Fart Juice

I learned something today. I learned that the word “Jamba” might mean “Fart” in Swahili. I just had an Original Fart Juice. (Thanks Nico!)

And then I learned that Chevy Nova means “Doesn’t Run” in Italian. (Thanks Brad!)

I love these things. I do. Learn me something, Almighty Internet.

Public Transportation: Can We Own It?

Well, the MTA didn’t go on strike. Yet. That’s a very good thing for the city. Last night, as we watched the news people salivate over any possible new breaks, I couldn’t help but wonder. What if the MTA was owned by the public? What if the money I spent to use it meant I owned a miniscule part of it? Do you think people would care more for the system? Do you think we’d have an input on the hiring? Would we have an input in management? I really wonder what would happen.

Now, this doesn’t only apply to the MTA. It seems that public transportation (at least in the U.S.) could use some help. And some places more than others. For example, I think we could all learn something from the Metro in Washington, D.C. Once you’ve used that system it’s hard not comparing every other system to it. It’s close to perfect. (I realize, however, it doesn’t run past midnight and it’s pretty much brand new in comparison to the Subway system.) The Metro does well even with all the jumpers. The MUNI in San Francisco was a joke. I’m sorry. I have trouble seeing it any other way. The BART is great and all, but it barely covers any ground. I haven’t used the EL in Chicago (Is that what’s it’s called?) So I have no idea if it’s any good or if people use it at all. Detroit’s People Mover makes me giggle endlessly. And unless you’re going to the downtown Casino called “Greektown” I don’t see how this system is much use to anyone. From what I hear, LA doesn’t even really have public transportation. No, really. Does anyone even use it? Judging by the smog I’d guess not. I don’t know anything about Boston’s Public Transportation sytsem. Seattle was great for walkers. I know nothing about the public transportation system. I hear it’s free.

I am told London’s Underground could use a facelift and that the cushions are basically biohazards. (Plastic wipes well, England.) I only experienced the Underground while visiting. So my judgment on it probably won’t prove very reliable. I’d love to hear about it, however.

What would happen if the users owned the system?

I Don’t Know If I Can Take It. Because It Took So Long To Bake it.

About two weeks ago while making x-rated cookies for Toby Joe I had a brilliant brainstorm. I decided it’d be a wonderful idea to make leg lamp cookies for all my faraway friends. I started out using gingerbread. The first batch turned out OK. I hand cut them all. The ones you see below were drawn using a knife. It took a while for each cookie. Plus, the dough got stuck to the countertop no matter how much flour I used. And finally, I kind of ruined them using blue ink for the fishnet pantyhose, but otherwise, they worked. And they’re sturdy bitches, too.

I wanted to get more creative. Nico, the baked good goddess, the woman who not only constructed the most amazing bride and groom’s cake for Toby Joe and my wedding party but drove it from Philadelphia, P.A. all the way to Washington, D.C. suggested I get black icing or a black writing tool for the next batch. On Friday of last week, I trekked out to New York Cake Supplies and purchased some tools. I was all set. Now, all we had to do was find a way to construct a customized cookie cuter. Toby and I hit Lowes and purchased metal ribbon and a few tools to bend it into shape. Toby made me two cookie-cutters. (I gotta tell ya, I’m hard to live with and probably don’t tell Toby Joe this enough, but he’s an amazing and patient man. I need to thank him for his help. Somehow.)

I used a gingerbread recipe again. And this time, the cookies spread. The women were plump. And while we all like a full-figured woman, they just didn’t look like leg lamps any longer. This would not do. Even Toby’s constant reminders couldn’t set my mind at ease.

“They’re cookies! COOKIES! You can’t expect perfection from a cookie!”

“But these look horrible! You can’t even tell what they are! I must find the answer.”

On Saturday morning, I woke up fresh. I called my mother in search of a more precise cookie recipe. I needed something easy to cut, and one that wouldn’t spread so much while cooking. Also, I needed something that wouldn’t necessarily fall apart. She had an excellent suggestion. I mixed the dough and went at it again.

The cookies looked great. I was happy. Even after decorating them, they still looked good. And they taste wonderful! They have a hint of citrus. I love them. On Monday, I began to box them up. All I had to do now was make one more type of cookie, chocolate chip, and my cookie boxes would be ready to ship.

