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Showing posts from June, 2016

Shrill by Lindy West: My Path from Devoted West Acolyte to Polite But Distant Fan

I'm terrified of Lindy West, and I think her book is one of the most important to come out this year. Let's temper that last statement with the fact that, as we all know, my reading tends to consist of comedic memoirs, Victorian literature, academic feminist texts from the 1980s, and Fox Trot. But nevertheless, certain books stick out with the kind of prominence that makes you choose them rather than any of the others on the shelf. Shrill is one of these. It's an essay-based memoir that tackles feminism and internet trolling and fat-shaming. More specifically shaming a fat woman, because you can bet internet culture (and, let's be honest, regular culture) makes that distinction. When you raise every woman to believe that we are insignificant, that we are broken, that we are sick, that the only cure is starvation and restraint and smallness; when you put women against one another; keep us shackled by shame and hunger, obsessing over our flaws rather than our

Why We Still Need Pride

Pride was always an act of defiance. Even when I came out in 2011, and things were so much easier than when Chicago held its first Pride Parade (one year after the Stonewall riots) – even then, we still had civil unions instead of marriage equality, the Defense of Marriage Act seemed to have an impossibly secure foothold in America, and the idea of protective bills for LGBT citizens passing was, if not laughable, quixotic. We're still working on that one. At the parade in 2013, we celebrated United States v. Windsor, and the ability for people to have their marriage recognized at a federal level. In 2014 we were fighting for it to be recognized everywhere, and in 2015, Justice Anthony Kennedy said "Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." After last year, I was done being defiant for Pride. I

Books I Have Bought in the Past Week

As a blogger, you're given books. A lot. Average-person-reviews are the new newspaper critic (good lord, why) and so publishers are totally fine sending out copies of their books to people with any kind of established presence in the hopes – I assume, based on my own experience – that they will write a capslock-filled, gif-laden post about the wonders of those books. That's fair. SO WHY AM I BUYING SO MANY BOOKS. In the past week I have purchased: These two on a date that went immensely south, but LOVE PASSES, BOOKS ALONE REMAIN. (...that's the quote, right?) Then the following SIX YES SIX at Chicago's own Open Books's half-off sale. I mean. Look. They're used books already, and then they were half-off. What did you want me to do – not buy any? That's INSANE. When I found myself trotting around the store with 6 books piled in my arms, I announced to my queer women discussion group that was also roaming around that I was cutting myself of

The Wonder Trail by Steve Hely: Incas! Ayahuasca! Many Varieties of Hot Chocolate!

With this book, Steve Hely reestablishes himself as one of my favorite authors after a years-long dormant period between this book and his last, How I Became a Famous Novelist . The Wonder Trail is a travel narrative as he journeys from Los Angeles all the way down through Central and South America to the southernmost point. One of my favorite things about Mr Hely is that he is a giant nerd. A big giant nerd who not only references the most obscure but still relevant texts throughout his narrative, but also lists them at the end in case you were wanting to read them. 'And why wouldn't you?' he probably thinks. But he was right and before I found that list, I'd written down 8 books he mentioned, including Breaking the Maya Code, Down and Delirious in Mexico City, and the Florentine Codex , which is super old and "[t]he gods, the ways of living, hunting, fishing, lush drawings of plants. Old legends and stories. Beautiful princesses, styles of clothes, beau

2 Things That Make Me Happy

This week. Nothing like waking up in a hotel room, turning on the TV and watching with ever-mounting horror as a police chief says that now they are estimating 50 people have died in a mass shooting and the crowd of seasoned reporters in front of him audibly gasps. The emphasis I have seen from almost everyone around me on love and joy in the face of anger and fear, and the renewed-with-a-passion demand to ban semi-automatic weapons, have both filled me with pride in humanity and a commitment to the idea that we are doing better and we will continue to do better. With that in mind, what are things that make you happy? I looked around my immediate surroundings and found so many. My Vertigo necklace. When I went to San Francisco for my 30th birthday/ Vertigo self-guided tour, I stopped at the Mission Dolores, where Scottie follows Madeleine, and I bought this. I just–I just love Vertigo so much, you guys. When I wear this, it reminds me of that trip and how awesom

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

  Not to sound like a dick, but when I see that a guy has written a female-perspective book, I get a little But I loved this. It's a story about the 1980s and demon possession, but overwhelmingly it's a story of friendship. I enjoyed his first book with Quirk ( Horrorstör ) but Grady Hendrix very much ups his game here and makes you grab your face with alternating bouts of happiness and anxiety. My Best Friend's Exorcism is about best friends Abby and Gretchen, who go to high school together in 1988 and everything is normal until Gretchen gets demonically possessed and shit gets real weird. Strangely enough, one of the things I loved the most about this book was its 1988 setting. If you're an older Millennial (yes, I just turned 31) and were born in the '80s, then you have vague memories of life before the internet and cell phones and how you somehow managed to get things done in that near-impossible-to-survive environment. Swatch watches are mentioned

Stop Killing Queer Characters

It's not 1952 anymore. Why is television refusing to catch up to the realities of today? Why is it stuck in a way of being that is a minimum of 20, if not 60 years old? I'm talking about the death of queer characters. I'm talking about the fact that 18 queer female characters have died on TV this year alone . That's 3 dead every month. Imagine that every time you liked a couple on TV, one of them died. Because that's been what's happened this year. This past week, another lesbian in a popular pairing died, and it hit me like a truck. This is not okay. This cannot keep happening. Queer women dying on TV should not be an assumption. ( x ) This is not our reality. This is not what we should expect. Stop making the LGBT community watch ourselves die over and over again when the truth is we have a chance for an actual happy ending in our world today. A really good chance. The culture has progressed and yet television stays mired in a world where the girl w

Nerdery and the Dork Forest

Yeah, you're a nerd, but what are you a nerd ABOUT? I listen to a podcast called The Dork Forest, hosted by one of my favorite standup comedians, Jackie Kashian. She invites people on to talk about their dorkdom. A person's dorkdom can be anything they're just an extreme dork about: they don't have to have all the information or be an expert in that field; they just have to be a dork. As a result of this, almost every episode is fascinating, because even if you don't give a shit about photo booths, this one lady has dedicated her life to buying and restoring them, and who doesn't want a peek into that lady's life and why she is the way she is. Because I listen to this show a lot and because I dork out about a lot of things, I've taken some time in my life to ponder which dorkdom I would talk about if I were on The Dork Forest. What do I get the MOST intense about. Here are some contenders: Women's History I mean. Come on. Yeah. Like someone