Geeking Out in Chicago!

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Finding myself unexpectedly without a job, I decided to quit wallowing on the couch and use my influx of free time to go on adventures. This is what led me to from the frigid hills of New England to the flat Windy City! The midwest was a bit of a shock to me; used to the confusing winding streets of Boston, I was amazed that I could see straight into the city from miles and miles away. Not to mention that it actually felt like spring out there! My awesome Whovian, Potter Head cousins were kind enough to let me crash at their house, constantly feed me, and show me around, and I also met up with a few friends who moved out there.

All in all, it was a great trip! I saw so many sights and tried so many “true Chicago” experiences. I could write a whole twenty blog posts about all the things to do out there, but instead I’m going to put a geek girl spin on things show you all the ways I’ve geeked out in Chicago!

Sights for the Lit Lover

I need to get my book on no matter where I go, and that certainly wasn’t hard staying in the suburb of Oak Park. It just so happens that Ernest Hemingway was born on these very streets! Unfortunately, he couldn’t stand the place and got the hell out of there as soon as he could. I can’t imagine why? Oak Park was friendly and idealic, plus only twenty minutes away from the city. I guess it just doesn’t compare to living in Paris and the Keys.

Regardless, the Hemingway Museum (erected in his childhood home) is tucked among quaint Victorians and only a few blocks away from Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio. I love picturing a little Hemingway walking these streets or sitting in the old wing of the high school that my cousins attend (even if that might not have happened). I wish he once ate Italian beefs!

My absolute favorite literary stop was a hole-in-the-wall used bookstore called The Looking Glass. This place was a book lover’s paradise! Not only did it have shelves of books galore, but it had a wealth of nerdy items like literary-scented candles, old maps and prints, every type of bookmark you could imagine, and book themed kids’ toys. We spent at least two hours perusing the stacks. In the end, I spent way too much money on a short mystery to read on the flight home called The Final Solution, a painting of a bookshelf that basically mirrored my own, and a copy of Arabian Nights from the turn of the century.

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It sounds a bit insane, but The Looking Glass inspired me; it is my dream to someday open a similar store myself. Someday…

Other things?

Well, this statue at the Art Institute of Chicago looks like Gollum!

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My preciousssss.

Sights of Comic Genius

I’m currently dating a bonafide comedy nerd. Me? I’m slowly learning, but I do know that Chicago is a comedy mecca. It was my duty as a good girlfriend to educate myself by going to a show at The Second City, one of the most prolific comedy theatres in the world, and starting place of… basically everyone.

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My friend and I saw their 103rd Mainstage Sketch Review, Panic on Cloud 9, and it was hilarious! Not only were they great comedic actors, but they wrote every side-splitting sketch themselves. Seriously, all these comics are going to be on SNL someday, just you wait.

We also took the time to stop in one of Chicago’s many comic book stores. Despite a brief obsession with manga in high school, I’ve never been much of a comic book or graphic novel person, but have always wanted to be one. At Chicago Comics, I had never seen such a wide collection of comics, so what could be a better place than there to start? I picked up Hark! A Vagrant! by super awesome, history lovin’, book readin’ web comic artist Kate Beaton, and the first issue of Lumberjaneswhich I’ve already torn through. Squee! It has butt-kicking feminism, hipster yetis, and I’ve already determined that the character April is my soul sister.

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Sights for the Art Nerd

No trip to Chicago would be complete without a stop at the Art Institute. I’ve already shown you Gollum, but the geekdom is strong at this place. Here are some highlights:

I know one of my favorite Dr. Who episodes is Vincent and the Doctor, and there is a fantastic Vincent Van Gogh collection here. Give him some love!

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The Institute also played a huge role in the classic movie Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. You can recreate a scene in any of the museums collections!

Ribbet collage

They say a picture is worth one thousand words, but here you can see words jump off the page into art. Some of my favorite interpretations are Fuseli’s Macbeth and the Armed Head and Ivan Albright’s Portrait of Dorian Gray. The latter is genius! I love how he depicted the decay and madness within the portrait. And it’s absolutely twisted.

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These, of course, are not the only nerdy things to do in Chicago; just a smattering of some of the things I saw and did. I certainly hope to return and see even more history and culture!

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5 Awesome Podcasts for the Flirty, Dirty, and Nerdy

Alas! The Golden Age of Podcasts has dawned!

On the treadmill, stuck in traffic, or pushing tedious paperwork, people are plugged in to the vast network of amazing podcasts. Of course they’ve been around since the dawn of iTunes, but thanks to the unprecedented hype of WBEZ’s true crime investigation, Serial (which is addictively mind blowing, btw), they’ve exploded in popularity. Personally, my week revolves around them! If I’m not learning something, I feel like I’m wasting time. Podcasts fill that time, and my brain with yummy tidbits of information.

So what makes podcasts so great? They’re TV shows for your ears! I hesitate to say movies for your ears because they are predominantly part of a reoccurring series. Like watching dramas? Tune into an installment of a continuing story, like the much raved about Serial. Stay up to watch late night talk shows? Get your celebrity fix from the godfather of podcasts, the Nerdist Podcast. Maybe docuseries are more your thing? Learn something with Invisibilia. Basically there’s something for everyone. And I mean EVERYONE; even the UFO conspiracy theorists out there.

