It does seem odd to be doing an ‘autumn’ edition of A Few of my Favourite Things (for new readers – this is when I have about 5 cool things I want to blog about but distil it down to one blog) when it is hotter than a snakes’ arse in a wagon rut outside. But, this may -disturbingly – tie into favourite thing number 3. That said, it is still technically autumn and I do definitely have some favourite things right now. So here goes…
1. Favourite Book – The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt: this is not a book for those with short attention spans – as it rivals The Luminaries in word count. But it is more than worth your time. Tartt is famous for having ten year gaps between books – but she clearly isn’t laurel resting, she is dreaming up her next elaborate story-telling endeavour. Her latest is the story of a young boy named Theo, whose life is thrown into disarray when he is caught in a terrorist attack on a New York art gallery. He loses his mother in the attack, but escapes himself with a priceless piece of art – the titular Goldfinch. The story then follows Theo and his painting through his colourful early life – a drug fuelled teenage hood in the suburban wasteland of Las Vegas, followed by a slightly more sedate early twenties as an antique dealer in New York. There are a cast of amazingly interesting characters – his Russian best friend Boris, his mentor Hobie and his obsession Pippa – and the locations also play a massive role. You spend the whole time wondering how it is going to play out – and it doesn’t disappoint. Part thriller, part heist film, part romance, part philosophical debate – this book is a very worthy investment (note: best on Kindle as the actual version would be VERY heavy ;-)).
2. Favourite Salsa Rom Com – Cuban Fury: I didn’t need much convincing to see this film – Nick Frost (of Hot Fuzz fame), Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation) and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) in a film about an overweight office worker who has to rekindle his love of salsa dancing to win the heart of his boss? Hell yeah. And it doesn’t disappoint. The rom com from the male perspective seems to be a popular genre these days – and they definitely deliver more laughs per scene than your average by the numbers chick flick (Bridesmaids aside, obviously). A laughed my ass off in this one – with O’Dowd as Frost’s bullying and totes inappropes boss Drew stealing most of the great content. But Frost is a bit of a comedic genius himself – even playing the straight man here, and without his partner in crime Simon Pegg (except in a blink and you’ll miss it genius cameo). It follows the rom com conventions, but twists them a little at the end – while still giving the audience what they want, and inspiring them to shake their booties. Four solid M&Ms from me.
3. Favourite blog about something really scary: I remember the first time I saw pet insurance advertised on the London Underground. Pet insurance? Seriously? Hilarious. Then I realised one day just how much pets can cost you and realised – maybe not such a silly idea. With home and contents insurance we pay for things that may never happen, just to protect ourselves against the worst. Which is the point being made here by Guardian Environment blogger Damian Carrington. This week saw the release of the latest, and most alarming, report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Not only is climate change well and truly upon us – but if we keep on like we currently are (and there are no signs showing we won’t) it won’t just be rising temperatures and sea levels that will threaten us – it will also be food scarcity and global conflict. Carrington makes the point that we insure ourselves for things that might never happen – yet are unwilling to invest anything into preventing something that is ALREADY happening and could be cataclysmic. The time for inaction is over. Everyone has the responsibility to do something – whether it be turning off your lights, making sure you recycle, driving less or insulating your home. Oh, and harassing your government about it is always a good place to start 🙂
4. Favourite YouTube clip – Mindy Kaling on weight and celebrity: It has been a big week for debates about weight. It all started with poor old Rachel Smalley forgetting to switch her mic off during her radio show – and her statement that women over 72kg were all ‘heifers’ and ‘lardos’ being broadcast around the nation. Of course, this is great fodder for the comedy shows and newspaper columnists – but it also stirred up some worthwhile discussion about women and weight (like this Herald article). Timely then that comedian and star of The Mindy Project Mindy Kaling should appear on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show and discuss the issue of weight in Hollywood – in a typically amusing yet accurate way. After appearing in Vogue’s ‘shape issue’ she was apparently applauded for admitting that she was always trying to keep fit and lose a little weight – but didn’t desperately want to be skinny. Apparently this was a revolutionary idea in Hollywood circles. As a member of #teamlardo myself, I love it when people like Kaling and Lena Dunham draw attention to Hollywood’s stereotypes while also playing to their strengths. Go Kaling.
5. Favourite new restaurant – Bedford Soda & Liquor (Ponsonby): As a notoriously fussy eater I am very much a creature of habit when it comes to eating out. I find places I like – that accommodate my plain and sugar-obsessed diet – and stick to them. So, when I stick my neck out and try something new – and discover somewhere AWESOME that I will definitely add to my list, it is something to shout about. The latest was Bedford Soda & Liquor – a new restaurant in the Ponsonby Central complex. It has a slightly American Diner feel, and only serves one thing – meatballs. But, you can get 7 different flavours of meatballs, with 6 different sauces and you can get them in 7 or 8 different ways (on mash, on spaghetti, in a slider, in a sub). I went for two sliders – one chicken and one beef, with a parmesan cheese sauce. Nom nom – delicious. And they do desserts too – as well as an array of cocktails served in cool old school jars. Although the hipster quotient is very high here (it is Ponsnobby after all) – it is worth getting a crew together and joining them. Meatballs R Us! 🙂
So that’s it for the autumn Favourite Things. Back next week for (hopefully) a review of Captain America’s latest outing and the latest in apocalyptic teen movie franchises – Divergent. Stay cool people.