Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Body of Work

Bodies Revealed 1Though not nearly as iron-stomached as my paramedic brethren, I'm not particularly squeamish. That said, I abhor movie gore, finding it banal at best, misogynistic at worst. In fact, I've not watched a horror flick since Freddy Krueger was hip, never seen that clip of the Taliban sawing some dude's head off and generally go about my day NOT wondering what eyeballs look like when they explode. Today, none of that mattered. No, when you score an assignment so fraught with possibility as the one I did today, you set aside all personal quirks long enough to bag your limit. That's exactly what I did this morning as I schlepped gear into the Natural Science Center's newest exhibit, "Bodies Revealed". Perhaps you've heard of it. I had, sort of. But whatever cheesy TV piece I half remember watching didn't compare to the feeling I got when I rolled into the traveling exhibit, looking to construct my own cheesy TV piece. It was, to use an SAT word, creepy.

Bodies Revealed 3Still, as a fully licensed cameramanthropologist, I'm duty bound to point my lens at many things that sicken me (like school board meetings!). Thus, I manned up and waded into the vast exhibition space, slowly taking in the cadre of cadavers that awaited me. Most were missing their skin, many struck dramatic poses and then there was the lady made of nothing but capillaries. I nodded at her solemnly. She didn't respond. I passed by without a word, knowing we'd probably chat later in my dreams. After a minute or two, I regained my equilibrium and went about the business of framing up bodies in such a way that viewers wouldn't fully realize what they were looking at. Hey, I'm good, but it wasn't easy - especially when the person you're trying to make palatable is sliced apart like a stack of Pringle potato chips. Nonetheless, I plowed through it and soon had the exhibit's director in my cross-hairs for an extended on-camera chat. That's when something weird happened...

Bodies Revealed 2Two minutes into the interview, my audio went to shit. Static filled my earpiece and the the voluem began to wane. I stopped the good Dr. long enough to switch out batteries - only to find the Double AA's in my microphone were still full-strength. 'Strange', I thought, but changed them anyway. New batteries, however, didn't fix the problem, so I trudged outside and got another mic. Minutes later, the mellifluous tones of my guest flowed crisp and clean as I did my best to ignore the eviscerated citizen hanging over my left shoulder. Then it got really weird. My camera ... died. It just shut down as if it lost all power. I swallowed a curse and examined the camera battery - only to find it fully charged. Hmmm. Eventually, I found another battery the camera liked and limped through the interview - but I had to wonder: Was there some bad juju floating about this collection of stiffs that kept zapping my power sources? Some misplaced karma determined to thwart my pseudo-journalistic efforts?

Bodies Revealed 4Naaaah. Unexplained gremlins plague gizmos all the time. I've been equally frustrated with my collection of gadgets at bake sales, though I gotta say: I have never seen that particular malady happen - ever. Charged batteries tend to work - for a while anyway. In fact, the very batteries that refused to provide power in the company of cadavers worked fine an hour later in the comparatively saner environs of El Ocho's newsroom. Spooky, yes - but I'll chalk it up to the vagaries of the chase. Perhaps the same technical difficulties will occur the next time I'm trapped at some shopping mall's center square, where I have only some wino dressed as Santa to blame for any paranormal activity. In the meantime, I'll pretend none of this ever happened while taking away another important lesson. After wrapping up a shoot at a cadaver exhibit, skipping lunch may be in order...

My grilled chicken sandwich tasted like some old dude's pancreas.

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