The Kindle vs. A Guilty Pleasure

I have lots and lots of guilty pleasures.  For the most part, I tuck my guilty pleasures away because they really are meant just for me and no one else. That’s what makes them a guilty pleasure.

One of Kim’s Guilty Pleasures

Let’s take the movie Grease 2 as an example:

I would be simply mortified if anyone knew that I cry my eyes out everytime I see the scene towards the end of movie were Michael (aka Cool Rider) is presumed dead after he’s chased by the T-Birds through a construction zone.  Poor Stephanie–she’ll never know that Michael really was the sexy and mysterious Cool Rider all along.  

Wait.  Scratch that.  What was I thinking?  It’s Danny and Sandy. Definitely Danny and Sandy.

I got to thinking about guilty pleasures after a morning coffee conversation  with my coworkers Michelle and Marybeth.  I think we began discussing the Amazon Kindle because Michelle’s husband ending up downloading a historical book for 50% less on their  Nook vs. the actual book for sale in Barnes & Noble.

Marybeth’s Favorite Book!

Marybeth piped up saying how much she loves her Amazon Kindle and I mentioned that I had recently gotten the 3G Kindle as a gift from Spencer although the only thing I’ve really done with it so far was download free trashy supernatural romance novels and a Scrabble game.  I can’t recall Marybeth’s exact remark, but she told us how just a few days ago she got to reread one of her most favorite books Ribsy by Beverly Cleary while waiting for her car to be repaired at the dealership.

Now isn’t that the cutest thing?  Here before me sat a professional, young married woman confessing her love for a children’s book and making absolutely no apologies for reading it on her Kindle when most people would be reading the latest James Patterson book or that insanely popular Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo series.

I think the beauty of the Amazon Kindle or any e-reader, for that matter, is you can read whatever you want and you don’t have to be concerned with people nosing in on what you’re reading. I really hate that.  “Whatcha reading?” someone will ask. “Oh, I read that…”    You don’t have to be like one of those women reading their Danielle Steel books wrapped up in a quilted book cover while waiting for their hair to dry under the heat lamp at the beauty salon.   If so desired, you could quite  easily download and read Mein Kamph by Hitler and then move on to Twilight by Stephanie Meyer without anyone ever knowing.

I respect all guilty pleasures.  They’ve got to be pretty special people, places or things that make you swim against the tide and carve out that little spot of happiness in your life that you can call all your own.  So I’ve got that cheesy Grease 2 movie that I bet Michelle Pfeiffer would love to remove from her IMDB profile and Marybeth has got her story about the dog who gets lost in a huge shopping mall parking lot.

So I ask you:  what’s your guilty pleasure?  Tell me, it’s OK, I swear I won’t tell  a soul. It’ll be just between us.

SantaLand Diaries

Spencer and I went to see a play called The Santaland Diaries based on the book Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris.

The play was a one-man show featuring Guy Oliveri who was simply amazing as the thirty-something New Yorker who finds himself employed as Crumpet the Elf at Macy’s Department store during the holidays.

The Santaland Diaries is not your typical heart-warming fare of good cheer and joy. Instead it’s a twisted account of one man’s journey into retail hell dealing with people from all walks of life wanting that perfect photo with Santa and doing just about anything to get it.

Guy Oliveri is one actor I’m hoping to see perform again. Just as I get overly impressed when a waitress can remember my dinner order without pen and paper, imagine how blown away I was watching Guy perform on stage for well over an hour all by himself bringing one of my favorite David Sedaris stories to life right before my very eyes! I loved him.

The play was presented at The New Repertory Theatre in Watertown. Aside from some poor navigation on my part (going through a red light down a one-way street into oncoming traffic), getting there was a snap. We parked for free in a very huge parking garage that was adjacent to the theatre. The tickets were $35 for general seating that we had ordered online about a month ago. Since we arrived early enough, we had our pick of seats including front row. We chose the center of the second row and watched as the theatre filled up nicely pleased with ourselves for having chosen such great seats. The fold out chairs were surprisingly spacious and comfortable. The stage itself was very minimalistic: a swivel stool, a tall locker and a strand of Christmas lights. The play started promptly at 3pm and we were back in the car by 4:15pm.

We both had a great time and it was a nice way to slide into celebrating Christmas in just a few days.

Oh! The Santaland Diaries is running through January 1st and they’ve added some late night shows in case you want to see it. You can also read about it on Going-Boston as it was a recently featured event. I kind of feel cool having said I’ve been to an actual event featured on Going! since I never see myself even thinking about doing any of the hip stuff they suggest doing in and around Boston. As Terri would say, “For once I’ve got some cool factor.”

The Gum Thief

I’m currently reading Douglas Coupland’s book The Gum Thief. I’m on page 53 and I’ve got 222 more pages to go before I finish the book. Why am I telling you this boring detail when I’m not even a 1/4 of the way through the book? Because I used to work for Staples in their corporate office for five years and the plot of this book is set in a Staples store and it’s simply brilliant! Each turn of the page either brings back a memory of buying office supplies or deep feelings I had about working in the office supply industry. It’s pure frosting on the cake that the book is written by one of my favorite authors.

