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Showing posts from August, 2013

If you want to call me raving about Jane Eyre and The Breakfast Club, I will listen

You know what sucks? We as a people don't get as excited about Things That Came Out a Long Time Ago as we do about Things That Have Just Come Out. Now I know that sounds obvious. But what I really MEAN are Things That Came Out a Long LONG Time Ago, so they're new to us. We should be AS excited about those things as the song 'Blurred Lines' (omg so catchy), but that is usually a no-go. At least a part of that is because we don't want the 'Uh, obviously' reaction. "YOU GUYS I JUST LISTENED TO 'TRAGIC KINGDOM' AND IT'S THE GREATEST." "Yeah, we know that. We were all really excited in 1996. But now we're over it. We still like 'Spiderwebs' though. Man, what a great song." They will not jump on your excitement train There's the calm "Of course it's great" reaction of others, which is inevitably coupled with the Plight of the Lone Excited One. One of my favorite analogies for the importance of

I will sing The Piccolino unsolicited at our next gathering

You know, sophomore year of high school, my biology teacher asked us what we did during spring break, and I — completely voluntarily — proclaimed that I spent the entire break watching every Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie MULTIPLE times and now knew all the songs. It is either a sign of how uncool my school was or how well my classmates knew me that I 1) didn't get my ass kicked, 2) didn't have any shit said to me about this. Along with my theory of balance, I'm a firm believer in owning up to your dorkier interests. It plays into the theory of balance, because if we all know at least one embarrassing thing about the other person, no one can peer down on someone else from their obnoxiously high horse. If someone handed me the Fear Street Saga books right now, I would read them. And then I would discuss them with people who had no idea what they were, because apparently I am the ONLY ONE who read the books about Simon Fear and his wife Angelica, which are the

Outlaw Marriages: A book I haven't finished yet

You might have noticed that I've been reading rather more nonfiction than usual lately. It seems like most of us tend to skirt that genre, and I'm not sure why (except for the fact that narrative is the FUNNEST). I'm really into history, and I'm really into poking around in it for gayness, so lately I've been doing both of those and acting like a kid in one of those germ-filled ball pits from our collective childhood: *holds up a ball* "Oh! Jane Addams, what're YOU doing in here!" I've started a book called Outlaw Marriages , which I assuuuumed was just jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon, and maybe it is, but whatevs. So I wasn't going to take it too seriously, because it says stuff like: A third line that scholars cite is one that tells of a young man in camp being valued “more than all the gifts of the world”—the phrasing speaks to Whitman’s love for Doyle being more important to him than worldly goods. Does it? I would've had a h

Inferno: Will this Dan Brown novel have some twists? Oh, I hope so.

Making fun of the writing in a Dan Brown book is kind of like shooting enormous fish in an unusually tiny barrel. Or like shooting a stealthy Dan Brown So I won't comment on how the heroine is "strangely attracted" to the hero who " in addition to his being handsome...seemed to possess a sincerely good heart." You know who people are strangely attracted to? Ozzy Osbourne in his current state. Or Paula Deen. THOSE are attractions where you look at yourself or the person saying it and go "....huh." If someone is handsome and nice, it's 'unstrangely attracted to.' Or just "attracted to." You don't need a qualifier. We get it. I also won't comment on how the heroine is a beautiful genius who at one point says  "He would never want me. I'm damaged." A DAMAGED BEAUTIFUL GENIUS WOMAN TELL ME MORE DAN BROWN. Okay, so getting past those points, Inferno  is completely normal Dan Brown. Robert Langdon awakes

Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture, 1668-1801

Emma Donoghue, author of Room and various other novels and short story collections, is also a fancy scholar lady with a PhD from Cambridge. Back when I got all into Helena/Rosa from The Mystery of Edwin Drood , I became very frustrated with the fact I had no idea if the language surrounding their interactions was normal for the period or was imbued with some subtle code, so I checked out a mess of books from the library about romantic friendship and the history of lesbianism in England. That was in January. Being me, I have just finished the second of those (the first, if you will remember, was the fabulous but unfortunately-named Surpassing the Love of Men ). Donoghue's survey, which is more historically-based than literary, looks at the years 1668-1801 in Britain. She covers "female hermaphrodites" (as lesbians were thought of for some time); women who crossdressed and then married women; romantic friendship; and lesbian communities, which might not have existed in t

