Remember to vote…

…but not just for political office.

The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), is the largest and oldest rape crisis center in Massachusetts. They serve the metro-Boston area and they do absolutely amazing work. They provide a 24-hour hot line for callers in crisis to reach a trained, caring human being; they also provide advocates to go with survivors to the hospital, to court, talk to police, and so on. They provide outreach into the community, going to schools, events, speaking with law enforcement, etc, helping to educate about the reality of rape and sexual violence. RCCs make such a huge difference in both helping survivors and providing valuable education, and BARCC is exemplary.

The work that BARCC does in our community is very important and very real. They have only a minuscule paid stuff, with a large part of the work (including the hot line, advocates, and community outreach) being done by incredibly dedicated, hard-working volunteers. All of the volunteers go through a 40-hour training program, and they continue to be involved in further training and supervision throughout their time with the center. Running the center is not an inexpensive proposition, and how much they are able to do is directly impacted by how much money they have. The Classy Awards represent an opportunity for BARCC to win some more funding to help them further their mission.

Please go to the Classy Awards and vote for BARCC. They are up for the vote in several categories, so please make sure you check out the whole page and support them wherever they’re up (also support some of the other great Boston non-profits, of course!).

The voting is open through November 5th, so please share this with anyone you may know who would be willing to vote. This is such an important opportunity for BARCC and it will only take a few seconds to cast your vote. Thank you!


11/02/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

A Weekend In Nerd Paradise

Well, it’s been a while, but I’m finally up and posting again. I’ve been crazy sick for a while now, and today I was finally out of bed again. Hooray for that. Anyways, over Labor Day weekend, I went to Atlanta, GA, for my annual pilgrimage to the geek mecca that is Dragon*Con. Dragon*Con is one of the largest conventions on the East Coast, and I’d argue that we have the most fun. There’s drinking, parties, concerts, incredible programming, and just a whole lot of ridiculous good times to be had.

I attended several amazing panels this year, and as much as I’d love to write a post on each one, I know that I won’t, so I’m going to try to fit my entire D*C rundown into one post. We’ll see how that goes.

Comics in Education: I attended a great panel on Friday in the Dragon*Con Academics track. This panel discussed the use of comics in the classroom. I was so excited about this panel, and while the panelists had a lot of good stuff to say, I was a little disappointed by how they seemed to focus exclusively on college-level classroom use. There was a great discussion about how students can best annotate pages of graphic novels, because that is a significant concern. Bringing images into a normally text-centric classroom definitely requires a different approach. However, in the case of many of us in the audience, we’re coming from the perspective of public high school classrooms, which means that students do not have their own copies of texts, and we cannot rationally ask them to obtain them. So, we have to consider how we can get our students to take effective notes and how much we can supplement with photocopies and handouts. Regardless, there was great discussion going on in the panel (which I regrettably had to leave early due to an obligation to be at a photoshoot), and I can’t wait to see what the track comes up with next year. I’m hoping to get some continued discussion going on through the internet between now and then.

Comics, Gender, and the Body: Another gem from the Dragon*Con Academics track. That has to be my new favorite track, and I’m really hoping to submit when they put forth the call for proposals for next year. Anyways, this panel was just phenomenal. One of the presenters discussed the gendering of superpowers, another discussed why the Invisible Woman is invisible. The discussion that followed was just amazing as well, and we ended up getting kicked out of the room so that the next panel could fill in. What a great panel experience! I’m hoping to look at some of this a little bit more in depth in my “Superwomen, vampires, and cyborgs” class this semester.

