I am spending this week watching holiday specials. Not the cartoons and tired old movies of yore (Come on admit it, It’s a Wonderful Life is three hours of tedious, sentimental schlock.), but holiday food and cooking shows, specifically of the UK variety.
As it turns out, holiday cooking shows are the big thing for UK chefs, and anyone with an existing series, or a cookbook, or a well-known restaurant, is there on the screen, setting fire to booze-soaked puds and making the holiday hassle look easy. But because there are so many shows, so many chefs competing for viewers’ attention, they’ve all got to do something different, to jazz up the traditional Christmas dinner in some way to make it unique.
Stuart Heritage of the Guardian sees the mass of holiday cooking shows as a as testament to gluttony in the “so… much… foooooood” vein. Because, he claims, it’s all about the watching and not about the cooking. But isn’t that really the saddest part? By which I mean, I bet that your Christmas dinner this year will be exactly like the Christmas dinner you had last year, and the year before that, and the year before that… there will be no trying of new dishes from Jamie or Nigella or Gordon. It’s fun to watch, sure, but hey, don’t fuck with Christmas dinner.
Dear PR people,
Please, I am on my knees begging to you – stop using the phrase “reaching out to you” in emails where you really just mean “contacting you”.
I don’t know who started this trend, but it’s pretentious and, well, really fucking creepy.
Seriously. Reaching out has two connotations. We “reach out” to offer assistance to those in need. I’m not in need, you’re just sending me a press release.
The other connotation of “reaching out” is of a dirty old man trying to cop a feel. I get emails now that include the term “reaching out” and I picture the perfectly manicured claw of the PR person in question, coming at me as if to grab my tits.
Trust me when I tell you that this is NOT the image of yourselves that you want me to have.
Stop reaching at me! Just contact me. I promise that you’ll get a much nicer response. Because the next person that “reaches” at me is getting a smack.
Am I beating a dead horse if I link to yet another article pointing out that health claims on packaged food are (intentionally) misleading?
This NY Times article doesn’t really reveal anything new if you’ve been following the whole story over the past few years, but it speaks to the stretches of truth advertisers will make and the overall gullibility of consumers when you consider that people are still buying these products.
It just feels like a battle food advocates can never win. Between advertisers and media willing to repeat any study that touts a “superfood”, or an ingredient with nutritional properties, the people standing up and saying, “hey now, wait a minute, do more research” are the ones made to look like kooks.
But how sad is it that we’re willing to buy yogurt, or juice or cereal because of false promises of restored health? I’m angry that people don’t take more time to inform themselves about what they’re buying and putting into their bodies, but I’m also a little shocked at the desperation of people willing to try anything that offers any kind of promise of improvement, be it weight loss, digestive health or, scariest of all, cancer prevention.
I don’t agree with everything said by author Michael Pollan, but “don’t buy food with health claims on the package” has to be one of the wisest things I’ve ever read.
There must be thousand of titles on bookstore shelves that deal with positive thinking. Achieve your goals, get your perfect mate, advance your career… all by simply being positive. Did you ever stop to wonder how many people that system actually works for?
Author Barbara Ehrenreich did, and wrote a book about it called Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America. As evidenced by the title, Ehrenreich isn’t buying the positivity thing. Her own point of view comes from two separate situations, both of which she outlines in the book.
First, she recounts her experience with breast cancer and the seemingly constant mantra to always think positive thoughts. There is a whole industry surrounding cancer, particularly breast cancer, that hinges on people keeping positive and buying inspirational items (think of the pink ribbon campaign) to keep spirits up. When Ehrenreich admits on an online message board for cancer survivors that she sometimes feels grumpy or angry, people publicly admonish her. The belief that people are causing their own cancer, or are preventing their recovery by not being positive enough is quite prevalent.
Ehrenreich’s second experience with positive thinking – and the way in which people make money off of others’ desperation – comes when she writes a book about white collar workers who have been downsized and are trying to get back into the workforce. So much of the career counselling she writes about includes life coaches who help their clients learn positive thinking to achieve their career goals. But Ehrenreich isn’t buying it, noting that none of the positive thinking courses she took helped her to hone or improve workplace skills.
I sat glued to the TV for the past two days, watching the mess otherwise know as the G20 play out on the streets of my city. Stories of inhumane treatment of protesters are the most distressing, and the violence from all sides is chilling. And I’m trying to make sense of it all, not laying blame, but figuring out, as much as I can, why it all played out the way it did.
The first thing to note, and something which the majority of protesters did not seem to understand, is that the right to peaceful protest and the right to public assembly does not come with the right to break other laws. The original protest march on Saturday was legal because organizers got the appropriate permits to take over the streets. The prayer vigil and march on Sunday morning was legal because organizers got a permit to march from Church and Wellesley to King and Bay. Once the police cleared the crowd at King & Bay mid-afternoon (at which point the crowd had shifted from the original prayer march protesters to a mixed crowd), taking over the streets was no longer legal. The decision to head west, instead of dispersing northward interrupted the flow of traffic – thus causing all of the protesters marching to be in breach of the law, as they were impeding traffic flow. Just because you were legally allowed to walk down the middle of Queen Street on Saturday, doesn’t mean it’s legal for you to do it on Sunday, “peaceful protest” or not.
