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2012 Holiday Guide

2012 Holiday Guide

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Published by: The Brown Daily Herald on Nov 29, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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N O VE M BE R 29

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Editor- and Editrix-in-Chief Clayton Aldern Jennie Young Carr Managing Editor of Features Zoë Hoffman Managing Editor of Arts & Culture Alexa Trearchis Managing Editor of Lifestyle Rémy Robert Features Editor Kathy Nguyen Arts & Culture Editors Claire Luchette Ben Resnik Lifestyle Editor Cassie Packard Serif Sheriff Clara Beyer Hamburger Helper Allison Hamburger Large Plaid Asian Phil Lai Staff Writers Lily Goodspeed Caitlin Kennedy Adam Davis Mintaka Angell Staff Illustrators Marissa Ilardi Madeleine Denman Adela Wu Sheila Sitaram

naked photo ^
3 upfront
pub(lishing) crawl // claire luchette ditching the pageantry // caitlin kennedy

The cast of the Third Annual Shakespeare on the Green Scenes Festival strips down to their skivvies and makes a scene. (Ha.)

4 features

algorithms and alchimie // rémy robert

5 arts & culture

monsters between the pages // jennie young carr holigays // MM

6 arts & culture 7 lifestyle 8 lifestyle 9 lifestyle

November is National Novel-Writing Month, perplexingly known as NaNoWriMo. Writing a novel is hard. But it can’t be that hard, right? Those things are everywhere. In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, Post- has recently decided to jump on the novel train to glory. Post- Magazine: Eclipsing the publishing sphere one medium at a time. We aspired to provide you with an excerpt from Post-’s novel-in-progress, which charts the adventures of a mid-twentieth century knitting cult’s struggle to make ends meet. However, we’ve run out of space, so we’ll leave you with this teaser: It’s a light-hearted, fun read with plenty of romance, adventure, and goat blood. Oh, happy holidays and stuff. novelistically and negligently,

editors’ note

what they’re all about // kristy choi

jennie and clay

illustrations by
Cover Madeleine Denman Pub(lishing) Crawl Grace Sun Ditching the Pageantry Adela Wu What They’re All About Elizabeth Berman Fried Figgy Pudding Marissa Ilardi Edible Offerings Grace Sun

fried figgy pudding // jane brendlinger edible offerings // rémy robert

mistletoe misgivings // the editors

10 lifestyle
brave, smart princesses // lily goodspeed post- it notes top ten



pub(lishing) crawl
i want to write these books
CLAIRE LUCHETTE arts & culture editor
I worked at a publishing company last summer. It was a great learning experience: I gained insight into how to make coffee with a Keurig, create a truly smashing spreadsheet, and arrive at work only 12 minutes after waking up without sacrificing dental hygiene and a trip to Dunkin’. But all cynicism aside, it was actually pretty cool to observe how an idea can mature into a book. I had the opportunity to observe the production process for several projects. The internship gave me a lot of motivation to work toward publishing my own book. Below are some of the ideas I came up with at my cubicle: The Case Against Yoga This book contains no scientific or spiritual evidence that yoga is not a worthwhile practice. Instead, I just complain about all the times I have been stressed out in yoga classes because I am competing with other women in leggings, just got a parking ticket, or accidentally found myself in the hot yoga class. Can I just say something about hot yoga? It is really horrible. It is like if you set a yoga class in the innermost circle of hell, with Lucifer wearing Lululemon. This book will offer alternatives to yoga, including hot tubs and naps. Strega Nona Meets Guy Remember how awesome Tomie dePaola’s protagonist is? Strega Nona is a veritable rock star of a broad: She cures warts, makes pasta, and finds husbands for lonely ladies. She has the culinary expertise of Remy the rat in Ratatouille, the moxie of Hillary Clinton, and the schnoz/chin combo of Sarah Jessica Parker. In this sequel, Strega’s gastronomical gusto meets its match. Who will win when Guy Fieri and Lady Nona face off in a cook-off? Spoiler alert: Strega, for obvious reasons. Plus, a romance ensues. Eat Pray Intravenous Fluids: My Tour of Indian Hospitals I am an expert in nothing if not the (morphine-induced) highs and (daal-induced) lows of visits to hospitals throughout India. Highlights of this book include the scenes in which I try to order Domino’s, shit the bed, and ask the nurse a question in Hindi that translates roughly to, “Great Obama you know?” With a preface by Julia Roberts. Is There A God? I, for one, would like to finally settle this one. The Diary of Claire Luchette: The Preteen Years Here, my battle with sleepwalking is finally made public, as is my long and grueling addiction to hair crimping. This diary tracks my maturation from first bra to first brawl, with a girl named Grace whose pants have the word “JUICY” printed on the rear. She cheats on a vocabulary test and I just. Will. Not. Stand. For that. My reign as school Scrabble champion also takes up a sizeable portion, and it transitions right into my brief tryst with a fellow Mathlete named Scooter. Moral struggles! Suspense! Flared cargo pants! This book has it all. Cooking with Matt Damon My fascination with Mr. Damon has been brewing for some time. His opinions about everything from coffee to teachers’ rights hugely inform my own. Finally, we get a collection of his favorite recipes.

What does Matt eat for breakfast? What does his wife, Luciana Bozán Barroso, make for him when he gets home from a long day of doing his own stunts? (I’m almost certain he does.) How does Matt grill a filet? Obviously, most of the content of this book is pictures: Matt throwing a football, Matt smiling over a plate of bacon, Matt folding a paper crane, Matt making coffee with a Keurig and serving you at your cubicle. Illustration by Grace Sun

