom, I forget which.

    If I were in a position to spend 650 thousand dollars for a house I suspect I would spend more on the land than the actual house.

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  19. alex said on January 12, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    Rain Today doesn’t change every day, but if it did, just for today it would read:

    Some people have hearts of stone, some people are up to no good

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  20. nancy said on January 12, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    When the president of one of the local health systems moved to the Fort from San Jose, like lots of managers he brought some cronies with him. They were all astounded to find that their 1,200-sf bungalows in the Bay area, which they sold for $750K or so, could be exchanged for 60-acre horse farms, mansions and other dizzying real-estate bonbons.

    And yeah, they all have driveways and plenty of parking.

    When I used to freelance for horse magazines, I could never understand how Angelenos could keep horses on such tiny pieces of land. One of my sources said it’s not unusual for a horse to live, Mr. Ed-style, in the back yard or in a tiny pipe corral, with the tack kept hanging from the trees. Exercise was a daily hack around town on the bridle paths. It sounded fabulous.

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  21. brian stouder said on January 12, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Say! Maybe THAT’S what they mean by “Room for Dreams”, eh?

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  22. danno said on January 13, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I saw the exhibit in Tampa and it was one of the most fascinating I’ve ever seen. Since coming from Europe, it has been poo-pooed by most here in the States. Go figure!!

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  23. ashley said on January 15, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Judging from the title, I thought this post was gonna be about a Czech rock band…

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