Battlestar Galactica: I went to one of the several BSG cast panels during the weekend. They were all amazing (I watched many of them when they were re-broadcast on the Con TV station), and the one I attended was just exceptional. There were brilliant questions about gender, politics, and religion, and the cast was intelligent and fun. One of the most interesting moments, though, was when someone brought up a moment in Season 4 when Chief kills Tori. Aaron Douglas, who plays Chief, commented on how everyone always flips out about that and he gets criticized for celebrating violence against women. First off, I don’t feel that’s accurate–the motivation behind the murder is revenge for Tori having killed his wife. The violent act was performed against a woman, but it wasn’t motivated by her being a woman; it was motivated by his desire to get revenge for his wife’s murder. It was irrelevant whether Tori was male or female. There were several instances of gendered violence, however, and those were almost always portrayed in a very negative light. I’m actually a huge fan of how Galactica portrays gender and gender relations. It’s far from perfect, but I also think that was part of the point; they make the point over and over throughout the series how flawed humanity is and how much we need to improve, and I often see evidence that issues of gender is one of those improvements they want us to look at. I’m hugely biased in all this, though, as I’m such as BSG fangirl and I hope to someday write a dissertation on the show. Anyways, after Aaron Douglas brought that up, Edward James Olmos, aka Admiral Adama, mentioned that any time we portray any violence on TV, we are in effect elevating and glamorizing/celebrating it, and that’s something we should always keep in mind. Brilliant. Such a fantastic panel!

Plus there was an adorable public proposal that was just too cute. 🙂

Anyways, this year’s Con was just huge.  There was also a college football game going on in Atlanta and tons of football fans decided to crash the D*C party. So this year there was an exceptionally high rate of women having problems with unwanted attentions, and some women even had to resort to physical retaliation to get men off of them. I myself had some experiences that really surprised me, as D*C is generally very much a safe space–we’re one big family of geeks and we’re good to each other. For the most part, the “problem people” were not wearing con badges.

So, the really cool thing that’s happening because of this is some grassroots activism. On assorted D*C related forums, people are talking about it. Someone printed up a ton of ribbons to attach to con badges that are brightly colored and say “back up!” so that next year, women can attach those to their badges to indicate to other people that if they’re having problems with inappropriate behavior, they can signal a back up badge person and they’ll come over to help. People have been writing (very polite, considerate) letters to Dragon*Con staff and the host hotels, and people have been writing back. There’s been a huge push of awareness, support within the community, and responsiveness on the part of the “powers that be.”

It’s really inspiring. I’m so happy to be part of a community that is so caring and active. This year’s Con was great, and I know next year’s will be even better. I can’t wait to wear my ribbon with pride and hopefully present at the Dragon*Con Academics track. Power to the geeky people!

Ed. Note: I’ll probably post a lot more about D*C in the coming weeks as I recover from being sick, so please accept my apologies for this poorly written post, but sometimes you just gotta go with what you’ve got!

09/14/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Vegan Weekend Warrior: The Reckoning

Great success!

The Vegan Weekend was a great success!

I ate really well and felt really good the entire weekend. Everything I ate was freaking delicious and satisfying. I didn’t really struggle with any cravings (I hate when I eat a meal and then only a little later, I feel like my blood sugar is crashing). It was, over all, a great weekend for food. Plus I biked almost 30 miles, got some sun, bought about 15 pounds of fruits and veggies at Haymarket, did some sewing, watched some Farscape, and did some serious cleaning in my apartment.

Anyways, here’s a rundown of what I ate:

Friday: breakfast of coffee with chocolate soymilk, pecan praline granola; lunch of a banana, green tea, and a protein bar; dinner of pan seared ginger teriyaki marinated tofu, red quinoa, spinach, and orange-infused dried cranberries, a glass of wine; late evening snack of a vegan ice cream sammich (om nom nom!)

Friday night dinner!

Saturday: breakfast smoothie of a banana, a kiwi, vanilla soy milk, and flax seeds, a slice of toast with apricot jelly; lunch of salad, raisins, and cranberry juice (okay, that was kind of lame, but I was volunteering at a blood drive (I gave blood while dressed as Princess Leia. I live a very normal life) and it was catered by Olive Garden. I needed to eat SOMETHING or I was going to pass out from giving blood, but salad was the only option. Olive Garden isn’t exactly what you’d call veg-friendly); dinner of vegetable ratatouille, ciabatta, lemonade; dessert of vegan gluten-free almond cupcakes with chocolate almond frosting.

