Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2012

"A cyclonic cluster-boning": Doug Reviews Pride and Prejudice

The time has come, once again, for my friend Doug to review a classic of English literature. I'd get excited this very second if I were you.

-----------------------------------

Upon having first read Wuthering Heights, and now Pride and Prejudice, I've had an epiphany as to how I'm going to make my fortune. I'm going to create an Internet start-up dedicated to 19th century English literature fandom. It shall be called cousin-fuckers.co.uk, and it will be replete with everything a modern-day English Lit fan could want. I'm talking fan-fiction, discount book & DVD sales, and dating profiles linked to Ancestry.com accounts. If you love old UK literature, and also want to find someone who looks sort of like your Uncle that once almost touched you but then your Aunt walked in and ruined it, then this is the site for you!

Now for my review of the hilarious comedy 'Duck Soup.'
That movie is hilarious.
Now for my review of 'Pride and Prejudice.'
What... the f…

An empty library is a terrible thing

My friend retweeted that a Pittsburgh K-8 school has an empty library and an Amazon wish list. I bought The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Know why? Because it kicks ass and more children should read it. Also because EMPTY LIBRARY.

This is one of the few times I will admit to being warm and squishy about books. Books you read as a kid have the most impact on you, because your critical faculties are pretty much at zero. This is why if anyone ever insulted The Mud Pony, I'd be like "HEY BUDDY FUCK YOU," even though I'm pretty sure the boy in the story would not be pro-that reaction (by the way, everyone should read The Mud Pony, for it is magical).

I'll occasionally find books I read as a kid and be like "Oh....I remember being REALLY into this picture, but I'm not sure why anymore." Which is sad, right? Because if you're really young and maybe not so awesome at reading yet, you're all over the pictures. And you notice everything about them. T…

"Oh, it's INCREDIBLY ambivalent"

Julie and I had a harrowing experience at Myopic Books in Wicker Park (Hipsterville) on Monday. Because it's hipster, it's open until 11 on a weeknight, and we were making an emergency book run at 9 pm. But there  were other people there. Oh yes. University of Chicago people.
You know this?




Not entirely accurate. Because UofC freshmen are the worst. The DAY I talk about pretension on here, we run into SEVERAL little clumps of freshmen scattered throughout the store, holding Jonathan Franzen novels and saying things like "When I first read Gravity's Rainbow--" the end of which we never heard, because I forcibly moved us far away. I'm a grownass lady. I don't have to listen to that shit.
As Julie said on twitter: "WTH, who let the U of C people out of their hole tonight? It's like rumspringa but dorkier in a sad way."
They belong in Hyde Park. Return there! Stay out of our part of the city! Ah, and gang wars begin to make sense. I would willin…

Literary snobs make me want to throw sugared almonds

My niece has been christened. Thank God, right? Otherwise God might not know her name. (I might be unclear on how christening works despite being an elder at my church)
My little brother and I saw Resident Evil the five thousandth, and despite the plot essentially being "Escape from this compound!" and therefore pretty much a video game, it was enjoyed on most levels. They even had a Newt-type girl (watch Aliens, geeeeez). Also Michelle Rodriguez was there. And zombies. So many zombies. Do I need to add it passed the Bechdel Test? Don't all run to the theater at once, people.

So I tend to approach literature with a battle-toughened, 'fuck you, judgey people' approach. If you read enough stuff that isn't garbage, I think you have a right to this. You're not neglecting your brain. You're just every now and then feeding it books with lasers and dragons and ladies buying shoes & falling in love. But since I tend to mix up what I read with good and bad b…

"SHE SMELLED DELICIOUS. LIKE BACON."

Those bastards at Blogger have finally made me switch from the old system to the new. So if this SOMEHOW LOOKS REALLY WEIRD, it's their fault.
So it's Friday. This week was crazy because I had to make a recording of some arias (er, "opera songs") and that is STRESSFUL because auditions are for once, but recordings are forever, yo. So your brain's like "THIS BETTER BE GOOD IS THIS GOOD ARE YOU DOING A GOOD JOB OMG DO IT BETTEEEEER." Whereas in an audition, it's kinda like "Hahaha fuck it, this is for six minutes then I'm out."
Speaking of capitalizing things, have we all read Growing Up Cullen? I don't know if this is just known on Livejournal or if it's on the interwebs at large. In any case, it's a Twilight thing in the form of a posted chat. In which Edward is turned into a 40-year-old mom. Some highlights:
balcarin: NO ONE UNDERSTANDS MEEE HE WOULD SEETHE AS HE PRESSED HIS WILDFLOWERS 
balcarin: i bet he did bella's bath…

