Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon - Hour 1 and 12

Update Hour 12

I honestly thought I'd post and check Twitter more than I did. But I didn't BECAUSE I WAS READING! I'm engrossed. I thought I would get antsy and put on a movie by 8pm but I don't want to. I know I won't last until 8am but I'm going to try! (I'll probably make it until 1 am if I'm lucky but whatevs.)

References in my books that have encouraged further reading, culture, growth, and other cool stuff.

My first book referenced:

- Valerie Solanos which has made me want to finally watch I Shot Andy Warhol

- my alma mater, the School of Visual Arts in NYC. These references always make me feel a little famous or important or something.

- the film Vivre Sa Vie by Godard which makes me want to check it out and get back into more challenging films. Fancy!

My second book made me:

- look up the word obfuscating which just means to make obscure or confuse. Which I got from the context but I've never heard it and I've probably never read before either. I'm a teeny bit smarter!

- call my mom! It's so heavy on the mother/daughter stuff it made me call her and make a date to hang out tomorrow.  Aw.


- the mini challenge on black out poetry, although I didn't try it today, makes me want to try it soon. It seems really satisfying - whittling away words instead of trying to find them.

- I made this bitchin' bread recipe. It was a snack and turned into a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner. So good. (Plus reading the recipe totally counts!)

Still on my second book.


Introductory Questionnaire

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

Upstate New York. Specifically I'm laying in the bed in a big ol' sun beam with my cats!

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

This is a hard one...but I think Monuments Men. I've been meaning to read it for a long long time. Today's the day!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Beverages, ice coffee now, seltzer later then tea, maybe cocoa. I'm also contemplating buying some wine on my walk later to enjoy during my evening reading. ; )

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

My book stack says a lot about me. I love art and a good story.

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?

This is my first read-a-thon. I'm looking forward to reading/discover other people's book blog and finding some good recommendations. I'm also excited about being part of that community.

Now, back to reading! I'm really loving Gabrielle Bell's The Voyeurs. I'm reserving her other books form the library right now.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Read-a-Thon Plans!

I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-Thon on Saturday! I am really looking forward to this. Especially after a long week, I haven't felt well and I've experienced ups and downs at work. One full day of reading and falling into whatever story I feel like being immersed in sounds really really great right now.

This week has been nothing but beautiful fall weather, bright sun, cool temperatures and chilly nights. I love pulling out the heavier blanket, scarves and sweaters. On one of these beautiful fall days I took a stroll to the library and stocked up on books I've been meaning to read, graphic novels, and a spur of the moment pick.

24 Hour Read-a-Thon Adventure Reading List!
The Monuments Men: Allied heros, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel (Movie coming out in December 2013!)

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead - A "social satire, set on an exclusive New England island over a wedding weekend in June, provides a glimpse into the lives of the well-bred and ill-behaved."
Where We Belong by Emily Griffin - This is my go-to light and easy read. I've never read the author before but she was recommended to me by a few different friends for beach-type reading. I'm not posting a synopsis because I do not know what the book is about and I do not want to know until it unfolds as I read.

Graphic Novels
The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell - "The Voyeurs is a real-time memoir of a turbulent five years in the life of renowned cartoonist Gabrielle Bell. It collects which she travels to Tokyo, Paris, the South of France, and all over the United States, but remains anchored by her beloved Brooklyn, where sidekick Tony provides ongoing insight, offbeat humor, and enduring friendship."
The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire - "As an underwater welder...Jack dives deeper and deeper, he seems to pull further and further away from his young wife and their unborn son. Then one night, deep in the icy solitude of the ocean floor, something unexplainable happens. Jack has a mysterious and supernatural encounter that will change the course of his life forever."

Learning about new book blogs to follow and the books other participants are reading. I always love to find good book recommendations.

Eating lasagna soup, homemade bread, and salad.

Hoping to finish the graphic novels, one of the fiction novels, and get at least a third of the way through The Monuments Men.

I will report back. Happy Reading!

