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I managed to get a hold of an interlibrary loan copy of Woman on the Edge of Time and am about 10 pages from finishing and being able to join the discussion. Wow, but for now let me say that the book could do with about a page and a half of trigger warnings! I think I may be a little desensitized now that I am coming to the end of it, but the first chapter hit me pretty hard.

I have also managed to get an interlibrary loan of Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood--would people be interested in reading this one as the next text and discussing it here in a months time?
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Peggy at Biology in Science Fiction has put up a post hosting the discussion on Woman on the Edge of Time over here.

Comments are open to anyone - if people want to link back to their DW or LJ accounts they can use the OpenID option.

Thanks Peggy!

While you are there check out the rest of her blog, it's a great blog on a topic that I think a lot of my reading list/f-list will be interested in.
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So sorry for the lateness of this post, but the truth is that despite my best efforts I have not been able to get a copy of this text. I have tried every secondhand and new bookshop in town, and I have it on inter-library loan order, but still have not been able to get my hands on one.

Is there anybody that read the book this month that would like to lead the discussion? I promise I will join in as soon as my copy arrives. I am happy for you to start the discussion here on this journal, or equally happy to direct people to the journal of your choice.

This months book was to be 'Les Guerillieres' but that is looking even *less* available than 'Woman on the Edge of Time' so I am thinking it might be in my best interest to save that for another month. I am due to have a baby next week so my organising energies are really in another place right now. Is there a suitable text that anyone would like to recommend that they know is easily available in Australia? Or shall we leave it until next month?
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Tori Amos--pt II
mother evolution

There is a definite evolution in the work of Tori Amos, I know a lot of people are big fans of her early work (particularly the first two albums) and less so of her later stuff. This is not surprising really, her early work is very raw, honest and emotional, while her later work is a lot more subtle, trickier and in some ways musically more interesting, but in other ways definitely less up front and accessible in terms of emotional connection.

I think Tori herself is conscious of this, in an early biography she tells the story of the naming of her second album 'Under the Pink'--apparently a friend commented that the first album 'Little Earthquakes' was Tori raw and naked and asked "what comes next, skinless?"

Let me demonstrate with three songs about motherhood that happen to also be three of my favourite Tori songs.

First is 'Mother' from Tori's first album 'Little Earthquakes'

This song is absolutely heartbreaking. It is about the peril of loosing ourselves in relationships and what we learn about relationships from the women (in particular mothers) in our lives, and some of the not so good advice we might get along the way. It is very raw, and like most of the first two albums it is played mainly on the black keys of the piano (um, I know nothing about the piano as an instrument, perhaps someone who knows a bit more might be able to tell me if that style has a name or if it is even an important considerations)

The next is 'Playboy Mommy' from the 'Choir Girl Hotel' album

I find this one musically more complex, while the story telling is much more subtle--despite the heaviness of the subject (Amos' experience of miscarriage). I think it is like she has learned that you can still have a huge emotional without needing to turn it up to 11 every time, in fact, I feel that this refinement gives it more long term impact.

The third is 'Mother Revolution' from 'The Bee Keeper'

This one didn't capture me at first--I often find that with songs that become lasting favourites, they creep up on me. Definitely more musically developed, I really like the beat in this one (is it 6/4 time? maybe someone more musically literate could tell me).

I feel like more needs to be said here, some kind of a conclusion about the evolution of Tori. However, since she is still creating and evolving I think this would be kind of premature...
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Kim Deal

Kim Deal is cool. So cool that other cool people write songs about being as cool as Kim Deal. Deal is a a singer, songwriter, and most importantly bass guitarist (well most importantly to me anyway).

There is nothing that makes me want to just pick up my bass guitar and play like listening to The Pixies.

Except maybe listening to Cannonball by The Breeders.

(in which both Deal sisters are actually playing guitar rather than bass... but you know, still awesome!!)
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Tori Amos--pt 1
I have been putting this one off because there is so much to say, but rather than put it off any longer (and risk not writing it all together) I am going to write it in parts--most likely 3.

I first heard Tori when the single Cornflake Girl made it big in Australia and my immediate reaction, like many other peoples I suspect, was 'wow Kate Bush has a new song, awesome!'

It is funny, because now I don't think the two artists sound similar at all, and I have never seen or heard in any interview Tori saying that Kate Bush has been any influence on her.

[I wanted to share the original video here and ironically the version I found seems to have been recorded off rage from a previous hottest 100 of all time--and it was number 27!]

Tori never was a cornflake girl, but she was a 'just right' girl...

