Censorship & the city

November 23, 2009

An interesting thing happened today.

I was told to remove a book from my book list because of “explicit content.” The book was Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, and the questionable content was the scene in the beginning where Dunstan is seduced by the witch. Luckily, due to the fact that the book isn’t really that risque for a teenager, I was able to get away with a gracious “Thanks for letting me know!” (I knew, I’ve read it) and leave it on the list.

It brings up a compelling & multi-faceted argument, though. I bookmarked Claire’s take on it back when she wrote it, because I love hearing other young teachers’ opinions on classroom politics. I thought of her (and in conjunction, this one from the Guardian book blog) today. Do we have a right to censor what kids read?

The answer is, ostensibly, yes. But is it good for them? No. Life isn’t pretty. People die. Pets run away. Genocides happen. People have babies in one night stands with faerie-slaves. It’s life. So I tweeted earlier that I wasn’t going to take it off the list.

My parents (all 4 of them) never censored what I consumed in any form, especially not books. Sure, Beavis and Butthead were verboten, but I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was 8. They knew I was smart enough to ask questions if I had them, research what I didn’t understand, and most importantly, they knew that I was intelligent enough to understand the difference between reality and fantasy. In fact, I still mostly can! Bonus.

Do some books blur the line? Absolutely. But riddle me this: what’s worse? A skanky faerie-witch, or a main character whose whole relationship is predicated on saying ‘No’ and being forced to do things anyway? The whole Twilight franchise glorifies ignorance and sexism, and yet… No… Stardust?  We’ll encourage unrealistic teenage relationships, unrealistic teenage marriage fantasies, and unrealistic teenage pregnancy, thanks.

Great.

I clearly win.

I want your loving, I want your revenge

November 15, 2009

via perez hilton

Open scene: Couch time, on a random Sunday evening (read: tonight.) Lovely dark-haired wife with minimal makeup and a sweet laptop from work is listening to Lady Gaga remixes, and comes across the Hercules and Love Affair version of Bad Romance. Husband is working on new blog design, putting up with wife’s obsession with said song. Wife is jamming, husband’s temples visibly throbbing. Cue lights:

Husband: All right, when this remix is over, can we PLEASE call it quits on this song for the day?
Wife: I’m a free bitch, baby.
Husband: That’s fine. Use headphones.

Have I mentioned lately that I luuuuuurve him? :D

LiteraryLadies #10: Emma Bovary

November 15, 2009

Emma Bovary is one of the most influential female characters in literature, behind Moll Flanders, Edna Pontellier & Anna Karenina . While I don’t love Emma, her pathetic attempts at a magical life make her tangibly pitiable; I end up rooting for her every time I read it. For a role like Emma Bovary, an actress with some flexibility is necessary, because the novel begins when she is a teenager and ends when she is about middle-aged. I thought Elizabeth Banks would be good for the role:
banks-1

I chose Banks for a few reasons– one, she’s beautiful, and I always imagined Emma’s beauty as too big for the tiny market town she resides in. Two, she has that classic, ageless loveliness that has the ability to look young and naive or mature and vampy with a change of neckline and some extra rouge. Third, her versatility as an actress is important for a role like Emma Bovary: she must simultaneously portray a woman who is utterly unhappy, swamped in guilt for that unhappiness, “ripe for seduction” (as her later lover called her), and flagrantly apathetic about the consequences her behavior has on anyone but herself.

Emma is a dreamer & a romantic, having read a great many novels during her time in the convent school. With more education than many women of her time, her proclivity to dissatisfaction is organic: she can see past the provincial delights of the stultifying market town in which she resides, past her bumbling husband’s mediocre attempts at love, and past the practically-written-in-stone mores of mid-19th century France. When even motherhood’s veiled secrets escape her, she is left listless and depressed, falling to affairs and insurmountable debts.

Emma Bovary

If Madame Bovary were set in today’s society, there would have to be some superficial changes to the plot. For example, I feel like Emma must be more of a “kept woman” than she is in the original story. In the novel Emma’s husband Charles Bovary has a second-rate medical license; since things are more regulated now, he could simply be a nurse, or a physician’s assistant– something that doesn’t require the same amount of school as an MD.