Love means never having to say you're sorry, except that's buuuuullshit

All right, this post will be entirely full of spoilers, so if you've somehow made it 43 years without knowing the plot of Love Story and were REALLY looking forward to reading or watching it, I guess skip this post. That is my awesome copy that cost me $1.25. I'd like to point out -- number 1 bestseller and on the bestseller list for NINE. MONTHS. That book is tiny . Less than 150 pages tiny. Why do our bestselling novels nowadays have to be GINORMOUS? It makes no sense. Our attention spans are less than they were in previous decades, yet we're expected to read some person's 700 page tome called The Sad Truth About Violets .  And I know Love Story  is from 1970 and surrounded by 1970s hippie nonsense, but here's the thing: I really, really liked it. So basically, it's all narrated by the male lead, Oliver, who's a senior at Harvard and comes from gobs of money and plays hockey very well and has ISSUES WITH HIS FATHER, which normally would make me p

Frances Willard Is Really Great and I Read a Hundred-Year-Old Book About Her

You might've noticed I've been talking about Frances Willard lately (this is truer for the people in my real life, so let the feelings of sadness for them commence). While on this Willard Quest for knowledge, I came upon a 1913 biography of her written by British suffragette (and sister-in-law of Lytton Strachey) Ray Strachey called Frances Willard: Her Life and Work . Being part of the younger generation, she did not know Willard personally, as she had died in 1898 when Ray was eleven, but she writes an excellent biography -- an adjective I doubted at the beginning when I read "in studying her life I have come almost to believe that she was perfect." I mean. That's not really going to make for an objective point of view. But I came off the book feeling like she's one of the better biographers I've ever read. THIS IS ABOUT TO GET WAY MORE INTERESTING, DAMNIT She does this by reading SO much about Willard and talking to SO many people who knew her

Millennials and the Enlightenment: We are the new 18th century assholes

I've realized something, and that is that I am terrified of the 18th century the way I'm terrified of a group of teenage girls walking towards me on the sidewalk. If I had to pick any century to live in, the 18th would be wayyyy down the list. They're so funny but they're SO MEAN. If you read anything about the 18th century's literary trends, you'll keep seeing things like "Oh, the Countess of Marlborough was the best of friends with Lady Athelton, but here's a mock epic she wrote about how Lady Athelton's feet smell and also she's a whore." WHY 18TH CENTURY WHY WERE YOU SO MEAN It ALMOST makes you understand Romanticism. Like the Enlightenment's kids were so sick of nothing being sincere and everyone just being assholes to each other ( hilarious assholes) that they were like "I LOVE YOU BEYOND THE OCEAN'S DEPTHS LET'S TALK ABOUT DAFFODILS AND ALSO OUR FEELINGS." And their parents were just standing by like

The Brontes are basically my default mental topic, but y'know, whatever, man

Despite all the instincts of the better part of my soul, here I sit typing and attempting to form coherent sentences. So goes the human condition! Soldiering on in the face of any adverse circumstances. Not that I'd be doing this if I had the option of napping. Then I'd say "Fuck adverse circumstances" and go to sleep. But as I do NOT, here I am, a triumph of millions of years of evolution, with a brain and the current semi-ability to walk upright and all that comes with those startling attributes. I spend a lot of time thinking about the Bronte sisters. Mostly because they're really easy to make fun of. THEY JUST FEEL SO MUCH. Oh. Except Anne. I mean, she feels stuff. But I'd never make fun of her. Because it always feels like she's kicked around by the other two, even though she was NOT, it just feels that way because that's what the literary public's done. Public, may you be cast into the pit of Endless Remorse and Thinking-It-Over-Aga

Temperance, and I Enjoy Frances Willard's House Almost As Much As She Did

I cannot overestimate the level of indifference with which people will respond when you tell them you have JUST come from a tour of former president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Frances Willard's house. I'd never heard of her either. Which is a SHAME because she is one of just six female statues in D.C.'s Statuary Hall, and was the ONLY one from 1905-1980. I was watching the Ken Burns documentary on Prohibition while cleaning the other week, and they started talking about Frances Willard and how she effected actual change with the WCTU (and linked it up with the suffrage movement, making it more socially acceptable for women to opine for suffrage), which before her was pretty much just going in front of taverns and praying, which is ALL WELL AND GOOD, but when you leave, the guys are just gonna go back in and keep drinking. She went to every town that had over 10,000 inhabitants in the United States and lectured and recruited members and then event

You Should Be Reading Michelle Tea

A while back, someone asked me to make a list of LGBT lit. "I...pretty much only read the "L" part of that," I answered. So it was amended to a list of lesbian lit. Regardless of whether or not you're gay, it's important to read its literature, the same way it's important to read other nations' or races' literatures. "Omg! Debatable comparison!" you say. NAY. Because what they all have in common is a different experience and point of view. If a person is anything other than what YOU are, they have a different point of view. Your family has a different point of view than you, so imagine how a person who is STILL being called an abomination (but now only by select idiots) must see the world. don't tell me that doesn't mean something When making this list, I did research, because I haven't actually read most of the canon lesbian lit. And I kept seeing Valencia by Michelle Tea. So the next time I went to the libra