Msnowe's Blog

You Fucking Kidding Me?

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on August 17, 2009

butterfly-broken-wings-dead

Really, New York Times?  m.snowe thought this story about the “trend” of pot bellies was ridiculous, and she scoffed at you, and then quickly went back to her own business. But then, she saw this one, on women in the military and combat and such, and she wanted to yell at you through the computer and hope you could hear her angry and disgusted scream all the way over at your stupid ladder building on 43rd Street.

Why is m.snowe appalled? This is after all about ladies kicking ass in the armed forces, which clearly m.snowe has no problem with. But look at how the “journalist” begins the “Woman at Arms” article:

As the convoy rumbled up the road in Iraq, Specialist Veronica Alfaro was struck by the beauty of fireflies dancing in the night. Then she heard the unmistakable pinging of tracer rounds and, in a Baghdad moment, realized the insects were illuminated bullets.”

Yes, all girls do is daydream about fireflies, fairies, and lollipops. Also, if we weren’t so damned distracted by said daydreams, our convoy drivers wouldn’t have been riddled with bullets.

Aren’t journalists told to front load? So why did this journalist (a lady journalist, no less!) begin with fireflies, and not the real meat of the story, which is:

She jumped from behind the wheel of her gun truck, grabbed her medical bag and sprinted 50 yards to a stalled civilian truck. On the way, bullets kicked up dust near her feet. She pulled the badly wounded driver to the ground and got to work.”

Let us not forget, this is super heroic, because the Specialist is a chick. She deserves not a purple heart, but a pink one, because hey, she’s a girl. And when little grown up girls do something so heroic that even most men wouldn’t do, well, that’s extra-special extraordinary. (m.snowe is laying this on thicker than the cream cheese at the corner deli … ).

Give us a break, Times.

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New Friday Postage: Lady-Rating

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on August 14, 2009

The fiction Lady-Rating.

Can your writing run with the big girls?

Can your writing run with the big girls?

“Yeah, she’s a 7, maybe an 8.”

Let’s turn this shit on it’s head. m.snowe was sadly subjected to, and heard stories of others subjected to the whole grade school, junior high, and high school ratings system. Oh yes, boys would rate the girls on a scale of one to ten, and sometimes there would be illustrations. Enough of that! Then what, might you ask, is the Fiction Lady-Rating? It’s the arbitrary name m.snowe has created in order to rate certain pieces of fiction in terms of their female characters, or the presence/lack of any type of feminist ideas. Obviously, this can’t help but be a bit subjective—but m.snowe will try her best to rate with fairness and insight. (obviously, a rating of 0 is absolutely horrid and represents either a complete lack of female characters or feminist ideas, 10 is the best, with strong female characters and/or feminist ideals.)

It’s m.snowe’s hope that at least one book, new or old, can be rated every Friday, and that any other posts going forward that necessitate a rating will have one appended to it at the bottom, holding down it’s skirt.

So here’s today’s Lady-Rating, for The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Quest? Not for Ladies.

Quest? Not for Ladies.

Rating: 1 out of 10.

Reasoning: Despite m.snowe’s love for this classic piece of literature, big J.R.R.T. was not exactly female-friendly fare. Even his Lord of the Rings books have female characters few and far between, and they almost always serve as love interests, or evil enchantresses. Tolkien, a renowned scholar, claimed Beowulf was his biggest influence when writing The Hobbit–and obviously, there is a lack of females or feminist themes in that (although, at least Grendel’s mum makes an appearance!). Clearly, for Tolkien, great adventures and fighting dragons was just not for women. To be fair Tolkien should be placed in his time–The Hobbit was written before 1936, and he was a staunchly religious man–both of these are factors in his works which make him less apt to have leading ladies. But perhaps because of his later works that do include some ladies who are slightly stronger than shrunken violets, m.snowe is wont to give him a rating of 1 instead of the old goose egg.

Summer Reading Reply, #1

Posted in Uncategorized by m.snowe on August 13, 2009
m.snowe read Remainder, by Thomas McCarthy. If you liked Groundhog Day...

If you ever wanted to direct Groundhog Day...this might be your book.

So m.snowe came to this book knowing absolutely nothing about it, other than it was recommendedby this dude , and the cover is quite pleasing to the eyes.

m.snowe will be the first one to admit she doesn’t read much (enough?) contemporary fiction. Usually, she likes her authors d-e-a-d dead. This way, she can pick an author, and also start wherever she likes in terms of the canon–maybe read the most popular work, then dig through the earlier stuff, or vice versa, or something else entirely. But she took a chance on McCarthy and his first novel. And although McCarthy may not be dead, he seems to have a little fetish with it.

First, the best parts:

  • Humor.  Perhaps m.snowe’s favorite part of the book was when the protagonist nonchalantly asked that the cats which fell off the roof to their deaths be replaced with new cats as necessary. There was no attempt to make it so that the cats wouldn’t fall. The narrator had the ability to “waste cats,” so he did. Of course, this is an example of the dark humor that deepens as the book does. The affectlessness of the narrator was brilliant. And although his actions are within the scope of human possibility whenever someone has a focused vision and drive, and although something truly sinister is lurking behind the hilarity of the narrator’s actions, well, it’s still funny.
  • Definitions.  Don’t know entirely why, but the simple idea that the narrator received definitions from his coordinator via text message was also brilliant.
  • Perspective. m.snowe is very choosy and finicky when it comes to perspective, but this story just wouldn’t have been any good had it been told from anyone else’s vantage point. There, she said it.

Okay, here’s the problems m.snowe had with it:

  • Bland repetition. Yes, that’s a main point of the book. And this is merely an aesthetic comment—to each their own.  m.snowe happens to dislike things that rely on repetition (including Groundhog Day). But if you like it–all the better for you. Repeating, re-staging–these are important to the narrator, and help form the foundation of the book. Weirdly, the idea itself is more pleasing to m.snowe than actually reading it in a narrative.
  • Preachiness. It’s clear that McCarthy has an agenda. (Sure, sure,–all authors do). But his agenda, while not entirely clear (International Necronautical Society? Please.), is always present. Sometimes in some books (read: Orwell) it works.  Sometimes, you just want to enjoy the story and not feel the pressure of some idee fixe cramping your ability to languish within a plot. “Inhabiting a zone of conceptual death”? Goodness. I’m with their manifesto that “There is no beauty without death, its immanence.”  And m.snowe likes the idea, the obsession and seemingly crude love of death and “reality” and beauty that the narrator inhabits, but there must be some less obvious, more insightful way to get there than a narrator who is easily pegged as a post-traumatic psycho almost from the very beginning. What would hit closer to home (and be scarier) would be a character without some pinpoint-able trauma—a character who’s background is shockingly similar to the reader’s own.

It’s strange—m.snowe was all set to rip this book to shreds–while reading it, that’s all she wanted to do. Yet sitting here, with it finished and pleasantly dog-eared, it’s hard to formulate a really angry tirade against it. Trying to reevaluate the displeasure is, well, displeasing. So m.snowe gives you this advice: just go with it. It’ll be over and done with soon enough.

Onto the next recommendation–“The Untenable Featherweight of Existence”…Wait, no…this one.

Feminist Afterthought: McCarthy’s Fiction Lady-Rating: 3 out of 10 at best. Catherine, Annie, a Liver Lady and a woman with a bag on her head. All peripheral characters, and treated as such. Naz is, of course, male.