Throwback Thursday: 10 Childhood Comfort Foods

I had a revelation the other day.

I was sitting at my desk, eating an overpriced kale salad and freshly pressed cucumber pineapple juice, when it hit me: somewhere, along the way, I became a healthy eater.

kidvegetables

 

This wasn’t always the case.  In fact, for the majority my life, my eating habits were less “disgustingly yuppie” and more “downright disgusting”. I spent my first 23 years  eating any junk I could get my hands on, and consequently, suffering the consequences. While I was never exactly “fat”, I was definitely what you’d consider “big-boned” as a kid.  There were times  I even tipped the scales towards “chubster” or “pleasantly plump”. Let’s just say I related a lot to the book Blubber by Judy Blume, and leave it at that.

In my defence, I grew up in the 1990’s – the golden age of convenience food. Back before zealots like Michael Pollan came along with their “Eat Mostly Plants” ideologies, we all remained blissfully unaware (or at least willfully blind) to the dangers of  trans fats, aspartame and preservatives. Yes, we were free to sprinkle splenda into our coffee and to squeeze packets of sugary icing onto our toasters strudels with abandon!

strudel
M-hmmmm Poppin’ Fresh!

And boy, did I ever. While I’ve cleaned up my act a lot since then (save for Nutella and Pinot Grigio, the saucy temptresses), every so often I can’t help but crave the delicious, processed goodness of my youth. Here were just a few of my favourite childhood comfort foods:

Pop Tarts 

popt

For a blissful two years in junior high, I religiously ate two S’mores flavored pop tarts and a tall glass of 2% milk every morning. That’s what they call a “balanced breakfast”, right?

Pizza Pockets

pizzapock

Canadian readers will undoubtedly remember the epic pizza pocket rivalry: Pillsbury vs. McCain’s. While there has always been room in my heart for both, supporters of each were fervent in their camps. The battle culminated in a 1990’s ad campaign where each pocket was thrown against a wall and measured for maximum splatterability.

Gross? Yes. Effective? Also yes.

Lunchables 

When I was in grade 3, I  started  taking ukulele lessons at school. The best part about it (besides getting to play the ukulele… LIKE A BOSS) was staying at school for lunch. Usually this was just PB&J; but every so often, my mom would pack a Lunchable- the perfect trifecta of cheese, crackers, and some sort of mystery meat which I now know to be disgusting, but was like crack cocaine to me at the time.

lunchables

My love affair with Lunchables lasted right up until grade 11, when during a nutrition class, a guest speaker took out a Lunchable she had kept in the trunk of her car for over 3 years, and it was still in PRISTINE condition due to all the preservatives.

I wish I could say I swore off Lunchables forever after this, but alas- I will never fully resist the pull of their sodium-nitrate laden deliciousness.

Snack Cakes

The Canadian answer to Twinkies and Little Debbies, Vachon cakes were my jam as a kid. Passion flakies, Joe Louis. May Wests- so long as it was stuffed with delicious cream filling, I was on board.


Vachon cakes
Sugary Cereals

Ah cereal- my ultimate Achilles heel. I even wrote a whole post dedicated to my love for the sugary, carby goodness.

Homies

My go-to choices as a kid were Reese Peanut Butter Puffs and Lucky Charms. Sometimes, my mom would lay the smack down and force me to eat regular (non-frosted) corn flakes – to which I would respond by pouring sugar all over them to add sweetness.

Me at breakfast

I am crying into my bowl of organic quinoa muesli as we speak.

Dunkaroos

I mean, if there is a better mid-day snack for children than sugary, Kangaroo-shaped cookies dipped into pure sugar icing, then I certainly haven’t found it.

dunkar

Gushers

Unless it’s these guys.

gusher

These hexagonal delights detonated a wonderful blast of high fructose corn syrup “fruit juice” with each bite. My only complaint? There were never enough in the package.

