Internet Sausage Links

Internet Sausage Links

I’ve had it with people indifferent to the way they smell and how it affects other people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come home with a blazing headache from either too much Axe or too much BO, so good on American Airlines for having the balls to do this – Washington Post

Speaking of stinky, I’m buying these. You’d think people on my side of the world could afford regular showers with soap and water but apparently not, and winter just brings out the worst offenders ever. Come to think of it, summer does too, so maybe I’ll bulk buy these things or something – Amazon

Still on the subject of stinky, Toronto Hydro cut power to the building directly across from us because winter in the True North is hazardous to everything. A pipe burst and flooded their electrical control room, leaving all the residents of a 33-story high-rise without heat, water and light for the past few days.  We checked last night and the lights are on again, but still. Yikes – Global News

In even more stinky news, the Bryan Singer expose is the ripest kind of ripe. On so many levels. If you didn’t already hate him for sticking his fingers into the X-Men reboot and ruining Matthew Vaughn’s vision for the X-Men franchise, this read should do the trick – The Atlantic

I worship at the altar of carbs. Yes, you are absolutely right, I need to stop. Still, this is one of the most blasphemous things you could ever do to a delicious dish of pasta, all in the name of of celebrating a stupid gender reveal party. Yeah stinky is really driving this particular post – New York Post

You, Me, and a Little Yellow Ball

You, Me, and a Little Yellow Ball

“Tennis is the sport in which you talk to yourself. No athletes talk to themselves like tennis players. Pitchers, golfers, goalkeepers, they mutter to themselves, of course, but tennis players talk to themselves – and answer. In the heat of a match, tennis players look like lunatics in a public square, ranting and swearing and conducting Lincoln-Douglas debates with their alter egos. Why? Because tennis is so damned lonely.”
– Andre Agassi, Open

Someone once told me she thought tennis was a boring sport. While tennis may very well look like giant ping-pong from a beginner’s point of view, to fully appreciate the game – any game, really – one simply needs to understand how it works. That’s the great thing about tennis. Like basketball, it’s ridiculously simple.

So, the basics.

The rules: the ball cannot bounce more than once. The ball must stay inside the lines. When serving, the ball must bounce within the specified service box, and the server is only given two chances to get it right (three, if the ball clips the top of the net). A point is won if:

– the ball goes out of bounds
– the ball goes into the net
– the ball bounces twice, or
– the player cannot return the ball.

The surfaces: tennis has three. Grass, clay, and hardcourt. Each surface impacts ball striking, movement and ball bounce differently, requiring the player to make adjustments to his or her technique. It also necessitates the use of warm-up events, called tournaments, that lead up to major tournaments (majors), which are also called Grand Slams.

The majors: tennis has four. The Australian Open (Asia-Pacific/hardcourt), The French Open (Europe/clay), Wimbledon (Europe/grass) and the US Open (America/hardcourt). A player’s ranking depends on the number of tournaments he/she wins. The bigger the tournament, the bigger the prize money and the number of ranking points earned. To defend their ranking, players must  either have the same results that they had the previous year, or earn more points than they did, for a higher ranking.

Game, set, match: a game is three points and a set has six games. The first player to win six games wins the set, provided the opponent is two games behind (i.e., 6-4). If both players win six games apiece with neither two games behind, the set is decided by a tie-break. A match, for men, requires best of three sets at the ATP 250 and Masters 1000 level. For Grand Slams, they play best of five. A match for women, regardless of tour level, is always best of three.

Best of all, in tennis, there is no team to rely on. There is no one else to pass a ball, a baton, a pigskin, or a puck to. There is no safety net. Boxing may be as solitary, but even in boxing, you have people in your corner, the guys who bring you water and wipe you down,  smear ointment on your lacerations, push you back into the centre of the ring, reminding you it’s not over until it’s over. You don’t get that in professional tennis. It’s a mostly solitary sport that demands utmost accountability. In tennis, if you fail, it is through no one’s fault but your own.

Tennis requires focus, willpower, courage and stamina. Most of all, it is a sport that requires control. Control of yourself, of your body, of your mind, and control of the ball. The player who controls the ball the best, is the one who wins the most. Think of the myriad different ways you can flick your wrist or twist your arm, rotate your torso, angle your body, stretch your legs. All of this in the quest to direct that little yellow orb. Where do you want it to go? What do you want it to do? What do you intend to create? Carve a laser down the line? Blast an explosion cross court? Draw a graceful arc in the sky to push an opponent back? Pull him forward with a short ball? Go right when he expects you to go left? The possibilities are endless.