I'll bet Henry David Thoreau really appreciated that toilet paper, though

American authors of the 19th century, I barely know ye. Nathaniel Hawthorne is the hotness, but I want to punch Mark Twain in the face and Harriet Beecher Stowe, you are the manipulativest with your inaccurate novelry.
I was making fun of Henry David Thoreau yesterday on twitter, mostly because the Transcendentalists annoy me with their idealistic thinky ways. You sit your asses down and join the corporate machine, sirs.
That whole 19th c. New England writer scene was kind of weird and incestuous and therefore super-fun. I mean, you've got the Alcotts, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Emerson, Melville, and Emily Dickinson. WHAT on earth.
By the way, if you call the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House with random questions, the people there are DELIGHTFUL. The people at the Emily Dickinson Museum, not as much, but they have assured me, in frosty New England tones, that I cannot say that all of the above people hung out together. There goes my mental image of Dickinson and Melville TP'ing Thorea…

Books You Should Read If You Want to Be a Terrible Person

Did you all see this? "30 Books Everyone Should Read Before Their 30th Birthday."

Katie, who is about to turn 30, sent me a link to it, saying "fuck that list."

Let's look at a few of these, shall we?

1. Siddhartha. Sure. Why not. This was given to me by my hippie English teacher in 7th grade. All I remember is that when I was done, I was glaring at telephone poles because they "were not part of the natural order." So if you want to be an asshole for a week, read Siddhartha.

2. 1984. REALLY? Do we really need to read 1984? Because I think everyone's gotten the message at this point. I'm sure that in the '40s this was a really stunning book, and it's an enjoyable read, but if someone told me they hadn't read it, I'd be like "Oh. Yeah, that's fine."

3. To Kill a Mockingbird. This book is fucking awesome and everyone should read it.

4. A Clockwork Orange. Wait, seriously? This is something EVERYONE should read. And th…

The Woman in White the Play (perhaps we are too attached)

Some facts.

ONE. There was a theatrical production of The Woman in White in Rogers Park yesterday afternoon.

TWO. Due to the lameness of my friends, I saw this alone, braving -- yes! braving -- the indignity of solo theatrical attendance COUPLED, I might add, with the fact that this was obviously the perfect opportunity to wear my Wilkie Readalong shirt, which is maybe the dorkiest shirt I own (and I own a Nathaniel Hawthorne shirt purchased at the House of the Seven Gables).


TWO. More correctly, I saw half of this play.

THREE. At least one of the characters was so grossly misrepresented, I could not stay. Also I had to get groceries. But more the other thing.

When a book is as derangedly loved as Woman in White is by the Wilkie Collins readalong group, it is a danger to see any adaptation. Because certain things will not tally with how one's brain sees them. And I know that. I do. And I knew it going in.

But MR. FAIRLIE, PEOPLE. Theatrical license/character interpretation, yes yes, but…

Friday Post of Nothingness

It's Friday. We should be happy. I'm gonna post some things that're really, really super-great.

1. Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte & Salted Caramel Mocha. They are seasonal. They are amazing. I had the Salted Caramel Mocha and thought 'That's it. If I die now, at least I have had this experience.' True, I was in the midst of the greatest of sugar rushes, but the fact remains. Amazing.

2. Jennifer Lawrence GIFs. They exist. And we should be all the happier for it.











Jennifer Lawrence GIFs are all I've ever wanted to be.


3. Richard III's skeleton. It's been found! (maybe) And they can clone him! (probably not) This has prompted some excellent conversations about cloning, most of which have gone this way:

Me: OMG THEY SHOULD CLONE HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM.
Intelligent Friend: Remember how they tried cloning that sheep and then all those sheep died before they got it right and then THAT sheep died?
Me: BUT HE COULD TELL US WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO EDWARD V.
I.F.: …

Outlander: The Neverending Scottish Highlands Love Story

So I started getting pretty into Outlander.
I know you're probably thinking 'Wait, weren't you reading The Sun Also Rises?' and yes, yes I was, but when choosing between Hemingway describing various Spanish bars, and a 1940s lady who totally looks like Alex Kingston (see below) on the brink of sexytimes with a hot 18th c. Scottish guy, give me some bagpipes because it's away to Scotland with me.