Hot Dogs

My love affair with hot dogs ran deep. I can’t even tell you the number of days I spent at my window, longing for the Oscar Meyer truck to make its way down my street.

weinermobile

Alas- it never found its way to small town Nova Scotia, but that didn’t prevent me from eating hot dogs  nearly every day anyway. I would literally eat them any possible way- barbequed, boiled, MICROWAVED.

I know, I’m not proud of it either.

As an aside, does anyone else remember this unfortunate, coloured ketchup incident?

Ugh.

Kraft Dinner

Perhaps the most Canadian of comfort foods, I essentially survived my first two years of undergrad on this day-glo orange pasta alone (no ketchup, of course)

 

KD

uhhh. yeah.

Fun Dips

fundip

This childhood snack was literally 100% pure sugar. Eaten with a stick made of hardened sugar. Beautiful.

Question of the Day: What were your favourite childhood comfort foods?

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Soccer Field Reveries

I felt it last night on my walk home from work- that first, crisp chill in the air that marks the inevitable transition from summer to fall.

Maybe it’s the season, or maybe it’s Phillip Roth’s American Pastoral which I’ve been reading lately, but I find myself waxing nostalgic about my days on the high school soccer field, and wishing I could be transported back there- even just for a day. 

I never felt as at home, as secure, as I did at our local soccer complex. I loved everything about it-the smell of the freshly cut grass; the crisp fall air; the gentle clouds of smoke that wafted above from neighbors burning leaves in their backyards.

My memories of this place all seem to coagulate around the fall of 2002. I was 16, “going on 25” as my mom would say (a colorful way of describing my “attitude problem”), and a starting midfielder on my high school soccer team , The Warriors. Like most high school athletes, I derived a huge part of my identity from this. Soccer- my team- was everything. I lived, breathed and slept the sport, spending countless hours at the field at games and practices. When I wasn’t playing, I was cheering on the boys’ team, snacking on watery hot chocolate and 50 cent Cheetos from the clubhouse and huddling under blankets with my teammates to stay warm.

The new soccer complex in our town had been completed the previous summer, and I couldn’t wait to get out there and tear up the freshly lain sod. My newly laundered socks were begging to be covered in grass stains, and I craved the telltale “swoosh” of the ball hitting the back of the still-taught net.

Coming into our sophomore year, my teammates and I were hungry. We had narrowly missed a provincial championship the year before (to a team who wore skirts for uniforms, no less) and vowed not to let the title escape our grasp again. On our vibrant purple and gold jerseys, we had pinned badges with the name of a fellow teammate we had lost to cancer the year before.  Her name became our pre-game rally cry, and she was forever in the back of our minds- “Forever a Warrior” as our jerseys proclaimed- motivating us even further to win each game.

As if this weren’t inspiration enough, it was also the final year we, or anyone for that matter, would wear those jerseys. The next fall, our school would be merging with two others to form a brand new “super school”.  With our futures, both in soccer and friendship, uncertain, we clung to those moments on the field like the clumps of packed mud between the spikes on our cleats.

And so we showed up for practice, every day after school- taking endless penalty shots and running drills against the backdrop of the quickly setting sun. Our coach, notoriously tough but fair, was armed with an intensity rivaling both Harbaugh brothers put together . He worked us to the bone; devoting entire practices to suicide drills, and having us lie on the darkened school library floor the night before important games, where he led us through a series of “visualization exercises”.

All of this hard work paid off though, and after an undefeated regular season, we won the right to host the regional championships at our home field. There was a giant pep rally in our school foyer, and the entire school was let out early to watch our first game. One of the girls on our team had gone to the dollar store and bought purple and gold ribbons, and we took turns braiding them through each other’s hair as we warmed up. It was a freezing October day; and despite the fact that we had sweaters layered under our jerseys, and leggings under our shorts, we couldn’t have felt more like Queens.

We won that game. And every game thereafter that weekend to take home the regional title.  

