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Showing posts from June, 2014

The Canterbury Tales is basically like sharing time at camp

The Canterbury Tales is something I've peeped at from the side of my eye time and time again, which has always resulted in becoming scared of it and running to something like Mary Poppins Opens a Door . Because while said tales remain popular and are some of the oldest English literature, etc etc, they are some of the OLDEST English literature, and their opening in its original form goes like this: Whan that aprill with his shoures soote The droghte of march hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour NOPE. "Swich licour"? "Soote"? I am dealing with none of this. But. I'm sick of everyone making Wife of Bath jokes and me not getting them. So I picked up the Penguin Classics edition, which has UPDATED LANGUAGE, which is the only way I'm ever reading this since it's 500 pages and I'm not reading about "sondry londes" for that long. exactly. In case you're unaware, The Canterbury Tales is about a bu

Lifeline's Smartypants Spelling Bee: I Misspelled a Bird Name and Then Got Drunk

Monday night, I participated in a spelling bee for the first time since age 13. The last spelling bee I remember was 7th grade and I got out on 'enlightening.' IT COULD HAVE BEEN 'ENLIGHTNING.' It could've been. The time before that (all of 6th grade is a forced blank in my mind) was 5th grade when I won the school spelling bee, beating my 8th grade brother when it came down to the two of us and sailing onto 4th place regional glory ("carotid," you are my nemesis from now to the end of time). that's for you, carotid The Second Annual Smartypants Spelling Bee was a fundraiser for Lifeline Theatre. I will forever support Lifeline because of their Peter Wimsey adaptations. I saw their Busman's Honeymoon , what, two, three, eleventy times? They also exposed the supreme silliness of the ending of Count of Monte Cristo for all the world to see (I'm not saying they said it was silly, but it SO OBVIOUSLY IS and now people know), and then di

Megan Abbott's The Fever gives ME a fever....for more Megan Abbott

Lying on the floor, her mouth open, tongue lolling, Lise hadn't seemed like a girl at all. It must have been a trick of the light, she told herself. But looking down at Lise, lips stretched wide, Deenie thought, for one second, that she saw something hanging inside Lise's mouth, something black, like a bat flapping. Megan Abbott's The Fever is NOT, in fact, a published X-Files episode. I hadn't read anything of hers before and had no idea what to expect, so when I read the above, I went "HEY this is clearly an alien/cryptozoology story." False. It is, however, a dark look at teen hysteria, teenage female friendship, and a weird little town that I'd very much like to drive around and look at more closely. Why aren't you reeeeal, Twin Peaks Basically there's the central family, which is Deenie, her brother Eli, and their father, Tom. The girls at Deenie's high school (including Deenie) have all recently gotten their HPV shots, a

Ella Enchanted is HELLA ENCHANTING

There are so many fantastic middle grade books, but since I spent the majority of my important 11th and 12th years of life working for my parents so I could order 1980s Days of Our Lives tapes off the internet, I missed some really good ones. One was The Witch of Blackbird Pond , which I LOVE and am mad at myself for not reading as a child. Another is Ella Enchanted . Ella Enchanted is basically what Cinderella would be if it weren't (when you really look at it) kind of dumb. What do we know about Cinderella's personality? ALMOST NOTHING. What do we know about her relationship with the prince? Oh, um...they meet at a ball and then he decides to marry her. After like a day. Then they get married The End. There's also something in the original about the wicked stepsisters having their eyes pecked out by birds, but life was Rough in the old days, man. Sometimes people's eyes got pecked out. Ella fleshes out all the characters. Hattie the Stepsister sucks . Oh, how

Why is Narrative the Best?: Where Assassin's Creed is on the same level as the Moon Landing

While volunteering at the Frances Willard archives this past Saturday (natch), I found myself pausing MULTIPLE TIMES in the middle of my research on a Kalamazoo WCTU leader because I was irresistibly compelled to stop and have brief, intense discussions with the head archivist about Frances Willard minutiae. "What years was she in Europe?...ohh, do you remember the ring incident?...That was in Berlin? Well, that makes sense." When we finally realized we needed to maybe get actual work done, the archivist (Janet) explained the fascination with Willard by pointing out the human need to briefly inhabit other people's lives. I'm calling it a need because it's so widespread. We satisfy it through movies, television, BOOKS, theatre, video games, and puppet shows. And sometimes through reading a ridiculous amount about a woman who was, dare I say, one of the greatest lady figures of the 19th century yes I do dare say . The history of humans on this planet shows

The Princeton Club made me feel awkward once

I have a story from 2009 that I am reposting here, because it was truly the most awkward event of that year, and who doesn't like reading about other people's awkward situations. So. Here we go. ______________________________________________ Okay, so my father went to Princeton back in the Dark Ages when it wasn't co-ed and all that. Very long time ago. And he gets e-mails from the Princeton Club in Chicago, although he and my mom are two hours away, so I'm not sure why, but anyway. He sends me this e-mail and says he wants me to go to what might be the most pretentious event of my year: "Please join the Princeton Club on Thursday, March 19, 2009, for a special evening of a cappella music with undergraduate members of the Princeton Nassoons." Yeah. At Whosy Whatsits the Third's home. And he makes me go by myself. My dad doesn't ask me to do a lot of things, and I'll have to put up with this crowd when I do opera, so fine. I take a cab, arrive outsi

Dickens and Barnaby Rudge (More like Barnaby TRUDGE, amirite?)

