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Archive for the ‘Feminism’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: Hiatus.

[READ: July 4, 2022] Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra

This is the third book in the Charlie Thorne series.  And there will clearly be a fourth.

Sarah brought this home and was very excited about it.  I was pretty excited to read it as well.  Our excitement was justified, because Stuart Gibbs has created a great heroine, an intriguing mystery and a thoughtful historical quest.

One of the things I liked best about this book was the historical information about Cleopatra.  We all know all about Cleopatra.  Except  that everything we know is incorrect!  The course of (male) history has been very unkind to Cleopatra–she was an amazing woman and ruler and has been historically described as little more than an exotic temptress.

In the acknowledgements, Gibbs, heaps praise on the book Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.  I have just checked out the book and the first chapter is fantastic.

The Prologue is set in Alexandria, Egypt in 30 BC.  Cleopatra was being held prisoner by Octavian–Julius Caesar’s nephew.  Cleopatra and her husband Mark Antony were united in a war against Octavian–but they had lost.

Octavian lied about how he would treat Cleopatra after Mark Antony’s death.  She discovered this and was preemptive about her own fate.  She did not kill herself with an asp–rather, she drank poison and burned down her mausoleum.  And her great treasure was destroyed wit her.

Staying in Egypt, the book shifts to the present day.  At the end of the last book Charlie has escaped from the CIA as well as the Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel.

Now she is sneaking into a party in Giza, Egypt, at the penthouse of Ahmet Shah, the oldest son of a wealthy shipping magnate.  Ahmet has a ton of security because he has a ton of expensive things in his house.  But one thing that Charlie wants is not expensive–it is information. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 16, 2022] In the Jaws of Life

The version pictured here is not the one I read–there’s no pictures of it online!  My copy was translated by Celia Hawkesworth and Michael Henry Heim.

This book is a collection of short stories from throughout Ugrešić’s career.

The book has three (or 8) stories in it.  I discovered Ugrešić through The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar (story #2).  “Lend Me Your Character” was weird and cool and was probably my favorite story in the collection (it’s here as well).

When I read a little about Ugrešić, I found that she was born in Croatia, but left the region when the war in Yugolslavia broke out, saying she was post-national and refusing to acknowledge her Croatian heritage.  She currently resides in Amsterdam.

Her stories are wonderful mash ups of fairy tales, feminist theory, “traditional women’s writing” and a lot of sexuality.

“Steffie Speck in the Jaws of Life (a patchwork novel)” (1981) [trans C.H.]
This story has so much going on that it’s easy to overlook that it’s a fairly straightforward story, just with a lot of filigree tacked on.  The story opens with a “Key to the Various Symbols” and includes things like — dotted lines with scissors (cut the text along the line as desired); slashes (pleats: make large thematic stitches on either side of the author’s seam); four equals signs (make a metatextual knot and draw in as desired).  And so on.  And the contents is actually listed as “The Paper Pattern” which lays out each section according to a sewing pattern.  Each section heading is given a parenthetical comment (tacking, padding, hemming, interfacing).

When you start the story you see that the symbols are indeed throughout the story, although honestly after a few pages I gave up trying to figure out what they might mean.

The story starts with the narrator saying that her friends told her to write “a women’s story.”  The author looks at several lonely hearts letters in the paper and picks the fifth one as the basis.  Steffie, aged 25, is a typist by profession.  She’s lonely and sad and lives with her aunt. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Right-wing lies about the Insurrection (2021).

[READ: November 2021] Small Blows Against Encroaching Totalitarianisms: Volume Two

Two years into the previous administration, McSweeney’s published two small books which railed against everything the Criminal in Chief stood for and had done.

Reading these books in 2021 after he had been soundly trounced in the election and with the possibility of jail time (for any of multitude of the illegal things that he did) is somewhat calming.   I think if I had read this in 2018 it would have been thoroughly dispiriting.  Because even though these essays provide hope, they are just full of recounting of the horrors that that [fill in the blank] and his crew of reprobates did.