Cuppycakes! Bad photography!

My cupcakes were a huge success. My sister is gluten-intolerant, so I wanted to make something she could eat. I adapted the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, adjusting to make them a little more almondy because I like almond, and likewise with the frosting. The frosting was chocolate “buttercream,” and was the only thing I was really worried about. I mean, I swear by buttercream frosting.

I have to say, after these cupcakes, I will probably never make normal buttercream again. The frosting was so rich, so creamy, so delicious… We had a ton of leftover frosting, and we kept just taking fingerfulls of it because it was SO GOOD. My sister said it reminded her of chocolate mousse. Oh it was so good.

The cupcakes were a wild success–even after I told everyone they were vegan, everyone still went back for a second. I consider that a win!

Sunday: late brunch of Chesapeake tempeh cakes and iced coffee; dinner of pasta salad with wilted spinach, corn, and sweet onions, tossed in a nayonnaise/mustard/balsamic vinegar/herbes de Provence sauce, and a Blue Moon summer ale.


I got the tempehcakes and remoulade recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen, and you guys, IT IS SO GOOD. I have a ton of leftovers (those three little cakes were more than enough to power me through the day and 15 miles of biking and adventuring) which are currently in a tupperware in my office fridge with sliced red pepper, spinach, and some pitas. I’ll be eating tempehcake sammiches for lunch for the next two days. Fuck yeah.

Those were SO DELICIOUS. I strongly believe that everyone should make them and experience them because holy shit, they had to be one of the more wonderful things I’ve eaten in my life.

I love food. I love food that is creative and exciting and filling and healthy and conscientious of the world we live in. This weekend, I successfully enjoyed all of these things, with a particular elevation of my conscientiousness. I really enjoyed it. I loved the process of preparing my food, nibbling the veggies while I worked, the wonderful smells in my apartment, and I loved how good I felt eating everything.

I’m hammering out my exact food philosophy, but I have a feeling that within the walls of my apartment, it’s going to be more and more vegan (I have some cheese and eggs right now, and I’ll use them up because I can’t abide being wasteful, but I doubt I’ll buy more). I suspect that when it comes to going to friends’ houses, I’ll be fine with holding to vegetarian considerations–I know too many people who are grudging about even that much, and I’d rather slowly expose them through sharing and positive feelings than being militant.

Anyways, I had an awesome weekend. I’ll be back to talkin’ gender and layin’ the smackdown soon, but expect a little bit of reflection on foodie-ism as this continues. Just as where we choose to spend our money is part of everyday activism, so is what we consume in the literal sense.

I leave you with a photo of my beautiful Haymarket haul. This is what $12 will get you on a Saturday morning, except then you have to bike home with it all on your back. As it turns out, that is heavy. X-TREME GROCERY SHOPPING, yo.

That's 3 bunches green onions, a pound of baby spinach, a half pound bundle of fresh basil, a pound of bananas, three lemons, a pound of ginger, 4 sweet onions, 3 red bell peppers, a box blackberries, a box of raspberries, and four limes. We're gonna need a bigger fridge!

06/21/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Team Motherfucking EOWYN

Bitch, I will cut you.

I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy DVDs disturbingly often. I know them inside out, forward and backward, and I love the soundtrack, so whenever I’m doing something but want some background noise, I often throw it on.

Every time Eowyn is on the screen, I pretty much drop what I’m doing to pay attention and get a little choked up. I am not exaggerating that I get tears in my eyes when she declares to Aragorn that what she fears is a cage, or when she grabs Merry and pulls him into the saddle to ride to battle with her, and definitely when she rips off her helm and declares, “I am no man!” I don’t suppose anyone who reads here knows me well enough to know that basically nothing (excepting several bottles of wine) makes me cry. The fact that I feel emotion over this is big.

Eowyn… She is my character. She is who I rally behind, when LOTR, while brilliant, is a giant sausage fest. Who else do we have? Arwen? Oh please. I want to gag every time she comes on the screen. And then there’s what’s-her-face that Sam has a crush on but can’t talk to. Ah, superb, another “female as reason to fight” trope, and might I add that I don’t think she actually SPEAKS in the entire trilogy?

