Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: Never again.

2010's been a banner year, if we define "banner" as "Sisyphean Emotional Rollercoaster," which, of course, we do. Here is my traditional (if we define "traditional" as something done twice) list of the best of everything for 2010.

Best radio show always on while I'm driving home from yoga: Deep Roots.

Best radio show always on while I'm trying to fall asleep: Inside the Music.

Best existential CanCon TV programming: Being Erica.

Best slightly disappointing final book in a dystopian teen trilogy: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.

Best show (non-Kingston category): Wilco at the NAC in March. So good I'll forgive the fact that Jeff Tweedy bantered about the Olympic hockey tournament to get people to clap. Oh Jeff, honey, don't you know I don't need you to pander? I just need you to love me.

Best show I left early after thinking it was actually over only to find out later that he came back on for another set (Kingston category): Jason Collett at the Grad Club in April.

Best show with parents in attendance: Young Rival and PELT at the Mansion in March.

Best in-store appearance by a singer songwriter: Jim Bryson, at Contact Music in November.

Best musical discovery: My secret husband, Dan Mangan.

Best musical rediscovery: Does The Band count? I thought I lost my copy of The Basement Tapes in the divorce and was pretty excited when I later found it behind a bookshelf.

...actually, I'm going to give this one to the Strokes. I've always thought of them as the background music to my twenties, but lately I've started really listening to them, and shit man, they really are as good as everyone always said.

Best essayist I wish were my friend in real life: Sloane Crosley.

Best nightmare-inducing weirdscape involving time travel and car accidents: Rant by Chuck Pahlaniuk.

Best re-read (dusty paperback found in Mexico category): The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving.

Best re-read (greatest book of all time category): The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank.

Best literary discovery (Carol Shields void-filler category): Elizabeth Berg.

Best ballsy ladywriter: Celia Rivenbark.

Best way to spend a dirtieth thirtieth birthday: Haunted Walk of Kingston. Water bottle filled with wine strongly recommended.

Best thing: This year is over, friends. See you in hell, 2010. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't miss your particular brand of whimsical batshittery just a little bit.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Putting the graphic back in graphic novels.

Here is a list of the best comics I read this year. They didn't all come out this year, but I am okay with that. I hope you are too.

1. Sword of my mouth by Jim Munroe and Shannon Gerard. It's a freaky, post-rapture, pro-urban agriculture fable, and the illustrations are so gorgeous and detailed and vaguely 1970s. It also features a mutant baby!

2. Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen. This one has the feel of a film noir masterpiece and is about the Nazis trying to steal paintings, and the plucky museum staff who try to stop them. An angel dropped it into my lap one very long day and it kept me busy sitting in the emergency room.

3. Undeleted Scenes by Jeffrey Brown. I just love him. He captures the mundane details of his own life in this sweet cartoony way. He draws like a very mature ten year old. And kitties feature prominently in many of his comics. Look! Christmas Kitties!

4. Mercury by Hope Larson. This one jumps back and forth between the present, where a teenage girl is struggling to live her life while her mother is far away, and the past, where one of her ancestors is visited by a mysterious stranger during the Gold Rush. The two stories eventually intersect and the results are strange and unexpected and creepy and lovely.

5. Wilson by Daniel Clowes. It's about a real asshole, basically. Clowes' greatest gift is, in my opinion, his ability to create these truly horrible people and then inhabit them so completely that your sympathy for them runs parallel to your disgust. And his drawings are just so perfect--the different versions of Wilson from chapter to chapter, the silent pages, the pauses between words. It's gorgeous.

Now tell me yours.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Taking stock.

Writing Best Of lists is one of my favourite things about the end of the year.

Top ten albums of 2010, in no particular order.

1. New Pornographers--Together

2. She & Him--Volume 2

3. Young Rival--Young Rival

(Of note: My Farfisa electric organ makes a cameo in this video.)

4. Caribou--Swim

5. Ray LaMontagne--God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

6. Jim Bryson and the Weakerthans Band--Falcon Lake Incident

7. The Walkmen--Lisbon

8. Gord Downie and the Country of Miracles--The Grand Bounce

9. Beach House--Teen Dream

10. Spoon--Transference

...This list could probably also be titled The Only New Music I Listened To This Year. If I were to make a list of Albums That Weren't Released This Year but That Were So Frigging Crucial To My Life it would probably be comprised of the whole Dylan catalogue (surprising!), M. Ward, and Dan Mangan. What can I say? I'm a sucker for boys with guitars.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Keep Christmas With You.

It's amazing the power that Christmas specials can have on a person (or perhaps just on this person). This morning I watched Christmas Eve On Sesame Street for the millionth time and thought once again of how ingrained it's become in my psyche. My mom says she can remember the very first time we watched it together, when I was probably two or three, when Sesame Street (we mostly called it just "Ses" in our house, because we were cool like that) was pretty much the only television show that warranted turning on the set. Every few years we watch it as a family on Christmas Eve, even though my baby brother and I are now well beyond the age where this sort of thing is appropriate. It's timeless, and sweet, and both intentionally and unintentionally hilarious.

Proof of Value:

1. I knew the Bert and Ernie version of the Gift of the Magi long before I read the real thing, and the actual, realistic, ambivalent ending of the original has always bummed me out intensely. I much prefer Mr. Hooper Ex Machina, returning their prized possessions to them on Christmas Eve.

(Cut to about the 6 minute mark.)

1a. Does anyone else have vivid memories of watching Sesame Street after Mr. Hooper died, in real life as well as on the show? Talk about a crash-lesson in emotional reaction for kids. I don't think I've fully recovered yet.

2. At one point, while Big Bird is on the roof waiting for Santa to arrive, he worries that he might be lost in a blizzard somewhere, or "stacked over Kennedy." I had no idea what this meant till I was about twenty.

3. THESE KIDS! It's enough to make even the most career-oriented feminist uterus start hurtin'.

4. And while were on the subject of the kids, there's a girl in this scene who totally picks her nose and I always wonder where she is now, thirty years on.

4a. It is also thanks to this scene that I know how to sign Keep Christmas With You. I used to include that skill on my resume.

5. While everyone down on the street is looking around for Big Bird, Susan tells someone that she is on her way to Grover's place to look for him. I love the idea that Grover is able to maintain an apartment in New York City.

6. Oh man, Cookie Monster trying to write to Santa? CLASSIC! JUST CLASSIC.

There's just something so generally innocent and kind about it all. Last weekend, my brother and I were bemoaning the complete lack of sincerity in the world these days; everything has to be soaked in irony and self-referential post-pomo ridiculousness. Fuck that, I say. This Christmas, I'm all about True Blue Miracles.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Say it with music.

