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I love macaroni and cheese. It may be my favorite food. There’s just something about it that is so comforting. Usually I just whip up a box of Kraft (heresy, I know), but tonight I decided to make homemade mac and cheese. I used Sheila Lukins’ recipe from her book Ten. The recipe is pictured below. It came out really well, and there is enough left over to last me a week. I will definitely be making this one again, although next time I think I will try different types of cheese – maybe goat or manchego.

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It turns out that the Federal District Court Judge who will be deciding the Prop 8 case, Judge Vaughn Walker, is gay.  Unfortunately I worry that if he decides that Prop 8 is in fact unconstitutional, conservatives will be quick to blame it on his sexuality – suggesting that he’s biased.  The fact that his sexuality is even making news headlines worries me, especially because there are people questioning whether he can be impartial in deciding this case. (Walker, as it turns out, is fairly conservative as politics go – his decisions have angered the gay community in the past.) I wish this didn’t have to be an issue, but it reminds me that people who are part of any kind of majority, be it sexual, racial, or gender, always forget that they too have a sexual orientation, a race, and a gender. Just because you are a straight, white male does not mean that you are free from bias. Unfortunately, however, if a straight judge was deciding this case we would not see article after article questioning whether he be able to remain unbiased. We do not question whether he will decide in favor of the Prop 8 supporters because he is straight. We assume that being straight (or white, or male) is the neutral center, and we don’t look any deeper. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when the decision comes out, the media will focus on the legal reasoning and not Judge Walker’s sexuality.

Perhaps it is worthless to blog about the inherent sexism in commercials, but when I’m actually watching the commercials, it just becomes so much more apparent.  This year the commercials seem to be all about men and what it means to be a man.I was shocked to see a Dove commercial, a company who I’m usually impressed by, put out a commercial celebrating some kind of inherent masculinity.

The Dodge Charger commercial proved once again that women like to deprive men of their masculinity, and they need gadgets and cars to regain it:

Men also seem to have a venue to get their aggression out on women, by, what else, tackling them:

Of course  there was the Focus on the Family – Tim Tebow commercial, which has received tons of attention already. The message here, if you’re irresponsible and get pregnant, then you may as well do the right thing and keep the baby.

The majority of these commercials seem to suggest that American men are in trouble – their masculinity is being threatened, mainly by women, and they need to get it back in any way possible. I worry what these commercials mean for women. Will we see more depictions of aggression toward women in the media? Will women be even more demonized than they already are? It’s sad that these stereotypical images of what a man should be continue to persist, and that we haven’t moved beyond it at all.

I did quite a bit of baking today.

First I made black and white cookies. They are one of my favorite desserts, but difficult to find if you do not live in the NYC metropolitan area. They are like little cookie cakes with chocolate and vanilla icing. Delicious! I used this recipe.

Next I made muffins:

They are called Linzer muffins. The batter is made with ground almonds and lemon zest, and when you bite into them there is a dollop of raspberry jam. Such a treat. I used this recipe.

Today Scott Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder of Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider in Wichita, KS. I am incredibly relieved that the judge did not give the jury the instruction for voluntary manslaughter. (Roeder wanted to argue that his motive for killing Dr. Tiller was to save the life of unborn babies, therefore reducing the charge to voluntary  manslaughter). However, not even a sentence to life in prison can lessen the incredible sadness and tragedy surrounding Dr. Tiller’s death. I fear that there are others in this country like Scott Roeder who feel that they are justified in taking the life of someone working to help women and promote female agency, in order to save the life of a fetus.  I fear that these people will not be deterred by Roeder’s conviction.  I fear that some judge in some state will be willing to give a jury a voluntary manslaughter instruction.

The loss of Dr. Tiller also means the loss of another doctor who is willing to perform late-term abortions (and abortions in general). This means that more women will lack access to safe abortions. More women will be forced into making certain decisions about their bodies, in which they really had no choice. More women will turn to unsafe methods to ending their pregnancies. Dr. Tiller’s death represents another loss of women’s rights in this country. It is another way in which women’s control over their own bodies is being stripped away.

