2018 Winter Olympics Drinking/ Exercise Game

There’s nothing like the Winter Olympics to remind you that you are not, in fact, an elite athlete. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun… or work on your fitness. If you’re having a raucous Olympics party, A) invite us and B) feel free to play the drinking game version (responsibly, and without driving, and you can use water). If you’re feeling a little less-than fit watching all of these grade A humans, dip into our exercise game instead!

One Sip OR One Set of Mountain Climbers (* A set is what you say is a set!)

You wouldn’t know what the event was called if they didn’t tell you, but it could be described as going down a mountain.

You wouldn’t know what the event was called if they didn’t tell you, but it could be described as doing tricks on snow.

You wouldn’t know what the event was called if they didn’t tell you, but it could be described as doing tricks on ice.

NBC kindly lets us know about The Grinch, a movie coming out in a year, or Mamma Mia, a movie coming out in some months.

You find yourself trying to do what the athlete just did in your living room (turns out I can only land a single lutz in my socks)

You spy an athlete’s parent or significant other.

You cry.

 

One Huge Gulp OR One Set Of Bicep Curls

An Olympian is tenuously connected to your hometown (e.g., grandparents live there, went to college for a few semesters, etc).

Rachel Platten and/or Fight Song.

Image result for rachel platten olympics

You see the Korean Handmaid Cheerleaders.

Image result for korean cheerleaders

An Olympian has a personal mascot (e.g., Hanyu with Pooh),

Image result for hanyu olympics pooh

An athlete collapses to the earth after finishing.

Johnny Weir’s outfit is extra even for him.

You see the Olympic mascotImage result for pyeongchang mascot

You ship it.

Image result for virtue moir olympics 2018

Take a Shot OR One Set Of Bicycle Crunches

An Olympian is from your hometown, for real.

A Russian is of such a higher caliber than the other athletes that it feels like they’re doing a different sport.

Image result for medvedeva

A competitor has what you, personally, consider a baby name. So all those toddlers named Mikaela grew up over the past twenty years?

Image result for mikaela shiffrin

Yep. Definitely a grownup.

The announcer is so fired up that they’re shouting like their house just exploded.

There’s innuendo about the Olympic Village.

You see the Korean Handmaid Cheerleaders’ minder.

You’re watching at a time that you consider totally bonkers.

 

Pour A Little Out For Your Favorite Team/Athlete Who Was Robbed OR Sun Salute

An Olympian is over age 30.

An Olympian who’s roughly your peer is now the commentator.

Image result for tara lipinski johnny weir olympics

Leslie Jones sighting

A commentator says the exact opposite of whatever you just said about the event.

The human interest footage includes clips of the athlete doing their sport as an adorable little tot.

Image result for adam rippon childhood

A competitor has a sibling who is also competing in the games.

Image result for shibutani olympics 2018

The human interest footage tries to make the athlete seem like just a normal person (like an average teen, family man, grad student, etc).

An Olympian is not actually from the country they represent.

Scandinavian Olympians and coaches are knitting.

Chug OR Two Sets Of Burpees

An Olympian is over age 40

The commentators repeat whatever you just said

An Olympian has a sibling who is also competing in the games… for a different country.

Image result for sisters hockey olympics

An Olympian is not actually from the country they represent AND their connection to the country is something you, personally, consider pretty weak (e.g, it’s where their husband is from).

There’s a team from a counter-intuitive country (e.g., Jamaican bobsled)

There’s a competitor who clearly isn’t qualified to be there (this “Hungarian” “skiier”)

 

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Adam Rippon, America’s Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone, but most especially to America’s newest sweetheart, Adam Rippon!

If you have been following the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, you will already be familiar with Adam as the fiercest figure skater and ready-for-the-runway glamazon bitch, always ready with great eyebrows and a witty quip for Andrea and all of us.

If you haven’t, perhaps a little explanation is necessary.

Adam Rippon has been on the figure skating scene for a long while, but at 28 these are his first Olympics. Bummed we didn’t get to watch him in 2014? Don’t be. It’s the DGAF-ness that comes in your late 20s that makes Adam so endearing. You want examples? We’ve got examples, Valentines.

Let’s start with skating. If you missed this performance in the team event, get ready to have your heart ripped out of your chest and triple-axele double-toe double-looped across the ice. YouTube is I guess being very strict about Olympic vids but just go to NBC.

Also the scoring was a little garbage (in the words of Johnny Weir, first place skater Kolyada was “oatmeal”)  but we all know that figure skating’s scoring system needs work.

Adam’s not concerned, though. He came to play. And he’s going to celebrate later by going to Target, which is pretty darn relatable:

Adam has supporters all across the globe, but a few famous ones include Elmo:

And let’s not forget Reese Witherspoon, because all Adam wants to do is maker her proud. Olympic figure skaters, they’re just like us!

Reese was very proud indeed, and Adam dedicated the medal to his mom, “but more to [Reese] in a way, because she has more followers on Instagram”:

He calculates that Reese has probably spent, like, three minutes of her life composing tweets to him, which is a pretty big deal when you think of how busy she is with the next season of Big Little Lies and the spring Draper James collection, among other things.

Adam is Olympic roomies with Mirai Nagasu and their friendship is everything. They’ve been friends for a decade and during the 2014 Olympics they were eating hamburgers on a rooftop waiting for their time to shine.

I have seen brides and grooms watch their spouses walk down the aisle with less love and pride than Adam watches Mirai skate with.

Although every Olympian needs supporters, you know who the real motivators are: haters.

 

A few haters have reached out to Adam over Twitter, and our precious glamazon bitch ready for the runway has a few words for them:

My favorite thing about Adam, other than his sense of humor and general cheekbone situation, is his confidence. He encourages everyone to be who they are:

I mean. This is a man who skated after singing Rhianna’s Diamonds in an exhibition, and it was GOOD. He explained that he is always changing it up, “always trying to keep these bitches on their toes.”

