Simon Rich, Spoiled Brats

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Though he’s just 30, Simon Rich has written a bunch of books and worked for both Saturday Night Live and Pixar, which might be maddening if he weren’t so reliably funny. Rich’s latest book is Spoiled Brats, a collection of short stories about classroom gerbils, elves (on shelves), and life in hipster Brooklyn. It’s all anchored by the magnificent “Sell Out,” about a pickle-maker—Simon’s imagined great-great-grandfather—who’s transported through time (via a pickle barrel) to modern-day New York. Though taking shots at his own tribe might seem a little easy, Rich does it with such pointed silliness that it’s a joy to read. Grandpa Herschel is like Borat in Brooklyn, confused by the local customs, from Whole Foods to Dumpster divers: “The Lower East Side, I notice, has not changed much in one hundred years. The women are still emaciated and dressed in rags; the men still wear beards and have sad eyes.” [Josh Modell]

WasteNoTime

The internet makes writing really difficult sometimes. There are so many tabs, and so many interesting things to look at and click on in those tabs, which lead you to open more tabs, and so on. The easiest solution to this quandary would be to turn off the internet entirely, but when you have to use it for research, as we A.V. Club writers usually do, that’s not really workable. And while the entire concept of the “productivity app” instinctually makes me want to bare my teeth and hiss like an angry cat—those things are for people who get up early to go jogging and use phrases like “personal brand,” which is so not me—I’ve found the browser extension WasteNoTime immeasurably helpful when it’s time to sit down and actually get things done. The “Instant Lockdown” feature allows you to either block all web pages except for a handful of “allowed” sites, or to only block specific pages where you’ve been known to waste a lot of time in the past, for a pre-set amount of time. Once the Instant Lockdown feature is on, that’s it. No Facebook chat, no Twitter feeds, only the helpful, relevant parts of the internet that will actually assist you in getting things done, until your 90 minutes or whatever pre-set amount of time you have selected is over. Plus, if standard motivational methods can no longer penetrate your thick fog of procrastination and you require shame to start working on a project, WasteNoTime even has a feature that can tell you exactly how many minutes you’ve spent on various websites over the past day, week, or month. It’s tough love, but you do what you have to do. [Katie Rife]

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ECOlunchbox

I’ve been looking for the perfect lunchbox for a while, and I finally found it in ECOlunchbox’s Three-In-One version. A stainless steel, two-level lunchbox complete with a ECOlunchpod, it provides enough space for a hearty and varied lunch. It’s also BPA- and waste-free, making it healthy for the planet, even if you’re using it to carry leftover pizza and ranch dressing. The company has offset the CO2 equivalent of 1.33 million pounds of coal since its beginnings in 2009 with a variety of dishwasher- and toaster oven-safe lunchbox options. So far, I’ve used it to pack a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich in the bottom container, topped off by some fruit and vegetables in the top container, and hummus in the lunchpod. But a quick internet search has confirmed the possibilities are endless. An especially appetizing configuration includes crispy chicken wings and cabbage slaw in the bottom section, with pickled cucumbers, carrots, daikon, and red onion; corn; and cherries and cantaloupe in the top container, all sectioned off by the lunchpod. I suggest it to anyone looking for a sturdy and compact container for commuting that doesn’t result in sacrificing style or capacity, because who wants to skimp on their chips and salsa? Not I! [Becca James]

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