Last night, after the party, I got home and made the chocolate chip cookies. The previous batches of cookies had been separated into baggies to ensure freshness and to avoid influencing one another. You can’t have a bunch of Leg Lamp Ladies fraternizing with a bunch of gingerbread men beneath the soft glow of electric sex. So, I segregated the cookies. I put them in boxes padded with a massive amount of tissue paper. The boxes have been stacked lightly on our kitchen table since. The only interaction they had was that one time that our Orangemani Terrorist from Orangemanistan decided to tip the boxes over. Which wasn’t that big of a deal especially considering the abuse I have seen parcels go through in the care of a local mailperson. I decided to check the boxes. I figured that if they were still in once piece, I’d be safe. I figured that at least ONE of the cookies would make it through the mail, right? RIGHT?!

(You all know where this is going.)

Every last one of the leg lamp cookies, the cookies that took me weeks to perfect, was broken. It was as if a serial killer checked into my boxes over night. Hannibal Lector himself couldn’t have done a better job. The feet were removed from the ankles. The thighs broke off below the lampshade. My ladies had been dismembered.

Fragile. indeed. I’m heartbroken. Really. Now what the hell am I supposed to do?

Unions? Strikes? What do You Think?

Someone I work with just came into the art department complaining about the impending MTA strike New Yorkers might be facing starting at midnight on Thursday.

I don’t understand how any corporation can get away with or actually take part in something that would put out millions of people. I think what they’re up to is absolutely wrong.

Me? I absolutely understand why the MTA employees are doing what they’re doing. When their employer admits to having a MASSIVE surplus this year and instead of giving it back to its employees, gives free fares to tourists, I imagine that’s pretty infuriating. (While I know this free fare idea is set in place for everyone, many of us get monthly passes via our jobs. I’ve already paid for mine. I will receive nothing free from this. So. when it comes down to it, it’s for outsiders.)

The TWU is asking a three-year contract with raises of eight percent each year. The MTA has offered a five percent raise over two years tied to concessions on sick leave, and health and pension benefits.

So, what do you think about Unions and the threat of a strike in the MTA? Do you feel they’re justified in doing so? Do you think what they’re asking is too much?

UPDATED POST can be found by clicking here. Opinions have changed.

Crash 17. (X-Rated Car. X-Rated for Violence.)

On Monday, my commute was particularly awful. For those of you who are living outside of New York City, we’re days away from facing a transit-wide strike. Which would pretty much cripple the city. It’d be like taking away a New Yorker’s sight for a few hours each day. I would have no real way of getting to work. I could walk, which would suck because it’s currently about 0 degrees. Or I could ride my bike, which would also suck because it’s currently about 0 degrees. Come Thursday, all hell may break lose in New York City. This is a much worse way to enter a weekend. It’s much worse than welcoming a 50-foot ape.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure the employees are getting their legs warmed up anticipating a walkout. Because yesterdays commute was up there with that time where I smeared Crisco all over my pale 13-year-old body in hopes of speeding up that summer tan.

First of all, the 4/5/6 was barely running. Which is always bad. It’s bad because it’s a major artery. When the 4/5/6 finally did come, it actually received a standing ovation. Now, that’s mainly do to the fact the MTA patrons wouldn’t ever dream of sitting down on a subway platform. We barely sit on the benches. You’d have to be drunk and/or off your rocker to do such a thing. However, I’m pretty sure that had the basement of Manhattan been lined with clean, (synthetic, but soft!) rabbit fur, people would have stood up to clap upon its arrival.

By the time I got to the L Train, I was already grumpy. But I was willing to embrace it and let it go. The platform was packed. I anticipated a problem because that evening my brother called to say that the L Train just decided to skip about 5 stops making a beeline for a stop mid-way through Brooklyn. Everyone was raging mad, obviously. The MTA made no announcement of such. Problem. Totally. So I prepared for the worst.

The platform was a mess. So, I stood in the back remembering all those times some asshat arrived late and made a mad dash for the front of the cue. There is nothing more infuriating. Nothing at all. I always wait my turn. I mean that wholeheartedly.

The train came and I decided I’d wait for the next one. It was entirely too crowded. People pushed their puffy, jacketed bodies into the car, caring little for others. Spending the winter with the MTA is fascinating. It’s sort of like walking down a busy street while it’s raining and most of the people out that day happen to NEED the golf-sized umbrella instead of the standard size. The same number of people use the street while it’s raining as when it’s perfectly sunny, however, they don’t seem to remember that their head and therefore body circumference inflates to about 4 times its original size. Riding the MTA in the winter is sort of like that, only you’re padded and can’t really get hurt. The extra padding even helps soften potential slaps or random kicks in the gut. But I digress.

