If you are a loyal reader of this blog (hello to both of you!), you may have noticed that the Sharky Awards have taken a bit of a vacation. (For the uninitiated, the Sharky Awards are a series of pointless awards that I give out to the books I read.) There was no real reason for their departure, but rather the combination of a few whiny thoughts I’d been starting to have about them, namely: a) I found it hard to assign awards to books that I wasn’t that passionate about, b) I got insanely busy for a while there and read only one or two books a month, as opposed to several, c) some books, such as books I was reading for research, wouldn’t have fit in with the typical fiction that I read, and d) I got lazy. Because sometimes I get lazy.
But I think I’ve figured out a way to bring them back without coming up against any of these problems (except for the lazy one, which let’s be honest, will always exist). So from now on, instead of being reserved for books I’ve read over the past month, Sharkys will be awarded to any sort of art I’ve consumed over the past month — books, television, movies, music, theater, Puppy Bowls, etc. –that I have in some way enjoyed and want to share. They’ll be more fun for me to write, and they’ll be more fun for you to read, if “fun” is how you would describe reading about some author’s pop culture life choices.
Since I haven’t given out a Sharky since last March I was tempted to pick things that I’d experienced over the past year, but due to sheer volume I think I’ll just stick to this January. Consider April 2013 through December 2013 THE LOST MONTHS. (Here’s a summary: I watched the last season of Breaking Bad, a lot of Rifftrax, and read Anna Karenina, which took damn near a month.)
So here we go!
Most Ingenious Method of Hiding A Secret Code Via Fiber Arts
The embroidery cipher in Bitterblue, by Kristin Cashore
I don’t know why Bitterblue sat on my shelf for so long – I read Graceling ages ago and loved it, but I sometimes have this problem where when I own a book, I’m less likely to read it than one that I’ve gotten from the library, because PRESSURE! DUE DATES! But joke’s on me, because this book had codes and hidden messages and mazes, which are all things that I like very much. So you can imagine my delight when two of my favorite things–ciphers and crafts–came together at last, in a coded message that Bitterblue finds hidden in embroidered symbols on a set of bedsheets. Ingenious. And impossible for me to ever duplicate–any embroidery I attempt always turns out looking like a spool of thread threw up all over itself.
Best Host of Anything, Ever
Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I’m just gonna say it. If I got selected as a tribute and won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Capitol, I’d blow off all my training (because we all know I’d bite it about five seconds after the starting horn no matter how many laser-people I nicked at the archery station) and do nothing but eat those crazy fancy desserts and watch Caesar Flickerman ALL DAMN DAY LONG. Those teeth. That hair. The callous disregard for human life. Simply breathtaking. The man is pure genius, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask for Stanley Tucci to come move into my house and narrate my life from now on, do you?
Cheftestant I Most Want To Befriend
Stephanie Cmar, from Top Chef
It seems that every season on Top Chef, I make a new imaginary BFF. This season, it’s Stephanie, an awkward, lovable weirdo who says things like “my sweet Emeril” and is alarmingly obsessed with Chef John Besh’s hair. AND she lives in Boston, which means that at any time we could conceivably run into each other (literally–it seems we’re both the kind of people who stumble through life without looking where we’re going), strike up a charming conversation about Tom Colicchio’s shiny bald head wax, and then she decides to give me free fancy chef food for life because we are the bestest of pals now.
Best Thing To Put In My Mouth
Snyder’s of Hanover Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
Yeah, I know snacks don’t really count as art, but to me they kind of are so let’s just go with it. Will went away last weekend on his annual “guy friends get together to play video games and talk about fantasy sports and stuff” trip (I suspect there were a fair amount of pillow fights as well) and he came back with a bag of these, intimidatingly called “The Pounder”. I normally eschew Snyder’s of Hanover because I don’t like pretzels (that’s right, I don’t like pretzels. What of it?) but man, these things are tasty. I plan on eating all of them during the Professional Butt-Patting Competition this Sunday.
Best Office-Supply-Related Gift
A pencil, hand-sharpened by David Rees
My sister, knowing well that I am a dorkface, got me an awesome gift to celebrate the release of Rogue (ain’t that nice?) and one that I really got way more excited about than any person of sound mind should: a sharpened pencil. Ahhhh! David Rees wrote this book, see, How To Sharpen Pencils, which is an impressive compendium on everything might ever need to know about, uh, sharpening pencils. It’s one of those delightfully ambiguous things that starts out very serious and gets more absurd and hilarious as you go, which I just eat up like chocolate cake. I mean, there is an entire chapter detailing how to break into someone’s house and demolish their electric pencil sharpener. I’ve learned so much.
And David Rees does, in fact, practice what he preaches–for a small fee he will sharpen a pencil for you, and even include a signed and dated certificate to commemorate the occasion. This is what my sister got me, and if you’ve never seen a grown woman going ballistic over receiving a writing utensil, well, I’m sorry I didn’t film it for you.