Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dead Feminists: Art, Feminism, and History

Dead Feminists basically springs from the idea of "What if we made a book about feminists throughout history and made it REALLY really pretty?"

Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring, one an artist and one a printer & typographer, have assembled 24 essays and beautiful prints of historic feminists, or "historic heroines in living color." It's a damn gorgeous book.

Ooh

They include biographical sketches, prints for each woman, and a breakdown of what historical elements inspired the print. GET EXCITED, ART NERDS. And oh, history nerds, there're quotes and photographs and – knitting nerds, listen up, Elizabeth Zimmerman is in here

I know you guys are out there.

Whenever I flip through it, I think about how much I probably would've loved it as a kid. There are so many pictures, and as a 3rd grader who was real real into a padded white book detailing the histories of every president of the United States – but which I only really cared about because it had some pretty great pictures – this would've been right up my alley. And it's all about ladies! A breed I was not even that aware I liked yet, because everything was dudes as far as the eye could see.


LOOK AT THIS.

At a time when I feel we should be more encouraged than ever to look to the past in order to address the problems of the present and the future, Dead Feminists is an excellent start. Get it, read it, love it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

How We Can Be As Badass as the Suffragettes

What do we do now.

Being the suffrage nerd I am, I recently told my friend "This feels like a NAWSA vs. the NWP time. And I tend towards NAWSA. But it's time for the NWP."

What the hell that means is that when women were fighting for the vote -- when they were fighting against the majority of the country, including a large number of other women -- they were mainly split into two political organizations. The conservative group, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, wanted to do things slowly and not anger those in power beyond what was necessary for pleading their case. The radical group, the National Woman's Party, wanted to win by any means necessary.

The NWP did not give a fuck.

The NWP didn't care about being tactful. The NWP didn't care about stepping on toes. The NWP stood outside your White House six days a week with banners calling you the kaiser. In the middle of a world war. They did this for almost three years. 




Were people furious? HELL YES. Did they tear those banners up? Yep. What did the NWP do? The NWP made more fucking banners.




People urged them towards conciliation. People told them they'd never win by angering people. The NWP set up headquarters down the street from the White House, established dossiers on every member of Congress, lobbied, petitioned, protested, kept themselves visible, and in 1920 they won the damn vote.

This is not to discount NAWSA. Every movement needs a radical wing. Every movement needs a conservative wing. 

To quote 1 Corinthians:

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.

If we can learn anything from the struggle for women's right to vote, it's stay visible. Make yourself heard. Don't listen to "We need to focus on these other issues first." Don't discount how other people protest. Everyone's work here is important.

Let's make Alice Paul proud.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson: Everything is ambiguous and foreboding



Shirley Jackson's writing can be described as extremely Shirley Jacksony.

The only one of her story collections to be published during her lifetime has FINALLY accomplished what I've been waiting for with her. I've read two of her novels, and each time it's felt vaguely unfulfilling and like it's SO CLOSE to being something I would enjoy. But after reading 26 of her stories in a row, I can say "Ohhhhhhhhh."


I was so struck by the insane similarities between her work and Edward Hopper's while I was reading that I was like "This must be a common thing. Like, something that everyone thinks. Because not every artist goes 'what about like...a sad woman sitting in a room and that's it?'"

basically every Shirley Jackson story

If I were in college, I would be so totes jazzed to write essays on these stories. "I can SAY THINGS about SOCIETY," I would say. As it is, after each one, I went "Huh. Seems like there's something important there." Then I thought I should read that new biography of her that I scorned at Book Expo this year and then moved onto the next story.

Basically, Shirley Jackson was born in 1916, died in 1965 of heart failure, which is TOO SOON, and wrote about feminism and racism and awesomeism (awesomeism is what Shirley Jackson had and what is therefore reflected in her work). She does a lot with mundane detail combined with something always being slightly wrong. It's pretty damn masterful and let's all be impressed by her and read more of her stories and maybe the aforementioned biography.


Shirley Jackson would want it mentioned that another Shirley Jackson comes up when you google image her, and this Shirley Jackson was the first African-American female Ph.D graduate of MIT, so good on you, you two Shirley Jacksons. You are both great.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Master and Margareadalong: Everything is on fire

I...okay. All right. So. This book.



Master and Margarita...is...a book that is loved by very many people. About the Soviet Union, and Satan coming to Moscow. And some people seem to really really love the cat demon, because he's featured on every damn version of the cover.

I feel like, much like how some people only can capture a displeasing soapy taste when they try cilantro, some people are made for Russian literature and others are not. I am inclined to think I am in the latter category, if only because while one can go on about context needed, etc, I still find Restoration comedies enjoyable/sometimes horrifying, and I'm sure I miss out on at least 50% of their references.

but they usually look like this, so that helps

Not that I enjoyed none of this book! Satan's Grand Ball was v. interesting. Mainly because it had historical figures in it. I liked Natasha muchly. But I thought the cat was annoying as shit, the Pilate chapters were insanely boring, and the Master kinda sucked. ALSO THERE WAS RACISM. Which, y'know, 1930s, okay, but I'm concurrently reading some 1940s and '50s short stories by Shirley Jackson, and they are like "Racism, I hope you get eaten by BEES."

What I'm saying is Shirley Jackson is better than Bulgakov The End.