LOTR was written by a stodgy white dude long ago. I don’t begrudge it anything because it is AMAZING, and I love it. I’m not here to whine about the lack of ladies in LOTR, because I don’t care. (And in the films, Legolas and Aragorn look like ladies at the end anyways, cause it turns out that they are only manly when they don’t shower. So, whatevs.)

What really touches me is the humanity at the end of the story. There’s a moment in the film when the four hobbits are sitting around a table in the pub, holding their beers in complete silence, just looking down, while the world goes on around them. Beautifully done. And Frodo, Frodo can’t move past that table. He’s forever broken by what he experienced in the war; in leaving with the Elves, he is metaphorically killing himself.

In college, I read The Things They Carried, another instance of me crying. (It was awkward. I was sitting out on the grass of the university lawn by the pond, and crying like a baby. I think I scared some tours.) Frodo, and to a lesser extent the other hobbits, were all suffering from PTSD from the war. They were not the same, and Frodo would never readjust, so much so that he chose to leave his life.

I believe that Eowyn should have had a similar experience. She not only went to war and nearly died, but she was so determined to do so that she had to do it covertly. She triumphed greatly, but she also lost a lot. She saw and experienced deeply powerful things.

I am dissatisfied with the fact that she returns to “normal” life only to go, “Oh sure, I’ll just settle down and be all happy-sauce with Feramir! Yay, babies nao!”

NO. Eowyn has defied gender norms, defied her society, defied her family, and both won and lost greatly. I cannot see her, afraid of cages, settling down and going, “Well, I got my dose of valor. Time to be a homebody!” No. She CANNOT just settle down and be fine with that. She’s experienced too much. She’ll either wise up and run off before that happens, or she’ll find herself going stir crazy and eventually, like Frodo, “opting out” of her life.

And just like that, I have solved the conundrum of what will happen to my heroine in the sci-fi novel I’ve been working on for so long.

Dead white guys: sure, they’re often overrated, but on the other hand, they also gave us LOTR!

06/17/2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

What we need more of…

…is BDSM.

Hear me out. There’s a fantastic post over at Yes Means Yes! about the safe call. A safe call, in essence, is a pre-scheduled check in with a friend that BDSMers arrange when they’re going to meet someone. While stereotype dictates that BDSMers are up for anything and there’s nothing they won’t do, it turns out they’re a normal bunch–they too have lines, and People With Less Than Honorable Intentions lurk amongst them. So, when you’re going into a situation where you are going to be agreeing to things that have the potential to be Not Okay, it’s important to look out for your safety.

Slight tangent: basically everyone is familiar with the concept of the safe word these days, another safety precaution put in place by the BDSM community. Since BDSM relies very heavily on trust, making sure that participants feel safe is essential. Therefore, the safe word.

And, tangentially, the safe call. You’re putting a lot of faith in a stranger or casual acquaintance when you agree to engage in BDSM play with them–however, is it any less scary to engage in casual sex with a stranger of acquaintance? Rape is rape whether you’re tied up or not. Rapists can hide out in any community–the trappings of BDSM are not required to get into a circumstance where a rapist can easily find a target.

However, BDSMers are used to putting in safety precautions, such as the safe word (also, have you ever seen actual BDSM gear? I’m not talking Cosmo-said-it’d-be-hot-to-tie-up-my-man-so-I-bound-his-wrists-with-his-tie, I’m talking the stuff that people buy specifically for this purpose. It’s all designed with safety and preventing harm in mind. There’s quick releases, there’s padding, there’s material with give and breathability, hell, there’s candles with wax that won’t actually burn your skin. Sex is a sport, so always use proper safety equipment!). The safe call is a natural offshoot of that. I’ve fielded safe calls for friends, and I think they’re great.

