The 10 Best Books I Read in 2014

While my reading tally this year didn’t quite stack up to the 52 books I read in 2013, Intellectual Dachshund and I still managed to get through some 30-odd titles.

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This proved to be a much more manageable number, and one which actually allowed me to leave my apartment once in a while (whether I liked it or not.)

Also, can I just say that 2014 was officially the year of the female author? 7 out of 10 of these titles were written by unbelievably talented, smart, funny women.

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K I’m done now. On to my top 10 books!

1. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

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What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?

That is the question posed by Kate Atkinson in her wildly inventive novel Life After Life. Like a slightly heavier Groundhog Day, the book follows Ursula Todd as she lives- and re-lives- the events of the 20th century. From the opening paragraph, this book had me captivated and completely hooked. I had no idea what turn would come next, which kept me turning pages wee into the morning hours. More addictive than a Chopped marathon on the Food Network, I would highly recommend this for an exciting read. 

2.  Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

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In this funny, ambitious novel, Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, best friends and 12-year business partners, must save their beloved used vinyl shop Brokeland Records from the new “Dogpile Thang” music megastore opening two blocks away. It’s like a High Fidelity and Empire Records mash-up, with the end result becoming something new and original entirely.

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 3. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

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Way back in 2008, before Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize, she wrote The Rehearsal- a gripping little story (about 1/8 the length of the Illuminaries– a major reason why I chose to read it instead) set in the aftermath of a local scandal involving a young female student’s affair with her music teacher. Told from several different viewpoints in a non-linear plotline, I found this book inventive, captivatingly dark, and twisted. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path.

 4. Us by David Nicholls

In Us, well-intentioned-yet oblivious scientist Douglas Petersen attempts to win back the hearts of Connie, his artist wife of 20 years, and the affection of his brooding, 17-year old son Albie, all against the backdrop of a family European vacation.

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I’m a big fan of David Nicholls, and loved his previous books Starter For Ten and One Day. I had high hopes for this one as well- but after reading several books this year about middle-aged marriages in crisis (see: The Vacationers, I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You), I worried the theme might be a bit played out. Happily, this book differentiated itself for me with its clever plot twists and laugh-out-loud humor.  I expect this one to be adapted into a screenplay any day now. I’d cast Colin Firth as Douglas,  Rachel Weisz as Connie, and Ansel Elgort as Albie.

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See, don’t they look good together? I’m really in the wrong line of work.

5.  The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill

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19-year-old twins Nicholas and Nouschka Tremblay, offspring of Quebec folk singer, and notorious playboy, Etienne Tremblay, spent their childhood in the public eye. Now they are grown up and making their own mistakes on the streets of referendum-era Montreal – all of which ending up in the French Canadian tabloid Allo Police. It’s a slightly-offbeat coming-of-age tale with a hefty dose of family drama, and a side dish of Canadian politics.

6.  The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P by Adelle Waldman

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I have a special place in my heart for this book, even though it is responsible for the one and only sunburn I received in 2014. (Seriously I’ve gotten much better on the tanning front since winning the nonexistent Miss Hawaiian Tropic competition in 2008). I could feel my shoulders getting redder in the mid-July sun, but my heart just wouldn’t let me put the damn book down. I didn’t want to stop reading about Nathaniel, the self-absorbed future literary star, with a similar penchant for breaking hearts.  This is also maybe one of the best books I’ve ever read told from a reverse gender perspective. I found it amazing the way Adelle Waldman really got into the mind of a man and wrote Nathaniel so convincingly. Seriously worth a read.  (And if you don’t believe me- according to her Instagram, Kate Hudson liked it too.)

7. My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

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Part memoir, part coming-of-age story, part love letter to New York City, My Salinger Year  tells the story of Joanna Rakoff as a starry-eyed twenty-three-year-old who moves to New York with the dream of becoming a writer. Instead, she winds up in a crappy Williamsburg apartment with a crappy boyfriend and a crappy job as assistant to the literary agent for J.D. Salinger. Her task? To answer Salinger’s endless pile of fan-mail with a stock response. At first mind-numbingly boring, she soon becomes engrossed by the letters, inspired to craft her own replies.  As they say in the publishing world- it’s a “small story” , but it’s got a lot of heart, and is a great, light, entertaining read.

8. Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler 

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Fed up with the way his life has been portrayed by others, and in the media, thrice-married, aging TV producer Barney Panofsky decides to set the record straight by writing his own memoirs.  Rich in themes- including life, love, family, friendship and aging- I thought it was excellent. Romantic, captivating, hilarious, and uniquely Canadian, I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great read.

9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Confession: I kind of want to be best friends with Amy Poehler. And if you don’t already, you will too after reading her hilarious book Yes Please. A hodge – podge of personal essays, life advice, Bossypants-esque memoirs from her time on SNL and Parts and Recreation  and straight-up randomness, it will both endear you to her, and leave you laughing uncontrollably. Do yourself a favor and read this one.

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10. No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

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This short story collection by indie darling Miranda July (she also wrote and starred in a movie Roger Ebert cited as one of the best films of the decade) is weird, captivating, and slightly disturbing. Any summary I would give wouldn’t do it justice- so check it out if you’re in for a very different read.

Other Books I read in 2014 (In no particular order):

  • Office Girl -Joe Meno
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tart
  • Fangirl– Rainbow Rowell
  • Listen to the Sqwaking Chicken– Elaine Lui
  • Transatlantic– Collum McCann
  • One more thing – BJ Novak
  • Run Rabbit– John Updike
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man- James Joyce
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- John Berendt 
  • Not That Kind of Girl -Lena Dunham
  • The Vacationers – Emma Straub
  • I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You – Courtney Maum
  • American Pastoral- Phillip Roth
  • No Relation -Terry Fallis
  • Dear Leaves: I Miss You All – Sarah Heinonen
  • Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations With Today’s Top Comedy Writers– Mike Sacks

Question of the day: What was the best book you read in 2014?

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7 Slang Words I Learned in 2014 (And How To Use Them)

At the ripe old age of 29, I am slowly coming to the realization that I may no longer be “hip”.

Evidence of this includes:

  • my growing reluctance to stay awake past 10pm
  • unfamiliarity with the majority of award show performers (Ariana who now?)
  • increased disillusion with music festivals and all other non-seated events
  • the fact that I used the word “hip” in quotations in the preceding sentence.

Perhaps the biggest, and most troubling sign, however, is my complete and utter hopelessness when it comes to today’s slang. This was made clear to me recently when a friend described an online date she went on as “a total catfish”.  Say what? “You went on a date with a sea creature??” I asked, imagining the two of them at a fancy restaurant, plates full of plankton.   

“Uh, no” she said looking at me like I had three heads “it means when someone pretends to be someone they’re not online… like the MTV show?”

I wish I could say that was the only time this happened – but alas, over the past year, there have been a number of times I’ve been left with a blank stare, scrambling to urbandictionary.com to break the code, like a less-cool, worse-cheekboned Alan Turing. 

Because I love you and don’t want you to suffer the same fate, I’ve compiled a list of the top 6 slang words I learned in 2014, together with definitions, and how to use each in a sentence so you can be just like the cool kids.

1. Salty

Bitter; angry; used to connote a general bad attitude.

E.g. “She was salty when she discovered Real Housewives of Miami had been cancelled” 

2. Basic

Common; unsophisticated; transparent; generally unoriginal

e.g. “Homegirl bought a year’s supply of Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix. She’s so basic” 

3. Sharewithal

An inherent understanding of what to share on social media, when, and on what platform.

E.g. “Did you see that terrible status Alyssa posted on Facebook? Girl has ZERO sharewithal” 

4. Webisode

Overly dramatic

E.g. “Sorry for being such a webisode last night, I had way too much Pinot Grigio” 

5. Bae 

I’m sure most of you know  this one now that Pharrell has sung it to death, but did you guys know it is actually an ACRONYM? It stands for “Before Anyone Else” and can be used to describe your significant other, bestie, something incredibly cool etc.

E.g. “Nutella is, and always will be my bae” 

6. Turnt Up

Getting loose/wild; crazy partying

E.g. “I drank TWO glasses of wine while watching Extreme Weightloss Last Night. Sh*t was turnt UP”

7. Swerve

To Dodge or dismiss someone.

