Hot Reads

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Pinterest. I think there are a lot of people out there who think Pinterest is for housewives to post recipes and baby stuff but it’s so much more! The idea of a virtual bulletin board is so much fun and that’s what Pinterest is. There’s so much I run across on the internet that I want to keep. In the past I’ve used Delicious and Instapaper which are good sites in their own way but I rarely went back to look for anything I kept there. I don’t use them anymore because I’ve started using Pocket where I’ve been very diligent about proper and useful tagging so I can find something when I want it. So far, so good. But the thing I love about Pinterest is the dominant visual aspect of it which makes it so easy to find stuff. I’m a very visual person and Pinterest is perfect for cataloging the gorgeous photography and art that I love, for giving me the push to try that new recipe (yes!) that I saved that looks so damn good. (See previous post!) It’s great for so many things and now I’ve started a new board which is what this post is about.

On my personal Pinterest account I’ve started a “Hot Reads From NOLAFemmes.com” board. I’ve been keeping articles from the internet that grab me on Pocket since I opened the account but I really like, again, the visual aspect of Pinterest that helps to pique your attention. These are pieces I want to share with our readers so I hope you’ll follow and enjoy the board. I also plan to try to post my Hot Reads here every week (or so) with a link to the board.

So what were my Hot Reads last week? I thought you’d never ask!

hotreads11. From Mother Jones, “Lidia Yuknavitch Flicks Off Frued.
Tagline: An irreverent remake of a renowned case, the new novel “Dora: a Headcase” delivers a gritty take on girlhood.
My favorite quote: “I want to create new girl myths,” she says of Dora. “Instead of always talking about how women struggle in the face of certain models, what if we spent more energy highlighting all these great other possible girl-paths, and turned away from the dominant culture?”

2. The Wall Street Journal: “Maggie Gyllenhaal on The Honorable Woman.”hotreads2
Tagline: Just as war in Israel and Gaza fills the news, a drama on SundanceTV explores the region’s turmoil.
My favorite quote: “Behind my intention in making this is compassion and, maybe it’s naive, a belief in the possibility of reconciliation, which our show never takes off the table.”
Note: I watched the premiere of this series and it’s looking really promising.

3. From The New York Times, “Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminism.”
Tagline: The author speaks with Jessica Gross about her favorite definition of feminism, ‘‘Sweet Valley High’’ and the fetishization of bad writing.hotreads3
My favorite quote: “I think that narrative is a fetish among faculty, not a reality. They fetishize the idea of bad writing, and they are more interested in the lore of bitching about students’ writing than they are in actually evaluating students’ writing as it is.”
Note: Gay’s Bad Feminist comes out this week and I can’t wait to get my pre-ordered copy!

4. From HuffPo, 8 Great New Books By Women You Should Definitely Readhotreads4
Every Hot Reads list has to have a book list and this is the one that intrigues me the most.
Maddie Crum begins by saying, “2014 has been deemed the Year of Reading Women. I wholeheartedly support this movement; after all, only diminutive steps have been made towards gender parity in the literary world since the institution of VIDA’s annual book review count (with the notable exception of the New York Times book review, which bounded towards equal coverage in just one year).”
I say, Yep! Read women! And follow the Twitter feed.

hotreads55. From Brain Pickings, Vacation Sex: A Poem by Dorianne Laux
Every Hot Reads list MUST include a great poem and this is a great poem and a great way to end the list. The piece includes text and video and, damn, who doesn’t want to read about vacation sex?

“It’s boring to play the girl role.”

This is a good video of Olivia Wilde speaking and participating in a panel on “The State of Female Justice 2014: What Makes You Rise?” “The State of Female Justice” panels bring women from diverse movements together for a shared public conversation about justice and equity. In this short video (4 minutes, 2 seconds), Olivia talks about why women aren’t being empowered by the media and shares a story about an acting exercise she participated in that’s very interesting. Enjoy.

More about “The State of a Female Justice” here.

Screw You, Times-Picayune Subscriber!

It comes to this for the “can’t get its act together digitally OR dead-tree-wise” New Orleans Times-Picayune. Something – perhaps a prodigious drop in subscriptions? – has compelled the management of the T-P to make this move:

After slashing its newspaper printing to three days a week in late 2012, the Times-Picayune is beefing up its printing, according to a post the paper’s website Nola.com.

Part of the new printing plan is a new publication, TPStreet, a three-day a week paper “focusing on breaking news, sports and entertainment,” which “will appear in a tab-size format, publishing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Jim Amoss, editor for the Times-Picayune, in the Nola.com article.

