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2013 Wrap-Up: Events.

I completely forgot that my theme song for this year was Harder Better Faster Stronger by Daft Punk, and that right after I chose it back in January, I got sick and fell behind in everything.

THIS YEAR WAS COMPLETELY THE BEST. Remember how 2010 was the worst for everyone and we all listened to Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" as the year changed and said "YEAH. THAT SENTIMENT, 2010"? Yeah, so the OPPOSITE of that to this year.

Events (as opposed to books, which are lateeeer) for 2013:

- Zombie musical. Oh, how you consumed my January/February, but ah, you were worth it.

- Juice fast. Remember that, Tika? Remember how we made that terrible decision? The low point was me putting salt directly on my tongue, because oh how I missed it.

- Getting over crushes on straight girls. That was a good move.

- Singing wayyyy better than in previous years. Like. Way better. Good times ahead. And this year I joined VOX 3 and I get to write stuff for them, which is the coolest, and my …

Christmas and then a Katy Perry rant, because that's how my brain goes

Oh right, I have GIFs for this.


and lest we forget:


Yes, actual Christmas is past us, but the spirit lives on, particularly in the dying poinsettias I have returned to find at my office.

Christmas cookies, tree decorating, visiting relatives -- all things my family fought over in the past few days. But no, it was a splendid holiday, rife with jewels like my three brothers and myself watching Sharknado for the first time and seeing my one-and-a-half-year-old niece deftly keep the remote away from my brother, continuing a proud family tradition.

Whilst at home, I finished The Great Emergence, which is about the direction the Church as a whole is taking, so LOOK FORWARD TO THAT REVIEW, EVERYONE, and other than that, I did basically nothing. I worked a bit on Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center on the train home while too obviously trying to hide the title from my seatmate. "What? Oh, no, I'm a super-fun person. I am. DON'T LET THE TITLE FOOL YOU -- THIS IS IMPORTANT SCHOLARLY…

Checkin' in because I love you all

Does anyone REALLY expect blog updates in December?



In all whatever, I haven't read for about two weeks. Two. Weeks. Do you know how weird that feels? Of course you do -- you're reading a book blog and therefore presumably have some interest in books. I've HAD a book with me all the time, but I have not opened it. In two weeks. Mostly because my life has been eaten by caroling, but THAT SHALL SOON BE OVER, and then I will race to finish my requisite three more books for the year. Luckily when caroling's over it's just Christmas/New Year's and those aren't busy times.




The books I will be TRYING to finish in the next 15 days are The Great Emergence about the Church's new direction; One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson, which is GREAT; Gay Pride and Prejudice because...obviously; and maybe Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center because I like to party.

HEY. I've read a lot of non-fiction this year. Comparatively. In previous years, my non-fiction seem…

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Yeah. That's right. We're starting your week off with a Columbine review. I don't even know if I'm allowed to use GIFs here. What is GIF-etiquette, re Columbine?


Because obviously GIFs can come across as making light of something, and this is one of those situations where that really, really cannot happen. Why? Because two extraordinarily psychologically messed-up teenagers killed 13 people. While I believe GIFs can be used effectively in serious situations, I do not feel up to that at the moment. So let us proceed. It's about to get kind of sad up in here.

I tend to ignore tragedies that didn't happen 100 years ago. They make me feel powerless and upset and so rather than figuring out whatever small thing I can do to help, I purposely ignore all news about them (hey, Katrina -- still not sure what went on with you). I don't remember learning that much in 1999 aside from information picked up by osmosis. The boys were bullied; they lashed out, but the only wa…

Cupcakes and A Sharing of the Saddest Photo Ever

I MADE CUPCAKES AND I AM OVERLY PROUD OF THIS


I don't know how to cook...at all, which my mother brings up frequently, so when I do anything involving the inside of an oven (asiiiide from when I heat up Bagel Bites, as we do not own a microwave for Reasons), I act like a five-year-old who just made her first thing in an Easy-Bake.

I haven't been reading much because I've been trying to finish Why Classical Music Still Matters, and it's hella hard and ALSO caroling gigs start today and will consume 90% of my free time until Christmas (slight exaggeration). But did I tell you all I'm going to Minnesota in January? Awesome idea, yes? It is -3 degrees there right now, and it's not even mid-December. For a Chicagoan to be scared of how cold a place is -- that is terrifying. 

I started a schedule spreadsheet, and my friend and I are going to see the St Paul Chamber Orchestra (SPCO if you're cool) in my quest to be less of an asshole about classical music. "But …

November: I read some things!