These days, words are either too much or not enough. Thanks for the music, universe.

I'm so tired--The Beatles

Come thou fount of every blessing--Sufjan Stevens

Divorce song--Liz Phair

I and love and you--The Avett Brothers

We end up together--The New Pornographers

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A balm for what ails us.

Ten songs for a bad week, presented without comment.

1. Gord Downie--Vancouver Divorce

2. Calexico--Going to Acapulco (Bob Dylan cover)

3. Feist--Intuition

4. Neil Young--Out on the Weekend

5. Wilco--I am Trying to Break Your Heart

6. Sufjan Stevens--Vito's Ordination Song

7. Young Rival--The Ocean

8. Sarah Harmer--Don't Get Your Back Up

9. Joel Plaskett--Face of the Earth

10. Great Lake Swimmers--I Am Part Of A Large Family

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I always wanted a doll named Chevrolet.

In times of trial and trouble, I tend to retreat from productive adult reading and go back to the stack of Ramona Quimby books tucked on a special shelf in my home library. I firmly believe that Beverly Cleary is a genius who has pinpointed so perfectly what it feels like to be a kid, the injustices and fears and joys that help us grow up, the development of the empathic and emotional mind. As a child I read Ramona and remember that amazing feeling of YES! This is so right! And as an adult I read Ramona and think Wow, this is STILL so right, and I am STILL learning.

Last night I was reading Ramona the Brave, which was never my favourite Ramona book as a kid (I was partial to Ramona and her Father and Ramona Quimby Age 8, mostly because I looooooved the last chapters in each of them and on repeat readings would get SO EXCITED as I got closer to the end. "Ramona and the Three Wise Persons" is a seriously wonderful Christmas story in its own right.). Now that I am old and wise, I think I like Ramona the Brave because it's all about Ramona having a really shitty time, and admitting she's not happy, and trying to do something about it. This is some deep emotional activity for a six year old, but Cleary never sugarcoats it, and I love that. To me, there's nothing more important than owning your feelings. I think I owe my ability to do so, in part, to the fact that I read Ramona so closely and carefully, over and over again. This book makes you feel like everything can be not okay and still okay at the same time, which is a pretty great zen lesson for children of all ages.

Also, this, from a passage on Ramona learning to read.

"The reader was more interesting now that her group was attacking bigger words. Fire engine. Ramona read to herself and thought, Pow! I got you, fire engine. Monkey. Pow! I got you, monkey."

Hell yes. As someone who reads pretty much constantly, I have all but forgotten how exciting it was to learn to read, to actually make sense of the words on the page. What a crazy awesome gift it is to open a book. Table of contents? I own you!

Also also, Ramona names her doll Chevrolet, and says that it is the most beautiful name in the world. Yes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Remember, remember, the fifth of November.

Here's what I like to do in November.

1. Listen to Sufjan Stevens. I am pulling the hipster, I Liked Him Before He Was Really Big And Am Not Too Keen On His New Album card on this one and wholeheartedly recommend you go all the way back to Michigan, my personal favourite soundtrack for mooning around the house because it's too cold to go outside.

Fun fact 1a: This song was on the episode of the OC where Johnny, the surfer from the wrong side of the tracks, fell off a really high rock and died. Fun fact 1b: I was really into the OC. "COHEN!"

2. Read Jeffrey Brown. A fan of all things autobiographical and graphical, I discovered Clumsy, possibly my favourite comic memoir, on the shelf of the first library I worked at in Ottawa. Clumsy tells the story of Jeffrey Brown's long-distance romance with a girl from Florida named Theresa. His drawing style reminds me of the tiny, scribbly, incredibly detailed doodles that this gifted guy in my elementary school class used to draw in the margins of his notebooks--stick figures doing intense things. Every page is comprised of six panels of heartbreak. It is a really beautiful book.

Fun Fact 2a: The library just bought his newest book, a collection called Undeleted Scenes which includes some of his best strips and also some random new stories. I am very sad to report that he has written a story about his wife and baby, which I guess means I need to cross him off the Secret Husband list.

3. Watch Brideshead Revisited. The cold gloomy weather at this time of year gets me jonesing for England, and there's no better way to indulge this feeling than to unplug the telephone (just kidding! I don't even answer it when it's plugged in!), turn on the television (ie. laptop) and cozy up for ten solid hours of the decline and fall of the archetypal upper class on the other side of the pond. Like most Brit Lit-loving nerds who went to Gothic Revival style university colleges, I have held Brideshead close to my heart for a very long time. It represents a very particular, dysfunctional dream of academia and intellectualism and the good life that I always thought I might enjoy but never really believed in, the kind of life where you wear tuxes to dinner and a divorce in the family could ruin everything. It is a tragicomedy of manners in which I would like to be a fly on the cocktail tray. It has a very evocative soundtrack which always makes me cry a little.

Fun fact 3a: I've also been watching the Up! Series, which I cannot recommend highly enough, and which I will write more about later, and one of the men profiled blames the failure of his life on putting too much stock in books like Brideshead Revisited. I think I know exactly what he is talking about.

Let's take it out on a little more gentle folk rock. Sufjan covering Dylan? I think my heart just stopped.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


So, I had kind of a rough week, and spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms. It's pretty hard to focus on anything in that sort of situation, but like the diligent bookworm I am, I tried like hell to plow through several books. This effort was completely unsuccessful. Here's what I failed to read.

1. Great House by Nicole Krauss. I have this thing with Nicole Krauss where I really want to like her work because the New Yorker and the New York Times tell me I should, but every time I try to get into one of her books I just get sidetracked thinking about the fact that she is so intense and her husband Jonathan Saffran Foer is ALSO so intense and what the hell do you think they talk about at the dinner table? Kittens?

2. Half Empty by David Rakoff. The only reason I didn't finish this one was that I passed it on to my boyfriend-slash-patient so he'd have something to read in the OR waiting room.

Me: Don't you think you should take something lighter with you? Didn't your mom just loan you some Frederick Forsyth paperbacks?

Patient, hepped up on percocet and distracted by a television in the waiting area: I can't believe these people who won't wear their Remembrance Day poppies. It's disrespectful, is what it is. Hey, can I borrow that book?

3. Macleans Magazine from sometime in October. Here is a strategy you might think will help you feel better about your current situation: read an article about the Chilean miners and think about how much luckier you are than them. I am dismayed to report that this strategy was completely useless.

...At least I was trying.