As is covered in the linked post, this isn’t about making a person responsible for not being raped. It’s about giving the rapist a more hostile environment. It’s empowering, because it means that we can go out and have our hookups, regardless of how vanilla or kinky they may be, and we can know that we’re looking after ourselves, our friends can know that we’re safe (because believe it or not, we friends worry about you friends when you’re out!), and we can both know that if something DOES go wrong, we’ve got someone to fall back on and we can try to get the rapist caught.

I don’t think a safe call will necessarily STOP a rape. I don’t think it should ever enter into a rape trial that by NOT making a safe call, a victim had become responsible. That’s not the case at all. I think of a safe call as using a condom or setting a designated driver–have your fun, but make sure you do it safely! That’s all.

And, to be honest, I think almost all relationships should have a safe word (as well as a “go” word or signal–one of my friends had a necklace that she would put on whenever she wanted to hint to her boyfriend that she wanted to get busy. I think there’s something really sexy about that. The spontaneous jumping-your-bones is fun, too, but sex can be so much more than that!). The thing with a safe word is that you’ve agreed that it is an absolute.

There was a debate on a women’s health forum recently where a girl was repeatedly flicking/smacking her boyfriend’s face. He kept saying “stop that” and “if you do that one more time…” and finally after her doing it about ten times, he smacked her back and she got really upset. There was a strong division in the response. Some people were ready to pull out the axes and go after his head. Others took his side–she was all “I was just teasing him!” while commenters (myself included) said “So what? He was telling you to stop and you didn’t. While responding with a smack is not the best response, it was a visceral reaction of frustration that you wouldn’t listen to him.” And she insisted that when he was saying no, it was joking.

Sometimes, you need to make it clear to your significant other how you feel. Even if it’s just that they’re doing something that they think is cutesy flirtation (and I personally don’t think that there’s anything cutesy and flirtatious about hitting someone you love, regardless of the gender), if you want your partner to stop, they need to know your serious. Hence, safe word. Is it weird to pull that out in random situations? Maybe at first. But isn’t it kind of weird to exclaim, “PLATYPUS!” during sex? Well, yeah. But that’s the point–it’s out of context. It grabs attention. You stop. You consider what’s going on. You ask your partner what’s going on, and the two of you solve the problem at hand.

Because we do teasing things, and our culture is full of situations that can get messed up in translation. Friends flirt, and sometimes that leaves partners feel uncomfortable. What we think is harmless teasing can actually hurt. What starts out as “oh god I’ve had such a long day let me rant for a second” can turn into too much yelling. What we think is sexy nails-down-the-back might actually be drawing blood that wasn’t supposed to be drawn. Regardless of the context, sometimes we need to have a “hold up!” button to push.

For some of my friends, that “hold up!” button comes in the form of calling me. The good news is that no one has ever needed it, but it makes me feel good to know it’s there, and I hope it makes them feel good too.

Anyways, because I like to end Fridays on a good note, here’s a couple other things:

God I wish Sassy still existed. I don’t care if I’m too old for it. Which reminds me, I should really get around to reinstating my subscription to Bitch.

Speaking of Sassy, check out Thurston Moore’s dating advice to teenage girls. Punk rock boys, you make the rockin’ world go round.

And finally, lest we forget what is TRULY dangerous in this world, here is a reminder: it’s farting. “Listen sweetie, if you can’t control your ass, we’re going to have to get a divorce.” Aahh, if I had a dollar for every time I said that…

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day! Get a comic book. Love it, squeeze it, call it George. And make sure you get your comics from one of them rockin’ locally owned places!

04/30/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate women in technology.

Ada Lovelace was a supremely kickass lady back in the 1800s who wrote the first computer program! She based her notes, the early descriptions of software and programming languages, on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine.

Although women are making progress into the sciences and technology, there’s still a huge gap, and women also continue to face a great deal of discrimination and harassment. So take today to celebrate all our achievements, and encourage any kickass ladies you know in these fields and support any young’uns you know who want to pursue their dreams in science and technology!