It has been a year since the brainwashed masses tries to overthrow our government.  And still nothing has happened.  Our country is broken.  These essays don’t really fix it, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone in thinking this way. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: The sounds of trump supporters violating our National Buildings in a failed Insurrection plot (2021).

[READ: December 2021] Small Blows Against Encroaching Totalitarianisms: Volume One

One year ago trump and his lackeys tried to overthrow the government.  Thankfully they failed.  But one year later not enough people have been punished.

Two years into the previous administration, McSweeney’s published two small books which railed against everything the Criminal in Chief stood for and had done.

Reading these books in 2021 after he had been soundly trounced in the election and with the possibility of jail time (for any of multitude of the illegal things that he did) is somewhat calming.   I think if I have read this in 2018 it would have been thoroughly dispiriting.  Because even though these essays provide hope, they are just full of recounting of the horrors that that [fill in the blank] and his crew of reprobates did.

Not even including the attempted insurrection and overthrow of our country.

It has been a year since the brainwashed masses tries to overthrow our government.  And still nothing has happened.  Our country is broken.  These essays don’t really fix it, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone in thinking this way. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: November 2021] A Natural History of Dragons

This book sounded interesting. I knew nothing about it (aside from the title) and had no idea it would unfold the way it did.

Turns out that Kate Reading, whom I didn’t know, was an outstanding reader. She did male voices so compellingly that I forgot it was just one reader.

The book is a memoir.  The book feels like a Victorian novel (where a woman is not allowed to have the kind of adventures she ultimately does).  Reading reads Lady Trent in a kind of slow, deliberate, older, upper class lady voice.  It felt a wee bit slow at first, although I couldn’t imagine her doing it any other way.

Lady Isabella Tent is the leading scholar on dragons.  Indeed, the book starts:

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth into the clear light of modern science.

Each chapter even has an olde-fashioned style in which the chapter heading summarizes what’s to be found within.  Lady Trent is an old woman now, finished with the excitement of her life and all that she has accomplished and she has decided that rather than answering all of the letters she gets all the time, that she would set the record straight and write her memoirs.

She starts from her early childhood and her tone is at one approving and occasionally disbelieving in the kind of person she was.

When Lady Trent was young Isabella, she had a unladylike desire to be scientific.  When she first captured a “sparkling” (this book is written as if we would know what she’s talking about since it is a memoir of a famous person’s exploits.  If you don’t know what a sparkling is, well, where have you been?).

Her mother was horrified by her behavior.  I mean what kind of girl dissects a bird to see how it can fly?  A scientific genius, that’s what kind. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: October 17, 2021] Ministry / Helmet / Front Line Assembly [rescheduled from July 18, 2020, April 17, 2021; moved to March 9, 2022]

indexOut of the blue, and very close to the time of the shows, this tour was cancelled and postponed until next year.