TPStreet will cost 75 cents and only be available for street sale in the metro area, as opposed to home delivery. The paper will continue to only offer home delivery on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Further details on this latest development say that the subscribers will get an e-edition of TPStreet rather than having the paper delivered to their door – which means Newhouse Publications/NOLA Media Group still only has to pay door-to-door delivery people for 3 days/week deliveries. From NOLA Media’s end, it’s giving the people what they want and only paper cutting themselves a little in the process. (Well, not everything T-P readers want. There’s still no Saturday edition…)

From the still-hanging-on-by-their-ink-stained-fingers subscribers, though? This is still a big “screw you.” The NOLA.com website is still no paragon of navigation. It remains to be seen how prominently the TPStreet e-edition will be featured on the NOLA.com page, or how easy it will be to find the news on it. And nothing has been done about the cesspools that are the NOLA.com comment sections.

If this is NOLA Media Group responding to the public and to pressure from the competition The Advocate has presented, I’d say they need to go back to the presses. This is not a move that inspires confidence in the robustness of their product – in fact, it smacks of desperation. And a huge middle finger pointed in the direction of the people who willingly give them funding for an inferior product.

It’s sad, and it’s no better than Scott Thompson of The Kids In The Hall in the above sketch declaring he wants the right to masturbate in public. Enough of this dicking us around, T-P.

Update, 9:59 PM: Seems that millionaire and wannabe Louisiana politician John Georges has finally bought The Advocate and has installed two former T-P editors as key staffers. Is it merely coincidental that NOLA Media Group announces TPStreet on the same day as this development is made public? All I know is that New Orleans’ newspaper wars are fast headed to 451°…

Adventures In Sexism

Perhaps it may just be me and the particular people I follow via Twitter, but my obsessive tweeting has unearthed far too many misogynistic postings lately, stuff that we were supposed to have left behind us in this country but clearly haven’t yet. I’m having some trouble dating this particular spate of insanity over men’s and women’s roles in society…perhaps it goes back to this past bunch of national elections…or the Makers documentary on women in recent history, the third part of which I still can’t bring myself to watch…

…or all this talk about “leaning in,” which you, too, can do in a circle with the right materials, but only if you’ve socked away a lot of dough to get your own personal staff to help with things like child care:

How much do you have to spend on household help to replace a traditional at-home mom—someone to do the schlepping, cooking, cleaning, child care, and laundry? About $96,261, according to Investopedia.

In all of the voluminous ink that has been spilled on Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, and on women and the barriers they face in cracking the glass ceiling, no one is saying what is glaringly obvious to anyone thinking about how to have a big career and a family: start saving for the army of help you’ll need to pull it off. In other words, a nanny, a housekeeper, and a baby nurse.

This is no longer some bourgeois luxury; it’s a necessity given the lack of affordable child-care options and the reality that men have not picked up much of the slack at home (whether because they are burning the midnight oil at their own work, or because they prefer to watch football with the guys).

All of which, when one cannot afford to lean in despite the stunning amount of talent and hard work one has exhibited, results in the decision I and many of my fellow women have had to make out of necessity and NOT of true choice: to stay at home with the kids instead of essentially working to pay just enough for child care and little else. You’ll have to excuse me when I post the following links for your perusal; I’ve read only one of them all the way through. Guess which one and you’ll win a Twitter follow from lil’ ol’ me.

  • The Retro Wife, in which feminism is somehow still affirmed even when the woman goes right back into the place where patriarchy says she’s gotta go. Someone tell me please how that works – does said woman not go quietly? Is there a message of protest every day in the kids’ & husbands’ lunch boxes? I’m still trying to figure this out.
  • Turnabout is fair play, and Ruth Fowler’s The Retro Husband makes the most of it. So smarmy & darkly humorous, I wish I could really belly laugh over it. I must instead be content with a knowing, wistful guffaw.

And then a tempest in an oven comes down the virtual pike with rocket scientist Yvonne Brill’s obituary in the New York Times:

New York Times obituary for Yvonne Brill, a rocket scientist and inventor of a propulsion system that helped keep communication satellites in orbit, sparkedcontroversy over the weekend, as writer Douglas Martin led not with Brill’s notable scientific achievements but with the fact that she “made a mean beef stroganoff.”

After a number of complaints on Twitter — and the agreement of the Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan — the opening of Brill’s obituary was altered and the stroganoff line scrubbed. But the new opening sentence provides only the tiniest improvement — it rightly acknowledges Brill’s role as a brilliant rocket scientist up front, but it does so in the same breath and sentence in which she is commended for being a dutiful wife and dedicated, flexible mother: “She was a brilliant rocket scientist who followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. ‘The world’s best mom,’ her son Matthew said.”