03/24/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Rebel Girl, You Are the Queen of My World

So apparently over at the AV Club, there was a list of 17 well-intentioned feminist songs that didn’t quite land correctly. For the most part, I pretty much agree with the list (although I got a little sad when they derided Antiflag’s chorus of “this is what a feminist looks like/this is what a feminist sounds like” because that was one of the things we chanted at the March for Women’s Lives in New York City in 2004). Jezebel did a follow-up list, and I’d say that I agree with some of them.

Here’s a couple of my favorites (though by far not at all an exhaustive list). A lot of these aren’t particularly “anthemy,” and I tend to prefer things that rock a little harder, but these stuck out as some songs that didn’t make the list and might not usually get attention. I left off the “gimmes” like Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, Siouxie, and the Epoxies. Not because I don’t love them (I do! I’m listening to Bikini Kill right now!), but rather because I wanted to aim for at least slightly different voices. In no particular order…

Ciara, Like A Boy

Seriously underrated, people. Ciara and her back-up dancers dressed like boys and grabbing their crotches? Solid gold. I get a little hot and bothered every time I see it.

There’s also something to be said for an artist who is generally very formulaic and acceptably pop culture to pull out something like this. Baby, you make my heart beat faster.

Neko Case, Pretty Girls

It’s no secret that I have a big ol’ crush on Neko Case. She’s an incredibly talented musician, but she’s also a conscious citizen of the world. Nobody’s gettin’ Neko Case down.

I had a hard time picking just one song of hers, and ultimately decided on this one because I think it ties in with my post from yesterday. Stop writing off the pretty girls.

Northern State, Vicious Cycle

Northern State always gets such a mixed reception. Some people love them. Some people hate them. Some people think they sound like idiots. Some people rightly point out that the Beastie Boys really didn’t sound much better when they started out, so STFU. What they do well is have fun–the entire Dying in Stereo album is just plain fun. They work in their politics here and there, and “Vicious Cycle” is the most overt.

You gotta respect an all-girl rap group that can seamlessly work in the word “palimpsest.”

Camille, Je Ne Suis Pas Ta Chose

This song veers toward the “scorned lover” category, but I still love it. Camille sings entirely in French, but the refrain (“je ne suis pas ta chose”) translates to “I am not your thing” and she makes reference throughout the song to how she is not just something for this man to put his hands on and play with. I love Camille’s ethereal voice in general, and there’s something satisfying about singing along in a wispy voice to a song with hell of backbone.

Also, any song that demands to be listened to with a glass of red wine is pretty awesome in my book.

Mirah, Monument

This isn’t a directly feminist song, but I think it’s a song that everyone should have in their music library, no matter what their personal taste in music. Again, I like to rock a little harder, but sometimes you just feel small and you want to curl up on the couch under a blanket and whimper. That’s when I listen to this song. It’s like a soft, gentle injection of courage. It’s so smooth and easy that you don’t even realize your insides are getting reinforced while you listen. It’s a pretty great song.

And although I’ve posted this song before, it just needs to go up again…

Yelle, Mon Meilleur Ami

Another French one, I know. And I don’t just love this because her dress just needs a red boutonniere to look like the smiley from Watchmen. I fucking love this song. It is, get this, a love song to her vibrator.

The title, “My best friend,” is the subject of the song–the thing which guarantees infinite pleasure in bed, relieves stress, and can go anywhere with her! The only irritating thing is changing the batteries, of course. Yes, those are all lyrics. This song is goddamn awesome.

Yelle is pretty rad in general, and a lot of her songs carry strong feminist overtones. If you speak French or your up for a bit of translating, I highly recommend her music.

Extra credit: go watch her video for “A Cause Des Garcons” and delight in the dancing toiletries: Also? I totally want her sparkly dress from the end. How fantastic is that? On top of all that, the song is about how much we ladies go to ridiculous lengths for dudes, and the crazy things we do, including to each other. Yeah, I’ve got a bit of a trans-Atlantic crush on Yelle. What of it?

Find yourself some music that makes you wanna rock out and then get out there and rock out. Music is fuel, and music makes us dance–and dancing keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. So forth, righteous babes, and take a little time to rock out!