The lineup has completely changed as well.  Initially, the support was from KMFDM an Front Line Assembly.  Then KMFDM was replaced with Helmet.  Now for the show next year, we have The Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity.  I had pretty much decided i wasn’t going to go to this show anyhow, but it always lingered in the back of my mind as something I might want to do.  Of course, I’d much rather go to the Wellmont than Franklin Music hall, so it’s unlikely I’d go to this show anyhow.

~~~~

This show was moved to April which seemed reasonable at the time.  I see now that it has been pushed back to October which actually seems optimistic.  I am very bummed to see that KMFDM is no longer on the tour, as They would have been a great opener.  I like Helmet, but I think KMFDM would have been more fun.  If I’m going to one of these two shows (Montclair being the other one) it would certainly Montclair.

I’ve been a fan of Ministry for decades.  I even liked the first album With Sympathy (and listen to it now more than their hardercore stuff).  But when Land of Rape and Honey came out, it was the most intense thing in the world. It was incredible.

They put out a series of great heavy albums, although by 1999’s Filth Pig either I stopped enjoying it or they just weren’t as good.

So I guess it has been two decades since I cared about Ministry.  However, Al Jourgensen and his band keep touring and, since I’ve seen Slayer now, I thought I should see what a ministry experience is like.

I wanted to go to their show in 2018, (I was really interested in seeing opening band Igorr) but the date just didn’t work for me.

Although I hadn’t yet gotten tickets for this show, I was looking forward to this retro bill.

I liked KMFDM more in theory than actually listening to them–I have one album I think). But I always appreciated them (especially the joke that their initials stand for Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode–actually it is Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, “no pity for the majority”).  Only one guy is still in the band, but I’d be curious to see what their proto-Rammstein show would be like.

Front Line Assembly was one of the few bands on the industrial label Waxtrax that I never really got into.  I liked many bands on the label, but really never had much exposure to FLA (in the days before you could listen to things online).   I’m curious what 1980s industrial music sounds like in 2020.

Now that I see that the show is also going to be at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, I will definitely try to get to that one instead.

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[POSTPONED: October 16, 2021] Ministry / Helmet / Front Line Assembly [rescheduled from July 18, 2020, April 16, 2021; moved to March 12, 2022]

indexOut of the blue, and very close to the time of the shows, this tour was cancelled and postponed until next year.

The lineup has completely changed as well.  Initially, the support was from KMFDM an Front Line Assembly.  Then KMFDM was replaced with Helmet.  Now for the show next year, we have The Melvins and Corrosion of Conformity.  I had pretty much decided i wasn’t going to go to this show anyhow, but it always lingered in the back of my mind as something I might want to do.  Of course, I’d much rather go to the Wellmont than Franklin Music Hall, although I’m in no rush to get tickets for this.

~~~~

This show was moved to April which seemed reasonable at the time.  I see now that it has been pushed back to October which actually seems optimistic.  I am very bummed to see that KMFDM is no longer on the tour, as They would have been a great opener.  I like Helmet, but I think KMFDM would have been more fun.  If I’m going to one of these two shows (Philly the other one) it would certainly be this one.

I’ve been a fan of Ministry for decades.  I even liked the first album With Sympathy (and listen to it now more than their hardercore stuff).  But when Land of Rape and Honey came out, it was the most intense thing in the world. It was incredible.

They put out a series of great heavy albums, although by 1999’s Filth Pig either I stopped enjoying it or they just weren’t as good.

So I guess it has been two decades since I cared about Ministry.  However, Al Jourgensen and his band keep touring and, since I’ve seen Slayer now, I thought I should see what a ministry experience is like.

I wanted to go to their show in 2018, (I was really interested in seeing opening band Igorr) but the date just didn’t work for me.

Although I hadn’t yet gotten tickets for this show, I was looking forward to this retro bill.

I liked KMFDM more in theory than actually listening to them–I have one album I think). But I always appreciated them (especially the joke that their initials stand for Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode–actually it is Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, “no pity for the majority”).  Only one guy is still in the band, but I’d be curious to see what their proto-Rammstein show would be like.

Front Line Assembly was one of the few bands on the industrial label Waxtrax that I never really got into.  I liked many bands on the label, but really never had much exposure to FLA (in the days before you could listen to things online).   I’m curious what 1980s industrial music sounds like in 2020.

Now that I see that the show is also going to be at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, I will definitely try to get to that one instead.

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[ATTENDED: October 3, 3021] Frank Turner with Matt Nasir

Frank Turner has been opening for the Counting Crows, a band that he loves which I absolutely do not.  There is no way I would have gone to see him with that other band, even though I have been wanting to see him for many years now.

And then, on September 15, Frank Turner announced that he would be playing Underground Arts on October 3.  At 2PM!

Turns out that on the Crows’ days off, Frank decided to play some solo shows (with opening acts).

This show was going to be the first of two shows he’s play that day!