In contrast, recently deceased film critic Roger Ebert did write a cookbook, but it is mentioned in passing in his many obituaries - and certainly not as a defining element of his life right off the bat, though he dearly loved his wife Chaz and his stepchildren and step-grandchildren and had himself described that love as a transformative force in his life. It just wasn’t deemed by the media to be as defining a role in Ebert’s life as it apparently was in Brill’s.

I wish I could say all of this was new and startling, but it’s the same ol’ same ol’ since well before my time. All of us, women AND men, keep juggling with sexism in our lives. In the movies. In who gets called first when there’s a family emergency. In who should be leaning in – or leaning out, as the case may be. In what we do or do NOT do to help when women start families.

April 9 is Equal Pay Day, calling attention to the fact that women still earn approximately 1/4 less than men do. Why April 9? It represents the time a woman has to work to earn what a man got in all 365 days of 2012 – a year and a little over three months. A suggestion by economics professor Anne York is that the household tasks be split more equitably than they have been to help achieve greater awareness for all and, through both the equal pay and household work time measurements, this will achieve the equality we all crave.

It takes far more than that. It takes our fully recognizing that men are just as capable as women as being child-rearers, nurturers, and caregivers, and that it is just as important as women being successful in traditionally-male roles. It takes all of us making conscious choices to not give in to the stereotypes and to act accordingly.

We’re not there yet…and at the rate we’re going, we may not get there in my lifetime. But I sure hope it’ll happen in this century. And I certainly wish I didn’t have to keep setting my expectations so damned low.

Downton Abbey – week 7 finale

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*SPOILER ALERT*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Please don’t read further if you have not seen Season 3 finale yet

I knew this was coming. I read that another character wanted to leave the series several months ago, knew who it was, but did not know how the character would exit. The final scenes cast a shroud over the entire episode: Lady Mary, serene in the hospital bed holding her newborn son, not yet knowing that her husband Matthew lay dead along a country roadside, killed in a car crash. What a shocking ending to a season already filled with tragedy.

Going back to the beginning of this episode seams anticlimactic in the shadow of the ending, but here goes. The Crawleys are off to Duneagle castle in Scotland to visit with their cousins Lord and Lady Flintshire, the MacClares. Mary decides to go, despite being 8 months pregnant. Lady Edith goes, and her married editor/suitor, Mr. Gregson follows her up there to continue his pursuit. The Bates, O’Brien and Molesley attend to the Crawleys, with O’Brien getting into a tangle with Lady Flintshire’s maid, and Molesley again playing the comic by unwittingly getting drunk at the Ghillies ball. Meanwhile Lord and Lady Flintshire are desperately unhappy in their marriage, about to ship off to India while Duneagle castle is falling out of the family hands because of financial mismanagement. Lord Flintshire confides in Lord Grantham, telling him how visionary he was in diversifying Downton Abbey for the future while he watched Duneagle Castle slip through his fingers. A bit of vindication for Matthew and Tom. An interesting twist ahead for season 4 lies in their daughter Lady Rose coming to live at Downton after her parents leave England.

Back at Downton, while the family are away, Clarkson gives the house staff a bit of time off to attend the local fair. Jimmy gets into a bit of trouble and Thomas comes to his aid, and winds up getting beaten by some town thugs, but in the end, Jimmy and Thomas make peace and become friends even though Jimmy tells him he could never give Thomas what he wants. Mrs. Patmore is wooed by Tufton the merchant, but Mrs. Hughes calls his bluff after witnessing him carousing with several other ladies at the fair. Over tea, they have a laugh and Mrs. Patmore is thankful that she didn’t go any further with him and winding up chained to the stove.

Another interesting plot was the new maid Edna’s unabashed pursuit of Tom. She flirted, created situations she could be with him by inviting him to eat downstairs, and even went into his bedroom and kissed him. This was an accident about to happen when the timely Mrs. Hughes dismissed her from her job. She then had a sit down with Tom to tell him about Edna’s dismissal, and he proceeded to break down again over the loss of his wife Lady Sybil. It is inevitable that Tom will meet someone new, but with the help of Mrs. Hughes, and others at Downton, it is hopeful that he makes a good choice in his next partner and not the latest help at the Abbey.

So despite all the tragedy, it has been a gratifying season 3, and I look forward to next year’s installment. It promises to continue chronicling the trials affecting the Crawleys and reminds us that tragedy, joy, sorrow and happiness all go hand in hand, affecting both rich and poor equally. No one is immune to it, it is the stuff life is made of, so we must make the best of it while we are able. Thanks for reading.

Downton Abbey – week 4

If you do not wish to read any spoilers from this week’s episode, then please stop reading now!!!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*SPOILER ALERT*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I knew this was coming. You see, Downton Abbey finished filming early last summer, and premiered in Great Britain in the fall of 2012. So the content of the episodes is out there, as is what’s going on with the cast behind the scenes.