03/16/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

This… is… CAKETOWN!

It’s Friday. This morning, I biked to work and I’m spending most of the day sending silly emails to my mother, drinking green tea, and browsing the internet in search of the perfect bag (my military surplus bag is finally falling apart). I was going to write a serious post about education, literacy, and student empowerment. But you know what? Fuck it. It’s Friday. I’m wearing argyle panties. Today is not a day for being serious.

Instead, today I shall post the recipe for the goddamn delicious cake bars I made on Wednesday night while writing my qualitative research methods paper on the above serious topics. It’s important to intersperse your seriousness with dessert.

Almond Apricot Buttermilk Bars

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp or so vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup well shaken buttermilk
  • a whole slew of chopped dried apricots (about 3/4 of a cup)
  • another healthy slew of chopped almonds (probably like 1/2 a cup but you’ve chopped it down so tiny that it’s basically powder, but it was probably about 1 cup to start with)

You will need an oven capable of being 350F. Go ahead and get that going. Hell, go ahead and grease a dish while you’re at it. I used a 9×9″ square tin, but then again, I have a tupperware of leftover batter in my fridge. Learn from my mistakes, young grasshopper.

In a big ol’ bowl, mix together yr butter and yr sugar. Get it smooth and fluffy, or at least relatively homogenized. Crack the eggs and add them in one at a time, mixing in between. Add the vanilla. Take a deep whiff of the delicious scent of the vanilla. Mix it on in.

Add your flour and buttermilk, alternating as you go and mixing each time you add something. Every time you add flour, you are going to get an arm workout, because this is some intense batter. It will fight you. Fight back! At some point, throw in the baking soda. I think I tossed it in during the second cup of flour. Whatevs. Get everything mixed up real smooth.

At this point, it’s totally okay to eat a little bit of the batter. It’s so good. Try not to eat as much of it as I did.

Dump the almonds and apricots into the batter. Admire how pretty they look. Sigh mournfully, and then fold them into the batter.

Remember that pan you greased? Get that thang and FILL IT. I only filled mine halfway, which was smart, because it turns out this stuff will rise. Depending on how tall you want your bars to be, fill accordingly.

Put it in the oven! I baked mine for about  25 minutes, I think. Use your thinking brain powers to ascertain if it’s done or not. I like the poke-it-with-yr-finger-then-stab-it-with-a-toothpick method.

When they’re done, pull ’em out and let ’em cool. Then nom the everloving hell out of them. I enjoyed mine with a big mug of hot cocoa and a couple chapters of Inga Muscio’s Cunt: A Declaration of Independence.

Happy Friday! Go forth and subvert the hell out of that dominant paradigm this weekend, but remember to make time for dessert. Every good deed deserves a tasty reward. 🙂

03/05/2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Catholic Charities Doesn’t Discriminate, Hates Equally

What next, cats and dogs exchanging currency? Stop the insanity!

I really hate Facebook applications, and I particularly hate all those “sassy” bumper stickers people are posting with sayings like “I don’t discriminate, I hate everyone equally!” I realize I am a misanthropic jerk, but I still think those are stupid. However, if Catholic Charities of Washington, DC has a Facebook page, they should probably update it with that sticker.

As of today, gay marriage is legal in the District. Hooray! Victories! Right? Right?

WRONG. Because gay marriage is just, like, SO SCARY, Catholic Charities has decided to no longer provide benefits coverage to spouses of newly wed employees. Coincidentally, that policy starts today.

Huh. Couldn’t possibly be related, right?

No. Of course not. After all, Christianity is all about loving thy neighbor, helping, and forgiving. Why in the hell would a Catholic charity organization refuse health care to EVERY new spouse, simply on the small chance that there might be some gender congruence in the couplings? That just wouldn’t make any damn sense.

I still just don’t understand what’s so terrifying about gay marriage anyways. Is it that, given the opportunity, they think women would rather marry other women because men are so utterly unappealing? Is it because if two men marry each other, we will bump into the confusing issue of who will do the dishes and fold the laundry and make the sammiches? That if gay men start making their own sammiches, women might start expecting their heterosexual husbands to make their own goddamn sammiches too?

