alg: (Default)
Right now I'm working with a client on his 350,000-word novel, so there's not a whole ton of time for reading for fun. But I've fit a bit in!

I finally finished Ancillary Justice. I can completely see how other people love this book, but I just didn't ~get it~. I will likely pick up the next one anyway, but I wish it had hit me as hard as it hit others.

After that, I read Smoke Gets in your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty. It's a memoir about a year spent working at a crematorium. Sadly, it is not as interesting as it sounds. It's written in a style that I loathe -- that of the Jezebel/Mary Sue article. The author, who is actually a pretty famous mortician (as morticians go) unsurprisingly has written a bunch of articles for Jezebel. She's also really judgy about the people she meets in the course of her life and the way they deal with death. On the other hand, going by what she says about her own thoughts about death and the way current US culture deals with death, she's probably a super great mortician who would do a really good job handling someone's death. And I definitely know people who would love this book. (They also read Jezebel regularly! To each their own!)

Then I finished With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge. It's a memoir about the Pacific theater during WWII. I am pretty obsessed with WWII (as y'all know), but I don't actually know anything about the fighting. This might actually be the first book I've ever read about the actual fighting during WWII. It was very informative. Also about the Marines!

(Once when I was ten, I wanted to join the Marines or be a Navy SEAL. Then I learned women weren't allowed to join the SEAL teams, and lost all interest in the armed forces.)

It is, of course, really upsetting, and full of graphic details of death and war, and there is a ton of racism. And there was nothing about Jews or Nazis at all -- it was all about hating Japanese people, which is not a part of WWII I have spent a ton of time focused on. Very depressing. I don't mind hating Nazis at all, but the author's fierce dedication to hating Japanese people (and it's not even like there was any kind of reason -- just "we're at war with these people therefore I hate them"; what.) was unnerving and upsetting. Not recommended, unless you're doing research or something.

After that, I was ready for something a little lighter, so I moved on to what I thought would be, like, a kind of easy murder mystery procedural: Retribution by Jilliane Hoffman. It starts out with, like, thirty pages of detailed, horrible rape and rape aftermath. The rest of the book is about a woman realizing the man she's prosecuting for murder is the guy who raped her.

I think the big thing with this book was that there's supposed to be a "trick" of the plot, but since I saw it coming from, like, 1/3 of the way through, it didn't work for me. But I did kind of enjoy the writing, so I also read its sequel, The Last Witness, which is pretty much a direct sequel about the same characters and the same rapist.

Figuring out plots and then being disappointed when what I'm reading/watching doesn't have anything going for it besides its plot is a big theme in my life. I am the person who guessed in the middle of Scream that there were two killers. I am the person who turned to my girlfriend in the theatre and said, "Oh, he's dead," about a third of the way through The Sixth Sense, not realizing that was going to be the big reveal at the end, because it seemed so obvious at the beginning.

(I have a prediction about what the season-long plot of How to Get Away with Murder is going to be -- I got through the first episode's plot really quickly.)

To be fair, sometimes getting the plot out of the way is what I love about a show. For example, Elementary: once I've figured out the plot, I can focus on enjoying the characters!

In WWII news, I am finally reading Arendt's book Eichmann in Jerusalem. I've read other Arendt before (my college girlfriend was obsessssssssssed with her), but this is the first time I'm reading the controversial Eichmann book. Except... you know, fifty years later, it's actually not really super controversial. Fifty years later, the idea that evil can be banal is hugely... normal. The knowledge that there were Jewish officials who collaborated with Nazis... well, that's what happened. In 1963, the scandal of the articles and book -- I mean, she got death threats for what I now can't imagine being unknown much less radical or scandalous.

I'm only halfway through, but I'm loving it. Of course I am, it's Arendt, who doesn't love Arendt?

Anyway, upcoming for me is two conferences back to back -- one here in MD and one in TN. So I will be reading The Lotus and the Storm by Lan Cao over those days. And I am so excited because Tuesday is the day when we get Gillian Anderson's book A Vision of Fire AND Alan Cummings's Not My Father's Son! Bisexual Actor Book Tuesday!
alg: (Default)
I wish I were better at writing about media. I usually end up getting distracted, or just rewatching what I want to write about, instead of finishing my blog posts-slash-essays.

I just read "Watson, I Need You: Thoughts on Elementary's First Season" by Abigail Nussbaum, whose thoughts about media I always enjoy even when I don't agree.