Believe it or not, Adam is the FIRST openly gay athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics. There have been other athletes who weren’t out at the time they competed, and this year’s Olympics also feature out skier Gus Kenworthy. They’re certified cuties:

In case you’re wondering if that tweet was directed at … anyone … in particular… the answer is of course, yes.

Mike Pence is in Pyeongchang ‘supporting’ the U.S. athletes, and also believes that you should shock gay kids into becoming straight sad gay kids. Does Adam have anything to say to Pence? Not particularly, no.

 

Basically, Adam is using his platform to raise the voice of others who are affected by Pence’s views – saying “right now I have a voice and I think it’s really important for me to use it” – but these Olympics aren’t about Pence. They’re about athletic, hard-working attractive people who are much funnier on social media … and being America’s sweetheart:

Adam has also used his platform to highlight the body image issues and disordered eating common among male athletes in the figure skating world.

Anyway, vice presidents aside, at the end of the day a gay athlete is just like a straight athlete with better eyebrows:

 

So, should YOU go to the Olympics? Adam highly recommends it if you ever have the option.

As for Valentines, I’m afraid Adam already has the best one in all of South Korea, saying “nobody loves me as much as I love me; so I guess I’ll just be my own Valentine tomorrow.”

On this February 14th, let’s remember the truly important thing:

Happiest of Valentine’s Days to our beloved runway-ready Glamazon Bitch.

Baby Boom Is Our Aesthetic

If Baby Boom (1987) isn’t on your pre-Valentine’s Day rom-com lineup, it should be. It is the romantic comedy for cozy, wintery-but-not-Christmas vibes. First of all, it’s a Nancy Meyers flick so you know the kitchen’s gonna be on point. Second, it’s from 1987 and lovingly skewers the aspirational yuppies of the era – including a wholesome, organic baby food business that would STILL draw the devotion of upper-class yummy mummies today. Third, it has all of the romcom features you’ve come to know and love: a career woman who doesn’t have time for love! Unexpectedly becoming the custodian of a baby! A handsome man with a romcom job! A charming old farmhouse with problems! I am the same age as Baby Elizabeth, so the sweet pastel baby clothes are like looking into an old family album. For some reason Baby Boom seldom comes up in conversation about ’80s romcoms, but give it a watch or rewatch … it just might be your February romcom aesthetic, too.

The opening new segment

Women have jobs! They’re doctors AND lawyers! Ladies having it all! It’s SO ’80s. The higher the shoulder pads, the more cushion busting through the glass ceiling?

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) works 70-80 hours a week. I’d rather be middle-class.

J.C.’s menswear-y satin robe and tortoiseshell glasses

It’s like she might get called to a board meeting pajama party and she dressed for it just in case.

Spoiler: her robe gets more cozy when she inherits a baby and moves to New England

Elizabeth’s  and J.C.’s “Inheriting A Baby Outfits”

J.C. inherits a baby, which is truly my dream scenario – not having to be pregnant, go through all the steps of fostering or adoption, or make an affirmative decision about whether or not I want a baby. Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy) wears a classic baby coat and hat and J.C. wears my favorite of her businesswear outfits, with a floppy bow, Peter Pan collar and oversized belted jacket that has almost Edwardian vibes. The shoulderpad/belt combo makes her waist look tiny, so that’s why people used to do that. She changes back into it at the end to turn down the offer to buy her baby food company, because it’s her main outfit to do important things in.

Another great one. When did we stop wearing brooches?

P.S., I get that J.C. has never held a baby before, but she has presumably held an object before and this isn’t how you do that, either.

By the way, J.C. name-drops two local-for-me companies, reminding me of how awesome my city was doing in the ’80s, comparatively.

Elizabeth …. MUDGE?!

Elizabeth almost gets adopted by two dustbowl people who come straight out of the Fake Annie’s Parents lineup in the Warbucks mansion. J.C. can’t do it. Guess she has time for love after all.

These Spiky Moms

These moms are all live-action versions of Angelica’s mom from Rugrats. They go on at length about all of the activities their toddlers are enrolled in and the extensive intellectual standards their 3-year-olds have met. Hey baby boomers, if you don’t like millennials just remember that you made us this way.

Hadleyville, In General

J.C. and Elizabeth arrive in town during the fall because Nancy Meyers knows what’s up. There’s a general store and a church, and it looks like a living history museum.

I love that J.C.’s plan for what they’ll do in New England is “get into quilts,” which should be timeless but feels very 80s Businesswoman Who Has Had It.

J.C.’s Yellow Farmhouse, Exterior

J.C. buys a dollhouse-looking yellow clapboard farmhouse. I want it. It’s cheerful and sweet with tasteful landscaping. There are window boxes and real shutters! However, the plumbing is shot and will cost $7,000-8,000 which feels steep for 30 years ago? For reference I recently repiped only my basement (copper, because go big or go home) and it was maybe like $1,500. Oh, and she also needs a new roof and well. But it looks so nicely-maintained?

It’s even cuter in spring because this house was made to have tulips and rabbits around.

As usual, our __ Is Our Aesthetic posts feature movies with absolutely delightful houses. That’s why images of the Baby Boom house will take you to the Hooked On Houses post for this film. It’s one of my favorite blogs and they do a great job highlighting some of the most charming homes in TV and film.

J.C.’s House During The Snowstorm

Living in a snowy city, sometimes it takes seeing it onscreen to remember how pretty it is.

The Richies From NY

Some rich people go to the local general store and can’t get enough of the authentic boots, plaid shirts, and baby food that J.C. made. They’re exactly like the 2018 version of yuppies, honestly.

