Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Phantom Twin Christ Adventures

Ah, the best laid plans. I had intended to keep writing each week. Then the semester hit me like a crosstown bus at rush hour. Thankfully, that is all over and I have a few weeks before summer semester crashes down upon me. I'm taking advantage of this time to finally get some uninterrupted diss research in.

My two favorite news items this week involve the British guy who expressed his embryonic twin brother from his belly button. Apparently he'd absorbed the twin in utero, and it took 30 years for the little bastard to worm its way out into the open. The man, called Gavin, has named the embryo Little Gav and keeps it in a plastic jar. He shows the plastic jar to company when they visit. The story itself is grotesque and enthralling, but I take most amusement in the mundane aspect of the story. Keeping your absorbed embryonic twin in a jar and showing it to company is SUCH a guy thing to do. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article2420523.ece

I also read about a woman whose stroke left her left side paralyzed and yet newly possessed of a phantom third arm. They did brain scans on her whilst putting her through some basic hand and arm movements to chart her brain activity. Attempts to move each of her real arm resulted in brain activity in the proper sectors. Requests that she move her phantom arm ALSO resulted in brain activity that exactly resembled what had previously been recorded. Apparently she can scratch itches with this arm. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/front/Doctors_confirm_woman_s_imaginary_third_arm.html?siteSect=105&sid=10522330

Sometimes it's really hard not to laugh at someone, no matter how much you love him. For example, I was talking to Sean about the afterlife the other day. I find him frustratingly naive even at the best of times, but last week takes the cake. Sean is a devastatingly sincere and depressingly naive born again christian. He believes that the Bible is the perfect and infallible received word of God. It is my strong suspicion that while many christians use their bible as a reference guide, Sean wields his like a riot shield to protect him from life. This suspicion became stronger when in discussing our beliefs he said that he is looking forward to going to dwell with Jesus in the afterlife, because Jesus was going to take him on adventures. Yes, you read that right. Jesus is going to take Sean on adventures. I bit my lip, smiled, took a deep breath, and then asked, What sort of adventures? Sean explained, "We'll talk about why he made the ocean like that, what he meant when he created giraffes, you know, adventures." Apparently the sort of adventures you encounter at the local library during story time. I wanted to scream Where in the hell did you come up with that? It's not in any bible I've ever read and I've read five different English translations of it, several times apiece. But I didn't. I also wanted to guffaw. I held my tongue. You should see the dent left in it from my teeth clamping down on it to keep from saying something nasty. But as he doesn't read this post, I feel free to vent here. I've dealt with a lot from Sean, in particular his intentional denseness if failing to admit that while he claims to honestly hold no romantic interest in me, his body language and actions scream otherwise. His extreme curiosity about life as defeated by his intense fear of living, his desire to defeat all his hideous anxieties stumped by the comfortableness and familiarity of them, leave me both amazed and dumbfounded. But his adventures with Jesus thing now makes it hard for me to even respect him. Which, I think, is actually the worst thing that can happen to a friendship. Not sure what I am going to do here....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nekkid Justice

I just read the best story of the week. Usually, I think it is a really bad idea for porn stars to become socially conscious. really, like anyone really cares what Jenna Haze thinks about the current economic crisis. On occasion, things happen to turn my opinoin around. This week, Italian porn actress Laura Perego saunteed into the Milan stock exchange and bared all in protest of the way that business has handled Italy's economy. Her proest consisted of red, green, and white body paint and a tiny, tiny g-string. She accused them of "stripping Italians of everything but their underwear." She was taken to a police station, and energed an hour later telling reporters that "many officers commended me on my fight for a just cause." I might point out here that under these circumstances a wolfshistle or a casually spouted "Nice rack!" would amount to political support of the cause. Still, I love this story because only in Italy can porn stars and poster girls possibly engage in political involvement and be taken somewhat seriously. What a country!

My back is super tight and Dr. Tiffany had a hard time adjusting me. I'm feeling edgy -PMS, y'all- and am tense as a bowstring. It may be time to head over to Brookstone in the mall and commandeer a masage chair for ten or twenth minutes.