ditching the pageantry
learning to act like myself
CAITLIN KENNEDY staff writer
end of our first dress rehearsal, “and I saw more than I would care to, if you know what I mean!” Rehearsing with Bob was bad, but auditioning for him was downright demoralizing. He commented on girls’ cup sizes and only cast females he considered “cute” in the title roles. By cute, Bob meant sexy—legs protruding from mini-skirts and boobs peeking out of unbuttoned blouses—but even he had enough decency to know that calling 15-yearold girls sexy was just asking for trouble. At 12, I was still young enough for Bob to find my goofy looks endearing. When I auditioned for the role of quirky ragamuffin Gladys Herdman, my mom mussed up my hair and I pranced hyperactively onto stage. I won the part without any trouble. My mom hated Bob, but she respected his influence as a prominent local director—and appreciated that he had cast me in the biggest part I’d ever had. My mother claimed her dream had foreshadowed my being cast: “He was just so impressed by your ears!” she chortled. This hurt my feelings. Stubby-limbed and baby-faced, I already had enough body issues without mention of my huge Dumbo ears. At school, the popular girls would approach me in the locker room and coo in a treacly tone that I was cute enough to be in kindergarten. Seething, I always wished I had the courage to scoff at their patronizing words, high ponytails, and pink training bras. Instead I remained silent, a stubborn grimace beneath my smile. When I was seven and performing in The Wizard of Oz, the teenager who played the role of Glinda smirked when I changed out of my munchkin costume, informing me that I had “masculine features.” I was lucky to be short, she said, because if I got any taller I would look even more like a man. Five years later, as an insecure 12-year-old tomboy, my own mother implying that I resembled one of Santa’s little helpers was the icing on the cake of my crumbling self-image. At my audition the next year, things got worse. Thirteen and “in between,” I was lanky and awkward. When I climbed onstage for my umpteenth Christmas Pageant audition, Bob acted like he didn’t recognize me. I read a few lines and he sent me on my way. I wasn’t cast. Without rehearsal every night, December dragged by. Next year, I decided, there was no way I would be excluded from Christmas Pageant. That’s when I realized that all I wanted for Christmas was to look like a girl. I bought blue eye shadow on clearance at Walgreens and used my fingers to smudge it over my eyelids. I looked like a nightmarish clown corpse, better suited for a Tim Burton movie than a feel-good holiday pageant. Strutting before Bob in wobbly heels, I felt like I was tiptoeing across a tightrope. He started to I was 12 years old and performing in a community theater production of Annie when my mother dreamed I was an elf. She told me about it on our way to rehearsal one evening, with me sprawled in the back of her minivan. The stench of my Happy Meal sank into the soda-stained upholstery as I belted an off-key rendition of “Tomorrow,” repeating the refrain over and over, a little louder each time. My mother clenched the steering wheel until her knuckles grew white. “Pipe down,” she said, “and listen to this dream I had the other night.” Her dream was about my upcoming audition for the annual community production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. In the show, the infamous, troublemaking Herdman family takes over a church production of the Nativity. The play’s heavy-handed Christian message—that Jesus loves everyone, even the poor kids—is somewhat eclipsed by its caricature of the six Herdman children as violent and just plain dumb. Written and directed by a local theater personality named Bob, my hometown’s version of the show played up the Herdmans’ slapstick stupidity so much that it was hard to take their transformation during the pageant scene seriously. Bob was a middle-aged lothario who dressed shabbily on purpose and laughed at all his own jokes. In rehearsal, he liked to crack jokes and do impressions of his actors—commentary devised more for his own entertainment than to serve as constructive criticism. “Today one actress forgot to wear her panties,” he declared delightedly at the

banter with me. “You’re pretty weird,” he said, and the next night he called to offer me a leading role. Despite its slapstick gimmicks and moralistic storyline, Christmas Pageant was about looking beyond outward appearance to see the good inside of people. But I didn’t learn that lesson until years later, when I discovered a renegade theater troupe where talent trumped beauty and the actors were every bit as weird as me: big-eared,big-mouthed, and, most importantly, big-hearted. As a 17-yearold, I celebrated the holidays by frequenting T.G.I. Fridays at midnight with a rowdy bunch of performers decades my senior. That was the first year I didn’t ask my mother to buy me makeup for Christmas. When I worked the box office at a show Bob directed, he introduced himself politely, again not recognizing me. But this time, it wasn’t because I was hiding my face under layers of powder. It was because he had never seen me at all Illustration by Adela Wu



algorithms and alchimie
the science of love
RÉMY ROBERT managing editor of lifestyle
Kathryn’s grandparents, like many other couples, met in college. At the time, Pat was completing a work-study program as a waiter in a sorority’s dining hall. He first glimpsed Betty through the porthole window that looked from the kitchen into the cafeteria and, between juggling plates, declared to his coworker that he would marry that girl one day. Chalk it up to destiny or to dumb luck: Either way, it was love at first sight, the kind you see in chick flicks. Now, they’re in their 70s. Their lives are no longer cool and exciting, but to this day, Pat makes spontaneous goobery quips from across the room about how gorgeous Betty is. They kiss on dance floors at bat mitzvahs. Their kids moved out and settled down long ago with their own goobery spouses, and their kids grew up in what’s likely the lovingest family in the New York metropolitan area. This family is hardwired for being madly in love. Kathryn tells me these stories, and I witness them firsthand when I visit their family. But I can never contribute much to storytime because I’ve never even heard the story of how my own grandparents met. I do know that they grew impatient for their planned wedding day and opted instead to elope so that they could get the show on the road. They didn’t get divorced until years after their two daughters had gone to college, but that doesn’t mean they were happy all that time: My mother spent her high school years angrily wishing that they’d hurry up and file for divorce. My parents, like their parents and roughly half of other American couples, are also divorced, though the proceedings have unfolded far less ceremoniously—I’ve never come home late at night to a parent guzzling vodka or been dragged to court to testify. Of course, happily married couples can raise serial monogamists, and broken marriages can give way to children who stay happily married ’til death do they part. But for the making of pristine families like Kathryn’s—and others do exist—it seems inconceivable that luck alone is responsible. As long as I believe that to be true, I will believe that kids from happy marriages have a romantic head start. To compensate, I read obsessively about love and relationships in an effort to understand what gives one family a 100 percent multigenerational success rate and what damns another to calling it quits. Behind the mystique and emotional ooze that is romantic love, I believe there must be some empirical reasoning. I’m not the only one. In fact, Helen Fisher is making an entire career of turning love into a science. An anthropologist at Rutgers University, she uses both MRIs and ethnography to collect the hard data on this decidedly soft concept. Now, she’s out to answer the unanswerable: What makes one person fall for another? What keeps some of us devoted while others file for divorce? Dr. Fisher thinks she has it figured out. Love, of course, is inextricably tied to personality, and personality, she proposes, is twopronged. Often, we invoke character—the beliefs, opinions, hobbies, and quirks that make us who we are—as reason enough for abiding love. But to credit character alone is to neglect the other half of personality. That half, temperament, is equally important: The set of hormonally influenced traits that make some people more stubborn, more creative, or more aggressive than others. Loosely speaking, this model of personality seems to be predicated on nature and nurture, which is in itself a stale idea. Fisher, though, may be the first to figure biology into online dating. The mysterious index of compatibility is the foundation of Fisher’s dating website. Chemistry.com looks like most of its competition, with its bright colors, simple layout, and breathlessly praising testimonials. What’s different about Chemistry is that the questionnaire its users take looks beyond character to identify temperament, as well. Through a series of typical multiple-choice questions (Do you feel emotions more deeply than other people?) as well as a few stranger ones (How long is the ring finger on your right hand compared to the index finger?), users input answers that calculate, as best as a computerized method can, the activity of various hormones. Such hormones—dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, testosterone—appear in everyone, but in varying degrees that both shape and reflect individual character traits. At the end of the test, each user is given a personality type, the product of indicated character traits and suggested hormone makeup as expressed in one of four tidy labels: Builder, Explorer, Negotiator, Director. Distilling something as biologically complex as temperament, which springs from inborn genetic traits as well as external influences on development, into factors of discrete personality types was no small task. To begin with, Fisher culled data from academic literature and found that “constellations of temperament traits… seemed to be associated” with the expression of certain chemicals. From these constellations, she then identified the four types on which Chemistry is based: “People who express dopamine — I call them Explorers — tend to be risk-taking, curious, creative, impulsive, optimistic and energetic. The traits associated with the serotonin system express themselves in what I call Builders. They’re cautious but not fearful, calm, traditional, community-oriented, persistent and loyal. Directors have traits associated with activity in the testosterone system. These people tend to be very analytical, decisive, tough-minded; they like to debate and can be aggressive. The fourth type is the Negotiator. Men or women who express activity in the estrogen system tend to be broadminded imaginative, compassionate, intuitive, verbal, nurturing, altruistic and idealistic.” These types went into her questionnaire, which was tested on 40,000 people and put into practice on Chemistry, where she studies in depth who migrates to whom. T h e site recommends matches of all personality types to each user; Fisher stresses that we do not fit into neat little boxes and that we all exhibit traits of every personality type. Nonetheless, our temperaments help determine what our own “main” type is, and thus who we are attracted to: Builders are drawn to other Builders, Explorers are drawn to other Explorers, and Negotiators and Directors are drawn to each other. So while knowing that a person’s temperament is associated with testosterone doesn’t predestine his romantic future with me, a Negotiator, the idea is that, at least in Fisher’s romantic virtual bubble, it would provide a way to fine-tune my pickup lines and quips such that they were music to the ears of my chemical soulmate. That’s the idea. That chemistry turns personality into algorithms for love matching is nothing new. Nearly every dating website makes use of the abundance of raw data put forth by its users, both in what they indicate in their profiles and in what they ultimately demonstrate through their actions. OkCupid, which has monopolized the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, runs a hugely successful blog that translates and publicizes its statistical findings to the masses. For instance, “Do you like horror movies?” is the single question on which some of the 34,620 surveyed couples agreed more than on any other. But broadcasting factoids derived from not-so-obvious correlations is quite a different thing than creating an explicit framework based on a multiple-choice quiz, as Fisher has done. Chemistry—not the website or even the rom-com buzzword, but physiology and endocrinology, albeit watered down—does give a new dimension to romance. It lends salience and coherence to love, indulging my maniacal effort to pathologize it; it makes love predictable, formulaic. But it’s only so practical. Where I live, at least, I can’t reasonably expect to learn the predominant hormones that are bumping around in a potential love interest and shaping his tempera-

