Tuesday, October 25, 2016


You guys. I am totes into NBC's Timeless.

Ok, so you've got the dissatisfied-with-her-job-and-life lady history professor (Lucy), the stoic military dude whose wife has died and he's got a lot of SILENT FEELINGS ABOUT IT (don't know his name), and the tech guy (Rufus), who legit says "I am black; there’s literally no place in American history that would be awesome for me."

A mysterious man steals the main time travel ship that some other mysterious man (rando billionaire) was building, so they recruit these three people to take the other, lesser time travel ship and chase after him and try to stop him from DESTROYING AMERICA.

As the New York Times's review says, "'Timeless' isn't good, exactly, but...it combines enough goodish elements to be enjoyable." A-greed.

In the first three episodes, they've visited the Hindenburg; the site of Lincoln's assassination; and Las Vegas in the 1960s. This week: something with Nazis! 

I see Sean Maguire from Once Upon a time is here to again ruin something I love

Look, do I want more 1800s stuff? Yes, but they're only in their first four episodes and I'm PRETTY SURE there's gonna be a Revolutionary War one, which is all I need. The main character Lucy is way less annoying than I originally thought she'd be, and while I totally agree with Vox saying "I do not, for instance, care even at all about Lucy’s supposed chemistry with Chiseled Soldier With a Checkered Past," I hold out vain hope that they won't try to pair them up. She literally had more chemistry with Robert Todd Lincoln than with that guy.

The fact that they're dealing with racism and dealing with it in an occasionally terrifying-to-the-viewer way makes me think this show is worth something more than it at first appears. When they're in the 1930s, they're arrested and they need Rufus to create a diversion, which he does by calling out the officer-watching-them's racism. The officer goes and gets two other policemen, and it's this horrible race against the clock as the two other characters try to lockpick their cell door before Rufus straight-up gets beaten to death. HOW VERY RELEVANT. Except for the time travel part.

or maybe time travel is SUPER relevant

Timeless is yet another Monday night show that makes Tuesdays when the new episodes appear on Hulu super-exciting to look forward to (note: the other shows are Bob's Burgers and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee...except apparently Bob's Burgers airs Sunday nights and I only just realized that).

PERIOD COSTUMES AND TIME TRAVEL. Is my five word review of this show. Watch it on Hulu and then chat me about it on Twitter.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Master and Margareadalong 4: What is even happening

So...Margarita attended Satan's Grand Ball. And everything was rull weird.

Like a fairytale, it was all a big test and Margarita was suddenly in an insane situation and just had to do as she was told, if she did it, she'd be rewarded. This is legit what happens in every fairytale with a test. The people who don't do what the magical sprite or whatever wants them to do get punished, and the lazy youngest brother who just goes with it gets to marry the princess. With Margarita here being the lazy youngest brother. Only she doesn't get to marry the awesome Natasha who just wants to be a feminist witch.

there is so much M&M fanart

All the creepy dead people at the ball seem to be actual murderers and criminals from history. There're some good annotations here, and apparently this book is covered in freemason symbolism and we've missed it this whole time and OH WELL I'm just glad we're getting through it. 

Then there were some more Jesus chapters, and aight.

p.s. nsfw, but I love this Natasha/pig sculpture so very much.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


IT'S THE 24 HOUR READATHON, which means I will read for approximately 3 hours today, but I will TRY to read more. I'm just not that good at committing to these things, you guys. But I keep trying. Yep.

5:40 P.M. Sunday

SO. Busy weekend. Saw an amazing play called Miss Holmes at Chicago's Lifeline Theatre. Oh man. So great. Sherlock Holmes as a lady and infused with 19th century feminist issues, plus references to both Jack the Ripper minutiae and The Yellow Wallpaper

I finished The Lunch Witch, which it turns out was more for like 8 year olds, and my taste in children's fiction runs to middle grade, so more like 10-12 year olds. It was fine. THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS. Maybe more if I were eight.

I read about half of a book of Shirley Jackson short stories, which wasn't even on my LIST, but matched my theme of #Hallowreads. I've always felt like I was one step away from liking Shirley Jackson. I tried with We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. I don't DISlike them, but my thought at the end is usually like "Wait....that's it?" Like there's one thing missing. I've felt that way about a lot of the short stories, but I'm definitely liking them more than the books, and she does some excellent things for #feminism and in commenting on racism. So now I'm liking her more in general. Excellent job, Shirley Jackson.

