More fun with musical sexism.


A few months ago I looked at the balance of male and female voices at a local radio station and was disappointed. I thought that maybe one of the other radio stations I listen to might have better stats. So this time, I pulled the information from 8am to 2pm on July 29 from Live 105 and KFOG (but not BIG 103.7, which only tells you the last twelve songs---they did have 25% female voices though which makes them above address). I also added Alice which Top Hat suggested might do better. I don't listen to Alice all that often because it's on the second layer of the car's presets and because the music just ain't as good as KFOG. You'll see.

First, just the overall numbers (percentages rounded to the nearest half percent):

(All these can be clicked on if you want to view them more legibly.)

As you can see, Top Hat was right. They play lots more women as a percentage. Still not near half, but, you know, closer. As you can see however, they tend to play the same people over and over again. Here are the actual artists (first chart is total songs by artist, the second list is simply artists played regardless of repeats):

KFOG and Live 105 had virtually the same male/female breakdowns, but the variety of women played by Live 105 is laughable. Let's look at Live 105's charts first:

KFOG, by my reckoning, has the most listenable mix. And unlike Live 105 they even play women back-to-back sometimes. But it's still pretty pathetic. Does the average radio listener really have that low a tolerance for the female voice? Frankly, I doubt it.

Anyway. Let's look at their breakdown:

And here I thought HAIM was supposed to be the next big thing.....


Rachel Rising × Three


058) Rachel Rising Vol. 4 : Winter Graves by Terry Moore, finished July 10

Though it would be gorier than most movies I sign up for, I would love to see this as a film. It's reliance on women characters, the smartness of the dialogue, its ambivalence in defining good and evil people (its people never being that simple)---this is what we need in film, methinks.

Anyway, volume four ends this story arc. Not everything has been quite explained (which is fine) and some major things remain unresolved (a second story arc has begun, so that's fine too), but I am utterly satisfied. My worries in volume two that it might fall into old storylines proved unfounded. This is a book that just kept on giving. Can't wait for volume five so I can read them all again.

two days


057) Rachel Rising Vol. 3 : Cemetery Songs by Terry Moore, finished July 9

It's getting more complicated and further away from expectations. It might be messing with chronology which is throwing me a bit, but I'm excited to see what happens next. This is great stuff.

officially three days


056) Rachel Rising Vol. 2 : Fear No Malus by Terry Moore, finished July 8

This second volume is every bit as perfectly crafted as the first although I'm a bit bummed to see the strangeness of it all normalize a bit into demons and witches and Lilith. That said, it's still unlike anything I've ever read before and I admire how normalized everyone is. The quirks of each person exist without comment. This may be a world of fantasy, but the people are as human as any I've seen. This is must-read comics.

one night

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


LDS Eros: Mo' Moriah, mo' Jovan


055) Paso Doble by Moriah Jovan, finished July 7

If you're not familiar with Moriah's work, you might check out my reviews of The Proviso or Magdalene. Paso Doble shares their DNA. As with all the Dunham books, the lead characters are enormous, godlike figures who tower over the landscape. Victoria is a Dunham cousin and 1) a multilingual polymath and a leading scholar of ESL, 2) a wildly talented lounge singer, 3) the most beautiful woman in Europe. Emilio is a close friend and mentor to a Dunham cousin and 1) the greatest matador of his generation, 2) an exquisitely talented lovemaker, 3) a genius chemist. These are the sorts of things we expect from Jovan protagonists. But they are difficult characters to hate because they are also deeply flawed---and their flaws flow from their godlike attributes.

Victoria, aware is a genius and beautiful, pushes everyone's buttons. She can't get tenure and no man can put up with her. Especially since, as a devout Mormon, she's keeping her garments on until marriage. Most guys can't put up with her nearly long enough for that. Plus, she has very little patience for other people and, being incapable of taking offence, can very easily offend. She's become emotionally distant from just about everyone.

Emilio is also emotionally distant---he's as desired by the opposite sex, but his distance comes from frequent partaking. He has not room for emotional depth because he gives a little to so many. Plus, he's a natural introvert and finds people exhausting. His reputation as a notoriously sexed-up tabloid-popular matador gets him blacklisted from university jobs and he can't stand working as an assembly-line chemist. And so he's trapped in a glamorous career he's grown out of.

So these two sad and lonely gods must collide.

