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Showing posts from January, 2016

HamAlong: This book is great but also it can bite me

Because I skimmed this section, I will leave it to others to comment on the Maria Reynolds situation, as that is where we ended our reading for this week. If Chernow stays true to form, he'll be in Hamilton's corner and somehow speak of his being seduced by this "fatal enchantress," but maybe he was surprising and made it clear that everyone makes their own decisions and Hamilton has to be held accountable for being a cheating asshole. That's not all he was. But it was part of it. While this book can be occasionally frustrating while overall surprisingly readable, I wanted to take a second and talk about the unexpected benefit of this being a crash course in American history that goes to a depth none of my classes ever reached. I feel as if I'm learning about my country for the first time, and I have found myself shocked and embarrassed at what I realized I did not know about our founding, and the documents that brought us into being. The fact that Hami

Midwifian Novels (note: contain no midwives. probably)

While my reading time is eaten up by ignoring Chernow's Hamilton and how massively behind I am on it, I've still been buying books/checking them out of the library. Because that is how I satisfy my shopper's urge.  I'm also trying to donate heaps of them, so it's a strange conveyor belt of books in and out of my apartment these days. The books in my purse today were a tribute to Emerald Fennell, aka Nurse Patsy Mount on BBC's Call the Midwife , a show about East London in the 1950s and early '60s, and the midwives who helped the poor there. I tried watching it for about a season and a half before I gave up because every episode was making me cry, and I do enough of that in my day-to-day life because of  things like my friend Doug giving me half his breakfast sandwich, so I don't need it from a show where there're dead babies. However. Tumblr showed that there vintage lesbians in season 4 of Call the Midwife , so I flouted my own rules and skipp

#HamAlong: Week 3

I didn't do the reading. I did none of it. But I am HERE FOR YOU ALL, as your gracious host who didn't prepare for your arrival at all but frantically spreads some towels on the bed in lieu of clean sheets and offers you a half-eaten box of Triscuits. Go-to with your posts. I'm proud of all of you, even if you, like myself, spent this past week staring at British dramas set in the 1960s and kept waving off Hamilton as something you'd "get to later on."

Jane Rule: Human whatever it costs

 "It's people that matter, Mar, not sexes or ages...The monsters are those who go rutting around like monkeys, not those who choose to be human whatever it costs." Certain brave humans have fought over the centuries to make those around them realize that love between people is love between people, and it exists in many forms. This idea has been viciously denounced, smeared, lambasted, and beaten into silence. But someone new has always appeared to carry the torch and continue the fight. Jane Rule, for those not living deep in the forest of Lesbian Literature, is the author of the rather famous lesbian novel  Desert of the Heart . She wrote a book in 1975 called Lesbian Images , which while being a title you'd rather hide while reading on the train, is in fact very worth reading. Lesbian Images  starts with a chapter on 'Myth and Morality,' which is where 1975 Jane Rule has to talk out why we believe what we believe, and make us think about whether wha

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice

If there were any day to get weepy about social justice, today seems like a likely candidate. We can get bogged down in the moment, and despair of things ever becoming better, but look to ten years ago, look to 30 years ago, look to 200 years ago. When we take a more expansive view of things, the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend towards justice. Mankind in the moment can be grasping and selfish and short-sighted, but there are always also people who push us to be better, even at the expense of our own well-being (look to slave owners whose livelihoods would be ruined by emancipation). Even in the past five years, we have seen a groundswell of outrage that feels new. I speak primarily of outrage directed at our media, which can feel like a trivial thing until you realize how much our views are shaped by what we see and what we are told is acceptable. Percentage of women who had a speaking role in the 100 most popular films in 2012? 28.4. Percentage of people of color who are

