Curiosities // February 2022
Remember when we said this was going to be a regular thing? Yeah, we kinda lost track of that, but… yay, it’s now a sporadic thing!
In case you’re like “huh?” – these “Curiosities” posts are meant to give you a sort of sneak peak behind the scenes of Carterhaugh, to show what Sara and Brittany are doing on a day-to-day basis. We hope they inspire laughter, some everyday enchantment, and a book purchase or two.
We’re all about the book pushing here.
What I’m Reading: This week in our Fairy-Tale Heroines course, our seminar people are reading Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir – Sara’s read it before, but it’s my first time, and I’m a bit like WHAT?! But… in an interesting way? Sara and I have devoted quite a bit of time already talking about this book already – how it’s a send up of fairy-tale motifs, a comment on the realities of fairy-tale worlds, and even a meditation/thought experiment about the fairy tale itself – but I imagine we’ll get tons of new perspective at our seminar meeting on Thursday! We might have to do an entire blog post on this one, y’all. I’ve also been reading We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers – don’t knock it! I was a big fan in days gone by, and I seriously can’t express how hilarious and wonderful it is to me to read essays with titles like “Kristy’s Invisible Hand and Das Baby-Sitters Club Kapital” and “Scripts of Girlhood: Handwriting and the Baby-Sitters Club.” It’s just flippin’ brilliant! One of the things I like best is they really get to the heart of why the books were so good. It wasn’t the babysitting (I would often even SKIP those chapters!) – it was reading about these girls on the cusp of being teenagers, learning about the world and learning to like themselves exactly as they are, despite facing real problems. It wasn’t all ‘who’s going to ask me to the school dance’ – it was chronic illness, divorce, trying to be both grown-up and a kid, and being ostracized by people you thought were your friends. I read those books at a really hard time in my life. They were a lifeline.
What I’m Listening To: I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a hard past couple of weeks, which means my go-to music has consisted mostly of a playlist I call “SONGS TO BELT IN THE CAR.” It’s got Disney songs, Broadway songs, random pop songs, and other such nonsense that is fun and ridiculous. I do not care who watches me through car windows. This is self care.
What I’m Watching: In honor of our February book club choice, I finally sat down to watch the Good Omens miniseries that came out a few years ago – and wow, talk about a good adaptation!! I was reading along with the show, looking at both at almost exactly the same time, and I was stunned at how well they captured it. Even small things you would think wouldn’t make a TV adaptation made it in. I’m so impressed! And as for the things they changed, well, they were mostly things that needed changing from their original 1990 context – there were a few ‘yikes’ moments in the novel, that’s for sure. Also, can I have all of Anathema’s clothes please?
Something That Made Me Think: I was in charge of putting together a brief history of feminism for last week’s seminar (an arduous task), and I found this Vox article, “The Waves of Feminism, And Why People Keep Fighting Over Them, Explained” by Constance Grady to be absolutely excellent.
Something That Made Me Laugh:
The “yipe!” at the end KILLS ME.
What I’m Reading: Two weeks ago, I tore through Rainbow Rowell’s Simon Snow trilogy in about 5 days…and then last week, I re-read the entire thing. I was already a huge fan of Sarah Rees Brennan’s book In Other Lands, which brilliantly and hilariously inverts pretty much all the standard tropes and building blocks that we expect to see in the fantasy genre. Rowell’s Simon Snow books are doing something similar – exposing the underpinnings of how fantasy novels work, particularly “Chosen One” stories like Harry Potter – but it’s also a smart and insightful exploration of what fanfiction can be and do. Also, magic school. With vampires.
What I’m Listening To: For unknown reasons, YouTube suggested a video of 2 hours of Studio Ghibli music in a jazz arrangement, and it’s been my background music while working all week.
What I’m Watching: ContraPoints. Especially her video essay on Envy, which is honestly one of my favorite things on the entire internet. My jaw actually dropped when I saw her Marie Antoinette costume and set, and the Snow White close reading made me laugh-cry. Also, all of the Olympic skating and Brooklyn 99.
Something That Made Me Think: I’ve been re-reading Nina Auerbach’s Our Vampires, Ourselves for the first time in many years. Dr. Auerbach was my professor waaaaay back in undergrad, and she was so incredibly smart and also such a trip. She nearly always said the opposite of what I expected her to say. She’d champion texts or films that seemed terrible to 21-year-old Sara (she would fight for us to take Hammer Dracula films seriously) …but I loved how she’d argue her case, and she always, always made me think and challenged my expectations. Reading her book reminds me of what that was like.
Something That Made Me Laugh: