Chickadoodle’s 5-minute guide to anime-con-going

So, this weekend is pretty awesome for a few reasons: It’s Easter, and it’s my city’s annual anime convention.

This is about my 5th year of regular con attendance, and it’s always a blast, but there are a few things that you have to keep in mind, just as with any festival.

  • The con staff is generally super nice and helpful, but being any sort of jerk/otherwise flouting the con rules will get you kicked out.
  • Plan where you want to be and get there at least 15 minutes early if it’s a timed event. Lines are generally huge, and there’s only so much standing room they can fill without exceeding fire code.
  • If you want someone’s picture, chase them down (but not like a madman) and ask them. Chances are, unless they’re heading for a specific event NOW, they will say yes.
  • Keep anything really important on you where you can feel it at all times. By and large, con attendees are amazing, wonderful people, but all it takes is one pickpocket.
  • Give yourself a spending cap, and do not, no matter how awesome that sexy Hobbit dwarf body pillow (seriously–saw some of those today) is, give into temptation.
  • Getting separated from your group is really easy to do, and finding them again in a crowded exhibitor’s hall will be nigh on impossible without a fully charged phone.

That’s just a short list. Most cons have a huge list of rules that you pretend to read and claim to agree to when you register, but seriously, for things like appropriate footwear, you need to make sure you’re following the rules.

Oh, and one more rule I forgot to mention: You are there to have fun–make the best of your time!

Summa cum walrus

Summa cum walrus

If you’re coming here from Facebook, chances are, you know at least part of this story, but if you aren’t, I need to repeat it.

My roommate, boyfriend, and another friend were having dinner and talking about grades, as it is the end of the quarter and we are all anxiously awaiting them. We got onto graduation, and the sort of honors one can get. The friend couldn’t quite remember the phrases–cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude–and suggested that there needed to be some sort of “with highest badassery” honors. We all agreed, and were trying to come up with something that kept the spirit of the phrase, as we’re pretty sure that “badass” has no exact translation in Latin. Given that badasses tend to be portrayed as having many victories, I went with the equivalent of “with highest victory”, which became “summa cum laurus”.

“Laurus”, of course, is really easy to mishear. Really, really easy to mishear, specifically as “walrus”. And what better entertainment for a bunch of college students than a really bad pun? “Summa cum walrus”, it was!

I tried to sketch one on my phone without much success. The photo is my roommate’s sketch, and I like it much better.

So, that’s the story. I kinda hope someone makes a plush of this walrus and gives it to me at graduation, but even if they don’t, I’ll always have the picture.

We all need a little WAT in our lives sometimes

So, I’ve been posting a lot of heavily opinionated stuff lately, but I’ve run out of things to complain about, and I’ve been wanting to post something funny for a while, so here it is.

Aside from being confusing and hilarious, I found it very interesting that, even though I knew exactly what was going on, my brain was still fooled.

If you don’t know what “WAT” is, I’d define it thusly: the sensation/emotion of wanting to ask “What on God’s green earth is THAT?!”, but being too stunned to say more than a deadpan, improperly formed “what?”. Different from “whaaaaaa?” in that you’re not even trying to make sense of what’s going on because you know it’s a lost cause.

Also, a cuteness bonus vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V4CUrP9s7aw

That which we call a Chickadoodle by any other name…

So, I’m really tired of everything being an attack on women/feminism. In a recent op-ed piece, Jill Filipovic takes on women who take the last name of their husband when they marry, saying that their reasons “don’t make sense”. She says that your name is your identity, while pointing out at the same time that if we all have our father’s last name, then nobody’s name is really their own.

Sorry, Jill, but just because it “doesn’t make sense” to you that some women actually don’t like their last name, and just because men don’t change their last name as often as women doesn’t mean that they deserve shame for it. (I know I’ve referred to this in at least one prior post—there’s a damn good reason my mom took my dad’s last name. It’s not a name I’d’ve wanted to keep, either, with how much teasing I’d’ve had to put up with.) I’ve known several women who have changed their names (whether through marriage or just by a legal process outside of marriage) because they were abused by someone who shared that last name. Are you going to tell them that that’s anti-feminist? As for men, maybe they just don’t care about their last name as much. Maybe it never occurs to them that this particular avenue is open to them, but I don’t think that’s due to malicious intentions.