After that, my memory grows a little foggy. I remember making it to provincials, and facing off against the skirt-clad mafia once again, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember how we did. What I do remember are the bus rides spent laughing uncontrollably with my teammates; the hotel hijinks; and the fresh orange slices someone’s mom brought out at half time. More than anything though, I remember our field- the smell, the sound, the camaraderie unlike anything I’ve experienced since- and the way it all made me feel. And that, I think, is enough. 

 

Question of the Day:

(and today’s Writing101 Theme)

If you could zoom through space (and time) in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

Tales of a Fifth Grade Weirdo

My niece Lola starts grade 5 next week, which is crazy, because last time I checked, she was like 2.5 and scarily obsessed with baby dolls.

Now it’s all iPod app this, One Direction that.

I remember my first day of grade 5 like it was yesterday.  It was 1996, and in keeping with the fashion of the times, I sported a shiny new pair of black Doc Martens, a red and black plaid jumper, and, in flagrant disregard of my baby weight, a black turtleneck crop top I stole from my 25-year-old sister.

Rounding out the look was a god-awful scrunchie in the style set out below,

Side note: is this look actually back in again?

And a hideous backpack covered in un-funny comic strips. Obviously, this was not my choice. In fact, so badly did I want a pink and white Jansport, I staged a full-on meltdown in the back-to-school aisle of Eaton’s, the ill-fated Canadian retailer.

A no-nonsense kind of woman to her very core, my mother showed no remorse, placing the atrocity at the cash alongside a fresh package of slouchy socks.

At the age of 10, I was, to put it mildly, at an “Awkward Stage”. I was prepubescent, mildly overweight, and extremely clumsy, but somehow blissfully unaware of all of this. Despite rendering me complicit in more than one crime against fashion, my mom still managed to somehow instill in me a sense of unwavering- albeit false- confidence. I was led to believe that no one was better than me at anything- even Taekwondo (everyone was better than me at Taekwondo. If there was a demotion from white belt, I would have gotten it.)

Although I am continuing to deal with the repercussions of my inflated childhood ego (wait- not everybody loves me?), I am still thankful to her for this.

In defiance of all laws of the universe, I was also extremely pumped about going back to school. This is understandable though, because I was a weirdo.

As a young child, I was so excited to go to school that I would pace back and forth at the end of the driveway and wait for the bus to come at least 40 minutes before its designated arrival time. I maintained this silent bus vigil even in the dead of Canadian winter- hands wrapped in double-layer gloves, face obscured by cat-eared balaclava.

 

Like this- but slightly less terrifying.

After concerned calls from the neighbors (“are you sure there’s nothing wrong with her, dear?”) my mother pleaded with me to stay inside, assuring me that I wouldn’t miss the bus; but I wasn’t having any of it. I’d heard the Kriss-Kross song. I wasn’t taking any chances.

Source: MTV.com Getty Images

This year was no different. At the end of July, I began collecting flyers from various stores and cross-referencing them against my ever-growing list of school supplies. By early August, I had completed an itemized list, by location, of where to find the best deals on each item. I presented this list to my mother, expecting her to be pleased with my due diligence, but instead she simply shook her head sadly and poured herself another cup of coffee.

After two weeks of  my constant haranguing, we finally went shopping, and I spent a full day alone in my room, proudly labeling my multi-coloured duotangs, Five Star binders and purple LeKit.

 

It appears that my niece has somehow inherited this trait from me, as last week I received these pictures of her proudly holding up her new school supplies.

Lo1 lo2

*Tear*

Never before have I been so proud!

Question of the Day: Were you excited to go back to school?

 

 Daily Prompt:  August Blues– As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?