The whole movie feels really modern because the home business is so familiar today — but in a time before Pinterest/Etsy moms and Whole Foods in every city, J.C. was seriously cutting edge. When I was watching I was reminded of a later Nancy Meyers film, The Intern, and apparently that was no mistake. The kitchen from The Intern even echoes the muted blue cabinets from Baby Boom!

The Hadleyville maple festival

This small-town maple festival is exactly how I want my parties. All the ladies wear big Sloane Ranger dresses, there are twinkling lights, and everyone just kind of talks and has snacks. There’s a mural with a barn and some geese on it. Nobody’s suit fits right. Get into it.

J.C.’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Nancy was still new to the charming romcom kitchen game in 1987, but all her talent was there from the start. Vintage-style fridge, exposed ceiling beams, baskets, fireplace and clapboard. The cabinets are painted the exact powdery blue I keep seeing in chalk paint now. Windows everywhere. There’s enough space for a work table, an eating table, a couch, hutch and a rocking chair, plus space to tap dance around all of them if you’re so inclined.  The cabinet fronts are fitted with gingham. J.C. and the handsome vet have their first kiss in the kitchen because all any woman wants is to have a first kiss in a Nancy Meyers kitchen.

The Yellow Farmhouse, Interior

First of all, I love how the woodwork isn’t perfectly freshly painted, so it looks like someone actually has lived there a long time. Second, check out these wood floors, comfy Laura Ashley-looking furniture, natural light, and worn-in looking antiques.

 

 

Dawson’s Creek Is So Old That…

How old is Dawson’s Creek?
At 20 years old this month, Dawson’s Creek is so old that (in my subjective memory)…

I started watching Dawson’s Creek on Episode 4 … so I had to wait until summer reruns to see episodes 1, 2 and 3. No DVR, On Demand or Hulu!

But not to worry, because people online actually transcribed the episodes and posted them on angelfire/ geocities. (So Many Old Sites still exist! It’s like time travel.)

… And I got in trouble for tying up the phone line reading those websites.

If I missed an episode, I would read the recap on Dawson’s Wrap, the pre-pre-precursor to the long defunct Television Without Pity.

TV soundtracks were a big thing, and the WB would announce the songs featured in the episode, along with the albums they appeared on, at the end of the episode.

Speaking of which, the Dawson’s Creek Soundtrack was THE must-own album in 7th grade and I bought it at a mall in an actual CD STORE. And I didn’t know each jewel case had a different picture inside, so I was bummed to get the Joey one instead of the Pacey one.

Today, an actress the same age as youngest main cast member Michelle Williams would have been born in the year 2000.

Oldest main cast member James Van Der Beek is now 40 years old. If you’re keeping track, that’s only about two years younger than John Wesley Shipp was when he played James’s Dad.

(It’s also only about 18 years younger than Grams, but to be fair Mary Beth Peil was not really old in 1998, they just wrote her like she was 90.)

Dawson’s Creek was the anchor of the teen block on the WB, which hasn’t even existed for the past 12 years … aka, since today’s teens were babies.

There was a guide to the Dawson’s Creek stars – with full color pages! – in the paper Scholastic book order.

Two of the main characters – Dawson and Pacey, but you already knew – worked in a video store, which truly seemed like a cool job to have.

Dawson didn’t shoot on film because he was a hipster. He shot on film because it was the only way.

Also, the kids didn’t dress ‘normcore’ because they were hipsters. They dressed normcore because the show was literally sponsored by J. Crew at that point. Remember when Gap’s big campaign convinced middle school and high schoolers that frumpy khakis were cool? It was right around then.

Do yourself a favor and click on this to go to Buzzfeed’s post about the D.C. J. Crew catalog

Katie Holmes was so young then that she delayed her audition because she was in her high school play in Ohio.

It had only been two years since Joshua Jackson appeared in D3: The Mighty Ducks, and only 6 years since he was a tiny scamp in the original The Mighty Ducks.

The hot new musical of the year was …. Ragtime.

Teletubbies, a children’s show from a very long time ago, wouldn’t even premiere for another few months.

The furby hadn’t been introduced yet, but Beanie Babies were still a hot item.

 

Fake Hygge Things That Sound Plausible

If you read design blogs – and as a young single homeowner, I can assure you I do – you must have heard of hygge. Hygge is the Danish concept of – to quote The New Yorker –  a “quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”

Over the past few years, hundreds of books, articles and blog pieces have suggested ways to introduce some hygge into your life. Especially in the winter, there are suggestions for cheerful game nights, mulled cider in front of the fire, soft cashmere throws and the glow of candlelight.

There are also some very specific and strange suggestions, like the all-day Star Wars marathon at home with 5 kids that one blogger suggested.

The following are some totally made-up hygge things that I would somehow not be surprised to find during my design blog reading:

Go to YouTube and search for songs from your favorite musicals + “figure skating.” Make a playlist. Watch them all.

The other day I thought “you know, I bet you could search YouTube for ANY song from a musical plus the term “figure skating” and get a result.” THEN I thought “that legitimately sounds like something a blog would suggest as a hygge activity.” Then this whole thing happened.

As a treat, put on an extra pair of socks

Solve a decades-old murder using information readily available on Google

Nothings cozier than sitting in your favorite chair and finally getting down to business on what happened to JonBenet … only to see that three hours passed in an instant and you still DON’T KNOW.

Watch a birdfeeder from a window while you wear a big sweater

Have your boss over for a Dutch Blitz party. Serve those windmill cookies. You know the ones.

Since I wrote this draft, Dutch Blitz has shown up in my Amazon suggestions. I guess Amazon’s hygge activity this winter is tracking my every step on the internet. Hey guys! Loved Mrs. Maisel.

