Friday, May 31, 2013

bento friday: I made gyoza!

 Gyoza (also known as potstickers for very relevant reasons) are delicious.  At their most basic, they're Japanese dumplings of folded pasta filled with, um, stuff.  I had a half-pack of wonton pasta sheets languishing in the freezer and threatening to get freezer burned, so I decided to give it a whirl for a weeknight dinner.

And my goodness, but they're delicious.

mmmmm... gyoza.....

I simply minced up whatever stuff I had around (ginger, garlic, mushrooms, um, random leftover broccoli stems I think, bean sprouts), sautéed it, filled the little wrappers and pretended to know what I was doing about the folding.  Then one fry-steaming session later, voila!  

They were a bit bland (need to add more flavory stuff next time) and a little lumpy and unwieldy.  Apparently chopping the stuff smaller would be a good idea.  But!  Still delicious, and way less intimidating than I'd thought they'd be.  

The picture is from their second round, as leftover bento lunches.  Served with cold sesame noodles topped with more bean sprouts. 

sesame noodles

The cold sesame noodles are loosely based on Pioneer Woman's recipe, and are always remarkably delicious.  I tend to use udon noodles instead of spaghetti, but hey, in her words, whatever makes your skirt fly up.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

today gets THREE awesome things because apparently today is extra awesome

This is possibly the best Ted talk to date.  (Link for in case the embedding doesn't work.)

This dude cuts through the bullshit and asks all the right questions about gendered violence and gender issues.  Complete with a call to action.


today gets two awesome things

This video.  This video is amazing, and not just because I adore Sara Bareilles.

(Link for in case the embedding doesn't work.)

Being brave is not easy.  Paths of least resistance abound, and they usually involve staying silent and going along.  It takes a hell of a lot of courage and dedication and strength to break that mold, even in tiny ways.  And it's scary as hell.

But so, so worth it.

I want to see you be brave.

awesome thing of the day: X-wing

Life sized 5-million-brick lego X-wing. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

on a relationship with food

Sinful.  Divine.  Guilt-inducing.  Orgasmic.  Evil.  Blissful.  Shameful.  Indulgent.

Ragen recently pointed out that Trader Joe's is now offering 'reduced guilt' crackers.  Now, I'm not saying I don't get it; like everyone I'm acclimated to the societal encouragement and pressure to feel Super Duper Strongly about food.  I'm female, so there's this whole nearly-religious expected relationship with chocolate.  I'm supposed to feel repentant and guilty for eating something greasy/starchy/salty/sugary/whatever kind of food is being demonized right now.  People around me frequently describe something they're eating as sinfully delicious, but So Bad For Me!  I ask them why, and usually get a blank stare.  They expect me to go along with the social norm of hating on food while paradoxically loving on it, and when I don't I'm sure it's confusing.

It's complicated and it's high-pressure and I don't like it.  

It's not that I don't get the joke or the reference.  Presumably these crackers have less salt or oil or more whole grain or something.  Whatever.  The problem is that it's projecting this emotional value judgement onto a damn cracker.

I like food.  Food gives my body the nutrients it needs to do awesome things like walk around and breathe and dance and feel really good in a hot bath.  It gets me around and it's how I'm typing these words right now.  My body is a pretty neat contraption.  And I do get enjoyment from food!  I adore good home-cooked meals, and have a rather disproportionate love for pickled beets.  When Husband and I have date nights, it usually involves good restaurants or tasty food cooked outside when camping.

So I do have a relationship with food.  I just don't like it being (a) defined by marketing companies, and (b) having an assumed love-hate relationship by everyone around me.  For one thing, advertising people have an express mission to make me feel unhappy in order to extort me for money.  I wholeheartedly resist that paradigm, so damned if I'm going to buy that one.  Then there's this cultural expectation that my relationship with food must be this emotionally fraught rollercoaster, and I choose to opt out of that one too.  It is not your job to tell me what to eat, nor to corner me into condoning your value judgements about or fetishizing of your own eating.  I am simply an organism who needs to eat in order to function, and who additionally enjoys preparing and consuming a variety of tasty kinds of food.

