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review 2017-11-28 23:07
Moving Beyond Words
Moving Beyond Words: Essays on Age, Rage, Sex, Power, Money, Muscles: Breaking the Boundaries of Gender - Gloria Steinem

Given the extensive history of Gloria Steinem and feminism and how renowned her work is, you kinda have to go in knowing that it's going to be fantastic. Even if I had my doubts, they were assauged by my first foray into Steinem's work when I read Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions about two years ago. She mentions in the introduction to the book that she had originally intended for this book to be similar, simply publishing articles collected, rather than what it turned into. This is a collection of essays that go beyond what she had originally published for each of these subjects, though they do get into the original content as well. It's broken down into five parts that cover different concepts. Part 1: Phyllis Freud - this may be new favorite thing ever. I loved her reversal of Freud's writing. I always knew that his thoughts on the actions and thoughts of those of my gender were nuts, but I love how succinctly the gender bend works to show just how nuts he was. I especially appreciate the way she laid bare all the politics in his theories. Mostly, though, it was just a barrel of fun to read it all reversed and bent. Part 2: The Strongest Woman in the World - I knew that I had grown up a beneficiary of the work of women like Beverly Francis, but I had never known her name or really the beginning of the idea that women could be physically strong. We still suffer set backs all the time when some refuse to acknowledge this, but women like Bev Francis and things like Title IV keep working their magic and normalize women and strength. For the record though, anyone who thinks that it is somehow more physically demanding to life heavy things than to create and birth a child is either stupid or willfully ignorant. As women like this make obvious, women have always had the ability for physical strength, priming and a refusal to see it have kept us from realizing it for far too long. While I'm still only weights-curious, I have known a few women who lift and they are amazing to behold. Aside from the work of power-lifting and bodybuilding, Francis is also a good role model for dealing with the twists and turns of making something new acceptable for women. That she has become friends with fellow competitors just adds to it. Part 3: Sex, Lies, and Advertising - I have long hated magazines for many of these very reasons, even the ones I didn't know were a problem that magazine writers and editors had. I hated the  advertisements and the way they never seemed to talk about anything that wasn't products. I never did pick up Ms. Magazine, but I had long since given up on the whole thing well before I was old enough to understand what Ms. would be talking about anyway. This whole thing makes so much sense out of everything. It also helps that I read The Feminine Mystique and got the reference to Friedan's chapters on women's magazines. Any reader would understand the point without it, but it helped really drive it home. Part 4: The Masculinization of Wealth - yeah, I think there's a part of us all that know us but don't quite want to face it in print. I think we could all benefit from a de-masculinization of wealth though. If for no better reason than that these guys should have to earn what they have or lost it to someone more capable, whatever their gender. Part 5: Revaluing Economics - I've also come up against this thought process before too. The first time was when writing my first blog. You gotta put your money where your mouth is and that's much harder to do than you think it is when you start out. Still, it's a worthy endeavor. Part 6: Doing Sixty - I can't wait..... I mean, I totally can, but I'm looking forward to a time in my life when I feel like I can get a little more radical. I do feel it, though, getting easier every day. I'm only 35 now and I can't wait to see what I turn into by then. If Steinem is any indication, it's gonna be a fun decade. All together, it's an amazing work of non-fiction that needs to be read widely by all women, even if you don't think of yourself as a feminist. While I understand the allure of avoiding the word, I also think that being a housewife doesn't preclude you from supporting the endeavors of other women when their products are worthy of your cash. I know plenty of housewives who are feminists and breadwinning women who say they aren't, but as long as they support each other, I don't give a damn how they describe themselves. All the women I know could benefit from reading at least one of these parts. I know I certainly have.

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text 2017-11-27 15:50
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 15 - Boxing Day

Tasks for St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day: Show us your boxes of books! –OR– If you have a cat, post a picture of your cat in a box.


The current feline denizen of my home -- Teddy -- won't be caught dead in anything enclosing him, but Holly loved boxes and was, consequently, in heaven whenever we were moving.  Here are a few impressions from the preparations of our "big" move from California to Germany:

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review 2017-10-22 00:00
The Moving Target
The Moving Target - Ross Macdonald After having read that Ross Macdonald was alleged to write hard-boiled, noir, detective fiction as well as Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett, I had to check him out. The first book was indeed good, but my kindle access to Ross Macdonald was limited. No copies in my own library and only a couple at the Boston Public Library. But, it seems that the Woburn Public Library has a much larger selection of Macdonald titles. So, of course, I had to get me a library card to the Woburn Public Library. I could easily do that on my way home from a visit to my friendly audiologist. And so I did. This is the first of the Macdonald titles I checked out from them.

