April 30th – Big T Trauma

Have you ever experienced something that changed you life forever? I’m not asking about something good, like a marriage or a child. I mean something you don’t even want to think about, and when you do it just hurts.

To quote Jonathan Van Ness from Queer Eye, girl, that’s Big T Trauma. My first experience with something like that was the passing of my grandfather. I was only in fourth grade and in all honesty, I’ve never been the same. 

Then, when I became a teenager, I got really sick. I’ve mentioned this before, but that’s because I would not be the woman I am today without that terrible experience. However, little things associated with it still set me off. The smell of alcohol wipes makes me want to puke. I instantly throw up jell-o if I try to eat it. I will never eat a Popsicle again. I had to change all the soaps and shampoos because I started to associate the smell with washing off hospital stink. Even getting my blood drawn nearly sets off a panic attack.

Big T Trauma.

Sequels are rarely as good as the originals. Look at Highlander 2. Actually, don’t. save yourself the heartache.

We are reading ‘The Madness Underneath’ by Maureen Johnson. This is the sequel to ‘The Name of the Star’. (I’m fairly certain Casye got us into this book series because she wanted someone to suffer with.) Rory has survived a murderous ghost who copied the Jack the Ripper murders across London. Her parents spirit her away to Bristol to protect her, but what happens when she gets pulled back into the London Shades? Things get even more interesting when more people start dying by someone they cannot see? Oh, not to mention she has to deal with going back to school, a boyfriend and she’s the only known case of a human Terminis.

Being a teenager is tough.

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April 15th - Fools of April

Do you ever, say, have half a bottle of wine with a friend, and come up with an absolutely brilliant idea? Then, when the sunlight streams through the blinds in the morning, making your temples pound, you realize your brilliant idea wasn’t exactly….brilliant?

Everyone does things we regret. For instance, not taking that last slice of pizza, not standing up for yourself, dropping out of school or committing arson.

There are levels to this, of course.

And on a side note, please don’t commit arson. It’s just mean. 

I’m here to tell you something everyone should have already told you. Don’t have a cocktail on an empty stomach. I thought I was safe since it was only one beer on St. Patty’s day in college. I had, however, not taken into account that I hadn’t eaten since the day before or slept in over 48 hours on account of midterm projects being due that week.  

Let me tell you, I never made that mistake again.

What we are about to do might be a mistake.

But it might not. It could be brilliant for all we know.

We’ll let you know in the morning.

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March 31st - One Tenth

America is a melting pot of cultures. For instance, Casye clearly has Irish blood running through her veins. I suspect she’s either a vampire or a secret long-lost Wesley. I only have minor amounts of Scottish and Irish heritage, but the stories of those cultures are strong. My grandad always used to say we make our own luck. He had a lucky silver dollar made into a money clip that he carried with him every day of his life. Never was fond of black cats either. My grandmama gave me a witch’s ball for my birthday last year. It’s a simple blue glass globe settled in front of a mirror. As long as the globe remains dust free, then witches cannot get into your house. I don’t bother with it much so Casye can actually come inside to record the podcast. (Also, it could be some sort of conspiracy to trick me into cleaning.) Through all the stories and all the superstition, Case and I have learned one thing.

Never mess with Fae.

Just don’t do it. They are quick, clever and mischievous. They will steal you, your baby, your magic, whatever they want without a second thought. The worst part is you’ll never see it coming. If you are forced to deal with them, there are rules.

1.      They can’t lie, but they can obfuscate better than OJ Simpson’s lawyers. Don’t trust them.

2.      Don’t eat Faerie food. You’ll be trapped forever.

3.      No gifts. If something seems complementary, it’s not. Everything has a price.

4.      This is the most important. NEVER GIVE THEM YOUR NAME. If they have control of your name, they have control of you.

Keep these rules in mind when reading Tithe by Holly Black. Kaye is just a teenage girl who is being drug around the country by her failing-rocker of a mother. Till one night, she’s on her way home from a disastrous night out with her friends. She happens upon a wounded Faerie Prince. But is he what he seems? And what does Kaye have to do with the upcoming tithe?

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March 15th - Worth A Thousand Words

Pictures are imperfect things. They are only representations of the real. Like many kids, I went to Disney world when I was a child. There are photos of mousey little Elizabeth with massive glasses and buckteeth. I hadn’t quite grown into my ears yet either. It was a great look. Those photos don’t tell you that I got a Pooh Bear dressed as an Easter bunny from my grandparents on that trip that I fell in love with instantly. Or how much pizza I ate at the pizza planet arcade. Or how my brother and I didn’t fight much on that whole trip (much to my mother’s relief).