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C’est L’Halloween

I don’t know about you guys, but today really kicked my ass. I had lofty goals of coming home from work and finishing an awesomely hilarious post about zombies I started this weekend, but instead I just lay on  the couch, ate pizza and watched 3+ hours of entertainment news programming. (Side notes: how is Chris Brown still a free man? Julianne Hough is an idiot, and I cannot wait for baby WildKis.)

wildkis

Anyway, since I stupidly vowed to write a blog post every day this month, here is an awesome link that’s been making the rounds on Facebook today-

‘C’est l’Halloween’: the story behind the greatest French Halloween song ever

Those who know, know. And if you don’t know, now you know.

I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore.

Read the post, watch the vid, feel nostalgic, get in the Halloween spirit.. and maybe sing and dance a little. Or don’t- and say you did. That’s cool too.

Question of the Day: Did you take french classes in school?

Throwback Thursday: Halloween Candy

Halloween is right around the corner, and since I’m too lazy busy deciding which ironic Halloween costume to wear (Miley Cyrus wrecking ball?

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Or Baby North West?),

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I thought I’d go into the vault and pull out this little gem I first published back in October, 2011.

Originally part of a feature I did called Turn Up The Good: Turn Down The Suck, where I profiled a few things that were good, followed by a few things that sucked (genius, I know), this post is all about my favourite thing in the world (besides wine) – Candy! enjoy.

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Halloween is by far my favourite holiday of the year. Not only does it give you free license to wear whatever the hell you want and call it a “costume”, it’s also the day on which such A-List celebrities as Vanilla Ice, Rob Schnieder and (drumroll please)…. yours truly, were born. So that’s why, for this edition of Turn Up the Good, Turn down The Suck – I thought I would focus on one of the best parts of this glorious day: CANDY.

Halloween breezyk circa 1989

As a child, I put the “anal” in “analyze”. This was especially true of Halloween. I would return from trick or treating, dump my goods on my bedroom floor, and proceed to spend hours poring over my loot and categorizing its contents; determining which pieces were to be consumed first and which saved for later. By the time I was done constructing all of my little piles, my room looked like an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive– but it was worth it. My rationing ensured that I would be adequately supplied with candy until Christmas (or at least until my older brothers got a hold of it.)

Sure they look cute… but these boys CANT BE TRUSTED

Anyway- as evidenced by my story, not all Halloween candy was created equal: so here I present to you a list of the best (turn up the good) and worst (turn down the suck) of Halloween candy:

Turn Up the Good

1. Full Size Chocolate Bars: otherwise known as the holy grail of trick or treating. Like unicorns (yes, exactly like unicorns), these were scarce. Neighbourhood kids would discuss which houses were giving full-size bars away, and make special trips just to get them. God bless these generous individuals.

2. Reese Peanut Butter Cups: I realize this one is slightly subjective. You can feel free to insert your favourite fun-size chocolate bar here- but damn I loved me some Reeses. Guaranteed to make the top cut of any sorting round.

2. Full Cans of (NAME BRAND ONLY) Pop (None of that No-name cola shit): I hesitated to add this one, simply because of the sheer weight these puppies add to your treat bag. However, it’s a cross I was always willing to bear in order to have unlimited cans of Pepsi at my disposal throughout November….

4. Homemade Shit: This makes the list due to its elusive nature. Homemade cookies? Quaint little bags of popcorn tied up lovingly with ribbons? CANDY APPLES? Sure they all looked amazing- but kid, you might as well just forget about it. If your parents were anything like mine, all that gloriousness was being thrown in the trash faster than you could say “this isn’t actually a costume“.

Homemade halloween treats- I salute you. Though your creators may be creepy, and you may contained concealed razor blades- your potential deliciousness transcends.

Turn Down the Suck

1. Rockets: AKA a cheap-ass waste of valuable treat bag space…. or, as a friend of mine rightly clarified: “a waste of EARTH space”.

2. Mollases Kisses: You know the ones I’m talking about. A sort of caramel/tootsie roll/ black licorice hybrid that have been around forever, and for some reason still persists. These choking hazards shouldn’t be given to CHILDREN- they should be reserved for old men who are missing most of their teeth so they can kill some time. I’m not feelin it.