ment, and I sure as hell can’t divine them. Giving language to temperaments—to anything—provides a filter through which one can understand and change them. As I try and try to pinpoint the reasons behind Kathryn’s family’s successes (or my family’s shortcomings), Fisher’s language of temperaments makes it seem simple. Turning love into a science gives it a reassuring stamp of objectivity that means we children of divorce have no handicap. But it’s also stifling, and Fisher herself admits that it’s imperfect: Builders marry Explorers all the time, and many of them are happy. So too do Negotiators divorce Directors. Is there a way to beat love at its own game? The short answer is, unsurprisingly, no. If there was, Apple would’ve already developed an app for it. No amount of research on love will produce a strong enough correlation to pack it into tidy compartments; Kathryn, having grown up in an improbably blissed out family, does know something I don’t know, and never will. But she is terrified of divorce, cannot conceive of it, in much the same way that happy marriages really confuse me. Others think of it as failure. Maybe it is failure. But what I know from my upbringing with divorce is that being alone doesn’t indicate poor judgment or cheapen the feelings that once were there. Fisher’s silly jargon is far from a guarantee, but it does in its small and schmaltzy way encourage the kind of deliberation that, in combination with dumb luck, seems to be at the heart of all successful love. The French word for romantic chemistry is alchimie, and that to me sounds much more accurate: the pre-scientific search for a universal elixir, rooted in magic and fool’s gold. Illustration by Phil Lai

arts & culture


monsters between the pages
thriller writers descend upon college hill
JENNIE YOUNG CARR editrix-in-chief
“What do you do when you’re not writing books?” The question comes from a young boy in a blue sweatshirt, standing on tiptoe to reach the microphone in the Salomon Hall Auditorium. He is the youngest attendee at Brown’s Thriller Writer Panel, held to commemorate the establishment of a new Thriller Archive at the John Hay Library, and he is looking earnestly at R.L. Stine. Stine, best known for the Fear Street and Goosebumps series, laughs. “Well, I write all morning,” he says. “In the afternoon, I take my dog for a walk in the park.” He gives a brief sketch of his life in New York City—an apartment next to the Lincoln Center, season tickets to Giants games, evenings at the opera and the ballet. It turns out that Stine, responsible for the nightmares of millions of children, is living the dream. Joining Stine on the stage are David Baldacci, Steve Berry, Nelson DeMille, Lisa Gardner, and the panel moderator, Jon Land ’79. These are big names, names that jump out at you in boldfaced letters from lurid covers in the Mysteries and Thrillers section of Barnes & Noble. In person, the five panel authors look surprisingly ordinary. I keep hoping for a telltale sinister smirk, some indicator of the twisted imagination that lies within, but they’re all smiles. Glance through their bibliographies, though, and you’ll find novels featuring possessed dummies, murderous Secret Service agents, an evil European economic cartel, a serial killer who targets pedophiles, and a Libyan extremist hell bent on creating a reign of terrorism in the US. Part of what sells a thriller is a good villain, as these authors know: “We have before us one billion books in print,” Land announces, to loud applause from the audience. Yet, there is a striking absence of Brown students in the audience, which is skewed heavily toward elderly Providence locals. When I first heard that Brown was establishing a Thriller Archive, I laughed, and I laugh again now as I scan the auditorium in search of a full head of hair. How ironic, I think, that our university is acknowledging the significance of a genre that no one I know admits to reading. The appeal of thrillers is obvious to the panel authors, though each has a slightly different idea of what composes it. Stine argues that the genre taps into the fears that linger long after we stop checking under our beds for monsters. Baldacci claims that readers want heroes, want to feel that an “ordinary person can become extraordinary.” For Gardner, thrillers fill in the blanks left by true crime novels and news reports. The villain’s motives are revealed, the intricacies of his plot are explained, and his punishment isn’t left to the criminal justice system. “You never let the villain get arrested,” Garner says. “You always kill him.” Land throws out a fill-in-the-blank to Gardner: “A thriller should always ...” “Surprise,” Gardner responds. Without missing a beat, Stine drawls, “I would say, ‘Give the reader goosebumps.’” These responses emphasize an element of the reading experience that often goes unrecognized in literature seminars: the reader’s emotional response. When asked to describe a