Now.  This is not to say that all food is good at all times.  Sometimes I eat too much and then feel icky and hurty.  Sometimes I just want something light like a salad.  I do have a habit of researching nutrition, and feel ways about the fakeness of a lot of additives and not-foods that corporations are putting into mass-produced foods these days, though all food does have value.


I categorically refuse to buy into the idea that food is exalted or evil, repugnant or indulgent.  I'm in charge of my health, and you can take your value judgements elsewhere.  If I skip dinner and have ice cream, it's not indulgent and it's not sinful.  It's a grown damn woman eating ice cream.  And there's nothing wrong with that.


Edit: this post doesn't even touch on the potentially triggery nature of value-judgement food-talk on people who might have issues with eating disorders and/or the diet industry.  That's a whole enormous additional can of worms, and I acknowledge that I have a certain amount of thin and able privilege going on here, and do not mean to minimize any of the additional issues related to this topic.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

awesome thing of the day: Emma

Photograph yoinked from link and please don't sue me for using it, Jaime Moore.  Thanks.

This little girl is awesome and has an awesome mom.

You should totally go read about her.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


movie poster for Disney's 2012 movie Brave

So, Brave.  Pretty darn good Pixar/Disney/Pixney flick, about a Scottish princess who kicks ass, takes names, and gets herself both into and out of trouble quite effectively.  Like many out there, I greatly appreciate the trend of having the protagonists of the traditionally female-centered animated children's movies be a lot more active in their own lives.  Far from waiting around for the heroic prince to rescue her and make her life have meaning, Merida has her own shit going on and is quite busy, thank you very much.  She also doesn't lack for personality in the slightest. 

Overall, this is a fantastic direction.  Congratulations, Disney!


So it seems that the Disney entertainment megaconglomerate has a theme park ceremony for 'crowning' their princess characters, so that they are then Official Disney Princesses, and presumably are awarded their very own bag of Magical Princess Sparkles.  Then when little kids go to the parks, they can have tea with all the Princesses.  Okay, cool, fine, whatever.  But Disney decided that the young, spunky, kick-ass protagonist of their very successful and money-making movie wasn't... sexy enough.  So they did this to her:

Left: Merida.  Right: some unrecognizable skin-bleached chick with a sexy come-hither and improbable curves. 

I feel ways about this. 

1) That person is unrecognizable as Merida.  Isn't marketing all about recognizable brands?  WTF.

2) There was a whole plot point in the movie about her hating that dress.  THEY PUT HER IN THE HATE-DRESS.  Why?

3) Yes,  it's a fictional character, and not a real person who underwent a real makeover.  But the very act of Disney taking an extremely successful (as measured by making them many dollars) character and transforming her into an unrecognizable sex-kitten is a huge statement about priorities.  It's not like nobody's going to notice, and what message is being sent here?  That what's important is to be sexy and beautiful and have bleached skin and perfect hair and wear sexy clothing.  This is being marketed to children.  CHILDREN!  We finally get a genuine self-rescuing princess (which is itself a ginormous opportunity for Disney to get way cooler and send progressive messages about gender issues) who actually looks and acts like the young-teenager she's supposed to be instead of being inexplicably busty and grown-up sexy, and then they blatantly ignore the actual character in favor of entrenching the cultural your-worth-is-measured-solely-by-your-sexiness trope.  Fuck that.  And the horse it rode in on. 

4) They took away her bow.  HER BOW.  One of Merida's major characteristics is her kick-ass bow-shooting.  She's a super excellent archer, and has to defend herself and advance the plot with it a lot.  THEY TOOK AWAY HER BOW.  I am not okay with this. 

/deep breath

Okay.  So, when I was poking around for a picture of Merida to put at the top of this article, I first searched wikipedia for Merida, figuring that they'd have a canonical screencap that would be reasonable to use for analysis purposes.  Because, like, wikipedia tends to have that sort of super-basic stuff.  Instead, as the ONLY image on the page, I found this*: 

the parallel universe, sex-kitten Merida

There is not enough rage.  Really.  REALLY?  The only image you're going to show on THE WIKIPEDIA page for this character looks nothing like how she looks throughout the entire movie.  