Read some of Master and Margarita, which was fitting because Satan's Ball was this week, and I'm nearing the end of Jamaica Inn, which has an excellent female lead character. I also started The Beauty volume 1, which is super-interesting, so good job, Jenny (90% sure) for recommending it.

MUCH READING ACCOMPLISHED. Maybe next year I'll finally be able to focus on it for a full day.

9:46 A.M. Saturday

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Chicago, IL
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

The Lunch Witch, which I got at Book Expo America back in...May? June? I don't remember when things were anymore.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Sharp white cheddar and some crackers. And caramelized onion hummus. ALL EXCELLENT.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

My name's Alice, I write and do internet-things for a living, I sing opera, and I love giant animals from the past.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I...have no expectations of myself here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Women's History: Those Who Rose Up and Said 'Fuck This Bullshit'

The other day, I decided to lay out all the women's history books I had in my room (minus my Emma Goldman books, which have their own shelf section).

My path to women's history wasn't extremely wendy, but I somehow wasn't expecting to be on it. When I was five, my family went to England. I learned about Henry VIII and his wives and got really into them (and drew some EXCELLENT five-year-old-child pictures of them in my journal, but that's for another time). 

Then I feel like things kind of stagnated except for random things, like PBS aired a Catherine the Great biopic in the '90s and I asked my mom for a biography of her. I was kind of too busy memorizing dog breeds and planning my soon-to-be-thriving full-time dachshund breeding business to care about women's history.

I mean...look at that

Being obsessed with particular women started around age 11 when I thought the woman who played Dr Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives was the sum of human perfection. Other actress obsessions followed, and with them, obvious fears about being gay. But women were just so much more interesting than men. "Oh, a man accomplished something, how very difficult that must have been. What challenges he must have overcome."

"Women are interesting because they overcame more" was the explanation I gave to myself in high school while I angstily worried in my journal that the reason I listened to women singers and read biographies about women and had pictures of women all over my walls was that I wanted to date women. Teenage Alice, that turned out to be true, but it also turns out it was true that women who made their mark on history, particularly before the 20th century, are astonishing. Particularly considering that legally, they were not thought of as full humans in their time.

The field of women's history is so comparatively new (coming into being within the last 40 years), and current collective memory seems to maintain such a small amount of space for it that every new women's history book seems groundbreaking to me. "WHO is the reason we can vote now?" "WHO created the science fiction genre?" "WHO was the first computer programmer??"

We don't hear these facts growing up. Or my generation didn't. There's been a big push to get these women's voices to the forefront now, but the fact they've been buried so long makes me want to just STAMP my foot so hard. 

Women are interesting. They're interesting because they're people, but even more so, they're interesting because while they have always been half of the world, it is a half that was silenced until enough individuals stepped forward and said "Fuck this bullshit."

The "fuck this bullshit" women are the ones whose biographies are on my bed. May we all follow their example.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Master and Margareadalong 3: Does anyone wear pants in this book?

As we plough through the overcast but fallishly festive month of October, we continue this weird, weird book.

This week, more people went to jail, more people were slapped around by Satan and his minions, and there was a weird Harry Potter-feel to some of it. Also the housing crisis continues to be made fun of, which makes me think I need to read about it. As a modern lady living in Chicago, my mentality is kind of "well......but there're lots of apartments here." Was it just a bunch of people moving to Moscow and they have no apartments to house them, or was it a specifically Soviet thing? If it's the bunch of people moving to Moscow thing, then that makes more sense for Berlioz's uncle being told to go back to Kiev.

Meanwhile, Margarita's doing this:

Satan and his pals are being suuuper nice to Margarita. Maybe because she doesn't give a fuck about anything except finding the Master. And also she's really good at sucking up to people. And by the end of the section is literally massaging Satan's knee. WHAT IS THIS BOOK.

Margarita discovers she's a wizard, Harry, and also that you can't try to have a good time by a riverbank without a pantsless man showing up.

this whole book

What is your brain, Bulgakov. And what is Russia's brain that this is basically their favorite book of all time. ALL TIME. Also I really hope that pigman doesn't get cooked. And also ahahaha Satan was playing wizard chess with his cat minion. I wish this whole book took place at Russian Hogwarts


Monday, October 10, 2016

Master and Margarita: "Who would let Styopa on a fighter plane without shoes?"