thriller hero, Berry explains, “You have to say, ‘I like that guy. I would meet that guy.’” It’s the who-would-I-rather-have-a-beer-with theory of politics, transplanted to fiction. These writers are having a good time, I realize. I’m used to the vision of the author presented by David Foster Wallace, Jonathan Franzen, and the like: neurotic, compulsive, and brilliant yet consumed by the fear of inadequacy. No one on stage appears to have this sort of love–hate relationship with what he or she does. They are writing fun novels, novels that people buy on impulse in airport bookshops, and they thrive on the satisfaction that they give to their fans. Stine describes the letters that he receives from children as “the best part of my job.” “Dear R.L. Stine,” he recounts. “My teacher is forcing us to write to an author.” After a ripple of laughter he continues, “Dear R.L. Stine, I’m not very smart, but I like your books.” That gets a bigger laugh. I’m struck by the

lack of pretentiousness that it reveals, though, both on the part of Stine and that of the child who wrote the letter. Consider the complex mental calculus you go through when someone asks, “What have you been reading lately?” For Brown students, a book isn’t just a book: it’s an outward sign of our intelligence, our taste, our sense of humor—or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong: I believe that you love Anna Karenina. I just think that you also love the cloud of associations that surrounds the novel. Baldacci, Berry, DeMille, Gardner, Stine: These authors represent a different approach to novels. They champion a story based on a great idea, an ordinary guy thrown into extraordinary circumstance, a nagging suspicion that there’s something a little off about the soccer mom next door. And with the new Thriller Archive, we’re giving them a place at Brown’s table. Illustration by Emily Reif


n. celebrations dedicated to support of and alliance with the LGBTQ community
outgoing, and unifying force for the trans community of metro Boston, and because her murder bore all the hallmarks of a hate crime, Hester’s friends and allies banded together to commemorate her. The first-ever Transgender Day of Remembrance occurred in 1998, and is celebrated each year to memorialize all transgender people who were lost in the battle for civil rights. World AIDS Day began in 1988 to commemorate AIDS victims, raise awareness of the disease, and mobilize efforts to treat and cure it. While not an exclusively LGBTQ holiday, December 1 remains an annual occasion to remember and acknowledge the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on the gay community. What should we celebrate on these days? To whom should we toast on New Year’s Eve? How far have we really come? Here are some things to keep in mind throughout the holiday season: It’s been over forty-three years since a bunch of plainclothes police officers decided to raid the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, a popular hangout for members of the then extremely marginalized LGBTQ community. After the police had sexually harassed some of the lesbian patrons, hit some people with bats, instructed many to undress and arrested those whose bodies did not match their attire, the clientele had had enough. They staged a spontaneous riot in reaction to the officers’ intolerance, attracting hundreds of people. Though police officers and community members alike were wounded in what followed, the Stonewall riots constituted a significant, seminal event for the LGTBQ community. For one of the first times—against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the countercultural community of Greenwich Village—oppressed homo-, trans-, and bisexual citizens stood up for themselves in a large, public, and impassioned group. For many, this marked the dawn of the gay liberation movement. A month after, the Mattachine Society published its account of why the riots occurred at the Stonewall Inn: “It catered largely to a group of people who are not welcome in, or cannot afford, other places of homosexual social gathering…. The Stonewall became home to these kids. When it was raided, they fought for it. That, and the fact that they had nothing to lose other than the most tolerant and broad-minded gay place in town, explains why.” By this report, much of the LGBTQ community was so marginalized that it had absolutely “nothing to lose.” These were second-rate citizens with no social capital whatsoever with which to gain mobility, respect, or equality. It’s hard for me to fathom. Today, this community enjoys many of the privileges and opportunities that cisgendered citizens have always received. We have made so much progress— yet there is much still to be gained. On May 9, Obama became the first inoffice president to officially support gay marriage. While it didn’t have a direct or immediate impact on legislation, Obama’s announcement affirmed and supported partnerships nationwide—relationships that, for safety and social security, have been variously discontinued, violated, and hidden from the public eye for decades. Obama’s message symbolized our advances in the realm of LGBTQ civil rights. The president also supports the repeal of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defines marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman. As we celebrate our progress, we should remember, too, what lies before us: repealing DOMA, passing ENDA (the Employment NonDiscrimination Act), amending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to include a provision for trans soldiers. We are at a pivotal place; systemic change has begun to seem possible, hopeful, proximate. I hope 2013 will mark the first annual ENDA Day, the first annual Transsexual Veterans’ Day, and the wedding days of gay couples nationwide.

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about the implications of Obama’s reelection for the sex lives of Americans everywhere. Partly because of the word count a single column permits, partly because I was suffering from strep throat at the time, and partly because I majorly just dropped the ball, I failed to include some of the most important, most exciting sex-related effects of the recent elections. On Tuesday, November 6, Americans voted Tammy Baldwin, the first openly homosexual senator, into office in Wisconsin. They voted to legalize gay marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state. They voted to reject a ban on same-sex marriage in Minnesota. The LGBTQ community worked incredibly hard to mobilize, publicize, and demand civil rights. And allies of the LGBTQ community showed up in solidarity. In honor of the holidays—and in honor of our progress in increasing the civil rights of the LGBTQ people in America—I’m dedicating this column to two oft-overlooked days this season: Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20) and World AIDS Day (December 1). The first holiday began in memory of Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman murdered by an unidentified assailant for reasons unknown. Because Hester was a popular,