Those photos don’t depict who I am now. I grew into my ears, learned how to do make-up, fixed my eyes and grew another two and a half feet. Even current pictures aren’t me. My current Facebook Profile picture makes me look like an old world, old money, diva. I am not any of those things.  

This idea is perfectly described by a wonderful piece of artwork by René Magritte called the “Treatchery of Images”. It’s very fancy. If you haven’t seen it, the image is a wonderful painting of a pipe. Below this simple wood pipe is written the phrase ‘Ceci n'est pas une pipe’. For those of you who do not speak French, it translates to ‘This is not a pipe’. It is only an image of a pipe and not an actual pipe.

‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde is a critique of society, art and human nature. It might be the only image in history that is not treacherous. Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man. After having is portrait painted, he makes a wish that he would remain youthful while is portrait will age and decay. Little did he know his wish would come true.

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literatureElizabeth Bird
February 28th - I See Dead People

Leaving home for the first time can be scary. We typically have had our parents as a back up every day of our lives. It’s frightening and exhilarating to have that safety net suddenly removed. For most of us, moving away to college is this moment.

I didn’t feel frightened till I studied abroad. It was one of the best experiences I ever had in my life. I got to learn about architecture, wine, and I was completely on my own for the very first time. Still, the thought of all my close friends and family being an entire ocean and half a continent away was terrifying. What was I going to miss? What if I got sick? What if something happened to someone I loved and I couldn’t be there? What if I needed to cry to my mom about something entirely stupid? It was a lot to take on, but I’m glad I did it. If we never do anything that makes us uncomfortable, we never grow.

in ‘The Name of the Star’ by Maureen Johnson, Rory is leaving home for the first time. She’s a young teenage girl who is going to study abroad in London. The big city is vastly different from her little hometown in Louisiana. After an unfortunate accident, Rory realizes she can see ghosts! And to top things off, she soon finds herself tied up in a series of murders. Not just any murders, but murders that closely match that of Jack the Ripper.

This is the first book in the ‘Shades of London’ series. And you can bet we are going to read the rest of them!

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February 15th - Love Me! Why?

The dreaded holiday has come and gone…single's awareness day….I mean Valentine’s Day. It’s a day for love, over-priced chocolate and cards, and judging how much you are loved based off how much money your significant other spent on you.

Honestly, that’s a really bleak outlook on Valentine’s day. I’ve personally never put much stock into the idea. The best Valentine’s Day I ever had was watching a ‘Love Sucks’ Vampire movie marathon with my friends in high school and eating all the half-off chocolate we could afford. Then something miraculous happened.

I fell in love.

We still don’t put a lot of pressure on for Valentine’s Day. We usually go get ‘Buy one, get one free’ lovers burritos and watch Star Wars Family Guy (As is tradition for Liz and Paul). We still see it as a day of love, but everyday is like that for us. We don’t need a special day on the calendar to remind us that we love each other.

So, in honor of our mixed feelings about a holiday dedicated to love, we are reading ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ By William Shakespeare. Benedick has sworn to never marry or fall in love. Beatrice has sworn the same. So, of course, they would make the perfect couple. Their friends, Claudio and Hero, do their best to set them up. But what happens when a sneaky Don decides to mess with the happiness of Hero and Claudio? Heart break, faking your own death and hilarity!

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January 31st - The Glossary Is Your Friend

Casye and I make no effort to hide that we are mid-west girls through and through. The midwest is known to most coasts as the fly-over states. (Well, except for Texas, but they have their own issues we aren’t going to talk about.) We take this as an insult. The midwest is home to all sorts of incredible things!

  1. Chili with Cinnamon Rolls - You don’t dunk the cinnamon rolls in the chili. That would be gross. Eat one, then the other.

  2. Barbecue - We are born and raised Kansas City. World’s best barbecue. End of Story.

  3. Paul Rudd - Marvel Superhero who will probably defeat Thanos. Look him up.

  4. Miami County Wineries - Produced 90% of America’s wine before prohibition. Boom!

  5. Radio Free Puppets! - Puppets on the radio. I write the show so you know it’s amazing! (Justin, do I get paid now?)

I could go on and on. We have a lot of artists in the midwest and that includes authors. Aaron Hollingsworth, author of Four Winds One Storm; Book 1 - The Bone Brick City is a Kansas City native. We here at This is Lit! like to support out local comrades.

