Well, friends, we got through the hectic, crazy fun that was July and now it’s time to settle in for the long, hot haul that is August. Just kidding, it’s still summer and that means more fun! Sure, it feels like you’re swimming through molten lava each time you walk outside, but that’s part of summer’s charm! Or whatever. Anyway, there’s plenty of great stuff happening at KU during August, so click READ MORE to find out what!
J.K. Rowling is my hero. For the matter, she is probably your hero too, and if not she should be. But why is she so special? In celebration of her birthday, here are five reasons J.K. Rowling is the queen.
5. Rowling began writing Harry Potter during the lowest time of her life: struggling to make ends meet, a single mother with no support, and clinically depressed. Imagine trying to hold onto any semblance of hope while struggling to provide for your baby. Scary right?
4. Dementors. The pure essence of evil and one of the most feared characters in the “Harry Potter” series, Dementors were an allegory for Rowlings’ depression during her life as a struggling single mother. Dementors themselves are a cool concept, but what really makes this so special is the Rowling created something that we can all relate to. Depression sucks the happiness and life right out of you, removing any will to keep living. While many of us know what that feeling is like, few authors have ever been able to visualize it with such vivid terror.
3. J.K. has not stopped working, even after the wild success of “Harry Potter” made her one of the richest women in the world. Rowling continues to work, as she has often said, to be a good role model for her children. Her first entry into the literary world post-Potter was “A Casual Vacancy.” A lovely investigation into small village life in rural England, many criticized the book as being droll and slow. This was mainly because the title did not include “Harry Potter.” Some believed it was a huge smear on her career, until Rowling tricked all of us when she assumed the name:
2. Robert Galbraith. In one of the great “holy shit” moments of the year, the world opened up the new crime novel,”The Cuckoo’s Calling” by a seemingly unknown author, to find out that it was in fact written by J.K. Rowling. Even before the reveal, the book was a smash hit and instantly became a bestseller. Finding out that the person behind the curtain was Rowling just about made the literary worlds’ collective head burst. There was no doubt about her writing chops now, and it is most definitely a great read. The sequel, “The Silkworm”, was just released this year to more acclaim.
All of these things are great reasons to love J.K. Rowling, but in truth there is one massive reason that J.K. Rowling is the best:
1.Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. I mean this one in the literal sense, as in Harry Potter the person. We meet Harry as a young baby, taken from the rubble of his former home and his dead parents, made to live with his horrible aunt and uncle. It is on his eleventh birthday that Harry discovers that he is a wizard, and is plunged into a world of magic and epic adventure. But let us look at the boy himself. All throughout the series, Harry is as selfless as he possibly can. Sure, there are the usual teenager moments but he never puts himself before any of his friends and loved ones. Harry is essentially an outcast, having not grown up with other children like himself and always feeling worthless. He has suffered great tragedy in his life, never knowing his parents and entering the magical world knowing that someone perpetually wants to kill him. He faces these terrors with his head high, never taking the cowards way out and showing how love overcomes all. There are an extraordinary amount of themes that play into Harry’s life, many of which are relatable to those who read about it. I remember reading Harry Potter and feeling a connection to that poor kid who started out life not having friends and never feeling like he belonged. But he overcame these obstacles and more, and set an example for us to follow. I think I can speak for everyone in that Harry helped all of us in one way or another, whether it was in providing literary enjoyment or literally saving our lives. For this, a happy birthday to Ms. J.K. Rowling, and to our beloved Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived.
Peter Rabbit, as you may know, is the most famous character of the wonderful children’s author Beatrix Potter. (Whose birthday is July 28th!) When I was a kid, there were several film adaptations of Beatrix Potter’s works that I loved to watch over and over and over. They, along with the Disney movie Dumbo and the cartoon Charlotte’s Web, were a hugely formative part of my childhood. They were instrumental in giving me a love of nature and animals that endures to this day.
Peter Rabbit was a rebel. His mom was all, “Don’t go in Mr. McGregor’s garden or he will literally eat you like some sort of fairy tale monster only he’s real.” But Peter was like, “Yeah, whatever!” And he raided that garden righteously. It was so metal. Then he had to escape the garden when Mr. McGregor happened to see and chase him and he barely got away! AND, having lost his waistcoat (a rabbit in a waistcoat?!) and shoes and contracted a cold from hiding in a watering can, Peter was sent to bed with no supper and just a dose of Chamomile tea. Whew.
So yes, Peter probably could have avoided all that unpleasantness by simply listening to his mother, but sometimes you just have to let people make their own mistakes. And eat delicious carrots.