The book has a fairly convoluted storyline that at times is a little hard to follow (again, only on page 53), but here’s what it’s about: Roger is a divorced middle-aged sales associate working at Staples. Bethany is a young goth woman also working at Staples who one day stumbles upon Roger’s diary in the break room. The weird thing about the diary is Roger is writing in the mock diary pretending to be her and he’s very accurate. What follows is the two of them developing this weird relationship because she ends up writing back to him in this diary, but forbids him from ever speaking directly to her about it. If that isn’t surreal enough, Roger is also writing a work-in-progress novel called Glove Pond that the reader (that would be me) gets to also read alongside the silently developing relationship of Roger and Bethany. Did I forget to mention that at one point Roger dated her drunk mother?

The references to working at a retail office supply chain are spookily accurate and ring true for any employee (former or otherwise) of Staples. Here’s just one of many inspired examples of prose from page 17:

And working at Staples is a career? I can’t believe the government even classifies what we do as a job. A job is something you can do for life. A job has some dimension of hope to it. Setting up fresh little sheets of white paper for people to use to test magic markers is not a hope scenario. All people ever draw is squiggles. It’d be funny if they wrote the occasional fuck or drew anarchy symbols. I can’t believe people even pay for pens. Talk about the world’s most shopliftable item. Staples must die.

Coupland has also come up with a great way to promote his new book: a viral video. If you have 8 minutes to spare, I suggest watching it below. This particular video merges several snippets of introductions to the characters via selectively placed words within a Staples store with actual text from the book. Some of the segments even feature bricks of staples made into words-very Michael Gondry if you appreciate that sort of thing.

It should come as no surprise that after a mere 52 pages in to this book that I recommend you run out and buy it. Or tell Santa you want it for Christmas. It’s available at Amazon or in your grocer’s freezer. (Sorry. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.)

Co-inkey-dink!

Who would have ever thought that former Duran Duran band member Andy Taylor would have anything in common with the infamous Howard Hughes?

I’m a huge fan of Texas billionaire Howard Hughes. If Worcester Magazine caught me for their People on the Street section and asked me, “If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?” I would answer without hesitation Howard Hughes. Not Jesus, Not John Lennon or Kurt Cobain. Just Howard.

I just have so many questions for him.

Have you perhaps seen the previews for the new Richard Gere movie The Hoax? The movie is based on a bogus biography written by Clifford Irving about Howard Hughes for the McGraw-Hill publishing house. These past two weeks have found me reading his book, The Hoax, which this movie is based upon.

The book overall wasn’t too interesting until you get to the eventual unfolding of the plot to dupe McGraw-Hill. Things begin to start heating up nicely once Howard Hughes calls a press conference (via telephone) and states that he never met Clifford Irving.

By now you’re probably still scratching your head wondering where the link is between between Andy Taylor and Howard Hughes. Get ready to have your world rocked: The author Clifford Irving, his wife Edith and his two sons called Ibiza their home for many years and it’s where Clifford and Dick Suskind came up with the hoax for the Howard Hughes book. It’s also where Andy Taylor is living now.

Now this might be stretching this whole Six-Degrees-of-Separation link, but having just discovered that Andy Taylor is now living in Ibiza and has a recording studio located there is kinda weird in my small little world of personal interests. Therefore my link between Howard Hughes and Andy Taylor has been firmly established, has it not?

You’re right. It’s a lame link between the two, but still a very personally strange coincidence for me. It’s like Sour Skittles, balsamic vinegar, ice cream and tuna salad. Individually their delicious, but when combined don’t make much sense.

But like Andy Taylor and Howard Hughes, they are some of my favorite things.

Co-inkey-dink!

Who would have ever thought that former Duran Duran band member Andy Taylor would have anything in common with the infamous Howard Hughes?

I’m a huge fan of Texas billionaire Howard Hughes. If Worcester Magazine caught me for their People on the Street section and asked me, “If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?” I would answer without hesitation Howard Hughes. Not Jesus, Not John Lennon or Kurt Cobain. Just Howard.

I just have so many questions for him.

Have you perhaps seen the previews for the new Richard Gere movie The Hoax? The movie is based on a bogus biography written by Clifford Irving about Howard Hughes for the McGraw-Hill publishing house. These past two weeks have found me reading his book, The Hoax, which this movie is based upon.

The book overall wasn’t too interesting until you get to the eventual unfolding of the plot to dupe McGraw-Hill. Things begin to start heating up nicely once Howard Hughes calls a press conference (via telephone) and states that he never met Clifford Irving.

By now you’re probably still scratching your head wondering where the link is between between Andy Taylor and Howard Hughes. Get ready to have your world rocked: The author Clifford Irving, his wife Edith and his two sons called Ibiza their home for many years and it’s where Clifford and Dick Suskind came up with the hoax for the Howard Hughes book. It’s also where Andy Taylor is living now.

