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For Women's History Month: Three ladies that revolutionized the music industry and broke through barriers.

1. Etta James - 1950s, blues singer who defied classification and opened for the Rolling Stones in the 1980s. She died just a few years ago. And struggled with drug addiction throughout her life.

Here's one of her tunes:
Read more... )
Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in the mid-1950s, she gained fame with hits such as "Dance With Me, Henry", "At Last", "Tell Mama", and "I'd Rather Go Blind" for which she wrote the lyrics. She faced a number of personal problems, including drug addiction, before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album The Seven Year Itch.[2]

James is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008.[3] Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

2. Nina Simone - Known as the high priestess of soul, she was also a strong social activist, and wrote and sung songs about the Civil Rights Movement.
Read more... )
Here's one of her songs, a favorite of mine entitled Four Women written and sung by Nina Simone in France. It's about four different women, who are different colors.

3. Tina Turner

Tina Turner battled domestic violence against Ike Turner and the music industry to become a powerful female performer in her own right and a pop icon.

From wiki:
Read more... )
Here's my favorite signature Tina Turner Song, which she originally sang with Ike Turner, but now sings on her own quite well:

Two earlier versions of the same song as performed by Turner:

And here's the Ike and Tina Turner version of Proud Mary )

And for Tina and the current fight in the US Senate/Congress for the passage of the Violence Against Women Bill, I'm including one more songstress who wrote about domestic violence, Janis Ian - "His Hands".

[As an aside, in a former life...I volunteered with the Domestic Violence Coalition - Legal Aid of Western Missouri, to obtain orders of protection. (Not restraining orders, we couldn't get those under the law at the time, but we could get an order of protection which was basically the same thing. What a lot of people don't know is many states still have laws on their books that permit husbands to beat their wives, since "wives" were considered "property of the husband" under the old laws. This shocked me when I found out about in Missouri. Most states have fought to put new laws in place.]
shadowkat: (Calm)
1. At church, we had a sermon or speech on "unsolving the woman problem" - Read more... )

2. This is by means of introduction to three interesting female television genre writers, who are in some respects far more versatile then some of their male counterparts. Say what you will about Marti Noxon, Jane Espenson and Rebecca Rand Kirshner's work - they have with courage and dignity carved a place for themselves within the television landscape, taking on writing jobs on series that their male counterparts on Buffy never would and coming up with a far more versatile resume as a result.

I've always found fandom's worship of male show-runners a bit annoying.Read more... )

1. Marti Noxon
Marti's bio )

more on Marti and her episodes, including quotes from various interviews )

Various Marti Episodes on Buffy and how they dealt with gender )

Jane Espenson

Jane's Bio )

interview links and snippets )

a breakdown of Espenson writing for Buffy and how it dealt with gender issues )

Rebecca Rand Kirshner

Rebecca's Bio )

links and interview snippets )

Rebecca Rand Kirshner Buffy episodes and how they relate to gender issues and the themes of this post. )

All three women writers added a certain degree of balance to Buffy and their work like all media, comments on societal constructs. They've gone on to carve paths for themselves in a difficult field. Some with more success than others.

What is not known about their contributions to Buffy?

