Category Archives: Health

I guess I’m a schmuck for only eating regular generic celery

Biggest Loser Celery in the produce section of my local Walmart.

Biggest Loser Celery in the produce section of my local Walmart.

Are YOUR vegetables endorsed by a reality TV show?

I tried contacting the American Celery Council for statistics on celebrity-endorsed celery, but that trade organization tragically appears to have fizzled out in the early 1990s.

Walmart’s celery bullet points, however, are very helpful.

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Hilton taunts TV junkies at the gym

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Dear Hilton Fitness Center Planning Committee: Was placing the giant TV behind the treadmills and elliptical machines intentional? Watching “Shark Tank” over my shoulder is a new experience!

This is the gym at the Hilton Parsippany in New Jersey.  Yes, there are individual tiny screens on the treadmills and bikes, but the complimentary headphones were subpar — and audio from “Shark Tank” was the dominant sound in the room.

Prediction: There will be some needless and preventable injuries (neck problems, twisted ankles) from guests who prioritize entertainment higher than exercise.

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Kentucky toy surgeon rescues G.I. Joes on their deathbeds

GI Joe Surgery

GI Joe Surgery

Culture Schlock — By Darren Garnick
“Kentucky toy surgeon rescues GI Joes on their deathbeds”

The Telegraph — February 15, 2002

**

LOUISVILLE — It may sound a little bizarre at first, but it makes perfect sense why Joe “The Medic” DeGrella wants all his G.I. Joes to be naked.

“The clothing and accessories are actually worth more than the figures themselves,” the 43-year-old toy surgeon says. “I don’t want the boxes. I don’t want the clothing. I just don’t want to be responsible.”

DeGrella runs a triage unit for military action figures in the basement of his suburban home just outside Louisville, Kentucky. The patients, who arrive by mail, are predominantly GI Joes from the 1960s and early 1970s – although the occasional Barbie or Chatty Cathy has never been refused treatment. Typical hospital bills range from $20 to $100, and customers who spend more than $30 receive a complimentary mini Purple Heart.

Action figure surgery may be bloodless, but the operating room is hardly pretty. To tighten loose vintage figures, DeGrella needs to crack open the torso and completely gut out the rubber intestines. The quality of elastics – as anyone who used to bundle baseball cards knows – was horrendous years ago, but new technology ensures that this procedure will likely only happen once.

DeGrella’s cellar has emerged into one of the nation’s leading centers for GI Joe health care. It was here where researchers (well, OK, it’s a one-man faculty) developed a new nylon joint that revolutionized shoulder replacements for future generations.

DeGrella, a former building contractor who turned full-time toy medic in the early 1990s, claims he can fix just about any ailment. Only twice in his career have figures arrived DOA — the worst casualty was a GI Joe with a burned head and torso along with missing limbs. In the cosmetic arena, the medic also retouches hair and beards with magnetized fibers.

The biggest health hazards to GI Joes are “children and dogs,” in that order, DeGrella says. Another huge problem is osteoporosis, which means “stress cracks” in the limbs and torso. In the dermatology department, vintage black GI Joes have experienced major longevity issues. The chemical used to color the figures’ skin inadvertently caused them to crumble with age.

Fortunately, there is no need to get Jesse Jackson involved — modern African-American Joes no longer use the same kind of plastic

DeGrella began his self-taught medical career at age 9, when he recovered a GI Joe that he lost in a creek. The missing soldier was found pinned under a rock and the prognosis wasn’t optimistic: “He had been underwater for three months. The elastic had just rotted away, so when I picked him up, he basically fell apart in my hand,” the medic recalls. “The body was faded. The hair was washed off.”

The boy improvised his first restrung torso and used model paint to restore various features. Throwing the doll away would’ve been heresy. “It was like finding a long lost friend. I probably had seven or eight GI Joes, but this one remained my favorite,” says DeGrella.

He later gave up collecting as a teenager, cashing in his entire collection for a paltry $20. Enjoying a much higher budget years later, DeGrella relaunched his interest as an adult. Oddly enough, though, his skill at fixing GI Joes led to his collection’s second demise.

Prospective clients “would ask me if I was a collector and I’d say yes. They’d say, ‘Well, how do I know you’re not going to keep my GI Joe parts and send me back some junk?'” remembers DeGrella. “In order to gain the trust of my customers, I needed to give up collecting. So I sold my GI Joes just to give others peace of mind.”