I grabbed tickets immediately.  What a novel idea to have an evening free after seeing a show.

Frank used to be in a punk band and then he became a kind of punky folk singer.  He writes politically charged anthemic sing alongs.  A kind of younger Billy Bragg.  And while he songs are great, it’s his live shows that are do amazing because he gets the audience 100% involved. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: October 2, 2021] Bikini Kill / Alice Bag [rescheduled from November 22, 2020; moved to July 13, 2022]

indexON April 28, Bikini Kill announced that they’d be pushing back this tour date one more time.

“We have moved all of our tour dates to 2022 to ensure our fans, our crew, venues’ staff, and the band’s safety,” Bikini Kill said in a statement. “We know many of you have had your shows rescheduled more than once and appreciate your patience and flexibility.”

Then on April 30, I was told

This just in – Alice Bag will no longer be performing at your upcoming event.

So that’s kind of a bummer since Alice Bag is iconic and I’d like to see her.  Not sure who is opening now, but I’m sure they’ll be good.  Maybe the Linda Lindas?

~~~

I’m not sure if something specific caused this Fall show to be moved to next summer, but it’s just as well since my October was filling up pretty quickly.

I am bummed to see that Alice Bag won’t be opening anymore.  I wonder who they’ll get instead.

Boy, a band reunites and plans a national tour and then everything blows up on them.  I thought surely this show would go on as planned–a bigger venue, possible social distancing. But how do you enforce social distancing at a rock show?  I sure hope we can go to live music again.

When Bikini Kill did their short reunion tour a couple years ago, tickets sold out in like ten seconds.  When they announced this follow up tour I grabbed a ticket immediately.  As far as I can tell it still hadn’t sold out when it was postponed (which is a surprise, I think).

Bikini Kill are foundation for the Riot Grrl movement although I was not a huge fan of them per se.  I have their records appreciate them for what they did, but they weren’t my favorite,

Nevertheless, this opportunity to see them live sounded like a great time.

Alice Bag has been cropping up in my periphery for quite some time although I realized I didn’t know much about her.  Alicia Armendariz was a co-founder and singer of the 70s punk band The Bags.  After they broke up, she was in about a half dozen other bands, although none of them released more than some singles.  She finally put out a solo album in 2016.

Her album(s) since have gotten strong reviews and it would be excellent to see this feminist icon in action.

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[LISTENED TO: Summer 2021] How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge

The only thing better than finishing an awesome book is discovering that there’s a sequel and the quality and integrity of the sequel is just as strong as the original story.

Everything from the first story is in place here: the characters, the narrator, the tone, and, delightfully, Nicole Poole to read it.

Obviously, there are massive spoilers in this book for the first story.  So make sure you read that one first.

But to sum up, Rory successfully avoid an arranged marriage (while not upsetting her arranged husband).  She is able to shut down a coup on Urse and ultimately kick-starts a revolution.  Not bad for an under age Princess.

But she is done with being a Princess.  She rescinds her life and goes off to become a space pirate.  She has taken her former royal bodyguards, Thorsdottir and Zhang (so yes, there’s even more time given to these two great characters!) with her.  They pledge to protect Rory so they guess they just go with her?  And Jaed has come along with them too, mostly because he has nowhere else to go (literally) and he crushes on Rory, too.

So Rory’s team aren’t so much space pirates as do-gooders.  They are more like salvagers who might intercept smugglers (this is the equivalent of her telling her mom she’s going to follow Phish and make jewelry).

And for all concerned, Grytt is still in the story although as it starts, she is on Lanscott farming sheep (!) with Rory’s former betrothed Ivar (!!) former crow prince of the Free Worlds of Tadesh {No they are not “together” Grytt is mostly just minding the poor boy while she is “relaxing”).  Grytt by the way needed more implants after the last book and is probably 3/5 mecha to human.  Which she seems to prefer, honestly. (more…)

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