3. Unmarked bags of potato chips: This was always a crapshoot. Emblazoned only with the “Hostess” or “Humpty Dumpty” logo all over them, you never knew what you were going to get. You risked wasting potential treats if you opened it up and didn’t like that kind, and for the weirdo kids like me, this created a nightmare for categorization.

Like this… EXCEPT NOT

4. Non-Food Related Items

Pencils, erasers, religious pamphlets… basically anything that made you roll your eyes behind the mask of your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume and go “REALLY?”

Bitches be fundamentally misunderstanding the concept of Halloween, yo..

Question of the Day: What were your favourite/ least favourite Halloween Treats?

A Climb To Remember

Looking back, the summer of 1990 was a rough time for everyone involved. The Gulf War was in full swing, a sharp recession swept the global economy, and MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” was a number one single.

hamm

As if these atrocities weren’t enough, it was also the year my mom went back to work part-time, leaving my dad with five wily rug rats to contend with during one of the hottest summers on record in Nova Scotia.

My sisters, teenagers at the time, could mostly fend for themselves; however my brothers (10 and 12) and I (only four) required constant entertainment to keep from tearing each other’s heads off.

Dad tried taking us to the playground; but the monkey bars proved too perilous. Our trips to the beach resulted only in jellyfish stings and heartache. Eventually, he gave up, bought a bucket of KFC and took us to Greenhill Provincial Park. A picnic in the park, he (undoubedtly) thought, what  could possibly go wrong?

The park offered panoramic views of the entire county, and in those days there was a tower several stories high you could climb to get a better look.

photo (20)

Immediately upon arrival my brothers rushed to the tower, with me following right behind them.

“Where do you think you’re going?” asked my brother Kristin, “This isn’t for babies!”

“I’m not a baby!” I protested, “I’m four and a half!”

“You’re not allowed!” contested my brother Stephen.

“Can I dad?” I pleaded

“Go ahead,” he sighed, lifting a drumstick defeatedly, “but be careful.”

With a satisfied grin, I began climbing the ladder, taking the first few rungs with vigor. I was feeling quite smug- until I looked down. The ground appeared miles away; my dad and his bucket of chicken nothing but a red and white dot on the horizon. Above me, the ladder seemed to extend infinitely.

My lip began to quiver.

“Hurry up!” shouted Stephen, a few rungs ahead.

“She’s scared,” chimed in Kristin. “I told you she was a baby!”

Tears burned the backs of my eyes, but resolve stirred deep within me. I was Jack, and this was my proverbial Beanstalk. I would climb this tower if it was the last thing I did.

Somehow, through sheer adrenaline, blind faith and four-year-old will, I made it to the top. Ready to bask in my accomplishment, I stepped onto the platform, took a long gaze around, and…… immediately began to bawl like a baby.

“DADDY!!” I wailed, “IT”S TOO HIGH!!!”

Inconsolable and paralyzed by fear, my father was forced to abandon his chicken and momentary peace to climb up the tower and rescue me.

“It’s ok,” he said later, wiping away my tears with a half soiled wet-nap. “You can try again next year.”

But I didn’t. Not that year, or any year after. Instead, I developed a life long fear of heights (and, vaguely, wet-naps). However, I did learn one important lesson that day which continues to guide my decision-making process: when given the choice between taking a risk and staying firmly on the ground with a bucket of fried chicken- always, always ,choose the chicken.

photo (19)

Question of the Day: What Is Your First Memory?

Love Lessons From My Childhood Pen Pal

I got a letter in the mail the other day. It was a bit of an unexpected thrill, considering my mailbox is usually filled with nothing but Domino’s pizza flyers. (Which, don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate.) 

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While reading it, I was reminded of a time in my life when letters weren’t quite so infrequent.

