Blurred Lines: I just can’t even

Well, let’s just dive in. Have you heard this song, Blurred Lines? It’s being called “the song of the summer.” Have you seen the video? There are two versions. One features topless models only wearing flesh toned thongs. The other version features the same models wearing underwear and clear plastic. Here is the edited, slightly suitable for work version.

I’m not going to link to the explicit version. You can go find it on VEVO (it’s been banned from YouTube) if you want to see it.  I draw the line at having naked breasts on this blog. For now. Continue reading


Review of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

unspoken-by-sarah-rees-brennanKate and I were very lucky to recently get our hands on an ARC of Untold, by Sarah Rees Brennan, the second book in the Lynburn Legacy series. I read Unspoken last year and told Kate to check it out, and we both LOVED it. I do not know what kind of bookstore sorcery Kate worked to get her hands on Untold, but she better keep working it.

Ok, but before we get to the magic of Untold, we need to talk about Unspoken. Let’s get down to it. Sarah Rees Brennan is a great author. Unspoken is full of elements that seem all too common in YA, and you think it’s going to be predictable. Then she flips everything on its head and events unfold in ways that are totally surprising, and yet seem like the only way any of it could possibly happen. Rees Breenan seems to get great glee out of setting up classic YA tropes and then wildly spiking them into a wonderful new direction. Continue reading

Pick-Me-Up: Thug Kitchen and more

Thug Kitchen on tomatoes

My roommate turned me onto Thug Kitchen a few months ago, and I love this site.  The recipes are excellent and healthy and the posts usually make me laugh.  More importantly, I think TK’s mission is increasingly essential.  From the FAQ page:


Masculinity (and heart disease) inna a box…

The cultural trope of not only cooking, but of eating healthfully, being somehow “prissy” or otherwise feminine, is still pretty strong.  Vegetarianism and veganism are particularly ridiculed and associated with all sorts of negative traits: hypersensitivity, hyperbolic condemnation of meat-eaters, yuppie-ism, smugness, adherence to fads, delicacy, squeamishness, illogic, ditziness… the list goes on.

… while women laugh alone with salad. (Courtesy of The Hairpin.)

So check out Thug Kitchen and enjoy!

BONUS: Ron Finley’s “guerrilla gardening” project in South Los Angeles also tackles preconceptions about what it means to be a gardener.  The project is really lovely on a lot of levels – increasing accessibility to healthy foods, nutritional awareness, and an emphasis on creation as an act of defiance and empowerment.  Money quote:

So what I want to do here, we gotta make this sexy. So I want us all to become ecolutionary renegades, gangstas, gangsta gardeners. We gotta flip the script on what a gangsta is. If you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta. Get gangsta with your shovel, okay? And let that be your weapon of choice.


Ray tells it like it is.  (From Achewood by the inimitable Chris Onstad.  Go read the whole goddamn thing.)

Ray tells it like it is. (From Achewood by the inimitable Chris Onstad. Go read the whole goddamn thing.)

Lucinda ate this this morning and will hopefully imbibe some of this later today.

The Hobbit: The Invisible Women

The Hobbit: an Unexpected Hotness. Credit: Warner Brothers

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Hotness. Credit: Warner Brothers

I’ve been carrying around some strong feelings about the movie The Hobbit. A lot of them are good. It’s charming, funny, poignant, it makes me feel nostalgic, and some of the dwarves are hotter than they have any right to be (hello, Kili, Fili, and Thorin Oakenshield). But I also walked out of the theatre in December feeling unsettled. The lack of diversity in that movie is staggering.

On top of that, we see the only named female character in the whole movie, Galadriel, for a grand total of five minutes. Even then, I understand that she is a character borrowed from Lord of the Rings, and doesn’t appear in the Hobbit book. I can’t even take a bat to The Hobbit like Kate did with Star Trek: Into Darkness because the women are simply not there.

Galadriel in all her soft focus glory. Credit: Warner Brothers

Galadriel in all her soft focus glory. Credit: Warner Brothers

Which leads me to a really strange argument and problem. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby: The Long Review

Original 1925 cover art by Francis Cugat.

I had not anticipated how much time I’d end up spending on The Great Gatsby.  At this point, I have seen it in the theatres twice and just finished reading the novel for the first time since high school, and there’s a lot to unpack here.  Given the slant of this blog, I’ll try to keep focused more on the portrayal of women in the film and novel, but so much more could be said about how race, wealth, poverty, and any number of other issues are addressed.  (For the earlier and briefer “tl;dr” review, go here.)


There are going to be spoilers in this review, as the movie sticks fairly close to the book, the book came out close to a century ago, and you should have read it in high school.  Proceed accordingly.  If you are unfamiliar with the characters and their relationships with each other, this is kind of a gorgeous character map.

As I mentioned in the short review, I learned through extensive research (yes, that is sarcastic) that Fitzgerald drew a ton of inspiration from his relationship with his wife, Zelda Fitzgerald, to the point of lifting text directly from her diary and inserting it into one of his books.  In fact, there’s stenographic record of Fitzgerald basically losing it when Zelda had the temerity to write a fictionalized account of her own mental breakdown and hospitalization, since he had been planning on using that material in future works:

 I don’t want you….to write a novel about insanity, because you know there is certain psychiatric stuff in my books, and if you publish a book before me, or even at the same time, in which the subject of psychiatry is taken up, and people see “Fitzgerald,” why, there is Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, they read that… Everything we have done is mine. If we make a trip….and you and I go around, I am the professional novelist, and I am supporting you. This is all my material. None of it is your material.

So… yeah.  Fitzgerald had a complicated relationship with the primary lady in his life and the material of both of their lives as fodder for his writing.  As such, how he deals with both the primary woman and his narrator are worth greater examination, as well as the choices Luhrman makes in bringing these characters to the screen.

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Pick-Me-Up: Hello, Tailor Discusses Pepper Potts

WARNING: this site is addictive if you care at all about costuming.

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts – ass-kicking girly girl who isn’t afraid to work hard, look good, or work hard at looking good.

Hello, Tailor is my newest obsession, thanks in large part to this post on Pepper Potts and why she is a great female character that is also an underrepresented type: that of the non-bitchy, intelligent, highly motivated girly-girl. Pepper (like Gwyneth) likes looking pretty and clearly puts effort into it. This article goes into all of the reasons why her character design is AMAZING, and how her costuming does a lot to enhance her character traits.

If you have any interest at all in costuming and the way that clothes shape our perceptions of people, I highly recommend checking the blog out. Nothing too technical or fussy, just an interesting take at a side of the movies that most people don’t actively think about.

Kate now has an overwhelming urge to go get her sewing machine fixed.

What Makes a Strong Female Character: A Basic Guide

Recently Kate and Charlotte were talking about how easy it is to focus on the negative, when there are some awesomely feminist things going on in the realm of young adult literature. So we spent a lot of time going over the relative strengths of female protagonists in young adult literature (YA for short). After several conversations, we decided it would be helpful to have a written guideline of strengths to judge characters against. We think that the list that follows is a good general template for judging. When making this list, we were aiming for broad categories – it’s not a helpful criterion if it is so specific that it describes only one or two people.

Please note, we do not expect (or want) a character to have all of these traits. That would make for boring books. However, we do expect a strong female character to possess three or more of these traits. We are also completely aware that there may well be strong female characters that don’t fit ANY of these categories. If you can think of any, please tell us who they are and why they are great! We are happy to be wrong (and to make new categories).

Divergent's heroine Tris getting ready to make a literal and metaphorical leap into the unknown

Divergent’s heroine Tris getting ready to make a literal and metaphorical leap into the unknown.

Continue reading