Filipovic goes on to say that there’s a power in names. This is very true. But we are allowed to express how we all feel in different ways. Maybe I’d feel more powerful in taking my husband’s last name (when I get married) because I feel that it makes us as a couple also a whole, single unit. Maybe I’d feel more powerful keeping my own. And I’d hope that every woman makes her own choice, because the point is that this is a personal choice. Choosing to take my husband’s name will never mean for me that I am submitting myself to my husband’s authority, or that I will give up my identity. Making the choice not to will not mean that I think I’m better than my husband, and that he should submit to me. At the end of the day, no matter what my name is, I will still be Chickadoodle.

Saying you’re a feminist, but then saying “Oh, no, you can’t choose that”, or assuming without any information that something a woman does is not a choice, flies in the face of freedom that feminists have fought so hard for. It’s just as condescending when someone who claims to be feminist says that I don’t know what’s best for me while assuming that I just haven’t explored all my options. Many women in my life have done many different things with their maiden names upon marriage. Some hyphenated, some kept their maiden name, some made it their middle name, some just chose to take their husband’s last name. (Note that I used the word “chose”—Unless there’s something I’m not being told, I’m pretty sure nobody I know was forced into whatever they eventually wound up with.) You can think it’s wrong all you want, but trying to force—or shame, as is the case here—someone into doing it your way is just as wrong as saying “Well, since I’m the husband, you’ll take my last name, massage my smelly feet every night, and put up with all the shit I’m entitled to put you through as a man without a peep of protest.” (For the record–and I think I mentioned this in the other name-change post–my parents have a friend who took his wife’s last name upon marriage. I don’t know the reason, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t force him, so with that said, it doesn’t really matter to me why he did that.)

One other thing: How does a man changing his last name make more sense? Filipovic says that this is the case several times toward the end of her op-ed, but does nothing to explain why this makes so much more sense, other than that she’s a feminist and she says so. She does not come right out and say this, of course, but it is strongly implied. I can see the argument that the woman bears the children, but hey, there’s got to be some male somewhere in that equation. I’m not saying that women don’t do the majority of the child-bearing work, but there are a lot of men out there who do everything in their power to make that work worth it, both during the pregnancy and after the birth. The point is that it took two people, and so you can’t just say, “The baby is only the wife’s” if you really believe in equality. And what about childless couples?

Me? I’m not married yet. When it happens, I’ll pave my own path, thanks very much, whether it’s as Chickadoodle [REDACTED] or as Chickadoodle [Husband’s last name] or some combination thereof. I’m not going to judge my friends on their choices either. Well, unless it’s McGillicutty-Fitzgibbon-Jingleheimer-Schmidt. Then I might. But only because I’d wish for a name that awesome, myself. The point is that I’d stay quiet because I’d be happy that two more people have found happiness with each other, and if someone else judged them or me, I’d tell them that everyone’s name is their own business, thanks for your concern and good freakin’ day.

If you want people to respect your choices, respect theirs. Don’t tell me that I can’t change my last name from [REDACTED] (which I am liking more and more as a last name, brackets included) to McGillicutty-Fitzgibbon-Jingleheimer-Schmidt if that’s the name of the man that I marry, and it’s a name I like more than my own. Don’t tell me that I’m compromising my identity when you have no idea who I am.

Can’t I just want equality?

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of articles and comments to the effect of “butt out of our culture/movement; it’s not yours”. Basically, if you’re not one of us, you’re oppressing us. (Yes, “oppression” was the word used in one case, as was the sentiment that anyone who isn’t part of the group is automatically in the oppressing group, even when they support the rights of the oppressed.)

As a straight, white female, I know I’ve got at least two things counting against me right there. That’s why I dislike being made to identify myself when I want to get involved. According to several comments (all from the same person) I’ve seen on the subject of LGBT rights, because I’m straight, I’m part of the oppressing group, even if I don’t actively oppress, and the only reason I want to help the movement is because I want LGBT people to bow and scrape at my feet; I want infinite gratitude. I know anyone can say anything on the internet, but honestly, the idea really makes me squirm. I don’t want recognition; I want people to have equal rights. I don’t want to be some magical savior, lording it over the people whose rights I fight for—nothing will have changed in that case.

Believe it or not, I actually, truly, honestly believe that all people are equal, and it incenses and deeply saddens me when that equality is ravaged by others, well-meaning or otherwise. Watching “Dry White Summer” (about Apartheid-era South Africa) in 12th grade, I asked to go down to the counselor’s office, where I broke down sobbing. I just don’t understand how people can treat each other so horribly, especially over things that simply can’t be helped—that simply don’t matter. (I can’t say I’m completely culturally color-blind—I’m a product of my own culture, after all—but I am actively working on it.) It really, honestly distressed me to see a movie that, though fiction, was based heavily in the hatred and violence that really went on—that still goes on today.