I have a concern with people claiming their human rights to free speech were violated with regards to this issue.
For Christmas, my brother sent me a book called Dirt: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House. It has been on my wish list for some time now and I was delighted to receive this book of essays about people’s relationships with the spaces they inhabit. I was disappointed once I started reading it though, since most of the essays appeared to be from people attempting to justify their own sloth. Sure, there were a few where the writers dealt with the dirt of others – having to clean the house of a deceased relative who had been a hoarder, for example. There’s also a section of essays written by people who have worked as maids or housekeepers. And even a couple where the essayists wrote about a specific chore; Laura Shain Cunningham loves to wax her floor, Juliet Eastland is obsessed with sheets.
But most of the essays were from people who hated to clean, about why they hated to clean.
Which is where I begin to feel like a freak, because I like to clean. A lot.
There are things I dislike, and downright hate – hate cleaning the shower for instance, and the shower is the only place in the house where mainstream cleaners make an appearance. I live with wall to wall carpeting and would prefer hardwood floors but it’s a rental and the choice is not mine. So I vacuum and steam clean carpets a lot more than I would like, because with two dogs, you can’t NOT keep the rugs clean or else the places gets too doggy smelling. But I don’t think I actually hate the task itself – just the time it takes up.
Someone called me a Grinch today.
Not because I was ranting about how much I hate Christmas -I wasn’t and I don’t – but because I was ranting about the fact the people were complaining about having to do their Christmas shopping.
Now, I’m one of those annoyingly organized people. I make lists and check things off (much like the jolly old elf himself), and most people are not surprised to learn that I keep Christmas on a spreadsheet in my computer. That’s right – a spreadsheet. A workbook actually, with lists of what I bought for people, what they bought for me and what stuff I baked, how it turned out and who liked what (ie. no fruitcake for brother, extra Turkish delight for the folks).
I like to think I know what my recipients like and keep an eye open all year for appropriate gifts. That’s why my Grandmother’s gift was bought in August during a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, and that book for my brother was nabbed at a holiday book sale in 2008 at a publishers warehouse sale. Yes, that’s right… I buy Christmas gifts a year ahead.
I’m pegging this as another issue in my ongoing rant about how the lowest common denominator of society actually make the rules.
When cafes and coffee shops started offering free Wifi service, we all though it was terribly novel. People flocked to the chain shops to work and hang out, some spending the entire day there, writing, emailing, nursing a coffee. Note the singular tense there. A coffee. Maybe two.
Think about all the times you’ve been at a busy restaurant waiting for a table, watching that group in the corner linger on and on… well past when their bill has been delivered and paid for, well paid multiple refills of water… Now imagine the same scenario at a coffee shop. There’s some guy with a laptop, taking up a four-seat table, with that 3-hour-old cup of coffee in front of him. And there are no seats, you’re a group of 3 and you’ve all got food. Who deserves the table more?
And with a sigh of relief – this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is over.
How I hate the damned thing.
It’s not that I don’t like the movies, or that I don’t appreciate what goes into them, but TIFF seems more and more about the “celebrities” each year than the actual films. Who’s wearing what, who ate where? One publication even had a bathroom broadcast, reporting on the washroom habits of visiting celebrities.
I find the obsession with the stars so very strange. Sure, when you’re a teenager, it’s natural to be obsessed with the cute rock star… but I always assumed being star-struck was something we grew out of as adults, secure in the knowledge that the stars are just like the rest of us, and would prefer to be treated as such.
I had the misfortune to find myself on a King streetcar on the evening that George Clooney’s new film was premiering at Roy Thompson Hall. There was a crowd outside as we rolled past and as everyone gawked to see who might be there, someone let out a scream. They had caught sight of George Clooney and within seconds there were people screeching, yelling things out the windows and generally making fools of themselves, unaware or unconcerned that he couldn’t actually hear them.
In wide use since the mid-1800s, elevators enable people to gain access to areas of multi-floor buildings without having to use the stairs. This device is incredibly useful for anyone moving large or bulky items such as boxes, baby strollers, shopping buggies, beer kegs, large dogs or refrigerators.
Although the western world has lived with the elevator for over 150 years, it appears that some basic rules and etiquette continue to be neglected. Miss Shirley will enlighten you.
First, when you approach the elevator and press the button to call the car to your floor, step back once you have done so. While it seems like the most basic of common sense, if you stand directly in front of the doors, the people already on the elevator will not be able to disembark. Which means you won’t be able to get on, you stupid nimrod!
Second, once you have entered the elevator, select the floor you want and move as far into the car as possible so that others getting on behind you have room. Do not, Miss Shirley will repeat this, do NOT block the goddamn doorway. If you desire to remain close to the door, either because you are phobic, someone else on the elevator smells bad, or because you are getting off before everyone else, wait and let the other people on first. Miss Shirley, who lives on the 2nd floor of her building and who is usually accompanied on her elevator trips by two large dogs, often lets others onto the car first so that she does not have to push past them 30 seconds later to disembark. Also, elevators are not like airplanes – if for some reason the door closes before you can get on, the elevator will be back in a couple of minutes.