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Harry Potter, Goblet of Fire Pt II (two more after this, folks...two more)

Why does Snape avoid Moody? WHY? DO WE KNOW? I feel like I missed something.

And DON'T TORTURE THE SPIDER IN FRONT OF NEVILLE WTF IS YOUR PROBLEM OMG I WILL END YOU


Ohh this section. I was so excited about Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. You know why? It makes J.K. Rowling's world BIGGER. And anytime that happens, I get happy. So we get the Beauxbatons girls (does anyone pay attention to the Beauxbatons boys really?) and Durmstrang hulks and J.K. Rowling continues the grand tradition of England making fun of other countries by making sweeping generalizations. 

Does anyone remember Mr. Rochester's mistresses in Jane Eyre? The French one was flighty and uncaring, the Italian was "unprincipled and violent" and the German one was "heavy, mindless, and unimpressible." But sure, let's keep those ideas around 150 years later. I love you, J.K., but daaaaamn.

But yeah, despite the stereotypes, I love those schools. And when this book came out, I super-shipped Hagrid…

The Outsiders Was My 11-Year-Old Jam

Did you all ever get into S.E. Hinton? Because I way, super-did. When I was eleven, my class read Rumble Fish, and this spawned a whole thing where I read all of her books and organized my Littlest Pet Shop toys into rival gangs.


I mean, really it just makes sense. I was an 11 year old girl surrounded by cornfields and religiously watching the works of Rodgers & Hammerstein, and the books are about teenage boy gangs who do drugs and get into knife fights. It was only a matter of time before we found each other.

Most people seem to have read The Outsiders if they've read any of her books, probably because there was a movie made of it with Matt Dillon (remember Matt Dillon?).

They're all pretty much Oklahoma-based books about troubled young men. Maybe I liked the fact they were in gangs, i.e. group friendships? At age 11, I was still inviting all the girls in my class to my birthday party (a practice soon to be RUDELY disturbed by the onslaught of 6th grade and realization by…

Anne of Green Gables and the Smooth Sounds of the 1980s

At age 13, I unsurprisingly had an Anne of Green Gables phase. What I mean by this is I saw the musical (yes, there's a musical) and promptly bought all the books and read them, mostly on a family road trip to Connecticut, and all while listening to "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: The Greatest Hits of Kenny Loggins" on my Discman. As a result of this, I cannot hear the soft rock ballad "Meet Me Halfway" without having a melange of puffed sleeves, currant wine and frustratingly unsexy letters to Gilbert (DAMN YOU, WINDY POPLARS) go whirling about in my head.

My friend and I eventually had an Anne of Green Gables day, which, if memory serves, consisted of my mother's tea set and dyeing our hair red. It was supposed to be highly impermanent, but because we didn't think it worked on me, we did it twice, and then permanent it was indeed.

Since I read this series about half a lifetime ago, these're mainly just impressions that've stuck with me. They are:…

Harry Potter Readalong, 'Goblet of Fire' sounds better than 'Tankard of Water'

Welcome to the Goblet of Fire.


This is the one everyone gets way jazzed for. This is the one where it goes from really good to amazing. This is the one my brother unthinkingly ordered off Amazon for my birthday and then we went out of town and I couldn't get it until Sunday evening and my younger cousin had a copy that I chased her around the house trying to get.

(it all turned out ok, though, because he inscribed it "To one of my favorite Muggles," and how do you not forgive someone after that?)

I need to talk about Dickensian parallels and shit in a second, but first, good Lord, QUIDDITCH WORLD CUP.


Does Harry Potter need to be set at Hogwarts? NO. J.K. is a badass at writing her world, and really the World Cup is one of my favorite parts of the series. Please just write any story set in any part of your world, Jo Rowling. Because I will read it.

The detail is ri-dic. Omnioculars? Damn. Veela? Check. Discussions of large event planning and organization? YES. And I mean, sur…

Movies are usually happier than books

In case you all were worried about the fate of the fast-walking couple that I usually see ahead of me on the walk to work, WORRY NO LONGER. I hadn't seen them in a few months, and I started worrying either they moved, one of them switched jobs, or the unthinkable happened and fate had torn them asunder. But NO. I took one of two routes this morning and ended up at our meetup point a bit earlier than normal and THERE they were, bundled up in winter clothes, but him with his Toby Stephens-handsome face and her with her hunching-forward-a-bit walk.

