Bad Celebrity Neighbors, Good Celebrity Neighbors

Ah, neighbors. Through no effort or failing of your own, you may end up living next to your best friends, cordial acquaintances, or raucous cat-hoarders.  Celebrity neighbors raise the stakes a bit. Best-case scenario, you are treated to first-hand knowledge of someone who other normies learn about from tumblr and entertainment magazines. Heck, you may even GET their entertainment magazines if you have a bad mailman. However, your celebrity neighbor could just as well be a waking nightmare … but worse: a nightmare with money and constant affirmation.

The Celebrity Neighbor phenomenon came to our attention this week in the form of Jake Paul, an internet twerp. Mr. Paul is a legal adult who makes tons of money though his often noisy and dangerous Instagram pranks, terrorizing his residential neighborhood in the process.

He says “dab” and then dabs, a move I scolded my 10-year-old nephew for doing just last night not because it’s bad, but because it’s a played-out and that’s embarrassing. In the moment Mr. Paul climbs on to the news van, he resembles nothing so much as a toddler who knows his parents won’t tell him no – like he should have grubby Cheerio hands and a name like Cooper. He exclaims “what are thoooooose” because a newscaster is wearing brown shoes. In short, Paul is a silly person I wouldn’t want to live near.

Still, some celebrities would make fine neighbors. To sort out the bad from the good, we’re going to Goofus and Gallant this situation. Feel free to read this in the waiting room of a pediatric dentist, as Goofus and Gallant was meant to be consumed.

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors throw eggs at houses.
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors let you borrow an egg if you run out when you’re baking.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors disturb you with their bird’s “Pteredactyl-like screams”
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors feed your cat when you go out of town for the weekend.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors blame each other for causing landslides on their property.
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors just kind of leave dirt and landmasses where they are supposed to be.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors takes a chainsaw to your patio (then, worst of all, declare “It’s called a sledgehammer, dawg”).
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors invite you to their patio parties.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors flood your apartment with their shark tank (however indirectly).
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors really don’t have sharks.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors threaten to molest your dog.
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors bring their puppies over for you to cuddle.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors throw fruit at you like you are an old-timey Vaudeville Act that they aren’t enjoying.
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors offer you some vegetables when their garden is over-productive.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors drunkenly wander into your house to sleep (then make funny faces at your child during arrest)
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors read your children Goldilocks during playdates instead of drunk-Goldilocksing their bed.

 

  • Bad Celebrity Neighbors moon you during an argument.
  • Good Celebrity Neighbors also moon you during an argument. Butts are funny.

What I Think Happens In Game Of Thrones (I Don’t Watch It)

Are you caught up on Game of Thrones? I’m not. I’m very, very not: I still haven’t seen an episode. Don’t get me wrong, it’s way at the top of my watch list – if only because I hate when everyone else knows about something I don’t. It’s just that it’s in the fifth season (*seventh now – see my update at the bottom!), so now it’s an undertaking. But since it feels like GoT is all anyone talks about, I have some ideas about it.

God willing, this summer I’ll swipe my parents’ HBOGo login info and find out for myself. Until then, I’m pretty sure this is what it’s about:

  • Like, it’s not England, but it IS England, you know?

    Hmm. Ok, p. sure it’s England though.

 

  • And it’s not the Middle Ages, but it IS The middle ages, right?

    No but like, it’s not the “middle ages” but it’s sometime between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance, y/y?

 

  • The blonde one has dragons. They’re sort of like the winged monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz, but they want to be there.

 

  • The blonde one is icy and powerful, like Grace Kelly or Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis.

    + shades of Draco Malfoy and Princess Leia during the Jabba The Hutt era.

 

  • The Little Girl shoots arrows.

 

  • Everyone has names with lots of y’s in them. And, like, w’s? Drawnyfyr. Grwynwyn. Wywywy.

 

  • When something good happens, everyone goes to banquet halls where they eat, presumably, mutton. And drink mead. Then they all get killed.

 

  • French braids.

 

  • The blonde one’s title is kaleesi (sp? Superfluous H somewhere: Khaleesi? Kalheesi?). Her name is something else. And a lot of people act like her name is Kaleesi (sp) because that’s what they call her in the show, but it’s NOT. It’s not that. It’s probably, definitely something with a y or w in it.

 

  • The Little Girl is friends with wolves. Enemies with wolves? I think she mostly rolls with a pack of them.

 

  • I’m fairly sure the Little Girl is named Aria, which is why that’s what everyone is naming their babies now. Maybe Arya, which has a Y in it.

 

  • The Little Girl with the arrows/wolves is the Stephanie, and her older sister is more of a D.J.

 

  • There’s no Michelle; a Michelle would not survive in this world.

    This is her GOT outfit.

 

  • If your name doesn’t contain a Y or a W, it’s a regular name with one or two letters off. Like Blatt or Bobbin or Roybert.

 

  • Peter Dinklage.

 

  • Sometimes, somebody goes into a journey through the forest, runs into an enemy, battles them in the forest, emerges on horseback. But it’s the enemy’s horse.

 

  • Maybe there’s a priest who’s a bad guy?

 

  • More tapestries than a stoner’s sophomore year dorm room.

 

  • Do any of you have an extra row of eyelashes that grow straight down? It has nothing to do with Game of Thrones but I would be interested in someone’s help with that.

 

  • I’m picturing a battle in a field with humans astride creatures that look like they came from the Jim Henson factory.