Knowing about her early career cereal commercial adds meaning to the song for me. It seems to me that it is about girl hierarchies, the viciousness of cliques, and fitting in. And even when you almost fit in, or seem to fit in from the perspective of others (as a just right girl) you often still feel like you are on the outside. It is definitely a defining work in Amos' career, and a song of great meaning and emotion to me, which is why I include it in my top 10 of all time.
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Sonic Youth. Kim Gordon. Kool Thing.

Are you gonna liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?

How this song didn't make it in the top 100 I'll never understand.
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Another quicky today. I don't know much about this artist, but pharaoh_katt's entry today about Lilly Allen reminded me that I have been meaning to tell all my friends who are currently enjoying Lily Allen that they may also enjoy the music of Kate Nash.

This is her song Foundations and I find a lot of beauty in its down to earth honesty juxtaposed against the really sweet tune.
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Kimya Dawson

Even though this one is a relatively recent discovery for me Kimya Dawson's I Like Giants made it into my top ten voting list.

This is a live recording similar to the one I first heard and fell in love with and I much prefer it to the album version (Remember That I Love You, 2006) which sounds a bit like there is an icecream truck driving around in the background (despite which it is still a great song).

The lyrics are beautiful and calming
We all become important when we realize our goal
Should be to figure out our role within the context of the whole
And yeah, rock and roll is fun, but if you ever hear someone
Say you are huge, look at the moon, look at the stars, look at the sun
Look at the ocean and the desert and the mountains and the sky

Say I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
I am just a speck of dust inside a giant's eye
And I don't wanna make her cry
Cause I like giants

and the verse about swimming in the ocean always reminds me fondly of Lilysea and our mini road trip.

Another song I really like is Singing Machine from the amusingly titled Hidden Vagenda album (2004).

open up your eyes and see the beauty over there
open up our ears and be surprised by what you hear
'cause it's not just on the radio, it's not just on the video
it isn't all downloadable, there's music everywhere... doesn't matter what you look like, doesn't matter what you sound like
doesn't matter if they like you, just remember to be kind
and tell someone you miss them, tell someone you need them
tell someone you wish you could be with them all the time

Dawson is also part of the duet The Moldy Peaches who recently found a measure of acclaim for their work on the soundtrack to the movie Juno.

Such a cute song :)
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While I am loving everyone's Female Appreciation Month posts (keep em coming people!) there is something that has started to bother me when I think of all the artists I plan to blog about. And that is that my list is about as anglo-centric as the original triple J list was male-centric.

It occurs to me that the reasons for this are pretty much the same as the likely reasons for the male-centric hottest 100 list too. Basically, I am looking at this project from the same point of view as voting for the hottest 100. I am looking at artists and songs that make my all time favourite list, songs that have a strong emotional impact on me and that have meant something important to me at various stages of my life. Like most people I suspect my music appreciation has been enthusiastic but essentially passive--the music I have come to love is a selection from that which has been presented to me by radio, tv, and by family and friends. I think another contributing factor is that a large part of my enjoyment of music comes from lyrics and the ability to sing along, so I generally enjoy music sung in English more than other languages (or instrumentals). Not great excuses, but I guess this is what it comes down to.

I am not entirely sure what to do about this, but I did want to bring it up and note it as something I could work on in the future. For this month I am going to stick with my intended list, that is, things I either actually voted for in the hottest 100 or would have given more than 10 votes, because at this stage I am blogging for comfort more than anything and that means talking about stuff that I already know and love. But I didn't want this to go unmentioned as I can see how I may be just replicating the behaviour that led to the hottest 100 man songs of all time just with a different set of rules and exclusions. I think that committing to a process of discovery and adding to diversity to my music collection at this stage feels a little beyond me as a project right now (dudes I am 8 and a bit months pregnant!), and though I am also very tempted to say 'give me your recommendations' I kind of feel that is still falling into the passive appreciation trap.

So yeah, no solutions here, but it is something important I wanted to acknowledge.
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Baby Animals

A quick hit today because I have to rush off to start my permaculture class (yay!) but I didn't want to miss out. I was reminded of this song of awesomeness by a recent TV promo. Something I have heard a lot recently is that women just don't do Aussie pub rock. Well, I certainly spent a heck of a lot of money playing this on my jutebox at my local.