Play Hot Potato with an actual hot potato

Replace the harsh overhead lighting in your office with a bunch of candelabras

Skip the nightly news and have each member of your family read articles from the day’s newspaper out loud

It’s just how people had their existential crises in the 1800s!

Invite all of the stray cats from the neighborhood in and invite your pet-lover friends over for Hygge Cat Night

Go caroling, except with non-Christmas wintery songs

Your neighbors will feel very hygge when you sing them It’s A Marshmallow World In The Winter on a Tuesday in February, and you know what? So will you.

Sit around the fire and everybody has to say what they would name a baby right now.

Go to a small hunting cabin and have a soup contest.

This isn’t so much a fake hygge thing, as much as a real upstate NY thing my parents do with their friends.

Have a Friends marathon, but with reading the scripts out loud instead of watching the show.

And THIS isn’t so much a fake hygge thing, as much as a real thing we did on our school trip to Spain in high school.

Spin a globe and wherever your finger stops, you have to pretend you’re in that place for the night.

Put all of your blankets on the floor, one on top of the other. Now all your blankets are wearing blankets.

It’s hygge but for blankets.

Speaking of blankets: blanket fort.

Questions, Comments, Concerns: A Christmas Prince

Today’s Questions, Comments, Concerns features A Christmas Prince, a Netflix Original Movie that’s really a Hallmark movie for cord-cutters. Mindless, low-quality holiday entertainment isn’t just for people with a cable package! It’s 2017!

Comment: You can tell they’ve got that Netflix budget because of all the establishing shots of New York City.

to be fair they saved some $$ by using the clipart that came preloaded on their PC

On Hallmark, everything takes place in a picturesque small town that’s obsessed with Christmas because that’s the cheaper thing to do.

Comment: “Amber! We’re junior editors! Not writers!”

Dialogue like this is why people think that editor means human spellcheck.

Question: Wait, how can I become a Junior Editor?

Forget that my real rank is above “junior editor.” Amber gets sent abroad to cover a European prince. Nice work if you can get it.

Concern: Netflix spent its whole NYC budget on those establishing shots.

or actually, this is new york’s FINEST diner.

Amber goes into a tiny, empty diner that definitely seems like it’s somewhere in Hallmarkville. It’s her dad’s. He’s a Real New York Character, AKA he has an accent.

Comment: Netflix also spent some Establishing Shot Money on European mountains. Alps?
Concern: By the time they show the lush, snow-covered Swiss? Bavarian? castle, I’m already sold.

I don’t need this to be a GOOD movie, I just need to have a good time watching it.

Comment: Maybe Lead Girl would be a senior editor if she hadn’t showed up to a royal press conference in jeans and sneakers.

non-spoiler: rom-com lady is clumsy. also i have a follow-up question about the white plastic light switch. surely the castle electrician could upgrade that.

Now would be an appropriate time for me to use the terms “slacks” and “pumps.” Yech.

Concerns: Many

Amber gets mistaken for Princess Emily’s new tutor, Martha.

Question: Can we cut to the part where Emily is vibrant and lovable?

On one hand, A+ for having a child with disabilities as a primary character! On the other, they make her petulant and peevish like that hidden boy in Secret Garden. Collin, was it?

Comment: You know Rose McIver (Lead Girl) from other stuff.

I IMDB’d her because her face was so familiar, and not just because she looks like she’d play Keri Russell’s sister. She’s been in a LOT but I remember her best as the sister in The Lovely Bones.

Comment: We didn’t have to wait long for Emily to get vibrant and lovable.

She’s a cutie.

Concern: My ability to suspend disbelief.

For a split second I start questioning how Amber is pulling this off, whether there are visa implications, the scads of journalistic ethics violations… and then I relax into the soft fluff of A Christmas Prince like a child making a snow angel.

Comment: Cousin Simon’s no Prince Richard, but could still get it.

Richard though.

Concern: Male primogeniture, boo.

Princess Emily isn’t in line for the throne and I’m having S1 Downton Abbey flashbacks.

Comment: The cell phone sticking up out of Amber’s back pocket is honestly some of the most realistic costuming I’ve seen.
Concern: We have competition.

Meet Lady Sophia, a hussy in a red dress. You can tell she’s a hussy by the red dress. I don’t make the rules.

Question: Do we know for absolutely sure that Princess Emily’s not a Little Girl Ghost (TM Joey Tribbiani)?

Emily discovers Amber’s true identity and barters to keep Amber’s secret as long as she writes the truth about Richard. Emily says knows because she sneaked into Amber’s unsecured computer, but she seems awfully British and all-knowing …  like a Little Girl Ghost.

Comment: I want Emily the Little Girl Ghost to get a friend who is a child.
Concern: Amber takes Emily sledding

I definitely think that children with disabilities should be encouraged to do anything other kids do (with necessary modifications and safety supports) but I just feel like Amber should’ve at least Googled if it was fine.

[It was fine, by the way.]

Comment: Horse stuff.

There was an equistrian sequence, but we all already knew that going into this. Richard chases off wolves in a page straight out of the Beauty and the Beast storyboards, then they retreat to Gaston’s lounge.

Concern: Prince Rick looks good in a turtleneck.

I don’t hate turtlenecks but it’s such a specific man who can pull it off, right? I know Amber agrees because they almost kiss in a beautiful barn. I could pay off my student loans selling reclaimed wood from this barn. And those are law school loans, ok.

Question: Do they put Christmas lights on actual castles?

Genuine question. I love them but bet royals think they’re naff.

Comment: Prince Richard is a fake!! Prince Richard is a fake!!