Their life together should be comfortable, but not luxurious. Modern-day Emma would constantly be looking at catalogues and browsing the internet for things lovelier and more decadent than they can afford. She is prim and childlike in the beginning of their marriage– and her daughter does nothing to alleviate the boredom and sadness that has seeped into her life– in fact, motherhood seems to make Emma’s dissatisfaction even greater. The novelty of having a child wears off quickly for her, and she begins to torture herself with the first of two ill-fated affairs.

The second affair, however, proves to be her undoing. Emma is enamored of and ensnared by the rakish Rodolphe Boulanger– in my version, he is a more successful version of Charles Bovary– perhaps a plastic surgeon or something equally superficial– and a womanizer, of course– a la Christian Troy in Nip/Tuck. When he abandons her on the eve of their elopement by leaving a cursory apology at the bottom of a basket of apricots, Emma falls apart. She is ill and unmanageable, even briefly turning to religion before discovering her true love: Shopping.

The collage above is meant to show Emma’s decadent tastes– while she is beautiful and loves luxurious things, I never pictured her to have a very sophisticated palate. Her clothes would be expensive but over-the-top, her closet overflowing with things your mother might have worn clubbing in 1987. The debts pile up quickly, and before she knows what has happened to her, she is begging money off of the men she’s used and who have used her, including Rodolphe. Without a penny and with no man to save her, Emma attempts to take her own life with arsenic, but ends up dying slowly, painfully, and without the dignity of anyone thinking it was an accident. A fitting– if messy– end for a woman whose disregard for those around her brings down her entire family.

Wherein I admit that I like seeing my stats be higher than normal

November 9, 2009

senseandsensibility via flickr

I am a competitive person. So competitive, in fact, that if I’m not sure I’ll win, I often won’t even play. That’s also called “Being a Giant Brat”, but that’s a post for another time. I’ve noticed that the posts that get the most hits–either search engine hits or pageviews–are my Literary Ladies posts. Those also happen to be the least frequently posted of all my rambling. (You can see some old Literary Ladies posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The very very first is here.)

But, back to my brattiness competitive edge: because I like reading my stats, and because they are fun to write, I am going to make the LLs a bigger part of the writing I do for this website. I’ve learned that the only way to do something right it to do it better, more frequently, and geekier than the rest. Geekier I can certainly manage, no question.

Now, it’s your turn: Who do you want to see here? Which actresses are you interested in seeing reprise your favorite leading role? Check out the last poll for some inspiration, and please leave a comment if you have any ideas.
That said, I’m glad to be back to blogging with a bit more regularity! I know it’s not perfect, but things are slowly improving on the stress front, for various reasons.

What’s making Monday less manic for you, today?

new clothes = jumping for joy!

November 8, 2009

After months of complaining that I have nothing to wear, nothing trendy or exciting or reflective of my current fashion identity, I broke down and went shopping. I plan on mixing some of the things I already own (ie, the black pencil skirt, the sequined clutch, the epic sparkly cuff bracelet (vintage, was my grandma Mimi’s!), the tights & feeling a bit more like myself at work tomorrow! Just because I’m a teacher, and 85% of the times I dress up are work-related, doesn’t mean I have to look like a marm just yet. For less than $60, these are 4 items that will be wearable in every situation this winter. Yay!

winter wardrob remix

I bought the striped t, the gray dolman cardigan, the drapey black floral blouse & the ankle boots. The boots pictured are simply lookalikes, because for some reason I couldn’t find them on the XXI website. For $25, they were a steal. I’m not into bulky sweaters or heavy pants; I live in jersey, cotton-blends, and the occasional piece of gifted cashmere– so winter clothes are a problem for me. I’m in denial all winter long, and usually layer lighter fabrics of several textures for a cozy look. the slight drape in the striped boat-neck t, the shaped flow of the long cardigan– they’re exactly what I pictured when I set out, obliging husband in tow. (He was so nice, I bought him a coffee & cookie on the way home.) Since it’s next to never I come home with something I like, let alone love, like I love these 4 items, I’d say it was a successful trip.

What did you do this weekend?