E.g.

My Friend: “Do you want to do a juice cleanse with me?”

Me: “SWERVE, b*tch!”

Question of the Day: What Slang Words have you learned recently?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/countdown/

Life Is A Mixtape

As the great Rob Gordon said in High Fidelity:

“We all experience music autobiographically. I think a lot of people do. So I’ll have certain songs that mark certain times in our life and I think we’re not rare that way. Like I’ll use music as fuel, you know? Not like as inspiration but as fuel like if I need to get into a certain mindset I know there’s certain songs that I can turn on that’ll just… that’s the gas and that’ll get me right where I need to go.  Or if I need to get out of a certain state put on this song or that song and it just propels you.”

Like our consummate indie hero, I too have certain songs that bring me back to a particular time or place, or evoke a familiar feeling no matter where I am or what I’m doing.  And although I haven’t gone so far as to organize my music collection autobiographically quite yet,  that doesn’t mean certain songs haven’t been compartmentalized in my mind that way.

So in response to today’s Writing 101 prompt, Here are the three most important songs  in my life to date.

1. Lauryn Hill – Doo-Wop (That Thing)

Along with the Spice Girls’ Spice Up Your Life and Much Dance ’97, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was one of three CDs I received for Christmas in 1998. Initially ambivalent, it only took one listen for me to forget about the other two, and immerse myself completely in the world of Lauryn: her amazing vocals, dynamite lyrics, and unbelievable swagger. I had never heard anything quite like it, and I became certifiably obsessed. I played the CD constantly and brought it everywhere I went, scratching the surface so badly that barely a rhyme could be delivered without a skip. Through Lauryn, I learned about other great hip hop acts like The Fugees, The Roots, and what would soon become an even bigger obsession: Missy Elliot.

This song, though, was my ultimate brass ring. I practiced it daily until I had every lyric down pat- and if you twist my arm (ok, you might not even have to twist my arm) I can still recite them all to this day.  

2. Death Cab For Cutie- Transatlanticism

I had this friend in high school, let’s just call her Mary. Mary was way cooler than me in every sense of the word- she played the drums, wore a pocket chain, and had that total “IDGAF” attitude I always tried, but failed to emulate. Mary and I didn’t typically hang in the same circles, but somehow we managed to form this one-off, insular friendship, and the glue that held it together was music. While I knew I loved music, I really didn’t know much about it at that point- save for my extensive Missy Elliot collection and hand-me-down Dave Matthews CDs from my older brothers. Mary, graciously turned a blind eye to my ignorance, and took it upon herself to be my musical spirit guide. We were sitting together on the bus one morning, when in a move resembling the famous scene from Garden State, she took her massive headphones off and bestowed them upon me, saying “Listen to this song, it will change your world”.

The song was Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie, and it really did rock my 17-year-old world. It was moving, powerful and deep and I couldn’t get enough of it. I went out and bought the whole album that day, and listened to it on repeat for weeks. This one recommendation opened up a whole new world of indie music to me – bands like Metric, Stars, and The Shins that I never would have heard of if it wasn’t for her. So thank you, Mary, for making me the annoying indie music snob I am today.

3. Feist- Brandy Alexander

Sometimes a song isn’t so much tied to a specific memory as a feeling. That’s the case with this song. I’ve loved it since the first moment I heard it in 2007, on Feist’s third album, The Reminder. Even with its depth and powerful production, it instantly put me in a calm, reflective state. To this day, I go back to it when I need a moment of stillness or clarity; often with a glass of wine- my own, personal Brandy Alexander.

Question of the Day: What are the three most important songs in your life?

 

10 Great Things About Fall (Besides Pumpkin Spice Lattes)

Fall is right around the corner, and you know what that means: crisp weather, colorful foliage, and a barrage of pumpkin-spice themed posts in your newsfeeed.

Source: http://www.someecards.com

I mean, don’t get me wrong- I love a good PSL myself, but there are so many other great things about fall that don’t get nearly the airtime they deserve. Like:

1. No more excessive sweating 

If, like me, you spent the entire summer rocking a solid 10 on the Whitney scale,

then you will undoubtedly be pumped about the cooler weather. No more sweltering subway rides, no more giant pit stains by the time you get to work, no more looking at your hairdryer with murderous intent .