 

  • All of the American actors use English accents of varying strengths and intensities, even though this is not exactly England.

 

  • Rich people wear jewel-toned silks and velvets; poors: straight-up scratchy bag material.

 

  • At least one dude has labor-intensive facial hair even though it’s the (not-) Middle Ages. One of those deals where he looks more like a topiary than a face.

 

  • Probably a gross childbirth scene at some point.

 

  • Pick a character to love. Any character. Okay, they’re going to die.

 

  • Unlike the real middle ages, people aren’t dying of, like, dysentery. Usually battles, duels, maybe a stray curse or two.

 

  •  Never go to a wedding. Ever. It will end it rape, murder, or both.

 

  • All of the men are sort of Variations On A Theme. The theme is Elijah Wood.

    Meh. Basically the same thing.

 

  • You know how everyone has that one garbage cousin? In 2015 you can just hide him on Facebook, but in Medieval England you will be hiding behind a stone turret while he and a fleet of Jim Henson Workshop Creatures storm across your moat right in the middle of the Hey Nonny Nonny festival or whatever.

 

  • Not that it’s Medieval times, that is. Or England. It isn’t.

 

  • … But it is, right?

 

UPDATE:

It’s July of 2017, two years have passed since this was originally posted, Season 7 has just begun, and I FINALLY started Game of Thrones! I know, you all said it was good and you were absolutely correct.  I started last week and am only on Episode 5 of season 1. I hope at this rate I’ll be caught up to watch the final episodes in real time along with the rest of the internet.  Some stray observations based on this post:

  • I feel like I was right about 90% of everything.
  • I love how they differentiate the culture of the various kingdoms.
  • There are maps of Westeros, but I’m still a tad iffy on the landmass. At first I thought it was some kind of post-Pangea thing where the continents hadn’t shifted to their current spots yet. But then I read some other interpretations and… I’ll just sit this one out until I’m a bit farther into things.
  • People I love: Khaleesi (her dragons are about to hatch! Very exciting); Arya; Jon Snow (particularly how Jon Snow is one of those people you refer to by first and last name; I think we all had a friend like this in high school); basically all of the Starks but my brother informed me things will get “weird with Bran” soon.
  • People I loathe: Khaleesi’s Draco Malfoy-looking brother; the prince Sansa’s supposed to marry; Khaleesi’s husband, maybe, but maybe not?; basically all of the Lannisters except Tyrion.
  • Like I said, the dragon eggs are in that Hatchimals-on-Christmas-morning phase. The sheer innocence of this makes me realize that I’m definitely in the Sorcerer’s Stone era of Game of Thrones, where everything is very young and gentle.

A Journey Through Prime Day Anxiety

Welcome to Prime Day! Both 7/11/17 and the Amazon Prime shopping event when members are treated to 30 hours of slashed prices and special deals. If you’re a carefree online shopper this is right up your alley. If you’re a cautious spender but have been waiting to make a very specific purchase, you’re probably feeling pretty good, too.

But if you’re one of those people who both insists on buying everything on sale, but also frets and fusses about spending any unplanned cash, this is just nerve-wracking. Let’s talk about Prime Day Anxiety.

Phase 1: I’m Not Buying Anything

Maybe the right answer is not even going on Amazon today.

Phase 2: Well. Maybe I could just window shop.

The Prime Day Anxiety is creeping in: I don’t want to buy anything, but I also don’t want to not buy something I’ll just end up buying later, but for more money… right?

Phase 3: Confusion and dismay.

The real Prime Day anxiety starts when you surf over to Amazon (surf? as in surf the web? I’m elderly). There are THOUSANDS of deals and unless you spend your whole workday on there, you’ll never get through them all.

Wait… and there are upcoming deals? Yeah. They don’t just dump all of the deals into your lap at midnight. They open up on a rolling basis. You can set alerts. It’s a lot.

Oh. And after a certain number of deals are claimed, they go away. If you really want something, you have to act on it.

If you’re serious about this you either have to check Prime all day or hire some kind of a Prime Day Nanny to watch the internet for you.

Phase 4: Regrouping

It’s time for a list. I figured out the things I really need or have been wanting for a long time. It’s a hodgepodge ranging from a 6-month supply of flea and tick preventative for my dog (this year has been exceptionally tick-y) to a Fitbit Charge to a standing mixer. I use the Prime Day field to do a specific search for these items, bypassing any tempting deals I don’t need to be exposed to.

Phase 5: Shopping Cart Shuffle

Just a lot of putting things in my shopping cart “in case,” giving some of the satisfaction of shopping without actually buying anything. I basically treat it like one of those Toys R Us shopping sprees kids would win on Nickelodeon back in the day, but without getting anything at the end. (Childhood Shopping-Related Anxiety: how stressed I’d get about the terrible, inefficient choices those kids would always make.)

Of course, this is Prime Day and nothing can be easy. In the time between adding a $14 pair of sneakers to my cart and going to my cart to possibly check out, the sneakers were gone.

Other things I put in my cart: a set of knives for my parents, a $5 nightshirt for some reason, some retinol I guess, a watch (??). I buy none of them.

Phase 6: Comparison Shopping

To the people who can casually shop – in store or online – without checking to see if there’s a better price: I envy you. I had to check my trusty Google Shopping to find out if these were even the best deals. The knife set wasn’t, although it turns out the nightshirt was really very cheap. It was also a nightshirt.

