It’s that time again! My annual public descent into totally objectifying men in a way that is completely contrary to all feminist principles. I’m afraid that some of the younger women who follow me on Twitter are going to be a little disappointed in me today.

In case you really want to be horrified by what a terrible person I am, here are links to my previous posts:

2013, part one  and 2013, part two

2012, part one and 2012, part two

2011

But look at this!

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My imaginary boyfriend of many years – goodness, have I been faithful to my Hemsworth – finally made the cover. And as a bonus, Idris Elba and Chris Pratt are there, too!

Well done, People magazine. You have finally redeemed yourself after last year’s Adam Levine debacle. I still don’t understand that. If looking at a guy immediately makes me think of Axe body spray and roofies, it’s the wrong choice. Ick.

As per usual, there are several different lists inside the actual magazine, including “The History of Sexy”, “Sexiest Best Friends in Hollywood”, “Sexiest Guys Still Up For Grabs” (ew, that’s just gross, even I think so) and “12 Sexy Guys and their Pets”. I’m not going to review any of those lists, sticking only to the main list of twelve.

I’m sorry to say, once you get past the truly stellar cover, things go downhill fast. Once again I am left feeling old and out of touch. Also a little annoyed.

This year, I’ll offer my comments on each of the top twelve, and then I’ll suggest an alternative that should have been there instead, using my own completely-subjective taste to make my selections.

Without further ado, here we go! (Oh, this is always such fun. I’m probably a really shallow person.)

Number One – Chris Hemsworth

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Okay, seriously. Blond beefcake with piercing blue eyes is, apparently, not some people’s ‘type’. Whatever, haters. MORE FOR ME, THEN.

It’s not entirely physical though (no, it’s not, shut up). By all accounts, Chris Hemsworth is just a flat-out nice guy. He works hard. Even looking the way he does, he had to put a lot of effort into getting his career off the ground. According to People, he babysat between modelling and acting gigs to help pay the bills. See! We are the same!

He’s married to an older woman. They have three young children and just look at this picture because really, this is sexy.

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Add to that all the dreamy hunkiness and, well, anyone who is a friend of mine knows my feelings about The Hems. Michael knows. The kids know. If Chris Hemsworth ever knocks on my door I will disappear for at least 24 hours.

Suggested alternative - None. Are you kidding? Ppfffbbbtt.

***

Number two – Idris Elba

Now, here’s a weird thing – he’s on the cover, but in the list of eleven men he is not featured. That’s weird. I call bullshit on that and include him as number two, because I’ve been lobbying for Idris Elba for years.

You know what’s awesome? That it’s not Denzel Washington again.

Anyway! Idris Elba.

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He’s a very talented actor, he wears the hell out of beautifully-tailored suits, his Twitter feed is often very funny, and his voice is all smoky and smooth. There’s been talk of making him the next James Bond, which I heartily approve of. I’ve been a fan since the early days of The Wire, so it’s nice to see him getting some recognition. Does it make me a hipster that I liked Idris Elba before it was cool? I’m going to say yes.

Suggested alternative - Nope. You can’t improve on perfection, guys.

***

Number three – Chris Pratt

Oh, Chris Pratt. How adorable is he? Answer: pretty gosh-darned adorable.

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He was on Parks & Recreation, where he did not look like that ripped specimen up there, but his sense of humour won me over, because I love scruffily-bearded men who can laugh at themselves. Then he went to the gym and good heavens. As Star-Lord, not only was he sexy, he also convinced us all that it was entirely possible to save the universe with a dance-off and the power of friendship.

Side bonus for me: Michael actually resembles Chris Pratt. He gets embarrassed when I say that, but it’s true. And since my husband is actually my sexiest man, this whole Chris Pratt thing is kind of a no-brainer.

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Chris Pratt is also a family man, thus confirming my suspicions that People magazine took a lot of heat last year for crowning a sleazy douchebag who said gross skeezy things about women, and are now trying to make up for it by going as wholesome as one can while composing this kind of list.

Suggested alternative - Again, nope. This is a solid choice and I wouldn’t change it.

***

Number four – Jamie Dornan

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Apparently this guy is playing Christian Grey in the I-know-it-will-be-execrable 50 Shades of Grey movie. I suppose this is why he’s on here – millions of women persist in thinking that Christian Grey is a hot awesome sexy catch of a man instead of a creepy stalking abusive asshole, which makes me despair for humanity.