The Mystic Mafia is terrorizing the city of Embrinel. (I have no idea if I’m spelling that right). Only a rag tag team of adventurers can save the city!

The glossary will be your friend on this one, folks. Trust me.

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Elizabeth Bird
January 15th - Green Light

3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

As we enter a new orbit around the sun, it’s a time for looking to the future. We here at This is Lit! are no different. The future can be a scary thing, but don’t worry! We have plenty of exciting plans for this podcast.

It’s also a time a year to reflect on the past. I’m not going to lie to you, dear audience. This past year has been rough for both of your hosts. There has been a myriad of things that have gone wrong.

“I’ve seen some things go wrong.” She leaned against the wall in the pouring rain. Her eyes grew distant with the ghosts of her past. The cigarette in her had received an unenthusiastic flick. The dying embers were reminiscent of the light that once graced her eyes. Something bright and deadly now extinguished forever.

To quote Rafiki, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it. The turning of the year reminds us all that the past is gone and can’t hurt us anymore. It can be a nice place to visit from time to time, but by no means is it a safe place to live.

The past is a heavy topic in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nick Caraway moves to Long Island for the summer of 1922. There, he befriends a man named Jay Gatsby. His past is a mystery. The wild parties he throws are constant and extravagant. And Gatsby has his sights set on Nick’s cousin, the lovely Daisy Buchanan. Will the past catch up with them all?

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Elizabeth Bird
December 31st - Pork Pies & Sherry

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone. May your 2019 be better than 2018.

Everyone is getting ready for a new year with new resolutions. Do they ever stick? Well, only if you believe they do. Belief has always been a point of contention on this podcast. The hosts were raised in the ‘Bible belt’ after all. That kind of thing is impossible to ignore.

Belief is something that is prominent in Terry Pratchett’s The Hogfather. More importantly, it is the belief of children. What kid didn’t believe in the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy at one point in their lives? If you never did…well…that’s something we don’t really have time to get into.

Elizabeth believed she would be a world famous singer by now, but it just wasn’t in the cards after that horrible stage dive accident in middle school….

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Elizabeth Bird
December 15th - Holiday Spirits

Christmas time is here again. It’s time for eating too much, dealing with family and snow…lots and lots of snow. The author of this blog post is watching lots and lots of snow fall out her window even as she types. Welcome to the Midwest, y’all.

 As wonderful as everything is this time of year, all the traditions and expectations can be stressful. You know that. We know that. So, all us gals came up with our own tradition.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the world, allow me to introduce to you the idea of Friend-mas.

Friend Christmas (aka Friend-mas) is a tradition that Elizabeth has been hosting since her college days. It started off as a simple potluck with a couple of sorority sisters. Now, it’s a full on Martha Stewart Christmas. So, of course all the decorations color-coordinate with her dress. It’s a Christmas we can all look forward too with no stress of familial expectations. There’s turkey, pie and a cut-throat game of Celebrity. Casye doesn’t like to lose. Then again, in the game of White Elephant, you live or you die.

Of course, there’s TONS of wine.

Being taken with the holiday spirit, we decided to cover A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for our first holiday episode.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a terrible person, who doesn’t believe in Christmas. And, well, everyone in the world knows the rest. ‘You will be haunted by 3 spirits…’

The only spirits I like are the ones in this glass.

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Elizabeth Bird
November 30th - Jinkies!

We don’t know a kid who didn’t grow up watching Scooby-Doo. There was the leader, the smart one, the pretty one, and the one that ate everything…and the dog. Elizabeth constantly found herself associating with the smart one. Knee-high orange socks were never her thing though. This gang became part of our childhood.

That’s probably why we picked up Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.

The gang faced dangers in their childhood all the time. But what does that do to a person when the mystery is over and all the villains are unmasked? The Scooby Gang will eternally be teenagers/young adults their entire existence. What would happen if they grew up? Or worse, grew apart? Meddling Kids takes a shot at answering these questions.

The style of the book can throw people for a loop. Stick with it. We promise the story is well worth it.

The Blyton Summer Detective Club closed their last case 13 years ago; the Sleepy Lake Monster. Now all adults, the previous detectives are leading broken lives. Andy, the tom boy, has been a wanderer and recently broke out of prison. Kerri, the smart one, has dropped out of school and become an alcoholic to keep her night terrors at bay. Even her weimaraner, Tim, can’t ease her fear. Nate, the youngest, is constantly checking himself into mental institutions. He’s the only one who still talks to Peter, the leader. Nevermind that Peter’s already dead.