Phase 7: Prime Day Deep Dive

I couldn’t stop myself. I looked at deals for things I didn’t need, which – when on sale – somehow become things I COULD need. I really don’t have to drop $30 on an Amazon Fire, but what if my laptop beaks this year? And I could have had a tablet for $30? On the other hand, what if I really need $30 this year and I have an Amazon Fire instead?

Phase 8: Checkout

Mentally, not literally. The best way not to get frazzled about Prime Day is not to do Prime Day.

Except for that flea and tick stuff. I did end up buying that. Only $12!

** This post is in no way sponsored by Amazon, I just get stressed about spending money **

The Parent Trap Is Our Aesthetic

It’s summer, and our aesthetic is The Parent Trap (1998): a rustic cabin in a pine forest, a kicky new summer haircut, a sedate London home, secret twins, a sprawling Napa estate, getting your ears pierced by a child, comfy yet timeless sundresses, midafternoon dips in the pool with your dad’s too-young fiancee, casual camping gear, finding out your parents were totally OK with never seeing one of their children again… The Parent Trap has it all.

Although remakes usually pale in comparison to the original, The Parent Trap is different. The Hayley Mills version is fine, but it’s the Lindsay Lohan adaptation that I go to time and time again. It came out when I was 11 – the same age as Hallie and Annie, and could have passed as their triplet – and although almost two decades have gone by, it feels ageless. It’s no mistake that this is our second “___ Is Our Aesthetic” post featuring a film from Nancy Meyers, romcom queen and kitchen guru extraordinaire: all of her movies feel fresh and current when they come out, and thanks to her use of timeless and playful styling, they stay that way.

The Entire Camp Experience

I never went to sleepaway camp: not rich enough to afford it, nor poor enough for a scholarship (even at 11, I was able to recognize that the Parker-Jameses were seriously loaded). But maybe that’s for the best, because I am free to imagine summer camp exactly as it is in The Parent Trap. Camp Walden is everything you expect in a New England summer camp. Nestled among tall trees, the girls really do bunk in rustic cabins, wake up to bugle calls, eat at a mess hall, swim in a lake, hold unsupervised poker tourneys and engage in elaborate prank wars.  It’s the kind of low-tech, high-fun camp I could imagine generations of the same family attending.

Even the preppy-yet-simple uniforms are great, and those little touches like how Annie always chose the more formal version: the polo shirt instead of the tee, for instance.

To get it out of the way: those twin scenes were filmed with the help of Erin Mackey, Lindsay’s double and now a theater actress, who is sort of the Kathryn Alexandre of the Parent Trap universe:

The Handshake

Annie and her butler Martin have a secret handshake, which Hallie must learn to replicate in order to impersonate Annie. Not sure what is cooler: having a butler, or having a secret handshake.

MAKEOVERS!

Whether it’s The Parent Trap, Clueless, The Princess Diaries, The Breakfast Club, She’s All That, or one of our many other throwback favs, we loved a makeover scene 20 years ago and we love them still. There was something so satisfying about Hallie getting the haircut and ear piercing just right… thank goodness.

The Soundtrack!

Not strictly aesthetics, but music is a big part of the timeless summertime vibes in The Parent Trap. I’m not ashamed to say I owned the CD. (Off topic: Mid-to-late 90s: the golden age of movie soundtracks?) The score even has the whimsical, pretty sound of The Holiday, another of our Nancy Meyers favorites, although The Holiday was a Hans Zimmer score and The Parent Trap was Alan Silvestri.

Hallie (And Annie-As-Hallie)’s Relaxed Wardrobe

(Links to a Hallie Parker-inspired look. I always loved those multi-colored beaded bracelets and the plaid shorts and denim jacket combo)

hello, moto jacket.

Hallie is a laid-back Napa girl: she’s outdoorsy and informal, but she wasn’t exactly wearing hand-me-downs like the rest of us poors (not that she could have, as her sister was a secret).

Annie (And Hallie-As-Annie)’s Classic Style

Don’t panic, but the headband matches. This is why I matched my school uniform kilts to a headband with the same plaid. Also because I was a dork.

This is how I’d love to dress my children, who will hate me.

Blair Waldorf’s style inspiration.

Oh, to have Annie’s upper-class, finely-tailored, utterly timeless wardrobe: tweed and Peter Pan collars and A-line dresses as far as the eye can see. If you weren’t one of the fanciest children in all of London town, it was probably just a dream for you, but it was Annie’s reality.

The Napa Ranch

I’m floored Hallie even GOES to camp, because her real home has an in-ground pool, horses to ride, acres of land and a Nancy Myers kitchen. I especially love her lived-in, pretty bedroom:

The London House

Like the girls’ respective wardrobes, Hallie’s is the one you can imagine possibly having in an alternate universe, but Annie’s is the unreachable goal.

[All house images are sourced from and link to a page on Hooked On Houses about the Parent Trap homes. Hooked On Houses has been a favorite of mine since I bought my house – I seriously cannot get enough.]

Summer Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Nothing But Respect For MY President

I hope you had a fun 4th of July!

Or, barring that, a weird-feeling 4th of July where you simultaneously love your country and are proud of it, but also hate things your country has done and are ashamed of some of its darker chapters!

We’re swinging into full summer with a meme as all-American as bald eagles and apple pie – and it all started with a young lady passive-aggressively cleaning D.T.’s star on the Walk of Fame:

Am I mad at it? Of course not! Passive-aggressive cleaning is a time-honored mom tactic and it is a form of protest we should all be using: “Yeah, Makenna-spelled-not-like-the-surname? Well I cleaned up litter outside of the Civil Rights Museum! Next week I’ll be tidying the FDR Library. Take THAT!” We have made our political inclinations abundantly clear, but I don’t begrudge a gal her Magic Eraser. In fact, I’d love if cleaning-as-protest became A Thing. What can I say, I like it when things are tidy.