From the talk page of said wikipedia entry: 

The article originally had a CG artwork of Merida's; it was recently replaced, without explanation, with her redesign for the Disney Princess franchise. I don't see why her design in something that can be regarded as a minor merchandise-driven spin-off should prevail over her look in the film itself. To give a random, extreme example, it would be like replacing Jack Sparrow by a picture of his LEGO minifigure. Brave was a computer-animated film, and I don't think a 2D image is representative of the character. Note my comment has nothing to do with the recent controversy around her redesign (I personnaly find the Disney Princess design more faithful than I was expecting). But I think the image should be changed.--Gray Catbird (talk) 21:27, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

So apparently the actual picture of Merida was just inexplicably replaced by the sex kitten.  Gray Catbird there makes very good points, to which I would add only about a metric fuckton of THIS IS NOT OKAY!!!!!

And in Even More Ridiculous Princess-Washing, we have the official Disney Princess Merida costume:

um... it's a dress

All I can say about this is that it looks like a sparkly dress.  If I saw a little kid wearing this, I'd wonder idly and maybe question as to whether it's supposed to be a fairy, a generic party dress, or that sleeping beauty princess whose name I can never remember. 

And it's not like I have a single thing against sparkly dresses.  I love shiny, sparkly, fun dress-up clothes.  Being girly is awesome sometimes.  But WTF does this dress have to do with Merida?  I... guess it's blue?  And thus kinda like the dress she hated?  Because all blue dresses are the same?  I genuinely don't understand what's going on here. 

Ooh, it has an action shot!

Hmm.  Okay, at least you get the signature Merida weaponry along with the dress.  I guess that makes some sense... it's not really something that Merida wore or would wear, but it's an example of being able to kick some ass even though you're wearing a sparkly dress, and I can totally see some gender assumption twisting potential in there.  I can get behind that.  I can be girly and still be a badass.

Oh... right.  Apparently it's an accessories-sold-separately kind of deal.  I still don't see how a generic dress can qualify as a Merida costume sans bow, but okay.  

I fully admit that I'm not inclined to spend hours thoroughly searching the Disney site, but while I can find ways to purchase the sandals and tiara shown on the kiddo, there liter-freaking-ally does not appear to be a toy bow anywhere on this site.  There is a random light-up magic wand, which I can think of no way to tie to anything in the movie.  It's not that I'm craving violent toys, as that's a whole different conversation.  But the bow is a critical part of who Merida is and what she does and what she stands for.  Leaving that out is meaningful.  

You can buy a sword, axe, and mace set, presumably to give to your boy-children so they can pretend to be Brave defenders of castles and go bear-hunting, while your girl-children sit around in boring sparkly dresses, learning to internalize the values of the patriarchy. 

*These statements about the wikipedia page were true as of May 21, 2013.  They may change in the future, and I sincerely hope they do. 


Edit: Oh, that image on wikipedia?  Yeah, it has no revision history whatsoever, so it's impossible to revert it to the original CG one.  Disney sort of rewrote wiki history.  Goddammit, Disney. 

the ironest of mans


I actually kinda want to see Iron Man 3 now.

Movies passing the Bechdel test?  Rather awesome.

Ye gods, I hate how low the bar is.  But I'll take what I can get.

Monday, May 20, 2013

in which I weep for humanity ( aka AUGH part two)

(Part 1)

Apparently a third military dude in the last two weeks who just-so-happened to be tasked with sexual assault prevention is facing charges.

I'm just going to quote Fannie, here, for summarizing a core issue so succinctly:

''War is, in principle and practice, the violation of boundaries, albeit for some purported greater good and even though the people waging it might be good people in many contexts. Having legitimated the practice of violence and boundary violating, it should not be a surprise that those who are trained in it sometimes fail to distinguish who is and is not deserving of having their boundaries violated."

Yeah.  There is that. 

old stuff: old friend

During a recent spring cleaning campaign, I stumbled upon a stash of bulky things I was hanging on only due to sentimentality.  I'm working on releasing my attachment to stuff, and so am cataloguing these memory-evoking but technically useless and non-decorative items and then releasing them on their way.  


Aside from standard childhood shenanigans, I was an almost compulsively well-behaved kid.  The idea of committing a social faux pas would completely paralyze me in fear.  I had an incredibly deep-seated need to be liked, and would only step out of line when I felt extremely safe. 