I've labeled this post part of the LDS Eros series because what I'm most interested in from a Mormon-literature standpoint is Moriah's navigation of this relationship between a "manslut" and an "ice-vagina." Or, more importantly, someone for whom sex has been cheap and someone who holds it so dear she demands another's life in exchange for access. (That might sound melodramatic, but I think it's a fair description of how it seems on the outside to many people.)

It's a clash of sexual cultures---and cultures that are diverging at speed. People embarrassed to be virgins at 20 are written about with the same bemused pity as those who choose virginity until marriage at age 29. We have two soulmates and the rules state they must get together. But in addition to the little navigations every relationship must make, they have a massive gulf between them called divergent sexual norms. And that's the most striking element of their story.

Additionally, speaking as a male writer, Moriah's descriptions of Victoria's (female) sexual need and confusion provide me with vocabulary I would not otherwise have. I know her work is too explicit for many Mormon writers, but I think you shoudl read her anyway. We need to deal with sexuality more as a people and reading her work is a great place to consider how it can be done. Even if most of us will not show her happy delight in the word cock.

So how does Paso Doble stack up against her other works? I've read the first three and (I'm well into the fourth and will start the sixth [about Victoria's twin] before the week is out) and I would rank the one's I've read this this (in terms of IMPORTANCE):
1. Magdalene
This is simply great literature. In my opinion, one of the most important Mormon books in recent memory.
2. The Proviso
A flawed novel, but massive in scale and quantity of ideas. My least favorite, but you can't deny its ambition.
3. Paso Doble
Charming fun. Interesting work with sexuality but clumsy in the penultimate chapters and while a delightful lark, not IMPORTANT.
3 (tie). Stay
Equal to Paso Doble, though cleaner in execution. More ideas here, less there. It's a wash.
In the end, Paso Doble is a fun read, especially if you like to laugh at the foibles of gods---while falling in love with them yourselves---and a useful read, if you want to think about ways to attack sex from a Mormon standpoint.
two months

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


Through fifty-four


054) The Best of Connie Willis by Connie Willis, finished July 4

I love Connie Willis. More than any other SF writer, when I read her, I want to return to the genres I imagined spending my writing career in. I love her nearly-now worlds and her thoroughly recognizable human characters, and the transparency of her sentence-level art. She's something.

This new collection includes all the stories that won Hugos and/or Nebulae, along with comments on the stories and three speeches (one never delivered). Reading those too make me view her as the best possible model for aspiring writers. Just love her.

You won't have the context of just reading the book, but this comes after the book's final story, which takes place in a world in which dogs---and, nearly, RVs---have gone extinct, and covers almost everything I had planned to say in this review:

about three weeks or so


053) Battling Boy by Paul Pope, finished July 27

This book is awesome! I suppose it treats the Greek gods slightly like the Nordic ones are treated in Marvel's Thor, but somehow this is just a thousand times better and aimed at a kid audience. And because it's Paul Pope, the writing and art are both excellent. I'm glad to hear a couple prequels have been released, but I want to read on with the story! At least, I suppose, at least I'm so excited to read on I can't yet be heartbroken that reading on is impossible.

Srsly. The writing is sharp, the characters are drawn instantly---both good and bad---and it's awesome and scary and inviting all at the same time.

two days


052) Prophet Volume 2: Brothers by Brandon Graham, Fil Barlow, Giannis Milongiannis, Simon Roy (Contributo, Farel Dalrymple; finished June 26

If I had known this was volume two, I wouldn't have taken it home from the library. Not that I think it would have made much difference. The book has the sense of being of being enormous and universal and mythic in a way that beginning at the beginning or ending at the ending don't really seem like meaningful concepts.

Prophet was one of the Image comics I remember seeing on the shelf back in the '90s. And like most of those Image comics, they were ugly (even though I knew enough to say the art was "good" and "super realistic") and unwelcoming. The art in this new version is much more compelling. I'm surprised this character was resurrected after under twenty issues more than twenty years ago, but this version's massive mythic scifiness was apparently not part of the original run. In other words, this is pretty much whole cloth. I won't be picking it up again, but I enjoyed the trip.



051) Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach, finished June 26

Mary's on top form here. I loved this book as much or more as any of her books (and I've read all of her noncollections save Packing for Mars, but only Spook and Bonk since beginning the five-books project). This one takes us from food's entrance to our body along its exciting journey to the toilet. The intestines seem a bit neglected, but along the way we learn why fat Elvis wasn't exactly fat and why not being exactly fat was what killed him. We learn that sticking dirty fingers in your mouth isn't what gives you a cold---it's sticking them in your nose. We learn that if you eat enough organs, you don't need fruits and vegetables (making my regret growing out of a willingness to eat cow liver and chicken hearts).