The thing is, treating a Walk of Fame Star with all the veneration of a tombstone is harmless yet very very silly. The internet loves silliness, and that’s when the real fun began. On this July 4th, a day when we celebrated the 19th anniversary of Malia Obama’s birth, our country was united as one:

It’s really the combination of VEEP reference and Seinfeld reference that makes this one shine for me.

Again, layers: Captain America is KIND OF like a president, and it’s not even a walk of fame star, it’s just his shield.

There are a lot of ways to show respect.

As we’ve said, the big thing about July 4 is it marks another 365 days that the earth has been graced with the divine presence of one Ms. Malia Ann Obama.

It’s not there yet, but we’ll clean it when it is.

Fun fact, having a star on the Walk of Fame doesn’t mean that you’re human.

When Memes Collide: Nothing But Respect For MY President meets Mocking Spongebob.

There were honestly more Shrek contributions than you would think but these sisters (?) were the cutest.

Excuse me but Britney Jean Spears has contributed more good to this nation than certain presidents ever will.

Queen Meryl, President Meryl, whatever.

Can’t mention Meryl without talking about the great Viola, too.

A little off topic, but yep, Makenna was actually raised exactly as terribly as you’d think. Okay, back to the memes!

 

My favorite, probably.

No, this. This is my favorite. Show some respect. That is Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello’s HOME.

 

Things I’m Willing To Believe About The New Ken Dolls

Barbie’s boyfriend Ken is getting a makeover. Mattel’s classic dolls, which all look completely different but are all somehow still Ken, now represent a range of heights, skin tones, fashion mistakes and hairstyles — most notably, a man bun. [Sidebar: A few weeks ago I saw a child wearing a man bun at my suburban nephew’s fourth grade band concert. I surmised that this meant the trend had descended into, to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, the pits of fashion; Ken’s new ‘do confirms it.] In this edition of Things I’m Willing to Believe About – where we provide baseless conjecture about heartthrobs, politicians, and apparently toys – we’re going to look at Barbie’s toy boy-toy, New Ken.

 

According to their Twitter bios, six of the Kens’ actual job is “influencer.”

These Kens were all in the same frat, and they really are all named Ken. And they all go by Kenny.

The Ken on the far left is actually a rejected Rachel Maddow Barbie prototype.

Actually, Maddow, the one with the black skinny tie, the one with the opaque sunglasses and Malibu 01 are all from a failed line of Lesbian Hipster Barbies. Optional add-ons included a rescue pit bull, a Subaru and hummus.

The Kens have a boys’ cottage weekend every summer and planning the rental is always DRAMA.

Man Bun Ken in the blue shirt got his hair cut before Man Bun Ken in the cactus shirt. He says it’s cool but it’s, you know, not.

When you tell Blue Checkered Ken you’re a fan of the Mets, he says “okay, name their best infield lineup.”

Pink California Shirt Ken tells you how to use the machine you’re already using at the gym.

Polka Dot Ken got his blouse at Zara and he insists on pronouncing it with a Spanish ‘z.’

It’s not even that Tropical Pineapple Shirt Ken likes Coachella so much, it’s that he says shit like “taking my soul up to Coachella for the weekend.”

Yellow Plaid Maddow Ken wrote a blog post about why the praise for Wonder Woman was overblown and unwarranted. Wrote a follow-up post on the women’s only screening. Wrote a follow-follow-up post after he actually saw the movie. Charitably confided that he’s “still do Robin Wright.”

Red Plaid Ken is your friend’s boyfriend who will help you change your tire or put in your air-conditioners, but he’s not hitting on you or anything, that’s just how his mom raised him.

Bernie Sanders.

Opaque Sunglasses Ken’s favorite rapper is Macklemore.

9 out of 11 Kens prefer vinyl. 4 out of 11 Kens actually own a record player. 3 out of 11 will make you come over and listen to a new record on a second date.

You made out with blue-shirted Man Bun Ken at church camp when he had a floppy skater haircut, and he acts like he doesn’t remember you when you run into him at a bar but you know he does.

That reminds me. In ninth grade all of The Kens had floppy skater haircuts.

When you get your hair cut and leave with a fresh blow-out, The Kens will be sure to tell you that it looks so much prettier naturally curly.

The Kens’ favorite book is Catcher In The Rye.

Cactus Ken wrote his senior thesis on Ginsberg’s Howl.

The Kens are surface-friendly, but they go hard on anybody who deigns to wear cargo shorts.

Malibu 01 Ken is on an office kickball team that he takes rather seriously.

A few of The Kens have girlfriends, all of whom refer to themselves as a “girl boss” and frequently post about how they “hustle;” the girlfriends have coffee mugs emblazoned with some kind of slogan about working hard.

When A Ken proposes marriage, he will do it on a mountaintop and Instagram it.

A handful of The Kens have instagrammed Airstreams but no Ken actually owns an Airstream.

It’s funny, Cactus Ken actually does have a lot of succulents.

If you want to meet The Kens, they will be at your nearest Farmers’ Market this Saturday, early but not early-early.

