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Tabatha Southey’s quirky and deliciously funny Collected Tarts

Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies is an anthology of witty, thought provoking, and endearing columns by Tabatha Southey, a modest and humble human being with a spirited imagination that lends itself to powerfully funny writing. Each column, from the very first one published in 1999 to the last one in May 2017, will make the reader laugh, reflect, and maybe ponder the meaning of the word underwear.

Southey’s smart wit is what makes her writing so appealing. An avid reader herself, she does not underestimate her readers. No topic is too complicated, and if it is, she throws in a story about a monkey to lighten the load. She tackles each piece all with grace and humour — and perhaps an animal or two.

Southey has written columns for Elle CanadaThe WalrusMaclean’s Magazine, and of course, the Globe and Mail, where she held a long-standing position as a weekly columnist until earlier this month. On Aug. 31, both Southey and another female writer were let go after the newspaper underwent an overhaul.

“It was an honour to have a tiny little voice in a national conversation,” she said of the Globe’s decision. “I will miss my readers and I hope they follow me elsewhere.”

What makes Southey so successful as a columnist isn’t her animal-centric plotlines or her slightly sexual sense of humour (although they do help). It’s her loyal fan base — readers she admires as much as they admire her. “I love hearing from all parts of Canada,” she said. “I hear from guys in the military and people in small towns, and if its one thing that kept me at the column, it was hearing from readers.”

Her new book — to be launched on Sept. 30 — is a nod to those readers. It showcases a number of fan-favourites as well as Southey’s most thought-provoking and fun pieces. The book, Southey said, actually went long. “I thought, let’s put a variety in there. It would be a shame if someone got the book and something they really liked wasn’t in there.”

Every once in a while, Southey will include a few tidbits of information prior to the column, either to provide context or to recite a funny anecdote about how the piece came to be. She is candid about her experience as a writer, but still manages not to make herself the focus of the narrative. Through her columns, she tackles finances, business, politics, and even tells a harrowing story about what it’s like to shop for a bra. There is, as she says, something for everyone to enjoy.

You can purchase a copy of Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies here.

 

After reading her book, Women’s Post spoke with Southey in detail about the future of satire writing, a columnist’s grind, and advice for young female writers:

Q: What was it like to review your work from 1998 to now?

A: It’s good because it forces you to go back and see what you did, and the pieces certainly got longer. I honestly enjoyed doing it. Does that sound vain? That I enjoyed reading my own work?

You’ve mentioned the grind of writing a column every single week. Has there been a time you were stuck?

Every week! Every week I’m like “That’s it. I’m done. I can’t!” Almost every week! I filed with the Globe on Thursday morning, sometimes the afternoon if it’s a story that was still developing. You never stop reading the news and thinking and you are always kind of hoping you will get an idea or a lead. If you don’t have an idea or a clue when you go to bed Tuesday night you don’t really sleep. My mother says “I know not to phone you from Tuesday to Thursday afternoon.” Every week I’m in a panic. There is no dinner cooked on Wednesdays.

Are readers still drawn to satire within news publications? Will we see more or less of it in the future?

I think it’s a golden age. A lot of people are doing great political comedy. I think political humour is cathartic and it motivates. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. In fact, I love seeing the Beaverton, which is doing great work here in Canada. I think they are knocking it out of the park and I’m very glad to see that. It’s so great they have that venue and a clear voice. The Internet makes it all possible.

What advice would you give to young women who want to become column writers?

I would say read a lot. And I think there is a trap that women columnists are easily led in to, which is to constantly write about being a woman…. especially if you are a woman and you have a tragedy to tell. There will always be a market for that. I think that’s a dead end.

My advice is to learn about one thing and learn everything there is about that one thing. It doesn’t really matter what that one thing is. It can be politics, it can be vintage cars, [or] it can be wine. Go and learn it and be the person that people call when there is a controversy. Be that person that people want their opinion. It doesn’t mean you can’t write about other things. That is my advice. Do not Sex in the City it up.

Do you think there is still a gap in terms of gender in the newsroom? Are there enough female writers?

No. There aren’t enough women in almost every profession. I do feel that women are brought in sometimes to bring in a woman’s perspective and not to tread in to other categories. I’m a woman writer and the number of times I’ve heard people say “she needs to go back to writing in the style section” – now there is nothing at all wrong with writing for the style section. Great, do it! But that’s not where I come from and that is the assumption that will be made. So I think there is still ground to be broken.

I think in general what gives you the right to have an opinion is a question that is asked more of women than it is asked of men. I feel that a woman’s opinion, especially if it’s quite surgically spoken, by which I mean well argued, is sometimes met with hostility.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I will read the nerdiest books ever. I read a book about a giant hedge. I like those [books that] take one topic and use it as a thread to go through history to learn something.

What’s next for you?

I am looking into other things. I have to say that people have been great about getting in touch with me and I’m going to make a decision fairly shortly.

I am exploring alternative revenue streams – how’s that?

 

Is the Happy Hotdog Man the perfect this-makes-me-gag gift?

When you give someone a gift, it’s important to remember that they will look for the meaning behind it. I think making associations is a good thing to do, and a good way to get ideas for the perfect gift.  For example, a blender is a great gift for someone who loves to make smoothies, an iPod is perfect for someone who loves music, and a gift basket full of body lotion is a great way to tell someone that you forgot about their birthday until four hours ago.

