The Land of Painted Caves

By Jean M. Auel

Why I Chose This Book
Are you kidding me? I read the first installment of this series, Clan of the Cave Bear, when I was 11. Posting at The AuelBoard forum (Member #2375) got me through two bad jobs and whatever temp worker assignment came with internet access. I loved these books. Well, not the fifth one. But it was my Solemn Duty to follow the story to its end.

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Feminist Friday–Modern Feminism, Edwardian Style

Feminist Friday, Folks! You know you want it. The week is themeless, and because I suck at themes, and because I finally nixed one that was going to be a scathing expose’ until I did a minimal amount of research and discovered I really had no case, I’m going to follow Transatlantic Blonde’s lead and write about “Modern Feminism” just like she did, but with a twist. I’m all about the twist. It’s why you thirty readers keep coming back to this blog every third day.

And because I’m not entirely confident that you’ll follow me across the jump just on me being mysterious, I’ll give you the twist now. My piece on “Modern Feminism” is inspired by an anonymously published text from 1913, The Woman with Empty Hands. It’s an explanation of how the author, identified as Marion Hamilton Carter, found herself aligned with the Suffragist movement in the United States. It’s available in its entirety online, and it would take you all of thirty minutes to read, if that. It’s shocking, really, how modern it sounds, and how applicable it seems to today’s feminism.

This is a link to the Feminist Friday hosting blog. Click it.

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Pottermore: The Saturation Point. By “The” I Mean “My.”

I just accidentally found out about Pottermore. Guess what it means? More Harry Potter! In the form of more backstory explaining more answers to all your questions. Worried that you would never find out exactly why so and so did such and such? Tired of speculating about it with fan friends? Losing sleep in the middle of the night because new theories occurred to you that fit textual evidence and opened up new possibilities about characters and their motivations? Well, worry, tire, and lose sleep no more! JK Rowling is thoughtfully creating a new online experience to put to good use all those pages of background information that didn’t make the cut into the books (for lots of reasons, as many of them literary as practical).

Because I am not on any of the mailing lists, I have not been aware that I should be hotly anticipating the launch of this mysterious project that people were suspecting would expand the Potter universe. How expansive Pottermore will be remains to be seen; right now the only option is to register your interest, and there’s an invitation to return July 31, 2011 for more details. The whole shebang is scheduled to open in October.

Click here before proceeding.

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TMI, Or, Too Much Information? Also, Cake.

I’ve been composing this blog mentally since listening to a discussion of the critical reaction to The Killing on the “Firewall & Iceberg” podcast this morning, and it’s gone through a variety of thesis statements and witty titles. I was going to channel my inner Neil Gaiman and call it “Veena Sud Is Not Your Bitch,” until I realized that I have no inner Neil Gaiman and didn’t want to make a fool of myself by presuming so, even facetiously. Then I was going to go on a little Internet Rant about all those people going on Internet Rants about the ending of a show they already didn’t like, but didn’t like even more come Monday morning, but the irony/hypocrisy seized my fingers and I was unable to type. Then it was time for lunch, which was brought to me by a playdate’s parent for free. I didn’t even have to change out of my bathing suit.*

Jack in the Box Egg Rolls**

*Not Shown

**I always thought it was weird that a fast food restaurant could get right old school egg rolls of the kind you can’t even get at Chinese restaurants anymore, until I learned that they make them with MSG. I remember well the year MSG disappeared from all the Chinese restaurants for “health reasons” and “popular demand,” because it was the year egg drop soup became watery and I had to move on to hot and sour.

You can read in a variety of places all about how the show runner of The Killing broke an implicit contract with viewers and insulted them with the ending of the first season and wasted three months of Sundays of people’s time and all kinds of invective ranging from carefully analytic to frothy tirades. All kinds. Critics are mad, fans are mad, and I don’t really understand the rage, but I do understand that there’s rage and there’s Internet Rage, and Internet Rage is a group process that doesn’t necessarily reflect actual emotions on the other side of the keyboard. If I can go by my own habits and the habits of people I post with on boards that discuss TV and other topics. For example, a particularly upsetting episode of, say, The Office Season 3, could have had people seething and hollering in the episode thread, but being funny and charming one minute later in the job thread or the chit chat thread.

Now I have to take a break to put a crumb coat on a cake I’m baking for Husband’s 60-year-old coworker who had a JoP wedding over the weekend and who, if I really had to guess, probably doesn’t need anything as a present. My Aceling of Cakes was excited about making a tiered cake for a while, and claimed first rights to cut off the dome, but now he’s crapping out on the crumb coat. Dude, no one wants to frost the crumb coat. It is admittedly the suckiest of the coats, but it’s the most necessary, especially on a pretend wedding cake with frosting tinted very slightly off-white because I have only real vanilla extract in the house instead that artificial colorless vanilla stuff.

Yes, I Did Drink All That Soda Today

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Dance People

And here we are, Dance People. I’m not addressing Dance People–I am identifying us as Dance People. With a studio affiliation, a rehearsal schedule, and some teeny tiny wardrobe hanging in the armoire (there are no closets in the kids’ rooms). There are bobbie pins in the bathroom, and some new kinds of hair product, and a quick pause in the narrative so I can pry off the O key from the laptop and figure out why it is not generating an O when I type it.