Now this might be stretching this whole Six-Degrees-of-Separation link, but having just discovered that Andy Taylor is now living in Ibiza and has a recording studio located there is kinda weird in my small little world of personal interests. Therefore my link between Howard Hughes and Andy Taylor has been firmly established, has it not?

You’re right. It’s a lame link between the two, but still a very personally strange coincidence for me. It’s like Sour Skittles, balsamic vinegar, ice cream and tuna salad. Individually their delicious, but when combined don’t make much sense.

But like Andy Taylor and Howard Hughes, they are some of my favorite things.

The Ha-Ha by Dave King

Imagine being a single, middle-aged man who can neither write nor speak but is perfectly average in every other aspect of his life.

The reader is introduced to Howard Kapostash as he assumes responsibility of looking after nine-year old Ryan, son of his ex-girlfriend Sylvia who is being sent away against her will by her sister into a drug rehab program for an undetermined length of time. The sister takes care of the cat and Howard takes care of the boy who is not his son.

Howard can’t communicate due to a severe head injury that occurred sixteen days into his tour of Vietnam. He returns home to his mother and father a broken young man who can’t communicate and is unwilling to try even though the mere fact that he survived such an injury is considered a miracle.

The book is told from Howard’s narrative and it’s an amazing story that unfolds to the reader because you learn in flashbacks why Howard never really moved forward when he returned from the war and how he lived in a self-imposed solitary existence with his parents until each of them passed away thus forcing Howard to take on borders in his parent’s house (now his home) to help pay the bills.

There’s a young Vietnamese-American woman named Laurel who makes gourmet soups for a living and two housepainters named Nit and Nat (so named because Howard finds bother irritating and never makes an effort to learn their real names).

The sheer beauty of this book is the way Howard and Ryan learn to interact with one another and how the introduction of this boy completely changes the dynamic of all the tenants living in Howard’s house. But the frustration of the book is the reader clearly sees how manipulative and self-centered Sylvia is from the first pages of the story. We can’t imagine how such a good man like Howard could still be carrying a torch for this woman who continually insults him and takes advantage of his feelings to get him to do things for her that she doesn’t deserve—especially since she entrusts the care of her son to him and the care of her cat to her sister.

The big epiphany for me in reading this novel was how it felt to be unable to express myself just like Howard throughout the story. I wanted to reach through the pages and shout to Howard, “Can’t you see that this can only end badly? She’s going to break your heart! She is not the person you fell in love with at sixteen. She’s only using you. Be careful!”

The satisfaction of completing The Ha-Ha is that you survive the journey right alongside Howard. The author Dave King does an impressive job at showing the dark side of Howard as he learns to deal with just what his injury has cost him in both his present life and the life he could have had were it not for being sent to Vietnam.

In the end, this book is about relationships. It’s about how one person can come into your life and completely change the way you exist. It’s a love story between a fatherless boy and the man that could have been such a good father to him had things been different all those years ago. It’s a story about a man finally waking up to his life and learning that there are always possibilities around the corner if you’re looking for them.

I highly recommend reading The Ha-Ha. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in 2005 and you’ll walk away feeling a new appreciation of just how important words can be—in any form.

Twinkie Cookbook


Here’s a tip: If you’re ever having a bad day and you can’t seem to pull yourself out of it, say the word ‘Twinkie’ five times in a row and I guarantee you a smile.

Let’s try it together: Twinkie-Twinkie-Twinkie-Twinkie-Twinkie
There.
Feel better?

Now if you really want to sustain the smile, you should go out an purchase The Twinkies Cookbook. The name alone should inspire the kid in you. Forget peanut butter and jelly, forget the fluff and don’t worry about the mess. This cookbook will change your life.

Check out page 10 which gets the party started by providing a recipe for Twinkie Sushi. It’s very imaginative. I was going to make these for one of the guys that I work with for his birthday because he loves all things sushi, but one of the ingredients kind of scared me: 4 pieces green fruit leather, sliced into 1-inch wide strips. Hmmm. Would a fruit roll-up count as fruit leather? What the heck is fruit leather? But I digress…

I’ve never eaten a fried Twinkie or for that matter a chocolate Twinkie. But this book gives you all kinds of recipes including smoothies you can make with Twinkies and even Twinkie Lasagna. Garfield would pass out if he got a load of this gooey goodness.

I’m no cook, but I can tell you that sitting on my kitchen counter right now is a box of Twinkies. After thumbing through the cookbook, Spencer hit the local Target and bought us a box. I can’t remember the last time a box of any Hostess product was actually in my house. (Somehow just having a box of Twinkies announces to the world that you’ve given up any hope of healthy eating. )

Contrary to popular belief, Twinkies don’t last forever. The book says the shelf life is 25 days. I suspect I’ve had some food groups last longer than that in my fridge since I rarely cook. But I’m the sort of girl who gets real inspired by beautiful cookbook pictures and lists of common ingredients that tease me into believing that even I could cook. We’ll see.

20 days and counting….