Aaaah.

http://www.shemazing.net

2. Goodbye crop tops and jean shorts, hello layers

and, on a related note:

3. Swimsuit season is officially over

Celebrate with all the pumpkin flavored deliciousness you want because  you’ve got almost a full year before anyone has to see your ass in a bathing suit again.

4. Thigh chafing is a thing of the past

Put away the body glide, ladies and slip yourself into some nice, comfy leggings- because thigh chafing summer dress season is o-vaa.

5. You won’t have to listen to this song on the radio 24/7 anymore

(…..at least until next summer)

6. People will finally stop asking you to go camping

Source: giphy.com

7. Your Instagram feed will contain way less of this:

….not that I follow Justin Bieber or anything

8. Good TV is back

……goodbye outside world.

Source: indiepepper.com

 9. No more constant crowds

No more wading through intense crowds everywhere you go and trying in vain not to photobomb shots of the CN tower.

…and finally:

10.  Stay home guilt-free

No need to feel guilty about missing beautiful days outside anymore- feel free to binge-watching  Netflix and stay home alone to your heart’s content.

Question of the Day: What are you most looking forward to about fall?

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Friday Five – Music, Movies and My New Vacuum Cleaner

TGIF Guys!

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Time for some random things I’ve been thinking about this week:

1. Dyson Vacuums

In what was potentially the most grown-up purchase I have ever made, I bought a Dyson Vacuum online yesterday.

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Yes, my life has really come to writing about vacuum cleaners.

I mentioned to my coworker that I needed a new vacuum, and she directed me to the Dyson refurbished site where you can get refurbished vacuums with full warranty at discounted prices.

Not gonna lie, it was still a substantial investment (for the price of this puppy, I’m expecting it to be gilded in solid gold); but apparently Dysons are like the Cadillac of vacuums and have all sorts of crazy features and European technology. Do any of you guys have one?  Is it going to change my life?? Cause I’m beginning to wonder if I should’ve just sprang for Rosie from the Jetsons instead….

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2. This Song

3. 15 Reasons To Live

I saw this documentary last week at The Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto and really enjoyed it. It’s by Canadian filmmaker, Alan Zweig, who was inspired by a list his friend wrote of his 15 reasons to live. Zweig set out to find a story to match each one, and compiled them all into this lovely little film. While I enjoyed and identified with certain stories more than others, I would still recommend checking it out.. especially if you need a good ugly cry. (Toronto showtimes here)

4. My New Writing Class

I recently started a new writing class at The University of Toronto, and our first assignment was to write about our first memories. I assumed we would just hand them in to the teacher, but NO. Instead, we did a “self-editing exercise” where we handed our stories to the person on our right and had THEM READ IT ALOUD.  I was like:

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SO nerve-wracking, guys. I almost ran screaming from the class right there on the spot, but it actually ended up being sort of helpful-  you got to hear how your story sounded from a (somewhat) objective perspective, and which parts worked and which fell flat. Still, though, I think for now I’ll stick to hiding behind my screen

5.  Misguided Running Aspirations

So I signed up for a 10k race on November 3rd. I don’t know why. I guess I just hate myself.

friday7 Also, it gives me an excuse to eat an obscene amount of pancakes afterwards.

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Stacks on stacks on stacks

Anyway, now I have to train for this noise, which is even more painful than usual for two reasons:

1. My headphones broke last week, and I have since  been using the Air Canada in-flight variety. They have a maximum volume of like, 2, and make everything sound vaguely underwater. (Headphone suggestions ??)

2. I accidentally washed a fuchsia Lululemon top with the rest of my laundry the other day and turned ALL of my workout clothes a slight tinge of pink. I now feel like the Elle Woods of mediocre running.

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So yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about this!!!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever taken a writing class? Do you want to?

P.S. If you haven’t already, please go read my post about Scott Jones and support him!

Friday Five

So it’s only my fourth day of consecutive posting, and I’m already exhausted. Remind me again why I signed up for this??

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Since writing a post about one coherent topic feels like A LOT right now, here instead are a bunch of random things I’ve been thinking about lately, all wrapped up under one alliterative title! Enjoy!

