Allison M.

Thoughts on life, fashion, fabulousness, and (oh yeah) dressing up from a full-time male who's a part-time female


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#TBT: Root canals

Before I get to the main purpose of this post, a side thought:  Whoever said that change is the only consistent thing in the world certainly knew a little something about the business world.  Case in point:  The team I’m on at my place of employment, which will soon undergo a reorganization and shifting of duties.  While I understand management’s need to “serve our customers” in an effective manner, no longer having a chance to perform a cool task you really enjoy doing can be the pits.  Oh, well.  The good thing is that I do still have gainful employment, and there’s always the possibility that another cool task may be coming my way (I love having a bit of variety in my daily work routine).

Another thing about this move that’s the pits is that some of the people I enjoy working with won’t be on the same team as I.  One of those people serves as inspiration for this post.  This afternoon, he went to the wonderful world of endodontics and undergo a root canal procedure.  Yeah, what fun, huh?

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#TBT: “Powww!”

I’ve been away from WordPress for the past couple of days and I’m wanting to get back into the writing swing of things.  Trouble is, I had been wracking my brain about something to write about.  Then I came across an A.V. Club article about a certain Chicago television institution — Bozo the Clown.  Oh, sure, Bozo may have had a presence in other towns (he was not so much a character as he was a franchise, and I’ll circle back to that term later), but to many in Chicagoland, he was as much a part of the city as the Cubs, the Field Museum, and whatever they call the Sears Tower these days.  I imagine many natives of the city still believe this 16 years after Bozo’s show was cancelled by WGN (another Chicago institution in some circles).

But this post isn’t about Bozo or Chicago.  Rather, this is about a little something A.V. Club included in its article from way down deep into the Wikipedia wormhole (their term):  In the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was something called TV Powww, and it was literally a video game played over broadcast television.  So what, you say?  The premise was this:  A contestant watching TV Powww would be on the phone with the station (either as a random caller or as a name drawn from a barrel of entrants) and play some sort of a “target shoot” variant of video game they saw onscreen.

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#TBT follow-up: Mallatt’s

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Mallatt’s owner Mike Flint outside his Willy Street location in 2010 (original photo source here)

I usually save any “Throwback Thursday” posts for the actual date, Thursday.  But even though it’s Tuesday, I don’t want to wait until Thursday, even though the subject in question is, sadly, not going anywhere.  Back in October, I talked up in this post Mallatt’s Pharmacy, which has… er, rather, had two locations here in Madison, the older west side location on Monroe Street and a more generally recent east side location on Williamson Street.  Mallatt’s had a couple of locations outside the Madison city limits, but they were no national chain, that’s for sure.  Since it was established in 1926, Mallatt’s had been a nice, convenient corner pharmacy, one who’s much more intimate than those national chains (like, say, Walgreens) whose stores are sterile, antiseptic clones of each other.

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#TBT follow-up: Pride Tape

I want to devote this post to something that completely escaped my attention last month, and it’s about that “intersection” of two things I’m so cool about: LGBT support and the sporting world.  Over a year ago, I wrote a post about this:

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Image source: Edmonton Journal

Yes, that’s rainbow tape covering those stick blades.  Or as it’s officially called, Pride Tape.  It was launched in December 2015 by the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services (ISMSS) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  Not long after it was first unveiled, the Edmonton Oilers became the first National Hockey League team to use Pride Tape (or at least a prototype) in an on-ice event.  Not too long after that, Pride Tape started being sold through an informational and transactional website (PrideTape.com), with portions of the proceeds going to support the ISMSS as well as You Can Play, an organization “dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”

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#TBT: How I first heard of the word “crossdresser”

“Skip!  Skip!  Can you maybe make it next week?  I hate to miss Brian’s birthday; and Friday, the transvestites are back on Donahue.”
– the title character, speaking to one of his alien brethren in a 1986 episode of ALF

I want to start this post with the definition of “crossdressing,” as found here:  “the act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society.”

