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Showing posts from September, 2015

Monkalong Part I: I lust for the enjoyment of your person

Who the hell is Matthew Lewis?


No no, not him.

The author of The Monk (1796) wrote this ridiculous, ridiculous book when he was 19. He also became a member of Parliament the year it came out. He obviously just took the Gothic movement and ran with it, and he wrote a number of other Gothic works (mostly plays) before dying of yellow fever at age 42.

The Monk is THE BEST AND WORST and we're reading it because it makes no sense and has demon nuns and should be read. This week was chapters 1 and 2 where the following occurred:

It's somewhere in Spain and there's a famous friar about to speak at a church, so no one can get a seat, INCLUDING an old (read 50 year old) woman and her veiled young beautiful niece, but two knights see the niece's neck and're like "hey, there's probably some nice stuff under there" and give up their seats just in case. There's some introducing, some awkward and pretty aggro flirting, and the knights find out she's there to as…

Monkalong Reminder

THE MONK IS COMING. This Thursday, to be precise. If you're participating in the readalong and feel like being in on the first post (we really don't care when you start linking up your posts, tbh), then read chapters 1-2.


The signup post, which also has the schedule, is in my sidebar. COME READ THIS 1796 NOVEL WITH US. It's bonkers.


Classic Female Authors On Their Best Hair Day

1. Virginia Woolf


I'm pretty sure Virginia Woolf's hair never actually touched her neck. This is the best of the "I think I'll pin it back today" days that she had approximately every day of her life.

2. Jane Austen



Um, we never see anything but the front 10% of Jane Austen's hair. (Jane Austen replies that it's not like she lived in a whorehouse but this is my post, not hers, so no more of that) Despite the overall cover-up, she curled the front excellently and I don't know how, unless she used those fabric scraps that ladies do in movies. If I tried that with my curling iron THAT close to my forehead, I'd have bright red marks all up in there.

3. George Sand



George Sand looked fabulous 24/7 and I shouldn't have to choose her best day. But we're going with this photo from her later years, because HOW do you even get your hair to do that. That is amazing, and so is George Sand.

4. Zora Neale Hurston


If photos are a good indicator, Zora Neale H…

Classic Male Authors On Their Best Hair Day

1. Mark Twain


Look at that. Look at those curly locks. Sure, his later white hair was iconic, but aside from that moustache, dude was looking good back in the day.

2. Nathaniel Hawthorne




Nathaniel Hawthorne never had a good hair day. Look up photos.


3. J.D. Salinger




Salinger's hair was slicked back 200% of the time. This is his most Rat Pack-like photo, though, and those guys were a pretty hip bunch.


4. Wilkie Collins



A lot of Wilkie Collins's photos have him looking like you just suggested bowling as a fun afternoon activity. Wilkie never had a lot of hair up top, but he did have one important thing:




5. John Steinbeck



Steinbeck has the worst hair of any of these guys, including Hawthorne. He poofs it up on top for his entire life like some girl at prom told him it looked good that way and he never looked back. She was lying, John. She just wanted to get out of the conversation.

Douchey Little Vampire Kids

If, however, you like dressing in black 'cause it's "fun," enjoy putting sparkles on your cheeks and following the occult while avoiding things that are bad for your health, then you are most likely a douchebag vampire wannabe boner.
You know what I kind of like? Interview With the Vampire. Before the Twilight craze hit in the late aughts, vampires had something of a resurgence in popularity around 1994, which was when I was nine.
Vampire movies that came out in the '90s:
Bram Stoker's Dracula (this movie is shitty)
Interview With the Vampire (we're gonna get to that)
Dracula: Dead and Loving It (this has an 11% on rottentomatoes, but I WILL DEFEND IT WITH MY LAST BREATH or maybe not my last but one of the last like sometime during my last day of life)
The release of the latter on VHS coincided with me being maybe the most annoying age possible: 11. Or maybe 12.
Any child between the ages of 11 and 13 sucks. They're hideous ages. I decided to pair this alrea…

Carola Woerishofer: The Socialite Champion of Workers' Rights

Have you ever heard of Carola Woerishofer? Of course you haven't. Because as Americans, we hate hard-to-pronounce names. "My name is Carola Woerishof--" "Your name is Katie Samuels, congratulations, welcome to America."
Well, Carola Woerishofer (also 'Woerishoffer') is one of the most awesome people you've never heard of.
I came upon her name years ago while finishing The Triangle Fire by Leon Stein. She's only mentioned in one paragraph, but it interested me enough to read more about her. There's not a lot of readily-available information, but there was a lengthy memorial by muckraker journalist Ida Tarbell. Here's the original paragraph I read in Triangle Fire. The setting is the shirtwaist strike of 1909, when the girls in the factories went on strike for three months. They were beaten in the streets and arrested for no legitimate reason:
Carola Woerishofer, young, wealthy, dark-eyed, and a graduate of Bryn Mawr, did it her own way. She …

Illinois League of Women Voters and other things you are totally interested in

Due to my extreme interest and involvement in Frances Willard, I was invited by someone who works with the Frances Willard Historical Association to attend the Illinois League of Women Voters' luncheon in honor of its 95th year of existence AND its founder Carrie Chapman Catt AND women in politics.

This was held at the Place of Fancytimes, i.e. the Union League Club. Would you like to see its fanciness, yes of course you would:


The speaker was Dianne Bystrom, the director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics. The main reason I was excited was because there was going to be a talk on Carrie Chapman Catt. WOULDN'T YOU BE SHE IS VERY IMPORTANT. 


