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The Songs that Haunt Us

[ 185 ] January 21, 2015 |

The songs that haunt us tend to be slow. Or slower–at least–than uptempo poppy or rocky songs. They’re the songs that fuse to our skeleton and become a part of us. They’re the songs we never get tired of hearing–ever. Thet instantly transport us to a different world–it’s Pavlovian, our reaction. I’m always so happy when another song enters my pantheon of haunters. Here are mine, starting with my newest obsession:

Love and Communication-Cat Power

Love Song for a Vampire-Annie Lennox
You’re the One-Kate Bush
What You Know-T.I.
Two Weeks-Grizzly Bear
Exodus Damage-John Vanderslice

Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us–Alison Kraus/Robert Plant

 Pretty much any Bryan Ferry song

Woman in Chains-Tears for Fears


I know I’m forgetting some. UPDATE: ARRRRRGH SO MANY!!

Raptor XX

What songs haunt you?

How Do You Talk to a 7-Year-Old Girl about Comic Books?

[ 138 ] January 16, 2015 |

A man grapples with that question in this terrific read.

What would you say?

What comics would you recommend for young girls?

Catching Up on Links, Catching Up with GamerGate and a Fool-Proof Plan to Drain the North Sea

[ 14 ] January 15, 2015 |

I’ve been out of commission for awhile, but y’all have still been sending links. Thank you!

Empowerment Fail

[ 141 ] January 14, 2015 |

If you’re not me and you don’t live in a cave– unaware that World War II has ended– you’ve probably heard the Meghan Trainor song “All about that Bass.” If you have, perhaps you thought yourself, “Well, that’s refreshing and empowering song about ‘people of size’.” Because at first listen, it is. But listen more closely. The appeals to the male gaze are not empowering:

“Boys like a little more booty to hold at night”

“‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

And I don’t like referring to thin women as “skinny bitches.”

“I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that”

Nope. I don’t like it. Women who are thinner than I am are not my enemy; they’re just women who are thinner than I am. That’s it. Women of all sizes should band together to fight body-shaming.

So, sorry, Meghan. Your song is super-catchy, but it’s not the empowering anthem you think it is. You squandered the opportunity to do something incredibly positive and joyful. Try to do better next time; I know you can.

That being said, the video is a sweet, funny, candy-colored treat.

In other news, I’ve just discovered the Sia video for “Chandelier.” (I’m barely kidding about that cave thing; I am *so* out of the pop culture loop these days.) Please watch it right away: the sets and cinematography are gorgeous and so is the choreography. This video haunts me.

What songs/videos are in heavy rotation for you these days?



My Evolution Wrongthink

[ 46 ] January 9, 2015 |

When I’ve had a chance to breathe lately (which hasn’t been too often, as my son and I have been sick on an off for roughly a month) I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve gotten wrong about evolution. I tend to think of it as something neat and linear: picture a single line leading out of an ocean and onto land. I’ve talked before about how I’d always thought of evolution as sort of a straight arrow (fish—>amphibians—>reptiles—>mammals) when in truth things started branching off fairly soon after life crawled on line. Weird mammal-like reptiles were some of the first successful inhabitants of earth…and little mammals were around even in the Triassic.

One thing I’d never really given thought to is this: as soon as life escaped the water, it started going back in. That’s why we have whales. It’s a strange thought, to me at least. But you can see this sort of thing being played out even today with the Macaques (Snow Monkeys) of Japan. They don’t just bathe in the springs, they hunt in them. That is evolution in action. Who knows what the Macaques might look like in a million years. (Assuming they’re still around.)

Finally, when we think about evolution in the abstract, we tend to think about it having an end point. As if “peak evolution” exists. But things don’t stop evolving. Even highly-evolved, successful creatures continue evolving. It’s a fascinating train of thought to follow, and if you’re interested, may I recommend the series “The Future is Wild?” It really is! And so is evolution.

Artists in the Mist

[ 110 ] December 11, 2014 |

Hey, folks, I don’t think we’ve ever done a formal “artists in our midst” thread, so I wanted to do one today. Show us your photography, paintings, pics, poetry, plays, etchings, or dinosaur erotica. Do we have artists in our midst? Don’t be shy–show us your stuff.

Curried Beef Stew

[ 28 ] December 4, 2014 |

I toyed with the idea of titling this entry “GamerGate Stew,” but considering how much grossness I’ve subjected you all to lately, I thought I’d be pushing my luck. Let’s forget about the Internet’s Shittiest People ™ for a moment and talk about something lovely–a curried beef stew.

I used to make this stew awhile back, using a recipe I’d found in a slow cooker recipe book. It was nice. It was basically a classic beef stew with some mango chutney and curry powder stirred in to add some heat and sweetness. Last night I wanted to do a variation on this recipe, only I didn’t have any chutney on hand. I also wanted to make a slightly more sophisticated version of the stew–with a little more depth of flavor. I happened to have some dried apricots on hand so I used them as a jumping off point. I made a paste using a few pantry staples, hoping to evoke the heat and sweetness of mango chutney/curry combo.

The finished stew turned out far better than I ever could have imagined.

(Ingredient amounts are vague because I do not cook with precision. I throw things together and hope the finished product will turn out well. They almost always do.)

Curried Beef Stew

  • 1-2 lbs. stew beef, dredged in plenty of flour, salt and pepper
  • 4-5 carrots, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 large onions, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into bite- size chunks
  • 2-3 potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1/3 heaping cup of dried apricots
  • 1-2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3-4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas

  1. In a slow cooker with browning feature, brown the dredged and seasoned beef in oil.
  2. Meanwhile, make the apricot curry paste. In a food processor, pulse the apricots, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, curry powder and just enough beef broth to moisten the mixture until it becomes pasty.
  3. Add the chopped veggies to the slow cooker and season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together.
  4. Stir in the apricot paste, then add the beef broth.
  5. Cook on low for about 8 hours or 4 on high.
  6. Add peas a few minutes before stew is done.