Beatrix Potter was pretty rad too. She was a shrewd businesswoman, patenting a Peter Rabbit doll shortly after the book became such a huge hit and buying a ton of farmland in the north of England over the course of her life (which she donated to the National Trust and later much of it became the Lake District National Park) and just generally being a boss. Plus her name was Beatrix which rules. So happy birthday, Beatrix! <3!
July 25th is Merry Go Round Day!
I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE merry go rounds. Be they beautiful and intricately designed, like everything you hoped that your My Little Pony collection would grow up to be
or creepy ones that you see in abandoned wings of old malls!
America’s first Merry Go Round is still up and running in Rhode Island. Made in 1876, The Flying Horse Merry Go Round is named as such because the horses are only attached from the top of the carousel and not at the bottom, so they swing out when the ride is in motion.
It is the only flying horse carousel left in the country and is detailed with real horse hair in the tail and mane, because nobody cared about that sort of thing in 1876.
If you can’t make it to Kennywood for Merry Go Round Day,
take some time to enjoy the best Merry Go Round Moment in Movie History in the best movie ever, Mary Poppins!
Aren’t you nostalgic for the good old days?!?
July 24th is National Tequila Day, you guys! Instead of boring you with facts about the liquor (like how it’s made from the blue agave plant, how it is often between 76-80 proof but in some instances can be as high as 110 proof, etc), I’m going to try a little experiment. You see, it’s been a few years since I’ve actually had tequila. I don’t remember much of the night (as is the case with most people who drink too much tequila), though I’m pretty sure I made quite an ass of myself (again, common side effect). In the interest of science, I have selflessly volunteered to do a little research in the true effects of tequila. Mainly, I’ll just be quaffing the liquor and texting about it. FOR SCIENCE!
8:20 pm Shot #1 : This shot was straight up. Ugh. I won’t be making that mistake again. Like I said, it’s been a while, totally got the tequila shivers. Why do people drink this stuff? I think my next one, I’ll do that whole salt/lime thing.
8:22 pm : My tummy does feel nice and warm, however.
8:42 pm Shot#2 : Ok, I’m really not feeling anything, besides the whole warm tum-tum. Time for another shot. This time I’ll do the salt/tequila/lime thing.
8:43 pm : Ok, that wasn’t as bad as the first go.
8:55 pm Shot #3 : Wait a sec, or was I supposed to do it salt/lime/tequila? Guess I’ll just have to have another.
9:03 pm : Hold on… or is it that you put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up? Wait, do I need a coconut? Do I even HAVE a coconut? I think the cornerr store has them. I’ll be right back.
9:21 pm : Coconuts are hard to open, you guys. My floor is all sticky.
9:28 pm : Hey, remember in Monthy Python’s Holy Grail when they used coconuts to make horse hoof sounds?
9:36 pm : Ok, the neighbors complained about my imaginary horse. I named him Fred, btw. The horse, not the neighbor. Neigbors name is Adam, noice guy. HEY, I WORK WITH AN ADAM! I’M GOING TO TEXT WORK ADAM TO SEE IF HE KNOWS MY NEIGHBOR!!!
9:38 pm : He does not
9:42 pm Shot #4 : In memory of Fred, I think it’s time to do another shot! I miss you Fred, you were a good horse.
9:52 pm : You know what I love, you guys? Potato chips. BEST. THING. EVER.
10:03 pm : My face is numb.
10:08 pm : You know what’s a really great idea? Imma gonna text my ex, I’m sure he’d want to hear from me!
10:10 pm : No responze. Im going text him again.
10:13 pm : Maybe my texts arent working. I’m going to call him.
10:16 pm Shot #5 : Boy, some people can be quite rude. Screw em, time for another shot.
10:27 pm : Whay is me floor sticky and why do i have a coconut?
10:43 pm Shot #6 : U know what, guys? i <3 u , you r teh bestest. DA BESSSST! I raize my glass to u.
10:59 pm : U knw wht fealz gud, u guyz? The carpet. ON MY FACE. I waz sitting in da chair & sum how ended up of teh flooor. Itz soooooo soft, u guyz!!!!!
11:06 pm : Roomz all spinnyz.
11:13 pm : I hate u, tequiala. I hatez u sew much.
11:22 pm : Im sorry, teqwuila, Idonthateu. pleasemakeroomstopspin.
11:31 pm : Izsosleepyses. florfealzsogudsssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss
*editors note: At this point it Jessi was found asleep, cuddling a coconut.