I hope that Scott Roeder is sentenced to life in prison without parole, because it frightens me to think of what he would do if released on parole. It is at times like this that I wish I had gone to medical school and could lend a hand in providing women with safe, comprehensive reproductive health care. As a lawyer I will be able to contribute to legislative changes and protecting women’s legal rights, but it is hard to sit back and not be able to directly provide women with the medical services they desire.  I only hope that there are others like Dr. Tiller who will not be afraid to continue fighting for women’s access to abortion.

Tortilla Espanola

Made this tortilla espanola tonight. It’s basically a spanish frittata made with eggs and potatoes. The recipe is here on epicurious.com. It’s a very time-consuming endeavor, but totally worth it.

The Oscar nominations come out in one week, so I think it’s time to start my Oscar blogging. I’ve been slowly trying to see all the movies that critics speculate will be nominated for major awards (Best Picture, Best Actor/Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Director), and I think I’ve done a fairly good job. Here’s my confession: I really did not like Avatar.  Yes, it was visually stunning. Yes, it represented great strides in film technology. But was it a good film? No.  The script was pathetic. Every character felt that they needed to tell the audience exactly what they were thinking and doing, even when it was obvious.  The (extremely thin) plot was cliché and tried to incorporate so much symbolism and represent so many different political causes, that it ended up seeming confused and meaningless.  I understand why people would enjoy this film for it’s entertainment value – just as people enjoyed films like Iron Man or Transformers (did anyone actually enjoy Transformers?), but to throw awards at Avatar just because it looks cool seems completely misguided.  Give it all the technical awards that you want, but I don’t think that this film even deserves to be in the Best Picture category alongside movies like Crazy Heart, The Hurt Locker, and Precious. (I’m going to hold off on commenting on Precious, but definitely check out these critiques, both positive and negative). And if we’re going to start recognizing more action/fantasy films, why isn’t District 9 getting more buzz, which in my opinion is way more interesting and original than Avatar.

I saw The Hurt Locker over the weekend. I was blown away by this film. This was the first film about Iraq, where I really felt like I was getting an inside look at what it is like to actually be there. The script was not ridden with cheesy plot devices and unnecessary love stories (a  la Stop-Loss or The Lucky Ones).  This movie was both terrifying and poignant, and by the end of the film I felt like I really knew the characters. The suspense and fear was palpable in every scene where the soldiers had to de-activate a bomb.  And, of course, I cannot discuss this film without mentioning that it was directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, who happens to be James Cameron’s ex-wife. As Manohla Dargis (NY Times film critic) stated in an interview, this film is so amazing because it shows that women can direct good action films and receive both critical and popular acclaim.  If Bigelow wins the award for Best Director (and I am definitely rooting for her), she would be the FIRST woman to win this award, and I think it would teach Hollywood a lesson about hiring women to direct films other than romantic comedies. But honestly, I think she deserves this award regardless of the fact that she is a woman. This film was brilliantly directed and truly brought the audience into the nitty-gritty aspects of the war. I think she Bigelow deserves all the accolades out there.

I think this has been a pretty disappointing film season. There really haven’t been many films that I have walked out of the theater feeling truly impressed.  Crazy Heart, however, truly impressed me. This is a beautiful film that tells a very simple story but with incredible taste and emotion. Jeff Bridges, as an aging country music star, gives an amazingly nuanced performance, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the woman he falls in love with, is also outstanding.  This film has everything – the love story is completely unexpected, the performances are memorable, and the original music is fantastic.  I loved this movie because it did not have to resort to any of the usual tricks. It works because it is so simple, and it is not trying to be some incredibly intellectual film. I don’t see why this type of filmmaking should not be recognized, especially when it is combined with an original script and an original score – this is not just another by-the-book musical biopic.  Unfortunately Crazy Heart will not win Best Picture (it’s just not crowd pleasing enough, and (gasp!) there are no special effects!), and it may not even be nominated. I do hope that Jeff Bridges wins Best Actor though, so that this film gets a fraction of the recognition it deserves.

I know that the Academy Awards are, in the end, a popularity contest and rife with Hollywood politics, but I do think that these awards mean something not only to the public, who may see a movie because it won an award, but also to producers and studio execs who are choosing which types of movies to make and who should make them. I hope the Academy gets it right this year – I’ll be watching.