And yeah, I slowed down when we approached the corner where they say goodbye because I wanted to see if they'd still kiss in 1 degree weather. AND THEY DID. They better invite me to their wedding. If they're not already married. Because I am the biggest fan of their relationship.



My roommate and I saw Silver Linings Playbook yesterday, which was like a day after I finished the book. Which is usually not advisable, because then you&#…

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Bringin' You All the Vaccines

Have I talked about Lady Mary Wortley Montagu on here before?...a quick search tells me I have not.

Well then.

A good portion (read: two essays) of my college career was spent on this woman. Why? I don't know. Two of my classes wanted her Letters from the Turkish Embassy read, and I wrote my term paper on her for one of them.

WHO WAS SHE. Right. Okay. Picture it's 1710 (appx.) and you're a 21-year-old lady and you're super-smart and kind of vain and pretty rich. You don't have a mother, and you're bored. What do you do? Of COURSE you convince yourself you should elope with Edward Wortley Montagu, even though he seems reticent about it because you might lose your dowry. THAT'S not a warning sign. You're eloping! It's exciting! (however, you totally pass up the chance to marry a guy named Clotworthy Skeffington, for which I will never forgive you)

Then what happens? Queen Anne dies. Oh no! But it's ok, because George from Hanover's all set to c…

Harry Potter Readalong, Week I Don't Even Know

Azkaban. More like AzkabAM, amirite? (did anyone make that joke last week? I'm really tired)

But hey hey hey -- Imma let you finish, but this is the greatest Azkaban internet thing of all time:


Sirius isn't evil! (but he is a dick) Peter Pettigrew! Who saw that coming! Who! (not me, man. y'know. like 12 years ago.)

I'm pretty much drunk, so HAPPY POST.

Here's the dealie-o: PLOT-wise, this is probs the best of the first three. So much intrigue! Who is good! Who is bad! I don't KNOW! Complicated feeliiiiings!

Except I don't like Sirius. I don't like Lupin. I don't like Snape. And I obviously don't like Peter. So that whole confrontation scene's kinda....not too jazzy for me. I mean, it's interesting dramatically, but I care not at all about the people involved. Except the kids. They should be kept safe. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

Oh, and there're some more Dementors. Who really seem like a terrible idea, but whatevs, I'm not Minister of Magi…

Rules about buying books are not for times when there is no temptation

I've been doing pushups and planks for zombie musicalness, as I am wearing a tank top in the show and must look BADASS, but I still have some lovely underarm not-awesomeness. You guys wanna point me in the direction of which exercises fix that? Please and thank you.

I've been trying to get through some of the actual books on my shelves. I've also (as of right now) instituted a no-buying-of-new-books policy until May, and I know you, Me, you're gonna try to use the loophole of used books not being new, but YOU CANNOT BUY THOSE EITHER.


I have some books on my shelves that I actually super-want to read. Some of them are insanely old and some I got within the last couple months. And all are currently being usurped by library books. Oops.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon. The cover for this is just so cool. And when we were reading Telegraph Avenue, everyone was like "I LOVE KAVALIER & CLAY" so I was like "Okey dokey then."…

It's basically all I'm reading right now

My reading habits as of late have led me to say 'Dickens was an asshole' more often, usually in public places. But it's usually along the conversational lines of "Dickens was an asshole...but here's this awesome stuff he did." Like he can't just get away scot-free. He's insanely revered anyway, and if I'm adding to that, I'm also adding the knowledge that after his wife gave him ten kids, he made fun of how fat she was to his friends.


Asshole.

I haven't really been near academia, aside from occasional emails to my professors, in yeears, so it's pretty damn fantastic to be reading a book by one scholar and have her be like "Of course in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's book--" and I'm like "I KNOW THAT BOOK I READ THAT ONE CHAPTER THINGY THAT HAD TO DO WITH MY TOPIC." Because this topic is actually pretty narrow and all the scholars know each other and occasionally make fun of each other's theses and it becomes this…

"It looks like a Grim if you do this, but it looks more like a donkey from here."

Mmm, Azkaban. Hopefully there won't be as much complaining this week as last week, as people seem to wet themselves with excitement over PoA and Sirius Black (I...don't get you guys).

HOWEVER. I am all about the Knight Bus. I LOVE IT. Even though it makes precisely zero sense. Ok, so you can't travel with Floo Powder, and you...can't Apparate for some reason? And the bus can travel REALLY quickly, but you still have time to sleep in a brass bed? WHAT'S YOUR GAME, KNIGHT BUS?


