kids’ SF films and badass women in jazz

1. ‘ Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ with Brendan Fraser is crap. Despite Fraser trying and trying with a truly crap script.
2. ‘City of Ember’ was awesome. Really good kids’ SF. Avoids the more disturbing subtexts of postapocalyptic stories. Mum gave me the book so I’ll read it and see how it compares.
3. It’s far too long til ‘Night at the Smithsonian’ comes out. I was really surprised that I liked the first one, but I think it really snagged my museum curiousity.
4. ‘Monsters v Aliens’ actually isn’t too bad. Not only does it pass the Bechdel Test (JTTCOTE and NATM failed), but it also [SPOILER] presents a woman who decides she doesn’t want to be a boring trophy wife. She wants to be a MONSTER! The best bit is where she kicks alien arse without superpowers or size. The next best bit is where Dr Cockroach beats an alien using his PHD IN DANCE. I knew there was a good reason for doing a PhD in dance, and preventing alien invasions is obviously it. [/]
5. Two badass female jazz pianists from the Olden Days: Mary Lou Williams and Lovey Austin.
6. Another reason to despise the Ken Burns ‘Jazz’ doco (or at least the PBS site:

Williams was long regarded as the only significant female musician in jazz, both as an instrumentalist and as a composer, but her achievement is remarkable by any standards.

I’m hoping that’s a mistype, as, while Williams rocks the kasbah, she certainly WAS NOT the ‘only significant female musician in jazz’. In terms of vocalists alone, Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald were really, majorly important as musicians (as well as other things)… heck, I could go on and on and on. And that’s even considering the fact that there weren’t anywhere near as many women as men in big name bands.
The text is borrowed from the ‘New Grove Dictionary of Jazz’, so perhaps they’re to blame.
7. Why are all the jazz historians blokes? I want to read New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History might have some tips. I’m interested in the New Orleans ‘revival’ – the interest in New Orleans jazz (from the 1920s) in (predominantly white) audiences (c 1940s). While the blurb for that book suggests there were male and female writers, I’ve yet to come across them. I’d be surprised – absolutely stunned – if the authors’ gender break down was 50/50 male/female. This of course makes me think about reading the little jazz publications that were flying about in the 20s, 30s and 40s. I’m also thinking about the white appropriation of black music, here. Or at the least, the effects of mainstream media/white culture’s interest in African American music in this period. I’m afraid to start on the Australian stuff.
8. Record fairs are interesting. Mostly blokes. And the blokes into the stuff I’m into (if you can find any of that stuff) are freaky. There aren’t as many female as male swing DJs (duh – what’s new), and I’m guessing the sisters aren’t getting into hardcore vinyl either. But I’d love to be wrong.
9. Let’s just revisit ae fully sick female pianist: Mary Lou Williams. She was, fully, awesomely sick. Pianist, arranger, badass.
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2 Replies to “kids’ SF films and badass women in jazz”

  1. I’ve been thinking about #6 and I’m not entirely sure it’s completely down to gender bias. As a middle-class close enough to white male living in OZ, I can’t say I’ve been on the receiving end of many prejudices but the one I have experienced and I can say is very real is that many musicians don’t consider singers ‘real’ musicians.

  2. I think you’re right, Tim. It’s not just a gender thing with vocalists. I’ve been thinking about Louis Armstrong lately, and the way his later stuff (ie late 50s/60s) and the stuff the general public remember most from his career was vocally-driven. Whereas I think of him as a trumpeter first and foremost. I know a few DJs who really don’t like his vocal stuff.
    … it’s kind of tricky. I’m not sure what I think about Armstrong and his vocals, but I think it’s interesting that some people really _don’t_ like his later vocals, and that the general public remembers him for his later vocals (eg ‘wonderful world’, which i think is one of his more ordinary songs)…
    I’ve got to read and learn more about this.

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