I'm finally off Network Solutions. When they finally delivered the "authorization code" (first stalling for four days, for no reason) they offered a year's service for $16. Never, during 15 years as a regular customer, did they ever offer any $16 service short of a 7 year contract. Of course Gandi offers better every year, no strings attached (and even less for the despised ".biz", ".me", and ".co.uk" suffixes).
I'm a little late, but my Ada Lovelace Day choice for admired female hacker is Emilia Käsper, who coded implementations of AES-CTR and AES-GCM that run in under 10 cycles/byte, using SSE3 instructions, and defeat timing attacks besides. Each of 8 128-bit registers holds a bit from each byte in 128 bytes of plaintext: paper, slides. It isn't clear from the slides, but she shuffles the bits to their various registers using an SSSE3 instruction (and a "shuffle unit") that isn't in current AMD chips. Besides the speed, this is important because timing attacks on regular AES implementations are astonishingly easy.
A faster cipher would work on 128-byte blocks and just skip the bit shuffling. It wouldn't interoperate with anybody, but would be equally secure. If you went that route, I gather that one step of AES has turned out not to add any security, so you could skip that bit, too. You could call your cipher Skiphack. (Little historical joke there.)