This fearful polite behavior, as one might expect, would occasionally build up and be kind of stressful.  I'm guessing that's why I adopted a very silly habit. 

Rebecca: a strange child's alter-ego puppet

Meet Rebecca.  Rebecca is a raccoon hand puppet, and for years was my official Alter Ego (TM).  She was voiced by laughably transparent and squeaky ventriloquism, and liked getting into people's faces.  I would insist that people interact with her directly instead of talking to me. 

She made it a habit to be as annoying and obnoxious as possible, likely to contrast my own demeanor.  My mother once commented that 'irritating' was the puppet's middle name, a statement that I took literally.  Thereafter, she would endlessly introduce herself as Rebecca the Irritating Raccoon. 

She used to have a nose, but I remember shattering it by banging Rebecca's face onto the back of the home team dugout at a minor league game one summer.  I have no idea why the face banging.  Rebecca's ways were pretty mysterious. 

I have no clue as to the origin of the brownish stains on her left ear.  

A fair amount of the stuffing seems to be missing from her head.  

In short, this was one well-loved and consequently now extremely ratty hand puppet.  It's actually kind of disgusting at this point.   Rebecca was an important part of my childhood (bizarre though she was), but I don't need the physical falling-apart, stained, broken. slightly smelly puppet to remind me of that.  I have pictures!  See, up there at the top of this post!

So, Rebecca, it's time to set you free.  You don't need to sit around in a trunk in my garage just to remind me of a very silly aspect of my past. 

The trouble is that I'm not sure how to do that.  She's certainly not in good enough shape for any other child to want her.  I'd feel pretty weird putting an old friend, disgusting or no, in the garbage.  She's made of synthetic material, so probably wouldn't burn very well.  

So, readers... any ideas?

Friday, May 17, 2013

bento friday: using-stuff-up edition

Meal planning is a wonderful thing.  You make lists of exactly what your family is going to eat for every meal, coordinating with sales and coupons, and then shop for precisely what's on your list and no more.  Then at the end of the week, there's no waste and everyone's happy.

Does anyone actually manage to do that?  I'd be awfully impressed.  It sounds like a beautiful system, but seems to be marred by human fallibility.  I try sometimes, but inevitably wind up simply buying whatever looks tasty at the market and then having to spontaneously generate meal ideas from what's sitting around.  And something gets forgotten, and then suddenly there's a disturbingly moldy cucumber languishing in the bottom of the crisper.

On the plus side, bento is a singularly spectacular mechanism for dealing with forgotten bits and pieces.  Go some random still-food-but-just-barely lunchmeat?  Chop and add to fried rice*.  Sad greens?  Enough sesame oil covers a multitude of sins.  Borderline slimy mushrooms?  Delicious in everything.

Consider this yellow squash.  After being out of town for a week, I looked through the fridge and realized that while we'd tried to use up perishables before vacating, there was one lonely and slightly shriveled squash in the drawer.  Poor thing.

sad squash gets new life

I summarily chopped it up and sautéed it, along with some fresh broccoli, in chili sesame oil and plenty of Sriracha**, and paired it with rice with some frozen leftover ham and some green onions.  It was downright delicious, if a bit spicier than I'd expected.  But then, one of the beauties of trying different combinations all the time and making up recipes as I go is that we get to experience a big range of flavors in manageable lunch-sized portions.  Experimenting with dinners often results in tubs of leftovers that then must be eaten whether you liked the dish or not.  But a lunch? Even if it's sub-par, so what?  It's just a lunch.  I overcooked the broccoli a little in this one, so it was kinda limp and greyish.  Oops.  Lesson learned, with pretty minimal harm done.

Anyway, the point of this is that bento is a great way to use up random otherwise-perplexing small amounts of just about anything.

* Heating properly to make it bento-safe, of course. 

** Have I mentioned lately that Sriracha is amazing?  Sriracha is amazing. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013


[Content note for sexual assault, and rampant use of all-caps internet-yelling]

Last night on my drive home from work, NPR ran a story about sexual assault 'scandals' in the military.  Apparently in addition to the recent sexual assault prevention Air Force officer being arrested for (wait for it) sexual assault, a Fort Hood Army officer in charge of sexual assault prevention and victim counseling is now under investigation for (surprise surprise) sexual assault.