There's a line from To Kill A Mockingbird that's been running through my head through all this:

"Neighbours bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad."

I've been overwhelmed by the generosity of my neighbours near and far this week. I hope I can give back what they've given me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We hope you don't work too hard.

I know I've let you down, friends. I know I've basically given up this little navel-gazer in favour of more productive forms of self-reflection, like yoga, obsessive baking, and reading real estate listings. If I could, I'd write a review of Homes and Land of Kingston and the Thousand Islands, because that's pretty much the only thing I've read cover to cover in the last month. Alright, that's a lie. I also read How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley, and fell in love with her all over again. Her latest collection of essays covers everything from a surreal trip to Alaska for a friend's wedding to her descent into the stolen furniture underground economy in New York City to the joys of roommate relationships. I feel like she is the writer I would be if I had time to really be a writer, which makes me both ecstatically happy and incredibly sad, you know?

Oh, I also got this thing published. Read it here. In summation, I've concurrently expressed my passion and my complete dismissal of my metier, and now if you don't mind, I'm going to lie on the floor and listen to the Weakerthans for a little while.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

See you in September.

September means back to school for some, and back to complete insanity for others. I fell into a bit of a void this month and took a little sabbatical from blogging. Here's what I was doing instead.

1. Wrangling writers at Kingston WritersFest.

Highlights: Deborah Ellis, who is so down to earth and passionate and generally awesome. Also, Iain Reid, a local boy made good, whose new memoir One Bird's Choice is so, so funny. I interviewed him for Kingstonist and he did not hate my questions--success! Oh, and I shared an elevator with Charlotte Gray, which was nearly as exciting as the time I washed my hands next to Margaret Atwood while she combed her crazy hair.

Lowlights: Nearly breaking Dave Bidini's finger as I tried to shake his hand while he simultaneously did a zombie impression. Also, getting booted out of Chez Piggy due to a fire code violation. At least they let me stay for a bowl of soup.

2. Reading memoirs.

Highlights: As you may recall, I am a huge fan of the genre. Literary agent Bill Clegg's amazing and horrifying Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man bears the ambivalent honour of being a book that really, really made me want to try smoking crack--he makes it sound THAT GOOD. I nearly didn't read it after a close and careful analysis of Clegg's author photo, which put me off for some reason. Something about the three-quarter profile and his teutonic features just reminded me of seventy-five percent of the boys I met in my twenties. I'm so glad I pressed onward. Clegg delves a little too deeply into his own subconscious at times, recalling his childhood compulsion to urinate and trying to tie it vaguely to his adult demons, but you can skip those passages and get right to the good old fashioned crazy stuff. Smoking crack with cabbies after a meeting with your newest author, being refused entry to the W Hotel, stuff like that.

Midlights: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. This book is basically the jailhouse version of Eat Pray Love, and there is no sensible reason why I should enjoy it. Usually tales of haute bourgeoisie forced into some humbling life experience tend to piss me off. But Kerman's story of the year she spent in jail for a ten year old drug offense was so compulsively readable and beautifully realized. I've read reviews that call the book reductive, and at times it sure is. She boils down issues of women and criminal justice to pretty simplistic terms and ends the book on a bit of an "isn't it great that I've grown so much and discovered yoga thanks to a Rodney Yee video someone left behind in the prison gym" note. But her portraits of her fellow prisoners and the description of her daily life in the clink are very humanizing and fascinating and darkly entertaining, so I'll allow the lack of a real conclusion for the sake of a pretty decent story overall.

3. Reconnecting with some of my favourite hometown heroes. Welcome home, boys.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oh no, Oprah.

See? I knew this would happen. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen is the latest Oprah book club pick. Sorry, ma'am, our brief honeymoon is over.

Click here to listen to the most tooth-grindingly, navel-gazingly boring podcast of all time if you need a Franzen refresher.

And don't you feel worse for having heard that interview? Because I do.

Alright alright maybe Freedom is really going to be amazing, but I am a creature of habit, and my habit around Jonathan Franzen is comprised of a strong and abiding dislike of his work. These days, this opinion seems to put me in the minority. There was a frigging piece about him on the Saturday evening news, for lord's sake. A piece involving his visit to a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. A piece that I actually enjoyed listening to, if only because it felt so painfully humbling to think of a public library that hosts Jonathan Fucking Franzen, having only worked for places that bring in, um, this woman who is a patron who also happens to have self-published a chapbook, you know? PERSPECTIVE!

Anyway, this piece drew a really absurd link between Jonathan Franzen and Lady Gaga, and it irked me, as most references to overexposed literary heroes do. I guess I just feel like I'm one of the only book nerds in the world who doesn't get the in-joke, who can't stand Jonathan Franzen. I read The Corrections a looooong time ago, and I read it because he had jive-talked Oprah, because that's the kind of hifalutin' twentysomething I was. I pretty much hated the whole thing, but I told everyone how much I loved it. At the time I was working on a Bookmobile, and my job consisted of sitting in a lawn chair outside the bus and waiting for kids to come and tell me about the books they'd read and then giving them stickers--pretty well the best job I'll ever have and arguably among the top five jobs of all time, anywhere. Between tiny visitors I schlepped that giant Franzen tome onto my lap and got angry about how cold and unemotional it was and what nerve this guy has to write creepy CS Lewis metaphors about antidpressants and I'd work myself into this rage and then pause to talk to some child about how they'd just finished the fourth Harry Potter. It was all a bit jarring. Perhaps this was not the ideal environment in which to read Jonathan Franzen, but the die was cast. I think what I've realized since is that I hate a lack of sympathy in my reading. I crave emotional fullness and vulnerability and I hate dispassionate, post-pomo reflection. There, I said it.

Which isn't to say I won't read Freedom. I probably will, because I still possess the same mix of masochism and high-mindedness I've always possessed. And I might email his publicist and see if he might like to speak at my library, on the condition that he has to help me kick everyone off the public internet stations at the end of the night. I'm a woman with standards, you know.

Now let's all cleanse our palates with a little rainy day ditty from Julie London.

I feel better already.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday, Monday.

A few crumbs from the start of the work week.

1. Oh please, people, send me your best and least disgusting cabbage recipes. My CSA is overloading me with the stuff and I never want to eat coleslaw again. I just made the most insane soup involving lentils and cabbage and lemon and pain. This is what cabbage does to me! It makes me hate soup, which is horrifying.

2. I spent a lot of the weekend reading Anna Quindlen's new book, Every Last One. I concluded that it is the beautiful, rich, character-driven equivalent of being punched in the gut several times in succession. She breaks my heart in the most wonderful, captivating way.