* Jane Espenson came up with the idea for Robin Wood as Nikki's son. She also came up with a lot of the monsters.
* Marti Noxon created the characters of Spike and Dru and their relationship. Drusilla is Noxon's creation. Noxon also wrote and directed the ending of Fool for Love. In addition Noxon sung the theme song for Cordy's tv show in Birthday. And Noxon created the characters of Anya and Tara, as well as cast both roles. Anya is in some respects based on Noxon's own lack of a filter and is close to the writer in real life. Willow and Tara were based on a close friend of Noxon's lesbian relationship.
* Rand Kirshner Sinclair - became the go-to person for crazy or insanity in the series. She also helped with the Spike/Harmony and Spike/Buffy relationship, along with Willow/Tara.
shadowkat: (Calm)
Finished Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts - which was okay. I liked the two lead characters and the whole jewel thief storyline. What didn't work are two things: 1)e-books under $10 bucks for some reason have a lot of typos. "You're" in this book was "You've", and in one sentence "kiss" was "lass". There were others as well. And they were consistent, making me wonder if it was a translation to digital content issue. I know something about translating regular text to full text via ACII, it's not as easy as it looks and certain words can get garbled. I used to explain the process to journal publishers and ensure quality standards would be kept. Amazon tends to be a bit lax on the quality for less-expensive books. 2) Roberts depiction of the Muslim religion and Islam...furthers stereotypes and hatred of this often misunderstood culture and religion. This annoyed me. I know enough about it, to figure out where the cliche stereotypes fell into place. But other readers don't. And she made me hate Islam, if I didn't know what I did and didn't have a critical mind, I wouldn't have questioned it. Shame, Nora. Shame. Also not helped by the fact that the hero is a white, blond haired, Englishman. And the villain, a Arab sheik. This is also a cliche. But..that said it does follow the trope of a lot of these books - gender battle. Or battle of the sexes. All romance novels seem to be about women taming men or vice verse.

Reading the novel, Sweet Revenge and the recent controversy about contraception in the US Congress, reminded me of other religious controversies. Which makes me realize at the center of the culture wars is gender rights vs. religious rights. Which rights should govern when the two overlap? Your freedom to practice the religion of your choice in the manner you deem fit? Or equality of gender and sexual orientation? And to what degree does one right interfere with the other or which right should supersede the other?

It's an interesting question. And depending on what country you reside, may not be a question at all. I may be wrong - but I don't believe that the religious freedom is a right in many countries, its why so many people immigrated to the US - the right to practice the religion of their choice. It's part of the US's foundation. The Pilgrims, the French Protestants, Catholics from Ireland, and various others fled to the US in order to be free to practice their religion.

The US does have a separation of Church and State. In that the government does not tell people what religion they can practice or how they can practice it. This separation gets a bit complicated and thorny, when the government provides funding to organizations that happen to be affiliated to a religious institution. Such as hospitals, schools, and universities. That's where things start to get complicated.

The Same-Sex marriage bit was an issue with religions - when it became apparent that the government could pull funding from a Catholic Hospital, University, or other affiliated organization if it failed to recognize or perform a same-sex marriage. Ie. If a hospital refused to recognize a husband or wife of a same-sex partner for medical issues or for insurance, due to religious considerations.

Contraception has likewise become an issue in regards to affiliated Catholic organizations who do not want the government to force them to provide contraception or pay for it. The Catholic University does not want to pay for it's employees use of contraception. Or have the government force them too. It's fine if the employees go elsewhere, but not on the Catholic Church's dime. The government states - we won't fund you or give you a grant if you don't do this - under Obama's Health Care initiative. The Catholic Church argues this is a violation of our religious rights.

Here's what the First Amendment to The US Constitution States about Religious Rights:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

[James] Madison's original proposal for a bill of rights provision concerning religion read: ''The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretence, infringed.'' 1 The language was altered in the House to read: ''Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.'' 2 In the Senate, the section adopted read: ''Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, . . .'' 3 It was in the conference committee of the two bodies, chaired by Madison, that the present language was written with its some what more indefinite ''respecting'' phraseology. 4 Debate in Congress lends little assistance in interpreting the religion clauses; Madison's position, as well as that of Jefferson who influenced him, is fairly clear, 5 but the intent, insofar as there was one, of the others in Congress who voted for the language and those in the States who voted to ratify is subject to speculation.

