Friday, August 31, 2012

Is being the token female so bad?

"Critics say the recently proposed campaign leads to tokenism, where women are invited as keynote speakers to placate concerns over gender imbalance. Worse yet, they argue tokenism casts a cloud over a woman’s seat at the table because onlookers will question whether she was included for her sex or her merit. Others say the status quo is simply unacceptable and that drastic measures — initiated by the world’s leading male philosophers, no less — must be taken." - Kathryn Blaze Carlson

Echoes of Affirmative Action here.  And also literature, I think.  There is debate about this in literature even now, I think.  When folks assemble a new literature survey book, they have to make decisions.  Do they include women nobody read when they were alive and publishing simply because they're female (and we want a more "balanced"--not necessarily accurate--representation)?  Since most women weren't educated and thus couldn't serve as an audience, does that justify inclusion of people who didn't have a wide readership because they were female?

Part of me thinks that it would really irk me to be the token female or to be suspected of being her.  However, I was quite happy to hang on to a job for years due to my disability status.  I really needed that job.  I think I would have kept it even if I was somehow only allowed to because of my chromosomes.

Am I just really inconsistent here, or is the usual war of practical and theoretical, perfect world and actual world colliding.  What are your thoughts on the topic?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I miss Borders

I miss Borders.  It was about a year ago that the last one in my area shut down.  I miss it because Barnes & Noble has a crappy manga selection in comparison.  I also miss it because of the receipts.  Borders had the best receipt paper for marking books.  It was thin and tore well in straight lines.  Because Borders is no longer with us, I reserve my leftover receipts for books I know will need a lot of page markers.  I am a huge book nerd, and I miss Borders.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Keep flying, Yukikaze

I am stalled out reading Good Luck, Yukikaze, a collection of science fiction short stories as dark, tense, and talky as the first.  The problem is that I don't want it to end, especially since I know the third and final collection is preeeeetttttyy likely to never be licensed for English distribution.  Sad.

Anyway, I really like these stories, even though they are best read while sitting in a sunny place with birds tweeting and the sounds of happy children playing in the background to stave off the paranoia and depression.  I realize this probably does not sound terribly appealing, but it's meant to be an endorsement.  Really.

I love this stuff.  I loved the confusing, dark anime full of dark, silent soldiers, creepy aliens, aerial dogfights, and questions about the nature of humanity and its interactions with machines.  I loved the first book, and I loved its afterward. 

I sort of inhaled most of this one, too, even as the formerly silent and antisocial protagonist started to develop more humanity, but then, when I saw the end was near, I just . . . couldn't go on.  I need to finish soon, though, before I start losing all the threads of the plot.  Maybe this one will come to a decent close like the first one.  That's what I will tell myself. 

Two chapters and counting.  Tension mounting.  Must push through the pain . . . : )

Monday, August 20, 2012

What is this gunk?

I love the library.  It is a place where you can get free books.  New books, old books, books you aren't sure if you'll like, books you know you'll like but can't afford: what is there not to like about the amazing public libraries in our country?

Well, you know, my one complaint (at the moment) is as follows: why is there always a thin film of gunk on the CDs?  What do people do to them to make them this disgusting?  (I probably don't really want to know.)  Sometimes you get this effect on books, too (usually the ones with dust covers wrapped in clear plastic but also on some paperbacks), but the CDs are just gross. 

If someone could invent some sort of cleany-zapper the items could be run through when they get returned so they can be de-gunkified for the next patron, that person could make a lot of money . . .

Hooray for libraries!  And soap for washing hands after handling gunky library materials!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Three on stories

"But more importantly, without any context any description I gave you would read like an essay. Sure I could explain some of the lost pagan rites from Vint. But without context and narrative, our ability to care about such things is dramatically reduced.

"That’s why we need stories."

- Patrick Rothfuss
"So much of real religions lie in their stories, their parables, their prayers, their songs, their rituals. That’s what I set out to create for my werewolf culture."

- Rhiannon Held
"I have some pretty highfalutin’ ideas about the value of storytelling, including a deeply held belief that it is through stories that we (humans) share the most vital truths about ourselves and the universe we live in. I honestly believe that storytelling, in all its forms, is the most important thing we do as a species. So with that in mind, certainly cross-cultural storytelling can be an important tool for understanding each other."

- Melinda Beasi

Monday, August 13, 2012

Brahms German Requiem (in English)

I started out miffed that we were singing this in English.  The other two times we met for a community sing, we did the Latin pieces in Latin.  I hate it when I have to sing in English just because people are afraid of German or Slovanic or French or [fill in the blank with whatever language scares you].  (Maybe that's just because I'm not good enough to try to sight-sing words and music when I can barely handle music, so I don't really have to think that hard about the words.)

I was being all grumbly to myself about it, too.  "Luther would have wanted it sung in its native language," I found myself somewhat irrationally pouting.  But after I sang it in English, well, I suspect Luther would have approved because even though he was German and was all about a German Bible, he was most interested in making the sacred intelligible to the lay people (in his case, the German ones), and that's why I'm glad I sang this one in English: otherwise, the piece would not have had the power to move me like it did.

For a week before we sang it, I listened to about 5 different versions of this piece that I borrowed from the library, all in German and, while I found it powerful and sometimes stirring, it was more like orchestral music to me.  But with the English score in my hands, I saw the words.  This repeated phrase over and over like hammer blows pounding out the truth of mortality: "Behold all flesh is as the grass and all the loveliness of man is as the flower of grass."  Kettledrums, basses, cellos, altos and tenors in the low end of the range and the bases an octave below and the music just pounding away around us rising and falling away like our voices like the ocean vast and unfathomable and terrifying.

And the music.  The baritone solo in movement II followed by the choir in a sort of choral call and response and then the voice parts passing the phrase back and forth.  We were all lost for 6 whole pages (in movement III, I think), but half of us were there for the last note.  VI has the violins just sawing away incredibly.  And pages 63-85.  Wow.  The midpoint or so has the most incredible ending ever.  I'm always irritated when more comes after that.  VII has some lovely moments but seems anticlimactic compared to the earlier movements which makes sense since the whole piece it starts in grief and anger and harshness and sorrow and moves to a resolution here at peace in music and in voices.

The juxtaposition of this music with these words is synergistic.  I could feel the shape of the whole and the shape of the parts when words I understood were added to the music.  I understood what it meant, not just how it sounded.  And then, after three and a half hours of singing (once through for rehearsal and once through for performance), I got into my car and put in my favorite recording of all the ones I borrowed from the library and listened to it again, and it meant so much more than it had when it was just music to my ears.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Books in Church

I would love to have smart discussions with truth-seekers in my church about the theological issues these books raise, but I probably never will.  However, the chance of this happening is highly unlikely.  There would be the usual confusion about depiction vs. endorsement (not a confusion exclusive to conservative Christians).  There would also probably be condemnation, offense, and outrage about language and content [especially sex], about depictions of immorality, evil, and bad choices and their consequences. 

So this is my starter list.  Do you have any to add?  I'll keep them somewhere in case the opportunity ever arises . . . : )

Monday, August 6, 2012

Really? For real?!

Dear Local Barnes & Noble,

Why exactly is your 50 Shades of Gray display table located next to the kid's section?

Concerned & Curious