To Boldly Bro Where No Man Has Bro’d Before

When it comes to the Star Trek vs. Star Wars debate, I am firmly rooted on the side of Star Trek. I don’t dislike Star Wars, I just prefer to watch Star Trek. The original and Next Generation and the reboot. I love Star Trek.

I’m much more emotionally attached to the Star Trek characters than the Star Wars characters. There are no greater bromances than those aboard the USS Enterprise: Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Scotty.

Yes, the original series has its flaws. It’s campy and sometimes misogynistic. But it has great story lines. Captain Pike, Khan – and, yes Tribbles are silly, as are those aliens on that abandoned planet that look like flying fake vomit, but that’s the thing about Star Trek; they never took themselves too seriously. The show found a great balance between fun and suspense and friendships and enemies.

Sure I wish there were more strong female characters featured in the series. Uhura is fantastic and vital to the ship, and the ship could use more Uhuras.

But it’s the rapport between Kirk and Spock and Bones and Scotty that sticks with me. These men live and die for one another. And they’re unflappable, usually. Bones gets frazzled, but, Damn it, Jim, he’s a doctor, not a magician. They all work well together under pressure and ultimately save the day. And at the end of the day, they can imbibe some Romulan ale and laugh with/at one another.

And I cried a lot when Kirk went into the warp core in Into Darkness.

But the original will always hold up. “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.”

Live long and prosper, Spock.


If I Can’t Be the Talent, I Want To Be Talent-Adjacent


Of course you have; you don’t live under a rock. But, in case you haven’t, watch it immediately.

I have watched this video, approximately, too many times. I’m obsessed. With Hozier and with this video. And after watching this a few times, I fell down a Youtube rabbit hole of ballet. I watched several clips of Sergei Polunin dancing and interviews with him, which then led me to Rudolf Nureyev, since Polunin has been called the next Nureyev. And then my obsessions collided.

Last month I read the book Dancer by Colum McCann. It’s fantastic. Colum McCann is another obsession of mine. He is an exception writer. I have read four of his novels and love each one immensely. Dancer, incidentally, is historical fiction about the life of Rudolf Nureyev, the infamous Russian ballet dancer who defected to the United States and became a phenomenon, with good reason. I’ve watched a few documentaries about Nureyev and his partner Margot Fonteyn, I’ve watched clips of him dancing, watched the full length recording of him in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (which is obviously more of a vehicle for him than Fonteyn- and that death scene is one of the most powerful things I have ever seen, beautifully and intelligently choreographed and danced; it’s perfection) three times now, and have ILLed a biography of him, which I am eagerly awaiting. I want to know everything about him and see him dance every role he ever danced and imagine that I knew him. He is excruciatingly beautiful. I hate saying things like, ‘Just. . .all the feelings,’ but I cannot accurately put into words how extraordinary Nureyev is or how I feel watching him, it’s just. . .all the feelings. He, and Polunin, are equally intimidating and alluring and so damn good at what they do/did.

Prokofiev, it’s worth saying, is one of the greatest Russian composers, and when I first discovered his Romeo and Juliet, I became – yup – obsessed with it. And, in further obsession collision, Prokofiev’s Cinderella is being performed at UConn next month, and who choreographed it? Nureyev. Then my brain exploded.

This is not the first time I’ve gotten stuck on a ballet obsession. When I was a kid, my parents brought home a VHS (yup.) of Mikhail Baryshnikov in the Nutcracker. I was mesmerized. (And slightly disturbed but also intrigued by Baryshnikov’s very muscular, very white, and very naked-looking legs.) I loved it so much, I made my mother, God bless her, reenact the pas de deux with me. I have never been described as having a ballerina’s figure, and I was not a slim kid. But there we were in our living room, in front of the television, Mom lifting me à la Baryshnikov, and me, pretending I was floating like Kirkland (I was not). I wanted to be a part of that magic. I wanted to be a ballerina.

Cut to a few years later when I realized how awful I looked in a leotard and tights and quit dance classes all together. Of course it wasn’t just the outfits, it was that I had no talent for dance. I wanted to be a ballerina, but not enough to suffer through jazz and ballet classes. I didn’t enjoy it. We spent forever learning one routine that we performed once in front of our parents and then started all over again next year. Not thanks.

Now here I am, many years later, still wishing I could be a ballerina. It’s not that I wish I had the body of a ballerina, it’s that I want to know that kind of dedication and drive. To know by the age of 11 that this is what you’re going to do, to dedicate your life to. To be utterly devoted to your craft. Have absolute trust in your partner and your company. The intense artistic connection you have with your partner. It’s not just the end result I want, it’s the work that leads up to it. Things I clearly could not appreciate as a kid.

I think now I may be past my prime. I may have to let that ship sail.

But my ballet obsession is still alive and well. Part of why I love it so much is because it is a thing I have no talent for, no real experience of. It is completely otherworldly and foreign to me. My dream now is to just sit in on a ballet rehearsal, to be in the presence of all that talent and focus, and just pretend I am somehow a part of it. If I can’t be the talent, I want to be talent-adjacent. I may no talent for ballet, but I can appreciate the hell out of it.

Being a Cat-Person in a Spirit Dog World

The fast approach of Valentine’s Day has me thinking about compatibility.

Two categories people seem to take as definitive indications of compatibility are Dog-People and Cat-People. It’s one of the quick, up-front questions in a lot of online dating profiles. Essentially, the thought is that Dog-People are loyal and outgoing and social and needy, and Cat-People are introverted, moody homebodies who need their space. As usual, Buzzfeed is here to break it down for us.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a Cat-Person.

My questions is why is it acceptable to openly hate cats, but not dogs? People view cats as a nuisance. I’ve never heard stories of people drowning a bag of puppies in a river. The general opinion seems to be that it’s normal to hate cats, but there is something inherently wrong with a person who can’t love a dog. (I feel like this somehow relates Susan Cain’s book Quiet, which was really big when it came out, where she talks about how Americans now worship extroverts, aka Dog-People.) And why is there no such thing as the Crazy Dog Lady? Only the Crazy Cat Lady?

People love to say that their dog is a great judge of character, that they don’t trust a person their dog doesn’t like.Funny-memes-suspicious-of-people

You know why you’re suspicious of the people your dog doesn’t like? Because dogs are stupid and will love just about everyone or anything. I prefer a more discerning pet. (Pete Holmes knows what I’m talking about.)

One of my favorite bits from Parks and Recreation is when April spent the day assigning spirit dogs to everyone in the department.

Why doesn’t Ben get a spirit dog?

Initially, April couldn’t figure Donna out and thought she might be a poodle. So wrong. Then she puts more thought into it and realizes Donna doesn’t have a spirit dog, she has a spirit cat because she’s loyal but her trust has to be earned. There was probably something in April’s reasoning about attitude and grooming too.

It’s untrue that Cat People and Dog People are incompatible, and yet we’re using that as a way to judge potential partners. Dating profiles, and dates, for that matter, should include better compatibility questions: Hemingway or Faulkner? Beer or milkshake? Salt-and-Vinegar Chips or Ranch Chips? (I think we all know the correct answer to that one.)

And it’s not that I dislike your dog, but, given the option, I’d rather not be around it for an extended period of time. I’ll say hello to it, pet it, and then I’m pretty much done.

Cats and Cat-People seem to get the short end of the stick. And, you know what? That’s fine. Because we don’t want your stick. We’ll just sniff at it and walk away. Because, what do you think I am, a dog?

How is it February Already?

But, seriously, it’s February.

I guess I mentally hibernated for most of January. (I’m not proud of how much I’ve binge-watched on Netflix.) SAD is a real thing when you spend the winter in New England. After the holidays, there isn’t a whole lot to look forward to in a New England winter. Unless you ski or snowboard or snowshoe (actually, I might enjoy snowshoeing) or snowmobile or can get snowed in and not leave your house for a month without repercussions. I love New England. I kind of like winter. I enjoy a bit of snow. But January and February in New England are. . .difficult. SAD seems like a byproduct of over-diagnosis and over-medication and maybe melodramatic and suck it up already, but, I think most people in this climate have felt some kind of ‘winter blues.’ It’s cold and grey and I just want to live in a blanket fort and not emerge until mid-March. But that’s not practical; I don’t work from home.

I do start work at the library this week, which is something. It’ll force me out of my blanket fort, for one thing. And the Super Bowl, of all things, has helped me out of my SAD funk a little, mostly because it involves food.

I don’t care about football, but I care about food and excuses to eat lots of cheese. So the roommate and I hosted an anti-Super Bowl gathering, consisting of British TV shows, and Super Bowl food: A variation of Jamie Deen’s Five Layer Taco Dip, substituting refried beans for the ground beef, This Buffalo Chicken Dip, substituting leftover rotisserie chicken instead of the canned stuff, and a classic Ranch dip (Can we dip it? Yes we can!). Plus amazingly addictive homemade caramel corn.

NFL Abby. That’s my kind of Super Bowl Sunday.

Unrelated to the anti-Super Bowl, but having everything to do with the snowstorm, winter, free time, and overripe bananas, I also made a gluten-free version of Molly Wizenberg’s Banana Bread with Chocolate and Cinnamon Sugar, using King Arthur gluten-free all-purpose flour, which came out better than expected, and I like that her recipe uses no butter or oil (especially considering I had a dream last night in which I had some kind of formal event to attend and every single dress I tried on was disturbingly too small/tight).

I feel better after I cook. I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and demonstrated skill, and exercised a kind of creativity. And – bonus! – it’s edible! There’s proof of effort and accomplishment. But then, of course, there are all the dishes to do. . .