arts & culture

what they’re all about
KRISTY CHOI contributing writer
One Friday night last year at Roots Café, my weekly cardio regime of looking stupid on the dance floor brought me face-to-face with a BIG NAZO monster. I was jumping around with friends when suddenly a disco diva-sea nymph creature poked my nose with its tentacle, winked at me (looking back, this was particularly amazing, as it did not have a decipherable face), and then ran away. It was probably the tamest surprise attack the world has ever seen. But I was confused enough to stop dancing to “Crazy In Love” for an entire five seconds. No one around me minded. When I told this exact story to Erminio Pinque, the founder of BIG NAZO, as a sort of icebreaker, he freaked out. “That is exactly what we’re all about!” he said. I lost track of the number of times that Erminio repeated that phrase to me during my visit to the BIG NAZO Lab. When I explained to Erminio that many Brown students know of BIG NAZO from the 2011 Spring Weekend flash mob, he took a moment to remember and said once again, this time more wistfully, “Oh yeah, that is exactly what we’re all about.” As affirming as Erminio was about my idea of BIG NAZO in our conversation, he was also just as quick to point out my omissions—some of the other things that BIG NAZO “is all about:” creating street music à la PRONK! Fest, creating a psychedelic concert experience à la P-Funk, creating improv theatre à la Commedia dell’arte, creating a space for artists to experiment à la Yoko Ono’s 1960s Tribeca loft, and creating anarchist havoc à la running around the streets of Providence. And all of this was part of the constant process of creating larger-thanlife-size, wearable monster costumes. BIG NAZO’s most recent project involves creating prosthetic fat suits for hospitals to use in compassion training for doctors and nurses. The root of all this organized chaos is the drive to experiment and create something new. It is for this reason that Erminio calls the BIG NAZO headquarters a laboratory. According to its website, “BIG NAZO is an international touring group of largerthan-life sized audience-interactive mutant puppet-creatures and masked musicians who invade streets and stages around the world.” But what exactly is BIG NAZO all about? Before speaking with Erminio, I thought that at the most basic level BIG NAZO was a troupe of freelance artists and actors that wore bizarre costumes and performed tomfoolery. The simplicity of this description is something Erminio would first denounce and then adopt himself. Walking into the Big Nazo Lab was like hearing the name of your friend’s high school band (Starfish Bungalow) for the first time: It was like nothing you could have exactly expected, but it was what you would want it to be. I opened the door and stepped into a standstill moshpit; monsters in varying stages of the puppet-making process covered the walls and floor, toppling now and then under the weight of tarps, wood, and other supplies. In any other context I could not explain the difference between a gnome, gremlin, or troll, but in this room, I could group together monsters based on shared characteristics—say, a wart on the nose or a lack of eyes—unique to a particular misfit species. Then, there were the puppets that stood alone: In light of the election, Erminio and his team created a puppet of Obama and Biden cruising in a hippie van. It appeared that the only space in the room left open was for making the puppets. When I walked in, two guys in lab coats were painting several Styrofoam bodies while listening to an episode of the Twilight Zone. Erminio was working at a cluttered desk, chortling with the others every time a certain female character in the episode would shriek. “Oooh, dang, she’s gonna get it,” one of the painters joked as the rest erupted in laughter. Erminio told me that listening to Twilight Zone was standard fare for controlling the vibe of the space: “I like to say that it gets us thinking in science fiction.” Sitting down and talking to Erminio was almost absurd. It was similar to the experience of reading a Pitchfork review of another Brooklyn-based folktronic album or, to be more Brown-specific, listening to an MCM theory lecture for the first time: You are awed by the brilliance of the person speaking, suspicious of whether that person really believes everything that he is saying, and ultimately a little indignant about your inability to understand everything that is being said. When I asked Erminio about his artistic intent, he had many answers, almost all of which he framed as being “exactly what we’re all about.” The super-objective of BIG NAZO is to “question media literacy and subvert reality”—to poke someone on the nose on the dance floor just to shake up her notion of the status quo. “People are too comfortable with the way things are,” Erminio said. To subvert reality, he entered what he calls the “superhero business.” Costume and puppet theatre liberates people, elevating them to super-actor status, in ways that traditional theater cannot. He learned this through experience with the Brown theater department (he had access because he went to RISD). According to Erminio, the visibility of an actor’s identity can get in the way of his work, allowing the audience to make judgments about the actor and his character. He gave the example of an actor playing a homeless heroin addict. Audience members viewing the actor’s work may have thoughts like, “Did the actor ever use heroin to prepare for the role?” or, “Was he cast in the role because he has used heroin before?” or, “He is much too good-looking to play a homeless person.” But when an actor is wearing

getting to know big nazo
a monster costume, the “opportunities for real-life and theatrical action are limitless.” However, Erminio offered a caveat: Being in costume comes with another set of difficulties. “Many times,” he explained, “people expect the dude in the monster suit to put on a show,” and as a result, “they scoff at you if you are not doing the kind of jig they expect you to do.” In a rare moment of tender seriousness, Erminio looked me in the eye and said, “In many ways, acting in costume makes living regular life a lot simpler and easier.” My conversation with Erminio ventured into a whirlwind series of conversational nooks: mind-body dualism, the open-door policy of the BIG NAZO Lab, and his philosophy behind teaching. Just as I was beginning to feel my intellectual-bullshit radar go off, Erminio called himself out, ending our conversation by saying, “You know it’s funny because all this theoretical talk happens only in retrospect … in the moment of creation all I was really thinking at the time was, ‘I don’t give a f*ck, let’s just f*ck shit up.’” Just then, without costume or performance, Erminio managed to subvert my college campus-ivory tower reality. How often do we use theoretical talk to mask our “let’s f*ck shit up” motivations? And vice versa, which may be even more common at Brown: How often do we use the “I don’t give a f*ck” attitude to mask our desire to think seriously about what we are doing with our time at college and beyond? Perhaps, BIG NAZO’s work gives people space to consider these questions, if only for a short period of time. When that monster poked me on the nose while I was dancing, I stopped what I was doing. I thought about what just happened and what I was doing when I was interrupted. It may have been a moment, but that moment was “real.” Illustration by Elizabeth Berman



fried figgy pudding
JANE BRENDLINGER food columnist
December arrives, and visions of peppermint bark dance through my head. Visions of marshmallows bobbing in cocoa as I carol my drunk ass around my hometown. Of the hours I’ll spend assembling a gingerbread house, in the vast abyss of winter break, eventually giving into the impulse to switch out icing for super glue. Of Baileys on the rocks, come Christmas Eve, when warm inebriation meets familial love. No visions of sugarplums—because I don’t know what the f*ck a sugarplum is. Turns out, it’s nothing that has to do with fruit. Sugarplums are (or rather, were, since they’ve seemed to fade away to the annals of lore) actually a form of dragée candy, a sugarcoated confection resembling Jordan almonds or jawbreakers. Clement Clarke Moore’s poem has outlasted its signature sweet, which has lost all its literal meaning in favor of an ideal, a fanciful image of Christmas and childhood that functions best ’neath a dusting of mystery. Some holiday traditions deserve to be ditched: Uncle Dave’s bar fight; observing Catholicism. And figgy pudding, made popular by the timeless classic “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Wikipedia describes it as “a pudding resembling something like a white Christmas pudding containing figs. The pudding may be baked, steamed in the oven, boiled or fried.” Exactly the kind of description sure to pique my interest on a dessert menu. From the photo, figgy pudding “resembles something

