Review: Nerd Do Well

Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg

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The dividing line between my furious childhood and my equally, if more problematically, furious adolescence (which I like to call the Wombat Years) is, undoubtedly, my preteen travels, a series of trips where I was essentially a large piece of angry luggage. (Anger was a big theme for the young Clare.) I really hate talking about it, as I feel like any way I try to express what a negative impact it had on me is either going to sound incredibly selfish (“Poor me! I had to travel as a child!”) or incredibly ungrateful (“How could my parents take me along with them?”). Instead of trying to navigate those waters, my coping mechanism has been repression. For the life of me, I could not tell you dates or locations; it’s just a blur of painful homesickness, fatigue, and endless waiting. (And anger, obviously, but that wasn’t a related condition, just a constant one.)

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Review: Televising Queer Women

Televising Queer Women edited by Rebecca Beirne

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I’ve never met anyone else who thrifts like I do: hard. I’m talking going through every shirt at the Goodwill because you never know when you’ll chance across a Disney*World exclusive t-shirt. Peter Parker has Spidey senses. I have retail senses, telling me when there’s a copy of Textual Poachers for sale at the thrift store I used to volunteer at. So when my retail senses were directing me to a literally underground thrift store that creeps me out a little, I trusted it, and ended up finding a book about two things near and dear to my heart: media criticism and queer ladies.

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Review: LEGO, A Love Story

LEGO, A Love Story by Jonathan Bender

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As Jonathan Bender points out at the beginning of LEGO, a Love Story, adult fans of LEGO (more commonly known by the abbreviation AFOLs) have a name for the period of time between playing with LEGO as a kid and playing with LEGO as an adult: the Dark Ages. I ditched LEGO fairly early on in my childhood, mostly because, despite my best efforts, you could not actually eat the damn things. (I moved onto eating glue.) But I emerged from my Dark Ages when LEGO picked up the The Lord of the Rings license. So far, I’ve just organized my LEGO bricks and started collecting female minifigures, but I’ve been looking for a way to start building with the damn things. When I saw LEGO, a Love Story at the library, I thought Bender’s experience getting back into it might help me along my own journey.

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Review: The Books They Gave Me

The Books They Gave Me by Jen Adams

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I may have misrepresented my child self to you. Compared against my adolescence (or the Wombat Years, as they’re better known), my childhood outbursts can seem tame and downright civil. To this image, I counter my wanton destruction of my brother’s comic books. These weren’t comics like the ones in my longbox; these were hardbound copies of Asterix either my family brought from France when they moved here or my father brought back from his trips for my brother. With colored pencils and my tiny, furious fists, I ripped them to shreds, forcing my brother, my elder by nine years who considerably outclassed me physically, to call on our mother to make me stop.

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Review: Editors on Editing

Editors on Editing edited by Gerry Gross

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As part of my homework for what I like to think of as publishing camp, I was assigned three books to read—I’ve already read and reviewed The Elements of Style, and I need to pick up a copy of the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. Luckily, I recently earned a Barnes & Noble gift card for my collegiate years of service to the theater, and I’ve been measuring adulthood lately by being cheap and practical. (“Adults,” I tell myself, “buy pens in the giant packs of twenty.”) I was only assigned excerpts out of Editors on Editing, but I just can’t do sampling. I have to take the whole thing out for a test drive.

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Review: Top of the Rock

Top of the Rock by Warren Littlefield with T. R. Pearson

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After this year’s Saturday Night Live finale, I fell in love with the show. When I discovered it was on Netflix, my world blew up—I determined to watch Saturday Night Live from 2001 on, in order to track the careers of several performers who have been on the show. (I’m picking up the backlog with the A. V. Club’s coverage of classic Saturday Night Live.) I’ve also determined that, once I’m done, I’ll catch up with the rest of the world and watch 30 Rock, as well as Parks and Recreation. Considering my newfound love for NBC comedies and my established love for oral histories, I snatched up Top of the Rock while browsing at the library without a second thought.

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Review: Decades

Decades by Cameron Silver

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There’s something very alluring about coffee table books, especially ones that could function as coffee tables all on their own. (This sucker is heavy!) While my editing side finds their lackadaisical publishing information pages frustrating, I can’t help but find them very glamorous. As someone who appreciates the codex, they’re a bit like finding a gorgeous version of a very functional object. Which is exactly why I picked up Decades, even as I tried to justify it by trying to learn more about twentieth-century fashion design. (And even that is just a way to hug the eighties just a little bit closer.) But a coffee table book isn’t really the place to start to get yourself properly contextualized…

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Review: The Times of the Eighties

The Times of the Eighties edited by William Grimes

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In 2005, MTV ran a program, undoubtedly influenced by the success of That 70s Show, called The 70s House. It was a reality competition where twelve contestants parted with the modern world, lived in a simulcrum of the seventies 24/7, and competed to see who could be “the most 70s”. I never saw it, but when I heard about it, as a tender, awful-haired fourteen-year-old, I daydreamed about the possibility of a The 80s House, which I would undoubtedly dominate. Such a show never surfaced, of course, but something like The Times of the Eighties would have been very useful to prep for my audition. When I saw it on NetGalley, I couldn’t hit the request button fast enough.

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Review: Fashioning Teenagers

Fashioning Teenagers by Kelley Massoni

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When I was what is technically considered a teenage girl, I was far too busy reading fanfiction, scheming to get my hands on Velvet Goldmine, and being a femmephobic little terror to even realize what mainstream teenage culture was. In my understanding, it was something to do with Saved By the Bell, which I couldn’t watch without my mother darkly muttering about how it gave my brother unrealistic expectations of high school. It’s both a blessing and a curse: I never felt like I was chained to a script, but mostly because I had no idea that the script existed. Thus, I was pretty blind to Seventeen magazine until I read an article that cited this book, which pointed out both Seventeen’s age and its origin story as a women’s service magazine. I had to investigate.

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