July is National Ice Cream Month, and to celebrate I’ve created a well considered top ten list of the best ice cream novelties to enjoy this month (or whenever you want, you nonconformist, you!).
Ok! Let’s start with THINGS FOUND ON AN ICE CREAM TRUCK
Flintstones Push Up
Hands down most fun (messy) thing to eat from the ice cream truck! The best flavor was blue but for some reason they always only had orange, which was also really great.
#9 Strawberry Shortcake
Perfect if you could never decide whether to get ice cream or a popsicle and were sent in to a panic every time the familiar ice cream truck music twinkled faintly in the breeze.
#7 Generic Ice Cream Sandwiches
Seriously, the more plain the better! The ones from my elementary school pizza day were the BEST! Who knows where they came from?!? I remember them being wrapped in plain white paper. Honorable mention to generic tubs of ice cream with the little wooden spoons attached on top.
#6 Rocket Pops
SOOO GOOD! SO PATRIOTIC! MUY REFRESCANTE!!
#5 Glove with Gumball Baseball
Delicious! Great way for kids to sneak gum into the house! Most of the time looked like this when you took it out of the package…
#4 (#1 best thing from the ice cream truck) Mickey with “Chocolate” Covered Ears
I think the ears were actually coated with whatever Swiss Rolls are coated with… but they are still so good due to a smushy ice cream texture and vague chocolate/vanilla flavors.
OK! The top three are comprised of TREATS FROM AN ICE CREAM SHOP (because sometimes you just can’t find enough quarters rolling around in the couch in time to catch the ice cream truck)
#3 Clown Cones from Baskin Robbins
I love these because they are the best parts of an ice cream cake, the frozen icing and ice cream. Mint chocolate chip was my favorite flavor. I requested these for my sixteenth birthday. No shame, best party ever!
#2 Root Beer Float
The ice cream foam at the top !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#1 DQ Cherry Dip
The life of a comic book nerd is not easy. Misunderstood, dismissed, and much maligned, the graphic novel/comic medium is in reality just as complex and varied as is traditional fiction, it just happens to include freakin’ awesome illustrations. If you’re someone who has, in the past, dismissed comics because you thought they were all about superheroes with onomatopoetic sound effects like ‘biff’ or if you’re someone who’s never even considered diving into the rich and wonderful world of the graphic novel, give these books a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Batman, R.I.P.: What it’s about: Batman, obviously. He dies in this one! (Maybe…)
Why you should read it: Batman R.I.P. is pretty much the culmination of Grant Morrison’s (aka, the Leo Tolstoy of graphic novels) work with the Batman character. It’s huge, complex, and challenging. Not your run of the mill superhero comic.
Lucifer: What it’s about: Yes, that Lucifer. In the DC universe, the character of Lucifer appears in many stories, most notably in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which is where the stand alone Lucifer series got its start.
Why you should read it: Sorry, did I not mention the part where it’s about the devil and that the stand alone series is a spin-off from Sandman. Additionally, because re-vamps of the traditional devil character are fascinating. And finally because Lucifer is just an incredibly cool character. He’s got it going on, is what I’m saying.
The Filth: What it’s about: A weird, crazy romp through post-modern interpretations of the status quo!
Why you should read it: Another piece from the genius mind of Grant Morrison, The Filth is one of those things that you just have to see to believe. If you’re into media that looks at the line between appropriate and inappropriate and then promptly obliterates it, The Filth is for you.
John Constantine: Hellblazer: What it’s about: One of DC’s longest running characters, antihero magician, chain-smoker, and pro-level snark factory John Constantine and all his supernatural adventures.
Why you should read it: It’s a fantastic exploration of the humanist antihero. If misanthropes who are committed to doing something good are your thing, look up my man John.
Saga of the Swamp Thing: What it’s about: Pretty self-explanatory, actually. He’s a Thing. That lives in a Swamp. Loves plants and the environment and stuff.
Why you should read it: Self-explanatorability notwithstanding, it’s actually really cool! A global environmentally aware comic book character is a fabulous protagonist. For real.
A Game of Thrones: I don’t need to tell you what it’s about because you’ve probably seen the show. I hope.
Why you should read it: Again, feel like I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but I will say that the graphic novelization of ASOIAF is like a really incredible mash-up of the show and the books, which is baller.
100 Bullets: What it’s about: It’s basically everything fantastic about noir, pulp, and revenge thrillers all rolled into one stylized, metaphor-rich creation.
Why you should read it: See above. It’s like the breakfast burrito of the crime story world.