His one eye is noticeably smaller than the other, or else he’s trying to squint sexily, but either way, nope. His IMDB profile says he was born in Northern Ireland, so if every year’s list needs a scruffy Irishman, may I say…

Suggested alternative - Gabriel Byrne

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He’s a fantastic actor, he’s obviously smart, we all loved his convincing turn as Professor Bhaer in 1994′s Little Women – after all, he had to make it plausible that Jo would toss aside Christian Bale’s Laurie for him! He’s got the little half-smile down, he’s a stylish dresser, and ‘soulful’ is not too strong a word for his gaze.

***

Number five – Ki Hong Lee

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This young gentleman just looks confused to me. He’s like a Korean Justin Bieber. The only quote People could get from him was about how dimples are “nature’s mistake” caused by “flawed muscles”, which is odd. He’s got really nice skin, but other than that he looks about sixteen (he’s actually 28), he’s promoting a movie called The Maze Runner which gives me claustrophobic fits every time I see the trailer, and he’s just doing nothing for me at all.

Suggested alternative - John Cho

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Unashamed confession time. I loved Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. It was an over-the-top funny movie with a bedrock of clever satire and I have cheerfully re-watched many times over the years. He was also a fun choice to play Sulu in the new Star Trek reboots, and he’s got a nice self-deprecating quality.

I assume People didn’t pick him because of his stoner-comedy past. That kind of pedigree probably doesn’t play well in the heartland of America.

Number six – Blake Shelton

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I watched The Voice briefly one winter, and I actually liked Blake Shelton – his voice is a pleasing country-boy drawl, he gives actual good advice to the contestants, he seemed to be taking the process seriously but not assuming anything he was doing was life-changing. I followed him on Twitter and the bloom quickly fell off that rose. He’s awful. He makes sexist, stupid jokes. He drinks to excess and then laughs about what a gaping asshole he is while he’s drunk. He has terrible grammar. So while he may be one of the only straight men on earth who can successfully wear a vest, he’s not sexy (and this entry even features a callback to Adam Levine, so it’s doubly-gross. Again with the Axe body spray smell.)

Suggested alternative – Corb Lund

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I know People doesn’t generally cross the Canada / US border looking for faces, but if you need a country-boy type I propose that Corb Lund is a far superior model to Blake Shelton. (Reason # 1 – he’s actually a country boy, as opposed to being a vest-wearing pretender). He’s got great hair. His voice is pleasing to the ear. He seems like a good guy.

***

Number seven – Bradley Cooper

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Not this guy again. I’ve run out of ways to say that Bradley Cooper is just too Bradley Cooper for my tastes. I’m going to leave it up to Danny Castellano to sum up my feelings on Bradley Cooper:

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I just don’t get it.

Alternative suggestion – Chris Messina

See, this segues nicely into a character I’ve lately developed a gigantic crush on – Chris Messina’s Danny Castellano from my new favourite show The Mindy Project.

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The show’s creator, Mindy Kaling, freely admits that she has a huge crush on Chris Messina herself, and honestly? You have a job where you get to write him as your dream boyfriend who says wonderful things and wears adorable red magnetic reading glasses and decorates gingerbread houses and is the best at making out, ever? That’s the best job anyone has ever had.

***

Number eight – Matt Bomer

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On some level I am a twelve year old boy, because every time I see “Matt Bomer” what I hear in my head is “Matt Boner” and then I laugh and laugh.

He’s mostly famous for co-starring in Magic Mike, a better-than-it-should-have-been movie about male strippers that is getting a completely unnecessary sequel.

He’s attractive enough, I suppose, although he doesn’t look very robust. Seems like he would have a hard time shoveling the driveway, carrying in the groceries, or dealing with my increasingly-insane moods every 28 days or so.

Suggested alternative – Mark Whalberg

The list needs a handsome white guy who can dance in a sexy fashion that makes me feel pants-feelings? Here you go. You’re welcome. The original and still the best, my friends.

***

Number nine – Michael Strahan

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Who??

I honestly have no idea who this guy is. *runs to google* Oh. Indeed. He’s a former football player, he’s got an unsightly gap between his front teeth, he’s allegedly got a history of infidelity and he co-stars with Kelly Ripa on that morning talk show that won’t die.