………. Cue the flashback (you knew it was coming)

flashback

The year was 1995: I was 9 years old, bookish, and heavy into Blossom Hats and The Babysitter’s Club. I was teetering on the verge of what would soon become my five-year “awkward phase”, but didn’t know it yet. Life was good.

It was also the year I made my first Pen Pal.

*Not me or my dog.
*Not me or my dog.

I acquired my Pen Pal through somewhat unusual circumstances. My father, the son of Croatian immigrants, liked to keep ties with his Eastern European heritage. This manifested itself mostly in three ways: cooking obscene amounts of cabbage, hoarding things, and subscribing to a Croatian newsletter called  Zajedničar. 

Zajedničar, as I recall it, was a bizarre publication filled with ads for life insurance, way too many consonants, and people in weird costumes playing Tamburitzas.

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 I never paid much attention to it until one day, my dad showed me an ad offering a PenPal service connecting Croatian children across North America.  

Now this was something I could get down with. The opportunity to correspond with a real live girl in another country? Sign me up!

I immediately submitted my information to the magazine, and a few weeks later, received my first letter.  It was from a girl named Jessica in Erie, Pennsylvania. She was 10 years old, and loved Barbies, gymnastics and stickers- in that order.  She even sent me her school photo, in which she was wearing one of those Western bolo shirts that were popular at the time.

This was the best I could do on Google images. In reality, she looked nothing like this.
This was the best I could do on Google images. She actually looked nothing like this.

Her long, sandy blond hair was tied into a side braid with a fluffy white scrunchie on the end, and she accessorized with dangly troll earrings, gummy bracelets and a toothpaste-commercial smile.

penpal9

To me, she was impossibly cool.

I immediately began crafting my response. Besides just telling her my entire life story, I also spent hours researching her hobbies and interests in order to prove what a thoughtful and conscientious Pen Pal I could be. I even had my dad pull out the atlas to show me where Erie was on the map. 

penpal5

I was certain she would be impressed by such informational gems as:

Did you know your town is named after a lake??!”; and 

I heard toothpaste is great for removing sticker residue!” 

We corresponded for the next few months, sending letters as well as other totems of our respective 90’s childhoods: stickers, colorful erasers, POGS, temporary tattoos.We never spoke a single word about Croatia, but that was OK. 

Eventually, things kind of fizzled out. Ok, I’m lying. Jessica just straight-up stopped writing to me. I don’t really know what happened. I mean, maybe I was a little overzealous in my pursuits- spending hours drafting elaborate letters, consulting atlases and whatnot. And maybe I should’ve seen this one coming when my 10-page anthologies met with only a few measly paragraphs in response. “Maybe she’s busy practicing her tumbling,” my mother would say. But deep down, I knew the score. 

While being blown-off so coldly hurt at the time, in a way I’m thankful, because it probably prevented me from becoming a full-on stage 5 clinger in future romantic relationships.  

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Now I’m just incredibly closed-off and distant. I think it’s working out pretty well for me.

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So thank you, Jessica, for teaching me that there is such a thing as coming on way too strong. I  hope you finally found that Sailor Moon sticker sheet you were looking for, and that somewhere, out there, you and your side braid are tumbling off into the sunset.

Question of the Day: Did You Have A Pen Pal Growing Up?

Throwback Thursday: 90’s Edition

Fasten your seatbelts, kids- because I’m about to take you on a trip down memory lane the masochistic nostalgia highway with yet another round of have beens, washed ups and never-weres.

Yes, it’s Throwback Thursday again- and this week, we’re kicking it 90’s style.   

90s2

The inspiration for this TBT actually came from an experience I had at a play a couple of weeks ago here in Toronto.

Yes, you read that correctly: BreezyK went to the theaaaataaah! Clearly I’ve been spending way too much time with Intellectual Dachshund.

All the world's a stage and.... hey, where's my scotch?
All the world’s a stage and…. hey, who moved my scotch?