Monday, October 7, 2013

My First Read-a-Thon!

Sunshine and books

I'm taking part in Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-Thon this Saturday, October 12, 2013. Start time 8am! What a great excuse to lay around and read all day. I am beside myself with anticipation.

Can't clean...reading.
Can't shop...reading.
Dishes?!?!?! Reading!

The day is devoted to reading, listening to audio books, reading to others, checking in on other readers' blogs, blogging and tweeting about our read-a-thon adventures, and participating in (or skipping) hourly mini-challenges. If you choose to participate in a mini challenge you can enter to win a prize. Who doesn't love a prize? The mini challenges are hosted by different book bloggers, they keep the readers engaged with the read-a-thon and with each other. They also help to break up the long day of reading. During the last read-a-thon there were also random prize winners announced every hour. Exciting!

I am going to take this week to gather up the books I'm going to read on Saturday. I will post a list on Wednesday along with all my other Read-a-Thon prep plans (this mainly involves food).

To this first timer Dewey's 24 hour Read-a-Thon seems to be a large book blogger community effort. I am so happy to have found it and I can't wait to spend the day reading like it's my job. But no, I will not stay up for a full 24 hours. There is no way I could do that. I need my Zs! It will be a miracle if reading all day doesn't lead to a mid-afternoon nap.

Here is the FAQ page if you are interested in participating and want to learn more.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

More Quality T.V. Shows with Large Female Casts

On Monday I wrote about some shows with large female casts. Here are three more enjoyable shows to add to your list.

More Quality T.V. Shows with Large Female Casts
Bunheads is a show with a terrible name but a great cast. It is written by the creator of The Gilmore Girls and has the same snappy dialogue. It is a family show about a ballerina turned Vegas showgirl who winds up in a small Californian town teaching dance with her mother-in-law.
The best part: The dancing. There the most beautiful awe-inspiring dance scenes on this show. Also a great thing: the lead is played by Tony-winning Sutton Foster.

Orange is the New Black was adapted from the book of the same name by Piper Kerman. It is an autobiographical novel about her time in a federal prison. The women she shares the prison with, and their stories, are heartbreaking, uplifting, and at times, laugh out loud funny. We also get to see Piper's priorities, relationships, and coping skills evolve during her time in prison which is fascinating.  
The best part: The diversity. These aren't women we normally get to see on T.V. From older Russian immigrants, to Latina mothers and daughters, to transsexual women, we learn a lot about why they ended up where they are.

Girls, you either love this show or hate it. I love it! The characters are young, naive, and self-involved, but they are also smart, funny, and sympathetic. It's not just the female characters that make this show worth watching. The male characters on this show are also well written and well acted. They deal with the world differently than their female counterparts and it's this dynamic, as well as the same-sex friendships, that make the show.
The best part: The writing. It's naturalistic and funny as hell.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Quality T.V. Shows with Large Female Casts

Last week I wrote about the Bechdel Rule. So today I wanted to share Part I of some quality television shows that not only meet the Rule but also cover a variety of genres. I am a big fan of all these shows and the actresses that star in them. If you would like to watch one of these shows from the beginning you can find them on DVD, Amazon streaming, iTunes, and/or Netflix.

Quality T.V. Shows with Large Female Casts

Call the Midwife is a period drama based on the book by Jennifer Worth. As the title suggests, this is a story about midwives working out of a nursing convent in the 1950s. We experience the beginning of the show through the eyes of Jenny and her resulting culture shock after moving to the impoverished neighborhood of East London. We not only learn about Jenny, but also the other young nurses and nuns at the convent and their many patients. Their stories are warm and moving but they are not light and fluffy. It's the grittiness in Midwife that both disturbs and delights me.
The best part: The sweet babies, and the stories of acceptance and love. (iTunes, Amazon, DVD)

Orphan Black - Okay, this is a bit of a cheat because the large female cast is played by a single actress, Tatiana Maslany. Orphan Black is a science fiction series about a woman who discovers her clone. She risks danger repeatedly in order to find more clones and figure out the secret of their creation.
The best part: The lead. Tatiana Maslany plays so many distinct characters so well you forget it's the same actress playing all 4 characters in the same room. She is amazing.