Now that I have you convinced (or am just preaching to the choir), you’ll quickly realize that there are thousands upon thousands of podcasts out there. Where on earth should you start?! How do you know what’s good? Well, I’ve compiled a list of a few of my absolute favorites, and if you’re like me (a millennial geek girl who watches too much TV and has feminist tendencies), I guarantee you too will fall in love with at least one, if not all, off these podcasts!

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Who’d like this? The intellectual pop culture junkie.

Have you ever wished your college was like one of those cool colleges that offered courses on Harry Potter philosophy or the art of Lady Gaga, but unfortunately went to a stuffy Catholic liberal arts school that thought reading Plato was a good time? NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour will make up for that. Get ready for highly scholarly conversations about the ever-evolving nature of rock n’roll, what exactly makes a sequel successful, and just why the Grammy’s don’t really matter anymore. Any fan of books, movies, music, TV, comics, and video games will find this podcast fascinating, but what really solidifies it as one of my personal faves is its perfectly cast panel of experts. Fellow geek girl Linda Holmes leads the discussion with best friend (and I’m convinced secret lover) Stephen Thompson, the mastermind behind NPR Music, and my personal favorite, the cantankerous curmudgeon Glen Weldon, who has been voted most likely to yell “Get off my lawn!” After listening to a few episodes, you can earn your PhD in pop culture, or at least show your friends up at any party.

The cast of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

The best taste:Anniversaries and Kids Entertainment That Stands the Test of Time,” “A Grammy Postmortem and Reality TV in Middle Age,” “A New Definition of Smaug-ness: Movie Sequels and Christmas Music


Stuff Mom Never Told You

Who’d like this? The historically-minded feminist.

This podcast may be ladycentric, but everybody—male or female, old or young, feminists in training or those seasoned in theory—can learn a thing or two from it. Brought to you from the How Stuff Works flagship, hostesses Cristen and Caroline make history, science, relationships, and culture incredibly accessable. Seriously, they can make the most sobering of subjects such as stalking or ebola light and entertaining. Like Pop Culture Happy Hour, this podcast takes the most unassuming subjects and turns them into thesis level studies. Who knew undies had such a long history or that tween music fans control the politics of music. Whenever I see a new episode from SMNTY on my feed, it is the first thing I listen to. I just can’t concentrate knowing it’s waiting for me. Then of course I run off to blabber about what I just learned to everyone I meet. I’m cool like that.

The best taste: Why Take Taylor Swift Seriously?,” “Why Do Women Join Cults?” “Craft Beer Brewsters,” “The Friendzone

Cristen and Caroline of SMNTY.


The Dead Authors Podcast

Who’d like this? Lit lovers, comedians, and time travellers.

Here it is; the podcast that got me into podcasts! Ok, imagine this… science fiction author H.G. Wells uses his infamous time machine to go back in history to bring other renowned authors to modern Los Angeles where they’re interviewed in front of a live audience. Now imagine that H.G. Wells has an intense rivalry with Jules Verne, the apostles of the Gospels are wisecracking frat boys, and William S. Borroughs has a hilarious case of “paul-io” (probably the funniest thing I’ve ever heard). And to top it off, our host, H.G., is played by legendary comedian Paul F. Thompkins, joined by famous funny friends including Kristen Schaal, Andy Daly, Fred Armisen, John Hodgeman, and Nick Kroll. Depending on how the guest interprets their author (some get completely into character, others keep their comic persona), episodes can be a hit or miss. But the ones that are a hit… oh gawd… I could laugh myself into a coma.

The best taste: Chapter 26: William S. Borroughs, featuring Kurt Braunohler,” “Chapter 32: E. Gary Gygax, featuring Chris Tallman,” “Chapter 8: Aesop, featuring Mark McConville

Paul F. Thompkins as H.G. Wells interviewing Jason Mantzoukas as Plato.


Guys We F#@$!d

Who’d like this? The loud, the proud, and those who are looking to have a good time.

I LOVE these ladies! Touted as the “Anti Slut Shaming Podcast,” New York comedians Krystyna Hutchinson and Corrine Fisher interview, yes, the guys they’ve f#@$!d. And it’s hilarious! It all started as a coping method to deal with a particularly nasty breakup and has evolved into a celebration of sexuality and the diversity of relationships. They’ve also gone from sitting down with past sexual conquests to talking to men and women of all backgrounds; from those in sex work all the way to complete virgins. Krystyna and Corrine are hysterical and raunchy, yet also very sincere and extremely engaging with their followers. I sooo want to be their best friend. Each episode is guarenteed to be a fun time, but you might want to consider listening to it in the privacy of your headphones.

F#@$!ers Krystyna Hutchinson and Corrine Fisher.

The best taste:Shane S: What’s a Sex Talk from Dee Snider Like?,” “She Got Slimed? with Danny Tamberelli,” “Are You 50 Shades of Fucked Up?


The Moth

Who’d Like This? Storytellers, dreamers, and those who subscribe to Humans of New York

Everyone has a story to tell, no matter how big or how small. Sometimes those stories are funny, sometimes they’re sad; they can be inspiring, sentimental, heartbreaking, or quirky. But they will all stick with you hours after you hear them. The Moth Podcast is comprised of exerpts taken from The Moth Storytelling events, live shows that showcase the human experience. The greatest part is that these storytellers are no professionals; they are average people like you and me who want to share what they have gone through. And I’m certainly glad they did!

The best taste:Prom,” “Flight,” “My First Story


You certainly have a lot of listening to do. What are you waiting for? Get to it!

~ Erin