Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Toot Suite


I'm always scouring the newspaper for good riffable stories, articles that poke out from the rest, things that hit some of my favorite themes. Piety. Perspective. Poop. And one day a few months ago a headline jumped out at me. "Evacuation Precedes Gas Blast," it said, which certainly struck me as newsworthy, because in my experience the evacuation comes just after the gas blast. I was soon disappointed to learn that the article was about a terrible explosion in Massachusetts that flattened a strip club. I can't even visualize that. Seems like it would be hard to do.

All was not lost, however. A few pages later, there was a photo of a young lad with his ear glued to a fart simulator. Bingo! He was attending the Grossology exhibit at our science museum, celebrating everything that smells, toots, crusts over, or slides out of you. Well, we just had to go, as it were. This is not your father's science museum, with its cheesy dioramas, rock collections, and gigantic murals depicting every known dinosaur arrayed in front of a mandatory set of volcanoes. Here, children could climb a wall of zits. Or go all the way inside of a nose, something many of them have trained for their whole lives. The little boogers were everywhere.

The Wall Of Zits
In the giant nose, we learn that snot is produced in order to protect the lungs. Snot catches random particles and pollutants before they can be inhaled all the way. It's a slick system. Cilia move the snot along until it is flushed away. Eventually. By sliding it down our throats at the rate of about a liter a day. Funny thing: if someone gave you a bucket of warm dirty snot, you probably wouldn't drink it even if you knew you were the snot donor and had banked it yourself. But apparently we're doing that all the time. It's sort of like the phone and cable fees. They're being siphoned out of our wallets more or less continuously in small quantities that we don't even notice. If we just got hit up annually with a $400 fee labeled "chump charge," we might make more of a fuss. Same way
with snot.

Adults were enchanted also. "This is right up our alley," the newspaper quoted a visiting mother, although she was probably referring to the intestine exhibit. There was an entire gastro-intestinal tract set up for kids to slide through, and a lot of information, almost more than a person could digest. "You must be this tasty to enter," the sign said (oh, I wish it had), and enter they did. And exit. Cute little shits they were.

But the star attraction was the flatulence display. Here a group of avid youngsters was allowed to play with a series of stretchy rubber gaskets mounted on air tubes, and they were encouraged to regulate the air and stretchiness to produce the grand human fart repertoire: the splendid variety of fart noises we are capable of, depending on embouchure, tension, volume, and pressure. I felt encouraged for America. These were our future scientists! Or possibly postal employees. Either way, proud.

Thanks again to those who have pledged to sponsor me in my upcoming Birdathon! Y'all are too cool. Proceeds go to the good work of the Portland Audubon Society. And I wrote a poem for the occasion.


48 comments:

  1. The musical little shit that I am, it just occurred to me what hemorrhoids are for, so you can play a tune with those farts. You learn something everyday. Thanks Murr.

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    1. Would those be like the little balls in the whistles?

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  2. Have you heard of Le Petomane? He was a Frenchman who seemed to be able to fart at will and performed with great popularity on stage. Petomane translates as 'fartomaniac'... The British Actor Leonard Rossiter made a short film in 1979, which is absolutely hilarious and which I highly recommend to you!

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    1. Oh God yes. The French Flatulist is in my personal pantheon. I haven't seen the film though--I wonder if it's in this machine somewhere?

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    2. When I was a little girl there was someone (uncle? friend's grandpa?)who used to amuse us by playing his musical armpit. Turns out, it was just hand-in-armpit timed to match his prodigious farting.

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    3. That's an interesting way of being delicate.

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  3. Do you know how hard it is to laugh at your post when the left side of your face is all numb from the dentist appointment?

    I laughed anyway. Hard. Several times. That says a lot for your post today.

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    1. Oh no! Did the strain make you spin in circles?

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  4. I can well believe it about the copious sn- , er, nasal secretions ... I wonder how much we produce when we have a head cold? My production is excessive even in normal times (sinus issues). Snortworthy, you might even say. Of a different kind :)

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    1. I was cranking it out by the bucketload last February. I still think my head should have folded up like a juice box.

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  5. Grossology indeed. You do realize that the "one litre of dirty snot" statistic will now be retained forever more in my mind, enshrined between my collection of dirty limericks and the knowledge that eight maggots per can of tomatoes is considered an "acceptable" number by food inspectors.

