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Showing posts from January, 2015

January. What an asshole.

How's your January going! Mine has been tremendously hilly. Lovely valleys of blankets and Pretzel Crisps with hummus, and then steep steep climbs of frigid temperatures and a complete lack of motivation. I enjoy living in the Midwest, partially because the weather dictates our activities. The whole "for everything there is a season" is taken at its most literal here, and there is much less pressure to be Out Doing Things, because have you looked outside? It's gross. This contrasts with our defiant need to be hearty and not bothered by the cold, so essentially, in the winter we live by a double standard. Which we're all totally reconciled to, so no need to pick that apart further.



I've found myself listening to podcasts much more than reading. In particular, Stuff You Missed in History Class, WTF with Marc Maron, and The Mental Illness Happy Hour. The latter two have comedians as guests, which is why I listen to them, as I've listened to all of the albums…

Villette in March: Reading Less Popular Charlotte Bronte Like a Badass

We haven't done a readalong in a while. GUESS WHAT WE'RE DOING IN MARCH.




Charlotte Bronte's Villette is her third and last novel (she started another called Emma, so called I guess to piss off a dead Jane Austen, whose work she thought was stupid and dumb), so let's see if she got better after Jane Eyre. Hahaha jk nothing beats reading Jane Eyre when you're 16. Like I'm gonna value a well-structured story over Mr Rochester trying to kiss Jane while she is TORN. But anyway. It could be a good book.

First post is March 3rd (3/3) and I'll actually remind you all this time. Villette is free as an eBook basically everywhere, so this shouldn't be hard. We're probably gonna take six weeks, because otherwise you have to do eight chapters a week, and I frankly don't expect that of this crowd. 



For 3/3 is chapters 1-5, so read them whenever before then, but take NOTES. And store up some GIFs. Good ones. If you're new to the readalong, look at Tumblr to…

Books I Want to Re-read

No one tells you when you start book blogging that re-reading becomes a thing of the past. Every now and then something might slip in, but the fact is you go from bopping through life as a casual reader, looking at the What's New display at Barnes & Noble when you drop in, and otherwise just kind of sticking to what's around, to a feverish rush through the world of publishing.


When you start book blogging, you become hyper-aware of new books, old books, and the fact that there are tons of books coming out you don't know about, and things you haven't even heard of are winning prizes -- haven't heard of because when you book blog you have a certain circle of people whose blogs you read, and, quite honestly, it all becomes a bit incestuous after a while and everyone just reads the same things.

This hyper-awareness regarding the millions of books out there in the world means re-reading can make you feel guilty. "HOW can I do this when I have 300 unread books on…

Surveys, In Case You Were Unaware, Are What We Used to Do on LiveJournal When Bored

Alley from What Red Read posted a survey, and while those rarely happen here anymore due to PROFESSIONALISM ("Didn't you just do a big post about a CW show?"), I have been taken back to my LiveJournal days, and will now do this out of nostalgia. And also because who doesn't want to hear about people's past jobs. I mean, it's like the first thing you talk about when you meet someone, right?...Maybe this is why my dating hasn't been going well.

Four names people call me other than my real name
1. Al2. Alicia Keys (shout-out to my cousin Janet)3. Alice in Wonderland4. Alison. ALL THE TIME, ALISON. I'm sure Alison is a fine name, and I'll answer to it, but 1) That is longer than my name and I don't know how you heard that instead of Alice. 2) I am not the son of Ali. My dad's name is Rod. That's not even close.


Four jobs I’ve had:
1. When I was 19, I nannied for two little boys. I needed rent money while I did my internship in Chicago. This wa…

Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt: "Does anyone act more like an overserious senior citizen with time running out on their chance for immortality than someone in their twenties?"

Movies! Patton Oswalt! Patton Oswalt talking about movies! How could you not want to read this.

I was relatively sure after Zombie Spaceship Wasteland that I would want to read any future books of his, and after Silver Screen Fiend, that is definite. The subtitle, Learning About Life From An Addiction to Film, perfectly describes it. The book discusses 1995-1999, describing the time in his life when Patton Oswalt saw an ungodly number of movies.

He ties it up with getting his standup and then television career off the ground, and manages to put in so damn many relatable/wise observations that I spent the whole time feeling like I was sitting next to him, hearing his stories and benefiting from the lessons he's learned in life — you know, like how we as a society are probably supposed to work.

At the beginning, when he's describing the moment someone realizes you're too into a thing – in his case, of course, film, he says: "You've got the queasy feeling you might not…

Why Chicago Is a Baller Place to Live

I've lived in Chicago for almost seven years. I intend on staying here as long as I can, meaning until my brain finally says "Why are you, a conscious human with choices, living in a place where a -20 degree windchill just means 'Oh, better make sure you have your hat'?" Despite the bitter cold and high sales tax, it is a beautiful place to live.


On Friday night, it was a balmy 30 degrees and I decided, after a week of frigid temperatures and night after night of going straight home after work and watching Hulu, to walk the city — to tell the Victorian era to stuff it, because they did not have a female variant of the word "flâneur" ("the passionate wanderer") and I was taking back the night and becoming a flâneuse.

I started by walking up Wacker, a curving street that runs along the river east to west, and then cuts south at the Loop. The Chicago River is one of my favorite things in Chicago, because while we have reshaped the hell out of this …

King Mob by Christopher Hibbert: "The most savage riots in English history"

I've been working on Dickens's Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of '80 for about three years now. It is not what we call good. But lately and with the advent of the new year, I've been making a push to finish it, and upon doing so, I realized that Dickens paints a very particular picture of these riots, and I wanted to know more about what actually happened. Fortunately, historian Christopher Hibbert provided an account in his 1958 book King Mob: The Story of Lord George Gordon and the London Riots of 1780.




Lord George Gordon was an eccentric man from an eccentric Scottish family. His mother, as a child in Edinburgh was "on occasion to be seen with her sister galloping madly down High Street on the back of a capering pig." He spent some time in the Navy, but didn't advance because he was a big weirdo and they said no thanks to that, so then he decided to try for Parliament, and got elected to the House of Commons. 


In some ways, he was a stand up guy. H…

Carmilla: "If you were less pretty I think I should be very much afraid of you"

Carmilla, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, is 108 pages long, Victorian, and about a lady vampire.

I've been hearing about this book for a long time, but kept putting it off because A) Didn't sound like it'd be good B) I kept thinking it was 18th century and C) I didn't really feel like reading another thing where a lesbian's a life-sucking creature out to defile your daughters (I mean, only the latter part's even accurate).

But then the webseries Carmilla came out, and Tumblr wouldn't stop talking about it because it had lesbians and that's pretty much all that site needs, so I finally sat down and watched all of season 1. And you know what, it's not great. But Laura, the lead, is so cute and Natasha Negovanlis who plays Carmilla is so much fun to watch be grumpy that I've started watching it all over again. So it made me want to read the book. 


Carmilla was published in 1872, which predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by a good 26 years. It's about a …