Please enjoy this musical interlude.

Cat fur is the answer. The key cap was removed, and matted cat fur approaching felt had to be pulled out from under the supporting brackets, and then the neighboring I had to be removed to get the rest of it, and then there was a bracket scare. You know when you pry off the key caps to get at the crap beneath the keys and you aren’t careful and one of those tiny little knobs that hold the bracket into its frame breaks? Well, I thought I’d done that. But I hadn’t. What I ought to to do is pry off all the key caps and clean everything out with alcohol and cotton swabs, but I won’t, on account of no spare brackets. Thank you for your patience.

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Feminist Friday–On Not Legalizing Prostitution

It’s Feminist Friday again, and the Transatlantic Blonde’s theme for the week was Violence Against Women. I don’t really know what to say about violence against women that wouldn’t have been said already by someone with more information, insight, and sensitivity than me, but that’s never stopped me from writing before. So like all dutiful writers I look to my life for inspiration. We’ve been watching The Wire, Season 2, which opens with thirteen dead women in a shipping container bound for the brothels and strip clubs of the Eastern Seaboard. We haven’t seen the whole season yet or even talked to a woman who survived a trip in a shipping container, but I’m suspecting that we’re going to meet one and learn that she was coerced somehow into this position.

Supplying sex workers to meet international demand is not the only motivation for human trafficking, of course (but it makes up 79% of the problem, according to the UN source linked to below), but it’s the one I’m going to focus on right now. It’s the topic that keeps coming up in my life, from the Lifetime Network Human Trafficking miniseries to (light & cursory) research I did on Japan’s immigration issues to the FOX TV show Dollhouse, to a forum thread I participated in a long time ago, to this call for blogs about violence against women. I’d already shot my proverbial wad (to ironically use a sexual term) by posting the “Sexual Assault Prevention Tips” graphic last week, so here we are.

And yes, I will tie this to legalizing prostitution after the jump.

This is a link to the Feminist Friday hosting blog. Click it.

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Podcast Roundup–The Academics

If I am using the WordPress filters correctly, it’s been almost two years since my last Podcast Roundup. Two years! It’s probably because in the past two years I’ve found more to watch on TV (until I got tired of TV) and less time to listen to podcasts. There’s an explanation for that: When the kids were little, I could take them to a park and let them loose while I listening my heart out. Now they’ve seen a bit of the world, and the chances of me going to a park and not running into someone to talk to are much, much lower. People don’t like it if you recognize them and don’t take the headphones out of your ears. They really don’t. It also happened that I turned in my little iPod Shuffle Second Generation for an iPod Nano Fourth Generation.

The Pink One

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By A. S. Byatt

Why I Chose This Book
A long, long time ago I owned a copy of this book. Perhaps I received it as a gift or hand-me-down. Read it. Loved it! Not sure why I didn’t write about it. (Perhaps I hadn’t started a blog yet.) Anyway, a few weeks ago now a crate of books came my way (it’s where I got Mirror, Mirror from) and Possession was among the lot. I think, seriously, that it was my copy of Possession that I’d passed along to my mother that she never read that ended up in that crate–and a visit to the garage library sorted first by genre then author reveals that my copy of Possession is not on the shelves–but I rescued it and read it again, because, well, I love academic mysteries, particularly fictional ones. And I also had some free time.

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Feminist Friday–Raising Feminist Children

Today’s topic is about raising children to be feminist. It’s a topic I have pondered for a long time, and something I’ve tried to do consciously for a good portion of their short little lives. I haven’t read any books about it, and I haven’t seen any results–Fella is only five and in kindergarten; Filly is only four and in preschool, and although they’ve certain both adopted the traditional gender roles as far as appearances go (she wants to be a ballerina when she grows up; he wants to be a snake wrangler), they are still young enough that the power imbalances that anger them the most have to do with what crazy-ass privileges adults get that they’re not allowed to have. I haven’t yet seen either one frustrated by what boys and girls are supposed to do (or not supposed to do).  Maybe it’s just their ages so far working in my favor. Maybe my experiment is garnering results. Maybe I have no business calling it an experiment with no data collection and no control groups and too many variables. Maybe you’re curious about what I’m trying to do anyway. Here’s a handy list:

1. I refer to “kids” and “children” as often as possible, instead of referring to “boys” and “girls.”
2. No means no, no matter who you are.
3. I try to preempt body shame.
4. I’ve given my son an “out” to use with friends.

This is a link to the Feminist Friday hosting blog. Click it.

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Mirror, Mirror

By Gregory Maguire

Why I Chose This Book
I had no business reading this book with so many other books ahead of it on the list! But I inherited this milk crate of books that I have been driving around with in the trunk of my car for a week or two, and because the top row was a lot of mystery novels, including a bunch of books in a series of Dutch crime novels (*shudder*), I didn’t really dig through it with much interest. But then there I was on Saturday at some kid’s birthday party in the park, and I was packing up the chairs and tables with help, and the guy noticed the crate of books, and I sent him home with <em>Seabiscuit</em> and opened up the second layer. There was some actual fiction in there, and so I brought a few into the house. Sunday ended up being both a busier and a lazier day than anticipated, and the living room was so clean and sunny, and I blew through it basically in a day.

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