As to co-opting someone’s culture, anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’ve always been interested in the ways other people live their lives. Other cultures are fascinating to me, and if something from that culture is something that I would like to emulate, I try to emulate it. It’s not that I claim it as mine—I remember where it comes from, and I’m forthcoming if asked. I don’t think that’s disrespectful. From what I’ve heard, it isn’t, but I guess I’m just a little confused on why it would be if I give credit where credit is due.

As to fighting in someone else’s movement, I understand the want to be able to stand on your own two feet; to say “enough is enough” and make things change. But you aren’t going to make things change if nobody else gets involved. The oppressors stay oppressors, the minority stays the minority, and those who continue to stand by are of no help. The math just doesn’t work out. I don’t get how you can say that you want allies, but you don’t want your allies to fight. I don’t get how you can say “this isn’t your fight”. I’m a human; you’re a human—we’re equal, and I want to make sure that everyone else respects that. I don’t want “brownie points” or adoration—brownie points mean nothing, and I’m not going to fight for nothing, and I’ve already touched on the adoration part of it. I’m content to sit back and think “I helped these people to win this well-deserved victory” without having anyone else think or know so.

I understand holding a fierce pride, in owning who we are. I understand that I’m not a racial minority, or LGBT. But that doesn’t mean I don’t honestly care about the well-being and rights of people who are. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to stand by and watch as someone else says that they’re wrong for being who they are. Were it the other way around, were I in the minority (and, being a woman, some days, I am–okay, “marginalized” is probably a better word here than minority, but you get my meaning), I’d want the support. I’d want others to be willing to stand up for me. Yes, I’d want to do all I can to fight in the first place, but I don’t think that having people who aren’t like me help demeans me or what I’m fighting for. I don’t think it oppresses me.

At the same time, I’m not going to tell the people I’m fighting with to just sit back and let me take care of it—that’s about the most hypocritical (or at least self-aggrandizing) thing a person can do, and is completely counter-productive. There’s strength in numbers, pure and simple. That said, I’m not going to force other people to join me if they don’t want to. I believe that it’s a choice, and I’m not going to let anyone tell me that certain fights aren’t mine to join. I’m not going to muscle the people who started it out of the way; rather, I’m going to do what I can to support them. I’m going to do what I can to make sure that people have equal rights, that they are free to live their lives as they are, and not pretending just so that society will approve. I don’t do it to be edgy—I do it because I’m tired of watching people I care about get stepped on and treated badly. (Funny how having a friend or family member in any sort of minority group makes you want to help out… It’s like I care about the people that I, well, care about.)

So please, don’t assume to tell me what my intentions are, or what I want to get out of being involved in a movement. I want to see everyone treated as equals, plain and simple. If there is some other reason that I shouldn’t get involved in a movement I feel is worthy (aside from it being somehow against equality), I’d like to know what that reason is, and if there are any questions about why I want to be involved in a movement, I’m happy to clear those up. But telling me that I’m an oppressor (or, at least, in the oppressing group–when worded that way, I don’t see a real difference) and then not allowing me to prove that my interests really do lie in equality isn’t okay. Focusing on what makes everyone different isn’t going to help anyone. I thought the point was to say “Hey, I’m human, just like you, so why don’t I have the same basic human rights?” If anyone believes in everyone having those rights, why not let them fight by your side so that you can have them?

Book Review #3: Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

I am a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It’s just so trippy and weird and punny and clever—you might say I have something of a kinship with this book, actually. (Here, I should say that by Alice in Wonderland, I refer to the combination of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.) As such, I am inclined to check out adaptations and spin-offs. Usually, I toss them away. (Confession: I have not seen The Mad Hatter Johnny Depp in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland. Three guesses and the first two don’t count as to why.)

Showalter’s Alice in Zombieland isn’t really what you’d call an adaptation, though. It’s more of a “loosely based on the ideas of” sort of deal. Which, honestly, is quite alright with me.

Straight from the beginning, though, I think there were a lot of unnecessary events. It’s no spoiler to say that Alice’s family is killed—it’s in the blurb! I suspect making Alice lose her father, mother, and sister was a ploy to make her tougher, or to make it so she has nothing left to lose. Showalter tries, but I don’t think she does a good job of achieving either. Alice’s emotional numbness makes sense, at least, though.