This is, naturally, a convoluted tale. An oil tycoon, Ralph Sampson, goes missing. His wife is worried about his drinking, gambling, and womanizing, but wants him back, if only to make sure she outlives him before his fortune disappears. She calls in Lew Archer to find the man. On his way in to meet with the woman, to get more details, Archer first meets Alan Taggert, the family pilot, and Sampson's delectable daughter, Miranda. Miranda, it seems has designs on Taggert. Sometimes, Taggert plays along, but other times he makes it clear he is uninterested.

So, it seems that Taggert flew Sampson from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, or environs. Sampson was drunk as a lord by the time they got to the airport. By the time Taggert had put the plane to bed, Sampson had disappeared. The limousine called to pick him up got a later call telling them not to bother. So who had picked up Sampson, and where did he go? That's Archer's problem in a nut shell. Well, a few days later, they get a ransom note, written in Sampson's handwriting. That rather escalates the problem, how to pay the ransom, while still getting Sampson back alive?

So, we wander into The Wild Piano, a bar which Sampson sometimes frequented. He'd been seen there recently with an over-the-hill Hollywood actress, Fay Estabrook. The bar features a torch singer, Betty Fraley, who also seems to have palled with Sampson. We run into a "religious mystic" who has a mountain top refuge, donated, it seems by Sampson, but the guy is pretty clearly a fraud and is doing something not-so-kosher on the side. Then there's Archer's old pal from his days working for the DA, Albert Graves, who left the DA office to become the family lawyer. Graves has a mad crush on Miranda, which means he has no love for Taggert.

I dunno, there's lots of other stuff going on, floozies and mashers, gun men and dead bodies, all the good stuff of noir fiction. It's quite well written. Based on my limited sample of two, I'd say Ross Macdonald is close to Raymond Chandler in the quality of his writing, a quality well above that of Dashiell Hammett (not difficult, Hammett had great plot lines, but wooden prose). I foresee much more Macdonald in my future, thanks to my new library card. Who knew there was anything good one could say about Woburn?
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review 2017-10-16 18:03
Great Collection Showcasing Miss Marple Stories
Three Miss Marple Mysteries (The Murder at the Vicarage / The Body in the Library / The Moving Finger) - Agatha Christie


The Murder at the Vicarage (5 stars):

The first Miss Marple mystery that showcases a different Miss Marple. I am realizing that for the most part, most Miss Marple stories have another person as the narrator with someone else giving us their thoughts/opinions on Miss Marple. In the first mystery Miss Marple is shown as nosy/gossipy and kind of mean spirited it felt a few times. She comes into her own in the end though when she reveals who the murder(s) are in this one and we have the narrator, the vicar called Leonard Clement who ends up in what I would call a grudging admiration of Miss Marple. Christie in my opinion definitely softens Miss Marple in subsequent books. She is definitely about seeing the murderers in her books brought to justice, though as some of you pointed out, she did take on a Poirot type of sentiment in some of her books. 


Taking place in St. Mary's Mead, we have the whole village on pins and needles when someone murders the most despised man that lives there, Colonel Lucius Protheroe. The Colonel is nasty and mean spirited. When the Colonel is found dead in the Vicar's study, everyone quickly starts to suspect the other. Things get even more confusing when two separate people confess to the murder.

The narrator in this story as I already said was the vicar, Leonard Clement. He his married a woman named Griselda who he seems to have some worries over since it appears she may be having an affair. When the vicar starts his own investigations he keeps running into one of the residents, Miss Jane Marple. Slowly but surely we work through the village and wonder which one of them killed the Colonel.


What I loved about this book was that the only one who figured out what was going on was Miss Marple. A lot of people had ideas and there are a lot of red herrings to throw things off, but the final solution I found very enjoyable to read. When I first read this years ago I had no idea who had done it. At one time I suspected about every character that we are introduced to.


What is great about this first book is that we get introduced to characters we are going to see again in future Miss Marple books such as the vicar and his wife. I am trying to recall if Dr. Haydock shows up again. I do know that Inspector Slack shows up in The Body in the Library. 


I did enjoy that my version included a layout of the vicar's study and home so you have to wonder how did someone enter and exit without being seen. I don't know if this one rivals my favorite Christie books "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" and "Murder on the Orient Express." but it's definitely in my top five Christie books. 


After this readers should read "Thirteen Problems" if you want to go in order of the Miss Marple series. 