Speaking-of-only-not-at-all, I do genuinely enjoy scenes with Percy in them at this point in the series. Mostly because he has a badge that says Bighead Boy. Anytime he gets really full of himself, I am delighted. Hmmm...and I love Gilderoy Lockhart...and Zapp Brannigan...this probably says something about me. Like I enjoy when men's inflated opinions of themselves are lampooned. THANKS FOR TEACHING ME ABOUT MYSELF, HARRY POTTER. YOU TRULY ARE THE WISEST OF THINGS.

Oh yeah, Lupin's ther…

Guess whose unbirthday it ISN'T?

I was alerted by Amanda via twitter that today...is Dickens's birthday. No, I wasn't aware. I had zero idea, in fact. Was not expecting it. BUT HERE IS HIS HASTILY COBBLED TOGETHER BIRTHDAY POST.


Yes, Dickens, shining light of the Victorian age, second only to Shakespeare in the English canon, general misogynist but getting-better-at-the-end-of-your-life, consider yourself saluted this day of days. You who gave us Bleak House but also Great Expectations, Pickwick Papers but also Barnaby Rudge, the best parts of Our Mutual Friend but also the worst parts of Our Mutual Friend, has anyone come close to you in the last hundred and forty years? Well, maybe J.K. Rowling. BUT NO ONE ELSE.

People are going to celebrate this different ways, but I'm going to name some characters of his I love with an irrational love that would make me punch people who disagree with me:

Lady Dedlock, Bleak House. I hated Dickens when I was 18, and when I found out I had to read a giant book of his call…

I have perhaps acquired too much information

Research is very near to my favorite thing to do. The best thing about it is how one thing leads you to another, then another, then suddenly you're five miles away, looking with a shaded hand at your starting point and going "Huh. That's neat."


And then there are links! Blessed, blessed links throughout life that lead back to something from ten years before and give you a new perspective on it.

When I was 14, I interviewed Rupert Holmes, writer of The PiƱa Colada Song and creator of the '90s AMC series Remember WENN, the latter of which is my favorite show of all time. He also, it turns out, wrote and composed the musical version of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which I have of course gotten a bit into 13 years after that interview. Basically, Rupert Holmes is the greatest, and links over time are awesome.

Researching The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the possibly queer subtext contained therein (of which scholars have MUCH TO SAY, I do assure you) has led me down some d…

I read things in January. Don't act like you're not impressed.

I am returned.

"You left?" say you. "Don't be rude," I reply.


Yes! To Wisconsin I went on my church's annual women's retreat. We pair up with a church from Oak Park, which is the fancy liberal suburb outside of Chicago that's close enough that one of the El lines still goes out there, but far enough away to be town-like and not just Chicago-neighborhoody. It's also where Hemingway went to high school. He apparently hated it, but how many teenagers are super gung ho about their high school?

Anyway. Migraines were had. Wine was drunk. Discussions about Buddhism occurred because the retreatants are all hippies (whatever, I love them). Good times all around. Except for the migraine part. But then it went away!

February happened while I was gone! I made it just under the wire with Edwin Drood and January. Unlike December, January was a super-productive month (mooostly because I read a lot of YA I'd been putting off for years): 

Fried Green Tomatoe…

Harry Potter Readalong, Week 5: The Chamber of Secrets Is in a Bathroom, Which Is Kinda Funny

I think I've neglected to mention here that I'm in a zombie musical and when I'm not at work, I'm in rehearsal. Or trying to finish The Mystery of Edwin Drood (IT IS DONE AND I CRIED). So, have I read CoS? No. But it's 12:30, I'm falling asleep sitting up in bed, and this post needs to go up. So here's what I remember my thoughts being from previous times I've read it!

So the Hufflepuffs were kind of assholes in this one. Ernie Macmillan is like a Fox News-watching dick about the whole "Heir of Slytherin" thing, and I remember being like "Well, what do you expect of idiot Hufflepuffs," so thanks for that, JK. The Slytherins are all evil, the Hufflepuffs are all dumb, and Ravenclaws...I don't know, maybe they smell bad. Too much learnin' and not enough time for showerin'. Not like Awesome Gryffindor! YAY Gryffindor, right, guys? Obviously it's the only good House.


No, for reals, fuck Gryffindor. I wish there had been at …