Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I just got back from Waitress, a movie I originally agreed to see for somewhat-less-than-intellectual reasons (namely, if I go see movies that feature Nathan Fillion, Nathan Fillion will continue to make movies, thereby increasing my chances of seeing him without a shirt on). (Hello, Nathan Fillion. I'm pretty sure you are married, but personally, I don't tend to get hung up on archaic notions like monogamy. Just so you know.)

I am not a chick-flick kind of person, so I wasn't expecting to identify with the premise of the movie much. Personally, I think many movies specifically marketed at women are designed to reinforce harmful stereotypes - women who are saved from their vicious, workaday world by the love of a good man; women who, upon being saddled with someone else's children, come to realize that motherhood is their true calling, not the career they had worked so hard at over the past years; women who realize that the best way to fit into society is to look inward and change themselves, rather than look outward and change society. (For more details and/or examples, check out Susan Faludi's Backlash. Actually, even if you don't want details or examples, you should read Backlash.) When asked, a friend described Waitress to me as "the movie where Keri Russell bakes pies and hates her husband", and if there were a single sentence that encompasses the patriarchy better, by God, I don't know what it would say. Women, get back in the kitchen and seethe. It is your rightful place.

To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a gross understatement. The movie is chock-fucking-full of feminism! It's a modern marvel! It should be required viewing for all women! I have used up my daily quota of exclamation points!

Adrienne Shelly includes statements that I did not think one could make in movies and still make money off them. Case in point: at one point, Keri Russell refers to her fetus as a "parasite" - not as a pejorative, per se, because she makes very clear that she intends to keep the baby
- but as a statement of medical fact. No one intervenes to "correct" her on this point; no one argues with her or makes her feel any less for having made a factual statement. And Shelly's point is clear: it is possible for a woman to be pregnant, want to have a baby, want what's best for the baby, and still legitimately regard it as something other than a "snowflake angel", or whatever the new wingnutty term for fetuses is nowadays.

It extends beyond fetuses, the feminism, and into Keri Russell's relationships with the two significant men in her life: the doctor she has an affair with (Nathan Fillion) and her husband (Jeremy Sisto). Sisto's character is a perfect distillation of Nice Guy, never above knocking Russell around a bit for such high crimes as hiding money around the house. At one point, during an argument, a sobbing Sisto tells Russell, "you're the only person who ever belonged to me".

And that's just it. The crux of Russell's unhappiness in the movie is her being forced to play the role of someone who belongs to someone else; her love for Fillion arises from being treated like a person, being listened to. It is an audacious claim for a woman under the patriarchy to make, saying that she deserves to be listened to, and Shelly makes it over and over again.

The irony is, of course, that Shelly was murdered before the movie was released.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Reasons I Should Probably Complain Less About My Job

1. When I woke up at 8:50 this morning, immediately after realizing that I had forgotten to turn on my alarm the night before, my second thought was not "oh crap, I'm going to be late and I'm so fired", but "oh crap, I'm going to be late and miss all the free donuts".

2. Today, after leaving work, I went to another part of work that has gardens (one of which is mine) and a cow (which is not mine).

3. The last mandatory meeting I went to was held at a bowling lane. The subject: bowling.

4. Sometimes I don't wear shoes to work. Nobody cares.

5. The most stringent criticism I can make of my building's decor is "that gargoyle is not intricate enough".

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My Brother's Keeper

My friend Louie is everyone's brother.

You don't really hear "brother" or "sister" used as a greeting in the United States, or at least not in the parts I've frequented. This probably has to do in part with plain old WASPy emotional awkwardness imported from the Old World - hell, in my family it's hard enough to get us to acknowledge our relationship with the people we're actually related to, let alone adopt strangers from off the street. Brothers? Sisters? People in whom we are supposed to invest a shared sentiment of well-being? Hecks no! We don't do that around here.

The Protestant work ethic is the other part of it, I think. Blood brothers and sisters share our genes. Their biological success is our biological success. So we help them, sometimes to the detriment of our own happiness, because to do so increases the chance of success for the bloodline as a whole. And this nation, to the extent to which it has swallowed Randian capitalism, abhors the thought of helping others to the detriment of our own happiness. We do not name brothers so that we can name opponents, slaves, invaders.

This theory makes my life a little bit easier, because it allows me to blame my initial reaction to Louie on my honkitude rather than my idiocy. Picture it, if you will: me, in my first few weeks of college, full of half-baked theories about my own emotional intelligence, cringing at being called "sister" by the first-floor RA. "I'm not his sister. He doesn't even know my name. Gawwwwwwwd."