There is nothing quite like watching two tennis players striving to out-think, outdo and outlast each other across the net, in a physically punishing environment, stopping short of actually drawing blood. When tennis is played by the best of the best, it is breathtaking. Suspenseful, Exciting. Brutal. Merciless. Graceful. Magical. Nuanced. And yet, at the end of it all, the players are expected to meet each other across the net, and shake hands civilly, to pretend they didn’t just spend the last few hours trying to grind each other into the dust – because yes, in tennis, your behaviour matters too. Players have gotten fined for bad behaviour, for smashing their rackets, for using foul language and abusing the referees.

There is so much more to tennis than running from side to side trying to hit a ball across the net. Tennis, boring? Not on your young, beautiful life.

Waiting

Waiting

I know, I know.

I said I was leaving Netflix.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t.

Yet.

I feel like one of those female friends we all have who keep complaining about their boyfriends and yet never get up the guts to truly leave. Netflix is like the bad boyfriend you can’t seem to shake, the one who’s given you every reason to leave and yet you can’t seem to keep giving chances to. I kind of hate myself for it, because I’m still seeing Crave on the side. Actually, I’m seeing Crave on the regular, and sorta/kinda neglecting Netflix, while paying for both, which is kind of a dumb scenario to willfully be in.

Still, there’s been nothing from them addressed to me personally about hiking my subscription up, so I’m going to hedge my bets. I read that they’ll hike the prices on the ninth of February, but am waiting for an official e-mail. So no, I haven’t pulled the plug. I’ll pull it when it’s official.

Update: There. I did it. It feels like the end of an era… and the start of another one!

A Less Wasteful Kind of Joy

A Less Wasteful Kind of Joy

 

Marie Kondo is a sweet little bird of a woman. I had somehow imagined that the best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was a Michiko Kakutani of sorts. I expected her to look stringy, rigid and exacting, not be a tiny slip of a girl with a smile that stretches from ear to ear, who wears prim, feminine outfits and seems to be the human embodiment of the sunshine emoji.

Marie Kondo is the celebrity of tidying, hired to make sense of one’s life by helping one weed out, sort and organize the detritus that can accumulate simply through existing. She currently has a TV show on Netflix, where she helps people decide what to keep and what to throw out, and teaches them how to arrange the things they have decided to keep to spark the maximum amount of joy. Joy is her raison d’etre. The gist of her method, called KonMari, is to keep only the things that give you joy, and to honour the things that no longer do before casting them aside and donating them to charity.

What makes the KonMari method special is that she believes each item that you have in your home should bring you joy. She also believes that every sentimental item has a sort of life, one that needs to be respected. It sounds ridiculous and I suppose on the surface, it is. Inanimate objects are just that, objects. Because I subscribe to the notion that my things turn into the cast of Toy Story whenever I’m not looking (which is why one moment they’re missing  and the next, they’re lying under my nose waiting to be picked up) the KonMari method and the philosophy behind it doesn’t strike me as particularly outlandish.

I like her philosophy on tidying up. One of the things Le Hubs does that drives me up the wall is whenever he forgets to put a thing back where he got it. (He does this fairly often. It’s a source of everlasting frustration.) The control freak in me loves the idea of organization, of knowing what goes where, the empowerment of knowing where everything and anything is at any given time.

The method may seem simple, but it is devilishly tricky and in some cases, unrealistic. Book lovers in particular, myself included, bristle at the notion of only keeping the books I am likely to re-read (she recommends having no more than thirty) and giving the rest – the unread ones, or ones I’ll never read again – away, as the KonMari method says to do. Please keep your happy, well-meaning paws off my books, Marie Kondo. All my books bring me joy. Everything else but the books!

It’s impossible to only keep the things that spark joy. Not everything I own does. Not everything has to, and that’s okay. I may not have a meaningful relationship with my spatula, but it’s not getting thrown out anytime soon.

To be fair, I don’t believe she means for people  to start throwing everything out willy nilly in the pursuit of carving out a space in which to breathe. If anything, I see the KonMari  method as a good way to re-evaluate the reasons we have for buying the things we do.

It’s helpful to have perspective when buying things, something that, in our mad dash to accrue, very often gets muddled. Sometimes we find ourselves buying things for the sake of buying things, stripping them of their meaning in the process, and the cycle of going out to buy things simply because it feels good to buy things becomes a vicious one that’s hard to break. Before you know it you’re surrounded by things  that have no meaning beyond the initial impulse you had to buy them in the first place.

