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Showing posts from April, 2014

C2E2 Is a Joy and a Treasure

The people of San Diego have Comic Con. Atlanta has Dragon Con. New York has NYCC. And the people of London get all the Amanda Tapping conventions, which isn't fair but fine.

Chicago has C2E2, which is a giant comic convention held in our giant convention center, McCormick Place -- the LARGEST convention center in North America, and while not named after Cyrus McCormick, famous for inventing the mechanical reaper, it WAS named after someone in his family. I had never gone to this convention in my six years of living in Chicago, primarily because A) I didn't know how to get to McCormick Place, B) I don't like comics, C) I needed to make someone go with me.

ALL OF THOSE PROBLEMS WERE SOLVED THIS YEAR, as my friend Emily wanted to go (and I made Doug go); we found out about a shuttle that took you from downtown to McCormick; and I read that Jaime Murray from Warehouse 13 was going to be there, whom I like MUCHLY. So we were a merry party of three, losing each other frequently…

Lady Audley's Super-Secret Readalong Schedule

I forgot this was a thing that started this week because May has CREPT UP ON ME. So okay. The way this book is broken up will not be NEARLY as awesome as Bleak House, as I have not read it yet. We're gonna go seven posts, starting this Thursday. I just skimmed chapters one through four, and they are pretty much super-short, so READ ON and then let's post about how we have no idea who Mary Elizabeth Braddon is and how are we liking the way she writes ladies?

May 1st - Chapter One through Four
May 8th - Chapters Five through Nine
May 15th - Chapters Ten through Fifteen
May 22nd - Chapters 16 through 24
May 29th - Chapters 25 through 33
June 5th - Chapters 33 through End of Book

The Shame of Literary Opinion Take-Backsies

You know how sometimes you might be a person with strong opinions who will brook no opposition? At least not without yelling "YOU ARE FULL OF WRONGY WRONGNESS" at said opposition? Yes, well, as of 80 pages into Game of Thrones, I would like to confess with clenched teeth that I was...maybe...sort of wrong about it.



I tried it before and found it lacking! Or rather, I found it dumb. Because I could not handle Eddard Stark being all "By the Kingdom of Spellweather, the Isles of Kiddlypoo, and the Four Corners of Bunbury" because that is silly. But it turns out, if you keep reading past that and also indulge in some skimming, it's a really entertaining book.




Parts have been spoiled for me, because I've had the following conversation on NUMEROUS occasions:

"Tell me why Tumblr is saying this stuff about Game of Thrones."
"No! It'll ruin it if you ever read them."
"I am never, ever, ever going to read them."
"But--"
"Nev…

But judging history makes me and my friends feel so good about ourselves

I went on the same rant a NUMBER of times yesterday, including on Twitter, to my brother on Gchat, to my friend at dinner, and to another friend on the phone after dinner. This rant was about, of course, judging things out of their historical context.



Sure, it's really easy and kind of fun to look back on the past with a condescending smile, shake your head at their opinions and ways of life and just swagger about, content in your superiority, but oh, hold on -- I think that might be a thing that assholes do.



The world (by which I mean "the West," which is an example of ME being an asshole) seems to be moving forward regarding social issues. We are getting better. But it's not any one of us that's causing that. We know not to be jerks to transgender people and not to throw eggs at black people and not to yell slurs at gay people and not to put Japanese people in internment camps NOT because we just know that with our superior, shiny brains, but because society as a…

Maybe shame-based competition WOULD solve our nation's problems

I went to my hometown this weekend of Champaign, Illinois. Champaign is located in the center of the state (basically), but if you talk to someone from Chicago, they will say it's in "southern Illinois." This is because people from the Chicago area are tools and think everything south of Chicago is southern Illinois. THE REASON THIS IS INSULTING is that in Champaign, WE make fun of that area. We do not wish to be included in it. They have southernish accents because of being on the border with Kentucky and Missouri, and they're all farmers. I think. True, Champaign is surrounded by cornfields, but we have an EXCELLENT university. A university that smells like cow manure when the wind is right, but an excellent university nonetheless.