Mary Roach is one of the most witty writers we have going (and she shares my love of unnecessary but fully delightful tangential minutia) and if you haven't read her yet, chastise yourself the way you would if you'd never read Bill Bryson or Calvin Trillin. And maybe add her to your any-five-people tea-party list.
coupla weeks


050) Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets by Dav Pilkey, finished June 24

This is an early book. The good captain can't even fly yet!
about an hour

Previously in 2014 . . . . :


Single paragraphs on flicks flicked during the second quarter of 2014


In theaters:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): As visually arresting as anything Wes Anderson has done, though I found the story less riveting. In part, I think, because the the nature of its violence threw me out of the story. It was sudden and horrible, and vague and distant. Which may be like real life, but I never had a sense of what was what. No doubt I will like it better should I watch it again with adjusted expectations.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014): Not to the level of excellence at the reboot, but still a top-half Muppet movie. I laughed quite often and quite loudly even if ultimately it wasn't quite as satisfying as I would have liked. Nice that Sam finally got a starring role. Far overdue. Nice to see old 70s Muppet acts come back, even if some of my favorite minor characters barely made appearances. Bummer to learn about Jerry Nelson's passing from closing credits, though. . . .

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014): I love the first movie and I hoped for the best here. I was not disappointed. I don't know much about this Dean DeBlois guy, but I'll be trying to remember his name going forward. One thing I love about this movie is it didn't just pick up where the last left off. The kids are twenty now and the town has changed and they have changed---their relationships have changed---nothing's the same as we left it. Take the development between hero Hiccup and father Stoick---it's not as we last saw it, but the script doesn't pander to us or explain every new nuance. It doesn't need to because the nuances are there to be seen. (Though maybe they were covered in the tv show?) I hope in 3 we see more change. I would love to see Hiccup and Astrid married and so forth. I'll bet I would end up crying even more than I did in this one. By the way, fun fact, Cate Blanchett didn't do her own singing.

At home:

Babe: Pig in the City (1998): I haven't seen this movie since the first time I saw it. That time, I thought it was better than Babe. I may have been right. This is a beautiful movie both as written and as executed. Visually, it reminds me much of the late lamented Pushing Daisies. (and Nazi horror films). As for the writing, the use of the Greek (mouse) chorus is not as impressive as the first movie, but otherwise, this is in no way inferior to Babe. Astonishing, really, that out of such piling horrors so much joy and humanity can be found. Catharsis is a marvelous thing. In other words, though the visuals are clearly aging, they will remain timeless. (We miss you, Rhythm and Hues.) This must be one of the greatest duologies of all time.

Heathers (1988): I love how artificial this movie is. And while it could never be made today, I'm glad it exists. I laughed a lot and was appropriately horrified by the real life that followed.

Damsels in Distress (2011): Can't remember the last time I laughed so much during a movie. I loved it. This is the kind of movie I want to write: intricate dialogue delivered without affect, and bad tap dancing. Heaven.

Super 8 (2011): First, since most of what I know about JJ Abrams can be summed up in the phrase "lens flare" let me say that even so, at time I felt like I was watching a JJ Abrams parody. So many lens flare. It was absurd. Story? Adequate. Monster? Eh. But what makes this movie worth watching anyway is the actors, especially Elle Fanning. Those Fanning girls can really act. Her sister seems to have reached adulthood relatively mentally healthy and I hope the same fate awaits Elle because I want to keep watching her emote on screen. She's the real thing. And the other young actors are pretty good as well. The plot and adult characters are a half-baked macguffin. The kids are what matter. And they come through.

Moneyball (2011): This stupid bootleg copy is all screwed up. I probably spent thirty minutes trying to skip twenty minutes. Upsetting. Every moment in this movie's worth watching. It's great stuff. Guess I just need to get my own copy. In other news, could this be the year Billy wins the last game of the season? It's looking like a strong maybe.

The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004): Little Lord Steed was anxious to share this movie with his parents, having seen it at his grandparents'. I haven't seen this since it first hit dvd so I had forgotten most of the gags, and was thus able to enjoy it as he hoped I would. It's not one of the All Time Greats or anything, but it's fun and manages to find a movie-length story which so many cartoons never pull off.