How To Throw A Canada-Themed Party

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! The true, north, strong and free marks a century and a half this week with #Canada150, and it’s not just Canada that’s celebrating. The whole world – and especially the rest of North America – owes Canada a debt of gratitude for its strong yet kind example: Canada cares for its citizens, welcomes refugees, expands human rights and learns from its mistakes. Although I’m an American, I’ve always been proud of my Canadian ancestry (my grandmother’s family was in Quebec since the 1500s) and have been grateful to live near the border of such a fantastic neighbo(u)r. If you love Canada too, maybe you’d like to celebrate Canada on its sesquicentennial anniversary  … or get a jump start on your Canada Day planning. Like our American-Themed Party, these ideas aren’t intended to replicate a “typical” Canadian party. Instead, they’re some fun ways to boost Canadian pride, celebrate a beautiful country, and maybe even learn a bit of trivia.

Games

Polite Water Balloon Relay

This is basically a normal balloon relay. Each team forms two lines and players toss a water balloon back and forth to each other to reach the end of the line. If you break a water balloon, you have to start back at the beginning. The first team to send three water balloons successfully down the line wins.

Here’s the twist: each team member needs to say thank you before passing the balloon off. Each player must also say sorry if they drop the balloon AND if the person before or after them drops it, even if it’s not your fault. If a player forgets to say thank you or sorry, you have to start over (sorry).

Duck Duck Canada Goose

Here’s one for the kiddos. This is just like Duck Duck Goose, but when a player is chosen as “Canada Goose” it either goes apeshit or stands directly in the pathway of whoever is trying to catch them without moving. If you really wanted to be accurate, the Canada Goose would also drop improbably large poops absolutely everywhere, but let’s not. The Canada Goose is the one Canadian export I could do without.

Money Mix-Up!

To really recreate the life of the millions of Canadians who live near the U.S. border, bring a piggy bank of Canadian coins and mix them up in everyone’s wallet (riddle me this: if Canada got rid of pennies in 2013, why do I have SO MANY CANADIAN PENNIES in my wallet always?).

The real games happens after the party when you find out which machines will and won’t accept your currency.

Cottage Invite Blitz

Please correct me if I’m wrong – and maybe this is totally just my experience – but I feel like everyone I’ve met from Ontario has a cottage, has a friend with a cottage, or just generally loves cottages.  But what to do if you haven’t nailed down a summer cottage invite?

In Cottage Invite Blitz, half of the players have a card that says I Have A Cottage and half say I Need A Cottage. The card is on your forehead and there is no peeking to see what you got. By talking to each other, players have to pair up – one player who has a cottage with one who needs one. The tricky part is rather than explicitly telling another player that they have a cottage or need one, you have to sort of indirectly work out the invitation in a friendly and polite way. Is the other player being nice to you because you have a cottage, or are they being nice to you because they are Canadian?

Canadian Or Not Canadian

You can either make a set of flashcards or use photos on your phone. Players must guess whether the celebrity pictured is Canadian or Not Canadian. A lot of modern celebrities may prove challenging: Ryans Reynolds and Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Seth Rogan, Joshua Jackson, Michael Cera… it’s a very, VERY long list, but you can make the game tricky by including Americans who seem kind of Canadian.

Canadian Spelling/ Vocab Bee

Canadian spelling: not really British, not really American. Have a fun spelling bee with the following words:

grey, travelling, colour, honour, neighbour,  axe, lincence, moustache, eh, anything with a ‘z’ in it because you’re out if you say zee instead of zed.

Or, have players provide the definitions to the following words in a vocab bee:

toque, chesterfield, loonie, toonie, poutine, double-double, and eh again (because it can mean so many things!)

Fill In Map Of Canada

Inspired by our map game in the American-themed party, have guests fill in the names of the provinces and territories on a blank map of Canada.

I thought I had it on lock because there are only 13, but I swear nobody ever told me there was a thing just called Northwest Territories. Sorry, Northwest Territories. Sorry that I called you The North Place.

Can You Say That In French?

In this elimination game, you make conversation as normal – but you have to repeat everything you say in French. The last person standing wins.

Dans ce jeu d’élimination, vous parlez normalement – sauf que vous devez répéter tout en français. La dernière personne qui reste gagne.

[I CLEARLY would not be the last person remaining. My apologies to the French language for that.]

Winter Wear Bonanza

In this pairs relay, the first player must run to the station, put on a selection of winter outerwear (scarf, hat, gloves, coat, earmuffs, etc), then run back to their partner, change out of the winter clothes and have their partner put them on. The partner then runs to the station and back. First team to finish wins.

 


Entertainment

On The Screen

My first thought was to just play all of the Anne Of Green Gables movies – and while I liked the new series, you know I mean the Megan Follows ones. Then I realized I was remiss in excluding Canadian fav Degrassi, both the O.G. ’80s series and the reboot staring Drake.

It’s also never wrong to air a hockey game, particularly a Hockey Night In Canada broadcast.

Particularly if you don’t speak French, it could be fun to play a soap opera from Quebec and fill in the dialogue yourself, a la that classic scene from Friends with the telenovela.

You can’t beat Canadian comedy, and if that’s more your speed you can tune in to The Kids In The Hall, SCTV (the Catherine O’Hara era is my personal favorite), The Red Green Show or Trailer Park Boys.

Finally, for a bit of childhood nostalgia, try The Elephant Show or You Can’t Do That On Television.

(You could also watch nothing because that is what is available on Canadian Netflix, and Hulu blocks your IP address on half of everything.)

In The Speakers

Just play The Tragically Hip the whole time.

