Review: Paddle Your Own Canoe

PaddleYourOwnCover
  • Title: Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living
  • Author: Nick Offerman
  • Printed Pages: 353
  • Publish Year: 2013
  • Recommended For: Fans of Nick Offerman (or Ron Swanson), people that like to laugh, a glimpse into the acting industry, advice on delicious living

First Lines: “I am a jackass living in America and living surprisingly well.”

You probably know Nick Offerman from his highly-popular role as the mustachioed Ron Swanson on NBC’s hit comedy: Parks and Recreation. Having never seen the show myself, I had no real idea who the man was. (I don’t watch a lot of television, but don’t worry: I’m working on that!) So, what am I doing reading the memoirs of a person I was nary aware of? I’m not sure: Someone mentioned it to me, the cover looked cool, and the summary sounded funny. I’m glad I read it, as now I count myself among Nick Offerman’s fans (and I started watching Parks and Rec).

At first I feared this book would be some sort of celebration of clichéd masculinity, a sort of literary representation of Tim “the Tool Man” Taylor’s signature grunt. My fears, however, were unwarranted. Paddle Your Own Canoe reveals the man behind the mustache, and exposes him as a man of sensitivity, passion, and a remarkable work ethic. Sure, there’s a bit of machismo sprinkled in, but oftentimes it’s ironic or, at least, sarcastic. The entire book is laced with comedy and self-deprecation. What stuck with me the most was Offerman’s humility: this is a man that doesn’t take his success for granted, nor does he allow it to transform him away from his roots as a hard-working boy from rural Illinois.

There were two things I admired most while reading this book:

First, Offerman has a lot to say about the virtue of hard work. He goes to great (and entertaining) lengths to imbue the importance of accomplishment, of fixing and creating. He recounts the time when he moved in with his now-wife and star from the popular sitcom Will and Grace, Megan Mullally. By the time he and Megan purchased a home together, she was already substantially successful. He found himself dumbstruck one day, with the fleeting realization that he “made it”. He was a “well-off dude living in the Hollywood Hills like a king!” He recounted a fantasy that he had while growing up: if he ever was able to afford such a lifestyle, he would “smoke some weed and listen to Neil Young and float in the pool.” So when he was finally able to live that fantasy out, it lasted all but two songs. “What am I, an asshole? What am I gonna do, buy a yacht and just be a rich asshole floating on my yacht? Jesus, man, look at yourself. The sun is up. You should be getting something done!”

The second thing I admired about Offerman was the way he spoke of his wife and their relationship. They had been married a decade by the time Paddle Your Own Canoe was published, and yet he still speaks of her as if they were still on their honeymoon. Both working hard in a demanding industry, they made a pact to never accept a job that would have them apart for more than two weeks. His admiration for Megan melts the heart. Of course someone will go out of their way to paint a beautiful picture of their spouse and love-life when writing about it for a large audience, but it is clear to me that Offerman was very careful with his descriptions of their life and I’m confident that their love is as genuine as he portrays it in this book.

So, I guess I’ve become a bit smitten with Nick Offerman. I found his stories interesting, hilarious, and motivating. What I thought was going to be a quick comedy–a time-killer, really–turned out to be an inspiration: a book that has me re-thinking my own philosophies.

A fair warning: this book has some colorful language, some sexually-explicit scenes, and takes some swipes at organized religion.

Selected Lines:

For some strange reason, we never could fully reconcile our farm flavor with the hardscrabble aesthetic of inner-city street dancing.


If you engage in a discipline or do something with your hands instead of kill time on your phone device, then you have something to show for your time when you’re done. Cook, play music, sew, carve. Shit, BeDazzle. Maybe not BeDazzle. The arithmetic is quite simple. Instead of playing Draw Something, fucking draw something! Take the cleverness you apply to Words with Friends and utilize it to make some kick-ass corn bread. Corn Bread with Friends—try that game.


In my head, I was absolutely living out a fantasy as the cool protagonist in my very own John Cusack superromantic comedy, when in truth, I was 100 percent stalking this poor young dancer. Terrific!


My Rating: 4.5/5 – Inspiring, humorous, and surprising; an added benefit of providing a look into the world of professional acting and the path of a successful career.

Buy on Amazon:

Master of None

Master of None LogoI don’t take the time to watch a lot of television or movies, but I’ve been vacationing lately and have had more time for recreation. I started scrolling Netflix for the first time in who-knows-how-long? and saw a recommendation for a Netflix original show called Master of None, created by and starring Aziz Ansari. I’m a little familiar with Ansari’s comedy, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I was hooked instantly.

The first episode in the series started with a hilariously awkward scene involving a broken condom and an Uber trip for some emergency contraception. Dev (Ansari’s character) and Rachel (played by the adorable Noël Wells) have this brilliant duality in their chemistry; they’re great together until Dev does something to revert all of the progress that their relationship has gained. Still, he gets chance after chance to set things right.

I binge-watched the first half-season and will have the second half finished by the end of the weekend. So far, my favorite episode is Indians On TV. Ansari tackles the inherent racism in Hollywood, ironically using more than two Indian actors to illustrate how no show can get away with more than one Indian character. I created a .gif of my favorite clip from the episode:

Clip from Master of None

What’s wrong with Short Circuit 2?

They got a white guy to play an Indian guy.

What the ro… the robot movie? With Johnny Five?

Wait, you don’t know this?

Wait, which Indian guy are you talking about?

Dude. That guy’s a white guy.

The robot, or the Indian?

The Indian guy, is a white guy. That’s Fisher Stevens. They used brown face makeup.

Wait, what?!

Yeah, they got a real robot and a fake Indian.

Ansari actually contacted Fisher Stevens after this episode aired, which Ansari wrote this article about.

So far, the show has covered a broad range of relevant issues: in addition to racism, he explores the overlooked-by-males female perspective, dealing with bad dates, the challenges and rewards of raising children, and struggling to relate with parents. The show is comedic genius with characters you instantly fall in love with.

There’s a few days left in the holiday season; if you find yourself with some time to binge-watch some television I highly recommend giving Master of None a chance.