1. SNL

(and the amazingness that is BLERTA)

This past Saturday, SNL debuted for it’s 39th season; and because I’m kind of a loser die hard, I skipped out on a party to stay home and watch it. (Yes, I am aware I’m dying alone.)

Hosted by Tina Fey, it was the first episode in what has been dubbed a “rebuilding year” after the departure of Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and mah boo Jason Sudeikis, and the addition of 6 new white guys cast members.

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Although I expected the night to be a total disaster, there were actually a few standout moments – like this parody of HBO’s “Girls” introducing Blerta, the Albanian refugee who keeps all those whiny white b*tches in check with her truth-telling. (and should 100% be made into a full-time cast member.. just saying).

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(Canadians can watch the full clip here)

Blerta is seriously my homegirl.

Side note: does anyone else remember those t-shirts?

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I bought one circa 2004 pretty much solely to shock my Catholic parents, and when I wore it I thought I was the SH*T. I also had a t-shirt with Jimi Hendrix’s face on it, despite never actually having listened to Jimi Hendrix. All of this serves as further proof that I am, in fact, a fraud.

2. Fall Weather

I hate to be one of those girls who just can’t S.T.F.U. about fall, but guys, I honestly can’t help it. October is f*cking amazing. Thanksgiving, Halloween, my BIRTHDAY, pumpkins, not sweating Whitney Houston styles on the subway every morning.. I mean, life really doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

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Plus, with this weather I am actually motivated to get out and run for a change. You see, since the Treadmill, Cold Weather and Too Hot Weather are BreezyK Public Enemies #1, 2 and 3, there is really only a short window of opportunity during which running doesn’t completely make me want to kill myself.

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Since we’re currently in the sweet spot, the other day, I decided to go for a run on the Lakeshore path in Toronto and it was glorious. I of course had to instagram it to show all of my friends how superior I am for exercising:

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And in doing so, nearly fell into Lake Ontario. Don’t ever let anyone tell you karma isn’t a b*tch, kids.

3. This

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4. The Return of Primetime TV

With the notable exception of Big Brother, it was a long, dry summer for TV up in here. I was seriously beginning to worry I was going to have to find a hobby or something… Or worse, actually leave my apartment.

On a weeknight?!

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Alas, I can continue my sloth-like ways, because all of my stories have returned to their rightful place inside my dream box. There’s

The New Girl,

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The Mindy Project

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Parks and Recreation, X FACTOR. I could go on. There are also a few new shows that I think might have potential- like Seth MacFarlane’s Dads starring Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg as a wise-cracking cop.

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I can’t tell if it’s going to be good or garbage but I will support the co-creator of Laser Cats until the day I die.

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5. Fresh New Tracks

Besides just being the season where outfits look the best on me and my skin glows most luminous, fall is also an amazing season for music. Some of my favourite artists are out with new stuff, like Arcade Fire, and Drake (even though he jacked my outfit) as well as some cool new bands I hadn’t heard before, and I’ve got a few sweet concerts lined up. Here’s a track I’ve had on heavy rotation lately to help carry you into the weekend…..and also make you vaguely crave a pumpkin spice latte.

No? Just me on the latte then?

Question of the Day:

(get ready- because it’s a really deep one)

What’s your favourite season?

10 Inventions From Pop Culture I Wish Were Real

Few films have left such a lasting impact on my life as the 1999 cult classic Office Space.

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Not only are its characters hilarious and its lines highly quotable, its tongue-in-cheek (yet painfully accurate) depiction of corporate culture continues to haunt me in my day-to-day life.

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Anyway, while catastrophizing about my life the other day, I was reminded of one of my favourite anecdotes from the film-  the “Jump To Conclusions Mat”.

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Conceived by the bumbling Tom Sizemore, the Jump to Conclusions mat was, quite simply, a mat that you put on the floor with different CONCLUSIONS that you could JUMP TO.

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I wished I had a jump to conclusions mat myself. Things would be so much simpler (especially if I landed on “moot!” every time).

All of this got me thinking: what other inventions from popular culture would I love to see come to life?  