The Last Unicorn (1982): I haven't seen this movie for about 27 years. Certain images from it have stuck in my mind after all this time, but little else. I can see why now. There's little else to recommend it. With the exception of Alan Arkin, the rest of the cast never gets it together. Most of the jokes probably weren't good in 1982 and are bad now. The animation is both static and herkyjerky at the same time. The songs kill forward momentum (and the one sung by the unicorn is bad in a Miss Piggy way without Miss Piggy's ironic intentionality). Almost every scene takes unjustifiably long to fruit. Even the moments I remembered (the red bull pressing forward, the unicorns disappearing into the sea) have less weight than they seemed to have when I was a child. I'm utterly mystified how it's still finding new audience.

Eraserhead (1977): This is one of the finest works of surrealism I've ever seen. It's all about the taboo fears connected to love, marriage, and parenthood, but it only deals with them in images. It never says outright what it means. So all the spermatozoa and vaginas (which things traveling both in and out, sex and birth) are there to be missed if you're so inclined. Really, I can't think of a horror film that deals as well with the hidden terrors of parenthood. I'm still a bit mystified about the title and I'm still surprised the film ended in redemption, but now that I've finally seen it, I'm off to the internet to see what else has been said about the movie. For me, I noticed distinct connections to silent comedy (the early shots felt like humorous yet funniless takes on the Little Tramp), early Corman films---and a bunch of other stuff. I should have been taking notes. If I had intended to write more than one paragraph, I would have paused it about ninety seconds in and grabbed a pen and pad. Lots of stuff here. Lots of stuff.

Frankenweenie (2012): Even though I'd heard good things about this movie, it was Tim Burton. Disappointment is par. So I'm delighted to say this movie is crazy enjoyable and fun and even a bit scary. Scary enough it's good my older two weren't home. My only real complaint is there's some thematic confusion---is it pro-science or anti-science? The film is utterly confused on this point. But ultimately it's all about heart or something anyway so whatever.


Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977, 1997): Due to DVD difficulties, they switched from the new to the old halfway through (not to my complaint though I did have to see Greedo shoot first before teh switch was made). This time my thoughts were filled with how nearly the movie came to being a B-movie disaster. It's success is more than slightly amazing in that light. Still. I know I love it.

V for Vendetta (2005): Refreshing to watch a blockbuster-intended superhero film that is really only interested in playing games with symbolism. Sure, it can be a bit heavyhanded, but the editing and acting keep it fresh and interesting. Rewards multiple viewings.

Rushmore (1998): I've long noticed the Peanuts connection, but I think this was the first time I noticed the Christmas special's "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing" playing in the barbershop at the moment of reconciliation. Love.

Idiocracy (2006): Question---are we being encouraged to laugh at dumb people and then fight against them . . . or to realize we are them?

Duck Soup (1933): I didn't feel this way when I first watched it, but I'm now in the camp that calls Duck Soup the greatest of the Marx Bros movies. It's more chaotic and less sensible, but it's a satire of war. It's Beckett, it's Vonnegut, it's madness. It's war. Plus, it's hilarious. Even nonsense adds up eventually. If the final picture's a mess, that doesn't make it any less a picture. It might make it more of one.

Casablanca (1942): Heroism. I can't remember if I've ever had a class clap at the end of a film before. What a movie.

Spirited Away (2001): Miyazaki has a gift. He represents children such that those of us who have forgotten can remember. This film may be fantastic, but it is also closely observed realism. That is, methinks, part of its magic.

The Iron Giant (1999): I can't remember crying in class before. Nor seeing so many red-eyed kids. And the applause was even better than for Casablanca. And afterwards they had so many smart observations. If you're doing a writing-about-film unit, consider throwing this on your syllabus.

Jurassic Park (1993): Although the class made snide comments all the way through (some of which we're smartly analytical, eg noting that Grant's seatbelt problems were caused by nothing but females yet life found a way), they still jumped at appropriate points and clapped at the credits. They did not, however, by the T. Rex's final appearance. Fascinating.

Citizen Kane (1941): Sure, sure, sure. But I just don't like it enough to watch it enough times to really appreciate that it's THAT great.

The Muppet Movie (1979) and Monsters, Inc. (2001): While babysitting at a Relief Society function, I was in the movie room for the first half of the former and the second half of the latter. And I was singing Rowlf's number, that I had left just before, the entire interim. Plus, Frank Oz stars in both movies so they're practically the same anyway. And I love them both.