Scholarly Commentary .--The explication of the religion clauses by the scholars has followed a restrained sense of their meaning. Story, who thought that ''the right of a society or government to interfere in matters of religion will hardly be contested by any persons, who believe that piety, religion, and morality are intimately connected with the well being of the state, and indispensable to the administration of civil justice,'' 6 looked upon the prohibition simply as an exclusion from the Federal Government of all power to act upon the subject. ''The situation . . . of the different states equally proclaimed the policy, as well as the necessity of such an exclusion. In some of the states, episcopalians constituted the predominant sect; in others presbyterians; in others, congregationalists; in others, quakers; and in others again, there was a close numerical rivalry among contending sects. It was impossible, that there should not arise perpetual strife and perpetual jealousy on the subject of ecclesiastical ascendancy, if the national government were left free to create a religious establishment. The only security was in extirpating the power. But this alone would have been an imperfect security, if it had not been followed up by a declaration of the right of the free exercise of religion, and a prohibition (as we have seen) of all religious tests. Thus, the whole power over the subject of religion is left exclusively to the state governments, to be acted upon according to their own sense of justice, and the state constitutions; and the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.'' 7

Herein lies the cultural difference between the United States and many other countries. [ETC: By many, I do not mean every country outside the US, it's meant as a general term because I didn't want to do a listing. But go here: and here: - Examples: IRan, Egypt, China, Japan, Vietnam, North Korea, Sudan and Saudia Arabia. ] Read more... )
shadowkat: (work/reading)
My female writer meme which I attempted with mixed results, has inspired me to try something new in this journal. We'll see if I can keep it up. Once or twice a week, I will attempt to post an essay on female writers and directors - celebrating and highlighting their work, with links to their work and to their history.

Since February is Black History Month in the US, I'm starting with Black Women Writers and Directors. I will most likely concentrate on the one's whose work I am familiar with.

The following three women writers have many things in common besides gender and race. The main one is each has found a way to show the world that we need to learn to see beyond race and gender, that neither define us absolutely. They are a part of who we are, but not a defining factor. And we need to learn to see past them. Women can be firemen and surgeons. They can be gods. Black or white or purple. And should not be placed in cages. But these women find a way to show not tell this. They do not speak from soap boxes or bully pulpits or blogs, but instead through the poetry of stories, visual and written. Pulling the reader or viewer inside their minds, so we can see through their eyes.

Shondra Rhimes

Shondra Rhimes is known primarily for the creation of Grey's Anatomy - a ground-breaking American medical drama that focused on the lives of female and male surgeons, but has a female centric point of view. It is also amongst the few dramas to feature an interracial cast and a lesbian relationship at its center.

Rhimes is amongst the few black female television show-runners with a hit show that has been in the Neilsen top ten for more than 7 years. And has been nominated for multiple Emmy's including several during the series initial run.

Read more... )

2. Octavia Butler

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. Amongst her works is possibly the best time travel sci-fi novel I've read Kindred or at the very least the most memorable. It is about a woman in the present pulled back into the distant past - due to her connection to a slave-owner.

spoilers for Kindred )

I read Kindred back in 2003 and can't forget it. It stays with you long after you've finished. Each word indelibly imprinted on your consciousness. What's interesting about it - is it discusses an interracial relationship in the 1970s, and in slave times. As well as the wounds of slavery, and how we can never quite get past them. Dana's husband is thrown back with her, and works on the underground rail-road. You see slavery from three points of view. A book that I highly recommend everyone read.

Butler's sci-fi novels include:

The Patternist series - Wild Seed is the first book in this series of novels.

Wild Seed, the first book in the Patternist series, was published in 1980. In Wild Seed, Butler contrasts how two potentially immortal characters go about building families. The male character, Doro, engages in a breeding program to create people with stronger psychic powers both as food, and as potential companions. The female character, Anyanwu, creates villages. Yet Doro and Anyanwu, in spite of their differences grow to need each other, as the only immortal/extremely long-lived beings in the world. This book also explores the psychodynamics of power and enslavement.