You know the feeling: you give the person their gift, they give you yours and suddenly you realize that gag gift from late night TV isn’t as funny as you thought it was. Maybe they got you something deeply personal or romantic, and you got them some “hilarious” infomercial product, like The Happy Hot Dog Man.

Is everyone familiar with The Happy Hot Dog Man? If not, I’ve included the video below for your viewing pleasure. The Happy Hot Dog Man solves one particular problem: how can we get kids to eat more hot dogs? Go ahead, treat yourself.

Isn’t that amazing?  I thought I already owned a Happy Hot Dog Man, but in my house we call it a knife.

I’ve also never been to a party where “bringing ordinary hot dogs to life” has been an activity.  The little girl was just gushing about how you can cut them like girls and boys and decorate them, and I know you were thinking the same thing as me: she really needs to get some better toys.

Gift giving is like an art form on its own, and it is a very tricky one to master. Go for the thoughtful, creative gifts over the late night infomercials, no matter how tempting they are after the fourth glass of wine. Am I right? Anybody? Whatever.

 

Jon Stewart skewers Ford over his latest comments about female genitalia

It didn’t take long for Ford’s outburst about female genitalia — in which he managed to degrade not only a woman who once worked for his office and his wife, but women everywhere — made it down to the late night talk shows in the USA.

Check out what Jon Stewart said about Ford’s latest outburst on the Daily Show and let us know what you think: if you think smoking crack, deriding minorities, defaming gays isn’t enough to ask Ford to step down, are his comments about women enough?

 

Follow Women’s Post on Twitter at @WomensPost.

WATCH: Bedroom turned into princess paradise while roommate is away

When Tom, aka Redditor Twoverend, was overseas for two months his housemates set to work changing his normal, drab bachelor bedroom into something a little more pink.

All his buddies set to work transforming every aspect of his bedroom from what a regular guys might enjoy to something more fit for a 7-year-old princess loving girl might enjoy. Their rationale being that since he is English he loves the monarchy, and their duty was to get to work setting up a new fairy princess kingdom for him to arrive home to.

Complete with imitation crown moulding, collages of photoshopped princess photos of Tom, paintings of fairies, and pink lace as far as the eye can see it is safe to say their mission was a success.

Watch the video for Tom’s reaction upon returning from his trip at 1:30 in the morning.

Below are some photos of the transformation.

Check out Tom’s full photo album here.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

WATCH: New video spoofs controversy over mixed race Cheerios family

A few weeks back there was a controversy over the new Cheerios ad featuring a biracial family. The controversy? Um, apparently some people think that biracial families either simply don’t exist or shouldn’t be allowed to be shown on TV.

Just a second while I check my calendar. Yep, still 2013. I was worried I’d slipped back to the 1600s there for a minute.

While to most of us it might not seem like a big deal to see a family with various skin tones of eye shapes enjoying breakfast, to some racist trolls it was enough to force Cheerios to shut off commenting on the YouTube video because of all the hateful remarks.

As someone who has a beautiful family where skin colour doesn’t matter (and nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, parents, and brother-in-laws are all loved for who they are, not what they look like) I am proud of Cheerios for taking a stand by admitting the obvious: that mixed race families exist and they also eat.

Check out this hilarious spoof video that takes the “haters” to task and takes things up a notch with a twist ending we’re still waiting too see in a breakfast cereal commercial.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

5 amazing tweets from the Toronto Public Library

While we already love the Toronto Public Library for providing us the great service of free knowledge, many people don’t know just how above and beyond TPL goes to make the citizens of this fair city happy.

They already offer a gay literary speed dating program where members of the LGBTQQ community can show up with their favourite book, CD, or DVD to chat with other people about their favourite narrative and, just maybe, discover love. The concept behind this program is absolutely amazing. It’s also hosted right by my house, so if you wind up there and see someone holding a tattered copy of Watchmen come say hi.

TPL also offers a 24/7 Dial-A-Story service where kids can dial in and have a story read to them in 15 different languages, helping kids to feel comfortable and learn even when mom and dad can’t help. Certainly better than kids getting babysat by the TV, that’s for sure.

TPL also has someone fantastic running their Twitter feed. Here are five of the best tweets to come down the pipe recently. We love TPL for…

…The Phrase “If Shakespeare were a hipster”

…Keeping things steamy at the library

…Knowing where to find an owner’s manual for the USS Enterprise

…Asking us the worst mothers we can think of on Mother’s Day

…Helping us figure out how to be a cat

Be sure to follow @TorontoLibrary on Twitter for more literary updates — and follow @WomensPost and @TravMyers while you’re at it.

Meddling parents make for most frightening Craigslist personal ad ever

And you thought your parents were bad.

We got a hold of this example of a weird set of meddling parents who last year took to the internet to find a “suitable girlfriend” for their grown son. Sure, just like how your mom keeps trying to set you up with that nice young man who works in your father’s office. Except these guys are set that their son doesn’t even like his girlfriend and only dates her because she has an apartment downtown he can sleep over at to avoid morning traffic. I think mom and dad here have a pretty skewed idea of what takes place when a man and a woman have a sleepover.

The kind of lady who would scheme with a guy’s parents to swap out an old girlfriend probably isn’t the classiest of classy ladies, FYI.

As for the current girlfriend, this girl has “loose morals” and must be stopped before any “accidents” happen.

Yikes. Here’s hoping that their “looker” of a son chose the right people to break up with.

Click the image for full size.

Follow Travis on Twitter: @travmyers