Anyway.


The Champaign Public Library was one of my favorite places in Champaign growing up. It was the only place of note I could walk to from my parents', it had microfilm machines so I could do research on whatever weird topics had …

Lady Audley's Secret Readalong!

Come May! Every Thursday (starting 5/1) we shall be diving into Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I have never read this before, and I hope you have not either, because there are SECRETS, but even if you have, come along with us and spoil nothing, for it is time for...Lady Audley's Secret Readalong.




The 14th Century Was a Nonstop Thrill Ride If You're Thrilled By Dirt and Illiteracy

I'm reading Barbara Tuchman's book, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, and OH is it good. How good is it? So good I had a nigh-ecstatic experience when I read the following:

"Taxation like usury rested on principles that were anything but clearly defined and so muddled by ad hoc additions, exemptions, and arrangements that it was impossible to count on a definite amount of returns."


Her dad has his own Wikipedia page. Because she comes from a Family (my friend Katie-Anne: "Like the mob?"), meaning her father was an "investment banker and philanthropist." So his daughter was able to go to Radcliffe and write books about the 14th century. This is some Room of One's Own shit right here. *Virginia Woolf nods sagely*




She takes the 14th century -- GIANT undertaking that it is -- and decides to look at it from the perspective of one of its noble families, as peasants' lives were not recorded, and kings lived decidedly abnormally. The fir…

The Rosie Project: I don't think you can actually dislike it

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion, is one of those books ALL my book blogging peoples loved, which meant I had to read it. Such is how the game is played. Plus it was like 2 bucks for Kindle, so I took quick advantage of that stunning deal.



If you magically are unaware of this book, it's about a professor of genetics who proooobably has Asperger's and he decides he wants a wife, so he comes up with a methodical survey to pick an appropriate candidate. But then an off the wall women comes into his life who totally upsets his carefully ordered world! Looks like someone's about to find out that life...isn't as organized as its DNA. (alternates: if you want to wade into the human gene pool, you're gonna get splashed/that a double helix view of romance is a DNdon't)




See, that's how I went into it. Being like "Ugh it's gonna be one of those sorts of things. Oh look, a slightly calmer version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is going to come into his life a…

Emma Donoghue's Frog Music is an 1870s Crossdressing Murder Mystery Joy

Emma Donoghue. You sphinx of the book world, how can we tell what you're going to write about next?

Her last book was Astray, a history-inspired set of short stories; before that was Room, a novel told from the perspective of a child who's grown up in a single room due to his mother being held there by a kidnapping psychopath. Before THAT, she's had books about the 18th, 19th, and current centuries, some lesbian and some heterosexual, three non-fiction works, and YOU JUST NEVER KNOW WHAT'S COMING. It's all very exciting.

Donoghue's newest book, out this week, is Frog Music. The good people at Little, Brown sent me a copy of it, presumably because they read this and realized I would storm their castle gates until it was rendered up.

Frog Music is based on the real life murder of an 1870s San Francisco cross-dresser named Jenny Bonnet. Donoghue loves taking obscure historical events and expanding them into a whole story, and I love her history nerd mind for doing …

Harold Washington Library: Makin' Chicago look good

The Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library is a gleaming beacon of libraryness. It doesn't actually gleam because it is made of STATELY BRICK, but you get it. You get it.


A city's main library reflects the city. Where its priorities are, and how much of a real city it actually is, as opposed to being just a loose collection of skyscrapers and 7-11s. Harold Washington takes up an entire city block in the Loop, which is part of Chicago's valuable downtown. It's six block from the Sears Tower, five blocks from Millennium Park, and two blocks from Grant Park. It's right off the Blue, Red, Brown, Orange, Pink, and Purple (in rush hour) Lines. AND IT HAS ESCALATORS.



Coming from my small town, two-floor library to eight levels of bookish bliss was one of the best parts of the move to Chicago. I'm STILL not over the escalators. Feel like seeing the library sights while not exercising TOO much? Escalator's got you covered. Start on Three with the Info…