NB, Elementary is the only show I watched this past season. Well, I also watched Best Ink, but mostly I fast-forwarded through to the parts with Pete Wentz's face, so I'm not sure that counts as watching.

Anyway, Abigail says something in that piece that I've seen in a couple of places -- that even though Elementary does a lot of stuff really well...

...the fact remains that she enters Holmes's life as his caretaker, and that despite becoming his partner in detection she still plays a caretaking role in his life, worrying about his sobriety and even assuring Gregson that she will manage him when his pursuit of Moriarty threatens to fly out of control. While this is not an uncommon role for Watson to play in Holmes's life (again, see House), it takes on a very different meaning when Watson is a woman.

(Do not get me wrong -- this is not the thrust of the article, it's just what I zeroed in on.)

So the thing is, to me, that while I do agree with this, and, in fact, it was a huge problem for me on House, that Cuddy was this kind of killjoy "Mommy" figure, it's actually not a problem for me with Elementary. Here's why: Joan has her own problems and issues.

There is clearly some stuff going on with Joan. We see her being not very interested in sex or romantic partnership. Her outfits are never meant to be read, in the Watsonian sense (as opposed to Doylist, see here for an explanation of these terms if you've never heard this before), as traditionally "sexy". Even though her boots have high heels on them, they're clearly actually meant for practical things -- comfort and height. She wears them almost literally every single day, and when she wears snow boots in the episode with the blizzard, those snow boots are the same style as her daily boots, with the same heel. (That's very New York-y, a heeled snow boot.) She has feelings about the people who are murdered, even when they're bad people.

I actually have a lot of thoughts about this show based on costuming -- you'll note that when Joan feels confident in what she's doing and/or pleased with herself, she wears bright colors. In the beginning, you could think that she's wearing greys and blacks to be professional, but it becomes clear that she wears greys and blacks because she's sad and unsatisfied. When she's solving cases herself, she wears flowered skirts, or brightly colored pants.

(In the last episode of the season, her sweater kind of matches Holmes's sweater -- she's wearing a solid bright color, and he has patches of the bright color on his sweater.)

(I told you I get distracted.)

Okay, focus: I think Joan has her own issues, and a couple of those issues are control and caretaking issues. Let us not forget her addict ex-boyfriend and her dead patient! As opposed to seeing Joan as something of a Cuddy/House figure, as the stereotypical (in our society's media) woman-taking-care-of-a-brilliant-man, I see Joan as a flawed person who may not realize she's working out (or taking out) her own issues by being Holmes's caretaker in a lot of ways.

I also think that a lot of credit needs to be given to things like, for example, when Watson calls out Holmes's misogyny, he stops what he was doing. He apologizes to her. He is very focused on consent. He knows he's flawed and doesn't understand feelings, and relies on Watson's people skills and knows it, appreciates it. Thanks her multiple times.

(Also, it appears he kind of wants to be her service submissive. BRB, writing 200,000 words of fanfic.)

I love Elementary, in case that's not clear. I've watched the whole season all the way through several times at this point. I'm thrilled with it. (Dade Murphy and O-Ren Ishii solve crime!) Even though I have my issues with it, I genuinely believe it's the best show on tv in years.

Also, I find it very comforting that I can always solve the crime/puzzle quickly. Get that out of the way, then enjoy the rest of the story.

(That is also what I like about Lehane books!)

I can't wait for season 2.

In other media news, a few days ago I watched Born in Flames, which is a documentary-style (but not in an annoying way) movie. It's feminist science fiction that is basically a lot of different types of women talking about how to have a revolution. Like, pretty much it's a movie about intersectionality. But it's from 1983, which is before that word even existed! I loved it so much. I thought it was really wonderful. If you like feminist science fiction, feminism, intersectionality, or terrigreat movies from the '80s, you might like this. After it was over I felt exhausted and had to watch, like, episodes of Castle to deal with my "feels hangover" (what I called how I felt on Twitter). If you do decide to go for it, trigger warnings for violence against women, sexual assault, pictures of dead women, and bombs in the Twin Towers. I thought it was a really incredible film, especially when it dealt with and discussed the different ways race and class (and sexual identity) impact the way women feel they can participate in revolutions.


alg: (Default)
anna genoese

November 2015

15 161718192021


RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags