Friday, April 24, 2015

The Readathon Is Tomorrow and I Am MISSING It

You guys. I have to go to a convention downtown dressed as a character from Jurassic Park (HAVE TO) and so I am missing Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon. AGAIN. I think I've done it mayyybe twice? Maybe. And even then it was like, "I'm staying at my parents' so there're gonna be a lot of other activities" or "I'm mainly using this as an excuse to eat tacos all day." Although I'd actually call Taco Day a resounding success, so, that one's fine.

Taco Day should be Every Day

But I want you all to post all the pictures, and say what you're eating (and I guess reading), for looking at those will bring me much happiness.

I was thinking about it, and I think part of the reason I love readathons is also why I love conventions (and behold! they have conflicted!). Themed things are the balls. You get a theme and you're like "Okay. Okay. I know what I'm doing here." There is a specified framework, and AS LIFE IS CHAOS, a specified framework is much-appreciated. 


But! both frameworks are loose enough to allow for much variation within. You can read during your readathon (ha! what?). You can make awesome snacks. Or buy awesome snacks, in my case. You can do challenges, you can cheer other people on, I mean, what color is your parachute, man. 

And at conventions! You can dress up. You can NOT dress up, but instead spend the whole time chasing people around asking if you can take their picture. And if you do dress up, you can be whatever the hell you want. Last year, there was someone going as the girl bunny from Space Jam. Joffrey and Cersei, a million Deadpools, Milhouse from The Simpsons, Miss Frizzle as a Time Lady.


So. Enjoy it, those of you who are participating. I'm looking forward to your posts. I'll think of you tomorrow in between the moments I hopefully chase down someone dressed as Carmilla or Snow White from Fables. HAPPY READATHON TO YOU ALL.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Book Character Fanmixes: Taking It Too Far? Nope.

I used to make fanmixes. A lot. If for some reason this term hasn't seeped into the non-fandom population, a fanmix is when you make a music playlist for a character (or characters) you have FEELINGS about. It can be on whatever theme you want, as it is your fanmix, man, and you do you.

Some book-themed playlists inevitably snuck on in there, so here're my Literary Playlist subjects:

Antipholus/Adriana, The Comedy of Errors
BACK WHEN I FIRST MOVED TO CHICAGO, I saw a lot of plays. I didn't really know anyone, so it was just me shuffling myself from theatre to theatre and writing about it in my diary. And one time I saw Chicago Shakespeare Theater's 1940s version of Comedy of Errors, and shipped the married-but-fighting-all-the-time couple of Antipholus and Adriana SUPER-HARD, so I emailed the guy playing Antipholus of Ephesus, like an optimistic 23-year-old would, and said "There are no photos of you and Adriana. You should take some this weekend. Since the show's closing. Cute ones."

A day later, I got an email with these:

Because sometimes people are the best.

HIGHLIGHTS of Antipholus/Adriana the Playlist include: Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra; I Get a Kick Out of You by Frank Sinatra; The Shortest Day of the Year from the musical version of the play, which is called The Boys from Syracuse; and Joy to the World by Three Dog Night.

I have one for Beatrice/Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing, but it's not even good. Not even good! So if you have any song suggestions, please let me know.

Louisa Gradgrind from Dickens's Hard Times, his novel about how terrible Utilitarianism is. I had to write an essay on her in college and I couldn't get a good angle on it. I tried so hard. I drew pictures. I wasn't allowed to leave my room. I finally made a playlist. As with most subjects you spend a lot of time with, I now have an unhealthy level of attachment to her.

HIGHLIGHTS of Louisa Gradgrind are solely Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson. Because that. is. Louisa. Gradgrind.

Madame Defarge from Dickens's Tale of Two Cities. This is more specifically from TOTC the Musical, which I made an emergency trip to NYC to see. Mme Defarge and her husband Ernest were adorable, and I made a chronological playlist that in my head started when they met as teenagers and took them through the end of the book.

They are the cutest of revolutionaries

HIGHLIGHTS include Angry Angel by Imogen Heap, Full Circle by No Doubt, and of course The Way It Ought to Be from Tale of Two Cities the Musical.

Mrs. Danvers from Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca. Yes, the lesbian housekeeper of creepy dead-wife Rebecca. I was really into the Austrian musical version of this book, so Mrs Danvers gets her own playlist.

I mean, look at that. Of course she does.

HIGHLIGHTS are hilariously/inappropriately You Don't Know Me by Ray Charles, I Feel Everything by Idina Menzel, and Enya's If I Could Be Where You Are. I didn't try real hard on this one back in the day.

Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane from Dorothy L. Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey series, which you should ALL READ. They're set in the 1920s and '30s (and were also written then) and Lord Peter/Harriet are near-perfection.

HIGHLIGHTS are actually not anything because I did a bad job on this one, but you know what, NO, I stand by Everything by Michael Bublé. Because she IS Lord Peter's everything and you can all shove off because I like Michael Bublé and I am fine with admitting it.

Scarlett/Melanie from Gone With the Wind. Ahahaha remember that one time I tried NaNoWriMo and wrote like 12,000 words of a Scarlett/Melanie fanfic piece? Of course you don't. It was before I was blogging. 

I stand by this pairing. Not in a forever way, because no, but during the time when Scarlett and Melanie are at Tara and Suellen's being a dick (ALL THE TIME, SUELLEN) and no one's being that helpful and everyone's leaning on Scarlett. Melanie was a damn support for her. 

HIGHLIGHTS are the whole playlist, 'cause it's kickass, but include I Hate Myself for Loving You by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, I Don't Believe You by Pink, Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship, Thinking of You by Katy Perry, and I Don't Love You by My Chemical Romance. It is both angsty and great.

That's all. Since the advent of Spotify, the amount of music has made playlist-making a rather daunting prospect, to be honest, so my production rates have just plummeted. Now they're all themed like "Walt Disney Kidnapped My Childhood and I've Got a Bad Case of Stockholm Syndrome" or "Patsy Cline Goes Walking Whenever the Fuck She Wants." 

Is this just me? Do other people do this? OTHER PEOPLE HAVE TO DO THIS.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Comics and Why I'm Now Into Them

I've resisted comics for a long time. Sure, I read Maus and Persepolis and Fun Home, but those are graphic novels, damnit, and do not count. Or they half-count. I don't know, the point is I tried comic books time and time again and ALWAYS found myself both bewildered and bored.


When I was in NYC, I went to Forbidden Planet, which is a nerd shop right next to The Strand. Out of some obstinate feminist impulse, I decided every man in there assumed girls don't read comics and that I would prove them WRONG PERSONALLY MYSELF by walking around like I knew what the hell I was doing.

I wasn't reeeeally planning on getting something until I saw Princess Leia

Who doesn't love Leia Organa, princess of Alderaan (wait, if her parents are dead, is she queen? why do they keep calling her princess? someone check into this please) and an integral part of the rebellion against the Empire. 

She's kind of just generally awesome

This comic series takes place after Episode IV, aka A New Hope, aka the first Star Wars movie made. Leia finds out the Empire is planning on hunting down all the remaining Alderaanians and she decides to find them first. With the help of a lady pilot who's flying her around! I instantly assumed there was already slash fiction about them, but there is NOT. What. Internet, you have disappointed me. 

So I bought issues 1 &2 of that, then chatted with my delightful friend Meghan over dinner that evening about how with comics, you really just need a window to jump through. The comic world is huge and there's just an overwhelming amount of material and backstory, but if you find a writer, or an artist you like, that can get you started. She recommended Sex Criminals and Bitch Planet. So accordingly:


I also just got Lumberjanes in the mail yesterday and I. am. amused. 

Sex Criminals is about two people who, when they orgasm, time stops. But just for them. And they can wander around in it and commit crimes. I KNOW BUT IT'S REALLY GOOD OK.

