30 January 2014

My Favorite Things: January 2014

After a few months of link roundups, I’m back this month with some of my favorite things from January – some real things, not just internet content! Who knew, right? Fortunately, most of these things don’t necessarily require you to leave your home... and goodness knows that’s for the best, these days.

BBC Sherlock, Season 3


Catch it live on PBS (finale is Sunday!) or watch it free (LEGALLY!) here. And if you haven’t kept up with it, Seasons 1 and 2 are on Netflix!

Smartwool socks

Hey, have I mentioned that I walk to work? And maybe you’ve noticed how it is unrelentingly, astoundingly cold outside these days? Captain Obvious here, to repeat everything you already know all too well!

Last year I received a pair of Smartwool socks from a Wisconsin relative who knows what’s up when it comes to warm socks. I requested more this year, and fortunately I received a few more pairs for Christmas!

Normally I’d make some smartass comment about how if we lived in Nashville, I would still be wearing ballet flats without socks, and it’s only since we’ve moved to the great white north, etc. etc. But no. It’s cold everywhere right now. And you could really use a pair (or three, or ten) of these socks. Yes, they are twenty bucks for socks... but oh, they are worth it.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Everyone is reading this book. My mother-in-law, my coworker. You’re probably reading this book. It’s super popular right now, and with good reason: it’s got richly drawn characters, a movie (or perhaps miniseries?)-worthy plot, and an epic length to hold your attention for the long haul. If you’re not reading it, you should, if only so you know what everyone else is talking about. But mostly because it’s a powerful, engrossing narrative! You won’t always like the emotions the story evokes, but they’re such strong emotions that you can’t deny it’s a great work.

My only complaint is that the writing style is a bit florid for my taste – the author has had the last ten years to work on this book, and at times I could definitely feel just how labored it is. The characters and plot make up for the long stretches of detail and introspection, though!

When I recommended it to my boss (in audiobook form, as we both had long hours mindlessly working on tedious equipment ahead of us), I had trouble describing the plot without ruining the experience of reading it. When I started the book, I knew nothing about it except that it was exceedingly popular. It took me a while to get into it because of that, but I’m so glad I didn’t know. I just let it unfold before me, along for the ride.

So. It’s about a boy, who grows into a man, and a painting, and his relationship to the painting. But the painting is also sort of a red herring, because it’s really about his relationships with everyone else? Relationships that sort of stem from the painting? I’m doing a terrible job of describing this book. You should probably just read it for yourself.

Audible, but not to listen to The Circle, by Dave Eggers

This is an endorsement and anti-endorsement and an endorsement again, all in one. Endorsement: Audible! If you haven’t already signed up (and considering how they advertise on every dang podcast ever, you probably have), you might want to consider getting an account. My sister-in-law and her husband gave me a subscription for Christmas, which is perfect considering how I devour audiobooks! I usually just get them from the library, IF the library even carries it, sometimes waiting months on a holds list. But thanks to their gift I was able to actually listen to popular books while they are still popular. And speaking of another popular book...

Endorsement: The Circle, by Dave Eggers! It’s a dystopian novel about privacy, or lack thereof. Basically, he envisions a very – let’s be real here – Google-esque company taking over our lives in the future. The plot didn’t go exactly where I thought it would, or where I wanted it to. But the world Eggers creates, and the questions the story made me ponder, make this book definitely worth your while.

Anti-endorsement: DO NOT listen to the audiobook version of The Circle, from Audible or anywhere. Mr. P and I tackled it during our annual Christmas-in-the-car (approximately twenty-seven hours this year!) and it was often tedious as hell. Eggers belabors some of his points far too much for audio form, when you could just skim the page and get the same idea visually. We stuck with it, but agreed that the audiobook was not the best way to read this book. Listen to The Goldfinch from Audible instead! It’s long but far more suited to audio form.

Miss Dior [Cherie]

Back when Mr. P and I were getting married, one of the things I needlessly obsessed over was selecting the perfect wedding perfume. I finally decided on Miss Dior Cherie, thinking it would be classic enough to be able to purchase for years to come.