Anyway, I was standing in line at the box office waiting for my homies, when suddenly I spotted a handsome gentleman to my immediate right. I was like

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I turned my head to take a closer look, only to discover that this “cute guy” was actually BRANDON FREAKING WALSH!!!

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 Yes- Jason Priestley was standing directly beside me, breathing the very same air. I wanted to say something snarky like “hey, wanna go to the Peach Pit after this?” or  “how’s Brenda? still reeling from that pregnancy scare?”

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But I refrained, and instead focused on obsessively studying every detail of his face. He was wearing a red K-Way type jacket, and looked a little worse for the wear- sort of like a hot dad post-soccer practice.

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He was also shorter than I expected, but had movie star eyes: the kind that melt your heart and haunt your soul at the same time. We held eye contact for roughly 3 seconds. (I counted.) 

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Obviously I had to Google him afterwards. It’s the responsible thing to do once you start dating someone new. I discovered that after such career highs as Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story and People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful 1991, Jason bounced around for a while before landing the role of a morally flexible car salesman on HBO’s Call Me Fitz. 

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The show has received some critical acclaim and firmly re-trenched the Canadian starlet in D-List celebrity territory. Priestley is also starring in David Mamet’s new play “Race”, opening here in Toronto on Sunday. So, if you need me, I’ll be sitting in the front row, wearing my ratty old 90210 shirt and cheering on my man until further notice. Jason, if you’re reading this- let’s try to make it 4 seconds this time.  😉 

Savage Garden

This TBT is brought to you by the Bellagio hotel lobby, whose unofficial radio policy is: “All Savage Garden, All The Time”.

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I swear I heard their songs more times in the past 4 days than in the past 10 years combined.  (Not that I’m complaining.)

For those of you who didn’t slow dance to “Truly Madly Deeply” with your grade 6 boyfriend like I did, I’ll give a little background: Savage Garden was an Australian pop/rock duo who first hit it big in North America back in 1998. Something about “Chicken Cherry Cola”.

The band consisted of Darren Hayes on vocals and Daniel Jones on instrumentals. After producing a handful of hits in the late 90’s, the pair split up in 2001 so Hayes could pursue his solo endeavours. 

Hayes came out with the song “Insatiable” in 2002 which I never heard but somehow has over 4 million YouTube hits???

I initially credited this to his glorious frosted tips in the video:

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but joke’s on me, because Darren Hayes is actually a legit TBT success story! He has done four solo albums since Savage Garden, all of which have been commercially successful. According to Wikipedia, he also came out as being gay in the early 2000’s and is a huge a Star Wars buff. Who Knew!

Chumbawamba 

Now I know y’all remember pissing the night away to this one:

But what has happened to the Brit band since?

Well, apparently Chumbawamba has been together for almost 30 years (!!) and was originally formed as an anarchist movement.

90s2

After gracing the world with their surreptitiously anti-facist party anthem “TubThumping”, Chumbawamba had a bit of an identity crisis. They signed under multiple different labels, recording songs in basically every genre possible: techno, punk, world, a capella folk. They even released a Japan-only mini album (wtf is that?) consisting entirely of country and western versions of their greatest hits. Oh, and I almost forgot- they also sometimes go by the name “Skin Disease”.

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Apparently they got tired of being the weirdest band on earth, because in 2012, they decided to call it quits.

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So I know I say this about everyone, but this band REALLY needs their own reality show. I would totally watch that noise.

Off to find a way to make that happen!

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Question of the Day: Any 90’s stars you wonder about?

Book Review: Ham On Rye By Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was one angry man.

….Or should I say, Henry Chinaski, Bukowkski’s thinly veiled aler-ego in the novel Ham on Rye.

HamOnRye1

In this semi-autobiographical take on Bukowksi’s own life, Ham on Rye follows Chinaski through his childhood and adolescence, first in Germany, and then in depression-era Los Angeles.