Suggested alternative – Anderson Cooper

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So he’s not a former football player but he does have a talk show, and he’s even co-hosted with Kelly Ripa before, if memory serves. I know opinions about Anderson are pretty split but I was always kind of a fan, and then I read his memoir Dispatches from the Edge and gained respect for him, too.

Besides, JUST LOOK AT HIM. He’s looking at you. He wants to tell you things. You want to listen.

***

Number ten – Eddie Redmayne

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I couldn’t for the life of me figure out who this was, so I googled, and oh, he played Marius in the big-screen adaptation of Les Miserables. OK, that’s reasonable. He can sing, he’s got an interesting face, he’s not conventionally-handsome – he can stay.

Alternative suggestion – shrug

I suppose I could find another youngish British man to fill this slot, but frankly I’ve been writing this post for one million hours now and man, this is harder than you’d think.

***

Number eleven – Scott Foley

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I’m sorry, what? Are we still going on about the dude from Felicity? You might as well put Jason Priestly up here and be done with it.

He thinks he’s James Dean. He is not James Dean. As my friend Misty would say, he isn’t actually rugged – he just plays rugged on TV.

Alternative suggestion – Tom Selleck

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If we’re going to throwback to TV shows long off the air, I’m going all the way back to Magnum P.I., because Tom Selleck was and is a sexy, rugged guy. Remember the 80s? Remember chest hair? I do. It was fun.

***

Number twelve – Tim Tebow

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What. The. Fuck.

First of all, his head is the wrong shape. He looks like what’s running through his head is the word “durrrrrrr”. He uses his football career as a platform to proselytize. He doesn’t know how t-shirts work (why are you pulling down on that shirt, Tim Tebow?) I’m sure there are a whole lot of grandmas who think he’s a nice young man with good values, but I just find him completely bland, boring, and unappealing.

Suggested alternative – Adam van Koeverden

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Again I must thank Misty for this suggestion, which is a good one. He’s a world and Olympic champion. He’s a proud Canadian. He works his ass off, he’s smart (was valedictorian of his graduating class at McMaster University!), is apparently a pleasant person and is very easy on the eyes to boot.

People magazine, I suggest that you might consider looking north occasionally. I think you could sell this guy, I really do.

***

Whew. That was exhausting (and it was only one list). I always feel kind of guilty after spending a day on this, and then this article from Slate was pointed out to me – now I feel like an even bigger skeeze because I’m buying into the whole mess.

It’s fun though, too. I feel the way I do after I eat a whole bag of chips – satisfied, but the satisfaction is tinged with regret.

Posted by: Hannah | 11/17/2014

in which i lean back

Well, I guess NaBloPoMo didn’t really happen this year.

I did try. I had the best of intentions. I know that I need to write more often, and more thoughtfully, or I’m never going to get any better.

This November, though. This November is kicking my ass.

They say write what you know, and especially during a “post a day” challenge, you ending up writing about your own day to day life. This past couple of weeks we’ve had a run of bad luck, and so I’ve been blogging about it. Some of those posts have been hard to write. A lot of them I don’t ever want to read again. My anxiety levels have been pretty high since the time change, and spending what is supposed to be my leisure time dwelling on things that will make me even more anxious is counterproductive.

In the past few days I’ve been systematically and thoroughly decluttering neglected spots in the house, then giving the area a deep cleaning before I move on to the next one. I find it relaxing to bring order from chaos, so this has been helping. I’ve also binged on two full seasons of The Mindy Project, which is probably the most adorable rom-com TV show ever. There is something very restful about spending a little time with happy fun characters I can relate to. It has measurably improved my mood and outlook, to the point that Michael noticed my return to being a happy pleasant person instead of a sad, angry woman with a short fuse.

Related: I have given up on Breaking Bad. I just couldn’t. There are no sympathetic characters on that show, except maybe Hank, but that’s not enough to keep me tuning in. Even Jesse Pinkman has become frankly unbearable, what with his crying and his dependence and his total refusal to just take the money and go. My brain realized I shouldn’t be watching it before I did, because there were many nights that I sat down, all ready to go, and I would immediately fall asleep ten minutes in. I just… I want it over. The original premise – very smart guy needs money to pay for potentially life-saving cancer treatment, decides to cook meth – I found intriguing. Everything that’s happened since the beginning of season four is just a big ol’ NOPE for me. I found The Wire tough to watch, too, but at least I could understand why all the terrible people on that show lived the way they did. On Breaking Bad I honestly think most of the characters have inconsistent or ill-defined motivations now, and that’s just frustrating.