I mean, what is this book? It's a historical time travelly romance novel. BUT the cover's classy as hell, and you can get away with reading it on the train. Also the author (whom I call Diana Gabalalabadon in my head because it's way more fun to say) is at least really TRYING with period detail and humor and all sorts of fun things that aren't just two characters finding each other IMMENSELY attractive.
We're gonna briefly talk about Jamie Fraser though, because hey now. Hey. I know this predates Twilight, but I think we're been through this with Edward…

Ragnarök: Way to Be Awesome Again, A.S. Byatt

TWO BOOK REVIEWS IN TWO DAYS. What is this, the book blog of someone who actually reads?
You know that Canongate myth series where they asked certain authors to pick a myth and write it up their own way? The only one I know a lot of people have read is The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood (which sucks ass, but more on that later), which is a reinterpretation of The Odyssey from Penelope's perspective.
So some awesome person asked A.S. Byatt, and she chose Ragnarök, which is essentially the fall of the Norse gods. It. Is. Awesome. This is also, in the German tradition, called Götterdämmerung, which is the last opera in Wagner's Ring cycle (he wrote four very....very long operas about Norse mythology).
You know how back when you read Possession, you were all "OMG READ ALL THE BYATT" and then you picked up another book of hers, and you were like "Wtf Byatt?" and moved on with your life? THIS SHOULD BE WHAT YOU READ AFTER POSSESSION.
Because it has all the pretty wor…

Straight: A Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality

I'm finally going to talk about Straight: A Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality by Hanne Blank, the book review I've been avoiding because I'm terrified I'm not going to say everything I want to say the way I want to say it.
Yes.

I emailed the author some questions, because you can DO that nowadays, and she was very very nice and put up with me being thick-headed and not totally getting her book and probably STILL not totally getting it, but I wanted to be able to sum up some of her awesome points and not misinterpret them.
This is a really, really short book (the title does not lie), but there's so much in it, I'm dismayed about my relative lack of space in which to talk about it. I'm not going to be able to talk about everything (alas!), so you should just read it. That being said, here we go.
So. You might think from the title that this is one of those liberal books by one of those liberal people trying out some new liberal concept of 'Oh, peop…

The Sun Also Rises Despite Extreme Alcoholism

Friday, right? Ugh, it's like why even TRY today. Just let me scroll through hilarious Tumblr posts and sobbing gif after sobbing gif in reaction to Amy Poehler and Will Arnett separating (I WILL NEVER BE OVER THIS).

So I was at Open Books with Julie this past weekend, and despite us being all "Oh, we have too many books, we're just gonna browse, blah blah," we obviously bought books. I got The Sun Also Rises, 'cause I've been trashing Hemingway here for a while, but I haven't actually exactly read his stuff. I might've had to read a story of his in 6th grade, because I remember our much-loathed English teacher talking about how GREAT he is and how it's AMAZING he only used the words he NEEDED, but again, much-loathed teacher, so I didn't like anything he made us read. Fricking Education of Little Tree and its white supremacist author.
Open Books had a bunch of his novels, 'cause he's Hemingway and they're awesome, and I flipped thro…

Book Release Party! Meeting People! More Things!

Author events! They are swell. Some of the time. I heartily recommend you go to one, unless it's someone like Jonathan Franzen, 'cause hah, what a tool.

Every author event I've gone to, though, has been spiffy. LAST NIGHT BEING NO EXCEPTION.

So meeting people I'm friends with on the internets is my favorite. I don't know why. People are neat? Sure, that. I've had maybe two not-great experiences out of a billion, but most of them have been like "It's YOU and now I don't have to wait for you to type things because you're right HERE and oh, let's go eat things and talk about television." 

I follow Elizabeth Fama's blog, and we occasionally chat on twitter (omg WHY are you not on twitter; it's so much fun), and she reported she was having a book release party at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park for Monstrous Beauty, which is her YA book +about mermaids and Massachusetts. COMPELLING STUFF. Here's the pretty cover, which, although fal…

Austrian Noodles + Cultural Doxa in Relationships

PHEW. Labor Day, amirite? So much, you guys. I made Doug of Wuthering Heights fame and Katie from A Writer Must Record the Times watch Blazing Saddles because THEY NEVER HAD BEFORE, only Doug showed up already kind of wasted, so he watched most of it while hanging upside down off the side of my couch. And a good time was had by all. Then Julie from Contractually Obligated to Like Books said we should go to Julius Meinl, and I HAD NEVER BEEN, so we did that and I ate all the Austrian food.
No, seriously, you guys. This was the best:


And then Doctor Who happened and I MADE A VID about one of the characters. You know the one I mean. Soufflé girl. THEN there was the White Sox game (for those of you not in Chicago, the Sox are our actually good team) where I had ice cream nachos. Then I bothered everyone on twitter. OH, what a weekend.

I was reading a book called Straight: The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality that I'm going to review later, because I need to think about it, b…