November was less of a slouchy month than might be assumed. Actually, one would probably assume it would NOT be a slouchy month, as the end of the year approaches on swift wings, and everyone's suddenly realizing that if they want to meet their reading goals for the year, they have to get off their asses and stop watching old episodes of Futurama while eating Hob Nobs. Yes, I'm looking at all of you. As I have of course been nothing but productive.


I finished four books in November, which admittedly isn't stellar, but I WORKED ON twelve books. Which should somehow count. Yes.

Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh. I pre-ordered this back in March. And if you want a print version of Allie's blog (I did), then THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU. My main complaint is she changed some of the panels to make them 'better,' when what really happened is they became 'worse.' So. Maybe work on that for next time, Brosh. (or rather, don't work on it is probably the actual po…

Thanksgiving: "We will sell our bracelets by the roadside; you will play golf and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres."

Thanksgiving. American Thanksgiving. Which, let's be honest, is the only real one, because I don't think any of you Canadians double-crossed Native Americans after they taught you how to plant corn. JOKE'S ON US ANYWAY, because then we grew TOO MUCH and made it into fake sugar and it's in everything and making us lardmonsters.

But Thanksgiving. 


I'm grateful for some book-related things. The fact that I had to explain my "Wilkie OMG" shirt to my roommate the other day, and that the explanation was "my book blogging friends" (which is obviously a thing) and I had the shirts made after we did a group readalong of a Wilkie Collins novel, and when you say it out loud GOOD LORD THAT IS THE NERDIEST THING IN THE HISTORY OF NERDDOM but there it is.

I'm grateful pretty much every damn week I'm in Chicago that libraries exist. The library is a giant free storehouse of information, entertainment, and, if you're lucky, escalators. I'm trying t…

Tell the Wolves I'm Home: "I am average at English and I am average at math, but I was not going to be average at looking after Toby."

Occasionally in book blogging circles, so many people read/review a book well that you begrudgingly (if you're me) say "FINE. *FINE.* I will read this damn thing." And then you usually like it and are strangely irritated about liking it. "I GUESS you guys are awesome and have awesome opinions. I guess."


Tell the Wolves I'm Home, for the two of you who haven't read it, is a first person narration about a girl in the 1980s whose uncle contracts AIDS and dies from it. The uncle (Finn) was her favorite person on earth, and she finds out after he dies that he'd been in a relationship for years with a man named Toby, who is now all alone. The majority of the book is about her friendship with Toby, and this all sounds like a huge bummer, BUT I REALLY LIKED IT AND IT'S REALLY GOOD AND YOU SHOULD READ IT.

You know all those times I'm like "ughhhh this is too sad I can't get into it"? Yeah. This bypasses that by being awesome AND not maud…

Real life once again intrudes on book world because some asshole tried to break into my apartment

You know when you wake up at 1:30 in the morning because you hear a noise, and you're usually like "Bah, whatever, house settling, etc"? But then sometimes you're like "Hmm. That was a very specific 'bang' sort of noise and my roommate isn't home"? Yeah, so that happened last night, and I went into the kitchen, where the lights were still blaring because I fell asleep with them on, and I heard another bang and must have decided 'fuck it' because I pulled up our shades and without being able to see anything, heard A PERSON DIRECTLY OUTSIDE MY WINDOW start to make what sounded like an apology, but in words I couldn't understand. I yelled "GET OUT" and immediately called the police. While I was on the phone with them, I saw his shadow hop the fence.

Which is how I had two members of the Chicago Police Department knocking on my door just before two in the morning last night. Two HANDSOME members of the Chicago Police Department…

How okay is it not to like something because it's popular?

How okay is it not to like something because it's popular?


Probably not okay at all if we get down to it. That's gonna be the real message here. But my 13-year-old "I will not be identified with the masses" asshole self starts champing at the bit when some new literary craze happens. "WELL. That's obviously dumb if soccer moms can get something out of it." You know what? Let's lay off soccer moms. Think of the book Main Street and then think of their lives. Let them have their moments of bookish inspiration. They don't have time to read all of Flaubert, but maybe they DO have time to get drunk with their book group and discuss the latest Rebecca Wells novel (who I am NOT making fun of; I love the shit out of those Ya-Ya books).

But there's definitely a natural instinct, for SOME reason, to not want to just be lumped in with a bunch of other people who like something. In this case, a book. I'm not gonna say that's what happened for me…

Why do we like reading?