Something about their last case never added up. Where did all those scratching noises come from? What was really hiding in that old mansion in the middle of the lake? Andy decides to reunite the team to solve this case for good.

What happens when the villain isn’t just a monster in a mask? What happens when the mask won’t come off?

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November 15th - She Was Stronger Alone

Who among us has never fallen in love? It’s a very small number. Perhaps, that is why romance is such a popular topic for literature. No one can weave a more romantic tale than Jane Austen.

Sense and Sensibility is the story of young love, pining, heartbreak, more pining, scandal and even a little pining. There are vices and virtues to all that unrequited love. How do you act when you love someone who doesn’t love you back? What happens when someone you love turns out to be vastly different than what you thought them to be? Everyone has had thoughts of that whirl-wind romance. It’s full of passion and intrigue. A dashing hero meets a fair and lovely damsel. Sparks fly! The conversation lasted two minutes, maybe three minutes. Everything we said in total agreement, it’s a dream and…well, you get the picture.

Then there are those slow burn relationships. It’s a side look here, a brush of the hand there, a specific word or turn of phrase that causes a blush. It’s the will they, won’t they. It’s the relationship where you stay up till 3 in the morning reading the fanfiction because Oh My God! JUST KISS ALREADY!

Which would you rather read? Which would you rather have?

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are forced to leave the only home they’ve known after the death of their father. Their half brother and his wife will soon take over the Dashwood estate. The only benefit from this turn of events is the coming of Mr. Edward Ferrars. Elinor holds a high regard for him, but what does he feel for her? She can hardly ask, especially after being forced to move away to Devonshire. There, Marianne is rescued by the dashing Mr. John Willoughby. Everyone is taken with the young suitor, except for Colonel Brandon. What does he know about Willoughby? And what secret is Edward Ferrars hiding from everyone?

If only I could know is heart….

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October 31st - Creatures of the Night

Happy Halloween!

Halloween comes with a few things.

  1. Jack-o-Lanterns

  2. Booze

  3. Candy

  4. Monsters

  5. Fear, and lots of it.

It’s the spookiest time of year and your lovely hosts intent to participate in all 5 mandatory items listed above, along with the annual viewing of Hocus Pocus. We will take a nighttime stroll through Transylvania with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. All hail the original vampire novel!

Jonathan Harker is send to the east to help a mysterious Count Dracula find a new home in England. Little does he know what horrors will ensue or if he will ever return to his beloved Mina Murray.

Mina is having her own problems. Her friend, Lucy has taken ill and her 3 suitors, Quincy Morris, Sir Arthur Holmwood, and Dr. John Steward, are doing everything to save her. They even call in Dr. Abraham Van Helsing for good measure. Lucy weakens every day. And what about those two marks on her neck? What is Dracula planning in London?

Get your wooden stakes and crucifixes! A hunting we will go!

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Elizabeth Bird
October 15th, 2018 - Physics & Fantasy

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Halloween!

The ladies continue their descent into all things creepy. But can scary be funny too? We intend to find out with John Connolly’s The Gates.

This book is very unique. It’s the first of the Samuel Johnson series. Connolly does an excellent job of combining science and fantasy. Science is the reason for supernatural things happening in the tiny village of Biddlecombe, England. This is another book where you must read the footnotes. They are hilarious. If you aren’t careful, you may actually learn something too.

It’s October 28th, a few days before Halloween. Samuel Johnson, and his dog Boswell, decide to get a head start on trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, the residents of 666 Crowley Road are unamused. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the great Hadron Collider has a minor incident…

And then the Gates of Hell are opened.

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Elizabeth Bird
September 31st, 2018 - Wuv! Twoo Wuv!

Casye and Elizabeth decided to pay tribute to their good friend, Taylor! She just tied the knot in a Princess Bride Themed wedding. The movie is absolute perfection. Both girls could probably quote it word for word if you asked them too. But how's the book? Not sure. So we read The Princess Bride by William Goldman. 

Sometimes you find the right book at the right time of your life that helps you get through some tough things. This is not that book for Elizabeth. 

William Goldman desperately tries to find his favorite story for his son. It's the classic tale of true love, swordplay and adventure; S. Morganstern's The Princess Bride. Buttercup is a beautiful farm girl who falls in love with the farm hand, Westley. After Westley goes to find his fortune, he is killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup is then set to marry Prince Humperdinck, but things go horribly wrong when 3 strangers kidnap her in the woods. Who is this man in black chasing them? Will true love win the day?

Probably.