Well not FAKE, but he was adopted into the royal family in 1990. I assume there’s a rule about that in most royal families? Also with the giant age gap between Richard and Emily, I like to think this is one of those fake adoptions, like when old-Hollywood actresses would get pregnant, disappear for a year, then “adopt” a baby.

Concern: I was surprised by a plot twist in A Christmas Prince.

I never get surprised in Hallmark movies. Advantage: Netflix.

Amber’s so shocked that she uses the words “gosh” and “freaking.”

Comment: I love Amber’s bedroom with the Christmas tree.

When I was a kid, sometimes I used to pretend I was princess Anastasia and had a room like that. Yes, I know it’s actually Grand Duchess. Yes, I willfully ignored the unpleasant imprisonment and execution angles.

Comment: Richard’s so British (or whatever… Genovian?) he pronounces Sophia “Sophier.”
Comment: Amber wears her converse with her formal outfit…

Just like every group of groomsmen in wedding photos, c. 2010.

Question: Do princes really have a wedding ceremony to their country?

That’s more or less what Richard has. Objections and everything. Reminds me of when Dennis Rodman married himself (I’m old).

Comment: Mean Sophier’s objection was the adoption thing, clearly.
Comment: Richard’s late father hid the truth in an acorn ornament because nobody can be normal in these movies.

My favorite part is how Richard’s dad knew this would all come to a head at Christmas, and that somebody would decipher the secret clue about acorns, and how nobody would crack open or throw away the ornament before this point.

I also don’t see how a note in an ornament is legally binding. He should’ve just changed the code while he was alive. Easy-peasy.

Comment: Aldovia. The country was “Aldovia.”
Comment: The judge or whatever says “Merry Christmas to all,” which is the most Christmas we’ve had in a while.
Question: Why won’t Amber’s editors encourage her to run a piece on this?

They call it a “puff piece” but it looks like an exclusive, walks like an exclusive, sounds like an exclusive, it’s a duck.

Comment: It’s not a romcom unless someone makes a grand gesture at the end.

Richard comes to NY and proposes to Emily. I’m still floored that she works for a publication that thinks this ISN’T a story. He has neither a security detail nor a press following. She accepts.

Comment: A Christmas Prince has one thing in common with Hallmark movies

…. and that’s a couple meeting, falling in love, AND getting engaged all between the start and end of the Christmas season.

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Christmas In Connecticut

Merry December! This month’s pop culture blind spot challenge: finding classic or otherwise beloved holiday films that we haven’t seen. It’s a tough one for me – I was raised on oldies like White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, and kept up with the major developments of the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s like the other Miracle on 34th Street,  Christmas Vacation and Elf. That’s why my blind spot pick today hearkens all the way back to 1945: Christmas in Connecticut.

Short Description:  A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas.
Not only does this sound like a really fun premise, it reads 100% like a rom-com they’d still make today. The difference is that in 1945 talkies weren’t even 20 years old. It would be a rom-com cliche today, but in the ’40s it was a rom-com groundbreaker.
We open on a submarine shooting torpedoing a ship. So this is like, definitely a World War II movie.

Image links to post from the blonde at the film. i didn’t let myself read it before writing, but it’s a lot of fun with some great background on old Hollywood!

Two sailors from the ship have been adrift in a lifeboat for 15 days. One – Jefferson Jones, played by Dennis Morgan, who had an extensive career playing a lot of military guys – imagines himself in a light blazer dining at a bistro table and he looks like a handsome hipster of today. After getting rescued he convalesces in a military hospital and becomes obsessed with magazine food columns. See also, the Minnesota Starvation Experiment.
 
Alexander Yardley is a human Bustopher Jones, and he’s Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck)’s publisher. She’s a food writer but PSYCH she does not know how to cook. This is such a good rom-com job! So good, in fact, that I start googling which other rom-com involves an advice columnist who’s winging it. I swear I’ve seen this somewhere else?

It wouldn’t be one of our Pop Culture Blind Spot posts without linking to an article about the house in the movie. Click on over to Lisa’s Home Bijou!

Anyway, Yardley wants Elizabeth to host Jefferson Jones for dinner because he’s a war hero and her number one fan. You will recall that Elizabeth knows jack about cooking. I can’t wait for the wacky misunderstandings! Also in the course of writing about cooking wouldn’t you learn how to cook? Wouldn’t it be easier, writing-wise, to just learn how to cook? Or are all of her recipes made-up craziness that magically turns out OK?
Elizabeth also has a pretend husband and child! This is a blast! And her drapey blouse and high-waisted Katharine Hepburn pants outfit is completely on point.

LOOKS FOR DAYS.

If they remade this in 2017 you know they’d make Elizabeth a food blogger and it would not be as good. Maybe a HGTV-style personality.
Elizabeth’s first excuse to get out of falling in love with Jeff being a hostess is that her fake baby has whooping cough. #VaccinateYourKids
So Elizabeth has this friend John who always proposes to her. Like, it’s a habit. And they’re not even dating or anything, he just proposes marriage regularly and Elizabeth expresses zero interest in him.  Here’s how this convo plays out:
His point: You need someone to look after you. [Note: it’s 1945 -M]
Her counterpoint: I don’t love you.
Elizabeth demurs that it “gets harder and harder to find an excuse to say no.” John counters “well you can’t blame it on your career this time because you haven’t got one.”
1. SICK BURN, JOHN.
2. This is why nobody accepts your proposals, John.
Elizabeth accepts the proposal, but only because she needs a husband and a farm in Connecticut, like, yesterday. Elizabeth’s editor Dudley also needs Elizabeth to procure a fake baby (a real baby that’s not hers, technically), because they’ve already bought his kids’ Christmas presents so he needs this to go off well. If you’re keeping track, so far Elizabeth is a liar who’s otherwise okay, and Dudley and John are The Pits.
Elizabeth brings her chef friend, Felix, along to cook. That’s where she’s been getting her recipes, by the way. He’s German. I ship him and John’s Irish maid Nora. German and Irish? That was an OK marriage in the ’40s, right? I lose track of who used to be weird about each other.
 