3. I spent the rest of the weekend hiding from the rain and driving all over hell's half acre, listening to Judith Light reading the audiobook version of Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner. I love Jennifer Weiner, I really do, and it was an audio CD of her short story collection, The Guy Not Taken, that really sold me on her. I like her subtle quirkiness and self-deprecation and soft but still sarcastic humour. And Angela Bower just sucks the fun right out of her, reading the story like a Southern melodrama. This might be one where you need the hard copy, but I'm giving it my thinking woman's chick lit stamp of approval nevertheless.

4. Now that Oprah's show is in its twilight season, I finally feel comfortable with admitting that I think she is absolutely awesome. I may hardly ever watch her show, and I will probably renege on this with her next book club pick, but today, I wholeheartedly endorse her. Whatever, all you haters! She is getting John Travolta to fly 300 people to Australia! She gets 'er done!

If you are not entertained and touched by that, you have no heart! NO HEART AT ALL!


Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Friday. I'm in love.

It is a telling, telling time when you draw more inspiration from the Letters page of the August 30th issue of People than anything else. I should maybe just turn this blog into a People fanzine. I would have reams of material to draw from.

Proof 1.

I suffered a severe case of emotional whiplash after reading about the Marines coming home from Afghanistan and then turning the page to see the ridiculousness that is the Jersey Shore cast. Could there be two groups of people so completely the opposite in relevance and importance?

...I just love picturing Debi, of Garland, Texas furrowing her brow and typing this letter with rage and believing in the journalistic integrity of this publication.

Proof 2.

They print retractions about misspelling someone's name in the Puzzler. I would really love to be a clue in the People crossword. I think that's the sign of true, common-denominator cultural ubiquity. Although I have to admit I have no idea who Gordon MacRae is, beyond the fact that his name was misspelled in last week's Puzzler.

I know it's probably becoming excessive and maybe even a little creepy, but I really do love People Magazine. I don't know where else I would learn that Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence have a SITCOM on TELEVISION where he plays her MANNY. YES, REALLY! Is it so wrong that I'd like to download the first season? Is it so bad that I am earnestly glad that Sabrina the Teenage Witch is doing alright? Is it unforgivable that I am now going to make you all watch Joey Lawrence's music video?

The answer to all these questions is yes, yes, oh my gosh yes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I am never having children

Are they getting ruder, or am I getting crankier? Or perhaps, the horrible third option, are they getting more astute? Observe, if you will, an exchange at the desk tonight:

Mother: I'd like to check this out.
Daughter throws jacket over Mother's shoulder, disrupting library transaction.
Daugher: Here, YOU take it!
Mother: That's not funny!
Daugter: I KNOW it's not funny! It's not SUPPOSED to be funny! It's SUPPOSED to make a POINT!

She's got moxy, I'll give her that. In the meantime, I'm heading off to renew my birth control prescription.

Fall into it.

So, I took a bit of a hiatus. I'd love to say that I spent labour day the way it ought to be spent, marching in solidarity with my brothers and sisters and all that. Instead I chose to drink poorly-chilled Caesars out of a plastic cup and stack logs. Anyway, last night there was a crazy thunderstorm and this morning I awoke to find that the rain washed away the last thick vestiges of summer heat, along with my sad, dying tomato plants. Fall might not quite be here, but we're definitely on our way. My yoga teacher told me last night that this season is one of upheaval and transition, of windy upsets and uncertain possibilities. I feel that. All I want to do is burrow under blankets and eat muffins and re-read the whole Ramona series. I'm feeling quiet these days, and a little out of it, and a little uninspired. I'm back to writing, but not really. I'll let you know when I'm really ready to return, I promise. In the meantime, here's a song to get us through the long, slow, ultimately pretty satisfying crawl toward darkness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sisters are doing it for themselves.

I'm one of those people who is smug and self-righteous about not owning a TV, but I still get starved for pop culture from time to time. So in the last couple of days I read two books written by women who got their start on the talking picture box so many people are chatting about. I actually ordered Suck It, Wonder Woman by Olivia Munn for my library, partly because there was some internet drama about her awhile ago, and apparently I go in for that sort of thing. Also, she's on the Daily Show, which I haven't actually watched in a few years, but if my favourite silver fox Jon Stewart is going to give his stamp of approval, I'm down. I am sad to say this book kind of blows, but I'm also sad to admit I probably should have known. Olivia Munn became famous doing stuff like this:

I know it's "in context" (on a show about videogames watched mostly by pimply boys--and yes, since you've asked, making sweeping generalizations IS part of my yoga practice), and I know she's made a name for herself being the hot nerdy girl, and I know that I am by no means her target demographic, but even in a vacuum her writing just feels so false and trite. She's a bit of a name dropper and tells unfunny anecdotes about taking muscle relaxers and making out with a woman by accident and zzzzzzzz ohhh sorry, I fell asleep just thinking about it. It's not that I don't support the right of a supposedly geeky hot chick to write her book, or her right to include ten pages of fan-produced portraits and ten pages of her dressed up as great women in history, pinup-style, including Sexy Eleanor Roosevelt and Sailor Moon (yes, really). I just don't need to watch or read it. And I don't think the rest of the Sisterhood does either. She's said some pretty wretched shit about women who criticize her, and I can't stand behind the Mean Girl. Especially when in addition to the hate, you also have to read about her boring childhood.

On the other hand, you know whose formative years I'd read about forever and ever? Chelsea Handler's. I'm about halfway through Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang and it is amazing. She chronicles her obsessive childhood masturbation habit, her long hard fight for a Cabbage Patch Kid and her dubious sexual encounters and I just can't stop spitting up on myself from laughing so hard. Chelsea Handler is inappropriate as hell, and also incredibly self-aware, and I think I want to go camp out on her lawn till she agrees to hang with me. Granted, I don't think she's as funny on TV, but whatevs.

It's interesting--I always feel like her books are marketed wrong. I know they're about sex and drinking and other supposedly racy stuff, but she also writes about her family and her relationships in this very real way that just rings really true for anyone with a complicatedly endearing past. I hope the scantily-clad lady on the cover won't keep people from reading.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hey, look! An old man is talking!

I've been watching The Simpsons again. It's been awhile, and I feel like I've been reunited with an old flame with whom I spent, like, ten years before things really went south, and now even though he's still farting around and talking big about "finding himself" and making really specific jokes, I'm okay with reminiscing about the good old days.

It's also really weird to be watching it on DVD. I think it's the first time I've watched a whole run of episodes in a non-home-taped format. I'm so used to the first five seconds of a Parlour Ice Cream commercial before whoever was recording hit Pause, you know? The clean digital editing is really jarring.