Still reading that dreadful collection of critical essays on Cindy Sherman. Some aren't too bad but right now I am in the middle of a 50-page doozy and it is not even that interesting. How is it that scholars get away with writing bad articles? Not that some of the ideas aren't good, but that the argument is nebulous and ill-organized until the thesis FINALLY appears on the last page. Maybe the worst thing about this book is that everything is taken from a post-structuralist and postmodernist viewpoint. Like, this thinking has SO 90's, and yet the October Files has launched a series of books to present contemporary art in pomo terms, and this Cindy Sherman volume is a part of this series. The Krauss I am reading is the sixth article in the book. I have already overdosed on the idea of "representation," but this chick just keeps belaboring the point for 50 pages. It's times like this that I disagree vehemently with a former professor who believes that academia is about "copia," writing pages and pages of words words words making a point about a topic the entirety of which could be well-covered in half the space. What is so great about diarrhea of the keyboard? How can you execute a well organized and rhetorically effective argument if you indulge so deeply in rambling that your audience has abandoned the article out of sheer boredom? AAAARRRRRGGGHHH.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I was flattered immensely by my Intro to Louisiana Folklore class today. They want me to pitch a foodways course next semester. I keep trying to explain that I can't just pitch a course because I am a grad student and I'd have to get my department to apprve of the course. Fat chance of that happening. But it's nice that they like me so much. This semester has been rough in a lot of ways, but I can honestly say that both my classes are great. My 101 was ennui-ridden today. none of us really wanted to be there. But as this is our ethnography unit, I ditched my book lecture and just led a discussion of what ethnography really is and what you're looking for. Some students are still confused about it. Fortunately the otherwise useless book includes really effective readings and questions for each reading. This chapter has several good ethnographies that will give the students a better idea what I want. And, I will post my Endymion paper to the Moodle site as an example.

I picked up the accident report yesterday. Last Wednesday I was the lead car in a five car pileup. I was waiting behind a gray truck that just stopped? in the middle of Congress Street. Just as I was contemplating driving around it, I was slammed from behind by a small Toyota Corolla. Then another concussive shove. That second impact was three other cars A Camry, A Cr7, and a Lincoln, slamming into us as pushed by a car going 50 mph. My back is hurt, my neck is worse. I'm going to the chiropractor to get straightened out. I'm not at fault and somebody else is going to pay. Because the girl behind me hit me, she is the most liable for the accident. Seemed straightforward enough, right? Wrong. According to the police report, the kid in the Lincoln at the end of the pileup who caused the second concussive wave was actually the cause of the whole accident. There is no mention of the Corolla rear-ending me, Myself, the Corolla girl behind me, and the Camry granny behind her all concur that the Corolla rear-ended me, and the Camry didn't hit anyone until she was shoved into the Corolla because of the force with which the Lincoln hit. These accounts are in the witness statements. So, the Officer's assessment of the accident in no way bears relation to what actually happened. When I picked up the report, I pointed out the discrepancy to the policeman on duty. He said that the officer's assessment is conclusive and the findings are accurate. He went on to say that if there was contention about the matter, that the insurance companies would hold a deposition to determine what actually happened, and the the matter would probably go to court. Rather than pursue the argument, I thanked the officer for his time and left the station, quietly cursing under my breath. The upshot is that because the witness statements contradict the officer's findings, the FIVE (5) insurance companies all have room to play fast and loose with settlement and there is a fair chance this will all end up in court. All because the officer didn't bother to look at the witness statements or take accurate notes about what happened. How can I prove she didn't look at the statements? The officer totally misspelled the 18-year old African American Lincoln driver's name- she left out two letters! If she'd looked over his statement, there wouldn't have been this problem. And the girlie behind me should have gotten a citation but managed to get off scot free. The point here is that though I am not at fault, I was injured and deserve to be reimbursed for my damages, but will likely have to duke it out in court to make sure this happens because the officer at the scene was too lazy (and probably prejudiced) to correctly assess the situation. Not fair. Situations like this are why hoodoo is still around here in Louisiana. If the law don't work, rootwork will fix it.
Maybe I should go buy some High John...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Introduction, Robotripping, and Traiteurs

It will always be a regret that I didn't jump on the blogging bandwagon ten years ago when it was fresh, new, and edgy. I coulda been a pioneer or something. Now, I'm just a joiner. On the bright side, I have decided to use this blog as an opportunity to write someting other than academic prose. Something I would actually care to read myself. I hope to get back to creative writing, but for now these semi-public cyber postcards will have to do.

I learned a new word today: Robotripping. It sounds like something Beck does alone in some dark closet while listening to Devo. Actually, it's a current name for the fad of dosing on Robitussin throughout the day. Most of us are familiar with the teenager habit of furtive glugging on liquid Robitussin, but the principal of my friend Karen's school was not.

My back still hurts from being in a five-car pileup last week. The student health center told me that they can't treat me for an auto accident because it is against University policy. I went to a chiropractor today and while she took a lot of X-rays, she didn't get around to treating me. I'm in pain and I have nothing to take for it. So, I am taking a page from my folklorist playbook. I've decided to see a traiteur. Traiteurs are the folk healers of Southern Louisiana. The name is a French word meaning "to treat," or "to mend." They don't charge any money, they don't care if you are skeptical about their treatment, and they are pretty willing to be available if called upon. Some traiteurs treat for general illness, pain, and maladies. Others specialize My friend's late grandmother treated pain, and their down-the-street neighbor treated for fire, chemical, and sunburns. I talked to two of the women in my Louisiana folklore class today about putting me in touch with the traiteurs thier families use. It feels a bit odd to be doing this because on the one hand, I totally believe in Traiteurs, but I'm not a Christian. It's also strange because I am the one teaching the class and should already know some traiteurs, but I'm having to ask my students for referrals. The most important thing is getting some help before the back pain wears me down.