Man, that's a lot of sexual assault in one sentence. 

So.  I'm not even going to address the main story, other than to comment on how I am amazed that anyone can talk about this topic without screaming.  


If there's a better exhibit of why this is a cultural problem that can't be fixed by little sound bytes and lip service, I don't know of it.  Anyway, my hat's off to Melissa Block for somehow managing to conduct this interview without exploding.  

What I want to talk about is this.  The interview addressed the sexual assault prevention training that the military is running, and ran a clip from a bystander-intervention-encouraging video.  Now, I'm all about pointing out to dudes that THEM PERSONALLY not raping anyone at the moment is not enough.  This is not an individual problem that would be fixed if only we could weed out those few 'bad apples.'  This is a systemic, cultural problem, and the predators are depending on the other dudes' silence in order to get away with (and get implicit approval for) their heinous actions.  YOUR SILENCE MATTERS.  Speak up!  Don't let people get away with this shit!  So let's see what the fancy sexual assault prevention campaign has come up with to convey that women are people and you should speak up because predators will interpret your silence as encouragement (and yes, people of all genders are victimized at times, but this piece seems to be pretty heteronormative so that's presumably the most relevant message at the moment.  One step at a time, I guess, as much as I hate that these steps are even necessary)!

Here's the transcript (emphasis mine, and I've changed the names from 'unidentified man' to something more appropriate):

Dudebro #1: Check out Chris. He's making a fool of himself. 
Dudebro #2: Dude, that girl's trying to leave and he keeps grabbing her. Man, that's all we need is to get put on lockdown again. 
Dudebro #1: Yeah.


No!  That's not... I just... I hate everything.

CLEARLY the ONLY POSSIBLE reason to want to prevent BODILY ASSAULT is because it might inconvenience YOU.  Not, like, because you'd be PREVENTING A CRIME.  Because gosh darn it, those pesky people might punish the person COMMITTING A CRIME, and that might be annoying.  Consequences are so tiresome.

Or perhaps more realistically, the people making this video thought that would be the only reason that would be accessible to, and resonate with, the young military dudes at whom the training is targeted.  They're seriously saying that young men are so incredibly devoid of humanity and empathy that they're unable to see horrific victimization as horrific, and so it must be filtered through a little prism that casts it into terms their widdle bwains can comprehend.  Namely, that the fallout might be inconvenient and might get onto them a little.  Because someone somewhere DOES give a shit about the victim and the crime, presumably.  That person (whom I guess we must presume to be female) might even see the victim as an ACTUAL HUMAN BEING.  But that would be WAY too much to ask of your poor little military dudes.

What.  The.  Fuck.

To all you male and male-identified people, why are you not screaming about this?  That is some of the most fucking insulting shit I've seen in a while.  Presuming that you are literally incapable of caring about another person, so the only (or perhaps best) reason for speaking up against blatant predation is because it might be mildly inconvenient?  Now THIS is actual real-life misandry.  And this feminist, for one, is pissed as hell about it.  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, patriarchy.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

today in marriage equality: Minnesota

Minnesota is joining the chorus of states passing legislation to allow same-sex marriage.

Woo! This marks a push from coastal states inland to the midwest, a most encouraging direction.

From the link:
[Critics of the measure said that] other states were not likely to follow Minnesota’s lead in a sudden wave of legislative changes.

I wouldn't bet on that, guys.  Ever hear of the phrase 'critical mass' when applied to social movements?  Maybe they won't be specifically following Minnesota, but every bit helps, and it's downright silly to pretend that another state putting its weight behind the movement is somehow irrelevant.  

It's damn relevant.  Congratulations, Minnesota.  

Edited to add: fighting vehemently against a piece of legislation and then suddenly trying to trivialize its significance by claiming that it won't matter anyway, in addition to being a pretty transparent way to not admit defeat, also ignores and invisibles the difference the bill does make.  I guarantee that the people pushing and publicizing and supporting the measure were not doing it solely so that suddenly other states would do it too as though it doesn't matter until absolutely everyone is on board.  I strongly suspect that a big part of their motivation was the Actual Real Live Minnesotans who will now be able to marry their beloveds.  These people exist, and their lives are significantly impacted for the better by this, and it's pretty insulting to pretend otherwise or to minimize this effect. 