the lure of christmas cuisine
like” a colon full of Legos. Oh Brits, the keepers of Victorian Christmas tradition, with your strange puddings, your liquefied animal organs, and your eccentric fowl! Charles Dickens writes of the Cratchits’ Christmas dinner in A Christmas Carol, an affair of potatoes and goose that stuffs poor Tiny Tim to the gills. Or rather, as Dickens writes it best, the little invalid is “steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows.” Of course, Mrs. Cratchit makes a pudding for dessert, which Bob Cratchit esteems as “the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage.” (Har har, good joke Charlie D!) I didn’t think that goose was anything that anyone still eats nowadays, until my friend Anna told me that she has goose every year on Christmas. I thought she was just confused. “Geese are mythic creatures,” I explained. “They fly in V’s and lay golden eggs. You don’t eat them on Christmas.” To this day, Anna resides in a Dickens novel, a poor child struck by the misfortunes of mid 19th century English poverty, subject to the delusion of eating goose. Hast thou ever seen a chestnut roasting on an open fire? I myself have not, though at one point this tradition was commonplace. Right? Jacob Bromwell, a kitchenware company, touts its Signature Chestnut Roaster, ironically, as a “novelty tradition for the Christmas season.” It’s a forced nostalgia for a time that never was, a vain attempt to “recapture the magic of years gone by” with a whiff of burning nuts. Don’t cross the Signature Chestnut Roaster off your list quite yet, though—it gets some great reviews. Dale says, “Love the succulent, toasty warmth of a good chestnut with a few fingers of scotch and the wife.” The perfect gift for the patriarch, or the Hannibal type (possibly enjoying the wife’s fingers). With all these traditions that exist only in song or story, I struggle to find a foothold in the traditions of reality. For the first year in all my twenty-one, my family will be having Christmas at home, just the five of us (plus a wee dachshund). Gone are the days of a ham at Christmas d i n n e r, fleshy and pink, still wrapped in gold foil on the dining room table. “What do people eat on Christmas?” My mother tears at her hair, and I can’t help her. When we’ve swapped out regular milk for Almond Silk, when kale salad and tempeh become regulars at dinner, it’s hard not to realize how far we’ve strayed from tradition. Shall we grapple towards a new family pastime, make our veggie roast a Christmas staple? Or should we hearken back to an earlier time, try our hands at roasting chestnuts in our Signa-

ture Chestnut Roaster, a simulacrum of nostalgia? Yet traditions often outlive their meanings. The sugarplum, no longer edible, means something much greater now than in Moore’s verse. Perhaps it is not the traditions we should worry about, but the reason for them—not the bird or beast or lack thereof on our table but the people gathered around it. O bring us a figgy pudding, if you must. We’ll eat it in good company. Illustration by Marissa Ilardi


holiday issue

edible offerings
RÉMY ROBERT managing editor of lifestyle
Whether you’re a participant or a bystander, it’s hard to escape Black Friday— just ask the two-year-old Massachusetts kid who was found napping in a Kmart parking lot on Friday after his mom’s boyfriend ditched him to go shopping for a flat-screen TV. I’ve never taken part in the chaos—large crowds, department stores, and busy parking lots come together in my vision of the apocalypse—but my Christmas shopping is still stressful, thanks to my dad. Dad’s impossible to buy for: He prefers to read Reuters over books, isn’t into fancy new clothes, and snags all the cool gadgets long before I have the chance to give them to him. For him and those like him, I typically resort to something food-related. We all eat; who wouldn’t be amped to receive a nice snack or utensil, wrapped up with a bow? Places like Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table have come in handy for such forays; their lovely packaging and clever marketing let me believe I’ve been thoughtful. They also let Dad believe that a $30 hot chocolate pot or $12 potato scrubbing gloves are useful … necessary … indispensable! Harry & David is also excellent, because where else can you get immaculate Royal Riviera pears DELIVERED TO YOU IN THE MAIL? I don’t mind the exorbitantly priced mail-order produce every now and then, but spending $20 on a Christmas tin of peppermint bark—or $72 on box-mix biscuits, as Williams-Sonoma is hilariously doing this year—seems a bit ridiculous. I still don’t believe my dad when he tells me he’d be happy just to get a handmade card from me—now that I’m 21, my poor arts and crafts skills are no longer cute—but I can make spiced pecans just fine, thankyouverymuch, and they’ll make a cheaper, sweeter present to boot. Below, a few ideas for cookable gifts—for that impossibleto-buy-for person in your life, for your myriad holiday potlucks on campus, or for yourself. Happy holidays, y’all! Peppermint bark: This has an incredible perceived fanciness to ease of cooking ratio. Get eight ounces each of white chocolate and semisweet (I recommend Baker’s). Melt the semisweet and spread it on a cookie sheet that’s been lined with foil. Refrigerate until it’s hard. Meanwhile, crush some peppermints (30 candies should be enough) and melt the white chocolate. If you want, you can stir in a capful of peppermint extract. When it’s melted, let it cool a bit and spread it over the semisweet layer, acting quickly so it doesn’t melt. Sprinkle on the peppermint, stick it back in the fridge, and break it into pieces when it’s hardened. Voilà. Spiced pecans: I could eat these things by the pint if I weren’t worried about fitting into my Christmas clothes. I was so used to seeing them gifted that I was shocked to find out how easy they are to make from scratch—the hardest part is just making sure the nuts don’t burn. For saltysweet, melt three tablespoons of butter, ¼ cup of light brown sugar, and half a teaspoon each of whichever spices you want: I like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Salt’s good too. Add two cups of pecan halves and toss to coat. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and cook at 300 degrees until they’re toasty, about 20 minutes. Stir every five minutes or so to prevent burning.

holiday goodies to bake and recieve
Crack: All the fun and addictive qualities of hard drugs with none of the drama. This toffee doppelganger is my standby. Spread Saltines in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil as you preheat the oven to 350oF. In a saucepan, melt together a cup each of packed light brown sugar and unsalted butter, stirring frequently. When it starts to bubble, pick up the speed on your stirring for three more minutes. Take off the heat, add a teaspoon each of vanilla extract and sea salt, and spread evenly over the crackers (it’s good to have a partner for this since the caramel sets quickly). Bake for eight to ten minutes, until the caramel is nutty brown, and then cover with semisweet chocolate chips—once they’ve melted from the caramel, spread in an even layer. Coat with your topping of choice (sliced almonds, coconut, crushed M&Ms, fleur de sel ...) and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Break into pieces by hand. Nutella (recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz) Who doesn’t go ape shit over storebought Nutella? Make it yourself and you’ll win all of the points. (It’ll also put those stray Mason jars to use ...) 1/3 cup whole almonds 1 1/3 cup hazelnuts 1 3/4 cup whole milk 7/8 cup powdered whole milk 3 tablespoons honey pinch of salt 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped 5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped 1. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet, keeping the almonds separate, and toast the nuts in a 350ºF oven, stirring a few times, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the hazelnuts are browned. 2. While they are roasting, warm the whole milk and powdered milk in a small saucepan with the honey and salt just until it starts to boil. Remove from heat. 3. In a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, or in a microwave oven, melt the chocolates together until smooth. 4. Once the nuts are well-toasted, remove them from oven and use a spatula to place the warm hazelnuts in a clean tea towel, then fold them inside the towel and rub them vigorously to remove any loose skins. They don’t need to be pristine; just try to get as much off as possible. 5. In a food processor, grind the warm hazelnuts and almonds until they’re as fine as possible. You may not be able to get them completely smooth, depending on your food processor. (I have a brand new one and even after five minutes, there were little bits of nuts in mine, which is normal.) 6. Add the melted chocolate and continue to process the mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, as necessary. 7. Once the mixture is smooth, add the warm milk mixture and process until everything is well-combined. (The original instructions here said to strain the paste, which I didn’t do because I don’t mind the little bits of toasted nuts, but you can.) 9. Transfer the mixture into two jars and refrigerate until ready to use. Illustrations by Grace Sun