The foundations of my entire reality, they quake and shiver at such a thought. When will the madness end?!

I’m super-thrilled that DC has also approved same sex marriage. Every time we carve out another victory, that’s, well, another victory. Never mind the fact that we shouldn’t have to be fighting for this in the first place–it should be self fucking evident that who you love doesn’t change that you are a human being. Marriage may have started as religious institution, but in the glorious US of A where we have this neato thing called “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state,” marriage has morphed into a social institution. Unless it can return to being strictly religious–IE carrying no tax benefits, no hospital visitation rights, no special perks except a big thumbs up and a show of the pearly whites from your deity–then it must remain strictly social and it must be equal. This should not be a question. There should be no debate. It shouldn’t be a matter of celebration that on one more itty-bitty little piece of American soil, people are “allowed” to be full citizens of the country.

Fuck that noise.

And fuck you, Catholic Charities, for punishing the many for the sins of none. A victory has been won today that never should have had to be fought for and you have turned around and in response to love, you have institutionalized hate. Every time I get off because I’m thinking about a woman, I’m dedicating my orgasm to you and I’m sending Jesus a memo. He’ll be keeping track, just for you.

03/03/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Dudes: Now Slightly Safer To Try At Home

I have to admit, “how recently he’s had a needle in him” isn’t normally one of the first things I contemplate when considering a potential partner. This might change, though.

The FDA has approved the Gardasil vaccine for men and boys!

The vaccine, given via three doses over a six month period, will cover males ages 9 to 26, protecting against HPV types 6 and 11 (the kind that manifest as genital warts). I’m a little bummed that the vaccine only covers types 6 and 11 in men, when the vaccine for women covers 16 and 18 as well, which can lead to precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. I’d like it if my men were non-precancerous for my pleasure. However, it’s still exciting to see the vaccine approved for use for men, and I hope to start seeing men going out and getting it.

On the other hand, this is WAY overdue. Gardasil for women was initially approved in June of 2006. It should not have taken nearly four years to expand the vaccine to cover men as well.

From a purely selfish standpoint, now most of my friends don’t qualify. 4 years ago, when I was just shy of 21, it seemed like 26 was a perfectly reasonable ceiling. Now I’m only a year out from 26 and most of my friends are over that age mark, yet the majority of us are not in committed monogamous relationships, so an HPV vaccine would be really great. (For those who don’t remember or aren’t in the know, HPV is one of those STDs that isn’t fully prevented by condom use, even if you practice “perfect condom usage.”) We’re talking about a vaccine that can help prevent women from getting cancer–it shouldn’t have taken 4 years to get the vaccine approved for men, and they should be constantly expanding the age range of who can get the vaccine.

I’m happy that they’ve finally got approval for men; I was worried for a while that this would be like the elusive male birth control pill, which keeps getting promised, but never happens (because let’s face it, since us girlfolk have the uterus, it’s totally 100% our responsibility to keep from getting knocked up. The penis is basically irrelevant!). Men and carrying HPV, and if anything, it’s extra important to vaccinate them, because they are less likely to show any symptoms; genital warts represents only a tiny fraction of HPV cases, whereas huge numbers of women will get abnormal pap smear results from HPV. HPV is so prevalent that about 50%–half!–of all sexually active Americans will contact it at some point in their lives. Therefore, it’s absolutely integral that we do what we can to minimize the damages done. In the majority of cases, HPV will be cleaned out by the immune system and you’ll never even show any symptoms, but with such a high percentage of carriers, do you really want to risk ending up with a strain that leads to warts, lesions, or cancer?

Like I said, I’m happy that Gardasil is approved for men. However, it should have happened sooner, and it should be covering more strains. Let’s get on that second part, and while we’re at it, let’s expand the age range of both men and women who can get the vaccine. Then, for the icing on the cupcake, let’s make sure we give access to the vaccine to as many people as possible.

Now that’s a sexy world.

02/09/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

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