Seriously, how have you not seen this movie? Go watch it! Now!

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September 15th, 2018 - Crime is Terribly Revealing

In this episode, Casye and Elizabeth will take on one of the great crime novelists of the 20th century, Agatha Christie. Casye and Elizabeth will be discussing And Then There Were None. Do yourself a favor and look into the history of the title of this book. It will come up. The novel explores the thin line between murder and negligence and intent. There has always been a thin line between justice and revenge. Where is it? Who has the right to be judge and jury? Why are we asking so many questions? Will the girls be able to solve this before the end of the book? Elizabeth won't, but she'll try. Casye will because she's awesome like that.

10 little soldier boys went down to dine...

Ten strangers are summoned to Solider Island under mysterious circumstances. They are ready for a lovely summer holiday. Then, it comes out that each one of them hides a terrible secret. The 10 guest discover they are trapped on the island with a murderer. Who will survive?

One Choked his little self and then there were nine....

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Elizabeth Bird
August 15th, 2018 - What Fools These Mortals Be

In Episode five, Casye and Elizabeth take on something that is loved and feared by many...Shakespeare. 

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare is one of his more famous comedies. The girls will talk about their multiple experiences with the play. Since they are both experienced actresses, they have both performed various roles. (Casye was Puck. She is literally the little redheaded Fairie from lore. Who else was going to do it? Honestly?) 

In Athens, two lovers are torn apart. Hermia and Lysander are deeply in love. Demetrius, the man selected for Hermia by her father,  also wants Hermia. Hermia is given a choice. She must either enter a convent, marry Demetrius as her father wishes, or die. Hermia's friend Helena loves Demetrius, but Demetrius still wants Hermia. Hermia and Lysander decide to run away together.

And then mischievous fairies decide get involved....

As  if this wasn't complicated enough.

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July 31st (originally August 31st) - Science was Meant to Be Hard

Due to Technical difficulties, this episode will be airing July 31st.

In this episode, Casye and Elizabeth once again pay a visit to the friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. The girls have been massive fans of the 'Welcome to Night Vale' podcast since it's inception. They've bought the books, gone to every live show they can, and even cosplayed as Cecil Gershwin Palmer and his husband, Carlos the Scientist. So, of course, reading It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor was a no-brainer. 

(Politics and religion will come up since those are two of the main themes of this book. You've been warned.)

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider in town. She arrived with Carlos, Night Vale's top scientist (and hunky husband of Night Vale radio host, Cecil Palmer), in order to study this strange little town. When Carlos asks her to look into some strange tremors around town, she can't say no. Why are entire parts of town disappearing? And what does it have to do with the new religion in town? The Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God? Is there a way to reconcile faith in science and faith in religion? 

There's so many teeth.....So. Many. Teeth.....

August 31st (originally July 31st, 2018) - WarGames, but Cooler

Hello All, Due to technical difficulties, this episode will be airing August 31st! On July 31st we will be releasing 'It Devours!' Thanks.

For their fourth episode, Casye and Elizabeth will dive into the world of OASIS with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Casye, the gamer of the two, will have to explain references while Elizabeth stares at her like a deer in the headlights. The subject of 'The Hero's Journey' will come up a lot along with every 80's movie Elizabeth has seen. All hail John Hughes. Perhaps it's time to brush up on your 80's pop culture.

In the dystopian future of 2044, teenager Wade Owen Watts spends most if his life in the digital world of OASIS. With the cheap energy era over, most of society has done the same as Wade. Five years ago, the creator of the OASIS died. With no heirs, he scattered clues throughout the OASIS to find the biggest prize imaginable, control of his multi-billion dollar fortune and the entire OASIS itself. When Wade stumbles across the first clue, it has very dangerous, real-world consequences. There are people who would kill for what Wade now has. An entire world is at stake and Wade is the only one who can save it.

Are you ready?

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Elizabeth Bird
July 15th, 2018 - Presume Nothing

In episode three, the girls will take a visit to 221B Baker Street with The Hound of the Baskevillies by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We will talk about the thin line between truth and fantasy. In a world where facts have less and less value, how will the legendary detective hold up? And what is the actual ending of this story? There have been so many adaptations that no one really knows anymore. Remember, there are no bad dogs. Just bad dog owners.

Seriously. 

A country doctor comes to Victorian London in order to solicit the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. There is a curse about a monstrous hound, and now man has been found dead with huge paw prints around him. Was this the power of the curse, or is there a very real murderer at large? We know one thing. Stay off the Moors at night.

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