Why do I use that word?  Well, I first started dressing in women’s clothing back when I was 11 years old going on 12.  Even back then, I knew that putting on women’s undergarments or anything else feminine was considered taboo and against societal (and more immediately, familial) norms.  But while I knew the definition at the time, I didn’t know of the word.  To me, it was nothing more than “putting on clothing that belonged to my mom or my sister or, before that, what was found in that spare bedroom where we lived.”

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#TBT follow-up: “Whad’Ya Know?”

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Before this cruddy year finally expires, I thought it would be best to briefly mention a “bummer” moment here in Madison that actually has a bright ending, one I perhaps should’ve brought up sooner but at least I still can and am still happy to do so.

As you may recall from this post in May, I told you about Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know?  The 2-hour show was a longtime mainstay on Wisconsin Public Radio and syndicated to many public radio stations across the United States.  Hosted by Michael Feldman, Whad’Ya Know? was (or is, as I’ll get to in a moment) a mix of comedy, interviews, music, quizzes, and above all else, people just being who they are and showing what they know.  Whad’Ya Know? and Wisconsin Public Radio seemed as inextricable as Friday nights and fish fry dinners.  That is, until the end of June, when the show aired for the last time on traditional radio, this after WPR announced in March it would drop the show.

Now, 2016 being the year it has been, one would be pessimistic and think that that was the last time anyone would get to enjoy a new Whad’Ya Know? episode.  But one of the (very) few good things about 2016 is that it’s part of the 21st century.  What I mean there is that this is an era when copious amounts of media are being produced and consumed.  And if the stale ol’ radio dial isn’t to your satisfaction, there are a wide, wide range of audio and video goodies where anyone and everyone can be creative or inquisitive, enlightening or whimsical as they can.

And heading to the internet is what Michael Feldman did, setting out to create lemonade from the lemons WPR gave him.  As Whad’Ya Know? was about to leave the traditional airwaves, a fund drive was set up to keep the show running online.  Yep, it was successful.  And on the afternoon of Saturday, September 3, Whad’Ya Know? produced its very first non-radio show.  Call it Whad’Ya Know? 2.0, if you will.

The revived show is a mix of the Whad’Ya Know? of lore with the realities of a smaller, internet-based operation.  Yes, there’s still Michael Feldman.  There’s the on-air crew that was with him at the end of his WPR run (announcer Stephanie Lee and musicians John Thulin and Jeff Hamann).  There’s still the jokes, the interviews, and the occasional live musical guest.  And, yes, there’s the quiz.  Oh, and you can’t forget the live audience enjoying every moment.

But since it’s Whad’Ya Know? 2.0 (okay, that “2.0” part in the name is an unofficial add-on), there are some differences.  For one, the show is no longer at Monona Terrace, its longtime home on WPR; it now calls the intimate High Noon Saloon home.  Also, the show has its own live YouTube channel, so you can not only see but hear the action if you can’t be there in person.  And, since they are no longer constrained by radio’s schedule, Michael and his cohorts can take a freewheeling route; two 40-minute episodes were recorded their first Saturday back, and the show has recorded episodes of various lengths since then on a mostly once-every-other-week basis.  Oh, and since there’s still production costs, and not every internet show has a benevolent radio-style benefactor or sponsor, Whad’Ya Know? still solicits and accepts online donations to help defray the costs.

But no matter the cost, and no matter what the format, venue, or length it may be, it’s good to know that there’s still a Whad’Ya Know?  Here’s hoping Michael Feldman gets to continue this quirky bit of Wisconsin media culture for many more years, not just to his devoted audience of old but the younger, internet-bred audience hopefully looking for a bit of whim and merriment that’s not so crude.  You can hear and read about the new version of the show at its new website here.  You can also read this article from Isthmus about the show’s September resurrection.


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#TBT update about Ash

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Ash Whitaker in April 2016 (Image source: WITI)

Just a real quick news item that came to my attention yesterday and should be brought to yours today.  The first concerns someone here in Wisconsin — Kenosha, to be specific — that I talked about in this April post.  Ash Whitaker wanted to run for prom king at her high school, Tremper High.  School officials advised Ash that since she was born female, she should run for prom queen instead.  But Ash held firm and publicly challenged the Tremper High officials’ decision, and an online petition was set up asking them to reverse course.  It led to the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) to issue a statement that would allow Ash and others like him to be listed on the prom court ballot under the gender they identify — meaning Ash could run for prom king.