Why the hell do we like reading.

I certainly can't figure out the answer for the rest of you, so I'm going to have to puzzle through my own reasons. Is it the craving for narrative? But film answers that so well, and it's so much more passive. Mmm, passivity.




Most people who classify themselves as 'readers' seem to have been that way since they were little inchworms. I have very few memories of early experiences with books and reading. One of the earliest I can remember was a stunning bluff I put to my brother as I arrogantly proclaimed "I can read that," regarding the cover of a National Geographic -- a bluff that was swiftly brought to its reckoning by my brother's clever "What does it say then?" riposte.

Other than that, my next memory is already being able to read, sitting in my parents' ridiculously big Whirlpool tub (I've always been a small person, and the jets used to be able to push me in a big circle around the tub, renderi…

John Stuart Mill thinks Emerson is a man-baby

DID YOU ALL SEE HOW SASSY JOHN STUART MILL WAS ABOUT EMERSON?

First off, if you don't know, John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher/economist/hilarious person of the Victorian Age. We're pissed at him because he liked Utilitarianism, which was a dumb movement, but I don't even care anymore, because this article makes him the best.

As his obituary in The Times observed, Mill was a candid controversialist, but he was ‘too amiable to indulge in scorching sarcasm or inflict unnecessary pain’. In his spontaneous marginalia, however, Mill was free to indulge his private opinions without fear of causing offence.
AND WHAT PRIVATE OPINIONS THEY WERE.



This is basically the equivalent of taking a book like The Secret and scrawling "The Secret (to Being Dumb)"on the title page.

This article contains gems like:

Mill took exception to Emerson’s poetry, which he often crossed out.
And later in the essay where Emerson wrote that ‘every man alone is sincere. At the entrance of …

Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Who thought this was a good idea?

Late-night shower singing of Disney songs prompts some important questions, chief among them being: was Disney drunk when it decided to make Hunchback of Notre Dame?

Don't get me wrong — I love that movie (minus the gargoyles, aka the one weak attempt to make it seem like an actual children's movie). I will classify it as 'underappreciated,' along with Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Home on the Range. The score and setting are gorgeous, the story was written by Victor Hugo, and Tom Hulce, aka Mozart, does the voice of Quasimodo. WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR.



Disney seemed to be experimenting a bit in the '90s. It went from fairytales to The Lion King -- which is kind of based on Hamlet -- to a bastardization of the Pocahontas story, i.e. actual historical events, to...a 19th century French novel about a deformed man who lives in a belltower.



I just really really wish I could've heard the initial pitch.

"So, how about we do the Twelve Dancing Princesses next? Th…

Illinois: Passing Marriage Equality by Two Votes

So yesterday.

Yesterday, after much debate on the floor, the Illinois House passed SB10, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act (we've learned what these things need to be called). The Senate quickly voted it through, and when our governor, Pat Quinn, signs it, people can start applying for marriage licenses in Illinois on June 1st, 2014.




Of course, it wasn't quick. Illinois will be the 15th state to pass marriage equality, which is far down the line, but not like Arkansas-far. Hawaii's looking like a probable 16th. Prior to last year, only six states had passed legislation supporting marriage equality, so it's jumped from six to fifteen in two years, and from opponents being able to say they've never lost a popular vote on the issue to having to resort to arguments like "But that bakery in Washington."

Not that I want this to be an antagonistic post. This was a very, very long time coming in Illinois and I'm still in shock over it having passed…

Donna Tartt: Quotey and Less Intimidating Than Expected

Donna Tartt came to Chicago.

For those unaware, Donna Tartt wrote The Secret History and The Goldfinch (and also a third book that no one really talks about). She also has author pictures that cause hardened warriors to quake in their spike-tipped boots.


I liked The Goldfinch. And I like author events. And Donna Tartt looked so impressively terrifying that I had a whole plan of going up to the author table and being AS CHEERFUL AS I COULD POSSIBLY BE to see what happened.

So I went to Northwestern's Thorne Auditorium and sat in a seat that yielded this blurry picture (Tartt is, of course, on the right):



The audience was mostly made up of gay men and older women. So I distrust my own reactions to the program, because maybe everyone aside from my friend Jeff and myself was fascinated by the talk and thought some very probing questions were put to Ms. Tartt. What seemed to happen, though, was the following:

Moderator: "You're so awesome at everything. How do you do that?"

Ta…