I haven't talked about Dickens on here for a while. I've decided in the last few months that my relationship with him can best be summed up with Pink's "True Love": Yes, exactly. Most people I've talked to about Dickens feel this way. "Ugh he SUCKED sometimes as a person, but the writiiiiiiiiing." Even the parts where he completely Overwrites are still forgivable because it's Dickens : In the venerable suburb--it was a suburb once--of Clerkenwell, towards that part of its confines which is nearest to the Charter House, and in one of those cool, shady Streets, of which a few, widely scattered and dispersed, yet remain in such old parts of the metropolis,--each tenement quietly vegetating like an ancient citizen who long ago retired from business, and dozing on in its infirmity until in course of time it tumbles down, and is replaced by some extravagant young heir, flaunting in stucco and ornamental work, and all the vanities of modern

Lit Fest and I've Never Had a Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Jessie Mueller of The Tale of Bessie Bueller won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical last night, which means I almost unnecessarily yelled at a GRAND LADY OF THE THEATRE. Whatever. In my head she'll always be Edwin Drood 's Helena Landless. I reject this Carole King situation. HELENA LANDLESS FOREVER LitFest and Midsommarfest were this weekend, which meant walking around a lot of books and walking around a lot of lesbians. Chicago is, as some of you might know, colder than the barren reaches of the Arctic, so when summer comes, we have festivals FESTIVALS ALL THE TIME and if you don't go, what're you doing with your life? RibFest was also this weekend, but I strenuously object to messy foods that are not pulled pork sandwiches or ice cream, so that certainly did not happen. What I'm saying though is -- if you want to come to Chicago, come in any weekend in June and you'll have a million festival possibilities. I met up with Jesse, who I knew from

Slate's 'Against YA': Maybe Hate It Less?

The much-discussed book article for this week seems to be Ruth Graham's 'Against YA .' A lot of people are pissed about it. Some things that should be taken into consideration about this piece: 1. Graham knew it would infuriate people. 2.  It's not easy to write something that attacks a genre that is as ridiculously popular as Young Adult Fiction. I'm not saying she's therefore right. But it's worth it to keep in mind that she's not coming from a heavily fortified side, while the pro-YA people are. She says a lot of stuff I gut-reaction agree with, which has in turn pissed off some of my friends, but because my mentality seems to coincide with hers, I've been able to sit and think about why I hold some of these opinions and whether they have any merit. "These opinions" being that no, I don't think adults should devote all or the majority of their reading time to YA. I think it's a limiting and telling choice. I think that

Lady Audley's Secret, The Finishening: "The vice of heartlessness became the virtue of constancy" and other 'Ooooh' phrases

What happened? Lady Audley's crazy except not, Robert basically wasted a BUNCH of time because George is terrible, and everyone's happy at the end except Alicia (poor Alicia). But you Lady Audley's Secret ...the gayest novel ever? the dark brown eyes that were so like the eyes of his lost friend. "You was oncommon fond of that gent as disappeared at the Court, warn't you, sir?" he said at last. Robert started at the mention of his dead friend. "You was oncommon fond of that Mr. Talboys, I've heard say, sir," repeated Luke. AND THE ENDING. OMG THE ENDING. All I have for my Kindle note is "ahahahahahahaha." Not ONLY is everything basically the happiest at the end, but George and Robert and Clara are living together. It's like Victorian Noel Coward and I cannot even handle it. Mary Elizabeth Braddon, I bet 50 bucks you had a lot of gay dude friends and this was for them. This was their Brokeback Mountain . Exce

BEA 2014: Makin' It Count By Taking All the Books and Eating With All the People

I've wanted to go to Book Expo America since I started blogging. Like Comic Con! For books! Kind of! (not really) I had visions of me zooming around the convention center, eating wisely-packed snack food and stuffing ARCs in my pants. So this year, I got a press pass. Whaaat. This meant I didn't have to pay monies (which was a dealbreaker as all my money is invested in '90s TV shows right now) and instead got to go and PRESS THINGS. Was pretty much exactly like this except not at all I got into NYC at midnight Thursday, took a cab to my brother & brother-in-law's in Astoria, and passed out right after eating a sandwich. The next morning I blearily tried to look completely alert and on top of things and also not like a garbage monster. A skirt was worn. It rode up easily. This wasn't the best for my mile walk, but LADY EMPOWERMENT and so forth, so fine, LET my skirt be way too short for 8 AM. I don't feel awkward about it at all .  This situati

I'm Back and Half-Conscious

I'm back from New York/BEA, People Who Knew I Was There! To others — I was in New York City at BEA! Given that I've been lugging tens of pounds of books from New York to Chicago and have only just now collapsed in my apartment, chicken broth and ginger in hand (I might have picked up some germs in disease-ridden, City That Never Sleeps New York), obviously you should look forward to posts, but not today. Aside from this one. Here's the trip in brief: You know who you are, sir I shall see you all tomorrow. Probably.