Manifest Destiny is right in my wheelhouse, as it's Lewis and Clark going west, but their secret mission is to fight monsters. There's a comic for everyone, you guys.


I only have like issue 8 of Elektra so I'm still not...totally positive...what it's about. There's a lady and she has knives or katanas or something? And also dances? But fights bad guys while wearing scarves? I don't know how it's good, except oh yeah -- Mike Del Mundo does the art for it and it's SO PRETTY and he's going to be at C2E2 next week and I am going to harass him.

Bitch Planet is something I'm going to keep reading, but I'm also on the fence about it. Sometimes things are tooooo reactionary? But overall, a comic about a planet of non-compliant women which also gets into their backstories probably makes me happy.

As with most things I like, I've kind of dived into this headfirst and am spreading myself TOO THIN too fast, but there's just so damn much stuff. I have the new Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction on hold at the library, as well as the first volume of The Walking Dead. And I kind of want to start Fables

Seems good.

Aside from the intimidating wealth of material, the two things that kept me from comic books for so long were cost + length. It's like $4 for something that takes not-very-long to read! My brain was so against this! And the only follow-up I can give to that is "Eh, it takes longer than you'd think." 

But ALSO, there's this wonderful feeling of camaraderie and being a part of something that happens when you go into a comic book shop SPECIFICALLY to get the newest issue of something. Since almost all new releases of things happen online nowadays, it feels nostalgic and refreshing to go into a brick & mortar store and ask for the new Princess Leia (to which they will answer "Oh, it's not out yet -- yeah, the back of the comic says today, but they mess up their schedule a lot," but it's ok, because both of you are frustrated and that's more camaraderie).

I am so excited! One of the last frontiers of Nerdery Entertainment has opened up to me and I'm super-into it. 

Please be telling me the comics you are/have been enjoying, THAT I MIGHT ADD THEM TO MY LIST.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Villette Has Ended and Everyone Is Confused (Probably)



Villette has ended and...huh.

I was totally set to talk about Lucy's drug haze romp through a carnival, but then the ending of the book happened and now my brain is just perplexed and trying to figure out what exactly Charlotte Bronte's game is here, because wait what.

What are we thinking about this. So Lucy is given everything she wants, and sets herself up a la Jane Eyre, down to the "oh, you suddenly got money from someone in your past who wronged you and are now a lady of independent means," and then the ending happens and it's this weird fizzle of a nothing. 

MAYBE IT'S EXTREMELY DARING. It's probably that. The problem in my brain is it reminds me, like some other things in Villette, of Wuthering Heights. Just this crashing storm and wild prose and weird imprecations to heaven and then this danced-around ending that reminded me also of the stories I used to write in 5th grade where everyone dies, only finally I wrote some postscript to one that was like "But they never found the body of this one guy! So maybe he's alive! Maybe! If it makes you feel better!"

Charlotte Bronte's attempts at comfort

What do you think was going on here? And come to think of the whole book, what's up with Charlotte Bronte and weather/stars & planets? Because there is a lot of that. Did you like that surreal outdoor party scene, because it was one of my favorite parts of the book. Why is Lucy constantly an observer? Does she make herself that way, or are people really not wanting to hang out with her? (there I obviously believe the former) How much do you love Ginevra? Is it a lot? It should probably be a lot. Are Ginevra/Lucy the best couple in this book? (yes)

[M]y dry gibes pleased her well enough and the more impassible and prosaic my mien, the more merrily she laughed.

I don't even know with this book. I SUSPECT it is genius and I'm very proud of CB for writing it. Imma need to look at it more closely, because honestly this six week period was just about getting through it and trying to figure out wth was going on. Everything is weird and I know nothing. That's what I got from this book. Good job, everyone who made it, on making it. We have all officially read more than just Jane Eyre in the Works by Charlotte Bronte Department.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I Have Been Writing Things!

Things elsewhere! Specifically on Book Riot. I did two guest posts and then an official one today. What! Excitement.