What can I say? Suze DeMarchi is made of rock! And look, suits! And also, I didn't realise before today but originally from Perth.
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Spurred on by the astonishing lack of female artists represented in the JJJ (Australian public 'youth/alternative' radio station) hottest 100 of all time countdown Girliejones has started Female Appreciation Month and, being an opinionated sort of person I have decided to tag along and list a months worth of my favourites too. What follows, in no particular order, is a random collection of lists and links of artists and specific songs that have had a profound impact on my life, or, you know, that I just really like :)

The amazing thing for me about Madonna is that, because of her fantastic, changing, reinventing attitude, her music has always been relevant and apposite to my life. I have loved her from her very first chart appearances, there is something about her music--it may not be the most sophisticated, or the most technically proficient, or any other readily identifiable characteristic of "great" music, but it just *works*. It is like magic. And the magic doesn't just stop with the music. I decided to start my list with Madonna because despite not giving me much rock cred the honest truth is that no one musician/artist/celebrity has come close to having as much impact on the shaping of the person I am today than Madonna. Her feisty, fearless, can-do-anything-and-just-watch-me attitude significantly shaped my emerging jr feminist self, not to mention inspiring an opp-shop obsession that has lasted a lifetime. It is not so much that I saw Madonna and suddenly became outspoken, I was already strong willed, it was more like I saw this person and saw that it was okay--even desirable--to be all these things.

Above is a 1985 recording of 'Into the Grove', performed at Live Aid. This is footage I have seen many times since we were early adopters of technology in our household and had already had a video recorder for several years. My mother diligently taped *the entire broadcast* of Live Aid and encouraged us to stay up and watch as much of it live as we could. The concert was performed not long after Madonna had been shamed by the media with the release of naked photos from her modeling/life-drawing work. She responded at the concert by stating [paraphrased] "It's getting really hot up here, but there's no way I'm taking off my jacket because you might hold it against me 10 years from now". Of course this was all overshadowed a few years later by the 'Sex' book and the 'Erotica' album, but at the time it was presented as extremely controversial.

Much of Madonna's later work is accompanied by awesome video clips--a lot of the music around the bedtime stories/ray of light period has a very strong SF influence which may interest some of my SF lovin buddies :) Below is 'Bedtime Story' which also has the bonus of being written by Bjork another outspoken, feisty, female musician of awesomeness.

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Thanks everyone who has participated so far in last months discussion on The Female Man. As is the nature of the internet the discussion post will be up there for as long as the technology continues to support it, so feel free to continue discussions there and add your opinion on the text if you haven't done so already.

This month we are reading Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. I will put up an open discussion post on the 29th of July, until then, happy reading!
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Welcome to the first month of the on-line Women in SF book club. If it is your first time at book club (as it is for all of us!) you must read...

This months book is Joanna Russ' The Female Man, and wow, what a way to begin!

My plan for this reading group is to give my thoughts on the book and maybe ask a few opening questions, then let people run free and do the same in the comments. Feel free to share your general impression of the text, pose questions, or run off in loosely related tangents as you feel.

My thoughts on The Female Man
my long and rambly, and of course spoilery, thoughts below )
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Hi everyone,
glad to see so many people have joined up for the Women in SF reading club! Just a reminder that it is time to start reading The Female Man, by Joanna Russ.

I am still trying to get my hands on a copy, but I have made a few enquiries to secondhand book shops and I am feeling pretty confident I will have a copy in the next few days :) While I was looking I did find copies of Russ' Picnic on Paradise, and The Adventures of Alyx to keep me amused until The Female Man turns up. Both are under 200 pages long, which I am pretty thrilled about given my new-media generation attention span (and, you know, that PhD I am writing up!)

While I was book shopping I also found a cheap copy of Introducing Feminism (you know, the light, comic book style ones) which was sitting in the 'self help' section--this amused me greatly but seemed somehow appropriate, after all feminism has certainly been a great help to me :)
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Let's start next month (June) with Joanna Russ, The Female Man, as that one looks like it will be more readily available than Woman on the Edge of Time (which is out of print), and if people could have a look out for second hand copies of the Marge Piercy we can consider it for July.

Suggested WA sources for The Female Man: Murdoch library, UNISFA library, Fantastic Planet bookshop, secondhand bookshops, or be nice to either neleh13 or fredmouse :)

I have asked my city library if there is any chance of getting any of the texts in and am waiting for a response. Will start looking for them all at secondhand bookshops.
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I am really inspired by eng592: Women in Science Fiction, a course being taught by Dr Sharon Collingwood at Ohio State University. She also teaches Women Culture and Society--a course that takes place in Second Life.

I am not really in a position to go to Ohio Uni at the moment, but I thought it might be fun to go through the sylibus and have a monthly discussion on each of the texts.

The required texts as listed on the units webpage are:

Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy (Fawcett 0449210820)
The Female Man, Joanna Russ (Beacon 0807062995)
Les Guerillieres, Monique Wittig and David LeVay (University of Illinois Press 0252074823)
Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (The Feminist Press at CUNY1558612467)
The Door Into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski (Orb 0312876521)
Lilith's Brood , Octavia Butler (Grand Central Publishing 0446676101)

Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century
ed. Justine Larbalestier. (Wesleyan University Press 0819566764)

My suggestion is that,beginning with June, we read one per month in the order listed and then in the last week of the month I will open up a discussion page on this journal for anyone interested to discuss the text.

What do you think?