Barbara Stanwyck’s waist is tiiiny. Or is it the shoulder pads?

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but bring back shoulder pads 2K18?

Elizabeth coos “oh, John! Where did you get it?” about a neighbor baby he borrowed them, as though it’s a nice table runner or a new coffee table.
Felix puts paprika into Irish stew, which turns it into goulash. B- ethnic humor.
Know what you never see anymore? Tinsel.
Jeff brings Elizabeth a rocking chair because she wrote in her column that she could never find a good one.
HA! Elizabeth tries to answer Jeff’s questions about the baby and she is clearly a stranger both to him and to all babies. Fortunately Jeff is a good uncle and has met babies before. He gives “Robert” a bath and JUST KIDDING, turns out the baby is now Roberta.
[I will say that I have a lot of nieces and nephews and I’m always surprised when adults who can’t deal when they have to feed, change, bathe and generally deal with babies. They’re just little humans who need their necks supported, is all.]
Elizabeth and Jeff have an old-fashioned piano party while she trims the tree. He plays the piano and sings. Girl. Marry him.

John pervs about where he and Elizabeth are going to sleep tonight because it’s supposed to be his wedding night. Except they didn’t get married, so Elizabeth will stay in the guest room, thanks. He pouts and stomps off saying that he won’t sleep a wink. Wow, rom-coms in the ’40s really ramp up the bad qualities in the guy who’s purpose is to get dumped, don’t they? In the 2010s he’d just be too into his work or fantasy football.
A different neighbor drops off a different baby than yesterday, because they assume the new lady in the big house just takes other people’s kids for the day

Elizabeth cooks.

Elizabeth and All Her Guys* go to a barn dance. But in a dance hall. So just a dance I guess.
*All Her Guys = Yardley, John, Editor – was it Dudley?, Jeff and probably Felix.
Elizabeth and Jeff joyride in a sleigh, and I’m sorry but you only do that with somebody that you mean to fall in love with.
I was really hoping they’d bust out the Comedy Rule of Threes with people dropping off random babies at the house, but no such luck.
Elizabeth and Jeff got arrested – just a misunderstanding! – and the borrowed baby got reported as kidnapped after its mom collected it – also just a misunderstanding! We have angled the Tangled Web stage of the rom-com.
Elizabeth spills the beans about her… all of it. Everyone’s furious except for Jeff, a good person. In this pre-internet age, as long as none of these people say anything about Elizabeth’s true identity, nobody would find out, right? Felix pulls a fast one and tells Elizabeth’s publisher that she has another offer, and suddenly they want to keep her after all.
By the way, Jeff had been engaged to his nurse. Fortunately she married his shipmate so he’s all set to mack it with Lizzie. People really were willy-nilly about their engagements in the post-war era, huh?
“What a Christmas!”, Felix giggles.
What a Christmas, everyone.

Little Women (1994) Is Our Aesthetic

It’s December, and our choice aesthetic is the 1994 adaptation of Little Women: earth tones, plaid dresses, candlelight, roaring fires, Winona Ryder’s bob, Meg upstaging Queen B Sallie Moffat in the blue afternoon dress, surprise pianos and a lot of quilts. The production design of Gillian Armstrong’s 90s masterpiece was cozy, lived-in and totally real: you could actually see the March family staging plays in that attic, gathering around that rustic table, or having a singalong at Beth’s piano. There’s also a lot of winter – hence our December pick – and it’s depicted so beautifully that it will make you appreciate the season.

This post is also known by its alternate title, I Have A Real Christmas Tree And An Old House And Now I Think I’m A March Sister.

Orchard House’s Foyer

The moment the sisters call out “Marmee’s home!” and you see the muted stenciled floors, sidelights and printed wallpaper, you feel like you’re home, too.

Full disclosure: my parents live in an 1830s farmhouse that’s almost identical to Orchard House, so maybe that’s because it literally looks like my home.

As per usual, we’re going to point you over to Hooked On Houses – if Little Women is your aesthetic, you need to check out their Orchard House post.

The March Living Room

These shades of olive green! The built-in bookshelves! The brick fireplace! It’s so beautiful. It’s also a great reminder that, while the current iteration of “farmhouse” style is all whites and grays and spartan decor, there’s another path to the same cozy feeling.

Everyone’s Hair

Real-life adult womens’ hair in the 1860s didn’t really mesh with our current trends. Think center partings, snoods and clumps of sausage curls at the sides. Fortunately for us, the March girls are in their teens so their hair is long and loose – it was even kind of a ‘thing’ in the book that Jo didn’t want to start wearing her hair up like a, um, big woman.

Jo even looked sassy in her cropped ‘do, and calling Winona Ryder’s hair her “one beauty” is an evergreen laugh line (I’m sure if she time traveled to the 1860s, they’d have gotten a kick out of it then, too).

Everyone’s Winter Clothes

It can be hard to look cute and feel comfy in dresses during those cold winter months, but it’s not as though girls in the 19th century had another option. The Marches cope with the cold in lots of layers and tons of warm earthy tones — it was 1994, after all.

Some favorites are Jo’s  red ball gown (plus the choker on the black satin cord!)

Meg’s hunter green coat with the big buttons (and Jo’s no slouch in the outerwear department – I think garnet’s her signature color)

Amy’s plaid dress

I always especially loved Amy’s old-fashioned knitted ear warmer and vest (Meg had a matching one – sweet touch!).

Oh! And Jo’s fitted gray dress!

The sleeves and waistband!