Butler's novels much like Maria Doria Russell's The Sparrow, explored biological and anthropological issues in science fiction as opposed to technological. As well as religious themes. These books were begun in the 1970s and 1980s.
Here's a list of Octavia's works )
And here's a snippet from an article by Octavia Butler - in O Magazine:

Octavia Butler's AHA Moment )
3. Maya Angelo

Maya Angelo is a jack of all trades, a chanteuse, a writer, a director, and a poet. She's also an activist. I have regrettably not read much of Maya Angelo.

From Wiki:
Maya Angelou (play /ˈmaɪ.ə ˈændʒəloʊ/;[1][2] born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet who has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years. It brought her international recognition, and was nominated for a National Book Award.

I would add that she is in some respects best known for her poetry. See below.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Poem )

Maya Angelo is also a director - she directed the film Down in the Delta which was the first film directed by a black woman director.

Her screenplay,Georgia, Georgia (1972), was the first original script by a Black woman to be produced and she was the first African American woman to direct a major motion picture, Down in the Delta, in 1998.

For more information on Maya and her works - go here:
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The DVD player finally died. Or at least I think it died. I tried playing two different netflix discs and got a Disc Error. Then put in two discs that I own and don't care about (Chicago and Bride and Prejudice) which also came up with disc error. This means new DVD player. Great. Just what I want to do. And getting it out from under the DVR box (which is huge) and plugging in a new one - nightmare. What I would give to have a techy friend and/or relative who lived nearby to help me with this. But my techy friends do not live within shooting distance of me. ME? Not techy. I think watching Big Love killed it. I'd blame Farscape - but I was able to watch quite a bit after Farscape, including all of Dexter. No, it was definitely Big Love. Oh well, it was close to eight years old - these things don't last long. Time was - we could fix them, now, not so much. Have to buy a new one. We live in a throw-away society. Nothing is built to last. Because people are busy making something cooler and less durable to take its place. I do have time to do it - am taking Monday off as a personal day, and I get election day off - to vote. I don't want to vote - for two reasons - a) don't like anyone. and b) every time I vote they call me for jury duty.

Although the governor race this year is certainly entertaining: we have "the rent is 2 damn high" party - with a guy running on it who doesn't have to pay any rent and has no idea how much his rent actually is, Kristen Davis - the madame who provided Eliot Spitzer - the former governor with his prostitutes (she decided that she knew more about running a business than Spitzer or his successor David Patterson did), Carl Palladino (the Tea Party Candidate - who is certifiable and literally pissed off everyone except well other people in the Tea Party, the Tea Party is starting to remind me of the John Birch Society), and Andrew Cumo who is running on two tickets, if he loses on one, he can always win on the other. There are others, but those are the highlights.

Watching Modern Family - which made me laugh - even though what happened was technically speaking cringeworthy in the embarrassment department. Taping Project Runway - which flist already spoiled me on. (Guys if you want to rant about a tv show, be careful of spoiling those of us who haven't seen it yet.) So as a result, am sort of ambivalent. I've been more or less ambivalent all season long because none of the designers strike me as remotely talented or worth
watching and clearly coached to play up the drama. (I liked Gretchen and Sarah for making fun of that aspect - Sarah- "this show is just about torturing designers." Gretchen - "all about the Drama". Sigh. Yes to both. What happened to the interesting art? This stuff looks like something I'd see out a home economics class.) This show lost its credibility three seasons ago. I probably won't watch it after this season. It's become more emotionally manipulative reality tv show and less artistic how-to contest, I prefer the latter, the former bores and grates on my nerves. And yes, people it is totally scripted and edited. (They have writers, they just don't pay them benefits.)

Television highlights this week, or rather tv shows that I actually watched and entertained me were: (it should be noted that I have not watched Supernatural, Caprica, Nikita, Terriers (which will probably join Caprica soon in the too brilliant for tv, thus canceled prematurely category),
Luther, and the Event yet.)

* Glee - spoilers )

* Raising Hope - still enjoying this odd little show, that has a lot of heart wrapped into a witty package. The cast is highly appealing.