Anyway, the point is: we see what you did there.  

Also, YAY for all the Minnesotans who can feel that much more accepted into their societies.  This inclusion thing is awesome. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

old stuff: graduation swag

Recently, Husband and I undertook a spring cleaning campaign.  Which is to say that we beat back the piles of stuff that were taking over the garage, and can now actually navigate through the space without leaping over boxes and open car doors without smacking into Stuff Mountain.

As I side note, can I talk about how amazing it is to be able to actually park in one's garage?  I've had garages before, but they were always storage spaces, and having them be car-spaces is incredible.  Three words: no ice scraping.

But anyway, in this process I came across some old crap I was keeping around for purely nostalgic reasons.  Now, nostalgia is good, and memories are good.  But do I really need a box of stuff I never look at just to commemorate something?  Not really.  A picture will evoke the same memory, really.  So hey, look!  Pictures!

I'm going to go through a few of the unnecessary and purely nostalgic mementos that I came across and will be disposing of in one way or another in order to make space.

glue and glitter for grown-ups!

Exhibit A: my graduation caps.  I graduated twice with my two different undergraduate degrees, so I got to wear two outfits.  And being me, I decorated the hell outta those hats.  The super glittery one was from a math degree, and the black circles were supposed to represent the symbol for 'therefore.'  Get it, anyone?  Like when you prove stuff?  Therefore graduating?  Therefore?  Anyone?


Okay, so maybe it wasn't the best execution.  And I'm a nerd.  But I was the only one there rocking a glitter-tastic hat edged in six-inch purple fringe, bitches.  Oh yeah.

pretty flippin' fabulous, if you ask me

The other, flora-ridden one signified my environmental science degree.  A friend and I totally had matching tacky-silk-flower hats, too.  ALL THE TACKINESS!  Ha.

Anyway, these things are just taking up space at this point.  So I'll keep my tassles and honors cords (maybe repurpose those as curtain ties someday?  I dunno.), but do, um, something with the hats.  Maybe find a kid who likes dress-up and would groove on silly graduation hats?

I had a point!  Right.  The point is that storing bulky sentimental items is silly; you never get around to looking at them anyway, and have to deal with awkward stuff storage.  However, we humans do have a pesky tendency to get attached to our clutter, and this problem is only exacerbated when the item has a special personal-history significance.  That super-ugly throw blanket your Aunt Edna gave you for your wedding, the ratty picture your kid drew twenty years ago, the angsty journals full of teenage poetry.  And in the case of Aunt Edna, you get guilt on top of the sentimentality; what if she somehow KNEW that you got rid of a gift?  You are therefore obligated to keep forever any thing and anyone else decides should be in your house.

Bullshit.  I decide what goes in my house.  And stuff can never replace people and memories.  You swill always have the memories, with or without the stuff.

And these hats?  I enjoyed the heck outta them, but I'm not going to need them again.  I'll set them free.

It feels pretty damn good, really.


Edit: holy crap, this is my 100th post.  Go, me!  And you, for reading!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

today in marriage equality

Yesterday Delaware added its mass (however small that literal measure might be) to the marriage equality momentum going on.  It became the 11th U.S. state to accept same-sex marriage yesterday.  Go Delaware for joining the 21st century!

During three hours of emotional debate before the vote Tuesday, State Senator Karen Peterson, a Democrat, said she had lived with a female partner for 24 years, and she challenged opponents of extending marriage to gay couples. “If my happiness somehow demeans or diminishes your marriage, then you need to work on your marriage,” she said, eliciting cheers and laughter.

Yup.   Marriage should not be this magical members-only club that only Super Special Privileged People get to partake in.  My marriage is in no way diminished by allowing other people to declare their love for each other.  Seems to me that it's enhanced by that.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

back in the saddle, and some fabulous

This space hasn't updated for a while due to a pesky lineup of out of town trips.  But, I'm back!  And to celebrate, you should totally watch this awesome fabulous thing of the day: a public service announcement from George Takei on marriage equality.