The Blue Raccoon

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sister Becky Explains It All For You
"Just a girl in short shorts talking about whatever"

This may or may not be Becky, who is the personality behind the entertaining and provocative blog Just A Girl In Shorts Shorts Talking About Whatever. If she's real, or a metaphorical construct, matters not to me.

What I enjoy about JAGISSTAW is the concise text that unravels complicated issues using the tongs of her sass and smarts.

She describes herself: "Mom, recovering attorney, post-modern neo-feminist, enthusiastic regenerated dyke, unlikely punk, nice Catholic girl, passionate freedom-loving libertarian, thinking conservative, sappy romantic, spiritual redneck, softball enthusiast, shopaholic and unrepentant flirt. My other passion is mountain climbing.

On July 4, 2007 I started the next phase of my life as a femme desert tomboy in Arizona, where the chick , once called "trailer trash with a brain" by an Intertard wit, will be able to wear unfashionable daisy dukes year round."

That's what I'm talkin' about.

"How you get that much traffic without the equipment is beyond me."

There's a scene in a cult lesbian power movie Desert Hearts that reminds me of Becky, or the Becky character the blog represents.

The setting is the Reno, Nevada, 1959, where Columbia University professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) has come to establish six weeks residency to obtain a divorce. While outside the safe confines of New York City, she meets an artist and casino worker Cay Rivvers in a dramatic way that has stuck in my head since I first saw the film at The Biograph Theatre when it came out--and has to be one of the all-time great entrances of a film character.

While driving in the desert, Cay recognizes the car of her friend Frances (Audrey Parker) who runs a boarding house for would-be divorceés. With Buddy Holly singing "Peggy Sue," Cay throws her long black, tail-finned car into tire-squealing, smoke-throwing reverse to catch up with Frances for the express intention, as the truckers used to say, of checking out the seat covers. She introduces herself to prim Vivian and we know right away something is going to happen between these two.

[Starts in this clip at 4:29]

Anyway, that's how I picture Becky. But even better, she just gives an alternative viewpoint and she's witty and brassy and knowledgeable. And she uses, um, pictures to illustrate her points quite well. I don't expect to agree with everything she writes -- but -- in interpreting the current financial meltdown, I think she's, well, right on the money.

She writes:

"The American dollar has shrunk 25.8% since 2000. If the US dollar had kept pace with the Euro, the going rate of a barrel of oil (which are traded in dollars) would be around $80, rather than $140. Gas would be about $2.60 a gallon.

One might think all this inflation, and economic hardship, would be enough to wake Americans up.

But since it is not:

Don't we have a freakin' ounce of pride?"

Canadian Girl A few years ago, when the loonie slipped in value, there was widespread patriotic outrage in Canada, with demands that their currency be shored up.

However, Americans, for the most part, don't seem to care at all.

flag lapel We define patriotism by the wearing of flag lapels.

And shopping."

A Stroke Of Insight
"I'm having a stroke...This is cool!"

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor has most likely never worn a pair of wonderful raggedy cut-off short shorts, but who knows. [this is her via] And, yes, that is a real human brain with spinal chord attached. Not her own, in case you were wondering.

Since the billion-eyed audience is several ticks more aware than average, you may have already heard about the Harvard-trained neuroanatomist Taylor who in 1996 suffered a massive stroke. While experiencing this event she was able as a scientist to analyze how the separate hemispheres of her brain functioned and malfunctioned.

Her mind-splitting epiphany inspired her subsequent writing and talking about not just those insights but how she managed to recover from, well, death.

A commenter here yesterday mentioned Dr. Taylor's story as a way to dispel my favoring the adoption of a "No Hope In Hope" attitude. And in my better moments, I favor Taylor's sensations of "connection to everything" (Due to some wonderful positive interactions with, um, certain manifestations of scientific mixology in my college years, with sensations that have stuck with me ever since).

But knowledge that one is connected to everything conveys to me a frightening, befuddling sense of responsibility. That's how I'm wired.

And, perhaps we humans are a freak of nature. We have evolved with a brain too large, really, to accomplish the basic tasks we need; rusticate and fornicate. We ruminate, too, and that's not necessary for the first two. So we are forever unhappy and isolated and in need of assurance and comfort, wherever and however we choose them.

That's one theory.

And here's the thing. We can't conduct self-diagnostics. We can study the brain, but the brain can't study itself -- though Taylor's experience comes closest. Science requires experimentation. If you cannot repeat the result more than once, you unverifiable outcome.

It's kind of like the "WOW" signal picked up on August 15, 1977 for a 72 scant seconds by astrophysicist Dr. Jerry R. Ehman while working with the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio University. He thought he may picked up an extraterrestrial signal. On the computer print out graph he wrote "Wow!"indicating his astonishment. He may have picked up some kind of alien signal, but nobody's been able to find it since, even after extensive searching. The energy might've been generated by some funky terrestrial source bouncing around out there (probably not) or a heretofore unknown noise caused by an odd pulsar. Nobody knows. You can read about it here.

Taylor explains what happened New York Times piece by Tara Parker-Pope:

How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?,'’ she said. “In the course of four hours, I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information. On the morning of the hemorrhage, I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life.'’

Her account of the experience of stroke is vivid, and at one point, she recalled, she felt like someone had taken a remote control and hit the mute button. “I was shocked to find myself inside a silent mind,'’ she said.

What is so surprising about Dr. Taylor’s story is that she experienced a sort of euphoria as she was left with only right-brain functions. She lost her sense of self, but she also shed the stress of her life and, as she puts it, “37 years of emotional baggage.'’

“Imagine what it would be like to be totally disconnected from your brain chatter,'’ she said. “I felt a sense of peacefulness.'’

She wrote My Stroke Of Insight, and has been lecturing, writing -- and singing, about her life-altering event. Taylor is quite a speaker, taking a serious-as-it-gets issue but using humor as way to explain what happened to her and the changes she went through.

Opinions as to her message vary. Like: "This insight she describes is the basis of all religion, without the story telling and mythology. She is presenting what could be the basis for the unification of science and religion."

To: "Pseudoscientific [sic.] garbage!"

Dr. Taylor's experience is without question a real one. But whether her intense and intimate understanding of what happened can be universalized -- that, that is another question. I do want to read her book, though. I guess how you take her words is a matter of, dare I say it: faith and hope.

And around the cat goes.

You can read the New York Times interview here.

A fascinating 18-minute video is below:

The First Friday Femmes: Not Taking The Night Off

Curated Culture didn't want to cancel the First Friday Art Walk after all, the weather is good, and there's work to see. So ....

By now, most of the billion-eyed audience should know the story behind this image, but if not, I will here again explain: The picture was taken, and not by me, at an opening several years ago at the vanished Three Miles Gallery and that this space, and an adjacent one, is now the busy Tarrant's Café.

These ladies represent the Greek dramatic expression of comedy and tragedy, the twin fountains of artistic expression.

So there.

I'm busy writing a book, so I doubt I'm getting out. But enjoy yourselves, girls, and drink a PBR for me.

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