Okay, fine. If you’d like to expand further you still may want to stick with a mix of musicians who are typically associated with Canada – even though there are excellent Canadian musicians of every genre. This means Drake, Alanis Morrissette, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, the Barenaked Ladies, Justin Bieber, Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan and Crash Test Dummies. Please include at least one play of Let’s Go To The Mall from How I Met Your Mother, as it is the only time the phrase “rock your body ’til Canada day” has appeared in music thus far.


Refreshments

Food
Maple Anything

Canadians don’t really eat wacky maple-flavored treats, but in keeping with the theme you can serve maple candy or some refreshing maple ice cream. You can even find maple mustard dip and maple jerky.

Ketchup Chips

It’s true: these are very hard, if not impossible to find in the U.S.A. If you live near Canada, swing up and grab a few bags for your bash. If you live IN Canada, can we get married so I can have health care? I’ll pay for the chips.

Poutine

Cheese. Gravy. Fries. Good.

Tim Hortons

Assuming you live someplace where there’s Tim Hortons, provide guests with an array of all the finest Timbits and a big box of hot coffee, with sugar and cream for the classic double-double. It’s probably not a Classic Canadian Icon but the iced cap is also legit.

Kraft Dinner

Yes, it’s the same as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but you have to call it Kraft Dinner.

Hickory Sticks

… I guess. Does anybody like these?

Nanaimo Bars, Beaver Tails and Butter Tarts

If you’re a good baker or can get to a Canadian bakery or cafe, these Canadian treats are must-haves, particularly if your guests haven’t had a chance to try them before.

Drinks
Canadian Beer

This might be a great time to try some delicious Canadian craft beer, but to keep your budget low and your party Canadian, maybe you should provide a standby like Molson or Labatt.

Canadian Mixed Drinks

I’ll defer to this MentalFloss piece, as well as my own memories of going across the border to drink as a 19-year-old. For liability reasons I should tell you that Canadian drinking ages only apply in Canada.

Screech is a real only-in-Canada rum, and of course I have to recommend anything using Canadian whisky.

I’m still never trying a Bloody Caesar, though. Blech.

Wine

If you run with more of a wine crowd, Niagara wines from Ontario are always a great bet. There are also some good selections from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Try an ice wine if you haven’t already.

Other

I have no idea. Canada Dry and Canadian Club?


Canadian Style

Decor

It’s kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of Canadian flags and maple leaf insignia would be a good way to go. You can also include hockey posters and memorabilia or tack up pictures of Canadian wildlife (a moose and a beaver, at least).

In our American-Themed party post, we suggested hanging up pictures of great Americans and having guests name as many as they can. That would work well for great Canadians as well. You can include everyone from Justin Trudeau to Wayne Gretzky, Margaret Atwood to Lucy Maud Montgomery.

If you don’t play the Fill In The Map game, you could hang up a large, blank map of Canada (oh Canada…) and have guests fill in the names of the provinces and territories, major cities, places they’ve been, or just draw snowflakes and moose and those goddamn geese everywhere.

Fashion

Canadians just dress like regular humans, but you can have some fun here. Clothes in Canadian colors or with the Canadian flag on it would be great – Roots even has a Canada 150 line. You could also dress as an inoffensive Canadian stereotype, which is probably just a person with warm clothing.

If you really want to go for it, I’d have each guest dress as a Canadian, past or present. You can have everything from Anne of Green Gables to Robin Sparkles. Guests can be a hockey player or a Tim Hortons cashier if they want to go more generic. For an ’80s vibe, you could dress as a classic Degrassi character, and more modern TV fans can reuse their Orphan Black cosplay from Halloween. Deep cut references include the girl in the Steal My Sunshine video from the 90s or a group costume as Sharon, Lois and Bram.

If full costumes are too much to ask, name tags can add a bit of Canadian fun – everyone can pick a Canadian name like Jim Carrey, Megan Follows, Don Cherry, or Gordon. Any Gordon.

 

 

 

Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Babadook

When The Babadook took its rightful but confusing place as a gay icon after Netflix included it in its list of LGBT films, I had a real dilemma. I hate horror movies, but I love when everyone on the internet is joking about the same thing. As usual, my love for internet won out. It’s time for me to learn about the Babadook, a scary basement demon recently outed by Netflix.

The Babadook opens with a mom, Amelia,  dreaming about a car accident and waking up to her creepy Australian child wanting to read his favorite book. Australian children are less creepy than British children in horror movies, more than American. Fight me on it. If you were a British child, you wouldn’t have to. You’d just say something fairly innocuous like “I’m awake, mummy” and I’d run screaming.

The entire house is decorated in shades of gray and midnight, like they interior decorated for the comfort and preferences of the ghost. Demon, monster, whatever.

demon chic

Samuel (creepy-but-not-British-creepy child) tells a random supermarket lady that his “dad’s in the cemetery. He got killed driving mum to the hospital to have me.” Gay means happy and this is NOT.

Sam stands on the tip-top of a swingset while being a Babadook, I guess. Still not clear on what a Babadook is. A small white dog scratches at a locked door, which I gather is where the Babadook lives. Is it a closet??? Is the Babadook in the closet? I’m trying.

and dorothy. of you and me and dorothy.

Maybe everything is gray and colorless so it can become rainbow when the Babadook comes?? Kind of like The Wizard Of Oz… starring gay icon Judy Garland?? I’m reaching.