Back when I lived in Toronto, I had this one epic tape of Simpsons episodes, recorded over a series of summer Saturday afternoons back at home, in preparation for the year ahead, on my own, sans cable. It was an amazing, serendipitous compilation which included two Treehouses of Horror (and one was the Nightmare on Elm Street tribute!), the Christmas episode where Bart steals the video game and nearly ruins Christmas, aaaaaaand the best episode of all time, Lemon of Troy.

God, I wish there were better clips on YouTube, but still, this is pretty good.

Now, let's all watch a few more Simpsons videos.

Reunited, and it feels so good.

That's all I had to report, I think.

Monday, August 23, 2010

From the random files.

Perhaps the most eagerly awaited audio book of all time in the SERIOUSLY?? department: Angelina: An Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton, read for you by Bronson Pinchot. Yes,
THAT Bronson Pinchot.

Don't you miss the old ABC TGIF lineup? Growing up we were only allowed one hour of TV a day (which would be forfeited if we didn't do our housework, or if we had some kind of public temper tantrum--the latter was embarrassingly common for yours truly) which was usually taken up by reruns of Get Smart after school. It took every ounce of willpower I had not to tune in to the adventures of Agent 99 (Such style. Such grace.) and that idiot Max on Fridays so I could save up my time and cash in for that week's Very Special Episode of Full House. It was a noble sacrifice.

Anyway, I'll look forward to the pairing of Angelina Jolie's absurd life with Balki Bartokamous' absurd narration. I'm not ashamed to admit I teared up a little while listening to the Perfect Strangers theme song. They say you become more emotional in the autumn years.

Friday, August 20, 2010

End of week free association.

1. Stephen King's still got it, man. Under the Dome is MESSED UP, like apocalyptic, could-maybe-happen, The Stand messed up. Granted, I'm a Stephen King fangirl from way back, and while there was a time that I loved his true horror stuff, when you live alone you can't really read Carrie before bed without being forced to keep every light in the house on all night and checking behind every motherloving door multiple times when you arrive home. And there's something to be said for the complicated, multi-plot insanity of King's crazy sweeping epics. From now on I am only reading books that require a glossary of characters at the beginning. I like a long yet mindless book every once in awhile. Makes me feel like I'm really accomplishing something.

2. Remember the TV version of The Stand, starring Molly Ringwald and about a thousand other people? Remember when network miniseries were event viewing? Oh for the glory days of the early 90s. Apparently they are making a miniseries of Under The Dome. I kind of wish I had cable so I could, like, participate in the zeitgeist.

3. I think The Stand was considered by some to be Molly Ringwald's emergence into adult acting (or maybe that was just me). I remember being a really mean teenage girl and thinking that she looked like she'd been sleeping on her face since she wrapped on Betsy's Wedding and they just woke her up and threw her on screen again. I'm not nearly so catty anymore, partly because I now look like that most of the time too. Thirty: it's no laughing matter.

4. True love is a willingness to put the Beatles vs. Stones debate to rest while quietly holding onto the knowledge that your partner is wrong. I'll see your Let it Bleed.

And raise you Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey.

More cowbell? Hell yes.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Full colour glossies.

I drank too many overpriced Starbucks lemonade drinks and lost my will to process information, and you know what that means: It's time for another edition of Magazine Time.

InStyle, August 2010 issue.
I used to read this magazine a LOT. Back when I was a student it was always a splurge, because it cost more than five dollars, and back then five dollars would still buy you a pack of Benson and Hedges 100s (and if you walked all the way down to Yonge Street you could probably use your fiver to buy a pack AND a naked lady lighter to boot. Economics!). Mike Harris's Ontario had its perks. Anyway, now I'm not sure what I was thinking. Now InStyle makes me incredibly depressed. Exhibit A: Sienna Miller in Haiti. Not that I am a poster child for international involvement and volunteerism, but I have a bit of a problem with celebrities taking photos with sad-eyed kids and then using it as a PR move. Exhibit B: a full page on how jean jackets are the in-jacket of this summer. JUST LIKE EVERY SUMMER. Exhibit C: Cringe-inducing punny titles, including "Up in the Hair" for a photo montage of dino poufs (again, how DO they predict these incredibly radical departures from traditional style?). I would've called it "Snook-alikes," but whatevs.

Weight Watchers Magazine, Summer 2010 issue. I read this magazine for the recipes the way pervy dudes used to read Playboy for the articles. I'm also a sucker for its wealth of sensible life and health advice. One thing that creeps me out a little, though, is their heavy use of stock photos of thin-armed waify types. I may need to write a letter.

Good Housekeeping, August 2010 issue. Perhaps I am in denial about my place in the grand scheme of demographics (not to mention my withering, aging state--when I realized the other day that I could now consider myself to be Thirtysomething, I had to lie down for awhile), but it creeps me out that Maggie Gyllenhaal is on the cover of a magazine that usually features people like Jon and Kate Plus Eight, and that other set of multiples that used to always be in the news till the Gosselins took over. What is happening to the women of my generation?? Is it really time for us to start worrying about BMI calculators and playing online Mah-Jongg? (no, really.)

Yoga Journal, September 2010 issue.
Not even Sarah McLachlan's presence on the front cover and the Lululemon ad on the back can diminish my abiding love for this publication. It includes recipes for eggplant caviar and rosemary olive oil cake, and a breakdown of poses to help make your Wheel practice stronger. Wheel is one pose that terrifies the hell out of me, so I guess I'll give 'er a go.

...I guess it's pretty self-righteous that I now love Yoga Journal the way I used to love InStyle (and smoking). I can own that though. I can also own my inability to listen to any song other than this one right now.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drunk and disorderly.

Last night I read most of Nice Recovery, by Susan Juby. Full disclosure: I am a total addiction/crisis memoir nut, no matter how true or how completely bullshit that memoir might be. I totally bought into the James Frey hype (partly because I loved watching Oprah scold him like a lying child on world television) and I read Mackenzie Phillips' unbelievably twisted memoir in one sitting. I love other people's messes; they make mine seem so much less consequential. So, you know, I went into Juby's memoir of alcoholism and sobriety pretty sure I was going to like it, especially because I absolutely and completely adore all of her previous novels.