I imagine this would be great garnished with a dab of raita or some chopped cilantro, but honestly the stew is so delicious and satisfying, you’ll just be gilding the lily.

Silence is Dangerous

[ 42 ] November 30, 2014 |

I’ve been following Randi Harper on twitter for a couple weeks now because she created a blockbot that blocks many Gators; since then she’s become  something of a GG target. Recently she wrote about her experiences in tech, which is both heartrending and inspirational. This was too good to put in a links post; it deserves its own spotlight.

Trigger warning not so much for the post, but for the comments, which are…predictably awful. (Some of them are also awesome. Just read with caution.)

Thanks so much to Origami Isopod for the link.

But We Can All Agree Bugs Bunny in Drag Was Intensely Hot, Right?

[ 159 ] November 26, 2014 |


Rod Dreher is very titillated by upset about New York Magazine’s interview with a zoophile. Not understanding the concept of consent and the difference between interspecies and human/human relationships, he thinks that this interview is an attempt to normalize zoophilia. This is liberalism in action, folks. You decide to mind your own goddamn business and not worry about other people are doing with their genitals and suddenly everyone’s trolling the zoo for romantic partners. It’s true. I decided that that I wasn’t going to worry about what consenting adults do in the bedroom. Not two seconds later, I stumbled across a man making violent love to a ferret.  I know what you’re thinking: NO, it wasn’t Mike Cernovich. 

Conservatives too often mistake liberalism for libertinism. I’m a liberal. This means that I’m cool with same sex relationships. It means I’m cool with kink so long as the kink is safe/sane/consensual/etc. That doesn’t mean *I’m* kinky. (It also doesn’t mean I equate homosexuality with kink. The two things don’t have anything to do with each other.)

That doesn’t mean I think all kink is cool and awesome. (I find many paraphilias pretty gross.) The only thing it means is that, being pretty intensely private about my fairly vanilla love life, I like to grant everyone the same right to privacy. In other words, unless you’re hurting someone with your extra-curricular activities, I don’t wanna know about them. It doesn’t mean I dig them or approve of them. It doesn’t mean that when I read an article about horse-fucking I begin thinking to myself “You know what? That sounds all right.”

But I can understand how Rod Dreher–his brain addled by all the hot hamster porn he’s been “researching”–might find these concepts confusing.


The Antidote to #GamerGate: The Happy Gaming Gamers Thread–Whatcha Playing?

[ 168 ] November 25, 2014 |

#GamerGate has put a spectacularly ugly face on a perfectly respectable hobby. I used to be obsessed with arcades; I was obsessed with my friend’s Atari set. I played everything from pinball to Tempest. Granted, I haven’t played video games since I was regularly rescuing the princess in Mario Brothers, but I’ve always been down with gaming and I hope to get back into it at some point. Gaming is fun; we should celebrate that. In that spirit, now’s you chance to talk about what scratches your gaming itch.

  • What are you playing? What are you loving?
  • If you were recommend a video to beginning gamers, what would it be? I know there’s a lot out there to choose from, but let’s make this simple: What’s something fun and intuitive you can recommend?

Consider this a gaming open thread. Talk about whatever gaming-related.

I Don’t Like the “Ugly Friendless Virgin” Insult

[ 117 ] November 24, 2014 |

It’s inevitable. Someone makes a comment/post about misogynists and someone comes along to say that said misogynists are probably ugly, sad, lonely, loser virgins. Aside from the fact that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a virgin (at any age), this stereotype of misogynists does a disservice to everyone who’s concerned about combatting misogyny.

There are plenty of people out there who are not conventionally attractive who manage to have exciting, fulfilling romantic lives. That’s because people who are not conventionally attractive can also be sexy and interesting and there are plenty of people out there who understand this. Conversely, the idea that all misogynists are ugly, friendless virgins needs to die in a fire because it’s simply untrue. Do I think there is a sizable contingent of #GamerGaters who are…let’s say…lacking? Yes. But not everyone who hopped dick-first into #GamerGate fray is some pitiable shut-in. In fact, some of them are probably serviceable-looking and successful with women. (For values of “successful” I’m saying “able to trick a woman into the sack.”) Let’s stop with the “ugly virgin” trope. It’s not just problematic, it’s inaccurate.

I mean, look, King Caesar is a giant, pantsless cat-dragon and he does just fine.

What Would John C. Wright Write Like if He Were a Libertarian-Brogressive Type?

[ 110 ] November 23, 2014 |

He’d write like this:


I watched a few videos by Gamergaters and that general camp that had a bit of anti-woman bite to them. The infamous “five guys” video about Zoe Quinn keeps saying that her sex life is not an issue, but also keeps implying that she is a slut. One guy who made an anti-Sarkesian video talked about how most women these days are “unmarriageable sluts,” in an offhand comment. In my mind, that’s a long way from misogyny. It could just be taking a shot at someone you don’t like, trolling, or venting some frustration. It could be that both guys are frustrated with their love lives. Maybe they simply oppose sexual promiscuity. I don’t know, but they aren’t going on and on about how rape victims often deserve it or how domestic violence is often justified, which is what a misogynist would do. And I’m desperately trying to make a mountains out of molehills here. To leap from a nasty comment to supposing the hatred of all women is to get swept up in the idealist and puritanical thinking I described earlier. People aren’t perfect. They get angry and say mean things. Acrimony between the genders is normal. Men are pigs. Women are gold diggers. Men are liars. Women are sluts. You say tomater, I say tomata.

I’ll pay you a bajillion bitcoins if any of you can make it though the whole thing. Karen?

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