To say life wasn’t easy for the young Chinaski would be an understatement. Poverty, bullying, and frequent beatings from his father were just a few of the problems he faced on a daily basis. Not to mention the horrible,  disfiguring acne he acquired as a teenager, forcing him to suffer through painful treatments and social ostracization.

As a result of this, Chinaski grew up an angry outsider. He had few friends at school, and spent most of his time reading D.H. Lawrence books in the Los Angeles public library. He also sought solace in writing, but his stories were often dismissed by others as being “too angry”.

I would call Chinaski a misanthrope, were it not for his abiding love – nay, obsession- with the female form. (let’s just say l had no idea how gross teenage males could be).  Oh, and of course, alcohol. He notably remarks, after experiencing intoxication for the first time: “this is going to help me for a long, long time”.

bukowsk4

Unfortunately, the honeymoon is short-lived, and his relationship with alcohol leads to progressively seedier and more violent behavior.

There’s not really much of a “plot” in Ham on Rye: it tells the story of the first 20 years of Chinaski’s life; and then it ends. And that was OK with me.

I read this book in one Sunday afternoon. I had planned on seeing Gangster Squad, but had 45 minutes to kill before the movie started. So I popped into the bookstore next to the theatre. I’d been wanting to read Bukowski since I read this letter he wrote, so I picked up this book and settled into a comfy chair to check it out.

bukow

Four hours and 230 pages later, I completely missed my movie, but found a great book. (Yes, a book beat out Ryan Gosling. What is happening to me.)

ryan

I ended up buying a copy out of guilt (Well played, Chapters Indigo…Well played), and proceeded to walk out of the store like a zombie. The last time I read an entire book in one day was probably in Middle School, when I was obsessed with the Emily of New Moon series.

emily

I used to lock myself in my room for days, devouring books like some sort of crazed meth addict. I’d forgotten what an overwhelming and mentally exhausting feeling this can be. Thoughts and emotions whirred around my brain like crazy; letters floated in front of my eyelids every time I blinked.

I think this book hit me particularly hard because it was so emotionally raw. At times I thought about putting it down, but couldn’t. It was sort of like pressing a canker sore; as uncomfortable as it was, I also kind of liked it. Having read a lot of fluff before this, it felt good to read a book with real pain and tangible feelings involved- one that wasn’t obviously angling to become a Hollywood film.

I think one of the biggest things I took away from this book was just how good my generation has it. Growing up, my parents would say things like, “you kids don’t know how lucky you are!”. And proceed to regale us with harrowing tales from their youth; like “I used to walk four miles to school, in 35 foot high snow!”  or “I had to scrub the floors for three hours every day.. with a toothbrush!”

It was easy to tune them out and hear the voice of the Charlie Brown teacher when it was my parents:

teacher

not so much when the words were right there on the page in front of me. It made me feel guilty and ashamed for complaining about all of my first-world problems, when poor Henry Chinaski was wearing the same pants to school every day and getting his ass kicked for missing a blade of grass when he cut the front lawn.

Chinaski’s experience as a German immigrant also really hit me on a personal level. Like Chinaski, my father was also the son of Eastern European immigrants, and he too was chided by his peers and made to feel unwelcome for his immigrant status. It gave me a whole new appreciation for how difficult it was for my dad growing up. I wanted to reach out across four provinces and give him a great big hug.

Even though it was aggressively emo and made my cold sarcastic heart grow three sizes in one day,  I still thought this book was great, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking to take a step out of their reading comfort zone.

I give it: 4/5 Intellectual Dachshunds 

Intellectual Dachshund Says: I Feel Feelings
Intellectual Dachshund Says: I Feel Feelings

Question of the Day: What book has made a lasting impression on you?

And P.S. for those of you who are worried about my emotional health, rest assured that I am currently reading The Happiness Project.. which I’m told fixes every problem in your entire life. Right??

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