Another gripe of mine is the visions Alice and the of course stunningly beautiful, bad-boy-with-a-heart Cole. As a reason to get them together, it’s pretty weak. I’m a huge believer in self-fulfilling prophecy, but this… not feeling it, to be honest. Both Alice and Cole feel a little flat, and, while this is common in teenage relationships, they seem to have the same fights over and over again. Given their situation, especially Alice’s desires to prove her worth, it’s understandable, but re-hashing it for the last third of the book really didn’t help.

Kat, however, I appreciate, except for how preachy she is about not swearing. It’s fine that she doesn’t do it—don’t get me wrong. It’s just how she comes off saying it in the first place. I’ll give Showalter points in that it is a very typically teenager way, however. Kat is one of her best-written characters, I think. Showalter really had me going on what I thought Kat’s secret was, only to reveal it as something completely different. Unfortunately, I think I know what Kat’s fate is (I won’t reveal it because it ties into a spoiler about Kat), especially as it ties into Alice, and it makes me a little sad.

The one thing that really stood out to me was Showalter’s concept of zombies. In Showalter’s world, zombies are not flesh-and-bone beings, but spirit beings of evil, and even “good” people can become zombies upon their spiritual death. (Another thing Showalter is good—almost too good, as it gets kind of confusing—at: blurring the line between good and evil people.) Of course, there’s some serious tension between Cole and his zombie fighters, and another group focused on not destroying zombies, but figuring out how they work and harnessing it for *ahem* the “greater good”.

There isn’t terribly much action, but then, the story is still building, as this is the first book of at least two. (From the beginning, it’s clear we’re set up for at least one sequel—is the standalone just not a thing anymore?!) I can’t say I’m completely intrigued to see where it goes—after all, Kat’s fate is the one I’m most invested in. Unless Showalter pulls out all the stops in the next book, I fear she’s going to lose a lot of readers. After all, there’s only so much Alice messing up and Kat’s zaniness and Alice and Cole getting a little hot-and-heavy people will take. (Showalter is pretty preachy on the “no sex before marriage” thing, or at least “no sex before you’re ready”. I’m still not sure which one is her ideology. I’m totally okay with the latter, but the first just seems kind of forced.)

As a young adult book, I’d give Alice in Zombieland a solid B, bordering on B+ (3.5 stars). I wouldn’t read it again for fun, but it was an entertaining read the first time around, and very unique in its treatment of zombies. Again, I’m not sure I’ll pick up any future sequels, and I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone who isn’t a YA fan. If you enjoy YA literature, however, give it a read.

Chickadoodle’s Dinner for Two, #1

I’m really not sure if I’ll keep on writing these, but we had a pre-St. Paddy’s day dinner that was just amazing. There were three of us, and we made enough of most things for between three and five people. I’m just sort of shrinking the recipe to fit a two-person meal for one evening.

I’d been craving fish and chips lately, but making all that is HARD. At least, making your own beer-batter fish fillets is not exactly easy, so I did kind of skip out on making those and just bought some pre-made ones that baked in the oven.

However, I did grab some (for two, I would recommend 2 or 3 medium) Yukon gold potatoes. I washed them, sliced them up (I prefer very thin wedges), and cooked them at 425 Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. The thicker pieces probably could have used a few more minutes, but they were fine. I flipped them about half-way through, and before baking, I coated them in olive oil, thyme, and a delicious Penzey’s spice blend called Tuscan Sunset.

Before I go any farther, I do have to say that my roommate is kind of the Spice Mistress of our apartment, and she decided those would be the best herbs. She was right. She also made our heirloom tomato salad. For that, take about 1 large (we’re talking roughly 3 or 4 inches in diameter—these suckers get huge!) diced heirloom tomato, a few ounces of cubed mozzarella, some basil, and some balsamic vinaigrette, throw it all together, and oh my, what a treat!

My roommate was also the one to make homemade tartar sauce. She mixed mayonnaise, lemon juice, pickle relish, a little bit of Dijon mustard, and a few spices—I didn’t quite see which—until it tasted like tartar sauce to her. Having sampled it, I can say it was perfect.

As a side note: I baked the fish and the potatoes at the same time—the fish needed a little less time, and it worked fairly well. I would advise using foil, though; cleanup would not be fun otherwise!