But the choice between collector and healer was not a difficult one. Reliving his childhood every day, DeGrella insists that he doesn’t miss his acquisition years: “I get to play with GI Joes every day. I basically see every piece of GI Joe that was ever made by Hasbro… “It’s almost like therapy to me.”

**
Darren Garnick’s “Culture Schlock” column appears in The Telegraph’s Encore magazine every Friday. His Six Million Dollar Man doll remains missing in action. Feedback and suggestions are welcomed via e-mail at cultureschlock (at) gmail.com.

The GI Joe Medic with some spare body parts

The GI Joe Medic with some spare body parts

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24-Hour Diary of a Pregnant Guy — (Postscript with competing bellies)

pregnancyprofileweb

(Originally published in July 2007)

The Empathy Belly is still by far the most dominant pregnancy simulator on the market, but a dramatic recent price cut indicates that the Pregnancy Profile (the Pepsi or Avis to the Empathy Coke and Empathy Hertz) is making up ground.

I wore the Profile for an hour — I wasn’t going for another 24! –, more than ample time to understand how it feels in comparison to the Belly. Students in teen pregnancy prevention classes usually go no longer than 30 minutes.

Although the suit is eight pounds lighter, the Profile rib belt pulled around tighter, so I felt many of the same side effects such as increased heart rate and body temperature. Personally, I felt that the Velcro straps made the Empathy Belly seem more like “a part of me” than the plastic buckles and backpack straps did for the Profile.

The Profile’s buckles made me feel like I was putting on one of those Baby Bjorn infant carriers. Which isn’t a bad thing, just an observation.

If you are from an educational institution considering the purchase of a pregnancy simulator, check out both companies’ comparison charts for all the trash talk.

Why The Empathy Belly makes you feel more pregnant.
Why The Pregnancy Profile makes you feel more pregnant. (Page 23 of PDF catalog)

On another note, the Web is saturated with intriguing stories about how these suits are used in the most unexpected ways. And there is also an abundance of material speculating about the possibility of male pregnancy.

Some recommended reading:

1. MALE PREGNANCY HOAX? Check out installation artist Virgil Wong’s 1999 exhibit on the first male pregnancy. The imagery and scientific jargon convinced many people the event was real.

2. EMPATHY FOR A MONTHPublic relations guru Kevin Burke, who owns a marketing company tailored toward women, wore The Empathy Belly for a month (no more than 16 hours at a time) to celebrate Mother’s Day. Burke strapped on the suit at home and the office, but never in public because he did not want his efforts to be misconstrued as “trivializing motherhood.”

3. MALE PREGNANCY HYPNOSIS Entertainer Joshua Seth performs a popular hypnotism routine in which he makes guys think they are pregnant.

4. INSENSITIVE BELLIES? — The Chicago Tribune’s Julie Deardorff discovered that some women are turned off by guys who wear The Empathy Belly and talk about how sensitive they are. Hope she doesn’t mean me.

5. ENGINEERING EMPATHY — Learn more about the belly-wearing engineers at the Ford Motor Company.

6. THE BEVERAGE BELLY — Want the belly without the side effects of pregnancy and a buzz to boot? You might prefer The Beerbelly, a refillable bladder meant to be smuggled into ballgames.

7. PASS THE SALT WATER — Read what one British moron did to experience the sensation of morning sickness! Yum-yum!

8. THE BRITISH BUMP “The Bump” is a British-designed pregnancy simulator that differs from The Empathy Belly and Pregnancy Profile in two ways. Most notably, it allows users to add or subtract weight with removable four-pound bean bags. It also has silicone-filled breasts for a more realistic weight distribution and a better logo than either the Belly or the Profile.

bumpbg

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EMPATHY BELLY AND PREGNANCY-RELATED LINKS

Darren’s 24-Hour Empathy Belly Diary:
(Part 1 of 3)
(Part 2 of 3)
(Part 3 of 3)
(Postscript with Competing Bellies)

LABOR OF LOVE — My original Boston Herald feature on the Belly.

EMPATHY BUZZ – Inspirational responses to my Belly exercise.

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Filed under empathy belly, Family, Fashion, Health, male pregnancy, Parenting