If you find historical costumes interesting too, I suggest the Frock Flicks podcast episode on Little Women.

The Dining Room

Bonus: image links to hilarious post from Homeless Monsters about visiting Orchard House

The dining room is a little less cluttered than the rest of the house, but the simple table and chairs and calming colors would easily fit in a Magnolia spread.

The Garrett

The Marches cosplay as the Pickwick Society in their sweet attic hideaway, and as always, something about setting up a space in an attic is so much more comfy, mysterious and cool than the same exact setup in a regular room of the house. It’s all in the eaves and sloped ceilings. You can just see how the girls have adapted and added to this space over the years.

Bedroom Fireplaces When Manuscripts Aren’t Burning In Them

That was not okay, Amy.

[I wrote this piece about Amy March being a total B, and it was 80% in jest, but I haven’t forgotten about the manuscript.]

The Girls’ Bedroom

Pardon the scarlet fever happening in the foreground

I love the red ticked curtains, wallpaper and green wainscoting. I always wish I could get a closer look at that wall-o’-trim. I have so many questions.

Snow On Snow On Snow

In real life, snow is an inconvenience that turns your commute into a risky obstacle course, but on screen – when I don’t have to shovel it – snow is serene and beautiful. The first 40 minutes or so of the movie are snow-covered and it totally works to get you into a winter mode, especially if you want to watch something that isn’t entirely focused on Christmas.

Meg’s Afternoon Dress

Sallie Moffat can go fly a kite. Meg’s chill, forget-me-not blue gown looks way prettier than child labor silk and we all know it.

 

The Opera Sets

Weird or not weird: I wouldn’t mind if my house looked like this opera set.

The Boarding House

Jo March was the original free-spirited girl who starts over in New York City after a major heartbreak in order to “find herself.”

If you weren’t super-poor in the 1870s, this was probably the second-most Bohemian place you could live.

Europe

… Europe being the first. While I feel awful for Jo when Amy gets her Eurotrip with Aunt March, at least Amy makes the very most of her adventure. It’s like the 1800s version of when you went on your study abroad semester and came back a different person (in your own head, anyway). It’s so fun seeing Amy level up in her clothing, like that kicky straw boater hat, boho linen smock, and high-1870s-style fitted jacket.

The trunk of memories

When Jo opens that trunk of memories that spurns her to write Little Women, I always regret my Konmari-Lite tendancies and wish I had kept tangible objects from my teen years.

That Soundtrack

The soundtrack is poignant, spirited and heartbreaking right when it needs to be. I hear like 2 measures and I’m sad about Beth all over again.

 

 

All The Reasons I’m Delighted Meghan Markle Is A Princess

Prince Harry is engaged. He’s engaged to Meghan Markle, somebody other than me, which would have been a real sticking point for my 11-year-old self. I couldn’t be happier with his choice, though. Meghan Markle is no Chelsie or Cressida (why can my brain store that spelling of Chelsie, and the name Cressida at all, but none of my logins or passwords?). Meghan’s an American, and she’s biracial, and she has a job, and her dogs are cute. This is great!

[If you’re here to say (1) this news doesn’t matter, or (2) the royals are just regular humans who get to live in palaces and dress their children in shortpants with taxpayer money, or (3) Meghan definitely won’t be getting the title princess … see ya later! You won’t have fun here!]

In no particular order, here are the reasons I’m grabbing on to this happy story like a life preserver in an ocean of garbage news:

The idea of a Princess Meghan is delightful

There are princess names and there are middle-class American girl names, and Meghan is a middle-class American girl name. It’s also pretty well date-stamped in the late ’70s through late ’90s, for the most part. That’s why the idea of a Princess Meghan has me absolutely tickled. If she was Margaret (for which the Welsh Megan is a diminutive), I wouldn’t bat an eye, but Princess Meghan sounds forever and always like a little girl in 1993 playing pretend. For the record, this isn’t an attack on Megans or Meghans, almost all of whom I really like – I’m truly delighted by this development. It’s like having a Princess Madison in 20 years. It’s fun! Princess Meghan!

Note: she’ll end up with a lesser title, like Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, or Sophie, Countess of Wessex. It’ll still be great.

Note 2: Meghan is Markle’s middle name. Her real first name is Rachel, which I’d argue is more royal.

Meghan Markle has nice handwriting

This is so princessy (duchessy, countessy, lady-like): Meghan Markle’s secret talent is calligraphy. In most lives this is a cool but not necessarily useful skill, but she’s going to write so many beautiful thank-you notes on engraved stationary as a royal, and I’m so happy for her.

It’s not just the cursive that I love, it’s the respectful gesture of sending a handwritten note.

Meghan is a Rescue Dog Mom

Queen Elizabeth has her corgis, and I like to imagine that in her royal residence, Meghan is going to have a mismatched pack of mutts. Unfortunately, due to his age Meghan’s rescue pup Bogart will not be able to immigrate. I hope he gets a good home but as the owner of an elderly rescue dog myself, I’m so sorry he can’t make the trip.

They Are Going To Live In A Tiny Royal Cottage!

The future residence of Harry and Meghan is Nottingham Cottage, an honest-to-goodness 19th century cottage within the grounds of Kensington Palace. It has two bedrooms and one bathroom and super low ceilings. And a garden and a hammock! The idea of a literal prince playing house in a quaint toy cottage is the stuff of rom-com dreams. Queen Elizabeth’s nanny used to live there, and she said that it “looks as if it had got to London quite by mistake from some distant country place.” I die.