Mid-way through the stuffing, an MTA employee got on the intercom and made an announcement.

“THE NEXT STOP ON THIS TRAIN WILL BE BEDFORD AVENUE. I REPEAT, THE NEXT STOP ON THIS TRAIN WILL BE BEDFORD AVENUE. WE WILL BE BYPASSING FIRST AND THIRD AVENUE.”

There was a mad dash for the door from the inside of the train and then a madder dash from the platform. A mass-human transfer was about to occur simultaneously. Watching a transfer like this is the antithesis of choreography. And it’s downright alarming how it plays out. It’s even more alarming that it actually works. And if you sit back and watch, you’re baffled finally that no one was hurt. I guess that’s what they refer to as “Organized Chaos”.

I waited back still but figured that if I could, I’d get on the train considering I would be taking it further than Bedford Avenue. And low and behold, there was room for me. I got on the train.

As I was moving my body into the car I received a swift shove to the middle of my back.

“I’m getting on this train!”

The tall man behind was slapping his lips together. His friend laughed. His friend was already on the train, learning against the door.

“I’m getting ON THIS TRAIN.”

He repeated himself to be funny. But the thing I didn’t find too funny was that he used my body as his comedic prop.

“Excuse me, but you don’t have to shove me.”

I didn’t want to start anything. I was merely asking him to be nice. I said it calmly and without judgment. I said it directly to him.

“OH YEAH!? Well, this is a crowded train! AND YOU CUT IN FRONT OF ME!”

I cut in front of him?

“I cut in front of you?”

And that’s when the sarcasm cut into our conversation.

“I’M SOOOO SORRY IF I PUSHED YOU. BUT YOU CUT IN FRONT OF ME!”

His friend immediately looked away. I think he was embarrassed. I know I would have been.

“You have to start being a nicer person.”

That’s all I knew to say. I reached into to my bag to find my salvation. I dug around looking for the wires, the little ear buds, the line I use as fuel that will hopefully drive me to disappear. My iPod has become that instrument. It’s a tool I use to distribute relaxation or, simply to avoid reality.

“I NEED TO BE NICER? YOU’RE THE ONE WHO CUT IN FRONT OF ME! SO I PUSHED YOU! I’D DO IT AGAIN!”

I put in my headphones and my head filled with music. I needed something loud to drown him out. He was not letting this go. Girls Vs. Boys was what I settled on. And only now, while writing this, do I realize the irony of my choice. Girl was definitely losing. And Boy persisted. I searched the inside of my head to try and figure out what phrase, sentence, or word I might say that would put an end to the confrontation. I came up empty.

“Could you please just let this one go?”

I turned the music up louder. This time, I really couldn’t hear him. And at Bedford Avenue I got out of the car and moved to another one.

When I got home, I couldn’t help but play it over and over again in my head. I tossed it around and let the sharp edges of the memory poke me with each turn. How is it this goofy interaction got to me so much? Why was I letting it invade my evening? I thought about things I could have said or done to make the interaction move more graciously. I came up with nothing. And with that the evening’s commute was punctuated with a sigh.

Should There Be a Code of Ethics for the Dead?

A little over a week ago, I wrote a really long post about Bodies: The Exhibition. Since then, I have received many, many comments about the post usually in the form of an email. Most of them were positive, a few not so much.

Here’s the deal. About three years ago, there was something in the news about an exhibit called “Body Worlds”. I barely paid attention to it at the time because I thought religious zealots began the whole stink. Recently, I have found out what it was really about. Apparently the fella who began BodyWorlds was under attack for possibly attaining the bodies illegally. There was a massive ethical debate over whether this was right. After all, he was using these bodies for profit and they weren’t always displayed kindly. This wasn’t done in the name of science; it’s not backed by any major medical organization. Now, I might be wrong about some of these details, so please, by all means, correct me should I report something incorrectly.

The German fella, Gunther Von Hagens, started BodyWorlds. Bodies: The Exhibition was started by an Asian man who was once Günter’s and has since moved on with a competing exhibit. That exhibit is the one I wrote about.

Last Thursday, a man who works for Bodies contacted me.

Hey, Michele. You left your email address and phone number with us after you went through the exhibition. I really liked your email address, mihow.com. Can I volunteer for you? Perhaps we can work out some type of bartering? Great work.

I listened to it again trying to figure out what he was saying. And quite honestly, I’m still unsure. Instead of calling him back right away, I waited. I wanted to talk to Toby about it. If this guy had read my site, I might have some explaining to do because the further removed I was from the exhibit, the more and more the potentially unethical way in which these bodies were attained bugged me. I needed to find out more about this whole ethical debate because the more and more I thought about it, the more and more it became glaringly clear that there was no way ALL those specimens were donated entirely in the name of science. No way at all. Seriously.