holiday issue


mistletoe misgivings
less-than-perfect holiday moments
December: the month of magic. The month of retrospection, celebration, and apocalyptic doom. We give thanks and give gifts (and get gifts for which we give thanks). All this merriment and cheer leave room for a lot of weirdness. Here, your Post- editors look back at holidays past and recall weird feelings, gifts, and uncles. Happy Holidays! -Ben Resnik, Claire Luchette, Jennie Young Carr, Clayton Aldern, Clara Beyer, Phil Lai, and Alexa Trearchis Christmas doesn’t usually fill me with childish glee and holiday delight—I’m no scrooge, but the endless holiday tunes and slightly desperate, fake snow-filled ads have always gotten my stockings in a bunch. There was a time, however, before my cynicism and general grumpiness took over, when my holiday spirit could be bought simply with mountains and mountains of presents. The place was Grandma’s House, New York. The year was 1995. The age was three. First thing in the morning, I came downstairs into my grandparents’ living room. I was just starting to get a grasp on this whole Christmas thing, and seeing a massive pile of gifts—all for me—was just too much to handle. So I did the natural thing: I hurled myself face-first into the gift pile, sobbing uncontrollably. The first 15 minutes of everyone’s Christmas Day were spent consoling an overwhelmed child. After that morning, no December 25th has quite stacked up. -BR As a kid, I nobly struggled to overcome my speech impediment. I was in speech therapy for 2 years and saw 5 different specialists who helped me master my articulation defect. I attended a preschool for disabled kids because my mother was exasperated. Anyway. A dramatic description of the hurdles I overcame as a kid is not what I’m aiming for. I just want to tell you that home videos of me at Christmastime are really poignant (and funny). My jubilant brothers toss Legos as confetti and show their new Hot Wheels to the camera. My mother sips coffee in her bathrobe. And then there is Claire, with her Cosmo Kramer bedhead, holding a new Playmobil doll and jumping around. “HOOOOOOOF AWEEEEYA!” I exclaim, trying to tell the camera how great this is. “EEEEEEPALOO!” It’s kind of sad to watch my difficulty with speech. But the scene points to the universal translatability of Christmas joy, even in Ape speak: the sparkling and certain glory of a kid who shrieks with yuletide glee. (Alternatively, it is just really funny to watch a kid in a fleece union suit attempting to blather away.) Merry Christmas, or, as my five-year-old self would say, “Doopaseekanoo!” -CL When I was a sophomore in high school, my Midwestern grandparents decided to retire to the rural South; the family Christmas celebration relocated with them. As our rental car sped down the North Carolina highway toward the prosaically named town of Supply, I looked out at endless swaths of yellowed dead grass and thought, “I am in hell.” My mental monologue continued as I dropped my bag off in the guest room: “How do people live like this?” My answer came later that night, when my sixteen-year-old cousin (now my grandparents’ next door neighbor) showed up. “Want to meet my boyfriend?” she asked. That was the night that I discovered moonshine and four wheelers (ATVs, for the non-rednecks). I clutched my cousin’s boyfriend’s friend’s waist, my frigid hands inches above his Confederate flag belt buckle, and the ATV roared to life. As we sped down the deserted back roads, he yelled, “Do you mind if I go faster?” and I thought, “Praise Jesus!” -JYC Morris had always been entertaining— as any aging Jewish step-grandfather that grew up in Cuba would have been to an unsuspecting tot—but he really outdid himself in 1998. It was the fifth night of Chanukah, and a solid portion of my family had gathered to pound down my mom’s latkes and light our requisite army of menorahs. Just before dinner, Morris retreated to the restroom. Perhaps dementia was beginning to rear its ugly head; perhaps he had simply missed the crucial button. Either way, Morris’s return to the dining room was precisely coordinated with the plummeting of his khakis to the ground. It was majestic. It was effortless. The pants floated off the man’s hips. Perhaps the finest facet of the event was Zadie’s complete and utter ignorance of his fallen slacks. He would have stumbled over the mass of fabric were it not for my aunt’s immediate layout and refastening. Morris may have gone on to emit a Polish-accented chuckle and take his seat at the head of the table like nothing had happened, but we would always remember that time Morris dropped trou’ on Chanukah. –CA I moved to Switzerland the summer before my senior year of high school, and that New Year’s, a couple of my American friends came to visit. Part of the plan was to get as drunk as possible, obviously. New Years is already a drinking holiday, and we were seventeen-year-olds in Europe. We were borderline-blackout on red wine and Bernese prosecco by 9 p.m. At 9:05, we unexpectedly ran into three guys from my new international school. There were three of us and three of them! It was fate. Makeouts ensued. The tallest boy and I ran off to a public park for a meaningless hookup and ended up dating for a year. Oops. Pair Number Two consisted of my best friend since age six, who i knew to be a lesbian, and an Israeli boy named Oren. Both were incredibly reluctant. The last pair ended up going down to the basement of the bar to engage in uncomfortable, awkward, squishy, damp, bar bathroom sex. It was both of their first times. Neither of them ever talk about it. - CB So I’m backpacking around Laos with some friends circa Christmas 2008, and like good little teenage tourist douchebags we wind up in this little town called Vang Vieng that has the dubious distinction of being the shroom and tubing capital of Southeast Asia. One fine, drug-hazy December morning, we hit on the brilliant idea of taking out crappy little rental motorcycles, learning to ride them on an abandoned airstrip, and driving ten miles out of town on a barely paved road to go look at some caves we can neither name nor find on a map. Little do we know, Vang Vieng is also the pothole capital of Laos. I’m coming round a corner looking pretty fly when the biggest motherloving turkey I’ve ever seen comes charging at me from a roadside bush. Now I’m still coming down from my magic breakfast omelet (Vang Vieng is the kind of town where the addition of the prefix “magic” will spice up any order of food with a wee bit of pot) and somehow it doesn’t occur to me that I have brakes on my conveyance. So I swerve, and immediately run into the biggest pothole in Laos. Last thing I hear before my face hits dirt sounds like “gobble gobble merry christmas asshole.” -PL Around this time last year, a wee section editor here at Post-, I undertook the task of writing a Lifestyle article about my experiences during the Christmas season growing up as a spiritually conflicted agnostic surrounded by a family of faithful Orthodox Christians. I was pretty proud of the way it turned out. I appreciated the chance to open up to the Brown community about a topic that I suspected many of us could relate to in our scientific age. I even scored a comment on its electronic version on the Post- website. Anyway, all of that happened. And then I mostly forgot about it. I forgot about it, that is, until my mom asked me a question months later, over the summer. “Did you write about religion for the Internet?” she said. Not entirely sure how to answer that, I remained silent. “Grammy told me she found things that you wrote on the Internet, and that they say you’re an atheist.” Oh, God. Later on I found myself awkwardly defending my article to my very religious grandmother, who had apparently Googled me on her iPad (what?) and found my article on the Post- site. “I mean, it’s just an article... you know... I still think Christmas is important... this is really what they wanted me to write.” It is entirely acceptable to blame the contents of an article on your editor (and lie about your personal beliefs) when being judged by your grandmother. -AT