When it comes to acquiring movies and books in particular, I like to make sure the ones I get are ones I really enjoy. Either I’ve seen it at a theatre and loved it, or I’ve borrowed the digital version of a book from the library and have decided it deserves a spot on my bookshelf. This way I know I’m almost never going to throw it out, and they will never go unwatched or unread. Be selective. Aside from asking if something you already own brings you joy, it’s also a good idea to ask if something you want to own will bring you joy. It’ll help you ensure you’ll never have to throw anything out.

 

What Books Did You Read in 2018?

What Books Did You Read in 2018?

Some people set goals for themselves, like reading fifty books a year. I don’t have a set number, but I would like to average more than three a month, which,  based off of my Overdrive history, was what 2018 was for me book-wise. This year, I want to read things more than I watch things –  a resolution that may be easier to say than to actually do, so crossing my fingers, knocking on at least two different types of wood and throwing a little salt over my left shoulder.

Anyway, here are all the books I finished last year. Because I have the same maxim for reading as well as eating – i.e. finish everything you put on your plate – I still feel guilty about not being able to finish a book. I am incapable of reading multiple books at any given time, preferring to finish one before picking up another. I’ve learned that life is too short, and if something fails to hold you in its grip a third of the way in, it’s best to just put it down very gently and move along.

As you will soon see, my choice of reading material doesn’t follow rhyme or reason, although I do have a weakness for books about historical figures, particularly royal ones. The following may hopefully give you ideas for what to read next, and I read them all through Overdrive, the digital arm of the Toronto Public Library. I do list three books that are an absolute punch to the gut – books I liked so much, I want the real thing on my bookshelf! To get to the  ones I would definitely recommend, skip to the standouts section.

Royal Pains
That Woman – Anne Sebba
Nicholas and Alexandra – Robert K. Massie
Catherine the Great – Robert K. Massie
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch – Sally Bedell Smith
The Hollow Crown – Dan Jones
The Shadow Queen – Rebecca Dean
Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart – John Guy

Guilty Pleasures
Upon a Wicked Time – Karren Ranney
The Bride and the Beast – Teresa Medeiros
Valley of the Dolls – Jacqueline Susann
Rich People Problems – Kevin Kwan
Queen of the North – Anne O’Brien

Now Major Motion Pictures (and one lush TV show)
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg
Molly’s Game – Molly Bloom

I don’t care what you say, I’ll still read kid things
The Lie Tree – Frances Hardinge
Library of Souls – Ransom Riggs
The Trials of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend

Mythic Proportions
Norse Mythology– Neil Gaiman
The Song of Achilles – Madeleine Miller
The Secret Chord – Geraldine Brooks
Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) – George R. R. Martin

Autobiographically Yours
Sick in the Head – Judd Apatow
Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher
Meaty – Samantha Irby

Everything Else
We Were Eight Years in Power – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Mrs. Fletcher – Tom Perrotta
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – Taylor Jenkins Reid
The Dutch Wife – Ellen Keith
The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules – Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg
All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother – Danielle Teller

Maybe I’ll try again someday
Fear of Flying – Erica Jong
I couldn’t finish Fear of Flying, that seminal female-centric novel of the late 70’s.  There are moments when we as humans start flailing, but this one’s been in therapy since she was a teen, and is now conducting a flagrant affair right under her second husband’s (also a therapist) nose. Her paramour – who doesn’t bathe, calls her a c*nt, walks around in some weird Jesus-y man-dress and treats her like shit (which she kind of likes) is also a therapist. That’s as far as I got. Fear of Flying is erudite and intelligently written, but I found its heroine self-indulgent and tiresome.

2018 Standouts
Circe – Madeleine Miller
This had been floating around the edges of my social media feed as a hot read, and for good reason; Madeleine Miller is a Greek scholar who plucks a relatively obscure mythical figure from the background of the great Greek myths and gives her beautiful life. Read this if you need a little magic.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life – Samantha Irby
Oh the joys of finding a new favourite author in a used book store! I would normally never pick up a book featuring a bedraggled kitten on the cover, but something about this book just made me pick it up and boy am I glad I did. Samantha Irby is a descriptively hilarious tour-de-force, who lays her own life on an operating slab, vivisects herself and exposes all her gnarly insides to the world, tongue fully in cheek. Read this if you need a little humour.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup – John Carreyrou
If you think a story about Silicon Valley maneuvers is a boring premise, John Carreyrou is going to prove you oh so wrong. A book about former Silicon Valley darling Theranos and the people, events and broken promises behind the startup that imploded so spectacularly, this one was un-putdownable for me. Never mind why you need to read this, just do!