I had read that Jessica Brown Findlay, the actress that plays Lady Sybil Crawley was leaving the series. I just didn’t know how she was going to be written off. I found out Sunday: she died in childbirth of eclampsia. It was horrid to watch the episode unfold, and what I took away from number four was the patriarchal mismanagement of a female condition that could have been averted. No matter that the actress was leaving the series, devoted fans felt the pain of her death and wonder why the pleas of her mother, another woman who went through childbirth, a woman intuitive of her daughter’s condition, an established physician who knew Lady Sybil since birth were discredited by the male hierarchy. Her father, and a stranger, Sir Philip made the decisions and ultimately made a bad call that cost Lady Sybil her life. Interesting how the parallel morphs into present day politics, for example Louisiana’s morass of political soup in Baton Rouge, where people with no qualifications are making decisions on other people’s lives and fates without expert input…

But I digress. Lady Sybil’s presence will be missed. She was the only truly purest of heart character on the series. Her death even provoked Thomas  to tears. It will be interesting to see how Lady Cora plays out the drama with her husband, and if or when they are able to reconcile. This episode continues to show the struggle for women to achieve their voice, their rightful place that maybe, just maybe, they know what’s up. The one person who’s voice was conspicuously absent in all the events surrounding poor Sybil was her husband Branson. My heart ached for him as he held his baby looking out the window. Not just women, but men not of the aristocracy suffered from this pecking order.

Aside from the major event of the hour, there were multiple subplots swirling around. Lady Edith’s letter to the editor on women’s right to vote was published and she received a solicitation to write a weekly column, much to her father’s chagrin. The Crawley’s attorney made a visit, and he was dispatched to visit Bates in prison to help him develop his defense. It will be interesting to see if Bates’ cellmate throws a monkey wrench into his proceedings. The new cook is stirring up the footmen, and Thomas is stirring one on his end, with the evil O’Brien plotting to expose Thomas for what he is. And poor Edith couldn’t cook a kidney souffle if her life depended on it: I wonder how long Lady Isobel will tolerate her, despite her noble intention to save her from ruin.

There are 3 episodes left, and hopefully PBS will air the Christmas special, which would mean there are 4 more to savor. Until next week…

 

post-script – last weekend’s Times Picayune published an article in the travel section on what to know if you want to visit Downton Abbey in England. Good read for anyone headed across the pond anytime soon.

The NO Show Wants You

Host Mindy Hawes with Eritria Pitts and Andrew Larimer.

Today, The NO Show is recording live at the Loews Hotel (300 Poydras), at 6 p.m.

What is The NO Show, you ask? Well, it is a new-style, old-fashioned variety radio show, hosted by Mindy Hawes, with music from Hazy Ray and produced by local filmmaker Helen Krieger of Flood Streets and Least Favorite Love Songs.

Featured in this session of The NO Show are Dan Woods and Cyrus Cooper, founders of Film Instant, Andrew Ward, a musician and poet, and Chris Champagne, political satirist.

The recording is free and open to the public.

Mindy Hawes with Michael Garrett and Jason Foster.

NOLA on Video: Rally to save The Times-Picayune

New Orleanians speak out about saving their paper. Big thanks to NOLAFugees for producing this video for those of us who weren’t able to attend the rally.

Get Involved – Save the Picayune

I know how to get to news using technology. But as a New Orleanian I don’t want that to be the primary way I get my daily news. At the end of a work day I want to settle into the my patio or couch with a Sazerac or a glass of ice tea and flip the tangible, not virtual, pages of my daily city newspaper. I want to talk a look at the silly horoscope and see how many stars the day I just lived had and reconcile that with what actually happened. If it’s Friday I want to see what the Lagniappe says is happening in town so I can plan just how ambitious I’ll be in taking part in the many festivities or where I can go to avoid them.

Read more of this lovely essay about what the Times-Picayune means to New Orleanians on NorthWest Carrollton. Then go friend Save the Picayune on FaceBook and follow on Twitter. Get involved.

A Sad Day For New Orleans Culture

Late last night The New York Times reported possible impending lay-offs and a cut back of publication for the Times-Picayune and the story was quickly picked up by The Gambit. (Updated story here.) Tweeting was fast and furious this morning as the news spread quickly including the reactions of T-P employees who reportedly learned about the changes on the social site and other online venues. An announcement to the staff was circulated this morning and can be read on The Gambit.

It’s a sad day for many New Orleanians who have faithfully read the 175 year old paper daily, including myself. I’ve been a bit of a collector of T-P issues that have documented historical events including the last issue before Hurricane Katrina hit.

American Scrapbook has posted a wonderful piece about the history of the Times-Picayune – it’s well worth a read.

The Times, they are a-changin’.