She was the president of NAWSA (National American Woman's Suffrage Association), which is the group Alice Paul SPLINTERED from because she wanted them to be more radical. But Catt worked with Susan B. Anthony and Jane Addams and Elizabeth Stone Blackwell and Anna Howard Shaw and basically everyone important to the suf…

Empire of Sin: 1900s New Orleans had some SHIT going down

Empire of Sin is about New Orleans from the 1890s to the 1920s. And it's pretty great.

IN THIS BOOK, you've got the famed red-light district called Storyville, you've got the beginnings of jazz, you've got murders by the Mafia, you've got Carrie Nation smashing things up with her ax, you've got a serial killer roaming the streets -- NEW ORLEANS HAS ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTING is my point.

New Orleans was from the beginning a city of "rough, ungovernable men and women of dubious morality."



You go from the mob lynching of Italian men in 1891 at the Parish Prison, to the legal dissolve of Storyville around 1917, so it doesn't cover the ENTIRE history of New Orleans, but more the highlighted Extremely Dissolute Time (i.e. the time you want to read about).

The author, Gary Krist, switches back and forth between areas of interest like a George R.R. Martin of city histories, so you never get too bored with one subject. He's also sneaky and makes you learn a…

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel: Adventure! Trains! Canada!

The ever-lovely Emily of As the Crowe Flies and Reads sent me the book The Boundless, because I coveted it due to its kickass cover art.


The Boundless is about a train of the same name, SEVEN MILES LONG, as it whisks across the Canadian wilderness with a young man named Will in tow. Will is great. We love Will. He is also in danger because there's a gold and diamond railroad spike (the final spike from the building of the railroad, that they obviously IMMEDIATELY removed after driving it in) in the heavily secured funeral car, and he is in the way of the dastardly people trying to steal it.

The way they set up the funeral car means you immediately think 'oh. he's gonna end up having to break inside that car.' But rather than it being an annoying predictable sort of twist, you're psyched for when it's gonna happen.

"Good luck to anyone who gets inside, is all I can say." "But didn't you say the funeral car had no door?""What what we…

The Price of Salt (or "Carol") by Patricia Highsmith: The most progressive lesbian novel of its time and before

All right. Gonna sit down and talk about The Price of Salt, also known as Carol,by Patricia Highsmith.




Why is this book relevant to you AT ALL? Well, the movie version's about to be released, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, so if you like those ladies, you might want to read this beforehand.

SO. Book. What are you.

There is a girl. Named Therese. The year is 1953 (or thereabouts), and she starts out the book working in the doll section of a department store. She's 21, trying to get work as a set designer in the theatre, and is thoroughly depressed by her job. Mainly because she sees herself being ruled by The Man and his Corporation. It doesn't help that her co-workers have been there for years and seem ideal candidates for a Karl Marx diatribe on capitalism quashing the Human Spirit. 

So you know something's going to change for her, because 1) This is a pretty famous lesbian novel, and none of her co-workers seem like good pair-ups for her, and 2) She really does…

Euphoria by Lily King: Sexy Anthropologists Writing Sexy Anthropology Books in 1930s New Guinea

Euphoria is, according to Lily King, "borrowed from the lives and experiences of [Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson]" but she "told a different story" about them.



It's about three anthropologists in Dutch New Guinea in the 1930s: Nell, Fen, and Bankson. Nell and Fen are married but you sense there's STUFF there. On their way back from staying with a tribe, they run into Bankson, who is desperately lonely (and also the narrator for most of the book). The three form up into a tight group while Bankson falls in love with Nell, Fen does weird things on his own, and Nell really wants to interview just a few more natives, no for real this time, she'll stop soon. 

When, in the middle of reading the book, I realized it was heavily heavily heavily based on the life of Margaret Mead, I read a little about her. That little made me want to read more about her, so I'm indebted to Euphoria for that (thanks, book). But then it goes WAY OFF THE RAILS, …

Webby Weekend: Things Liked and Recommended

Webby Weekend! It's new! Does the name make sense? Don't think about it!

The weekend is a time for Netflixing and looking at GIFs. So what's great in that world?:


Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp.
 I went into this show not even having finished the movie, but after watching the first episode, I tried the movie again, loved it, and now this show is one of the best things. Highlights: No one acknowledging that all the teens are in their 40s/Paul Rudd in everything he does.



Rita.
It's about schoolteachers and it's in Danish!

Look. I know. I think languages are the bomb and I STILL think 'ugh, subtitles' when I see them. But you forget about it so quickly when you're watching a rebellious schoolteacher/mom take on the ESTABLISHMENT. Highlights: Every scene fellow teacher Hjørdis is in/That part where Rita gets super-pissed because one of her students' hippie parents want sugar banned from class.

Internet Stuff.



And because I mentioned GIFs here is my …

Dickens Novels Ranked By What They're Willing to Do for Me

I've read just over half of Dickens's novels/novellas, and if we leave out some of the Christmas ones, here they are, ranked mostly by how much I like the couples in them:

1. Bleak House. Bleak House is the best of all Dickens's work, do not debate me, I will fight you. You've got a take-down of the civil law courts, scheming French ladies, and INSANE colonization ideas. Sir Leicester's love for Lady Dedlock is tear-inducing, and we all appreciate Ada's super-gay love for Esther, I am sure.

2. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Dickens didn't even finish this book and I love it. There's a possible murder! Mysterious twins! An opium-addicted church choirmaster! 10/10 for Rose/Helena scenes, Dickens.


3. A Christmas Carol. As previously stated, A Christmas Carol is perfect.

4. Our Mutual Friend. I should knock this down the list because Dickens pulls a nasty trick on the reader and cheapens the whole book, but Mature Dickens is so good and I cannot put it below 4. Ou…