But the thing is, as I found out about seven years ago next month, having a brother grows on you pretty quickly. This is especially true when the brother in question greets you every day with a full-arm wave, a hug, and a big grin that pushes his glasses up his nose as he asks "And how are you, Sister Allison?" This is especially true when the brother in question will come into the commons room and talk with you, even when you know he has a paper due that week. This is especially true when you too become an RA, and he takes time to listen as you complain about your job. This is especially true when you are in the middle of a devastating breakup, and he will touch you gently on the shoulder as you pass in the hallway, just to let you know he is there.

This is especially true when he does these things not only for you, but for every other brother and sister he meets. This is especially true when he treats every sister as a sister, and every brother as a brother.

In exchange, I hugged back. In exchange, I allowed him to listen. In exchange, I gave him extra strawberries in his smoothies, because I thought that was what sisters do.


I worked a lot in college. It was convenient for me to do so not only because of the money, but because of all the chances it gave me to make excuses not to do things I was too much of a misanthrope to want to participate in. Being at Trinity three or four nights out of the week seriously cut down on my ability to go to parties, demonstrations, panels, speeches, and various other activities my time would probably have been better spent on. Thus, it was a continuation of a pattern of behavior, not any extraordinary assholery in itself, that led me not to go to watch Louie testify about his life that one night during my freshman year. I had to work. I couldn't not go to work, right?

So it was by word of mouth that I heard that my friend Louie had been politically active as a teenager in Haiti. By word of mouth I heard the words of his mouth, broadcast over the radio after the first ouster of Aristide: "Democracy is a form of government in which everyone has the right to speak out. If we do not know what the word means, then we should not use it". By word of mouth I heard that the army had come for him, that he had run from his home, that he had walked for three days and nights until he couldn't go any further, that he had fallen asleep under some trees and woken up to a man with a machete standing over him. By word of mouth I heard that he had gained political asylum in Florida, that he had washed dishes at a Chili's, that he had gone to college and then divinity school on scholarships. I heard these things by word of mouth because, on the night when I could have been a sister to Louie as he had been a brother to me, I went to work.


Some guy whose last name I happen to share wrote this post today. It's a pretty good one, and it's about Haiti. I thought of Louie while I was reading it. I hadn't thought of him for a while - he graduated two years before I did, and I haven't seen him since. So I Googled him and found this, and in listening, remembered the things he said I did not listen to.

When we lived face-to-face, I was not Louie's sister. But for five minutes today, I hope I was his keeper, as he named me to be.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Allison's Handy Guide to the Movie "Platoon".

1. Something is wrong with Tom Berenger's face. Could this be a symbol for some sort of malignancy in his soul? Heavens, no.

2. It doesn't matter how good of a character you cast him as; Willem Dafoe will always look evil. But you can respect him anyway, because he took a crack at Tom Berenger's busted-up face.

3. Everybody dies except for Charlie Sheen. This is sad, because of all the actors in this movie, Charlie Sheen would have been the one I would have picked to kill off.

4. Overwrought string music makes a scene emotional, even if it's just recaps of footage you saw half an hour ago.

5. The end.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I was reading random people's blogs tonight and remembered that Beth had a blogspot, but couldn't remember the exact URL - just that it had the word "violet" in it somewhere. So I Googled "violet beth blog", and this was the second result.

Ok! Where's Kevin Bacon?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Best Salmon Ever

(adapted from allrecipes)

1 lb salmon fillet


1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 tsp garlic salt (or 1/8 tsp garlic powder and 1/8 tsp salt, if you're unprepared)
1/8 tsp pepper


Mix all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place salmon, wrapped in tin foil, in a small baking dish. Unwrap tinfoil enough to pour marinade on salmon. Marinate salmon for 30 mins, turning once.

While you're waiting, preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Unwrap salmon from tin foil. Place in oven* and bake for 10 minutes, or until you smell something burning.

Open oven to see that marinade has formed a vile, smoking crust over bottom of baking dish. Check salmon. It will not be done yet.

Grab a spoon and attempt to transfer the most egregiously stinky marinade to the sink.

Fling marinade around room. It's made out of maple syrup. It's not going to transfer anywhere.

Bake salmon for 5 more mins.


Remove salmon from oven. Check for doneness. Now check for flavor. See? It is delicious.

*if you actually know how to cook fish, feel free to start following your own directions here.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

I Have Forgotten How to Write

but here is a video of extreme cuteitude!:

and here is another!:

My inability to get a kitten has become the bane of my existence, and I tire of waiting for the animal shelter to get a parakeet I can adopt.

I come home every night and try to write a post for you, but I get tired. Someday I will be less tired and then I will have something to say. Look out for that!