1. The Delorean Time Machine

Back To The Future

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Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Man, what I wouldn’t give to go back in time. On second thought-  I don’t know if I could handle the responsibility. What if it was like that episode of the Simpsons where Homer time travels through a toaster and Ned Flanders becomes dictator of the universe? Or we all end up with giant lizard tongues? Actually, the lizard tongues would be kinda cool. One Delorean, please.

2. Transporter

Star Trek

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Oh, the places I would go with a Transporter.

……Mostly to Sephora and the bulk candy store down the street… but still, Beam me up, Scotty!

3. Mind Control Device

Family Guy

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The brainchild of diabolical toddler-genius Stewie Griffin, this ingenious device allows its holder to completely control the mind of anyone within aiming vicinity.

While Stewie used his  in an elaborate scheme to kill his mother, I’d use mine for much more benevolent purposes…. like convincing all of my coworkers to bring me cupcakes. Mmm. cupcakes.

4. Invisibility Cloak

Harry Potter

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Because I’m inherently 7 years old, I often think about what I would do if I could be invisible for a day. Eavesdropping, sneaking onto international flights and stealing expensive items are all high on my list; but more importantly, I’d probably just pull a lot of people’s pants down.

5. The Transformation Chamber

Family Matters

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Like Steve Urkel’s debonair doppleganger Stefan Urquelle,
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I like to think I have an alter ego inside me just waiting for a Transformation Chamber to come out as well. Her name is Breeyoncé, She is a 5’11 Spanish pop star/diplomat/fugitive who is wanted in several countries for her suggestive on-stage dancing. Recently divorced from Charlie Sheen, she bides her time as Karl Lagerfeld’s muse and has a taste for expensive champagne and wealthy Italian race car drivers. She also rarely sweats, has long, thick, luxurious hair, and never feels awkward at cocktail parties.

6. The Lazy Man Toilet Chair

The Simpsons

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This spectacular device was created by Homer as a way of going to the bathroom while watching TV; because, as he rightly proclaimed, going upstairs is  “the hardest thing in the world.”  I feel you, Homer- and applaud your ingenuity- even if it is really gross.

7. The Hair Helmet

Flight of the Conchords

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While this invention might not be as useful as, say, a teleporter or time-travelling DeLorean,  I still think I’d look pretty bad-ass riding around Toronto in one of these puppies.

Especially if worn in conjunction with Brett’s other inventions: the “camera phone”

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……….and gloves that look like hands.

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8. Everything by Kramerica Industries

Ah Cosmo Kramer. One of the most inventive, yet misunderstood minds of our generation. How could I choose just one invention when we’ve got:

  • The Coffee Table Book about Coffee Tables

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  • the Mansiere (or “the bro”)

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  • the pizza restaurant where you make your own pie

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  • cologne that smells like the beach; and last but definitely not least:
  • Fusilli Jerry
Seinfeld Bus
“I chose Fusilli… because you’re silly”

9. Neutralyzer

Men In Black 

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When you say and do as many awkward things as I do, having a device to easily eradicate others’ memories of your ridiculousness sounds pretttty pretty good. Especially if it comes with a side of Will Smith.

10. The Cornballer

Arrested Development 

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Invented by George Bluth in the mid-1970s,  the Cornballer is.. well, a device used to make cornballs.

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It was made illegal after it was found to cause serious burns, however George continued to market it in Mexico with the help of Richard Simmons.

3rd degree burns or no 3rd degree burns, cornballs are damn delicious. I could use one of these bad boys in my life.

Question of the Day:

What fictional invention(s) do you wish were real?

The Fantasy Boyfriend Draft

It’s that time of year again, folks- when body paint, beer and tailgate parties abound, and the men in your life fall into a state of temporary insanity for the next few months.

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That’s right it’s football season!

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How do I, a girl whose only knowledge of football stems from the movie The Water Boy, even know this, you might ask?

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Because for the past two weeks, I have listened to nothing but my male coworkers and friends discuss their fantasy football leagues.

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While at first I sat there bored to tears, praying for imminent death, after a while the idea of a fantasy draft started to sound kind of appealing to me. Not the football part of course – more the plotting, scheming, strategizing and overall shit-talking involved. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a fantasy draft focused on something I actually cared about?

…. like boys.