Game of Thrones is a extremely popular fantasy series on HBO. It is based on the books by George R.R. Martin. Everything about this show is intriguing and surprising. The acting talent and production value are through the roof. To watch this show it to live in another world. The fourth season will be on again in 2014 so you have time to binge watch!
The best part: The women of this universe are every bit as three dimensional and vital to the story as the men.

The Bletchley Circle is a period drama and a murder mystery. It is about four women who worked as codebreakers in England during World War II. The show is set in 1952 when they reunite to track down a serial killer. The women see patterns in the killer's work that police have overlooked.
The best part: Four female codebreakers in 1952 England track a serial killer!

For three more contemporary shows with large female casts please read Part II.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Let's Talk About the Bechdel Rule for Film

The Bechdel Rule for Film

The Bechdel Rule was introduced in Alison Bechdel's comic "Dykes to Watch Out For," in a strip called The Rule.  The strip was published in 1985 and Bechdel credits the rule to her friend Liz Wallace. Thanks Liz! In the strip her friend states that she only sees a movie if it satisfies the three basic requirements listed above.

I find myself naturally seeking out movies that satisfy the Bechdel Rule as a balance to all the male heros and anti-heros in film and television. There are a lot of great movies that do not pass the Bechdel Rule and I can enjoy them immensely, but it is not enjoyable or satisfying to watch them exclusively. They are only half of a whole, they're all yin and no yang.

Some take the test very literally and any conversation, no matter how short, between two women in a movie satisfies the rule for them as long as it is not about any man. A two minute conversation about potato salad in a 2+ hour film satisfies the rule for some. For me it does not. The potato salad exchange does not even pass for a conversation, it's completely superficial, and has no importance in the movie or in the lives of the female characters. For others Zero Dark Thirty does not pass the test because Osama Bin Laden was the only thing the female main character spoke about with any other character including her female coworker. For me it passes the rule because the man she speaks about is the sole focus of her work, her very important work. She may be defined by her work but she is not defined by this man and this man is not her love interest.

Maybe the Bechdel Rule was meant to be taken literally. Maybe in 1985 if it was not taken literally Liz Wallace would not have been able to see any Hollywood film. There are still so many that don't pass the rule. I believe that applying the test literally, as in the examples above, completely ignores the spirit of the rule which is to assess the presence of women in movies. Meaning, it should asses whether or not women are represented by three dimension characters. Is there is more to the female characters than just how they relate to the men in their lives? Does the film show the female characters' friendships, family, work, talents, concerns, problems, personalities, successes, and/or flaws?

And if I'm wrong about taking the Rule literally it's time to rewrite the rule. It's 30 years later and time to raise the bar a bit on the entertainment we consume.  

My interpretation of the Rule

A movie or television show must have:

1, at least 2 women who

2, talk to each other more than just superficially about

3, something other than a male love interest.

For me, this criteria satisfies my need to see women depicted as three dimensional human beings in art and entertainment. It is only when this criteria is met that I feel a strong personal connection to the work. Again, I do not need to feel a strong personal connection to every film and television show. I have really enjoyed Breaking Bad as much as the rest of America without relating to it on a personal level (one would hope!). But, my entire entertainment portfolio, for lack of a better word, can not be made up of Breaking Bads. I desire more of a balance between humor and drama, realism and fantasy, feel-good and violent, sexual and asexual, male and female. 95% of the films, television shows, and books I have, and will, discuss on this site satisfy my interpretation of the Bechdel Rule.

Feminist Frequency has a great short video introduction to this topic and some very interesting links for your reading pleasure.

I also highly recommend Alison Bechdel's graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. This memoir is heartbreaking, humorous and downright intriguing. Give it a whirl when you're in the mood for something different than the traditional novel.