This Whole Thing Is A Hallmark Christmas Movie Setup

Listen. My family loves Hallmark Christmas Movies so much that my dad records the new ones and watches all of them when I visit. We love cataloging all of the tropes – girl moves to a small town and everyone instantly loves her! she is a busy doctor/veterinarian and doesn’t have time for love! she falls in love with a man who works with his hands in a very Christmas-specific industry, like Christmas tree farming or ice sculpture! sometimes somebody is secretly Santa’s nephew – and there’s a whole subset that involve a normal person falling in love with a prince or princess. This is IT. Meghan grew up “normal”: her mom is a social worker/yoga instructor, and her dad is a lighting designer, and they divorced when she was little. When her acting career was still on the climb, Meghan worked as a freelance calligrapher, which is the most Lifetime movie thing I can think of (unless Prince Harry is secretly Santa’s nephew). Eventually, she lands a leading role on a successful TV series – and wins the love of a prince after being set up on a blind date with him. It’s almost too good to be true.

The Royals Are Getting A Little Less White

There’s so much to love here. Little kids in the US and UK – those who care about the royal family, anyway – can look up to a royal who actually looks like them. Prince Charles will be the co-parent-in-law with a black woman. Queen Elizabeth will have great-grandkids who are part black. Finally, the royal family is starting to look… well, like a lot of other families.

A Royal Wedding!

The best thing about royal weddings is they involve all the things I love about weddings (seeing what the dress, decor, music and readings are like) and none of the things I don’t (buying a dress, buying a gift, paying for travel). The best wedding is the one you watch on TV at like 5 in the morning.

 

 

 

The Definitive, Indisputable 30 Under 30 List

The Forbes 30 Under 30 list is out, and as a 31-year-old I would like those successful children to get off of my internet lawn, please. Nobody likes 30 Under 30 lists except the honorees and their usually-rich parents: not people under 30, not people over 30, not the poor guy who has to write glowing bios of all of these talented-but-also-lucky youths.

I also can’t help but notice that these lists are really, really inaccurate. These are the REAL very best things that are under 30 years of age:

30. Idris Elba

He’s, like, 45 years old but listen: I’m still angry about People’s Sexiest Man Alive blunder and I want him on MY list.

29. TGIF

TGIF, ABC’s Friday night lineup of family-friendly shows, debuted in 1989. It is under 30 years old and we love it so much that we live-blogged TGIF favs like Step By Step and Dinosaurs all October long.

28. The Frapuccino

Only 22 years old and already a cultural icon.

27. The Addy Doll

Ever wonder what the longest-running American girl dolls is? I googled. It’s Addy. She’s under 30, but also kind of 160-ish, and I’m glad she got that dress she wanted for Christmas.

26.  AIM

AKA, AOL Instant Messenger. I am not surprised that it went caput this year after 20 years, but I am surprised that it was released in 1997: it went from nothing to ubiquitous over the course of my sixth grade school year.

25. The Chicken Pox Vaccine

Can you believe it, fellow elder Millennials? Parents no longer have to arrange the Worst Playdate Ever so that their kids can catch Chicken Pox on purpose. There’s a vaccine for that, and has been since 1995.

That means that half of the people on the real 30 Under 30 lists ALSO never had to get chicken pox, which makes me happy for them, but also kind of begrudge them even more.

24. Smart Phones

The order of this list makes no sense. Pay no mind. Point is, smart phones have given so much more to our universe than all of the other 10-year-olds who haven’t appeared on Stranger Things.

23. Once On This Island

The musical Once On This Island is pretty great, and it’s getting a revival, AND with a 1990 debut, it’s under 30 years old.

22. Text Messages

If you’re not really a calling-people-person, text messages are the greatest invention since Alexander Graham Bell ruined our peace and quiet by inventing the telephone. The text has been around since 1992 but didn’t catch on big-time until the early 2000s.

21. Online Bill Pay

I just think I would be really stressed out if I was constantly sending paper checks through the mail.

20. MP3s

First we lived through clunky Walkmen that never picked up radio stations, trying in vain to time your fast-forward to get to your favorite song. Then we upgraded to the Diskman, which skipped constantly and ate batteries like zombies eat brains. The MP3, invented in 1998, still feels like a little digital miracle.

19. The album Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly is over 30 but the purest pop album of the 2010s is not.

18. The Rachel

The haircut The Rachel turned 20 a while back. It was not great looking but it is always a solid pop-culture reference.

I know I could have just put the show Friends on the list but that’s not really how things are going.

17. Movie Rental Kiosks

I know we’re having a cultural moment where it’s trendy to miss Blockbuster – and it was fun there! they even had overpriced movie theater candy in boxes! – but remember when movie rental kiosks like Redbox came onto the scene and you could rent movies for a dollar a day?

16. Netflix

Speaking of which.

15. – 6. [Reserved]

Not to pull back the curtain on you or anything, but my laptop broke and I’ve been typing this draft in Notes on my phone.  I’m a senior book editor in real life and I’m going to take a page from my authors, who will mark whole blocks as [Reserved] when they actually just didn’t get around to writing anything. I’m onto you, guys. It’s a cute trick.

5. The Marriage Of Barack and Michelle Obama

This marriage is 25 years old and it’s by far my favorite under-30-year-old marriage.

4. Babies, Generally

Babies, who are always under 30, are super cute and have not developed the capability to let us down, unlike practically everybody else in 2017. Go babies.

3. The World Wide Web

I remember what it was like having to find out everything using the yellow pages, a card catalog, my parents’ 1976 encyclopedia set, and conversation. It was AWFUL. A world of information at your fingertips is truly extraordinary, and it’s only been around since 1990.

2. Almost Every Living Cat

I’m not even trying to make this a cat person-dog person thing, it’s just that cats thrive on resentment and they’ll get more joy out of this than being number 1.

There are a few 31-year-old cats who have to be judged against the rest of us over-30-year-olds.

1.Every Living Dog

I’m older than every dog alive, guys.