Rants & Raves – 10 Feb

So… it’s been about four years since I shared one of my Rants & Raves posts. I was shocked when I learned it’s been that long. How did that time just evaporate?!

In case you’re not familiar, Rants & Raves is where I share links to stuff that caught my attention online during the previous week. Today’s collection is all Raves because the bad news these days is never fun-bad news, it’s only ever bad-bad news—and I’m just gonna go ahead and assume you can find terrible news yourself.

So here are some good things that grabbed me by the brain this week.

I’ve really been crawling into books latelyThe Weight of Ink, Magpie Murders, a story in Czech—and I’m enrolled in a free online course called Literature of the English Country House from the University of Sheffield. It’s just started this week, so if you’re interested, you can still join in! So far, it’s been really fascinating. This first week is focused on teaching us to close read, and we’ve analyzed a country house poem—they were very popular in the 17th century, apparently—and read an excerpt from Thomas More’s Utopia, including a video exploration of a copy of the book from 1551. The videos in the course are beautifully produced and the discourse in the online discussion forum is informed, thoughtful, and respectful. I’m trying to remember to turn to this literature discussion into of scrolling through Twitter, so if you don’t see me over there, you know why. I’m totally nerding out, and I love it.

Michael Chabon is one of my favorite novelists, and this essay is a beautiful example of why. “In the air-conditioned red darkness of Ricardo’s, across from the cigar case, the past and the future became alloyed in my imagination: magic and science, heroes and villains, brick-and-steel Brooklyn and the chromium world of tomorrow.”

Naomi Alderman is another one of my must-read authors.  She is a big-time, superstar, totally-deserving-the-accolades novelist (and the writer behind the awesome running app Zombies, Run!)—but she and I connected about 20 years ago via my first web site Go, girl! (“Dedicated to getting women of all shapes and sizes involved sports”). It’s been such a treat for me to follow her career—she is every good adjective with an “est” added to the end. Her latest novel The Power is tremendous, and her interview with The New York Times is intelligent and moving. (I also thoroughly enjoyed her other novels Disobedience and The Lessons.)

My buddy Z is a super smart, no bullshit kind of guy—and I love his recent take on goal setting. “Take your shoes off and walk round the block. Cook a single meal from scratch. Put your phone to bed an hour and half before your own bed time. Read a page or two of that book you bought eight months ago. Now you know you can. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Well+Good recently asked me for tips on avoiding egg burnout during the Whole30. I shared lots of delicious ideas that you can turn to any time of day. (Spoiler: These Oven-Fried Salmon Cakes are very handy.)

I figuratively love this bar that banned the word literally within its walls (even though Charlotte Brontë used literally to mean figuratively: “she took me to herself, and proceeded literally to suffocate me with her unrestrained spirits.”)

And finally, don’t miss this video about an elderly Russian woman who self-published her own book of fairytales illustrated by her daughter. Sniff.

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  • Christi Skinner says:

    Melissa! I LOVE all of your cookbooks. They are totally a culinary adventure around the world and they make it easy and interesting to try new flavor combos and avoid the dinner rut! I just received your most recent cookbook and was flipping through it last night. You should have seen my husband jump off the sofa when I said “Hot Dog Night!” While I love “adventuring around the world,” he wants hot dogs. You satisfy us both. Thank you so much! PS. Can I just say that Lizard Sauce should go on everything.

    • Ah, this is great! I’m happy the cookbook is working for both of you 🙂 Hot Dog Night was one of my favorite parts of the cookbook to work on… except for the photo. I had to do all the toppings with tweezer! It was crazytown. It’s actually a fond memory for Dave and I from working on the cookbook. It was super challenging, but I love the way that photo came out—and the recipes are super yummy. Have fun and enjoy!