Tomorrow is Halloween, so I thought today would be a good time for a reminder of why it is not ok to dress up as an “Indian” for Halloween.

I recently went to the mall to do some Halloween costume shopping.  They currently have one of those Halloween pop-up stores where the old Sears used to be.  The name of this particular store is a well-known seasonal Halloween chain: Spirit Halloween.  I wasn’t in there long before coming upon this area of the store:

The Western Section

The Western Section

The Western section

The Western Section

They had 4 different women’s “Indian” outfits.  3 of which allow you to live out your fantasy of being Indian royalty, just like your Cherokee great grandmother.

Queen of the Tribe

Queen of the Tribe


Indian Princess


Reservation Royalty

Or you could just let your hair down, free yourself from the trappings of civilization, and be a “wild spirit.”


Wild Spirit

Don’t worry, guys, Spirit Halloween didn’t forget about you.  Because we only have warlike stereotypes about Native American men you have a choice of two warrior costumes.  You can be a “noble warrior”


Noble Warrior

Or, if you just want to be a warrior without all that being noble stuff you could be a plain old “Indian Warrior.”


Indian Warrior

Spirit Halloween also offers a variety of head-wear accessories.


Western Headband


Headband with feather


Western Feather Headdress

For some reasons why wearing Native American head gear is particularly problematic see the following blog post: But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?

You should also watch Reel Injun for an explanation of why the “Indian headband” is a problem.

Spirit Halloween offers some additional accessories to complete you outfit.  I especially like the “fringe boot covers” which are being worn by a model who is clearly not wearing any boots in need of being covered.


Fringe Boot Covers


Walking Staff, Western Beaded Choker, and Dreamcatcher Earrings


Warrior Necklace and Native American Choker

In a different section of the store they have Tonto outfits from the recent Disney film, The Lone Ranger.

Tonto Men's Costume

Tonto Men’s Costume

Even though Tonto is a male character women can also join in by dressing up as this offensive and bizarre caricature.


Tonto Women’s Costume

Even more disturbing is the children’s outfit.


Tonto Children’s Costume


Tonto Children’s Costume Wig

For the reasons why all of this is a problem see: Native Appropriations – “Repost: Step Away from the ‘Indian’ costume!”

And if you couldn’t find the exact offensive “Indian” costume you were looking for in the store, don’t worry!  Spirit Halloween has an online store with a great selection of ways for you to be a horrible human being.



Yesterday was my first attempt at making lavender lemonade.  Lavender is my new thing.  My air freshener smells like lavender, my dish soap is lavender scented, I have a jar of lavender sugar, and I used fresh lavender in baking scones once.  It’s just about that time of year when fresh lavender will be available at the farmer’s market, and I can’t wait.  I’m always looking for new recipes to use lavender in and I’m really excited about experimenting some more.

Anyway, lavender lemonade.  This could have been much easier and less messy had I known what I was doing.  I got the idea from a lady at the farmer’s market who I’ve bought fresh and dried lavender from in the past (as well as some lavender jelly).  She gave me the following recipe along with the dried lavender I bought from her recently: IMG_7985

The first problem I ran into was the fact that I do not own a large tea ball.  I use tea bags like a civilized human being.  So I tried to improvise a bit.  I used a strainer with a coffee filter in it.


Then I placed another coffee filter on top of the dried lavender.


The plan (and I still think it was a sound idea) was to place the strainer in the pot of boiling water and press the top of the coffee filter with a soup ladle.  I’d show you a picture of this but this is the point in the plan where things got a bit crazy and messy and there was no time for pictures.  The problem, I discovered a little too late, was that my pot was A) too deep for the strainer to reach the boiling water while resting on the rim of the pot and B) had too narrow of an opening to dip the strainer right down into the pot of boiling water.  So I just dumped the lavender (coffee filters and all) right into the water.  After a while the water was supposed to turn “a light rose color.”  This did not happen.  The water turned an Ecto Cooler green.

I figured this was close enough.  I then fished out the coffee filters and the lavender with the strainer.  I ran the lavender-infused water through a coffee filter to get any little bits of lavender I missed.  I then let the lavender water sit to cool.  While that was happening I got out my drink jar (everyone should have something like this).


Then I got out two cans of frozen lemonade


I mixed the two cans with four cans of water.


Then I added the lavender water (which miraculously turned pink somehow).


Then I got out some mint I bought at the store.


Mint can have a fairly powerful flavor, so you don’t need much.


I then chopped up a few leaves…


and added it to the lemonade along with a few handfuls of ice.  Here’s an exciting action shot of that happening:


And a close up for some reason.


The lavender adds a nice floral aftertaste that kind of sits in the back of your throat.  And the mint adds a subtle freshness.  After I tasted the concoction I discovered that it was too sweet.  I remedied this with a few extra handfuls of ice to water the whole thing down as well as a few squirts of lemon juice.

An added bonus to this whole thing was that my whole apartment smelled like lavender for a while.


Last night’s Daily Show addressed the issue of whether or not student athletes should get paid.  This is not a new issue.  People have been arguing about this for years and will most likely continue to argue about it for many years to come.  But I needed a topic for today’s blog and I couldn’t think of anything else.

The basic argument for paying student athletes is that student athletes bring in a lot of money for colleges and universities because of their athletic abilities, and they should therefore be monetarily compensated for that contribution.  There are many variations on this argument as well as a number of other arguments people use to argue for monetary compensation for student athletes.  But most arguments stem from this basic idea that universities are making huge sums of money on the backs of their athletes, but the athletes (those doing the work) are not seeing the monetary fruits of their labor.

I’m actually not going to tell you where I stand on this issue.  But you might be able to figure it out.

Many think the NCAA should change their rules to allow universities to pay their athletes.  But what would this look like if it happened?  I have a huge list of questions.  Here are just some of them:

  • If universities were allowed to pay their athletes where would that money come from?  Solely from the money generated from athletics or would they be allowed to draw from a larger pool of university funds?
  • Which athletes would get paid and how would that be determined?  Do you have to pay the tennis team or the swim team?  Do other sports get paid as much as the football and basketball players?  Does the third string kicker get as much as the star quarterback?  What would the pay scales look like?  Who makes this decision?
  • Would this just apply to Division 1 athletes or would Division 2 and 3 athletes also get paid?  Does this apply to both public and private schools?
  • How would recruitment work?  Wouldn’t the big schools with the most money just end up dominating every sport because they can pay students more?
  • Would students then be allowed to also sign endorsement deals becuase they would no longer be amateur athletes, but professionals?
  • How would all of this change the educational goals and standards of the universities?

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it there.  What additional questions can you think of.  Where do you stand on this issue?

This morning I taught a class on rap and religion.  This is a topic within religious studies where I am almost entirely ignorant.  I don’t listen to very much rap/hip hop and my research interests don’t usually involve the intersection of pop culture and religion.

So, here’s how it went: I managed to mix up Ice Cube and Ice-T and admitted I had no idea what the difference was between rap and hip hop.  Overall though, it was a good discussion and the students seemed interested, even though they clearly knew more about this topic than me.  I told them to write songs up on the board and we would play a few and then discuss the religious/social aspects of each song/video.  That worked out pretty well because they got to hear songs they suggested and wanted to hear.  The students are more of the experts on this subject than I am so I was happy to let them direct part of the direction of the class.

At the end of class I told them some people think Jay-Z is a member of the Illuminati and a number of students nodded their heads indicating they had heard this before.  Then, after class, a student approached me and asked me about lizard people.  I guess my “Jay-Z is a member of the Illuminati” comment was perceived as an open door to ask me about weird stuff.  I was actaully able to talk to him about lizard people a little because that is the sort of stuff my officemates talk about and I can’t help but pick up on some of it.

With all the rain we’ve been getting lately the ducks have decided to move in and take over.

This morning, while picking up my drycleaning (I do things like that now because I’m an adult), I saw a duck outside the store paddling around in a puddle created by the recent rainfall.  Then, when I got to the office this morning a duck was waddling around the courtyard.  It looked like the same duck.  They all look the same to me (duck racism!).

With all the recent rainfall I’m worried that not only will all the worms die off (see yesterday’s post), but that the worms will soon be replaced by an evergrowing number of ducks.  I have nothing against ducks.  I have many fond memories of feeding the ducks at my grandparent’s house when I was growing up.  My problem is that ducks feel like they can go anywhere they want with no restrictions on their movements.

We have deer crossing signs that limit the movement of deer so that we humans don’t come into conflict with them.  We should do the same with ducks.  I see ducks all over Coralville and Iowa City, and I have yet to see a duck crossing sign.  Without these signs the ducks feel like they can go wherever they want whenever they want.  If we don’t start placing restrictions on the growing duck population now who knows what will happen.

We’ve received a lot of rain in the past few days.  And there has usually been a period of sunshine and a temperature increase following each rainfall.  All this changing weather has had a negative impact on the local worm population.

Now that it is finally warmer out and the ground is no longer frozen all the worms have been wiggling about and doing wormy things again (like eating dirt and being slimy).  But when it rains the worms get upset and come above ground to get out of their rain-filled worm homes.  They wiggle onto the pavement so that they don’t drown.  But then the sun comes out and they get baked onto the pavement.

This has now happened two days in a row.  I fear that if this weather trend continues there will be no more worms left in Iowa; all the robins will die and little kids will have to find other things to dare each other to eat.  Soon there won’t be any worms left in nature.  We’ll have to go to worm zoos like this one to see a real live worm:


When I got to the office this morning my Joy of Cooking desk calendar was displaying “Savoring Asparagus” for Monday, April 8.  The little blurb about asparagus states that “the Romans used to say, if they wanted something in a hurry, ‘Do it in less time than it takes to cook asparagus.'”  The rest of the calendar entry tells you how to properly prepare asparagus.

I do not like asparagus.  Today’s calendar page reminded me that asparagus will be in season very soon.  That means people will be putting asparagus in everything and then trying to get me to try it.  When I tell people I don’t like asparagus they usually tell me that I just haven’t had it prepared properly.  Then I try their way of preparing asparagus.  Then I tell them I liked it because I want to be polite.  Asparagus always tastes like crap.  There is no proper way to prepare asparagus because the product itself sucks.  I’ve had it prepared in every conceivable way.  It is always terrible.  There are so many tasty veggies out there.  Why do we keep wasting our time trying to make a terrible one taste good?

Despite my hatred for asparagus I’m sure I will have to endure eating it a few times again this year.  My life is hard.

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