It turns out the Babadook is a terrifying pop-up book Sam has. For the record, they say Babadook to rhyme more with “look” than “Luke.” PLOT TWIST: the terrifying pop-up, which ends with the words “you’re going to wish you were dead,” ends up looking like a generic colorful children’s book when they pull back, and Amelia is reading a different story entirely. Amelia hides the book (rhymes with Babadook!) above her wardrobe.

Amelia watches black and white tv because that’s her aesthetic.

Sam throws firecrackers in anger.

Amelia: Where’d you get those firecrackers?

Sam: You got them for me on the internet.

Amelia: That’s the end of the internet.

Why did I love that exchange so much?

Samuel loves to play in a sequin cape,  a nod to Liberacci??

NOPE

Sam, or a Babadook, hung up an empty men’s suit on the wall and it’s very spooky. Also I KNOW that a hanging suit is, or should be, empty but that’s really the only way to describe it:

There’s glass in Amelia’s soup or thickened boiled milk that she’s eating. Sam said the Babadook did it. Maybe the real Babadook is SAM.

Sam watches an unsettling magic DVD. How does Sam keep getting these age-inappropriate forms of media? Don’t say the internet. Amelia swore off of Amazon.

Amelia goes upstairs to find the photo of her and Sam’s dad all scribbled out. Scribbled out like … bi erasure??? Guys I am so sorry but nothing’s gay yet.

At Sam’s friend Ruby’s birthday party, all of the moms wear black to look creepier for the Babadook.

In another feat of color coordination, the girl party guests wear pale pink with black accents. The party decorations are maroon, every child’s favorite color. There’s a clown because this is a horror movie, why not.

Amelia’s friend Claire doesn’t like going to Amelia’s house because it’s depressing, possibly because every surface from floor to ceiling, including the stairs and Sam’s bedroom, seems to be covered in black chalkboard paint. I really hope there’s a big reveal at the end at it was colorful all along.

Ruby taunts Sam for not having a dad. Maybe the real Babadook is CHILDREN’S CAPACITY FOR CRUELTY. Sam pushes Ruby out of a tree house which was still very unwarranted. Sam then appears to seize in the car, which makes me wonder why Sam hasn’t had a neurological and psych eval yet??

Amelia gets a new pop-up book… is something that should be a caption on a mommy blogger’s instagram, but which is actually a scene where Amelia gets a new gift from the Babadook about how the Babadook will take her over.

AHHHH. The Babadook calls Amelia on her land line and says “Babadook…dook…dook” in a croaky demon voice.

Let’s talk about acting. Essie Davis is fantastic as Amelia, who half thinks her child is losing it and half thinks she is. She’s extra fantastic in the scene where she goes to the police to report a children’s book. You can see her genuine belief that she’s correct right alongside her realization that what she’s saying sounds ridiculous. Noah Wisemen is also marvelous as Sam and he really does seem like an actual child, not a spooky horror movie child cliche. Also, this was Jennifer Kent’s directorial debut and it’s absolutely beautiful — not too scary, despite my protests against horror movies, but really thoughtful and nicely styled.

Amelia finds a hole in her kitchen wall. Beetles crawl out. She has made references to being poor but she has an expensive-looking vintage replica fridge so that doesn’t quite check out.

The Australian child Sam watches on TV sounds so much more Australian than Sam.

SHIIIIIT. The Babadook sneaks into Amelia’s bedroom by way of creaky door and croaks “Babadook…dook…dook” again. He kind of stop-motions around on the ceiling for a bit. Amelia has an outfit, complete with hat, on a mannequin in her bedroom. What is WITH this family? Anyway, it was a “dream” but surely it wasn’t really.

In keeping with her aesthetic, Amelia watches a black-and-white silent film that looks kind of like A Trip To The Moon, except with Babadooks all up in it.

this is why i don’t have cable

Amelia shouts at Sam to “eat shit,” but I’m certain that’s just the Babadook or the mean older brother in a John Hughes movie talking.

Amelia: 1. crashes a car because the Babadook was Babadook-dook-dooking her; 2. takes a bath fully clothed; 3. attempts to nap while cuddling a violin; 4. tromps around her house with a butcher knife; 5. forces Sam to take pills; 6. watches aesthetically-consistent black and white cartoons.

The dog won’t hang with Amelia, which is how we can be sure she’s harboring the Babadook.

SPOOOOKY. Amelia watches a news report about a woman who stabbed her 7-year-old to death; cut to Amelia in the news report looking out her window with an eerie frozen smile. NOPE NOPE NOPE. This is neither about the Babadook or the Gay Babadook, but when I was little my brother used to open my bedroom door and stare with an eerie frozen smile while singing that circus song, which was some clever sibling bullying. It’s a tattle-proof trick. “Mom, Matt’s smiling and singing!”

Amelia’s dead husband is in the basement. He’s surely a Babadook. He says “bring me the boy” in increasingly Babadookish tones.

Amelia kills the small white dog 😦  Then she Babadook-floats at Sam, who says she isn’t his mother and throws a firecracker and some darts at her.

The kind, elderly neighbor comes over and says that she knows this time of year is hard for Amelia. Maybe the real Babadook is HOW SAD SHE IS.

Sam brings a knife down on his mother with the most unsettling confused grimace/smile.

After some stuff, Amelia voms a black tar-like substance so who knows, maybe the real Babadook is an intestinal bleed and a bowel obstruction.

Amelia relives her husband’s gory death, and tells the Babadook that he’s nothing and not welcome in her house. The Babadook goes back to the basement. The real Babadook is grief and PTSD, just like I’ve been saying this entire time.