What happened in Master and Margarita this week? A bunch of people got disappeared by the devil (Secret Police), Apollonian and Dionysian values got compared (apparently), and there was more Jesus stuff.

AND THE MASTER SHOWED UP. Finally. Did anyone else almost immediately google to see if you could buy his hat? Because I did and I cannot find it, which seems RIDICULOUS. Anyway, I assume the woman he was obsessed with and whose flowers he hated is Margarita, and also that the Master is essentially Bulgakov (further research has supported this), which means our two main players have finally shown up. Does it feel a bit like a chess game where all the pieces are being strategically placed around? Yes? No? Maybe?

Anyway, I found this (again, from Middlebury's fine site), which I liked very much. It's addressing the chaos at the theatre in chapter 12 (bolding my own):

Apollonian vs. Dionysian: The philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche is very difficult to understand, but it appears to be quite appropriated in discussing this novel. In his work The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche exalts the culture of ancient Greece. He revered Greek tragedy and the way that it combines myth and music. Nietzsche saw tragedy as a synthesis of what he terms the Apollonian and the Dionysian. These names are derived from the names of the Greek gods Apollo and Dionysus.

Apollo is associated with light and art in mythology. Dionysus is linked to music, drinking and revelry. By definition, the Apollonian serves to distinguish, separate and define individuals. The Dionysian breaks up all of these boundaries and creates chaos. Nietzsche writes that the Greek philosophers applied a veil of Apollonian order to civilization. According to Nietzsche this veil of reason and rationality, ascribed to the world by the great thinkers Plato and Socrates, is an illusion. The downfall of civilization is believing in this illusion of order and not realizing that it is the modern world that is a shallow illusion. It is a precarious balance between applying the veil of order and remaining aware that the veil exists. In each of these instances, Woland has removed the veil of order surrounding these Soviet citizens and allowed them to act naturally. He removes reason and rationality from the equation and gets outrageous results. It shows the wild and chaotic nature that lurks beneath the surface of a calm exterior.

Speaking of which, what do you all think? Are you liking it more? I think I am. Yes. Yes, I am. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

I'm Just a Person by Tig Notaro: Funny People Writing Sad Things

I have loved Tig Notaro since I clicked on her first album one night before bed while browsing Spotify and proceeded to laugh until my stomach cramped. Then, of course, her 'Live' album was released and that was a huge deal, and thank God more people know about her now. Have you seen her just push a stool around a stage for an uncomfortably long period of time? The things she does with comedy contribute to it as an actual art form, and I am unbelievably impressed with her.

So she wrote a book. That's cool. Lots of comedians writing books these days. It's not a funny book though, because it deals with her terrible terrible four month period that's described in Live. It's basically Live, but much more detailed. 

It's pretty short. It makes you think about life. It's probably more meaningful if you've suffered a recent loss, or dealt with anything pretty traumatic, which KNOCK ON ALL THE WOOD IN THE LAND, I've been spared from for quite some time.

As with most other books by comedians, I feel like I'm Just a Person is probably better as an audiobook. Tig's delivery is so uniquely her -- I can absolutely see this being really really compelling with her just telling you the story instead of reading flat words on a page.

also this.
For those of you who don't know, Tig went from getting very sick, going to the hospital, getting C. diff (which is basically a bacteria eating your intestines), having her mother suddenly die, going through a breakup, and then finding out she had cancer. In four months. So the book is mainly what her feelings were during it, how she dealt with it. Which is interesting, right? People like seeing what other people do in times of intense tragedy so we can maybe feel like we know what to do during those times.

So if you're into finding that out, this is probs for you. One thing I WOULD LIKE TO NOTE THOUGH. Is that in the book, Tig is like "it's super weird how the media latched onto this idea of my girlfriend dumping me in the middle of all this when it was a supes mutual breakup" and I WOULD LIKE TO QUOTE, TIGGERA (that is not her full name) from your own show:

"Then I went through a breakup. Right in the middle of it all. It's tough times. Can't stick around for that. Gotta get out before the cancer comes."

See how they would think that? I'm just saying. Because in your book, when you said it was mutual, it was a total surprise to me because in your show you said that thing. That made it sound not mutual. Just saying.

ANYWAY, Tig Notaro is a great comedian. She went through some terrible things. She has this book. It has sad things. Probably look for the audiobook. And listen to all her albums.