You guys… what if there was A FANTASY BOYFRIEND LEAGUE??

A dream-like place where a roster of all of your ideal boyfriends would compete against teams of other ladies’ choosing in all of the manliest of activities? I’ m talking wood chopping, moustache growing, outdoor survival skills, shirtless acoustic guitar playing, and of course- the manliest of all artisinal crafts: furniture making.

Or maybe they would just fan you with palm fronds and feed you bunches of grapes all day. I haven’t quite figured it all out just yet.

But what I HAVE figured out, is who would make up my team. Hold onto your hats ladies, because the draft is about to begin!

Round 1: Ryan Gosling

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You knew it was coming. Like 99.999% of the other women on the planet, I’ve loved this piece of sexy Canadian man-candy since he first stole my heart as Sean on Breaker High.

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That pleather jacket! My heart be still.

Round 2: Bradley Cooper

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In the event that the reigning Sexiest Man Alive happened to still be available, you better believe he’d be coming home with me as a second round draft pick. Not only has homeboy got the whole rugged, charmingly befuddled thing going on, he also loves his mama.

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Awww.

Round 3: Seth Meyers

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The lovable SNL head writer and Weekend Update host always had a special place in my heart- despite the fact that he is already engaged to a (different) sexy lawyer. Well, Seth- I just have one thing to say about that:

Really? Really?

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Round 4: Joseph Gordon Levitt

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Hey JGL, what’s that vest made of? Oh yeah… BOYFRIEND MATERIAL.

Ever since I saw him rocking out to The Smiths in 500 Days of Summer, I knew the indie heart-throb had to be mine. In fact, I’d take him even with this haircut:

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That’s love.

Round 5: Rafael Nadal

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Since every fantasy boyfriend team needs at least one professional athlete (<– I just made that rule up right now), I have chosen the 12-time Grand Slam winning tennis star and sexy Spaniard that is Rafa. Admittedly- his English is a bit touch and go – but something tells me I could learn look past that.

…..with these biceps. (Please ignore the fact that he looks a bit like Michelangelo in this pic)

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Round 6: Jason Sudeikis

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Damn you and your perfect cheekbones, Olivia Wilde! Why must you take my perfect man away from me!

Round 7: Colin Firth

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This one needs no explaining. If my boy Mark Darcy isn’t the penultimate boyfriend, then I really don’t know who is.

Yes, I like you very much, Colin – just as you are.

Round 8: Chris O’Dowd

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This one falls into my “up and comer” category. I first developed a crush on this Irish hottie when he portrayed Kristin Wiig’s love interest in Bridesmaids. This crush later blossomed into a full-on stalker flower while watching him HBO’s Family Tree. He’s cute, tall, funny, loveable- and I kinda wanna pinch his cheeks.

It’s not weird.

Round 9: Joel McHale

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Joel for me falls into the “underrated” category. He cracks me up every day on The Soup and is hella handsome, but for some reason hasn’t reached leading man status just yet. Don’t worry Joel.. you’re a leading man in my heart.

Round 10: Thomas Mars

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This might seem like a strange pick, given that he is not all that conventionally good-looking, but I’ve been seriously crushing on the Phoenix lead singer since I saw him crowd surf at Lollapalooza.

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Plus, he’s married to Sofia Coppola which officially makes him 1/2 of the coolest couple of all time. Sigh.

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P.S. Did I just use the expression “seriously crushing”?

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Round 11: Jay Baruchel

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I’ve loved the Canadian funny man since I used to watch him on “Popular Mechanics For Kids” alongside Elisha Cuthbert.

Popular Mechanics for Kids l-r Alisha, Jay
Yes, this really happened.

Since he only lives a few hours away in Montreal, I actually kind of like my chances on this one. It’s all about pipe dreams, kids.

Round 12: Prince Harry

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I was about to cut it off at 11, but then I remembered that every fantasy boyfriend team needs a royal! Enter Prince Hot Ginge (or “PHG”). While the reality of ginger babies would be a risk I would have to take, I’m confident PHG’s playfullness, charm and winning smile would outweigh the potential downsides. Plus, I just love attention. Bring on the paparazzi!!

Question of the Day: Who would be on your fantasy boyfriend (or girlfriend) team?

