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Showing posts from April, 2019

Review: Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

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Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I underestimated Lorde and for that I am sorry. I have a lot of works that invoke Lorde and some of which could be seen as direct offspring from Sister Outsider. In that way, I (wrongfully) assumed that in listening to her book that it would be affirming but not necessarily enlightening. And well, silly me. Now, not all essays are amazing but all are worth reading. For instance, Notes from a Trip to Russia starts the collection and proves intriguing to consider the differences of experiences that Lorde has while in Russia (along with reasonable criticism--it's not all praise). But then we get amazing gems such as Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, where Lorde discusses the need and relevance of sexuality as a key element in women claiming power. Then, of course, there is the classic, "The Master's Tool will Never Dismantle the Master's House" wherein she takes white feminism to task f…

The PhD Chronicles: When Senioritis Kicks in!

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I have three Fridays left.  THREE FRIDAYS.  That's a very exciting thought. It doesn't mean I'm done with the program or even done with classes per se, but I am done with Fridays.  Three years of Fridays along with three 3-week intensives during June.  In total, about 126 day-long visits to campus.  Now, only three.  And truth be told, getting to these classes is a serious challenge.  


My motivation is quavering to show up.  I've felt it since I came back from Spring Break.  Each Friday morning, I feel the pull to stay home just a bit more intensely.  There's a part of me that wants to rationalize this.  Given where I am with my research and my plan to write a dissertation proposal, there's nothing of substance to showing up in these last three classes.  By the semester end, I need to produce a rough rough rough draft of my dissertation proposal but that's it.  I'll then be working away at revising for six months.  But realistically, there's no compe…

Review: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stevenson's reflection on the criminal justice system is a powerful rebuke of the myth of fairness and equity for those who are found "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" or even those who plead guilty. In this memoir, Stevenson shares the years of work he has put in as a lawyer in the South attempting to protect and save many people who are unfairly crushed under the weight of the criminal justice system. From poor representation to intentional prosecutorial or police misconduct to horrible conditions in prison, Stevenson shows how wide and disproportionate the cracks are in the system that allows many innocent people fall through them as a result of racism, class, and a system that is fixated on simple metrics and tied to politics. It's a must-read for anyone trying to understand how wrong and limited we have come in the US in terms of justice.

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Latest Film Essay: PUPPETS!!!

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In the past year, I've had the opportunity to write essays on different films that are playing at The Brattle Theatre.  My two most recent ones include Disoriented Drives: Intimacy and Distance in Hitchcock's Vertigo and Monster in the Celluloid Closet:  Historical Re-Presentation in Gods and Monsters.

This time around I got to write about something that I was utterly excited about: puppets!  Some of you know, I recently came on the Board of Directors at Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline and therefore, the opportunity to write something about puppets was clearly gonna happen, right? 

I have to say, I really REALLY enjoyed writing about this.  The Dark Crystal rivals only The Never-Ending Story in my head in terms of fantasy films that influenced and emotionally struck me as a kid.  There was just so much going on and I was so moved by the story and the puppetry that I have long returned to think about and watch it.  So getting to write about the film and the ways it struck m…

Review: Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class

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Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class by Ian F. Haney-Lopez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To understand how racism has permeated politics for the last fifty years, even though so many politicians openly disavow it, then Haney-Lopez's book is a fantastic primer on understanding America's coded racism. He used the term, "dog whistle politics" to explain that since the 1950s and 1960s with the rise of Geroge Wallace, Richard Nixon, and William F. Buckley have purposely looked to code race by relying upon or making associations between negative imagery (Willie Horton ad), soundbites ("welfare queen"), and cultural artifacts (drugs, social services, etc) and then relying on those associations to play upon white fears in order to win votes, push for elimination of public services, or disenfranchise opportunites and rights for people of color. Haney-Lopen focuses much of his work on the Republic Party since thei…

Review: The Stone Sky

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The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you haven't cracked open this series open, do so ASAP but you need to start with The Fifth Season. Jemisin's final book in The Broken Earth trilogy delivers upon much that she promised in the first two but not making everything so neat and tidy. Readers get enough to understand what has happened in the past and where the future may lead, but the story of the protagonists, Essun and Nassum is completed. In this final book, we find the mother and daughter protagonists preparing and racing to the other side of the Earth in order to possibly start a program that will realign Earth's moon with the Earth to end the cycles of 5th-seasons (seasons where instability and harsh conditions rule). However, Essun (mother) and Nassum (daughter) have different goals in mind and are approaching the endgame with different supports, so when they finally meet, it's not clear just what the outcome will be. What's fascinating about …