I wasn't disappointed. Juby is fucking hilarious. She is ballsy and bitchy and nerdy all at once, and her descriptions of herself as a nervously wild teen girl trying to get in with the bad chicks at school hits so close to home it almost hurts. Example:

"I wasn't completely sure what would constitute a great thing. A lot of beer was a great thing and so was weed. The possibility of getting a boyfriend was perhaps the greatest thing of all. The minute I picked up my first drink I jettisoned childish dreams of becoming a doctor or an astronaut or even a Zamboni driver. Instead I aspired to be like some of the tough older girls I saw who dated men who drove trucks or to be like the lead character in Flashdance."

Leg-warmer purchases and blackout drinking binges soon follow. I especially loved when Juby recounted her move from Smithers, BC, to Toronto, where her drinkin' and druggin' spiral further out of control. She returns home for Christmas determined to show everyone what a sophisticated city lady she's become. You can guess how well that goes. From a scene at the local bar on New Year's:

"We were confronted by the girlfriend of one of the boys one of my friends was sleeping with. Names were called. Threats were uttered. As a fashion design student I felt it was my duty to intervene. ... Next thing I knew I was being carried, none too gently, off the sticky dance floor by a bouncer. He was not swayed by my beauty or the urbanity of my clothing. As I was being dragged past the stage, I saw the musicians glance at each other as they kept playing. Something told me they weren't thinking, "Wow, she must be from Toronto!" "

Rarely do addiction and hilarity go hand in hand, but here they absolutely do. Juby's final descriptions of her recovery from addiction strike the perfect balance between zen acknowledgement and endearing self-awareness, making this book not only entertaining but also pretty feel-good in a non-feel-goody way. I'm a fan. You should be too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Know what I'm sayyyiiiiiiin'?

Remember when Jonathan Torrens played a possibly gay guy on a fake reality show on Spike TV in the early part of this century? Wikipedia sure does. At the time I remember thinking, oh man, there goes another semi-talented Canadian selling his soul south of the border, and I pitied the dude. I know Jono's not exactly someone who inspires strong feelings in most people, but I have to admit, I've watched his career with interest for a long time.

It couldn't be helped--he hosted my favourite television show when I was a kid. Street Cents owned the airwaves around my house (and was also the first place I ever heard Thrush Hermit, who provided one of the early theme songs, and Len, who I still think were cool for a long time before Steal My Sunshine wormed its wormy way into our collective ears). A very dear friend and neighbour met him at Cows ice cream in Charlottetown in maybe 1993 and dear GOD was I ever jealous. (The same friend also met Mike Myers in an airport back when Wayne's World was the height of sophisticated comedy and got him to sign a get-well card for me, because I'd just been hit by a car. She is an excellent human being.) In the years that followed, Jonovision became an embarrassingly present show in my daily life, mostly because even as a smarmy teen I'd watch anything CBC cranked out--we start young in our house. Say what you will about this truly absurd teen talk show, but you can't deny that the famous Degrassi reunion episode didn't completely make your life.

After highschool I didn't think much about ol' Jono until he popped up again on the Trailer Park Boys and stole my heart all over again.

And then, of course, there was the Canadian pop culture orgasm that was his appearance on Degrassi TNG as Shane. I swear, watching that episode, you could hear the collective "WHAT? REALLY?" echoing out of a thousand student houses across the country.

This week, he's back in the host's seat at Q. And he's ruling it. His interview yesterday with Andy Kim, the Canadian songwriter behind Sugar Sugar, was fascinating. This morning he's talking about war photography and violence porn, and asking questions that elicit probing, intelligent answers. Dude's a good journalist, and I never really noticed it before. (Not to mention the fact that he interviewed my secret wife Ellen Page the other day and they discussed permaculture, among other things. Radio porn, friends. Radio porn.)

When I started writing this little non-sequitur I'd intended to frame it as a "wow, look how Jono has redeemed himself this week after years of dumbassery," as I thought about his career arc (and yes I realize how totally trivial it is to sit around thinking about Jonathan Torrens' career arc), I realized he's really done pretty well all the way along. Bit part on Joe Schmoe aside, Jono's the local kid made good. You have to respect that.

You also have to respect the fact that I am a lame Cancon fangirl. I know I do.

Now let's all relax and listen to Bubbles for awhile.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Does anyone want a bathtub mint julep?

I'm not sure why, but I've been on a bit of a Southern kick lately. Maybe it's the fact that I haven't watched Steel Magnolias in over a year and I am overdue for some classy, brassy, down home lady charm. Lucky for me, the great serendipitous gong show that is the public library saved the day once again, and I happened to spy You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start In The Morning by Celia Rivenbark sitting on the audiobook shelf. I knew absolutely nothing about the book or the author, though I had a vague recollection of reading a review somewhere. Given the stellar quality of the review journals I read these days (People magazine actually is my favourite source for book reviews, I'm not even kidding) it was probably in a back issue of Good Housekeeping. But I digress. I have a thing for semi-literary essayists, as well as daylight boozing, to say the least.

Anyway, I nearly ejected the first disk within the first sentence because Rivenbark (who reads the book herself, in all its breezy, drawling glory) sets the scene at an elementary school assembly she's attending. Oh lord, I thought, I do not need a lame mommy book right now (POOPY DIAPERS, AM I RIGHT??). Thank goodness I kept listening, because sweet merciful crap, Celia Rivenbark is a motherloving genius. A genius who boos the children at her daughter's school as they receive their perfect attendance awards, claiming their commitment to constant presence only spreads disease and discontent.

I'm only halfway through the book, and so far Rivenbark has made fun of Bible action figures, blamed her generation's inexplicable love of High School Musical on a childhood spent listening to Jethro Tull, gotten herself crowned queen of the local pecan festival and then shit-talked the teenage girls in her royal court, and won two flashlights at "the bingo" at her mother's seniors home. Best of all, she has also made references to both the Lawrence Welk Show (perhaps my deepest, darkest secret shame, though I am not afraid to admit that I saw the live show ten years ago, and it was EPIC.) and Zac Efron. Friends, I think I'm in love.

This is the perfect audiobook. Full-stop. And it's keeping me off the Steel Magnolias for a few more days, which is probably a blessing in disguise--it always sends me into an emotional tailspin and I end up in the fetal position humming Dolly Parton songs under my breath for a few days post-viewing. Celia Rivenbark, you have saved my life.

But that shouldn't stop us from listening to a little Dolly to finish off the week.

Goosebumps. Every time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fight the power. Fight the power.

If you haven't already heard about the dark cloud over Kingston this week, you can catch up here and here. That second link is particularly good. If you're too lazy to click, let me give you the capsule version: our country is being run by a complete nincompoop, and this week said nincompoop's truly reprehensible and totally out of touch government's plan to close the last of the prison farms came to a horrifying close when the last of the cattle at the Frontenac Institution were carted off.