brave, smart princesses
parenting around gender norms
LILY GOODSPEED staff writer
that Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty were the best princesses because they were the “prettiest.” If we were so progressive, where was she learning this preference for blonde white girls? Preschool? Were the movies the problem? Regardless, pushing against these traditional standards of beauty and gender was beginning to contradict another major tenet of my family’s childrearing philosophy: flexibility. Long before Laura had married into the family, my mom and dad signed us up for little league, ballet, and Tae Kwon Do but promptly cancelled our classes if we stopped enjoying them. They loathed and openly mocked the parents who lived vicariously through their children, rolling their eyes when the red-faced father screeched batting tips to the tiny players at the Little League game. The abandoned guitars and unused painting canvasses were necessary blips in the path towards eventually finding our passion. Over all else, our happiness mattered. It would all work itself out in the end. So even as Una embraced everything that we scorned, the Goodspeed family backed down. But we wouldn’t admit defeat. I still went out of my way to note when boys were emotional and when girls were strong. But even at four, she was an individual, capable of her own choices. Wasn’t choice the point of feminism in the first place?!, we asked ourselves as we fretted over Disney movies. I proudly come to you today to announce that over the last year, Una has become a well-rounded five-year-old with a hilariously complicated view of gender expectations. Laura and I interviewed her about “what girls like” and “what girls can do” at the kitchen table over Thanksgiving break. We were able to get some answers even though her sugar high from a recently eaten slice of birthday cake was making her squirmy. She made a very large distinction between different ages in the lifespan of an average girl’s life. According to Una, “four-anda-half-year-olds like princesses, five-yearolds like fairies because they have wings, and six-year-olds like fashion because it’s cool.” She also whispered in Laura’s ear that my sister Elizabeth was “cool,” while I unfortunately was not. Shucks. As for adulthood, Una emphatically asserted that she was going to be a veterinarian, and probably wouldn’t like princesses then: “They’re too fancy when you’re a grown-up.” In a beautiful plot twist, Una claimed that “daddies don’t have to have jobs but mommies have to.” Clearly she doesn’t realize our family setup is unusual. The whole interview experience was hilarious, but it was also an affirming moment for that flexible childrearing style. Even Una recognized that growing up was a continuous experience, since interests would change and morph over time. It’s a bit ridiculous to assume that any parent can construct and ossify a child’s interests. In the end, Laura and I agreed that it’s more important that Una absorbs core moral values than that she likes pink and purple. And it seems like the Goodspeed method is working. When we asked Una last weekend why she loved princesses, “nice” and “brave” both made appearances in her explanation before any mention of “prettiness.” I was jamming at Lollapalooza when my half-sister was born. Though not intentional, this event reveals the sleepy indifference I had to my new family member. Today, though, Una and I are BFFs. She’s five years old and enjoys activities that include, amongst other things, me chasing her around the house as a bad guy “with a moustache,” me watching her play Chutes and Ladders against herself, and me giving color consultations for her pencil-drawn pictures. Note that none of these activities seem “girly”: In obnoxious liberal arts terms, none of them seem to adhere to society’s hegemonic conception of femininity. Maybe that wasn’t your first impression of the list, but my entire family has been overly conscious of Una’s obsession with princesses for as long as she could articulate her obsession with princesses. My stepmom Laura is a public school teacher in the South Bronx; my dad is currently a stay-at-home dad. Gender is imposed by society! We are a progressive family, goddammit! Regardless of our convictions concerning gender equality, last year when Una was four years old she was having none of it. She wanted all things pink, sparkly, and traditionally feminine, and she wanted them now. Her favorite colors were pink and purple because they were “girl” colors. Her barrette collection was becoming unseemly. When we had to confront the Disney movie issue, Laura would extol the virtues of Belle from Beauty and the Beast because “she loves to read and is brave.” I would pontificate on the merits of Mulan and her scrappy perseverance. Una continued to believe

music is

digging Holidays Rule: The Shins, McCartney, Andrew Bird, among others.

film is tv is

cuddling up to Richard Parker. attending Liz Lemon’s wedding tonight!

books is

food is

pleading Plouf Plouf to chill out.

booze is

coming up with the perfect Post- cocktail.

1. As @SamuelLJackson put it, go the f*ck to sleep, little f*ckers.

weekend five
BD freaking H Banquet: Friday, 9PM, but you don’t get to go, bitchezz (unless you’re making this paper). Jazz Band Concert: Saturday, 8PM, Grand Recital Hall. Exhibition: “Until the Kingdom Comes: Simen Johan”: Saturday, 1PM, List. Chinese Students Association Karaoke: Saturday, 8PM, Metcalf Auditorium.

The Bluest Eye: Saturday, 8 PM, Leeds Theatre.

top ten santa tweets

2. It’s a BEERacle on 34th Street! 3. RT @HorseEBooks: Worms - oh my god WORMS 4. For Macaulay Culkin, a lock of my beard. 5. F*cking cocaine. Winter wonderland, baby. 6. @CourtneyStodden You’re on my niiiice list ;) 7. Where the F*CK is Dasher? #morelikeSlower 8. @ScottCalvin Dude your roof sucks. 9. Ho ho ho! #thingsyoudontwanttohearafterahookup 10. Tell me my stomach shakes like a bowl full of jelly.
Tell me. I will fight you.

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