*Grey's Anatomy - for spoilers and a bit regarding the writing out of the lesbian couples on tv shows )

* Vampire Diaries - say what you will about this show, it is definitely the fastest paced tv show on at the moment. It's bizarre. The show is written like Passions, dialogue lifted out of a bad Harlequin novel (which I've read - I don't critique things I haven't read myself), and soapy as all get out at times, but man, does it move. You are never bored ...okay maybe during Elena and Stefan's scenes, but they don't last that long...get up to go to the bathroom, come back, and you are back to the action. Also it is highly entertaining and fun. Like cotton candy or crack. (People were comparing True Blood to crack or cotton candy, uh, no, that's Vampire Diaries. You can't write meta on Vampire Diaries - okay, I take that back - yes you can, you can write meta on anything, but Vampire Diaries is unlikely to be discussed by critics and scholars...while True Blood already is. Don't believe me? I can find links. The Satire of the Christian Right alone is
fodder for a meta. But True Blood is on HBO - it can do that. Vampire Diaries is on the CW - it can't. Plus True Blood is aimed at the 25-45 audience, Vampire is aimed at the 12-25 year old audience, big difference. (I say this knowing full well that I am much older than the tween audience to which the show is aimed at.) That said? True Blood is poorly paced. At least the two seasons I watched were. Slow. I was very bored during some of those orgy scenes. Alan Ball could learn a thing or two from Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec regarding pacing. Just saying.

very very vague spoilers )

*The Good Wife - the best political drama on tv. Actually I think it may well be the best drama on commericial tv at the moment. Top-notch cast. You can't get better than this cast for a network tv series. (Note I'm ignoring premium channel shows like HBO's Boardwalk Empire or Clash of Thrones.) And the layers upon layers, in depth character stories, and how each case reflects bits and pieces of those characters... brilliant. It also does a marvelous job of depicting what it is like to be female in this world and the games we have to play each day. Gender politics big time.

And topical in it's legal cases. It's not a procedural. The legal cases are mainly there for exploration of characters or defining characters - much like House. Except this show is better written than House. There's a lot more going on here. And the acting is so subtle, yet so..on target.

Love this show to pieces. But no brain power to analyze it or fully review it.

* Caprica Cancellation - which did not surprise me, but did annoy me.

I haven't watched Caprica yet, but part of me doesn't want to - now that I know it's being cancelled. Why torture myself? I'm not surprised it's being cancelled. I sort of thought it would most likely not make it last year - when it got abruptly pulled during the May Sweeps period.
It was an expensive series to make. You can tell that just by looking at it. Also, it was being marketed to a very small nitch audience. And the nitch audience doesn't tend to like well shows like Caprica. There's a reason why a category exists entitled "Brilliant But Cancelled" or "Too Brilliant for TV". That list contains a lot of quirky sci-fi shows - all with high production values, quality actors, and intelligent scripts. Here's a brief list: American Gothic, Now and Again, Earth 2, Space Above and Beyond, (that show about a Restaurant at the End of the Universe starring Robert Englund...which was anthology horror and serialized - sort of Rod Serling on steriods), Tru Calling, Firefly, Wonderfalls, (the one about the guy who lived in a card-board box and was a CEO and was really dark...with Adrian Psdar??), Dollhouse, and Farscape. They all got axed just as they were starting to get interesting. Always annoys me. What's the point in watching a tv show, investing in it, when you don't get to see the entire story? And the writers haven't been given time to show all of it? If you are going to cancel the thing - at least give them enough time to wrap it up appropriately. Will state that Dollhouse sort of got that opportunity.
Farscape like Firefly - got a two hour movie to conclude itself.

At any rate, it is annoying. And sort of makes me resent tv shows like Star Gate - which seem to go on forever...with interchangable characters and spin-offs. If Star Gate can have 10 seasons, why can't Farscape, Firefly, Caprica, Dollhouse, and American Gothic have at least five?
It's not fair!! (whines like a two year old and stomps off to bed.)


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