But they didn’t carry it forever. Last year, I decided to finally get a new bottle, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. I could only find Miss Dior, not Miss Dior Cherie, and from what I could read, those were very different scents.

It’s only recently that I learned that Dior renamed the old scent, calling it “Original”, and shuffling the Cherie scent onto the actual original “Miss Dior” name. It’s confusing as all get out, but at least I realized I could get a bottle of my perfume again. If you’re looking for a signature scent, I can highly recommend this one!

(Bonus: now my empty bottle of perfume from our wedding – which of course I still have – is officially vintage-antique with its “Cherie” label. D’awwww.)

Sparkly nail polish, particularly gold

While we’re on girly subjects for a moment, can I please take a moment to endorse sparkly nail polish?

Something about the bleakness of winter makes sparkly nail polish seem slightly less ridiculous. And in this gold version from Sally Hansen? LOVE.

I found it at Target, and right now it seems like a lovely idea to wear it year-round. Of course, come March, that will seem ridiculous. But for now, let’s sparkle it up, shall we?

The Bugle podcast

When John Oliver left the Daily Show late in December, I cried along with him.

(Sorry for the auto-play. It is evil and terrible and I CANNOT TURN IT OFF.)

I cried because he’s delightful, because he’s talented, because he seems like an amazing dude in real life, because he deserves all the success coming his way, and because I don’t get HBO and can’t watch his new show. Oh, and because DIMPLES.

Thank goodness I realized he has a podcast with a fellow British comedian! I’m just coming to it, oh, six years late.

The Bugle comes out approximately weekly (when John Oliver’s not too busy being famous) and it’s all the lightning-fast satire I could want to charm my Smartwool socks off. Even the occasional penis jokes are hilarious, as I secretly have the sense of humor of a fourteen-year-old boy. Check it out!

Basic stretches to combat the cold

Something about the cold weather makes my shoulders and chest absolutely lock up. I didn’t even realize I had pec muscles until they were unbearably cramped from hunching over, bracing myself in the cold. I know I should be practicing yoga or some other fanciful, flexibility-increasing exercise... but really, I just want my neck and chest to MOVE again. And when I’m cramped up so badly that holding-a-doorframe-with-my-elbows-and-leaning-forward just won’t cut it anymore, I turn to this video.

I found it last winter, but I didn’t put it to routine use until this past month. Yes, I feel like an old person with how much she coddles the viewer... but let’s be real, I am inflexible, and this video KNOWS WHAT THAT’S LIKE. The “pose” at 4:30 is so hilariously simple and yet it works wonders! Don’t skip the towel under your back, that’s key.

And finally, a few delightful tidbits from around the web...

This calendar of seniors re-enacting movie scenes is worth a click. I hope Mr. P and I are that fun when we’re old.

This video sums up ALL OF MY FEELINGS about contemporary dance. I cannot possibly roll my eyes hard enough whenever a contemporary routine comes on So You Think You Can Dance.

I’ve seen this sentiment about blogging around the web a lot recently, the one best summed up here. Honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it. (Well, not the discomfort or malaise, but the trend towards authenticity and away from branding.) I’ve missed Blogging 1.0 for awhile now, and I’d love to revert back to it!

A few places are reporting that toast is the trendy new gourmet thing. Even JtB did a whole series on toast a little while back. I’m not going to pay $7 for toast, but I have happily accepted that I need to increase the amount of toast in my life, especially on cold winter mornings. Because I am trendy, not because I adore carbs so dang much, obvs.

Finally, I leave you with this pun:

Get it? Get it? It’s... it’s a moist owlet! (You can thank Mr. P for that one.)

And with that, it’s time to bring January to a close! What’s keeping you warm this month, dear readers?


Anonymous said...

I've been listening to The Bugle for a few years, (not sure how many exactly, but it was still part of The Times when I started), and John's portions are almost universally good, sometimes even hard-to-drive-with-tears-of-laughter=good. Unfortunately, I find I can only take so much of Andy's "humour". If they were to release a version that was edited to include only John's sections, it would be my top podcast.