About the only character I don’t dislike right now is Holly. Poor Holly, the perpetually-contained baby. For months she was always always ALWAYS in either a carseat or a cradle. Now that she’s the age of a busy toddler, she’s always in a playpen. It distracts me, the whereabouts of Holly.

Anyway! Like I always do at the end of NaBloPoMo, I am promising to write more often… but every day is proving a chore, and not fun, and for the sake of my mental health right now I’m all about avoiding things that are not fun.

 

Posted by: Hannah | 11/12/2014

on clementines, eggnog, and security

In the weekly grocery flyer today, 4lb boxes of clementines are five dollars.

Clementines are a sign of Christmas to me. When I was a kid, we always had one box of them, carefully-hoarded and not touched until December 25th. There were six people in our house, and so that box didn’t last long. Little piles of citrus peel were all over the house for a couple of days, forgotten next to comfy reading spots, piled up by the stove, teetering on plates next to the sink. Everyone ate as many as they could reasonably grab until they were all gone until next year.

This weekend – November! – I will swan into the grocery store and buy a box. Like I do every year. I’ll buy a box a week until the season is over. I’ll disperse them to dayhome kids and put two at a time in lunchboxes and eat as many as I want.

It feels decadent, and I’m grateful.

***

A lot of my childhood Christmas memories revolved around what my mom called “the feast”. Although we didn’t know the term then (I don’t even know if it existed), we experienced ‘food insecurity’ while we were all living off one tiny income. Supper was often just enough for each person to have one serving. Food wastage was absolutely verboten. We drank powdered milk. I distinctly remember once asking for blueberry jam on toast and not eating the crusts. Mom flew into a rage and smashed the plate on the floor while screaming about the cost of bread. In that kind of environment, the treats over Christmas week took on an even larger significance – even when the special holiday food was also carefully rationed.

So when I was very small we’d have a one-litre carton of eggnog that would be carefully shared out on Christmas Eve night, around the tree. One box of chocolates. One box of a dozen candy canes which did double-duty as tree decorations until the big day. That kind of thing. It was fine, and I don’t recall feeling deprived, but let me tell you something – when things improved, we started buying a LOT of treats over the holidays.

***

Yesterday we picked up a side of beef from our good friend – she raises a small herd and we were lucky enough to lock down a double share two years ago. We put aside a little grocery money each week so we can pay the bill each fall. We brought home 250 pounds of beef and started carefully packing it away in the freezer.

It was a restful exercise, for me. All that food. WE’LL NEVER GO HUNGRY WITH ALL THAT FOOD. Plus I had the fun of organizing it compulsively and counting it all twice, and sorting it by type into tote bags and just generally brooding and obsessing and poring over a year’s worth of meat.

I get the same sort of visceral satisfaction when I stock up on pantry items. Canned tomatoes go on for $1 each? Step aside, folks. I’ll just take a flat.

We do use everything we buy, and I don’t stockpile senselessly. I don’t buy more of something we already have lots of just because it happens to be on sale.

But still.

***

This is always a tough time of year for anyone who doesn’t have a whole lot of money to spend. Just once, just one Christmas, I’d like to spend whatever the fuck I want on all three of my kids, and my husband, and my nieces and nephew. I’d love to walk into a store and buy armfuls of decor for the house, inside and out. I’d love to just go hog wild and not count the cost. We don’t spoil our kids but it’s not strictly because of high-minded ideals.

It’s easy to choose austerity when you don’t have the means to choose profligacy.

I need to keep reminding myself that we are somewhere in the middle. We have enough. We are able to eat pretty much what we like. My clothes might be a bit worn but the kids are dressed appropriately. The cars work. Our debt is manageable. Compared to the circumstances of my life when I was the age that my kids are now… my goodness.

They don’t understand, not really, how inside my head food = security. Now that I have enough money to eat what I want, I’m damn well going to. All the things. It’s hard not to cram food in when it’s placed in front of me. There is still, after all these decades, the impulse to eat that first helping as fast as possible so that I don’t get left behind if there’s only enough left for half the family to get a second helping.

We are fortunate. We have worked hard. For every rough patch we’ve had a lucky break. Something always seems to present itself when it needs to. This is nowhere near the worst off we’ve even been, six weeks before Christmas.

Occasionally, I need to step back and remind myself of that.

 

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