But there was — and still is — the respect issue.  Ash’s mom is supportive of him.  His classmates are supportive as well.  But school officials do not seem to be entirely on board.  Case in point:  The dreaded “bathroom issue,” in which Ash was suddenly restricted from using the boys’ washroom and required to use either staff-only, single-occupancy restrooms, which are located in inconvenient spots at Tremper High.

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#TBT Follow-Up: Sook-Yin Lee and Sleepover

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Sook-Yin Lee of Sleepover (photo source here)

Time for a really quick return to a subject I wrote about last month, and it involves something that caught my eye literally in the past 12 hours.  The earlier post regarded the cancellation of a radio program I enjoyed listening to on Saturday afternoons, CBC Radio One’s Definitely Not the Opera. As mentioned in the last post, DNTO was a mix of music, interviews, and storytelling.  The show’s end came on May 14, which left the program’s host, Sook-Yin Lee (that’s here in the photo, again), a bit bummed out.  You know, it was the whole natural “stages of grief” thing that comes with such hard, earth-shattering news as seeing your radio program get cancelled, and it began with eating a lot of potato chips according to Sook-Yin. (Hope it was the kettle-baked kind of potato chips, because those things are good.)

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#TBT follow-up: (Not) dressing up for dough

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Hey, these ladies look familiar.  Oh, yeah, that’s because I originally posted this picture on this post.

I was hoping to leave #ThrowbackThursday follow-ups to my posts until the end of the year, just as I did at the end of 2015.  However, something I saw this week gnawed on me so much that I couldn’t wait to talk about it until December.  So, here now (not later) is a follow-up to my post last month about whether I would go on reality television and dress up for fame and fortune.  My answer to that is still “no,” but read on and you’ll learn why my answer is much firmer than it was before…

In that earlier post, I talked about RuPaul’s Drag Race, Logo’s competition show where drag performers compete for the title of “America’s next drag superstar.”  But lest anyone forget, it’s a reality show.  And on virtually every reality show, the participants tend to be assembled into certain tropes, such as “the one who’s too gorgeous,” “the one who easily gets into an argument,” and, if it’s a competition, “the one who’s the one to beat.”

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#TBT follow-up: Allison speaks!

The last day of 2015 is a Thursday, and with it comes the last of my #ThrowbackThursday follow-ups of posts I wrote during the year.  And not to sound too braggadocio, but this will be la crème de la crème:  You’re actually going to hear my voice!

If you recall, I made a couple of mentions on here (well, here and here actually) about a project on YouTube last spring called “Dear Me” (er, actually #DearMe), which featured women sending messages of encouragement and advice to their younger selves — and by extension, any young person who may be watching.

#DearMe really piqued my interest, so much so that I thought about adding my own contribution.  I mean, I have the backstory, and I have a YouTube account (underused as it may be).  So, on the final day of 2015, I got dressed, put my makeup on, clicked “record” on my laptop computer’s video camera, and, after several false starts, composed a video to my 12-year-old self — yes, the same kid who faced a lot of insecurity and lack of self-confidence, but also started to gain a whole new level of safety after discovering a stash of women’s lingerie and clothing in the spare bedroom of his family’s farm house.

Now, as you can tell when you watch this video, I am wearing my regular male mode glasses (I can’t see a thing without them).  You may also see my eyes darting back and forth; I wrote out all that I wanted to tell my younger self.

Of course, you’ll also hear my actual speaking voice.  Well, as close to a feminized speaking voice as I could get.  You can clearly notice my Wisconsin accent in this video; I wish I could shake that dialect.

But despite the glasses and the eyes and the accent (and the length; it’s 9 minutes long because I had a lot to say), I hope you get a sense of what I wanted to accomplish with this #DearMe video:  That even a kid as insecure as I was (and sometimes still am as an adult) can gain a positive feeling about themselves when hearing encouraging words from the person they turn out to be.

Please watch the video, and let me know your thoughts.  Thank you so much for watching.