WHAT DID YOU THINK. Are you glad we read it? I am. Now we can speak about it like we know things! But still. Man. Hm.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Timeless: PERIOD COSTUMES AND TIME TRAVEL

You guys. I am totes into NBC's Timeless.



Ok, so you've got the dissatisfied-with-her-job-and-life lady history professor (Lucy), the stoic military dude whose wife has died and he's got a lot of SILENT FEELINGS ABOUT IT (don't know his name), and the tech guy (Rufus), who legit says "I am black; there’s literally no place in American history that would be awesome for me."





A mysterious man steals the main time travel ship that some other mysterious man (rando billionaire) was building, so they recruit these three people to take the other, lesser time travel ship and chase after him and try to stop him from DESTROYING AMERICA.


As the New York Times's review says, "'Timeless' isn't good, exactly, but...it combines enough goodish elements to be enjoyable." A-greed.


In the first three episodes, they've visited the Hindenburg; the site of Lincoln's assassination; and Las Vegas in the 1960s. This week: something with Nazis! 



I see Sean Maguire from Once Upon a time is here to again ruin something I love

Look, do I want more 1800s stuff? Yes, but they're only in their first four episodes and I'm PRETTY SURE there's gonna be a Revolutionary War one, which is all I need. The main character Lucy is way less annoying than I originally thought she'd be, and while I totally agree with Vox saying "I do not, for instance, care even at all about Lucy’s supposed chemistry with Chiseled Soldier With a Checkered Past," I hold out vain hope that they won't try to pair them up. She literally had more chemistry with Robert Todd Lincoln than with that guy.


The fact that they're dealing with racism and dealing with it in an occasionally terrifying-to-the-viewer way makes me think this show is worth something more than it at first appears. When they're in the 1930s, they're arrested and they need Rufus to create a diversion, which he does by calling out the officer-watching-them's racism. The officer goes and gets two other policemen, and it's this horrible race against the clock as the two other characters try to lockpick their cell door before Rufus straight-up gets beaten to death. HOW VERY RELEVANT. Except for the time travel part.


or maybe time travel is SUPER relevant

Timeless is yet another Monday night show that makes Tuesdays when the new episodes appear on Hulu super-exciting to look forward to (note: the other shows are Bob's Burgers and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee...except apparently Bob's Burgers airs Sunday nights and I only just realized that).


PERIOD COSTUMES AND TIME TRAVEL. Is my five word review of this show. Watch it on Hulu and then chat me about it on Twitter.




Monday, October 24, 2016

Master and Margareadalong 4: What is even happening

So...Margarita attended Satan's Grand Ball. And everything was rull weird.


Like a fairytale, it was all a big test and Margarita was suddenly in an insane situation and just had to do as she was told, if she did it, she'd be rewarded. This is legit what happens in every fairytale with a test. The people who don't do what the magical sprite or whatever wants them to do get punished, and the lazy youngest brother who just goes with it gets to marry the princess. With Margarita here being the lazy youngest brother. Only she doesn't get to marry the awesome Natasha who just wants to be a feminist witch.

there is so much M&M fanart

All the creepy dead people at the ball seem to be actual murderers and criminals from history. There're some good annotations here, and apparently this book is covered in freemason symbolism and we've missed it this whole time and OH WELL I'm just glad we're getting through it. 

Then there were some more Jesus chapters, and aight.



p.s. nsfw, but I love this Natasha/pig sculpture so very much.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

24 HOUR READATHON!

IT'S THE 24 HOUR READATHON, which means I will read for approximately 3 hours today, but I will TRY to read more. I'm just not that good at committing to these things, you guys. But I keep trying. Yep.

5:40 P.M. Sunday

SO. Busy weekend. Saw an amazing play called Miss Holmes at Chicago's Lifeline Theatre. Oh man. So great. Sherlock Holmes as a lady and infused with 19th century feminist issues, plus references to both Jack the Ripper minutiae and The Yellow Wallpaper

I finished The Lunch Witch, which it turns out was more for like 8 year olds, and my taste in children's fiction runs to middle grade, so more like 10-12 year olds. It was fine. THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS. Maybe more if I were eight.

I read about half of a book of Shirley Jackson short stories, which wasn't even on my LIST, but matched my theme of #Hallowreads. I've always felt like I was one step away from liking Shirley Jackson. I tried with We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. I don't DISlike them, but my thought at the end is usually like "Wait....that's it?" Like there's one thing missing. I've felt that way about a lot of the short stories, but I'm definitely liking them more than the books, and she does some excellent things for #feminism and in commenting on racism. So now I'm liking her more in general. Excellent job, Shirley Jackson.

Read some of Master and Margarita, which was fitting because Satan's Ball was this week, and I'm nearing the end of Jamaica Inn, which has an excellent female lead character. I also started The Beauty volume 1, which is super-interesting, so good job, Jenny (90% sure) for recommending it.

MUCH READING ACCOMPLISHED. Maybe next year I'll finally be able to focus on it for a full day.


9:46 A.M. Saturday


1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Chicago, IL
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The Lunch Witch, which I got at Book Expo America back in...May? June? I don't remember when things were anymore.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Sharp white cheddar and some crackers. And caramelized onion hummus. ALL EXCELLENT.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

My name's Alice, I write and do internet-things for a living, I sing opera, and I love giant animals from the past.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I...have no expectations of myself here.