HamAlong, Week 2: The Adventures of Bacon Face

This week's HamAlong is dedicated to this redoubt: Yes, those are toy soldiers and tiny sticks. But LOOK that's what Hamilton and Lafayette had to deal with when they were fighting at Yorktown. How interesting . Redoubts. What a concept. I definitely did not read the last 40 pages of the reading that I assigned, but I highly enjoyed the other 60 or so. The war part was fine , but Hamilton and Eliza. Man. I'm such an Eliza fan. Yes, Angelica's great, etc etc, but Eliza . When the book was talking about her dad's property, did anyone else flash to this? Chernow's continuing to laud Hamilton when it seems maybe not deserved? I'm not saying Hamilton doesn't seem like an amazing genius, because he DOES, but his wife list? Is kind of what everyone writes. Like "Oh, I want someone pretty and nice and smart and maybe funny, I dunno." And Chernow is like "SUCH BRILLIANCE, what a remarkable man." I mean, in other ways, yes, si

It's Wilkie Day, can we ever celebrate enough

Do you know whose birthday it is Do you know WILKIE COLLINS, patron saint of certain book bloggers, creator of Our Lady of Literature Marian Halcombe, and opium addict who kept multiple ladies around town. SIR. Could we ever forget Count Fosco? Miss Clack? The tiny mice? The presumed body in the lake? YOUR PENCHANT FOR LADIES' POSTERIORS? Wilkie Collins is a joy and a Victorian treasure, and The Woman in White can never be read enough. This man is responsible for funny, fascinating, intelligent, ninja women (well, one woman) who tossed all of Dickens's blushing milksop 16-year-olds into the garbage heap of character-building where they so rightfully belong. (*quietly goes and gathers them all back up again because Dickens *) Marian Halcombe is a debt that can never be repaid, because Wilkie Collins is long gone, but WE CAN PAY TRIBUTE and toss laurels at his imagined feet.

HamAlong Week One: "I wish there was a war"

I don't think there's any doubt that Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton is a work of genius and that we are fortunate to be around for its beginning. Do you think Ron Chernow ever imagined that teenage girls would swoon over and highlight to death his 800+ page biography of 18th century Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton? But Miranda took this, frankly already rather prettily written, enormous book, and made one of the greatest musicals of the past century, which essentially means of all time, because musicals in 1916 were not what we call good. ...yeah. Week One of the HamAlong goes from Hamilton's birth on Nevis, which includes his dubious parentage and immensely different childhood from any other Founding Father, to becoming George Washington's right-hand man.  Wow, do I want to just trust the hell out of Ron Chernow. He seems so very much like he's trying to be fair and striving for the truth. I also suspect, though, like most biographers

An Academic Book About Gay Mormons, Sure, Why Not

I am here to read the books you would never ever want to read and then summarize the best bits for you. I recently finished D. Michael Quinn's  Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example . I picked it up because I was watching Ken Burns's The West , and there's an episode about the Mormons. It discusses the Mormon's western exodus and Mormon women's role in women's suffrage. Obviously I was interested in this, but my ears also perked up when it brought up Emmeline B. Wells, a Mormon woman who advocated polygamy because: The world says polygamy makes women inferior to men -- we think differently. Polygamy gives women more time for thought, for mental culture, more freedom of action, a broader field of labor... and leads women more directly to God, the fountain of all truth.  Wells's strong leadership in Utah suffrage made me interested in Mormon women's history, but more particularly I wanted to see if there were an LGBT


Ok, every year is the year of possibilities. But this one is NEW so I like it the most. 2015 was the year of comics.This will be the year of...something else. I don't know. I didn't plan ComicYear, it just happened. 2016 feels pretty promising, though. If I were able to choose, I'd make this the year I read the damn books on my own shelves, but I think we all know the likelihood of that for anyone is not high.  I have, however, created a shelf in my bedroom that has books I would like to pick up soon. I've even been making headway in it, so that is promising . It includes things like Jenny Lawson's latest, Furiously Happy ; a book on Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict that I picked up after reading Lily King's Euphoria ; Terry Castle's The Apparitional Lesbian , which I started last year and have not yet finished, because I am easily distracted; and some others, including a book on Australia I'm very much looking forward to. This post I wrote for Bo