I try not to use this blog as a forum for grandstanding about anything more serious than my undying and somewhat creepy love for Zac Efron, but this is an issue with which many of my friends in town have been involved, and it's one that hurts my heart. I'm not really one for strong arguments or lists of talking points, so I'll keep it brief, and say this: local sustainable agriculture is a project with which I thought it would be really hard for most people to have a problem. What's not to love about milk, vegetables, and meat grown in your own backyard? And what's not to respect about giving incarcerated individuals the opportunity to participate in something that helps the community, that gives them skills they can use on release, that encourages compassion and holistic thinking?

Don't even try to answer those questions, because I guarantee you, you can't.

And with that, here's an amazing recipe I made up this week using the dregs of my CSA share, because, as I said, local agriculture is killer.

Mother Of Invention antipasto-esque salad (serves 1)

2 beets
3 teeny tiny gorgeous eggplants
1 kohlrabi
1 white onion
3 or 4 pepperoncini peppers (aka the best hot peppers in the universe, found in the never-ending salad at East Side Marios! You know what I'm talkin' 'bout!)
a whole ton of fresh basil
2 tbsp or more of pesto

Chop the veggies the way you usually chop veggies for roasting. Coat in olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast till soft and golden, usually 20 minutes on 375 or so. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, chop up basil and hot peppers. Throw it all in a bowl, and toss with pesto. Eat while reading this letter from one of the prison farm protest arrestees, and think about how horrible this government is. Resolve to vote for anyone but the Conservatives next time.

...hey, remember when Flavor Flav had a political agenda, and not just a whole host of STDs?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A few reasons I might be an eighty year old lady.

1. I bought a muumuu a couple of weeks ago at Sears. Sears pajamas are an excellent and fashionable bargain.

1a. When the ladies around the library mention a sale at Sears, I listen with interest.

2. An elderly lady signing out books about the history of the Acadians in Canada complimented my (super comfortable and stylish) sandals, claiming they looked very "sensible." I was so flattered.

3. I am reading a LOT of Joanna Trollope, and would love to just stroll right into one of her domestic melodramas. There really is nothing like a British woman novelist, I tell you (see also: Fay Weldon, Barbara Pym, et al).

3a. After googling Barbara Pym, I am both stoked that she also went to St. Hilda's College (okay okay, it was the one at Oxford, whatever. Close enough, says I) and disappointed that the Barbara Pym Society has a Facebook page. I would rather believe that they communicate via tart, typewritten telegrams.

3ai. Nevertheless, I am now thinking of joining the Barbara Pym Society.

4. I find myself feeling a kinship with the people who take the time to write letters to the editors at People Magazine. Example:

Thank you for the interview with Rebecca Budig. I have admired her since her debut as Greenlee Smythe on All My Children in 1999. I met Ms. Budig recently at the Beverly Center shopping complex in Los Angeles, and she chatted and joked with me as if we had been friends for years. I wish this special lady much happiness!

from Magnolia Boddy, Los Angeles, Calif.

Indeed, Magnolia. Don't we ALL wish this special lady much happiness.

4a. If we're truth-telling here, I should probably admit that in 1994 I went to see Heather Tom, aka the original Victoria on the Young and the Restless, at the Eaton Centre in Hamilton. She entered the room via descending glass elevator, and it was awesome.

5. I am seriously offended by reinterpretations of classics from my childhood. Example: Ramona and Beezus on the silver screen. I don't care if it's great and critically acclaimed (which I bet it isn't. I'm not even checking, that's how mad I am)--it will be a cold day in hell before I will accept Ginnifer Goodwin as Aunt Bea.

5a. I think Beverly Cleary would be okay with this anger--she strikes me as a pretty scrappy old lady. JUST LIKE ME.

If you need me, I'll be planning my trip to the UK to go on the Barbara Pym Walking Tour.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

bad advice for good people.

Here's what I love about Daniel Handler: He sneaks up on you.

I've been reading You're a Horrible Person, But I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice. This is an excellent book for summer days when you are too hung over or otherwise affected to muddle through a novel, when all you really want is something hilarious to read out loud to your companion as you loll around on a beach towel and pour yourself in and out of the water. All your favourite funny folks are here: Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Rainn Wilson, Samantha Bee, Janeane Fucking Garofalo, AND MORE. And they each have a whole lot of awful advice to dole out to their unwitting audience. It's like reading Dear Abby if Abby had been drunk and cranky, which is pretty much my idea of journalistic heaven.

Anyway, Daniel Handler's section starts out sort of disappointingly. He spends most of the chapter giving snappy answers to stupid questions. Example:

Dear Daniel,
Now that we have a black president, is it okay to be racist again?
Terry R. Eureka, CA

Dear Terry,
Daniel Handler

It goes on like this for several pages. And yes, it's funny, but it's one trick pony-ish. And then. Just when you're starting to get a little annoyed, he just whips it out.

Dear Daniel,
How do you break up with your boyfriend in a way that tells him, "I don't want to sleep with you on a regular basis anymore, but please be available for late night booty calls if I run out of other options"?
Charlotte, NC

Dear Lily,
The story's so old you can't tell it anymore without everyone groaning, even your oldest friends with the last of their drinks shivering around the ice in their dirty glasses. The music playing is the same album everyone has. Those shoes, everybody has the same shoes on. It looked a little like rain so on person brought an umbrella, useless now in the starstruck clouded sky, forgotten on the way home, which is how the umbrella ended up in her place anyway. Everyone gets older on nights like this.

And still it's a fresh slap in the face of everything you had going, that precarious shelf in the shallow closet that will certainly, certainly fall someday. Photographs slipping into a crack to be found by the next tenant, that one squinter third from the left laughing at something your roommate said, the coaster from that place in the city you used to live in, gone now.

...Handler goes on for another page or so, and it's all so heartbreaking and evocative that you just want to crawl inside it and die a little. It's especially poignant because is it ever NOT what you expected in a book this funny and pointless. You'll be so overcome you might tumble right into the campfire, I'm warning you. A Betty Draper-esque fainting couch may be in order. I'm not sure if they make an outdoor fainting couch, but they ought to.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer dreams, ripped at the seams.

Fun games to play while watching reruns of Being Erica:

1. Documenting pop-historical inaccuracies. Examples: use of a Sam Roberts song that wasn't really popular yet in an episode about the Great Blackout of Aught-Three; putting Ethan, the whitest, milquetoastiest place-holder/unrequited boyfriend in all fiction, in a fucking Public Enemy t-shirt during his second year of university.