The Body in the Library (5 stars):

The reason why I suggested readers should read "Thirteen Problems" next is that you are introduced to two characters who figure prominently in "The Body in the Library."  When retired Colonel Arthur Bantry is wakened he and his wife Dolly are told there is a dead body in the library. They investigate and find a dead young woman in his library at Gossington Hall. The police show up and everyone starts to suspect Colonel Bantry in being behind the murder. Even though many will not come out and accuse him, the appearance of impropriety is enough to cause the Bantry's to lose their place in society.


Dolly calls up her old friend Jane Marple to help. What is nice is that Dolly calls back to Miss Marple solving all of the mysteries put before her in "Thirteen Problems." So you have one character who is aware that though Jane looks like a spinsterish older woman who is called "Victorian" by her pain in the butt nephew, she could put Sherlock Holmes to shame. 


What I loved about this book is that it takes you down a really long winding path to get to who is the dead girl and why was she placed in the colonel's library. Eventually the dead girl is revealed to be a missing dancer named Ruby Keene from the nearby Majestic Hotel. We have Miss Marple and Dolly going off to figure out, who at the hotel could possibly want Ruby dead. 


We get introduced to a lot of memorable characters in this one and honestly I have to say that I had no idea who did what to who and when all is revealed I went, oh that's so clever. I recall watching the most recent BBC adaptation of this one and wish that they had left it alone. I liked the original ending and thought that the latest Miss Marple's tried to be too sensational with things. 


I did notice in this one and the next Miss Marple, Miss Marple likes to set a lot of traps. So there is one difference between her and Poirot. Poirot was all about telling a room full of people who the guilty party was, Miss Marple always brought in the police to ensure a confession. So she was like Brenda Leigh Johnson in the Closer. 


The Moving Finger (3.5 stars):

This one ended up not working for on a lot of levels. I think it's cause I didn't really like the narrator for this, Jerry Burton. Jerry and his sister move to Joanna move to the village of Lymstock in order for Jerry to recover from the injuries he suffered from a plane crash. As soon as the siblings move in, they receive a poison pen letter accusing them of being lovers and not siblings. Apparently the whole town (just about) has received nasty letters accusing them of some nefarious thing. 


Jerry finds himself growing fond of (or something) of the local solictor's step daughter named Megan Hunter. Megan is dealing with the fact that she is not wanted at her home now that her mother has remarried and had children with someone else. Her mother, Mrs. Symmington is a hard woman and doesn't seem to know what to do with Megan. Megan also puts the awkward in socially awkward. 


When Megan's mother is found dead by her own hand after receiving a letter accusing her of an affair that resulted in the birth of one of her sons, Jerry becomes more involved and he does a not great investigation into who could be behind the letters. When the Symmington's maid is found dead, it seems that perhaps the poison pen writer has decided to cover his/her tracks. 


I don't know, maybe it's just me. I found Jerry and Joanna both to be off-putting. Joanna decides she's in love with the local doctor, and Jerry all of a sudden realizes Emily is attractive when she gets new clothes and her hair cut. It's definitely a "She's All That" moment and it made me hard cringe. 


Image result for shes all that gifs


Also I am going to complain here, there's not a lot of Miss Marple in this one. One of the characters (the local vicar's wife, no not the one I talked about earlier) calls up Miss Marple to help out. She meets Jerry in one scene and it just felt very long. We just quickly go back to Jerry and his suspicions and that's it. 


Also when you get behind the why of things I had a hard time with the premise. It seemed quite far-fetched to me that someone would go to all these lengths for what is revealed by Miss Marple. But then again I have been watching a lot of Forensic Files and there apparently a lot of people who murder each other for like $10,000 so what do I know. 


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text 2017-10-15 19:23
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
Three Miss Marple Mysteries (The Murder at the Vicarage / The Body in the Library / The Moving Finger) - Agatha Christie

This was a really long book to get through. Three Miss Marple stories in one. Have to say, my favorite story was "The Body in the Library." "The Moving Finger" bugged me a lot and

I will get to that when my full review pops up. Miss Marple comes in and saves the day three times. I do say, I like her more than Poirot cause Miss Marple is always clear on moral duty. Poirot used to excuse and did too many troublesome things that I always side eyed (see Taken at The Flood).


The Body in the Library doesn't let up until the very end. The twists were really good. The final solution was great. 


The Moving Finger was too easy to figure out who was behind what. I also didn't care for the narrator. We didn't get a lot of Miss Marple in this either. 


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