The two guest posts ARE:

So You Want to Properly Celebrate Women's History Month

On Asking Authors to Sign My Books With Their Favorite Word

AND NOW my new post with my name on it and everything is (title does not appear in post):

Reading's New Golden Age: Suck It, Movies

Unrelatedly, I just bought a FANCIFUL AMOUNT of comics, but that is for another post, because what? Comics? Surely that is not you, Alice. And it is NOT, and yet it is happening. Fortunately it is also happening in time for C2E2, one of Chicago's many nerdfests, and THE ILLUSTRATOR FOR A COMIC I THINK IS BEAUTIFUL IS GOING TO BE THERE. And I am going to bugggggg him at his booth and it will be wonderful.

You guys remember C2E2 last year?


So Book Riot and comics. Both very exciting. I honestly can't say which I'm more psyched for, because all I want to do right now is go home and finish volume 1 of Manifest Destiny. IT'S LEWIS AND CLARK AND THEY'RE FIGHTING MONSTERS.

....I'm ok.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Aquarium by David Vann: Bring a crown of roses, for this book and I shall wed


I only put it on hold at the library because Emily said it had fish pictures. I'm not even a huge fan of fish. But I like pictures.

However, since what mainly stuck with me about the book was "fish pictures," I didn't remember anything else about it, and somehow thought it was for eight-year-olds. Hey, guess what, no. IT'S FOR THE WHOLE HUMAN RACE, SO GLORIOUS IT IS.

It's about a 12-year-old girl! Named Caitlin! And she lives with her mom in a cheap apartment and she goes to the aquarium every day after school until her mom can pick her up, and she meets an old man there and oh the relationships in this book. David Vann, I will read all of your books. And maybe track you down in Alaska and make you get coffee with me because ahhhhhhh I love Aquarium so much.

Why do I love it? Because he'll be writing this 12-year-old girl's story, and nobody's exactly good or bad because they're just people and humans are flawed but sometimes do beautiful things and it's the opposite of damn Thérèse Raquin and all of a sudden you get something like this:

Parents are gods. They make us and they destroy us. They warp the world and remake it in their own shape, and that's the world we know forever after. It's the only world. We can't see what it might have looked like otherwise.

Or this:


Just the things it says about childhood and adulthood and forgiveness and love and let's all read it all the time.

I think fairy tale is always waiting for us, that we can slip at any moment into forests and wolves and voices luring and believe in the shadow world. All that we fear embodied, all pattern and shape that hides somewhere within set loose.

Fairy tale is all that we fear embodied. All pattern and shape that hides somewhere within set loose. What the damn hell, sir. I love you. And I love your crazyass author bio on your website that says "For 12 years, no agent would send out his first book, Legend of a Suicide, so he went to sea and became a captain and boat builder." 


Imma marry this book.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Villette: What.

...I think I'm done with M. Paul. I could handle baaaaaaaasically everything else. The censoring art and literature, the little rages he got into, the locking her in an attic, but what I CANNOT COUNTENANCE is him finally calling her his damn sister (which, y'know, FINE, even though you've been flirting with her for hundreds of pages and that's some bullshit), but then immeeeeeeeediately ignoring her because apparently his priest told him to? What. WHAT. He didn't even tell her "Oh, I've decided it's better we not actually have this close relationship even though I just said otherwise." No. He just ignores her like a fucking five-year-old. UP WITH THIS I SHALL NOT PUT.

If I'm being extra-sweary it's because THIS DESERVES IT. My Kindle note for this event is:

THIS IS BULLSHIT. You can't be an asshole about guys who are paying her attention and in general be a shithead about her being pretty and then tell her she's your sister and then be a dick. You're being a DICK.

Lucy is always friendzoned.

We're almost done. If Lucy wants to deal with this, then fine. I feel like this whole thing with M. Paul is CB working out this issue for herself from her own life, and if M. Heger treated her at all like this, then CB, I am so sorry. Because no human should be treated like that ever, and if you need to weirdly take out your anger about that on Catholicism (because that whole section was bananas and super-angry) then okay. I guess. Because your life sucked.