How Sheryl Sandberg Is Ruining My Life (and other books I’ve read lately)

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my book reviews lately. What can I say, time flies when you’re doing nothing at all having fun!

Anyway, I read 5 books in May, and am still right on target with my goal of reading 52 books in 2013. Take that haters!

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Just kidding, no one cares.

Since I already reviewed Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls here, that just leaves Intellectual Dachshund and I with four more to recap- so let’s get to it, shall we?

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I like when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The Interestings centres around a group of 6 friends who first meet as teenagers at a camp for the arts in the 1970’s, and follows them  throughout their decades-long friendship. Some become successful in their artistic pursuits; others not so much. Lives become complicated, relationships become strained, issues of class, money and power ensue, and in the end everyone is richer for the experience.

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This book reminded me a lot of one I read last year- The Collective by Don Lee (only it was about white kids instead of Asians). I liked both a lot, although this one was a bit of a saga. At times I became a bit bored by the characters and their constant melodrama and first-world problems.

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But it’s an interesting read for all you creative types out there, and a good one to tuck into over the summer.

I give it: 3.3/5 Intellectual Dachshunds.

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10th of December by George Saunders

In the literary world, George Saunders is kind of a big deal. He’s published several short story collections and novellas which have been critically acclaimed and New York Times bestsellers, is a regular contributor to fancy high brow publications like The New Yorker and McSweeney’s, and in his free time teaches English at Syracuse University. Tenth of December is his most recent compilation, and includes stories he has published in various magazines between 1995 and 2009.

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Now, I know this probably flies in the face of every major review out there, but this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. While I appreciated Saunders’ writing style, I found it a bit dark for my particular taste. Although often disguised with humorous prose, every story was anchored by some sort of heavy, morose theme like suburban angst, terminal illness or post-traumatic stress disorder. The whole thing left me feeling quite melancholy, which was annoying, because I usually try to avoid feeling feelings whenever possible. So for that, I give it: 2/5 Intellectual Dachshunds.

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Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

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In this self-described “feminist manifesto”, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg examines the role of women in the workplace, and explores why they are not progressing in leadership positions to the same extent as males. She offers explanations for this phenomenon, as well as potential solutions to help women realize their full potential.

Ugh. This book. I feel like there’s not much I can say without opening this up to a giant debate about feminism and women in business, but I’ll do my best.

This book is seriously like a pandemic going around the business world right now- almost everyone I know is reading/has read it, so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Well, after having read it, I still have no idea. While I appreciate what Sandberg was trying to do here and think it’s a noble cause, I was not a fan of this book. I found her tone preachy, entitled, and self-absorbed. The entire book seemed like one big name-drop sprinkled with how awesome she is. E.g.. “When I was working for the secretary of treasury”, “When Mark (sic: Zuckerberg) was teaching my son how to fence”, “When I was first in my class at Harvard”.

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I also found the whole thing very unrelateable. Sandberg has lived a privileged life, and her net worth is in the hundreds of millions – it’s hard for the average woman to identify. I also think she puts too much of the emphasis on women, who are already juggling so much, to take on more, and not enough on broader, systemic changes.. but that is a whole barrel of monkeys I will not get into right now. I hoped to find this book inspiring, but instead I found it exhausting, and like I would never measure up. I give it 1/5 intellectual dachshunds.

ID

The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paulo Giordano

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Alice and Mattia are both “primes” — misfits who seem destined to be alone. They are haunted by the childhood tragedies and find themselves unable to reach out to anyone else. When the two meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. As they grow into adulthood, their destinies seem irrevocably intertwined. But when the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, the two are forced to separate with many things left unsaid. A chance encounter will reunite them and force a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface, but the question remains: Can two prime numbers ever find a way to be together?

I stole that little synopsis from the back of the book, because hey, I’m running out of steam here. The same coworker who lent me The Elegance of The Hedgehog lent this to me thinking I’d like it, and she was right. This book was emo, romantic, melodramatic and basically everything I love in a relationship novel.

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It would make for a great beach read, gift, or book club pick.

I give it: 4/5 Intellectual Dachshunds

“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”
“I have never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”

Question of the day: What book are you looking forward to reading on the beach this summer?

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