2. Spot The Former Or Current Degrassi: TNG Star: Jimmy (you will never be Drake to me, sorry dude), Paige's gay hockey-playing brother, the late-addition goth girl who dated Spinner for a bit, Crazy Craig (still number one on my TNG secret husband list)*: They're all here, folks!

*(NOTE: If I had to pick an all-time Degrassi secret husband I don't think any of the new cast would make the list. I'd definitely go with Patrick, the sensitive Irish exchange student who helped Liz get over her childhood trauma. Second only, perhaps, to Snake, before be got boring and old. The shine wore off that apple when I saw him picking up his dry-cleaning one time on Queen West.)

3. Blackberry Commercial Emotional Bingo: When you don't have cable and only watch TV online, you forget how hypnotic and consuming and upsettingly fun to watch commercials can be. It's the media equivalent of going through the haunted house at the fair, with even more jarring results.

4. Think about what a good thing it is that you are leaving town this weekend, because this is getting pretty ridiculous.

Happy Civic Holiday, y'all. Here's the official anthem of a four-day weekend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

from the disappointment files.

I'm rarely super disappointed by a book. I usually find something to like about everything I read, or else I put the damned thing down. This weekend, all that changed. I read Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz and I would have thrown it across the room several times if it hadn't been a library book. It was a perfect storm of disappointment, and like the perfect storm, I found myself trapped and unable to escape.

I've loved the Peanuts comics since I bought a stack of old paperback collections from my next door neighbour's garage sale a million years ago. I love their melancholy, adultless universe, the philosophical and spiritual truths coming out of the mouths of babes, the bittersweet unfairness of childhood. I've read a handful of biographies of Charles Schulz already, as well as the thoughtful introductions of each volume of Fantagraphics' exhaustive Complete Peanuts. My intense love of the comic strip as well as my existing knowledge base is probably to blame for my hatred of this book. I knew too much going in, so I could poke holes in author Beverly Gherman's superficial research.

I also blame the critics for my hatred of this book. I'd read several really positive reviews that praised everything from its use of Peanuts strips to illustrate periods of Charles Schulz's life to the very construction of the book, which is more like an art book than a traditional biography--glossy pages, large fonts, collages of old sketches and photos. Okay, okay, it was neat to see some of Schulz's early work, and I enjoyed reading a few strips I'd never seen before, but there was no analysis or depth. I wanted more than Gherman's storybooky narration could give me. And her insistence on referring to Schulz as Sparky throughout got so annoying. It was his nickname! We get it! Cease and desist!

So I'm a fangirl. Sue me. Give me what I want.

If you're at all interested in Charles Schulz's life (which is fascinating, by the way), read Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography by David Michaelis. This book is sensitive and well-researched, and draws on Schulz's comic strips in an expansive, analytical way. Instead of making Schulz into a sort of bumbling folk hero, as Gherman tries to do, Michaelis' biography exposes Schulz's depression, his anxiety, and his fear. As someone who's always appreciated the back-handed sadness of the Peanuts, I found this book so illuminating.

And if you're as obsessed as I am with the Charlie Brown Christmas special, read A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition. It looks like a coffee table book, but it's so much more than that. It's full of the rich history of the first Peanuts TV special, interviews with the kids who voiced the characters, and a full script of the program, as well as stills and flip-book-style images.

In hindsight, maybe it's appropriate to be disappointed by a book about a comic strip that chronicles the inherent unfairness of life, the early realization that the odds of life going your way are pretty slim. Ah, synchronicity.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer reading club.

I mentioned earlier that most of my reading of late has been magazine-based. Working for the library has turned me into a compulsive magazine reader and I am very much okay with this. I love the brevity of a good article (or the satisfying length of a piece if we're talking New Yorker or Vanity Fair; with those publications you can trick yourself into believing you've read ten books over 200 pages) and the possibility of learning a little something, or at least adding to an arsenal of party trivia. I also love pretty pictures of pretty people, and I bet you do too. Here are the best ones I've read lately.

1. Psychology Today, August 2010 issue. This contained a really fascinating article about sibling relationships which confirmed a lot of the things I already suspected about myself and my family. Which is exactly what every pop-psychology article is designed to do, I guess.

2. Vanity Fair, August 2010 issue. Angelina Jolie is a complete nutjob with the most amazing delusions of grandeur. So many of the things that come out of her crazy mouth make no sense at all! If you read some of her quotes out of context you could confuse her with the weirdos who come to the reference desk asking for books on auras; I am not even exaggerating. This issue also contained a really crazy article about an eccentric, high-society French family who got taken in by a scheister who convinced them they were being targeted by a freemason-oriented conspiracy; I love that kind of thing.

3. People magazine, June 28 2010 issue. Jennifer Love Hewitt has some serious body image issues, and spends most of her interview justifying her decision to stay on a restrictive diet just so she can look good in a bikini. Pretty disappointing given that a few years ago she defended her healthy, non-emaciated body. Reading all about it made me hungry. More importantly, Zac Efron is on the cover, and in spite of my better judgment, I just don't know how to quit him.

4. Explore, August 2010 issue. Because sometimes you just want to read ridiculous articles about climbing Everest and pretend you will someday go heli-paragliding.

The Beach Boys make a really excellent magazine reading soundtrack.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thoughts on Mad Men.

1. Oh myyyy, this show is so goooood. I do not agree that it's the new Sex and the City; however this is worth a read.

2. I'd love to have an ex-relationship like Joan Holloway and Roger Sterling's--the occasional breezy but meaningful phone conversation, the knowledge that you will always be able to be done a kind favour by someone who thinks fondly of you, the banter. Oh, the banter.

3. Speaking of Sex and the City, I still see the actor who plays Roger Sterling as the congressional candidate who wanted to pee on Carrie Bradshaw.

4. It took me nearly three seasons, but I have a slow-burning crush on Pete Campbell. He is such a dick, but SO NAIVELY MORAL. I'm a sucker for that.

5. I'd like to be Don Draper's first wife, teaching piano lessons near the sea in California. She may be the luckiest supporting character in all of fiction.

6. Did YOU know the only other president buried at Arlington National Cemetery, where John F. Kennedy is buried, was and still is William Taft? I sure didn't! Thanks, Mad Men!

7. You know what's a good television narrative tactic? Closing an episode with a pop song that somehow underscores the plot. Weeds is also really good at this. The end of the JFK episode of Mad Men reminded me how frigging creepily evocative this song is.

...Is it me, or is this an off-putting video?

8. Does anyone in Kingston have cable and want to have me over for dinner the night of every new episode? I'll bring you nachos.