Back in the day, scientists, medical doctors, people who wanted to save lives, pursued drastic measures in order to study the human body. Before science enabled people like myself to donate their body, people actually dug up the dead in order to study them. Sometimes, they would do so right at the gravesites.

When I heard about this, I remember thinking, “Well, it’s gross and might seem wrong, but if you’re none the wiser and they save future lives with their knowledge, is that wrong?” No harm done, right? I deemed this act as a good one.

Donating your body to science in order to better the lives of the living I have deemed as a right and kind act.

The Mutter museum in Philadelphia, set up for medical students at University of Penn, is an educational experience. Many of the specimens you’ll see there are made from wax. I have been a fond patron of the Mutter museum and have learned from the experience time and time again. Again, I have deemed the Mutter Museum as good.

In Garden State, Mark (Peter Sarsgaard) steals jewelry from the dead and sells it for profit. I deemed this act as a bad one. But then, at the end, when he returns a sentimental piece of jewelry to Largeman because it makes more sense that it’s with him than in the ground with his dead mother. Well, that changed things a bit. I deemed this act as a forgivable one. (I know that last part was seized from fiction. But it still triggered the taboo button.)

Unethically attaining bodies for profit, even if we the public learns from said display, I feel is very, very wrong. I have tried to convince myself otherwise, because the exhibit, and my own mortality, without a doubt, inspired me. But no matter how I felt after the exhibit, I always come back to that same thought: had I discovered that one of those bodies was actually a member of my family, it would have brought me to tears. I’d want nothing more than to take them down from the display, cover them with a blanket and finally lay them to rest.

I’m an organ donor and plan on donating my body to science when I die. I figure that in order understand the living we have to also understand the dead. I realize that donating a body to science can better the greater common good. But unethically taking bodies and using them to profit seems like the work of a madman, or (for the religious) the Devil himself.

It’s been a week since I got the phone call and I’m still torn. After receiving an email from him over the weekend, I wrote him back to find out a little more about his needs and what he might expect from me. He was vague with his answer but wishes to meet with me to discuss it further. A part of me wants to go “undercover” and find out whatever I can about the people behind the exhibit because knowing the truth might help me to come to terms with my struggle. Knowing the truth might also make me feel worse.

Bush T-Shirt: Take 533

A little over week OK, I received a phone call from the producer of the Rachel Maddow show asking for my address and email address. I obliged. On Thursday evening, when Toby Joe and I got back to the apartment, I had a letter waiting for me. It was from Air America Radio. Enclosed was a (handwritten) letter from Rachel Maddow saying she received the Bush T-shirts and enjoyed them quite a bit.

See? That’s all it takes to make a gal’s day. It’s that simple.

Beaner is Twenty-Eight

Yesterday, was Toby Joe’s birthday. He’s now 28. For a little more than a month, I will be only 3 years his senior.

Every time Toby Joe has a birthday, I want it to be spectacular. And every time I feel like a failure because, well, that’s impossible. But I could make it semi-spectacular, you’d think. This year, I felt really bad. We didn’t even go to Chuck E. Cheese. Plus, the ONE SHOW he wanted to watch on OnDemand wouldn’t play. I even called the number and they were like, “Dude, what do you want us to do kick other people off the system? It’s busy. Deal with it.” And I was all, “YES, you chump, it’s his birthday. For the love of God, please let us watch Episode three of Sleeper Cell. Please?”

Nothing.

Instead, I put him to work decorating cookies and designing a new Web site we’re working on. Someday, I’ll figure out how to give him 100% blissful happiness without the need for narcotics or hookers or shows about terrorism.

(Happy belated birthday, Beaner. I’m sorry about Sleeper Cell. I’m also sorry about the cookies and the Web site work.)

Harold Pinter’s Speech

Rachel Maddow brought this one to my attention this morning. It’s Harold Pinter’s Noble Peace prize acceptance speech. He spoke about America quite a bit. Some of it is bound to hit a nerve or two. If you have the ability to listen to it, click here. There is something powerful in hearing his voice.

Here is one segment Maddow played for her listner’s today:

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.

Ouch.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading – as a last resort – all other justifications having failed to justify themselves – as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

Ouch. Ouch.

If you can’t listen to it but are interested in reading the rest do so by clicking here.

Pretty powerful stuff.