    Meanwhile, some useful piece of information has been sacrificed to make way for snot. Ah, same old, same old...

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    1. A corpulent maid from Woods Hole
      Had a notion exceedingly droll.
      At a masquerade ball,
      Wearing nothing at all,
      She backed in, as a Parker House roll.

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    2. LOL! Geez, thanks. There goes 11th grade chemistry...

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    3. A dear young coed from Bryn Mawr
      Committed a dreadful faux pas;
      She loosened a stay
      On her decollete
      Thus exposing her je ne sais quoi

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    4. Yay! And in the same vein, too--to be recited with pert nose in air, in a flutey voice.

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  6. Toot Suite?

    Tout de suitely BRILLIANT!

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    1. I would like to compose a Toot Suite. We've got the little band all ready to rehearse, here.

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  7. The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia used to have a giant human heart model you could walk through. Scared the bejezuz out of me.

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    1. No kidding--that would make you like an embolism!

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    2. http://www2.fi.edu/exhibits/permanent/giant-heart.php

      re: The Franklin Institute - still does have the Giant Heart. Was there many times as a child, and even a few times as a parent with children. The best. It was the accompanying HEARTBEAT that made it scarier - or in my opinion, cooler!

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    3. Would have done me in. I didn't even like to hear my own heartbeat from my ear on the pillow, because I was afraid I'd hear it stop.

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  8. I can't help but suspect you've had "cute little shits" chambered and ready to expel for some time.

    I mean, in a blog post.

    Silly.

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    1. Of course you mean in a blog post.

      Yeah, I've had these guys jammed up in there since December. Stuff happens.

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  9. embouchure?! My goodness you are college educated.

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    1. I am, but I think I learned that word after college. It fits, though.

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  10. "Do not climb on the large intestine" - well, there's a sign that needs to be posted in more places...

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    1. I know! Don't you just love that sign?

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  11. Dammit, when I was at school we had to go to The Imperial War Museum. Snorefest. You get to climb inside someone's intestines. Well, I bet you wanted to. Roth

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    1. Sure I did. I would've constipated the thing, though.

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  12. A man who makes his living farting...now that's a new one! I bet many men would love to have that job! :^)

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    1. Le Petomane? Hey, he practiced his craft for years. Not just anybody can be good at it.

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    2. He had a special pair of pants made with a strategic opening through which he is reported to have played Le Marseillaise. I don't think I could produce the opening line of God Save the Queen.

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    3. Shit, dear. That's only three notes. You can do it.

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  13. My kids would lose their damn mind grapes in a place like that! Is it a traveling exhibit? Because that would be great.

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  14. My kiddo and his nerd friends spend all day at OMSI. It gets a little embarassing when little kids won't leave with their moms because they haven't finished the trebuchets the "big guys" are teaching them to build. Thank goodness my kiddo is at college. I shudder to think of the experiments they'd teach the little ones to do with farts.

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    1. We left the Grossology exhibit and Dave spent all his time cutting little Dixie cups into shapes and sailing them into the air on a wind machine. It wouldn't have been so bad but he knocked about six kids out of the way to play.

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    2. They seemed clumsy.There was no pushing from this adult.

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  15. I don't think anything (except vegetables) is too gross for children. And that includes some of the bigger children aka men of my acquaintance.
    I was taught (I think) that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. If that is really true - why don't we lose weight when we have a really juicy head cold. It would make it (almost) worth while.

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    1. Because every bit of snot sneezed out is immediately replaced with fresh snot made from things you used to know but can't remember just now. Or something else that's in your head but otherwise inaccessible.

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  16. I'm over here via Elephant's Child (waving hello via cyberspace). You've won me over by featuring the Grossology exhibition!

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    1. Hi Kath! I love the idea that we're all waving at each other in cyberspace, so that the planet, seen from a distance, looks like a giant sea anenome.

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  17. Hi, I'm over here via Elephant's Child also. I love the exhibition and wish we had similar ones here in Australia. It would draw a crowd in every city!

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    1. Isn't it too dry in Australia to make snot?

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  18. The last time I was at OMSI the exhibits were about earthquakes and panning for gold. This one sounds much more entertaining.

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    1. They've still got an earthquake thingy. You can walk into a room and go through a quake.

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  19. Murr, I was laughing and snorting coffee the entire post. So many new Murrisms for the English language. They never had science displays like that when I was a kid,(possible because I was pre-Newtonian?)

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