Almost right away, Amelia’s hair is MUCH fluffier, and a birthday banner is hung in the living room. They speak freely about Sam’s dad. Ruby was Sam’s… cousin? Which I did not realize. They feed the Babadook worms in the basement, because they somehow learned that he eats worms. The Babadook, which is grief, will always exist in their lives but that doesn’t mean it’s always invited to the party.

Sam does a worryingly good magic trick.

Fine.

Okay, so I still don’t know why the Babadook is gay but he doesn’t owe me an explanation. The Babadook is more than just gay, he’s also a basement grief-demon who eats worms and hangs suits up. I hope he has fun at all the parades and parties!

 

 

Can You Use That In A Sentence? Wacky Words Of The 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Can you bee-lieve it?

Sorry for that offense to both puns and spelling, but the National Spelling Bee was a whole week ago. While I wasn’t a super-speller as a kid, I loved reading and words and was always thrilled to add a fresh $2 word to my vocabulary. The kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee take it to the next level, though: they are whizzes not just in spelling, but also in etymology, languages, culture and history. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the choice words of the 2017 finals. Yes, these are actual words, and all definitions are courtesy of Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Marocain

Definition: a ribbed crepe fabric used in women’s clothing

But it sounds like it means: a type of ointment you use for bone injuries

Can you use it in a sentence? Beulah changed from a black crepe mourning gown to a lavender marocain one – and so SOON!

Poulaine

Definition: the long pointed toe of a crakow (which I thought was the nerdy guy in My So-Called Life, but which is apparently “a shoe, boot, or slipper made with an extremely long pointed toe and worn in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries”)

But it sounds like it means: chicken gravy

Can you use it in a sentence? Hildegarde tapped her poulaine to the rhythm of whatever kind of music they listened to in Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Hypapante

Definition: a feast celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox Church on February 2 commemorating primarily the presentation of Jesus and his meeting Simeon and Anna in the temple and secondarily the purification of the Virgin Mary

But it sounds like it means: those color-changing pants that were popular for 5 seconds in the 80s

Can you use it in a sentence: If the groundhog sees his shadow on Hypapante we have six more weeks of winter.

Marram

Definition: any of several beach grasses (genus Ammophila and especially A. arenaria)

But it sounds like it means: the way someone on The Beverly Hillbillies would say what a bride is going to do on her wedding day

Can you use it in a sentence: Bob walked barefoot in the marram and now he needs a tetanus shot and a rabies shot.

Gifblaar

Definition: a perennial shrub (Dichapetalum cymosum) of southern Africa that is deadly poisonous to stock

But it sounds like it means: a person drunk-texting about Gibraltar; a tertiary character in Game of Thrones

Can you use it in a sentence: This beach visit pales in comparison to our African safari, when Bob picked a bouquet of gifblaar.

Cheiropompholyx

Definition: a skin disease characterized by itching vesicles or blebs occurring in groups on the hands or feet

But it sounds like it means: Actually, this pretty much sounds like a gross skin disease

Can you use it in a sentence: While being carted to the leper colony, Fran protested that she merely suffered from cheiropompholyx.

Wayzgoose

Definition: a printers’ annual outing or entertainment

But it sounds like it means: a goose’s rap name

Can you use it in a sentence: We’ve been calling it a “company picnic,” but I work in publishing so I guess my wayzgoose is next Thursday.

Naassene

Definition: a member of one of the Ophite group of Gnostic sects noted for its worship of the serpent as the principle of generation

 But it sounds like it means: how they write what a horse says in Swedish
Can you use it in a sentence: Brenda wrote a senior thesis on Naassene influences on the Harry Potter series.
Potichomania

Definition:  the art or process of imitating painted porcelain ware

But it sounds like it means: a 1930s scare-tactic documentary about marijuana

Can you use it in a sentence: Potichomania is a hobby, not a job, Karen.

 

 

 

 

 

Great Moments From One Love Manchester

One Love Manchester, a star-studded, beautiful benefit concert for the victims of the Manchester attack, was a resounding success. First of all, the concert raised over $3 million for victims and survivors. Second, One Love Manchester sold out: 50,000 tickets. This matters because the attacker specifically targeted a concert popular with young children. Not two weeks later, audiences – including some of the same children injured in the attack, like fantastic 8-year-old Lily Harrison – flocked to yet another concert in Manchester, showing that they will not react in fear or anger; they will react by living as they always have. This city sang and danced in the face of terrorism. Plenty of adults we’re supposed to respect have been far more cowardly. Last, the success of One Love Manchester were a personal and career triumph for Ariana Grande. These two weeks will come to define Ariana’s career: not the thing a small, terrible person did to her fans, but how she reacted. There were a lot of things to love about One Love Manchester, so here are just a few, in no particular order.

This Crowd Moment During Justin Bieber’s Set

Okay, Justin Bieber did a nice job. His set was reminiscent of Bieber’s rise to YouTube fame with simple arrangements, and his speech was surprisingly heartfelt and sweet. But did you see this police officer dancing in a circle with little girls during his speech? One of the sweetest moments of the night.

Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande’s Adorable Friendship

Don’t Dream It’s Over is an underrated ’80s classic, and Miley’s voice really knocks it out of the park on exactly this sort of song. You also couldn’t miss how cute Miley and Ariana are together. They’ve both been famous for some time now, and this clip reminded me that they’re also just nice, supportive friends in their early 20s.

The Parrs Wood High School Performance

Parrs Wood High School’s cover of My Everything, in honor of the Manchester Terror Attack victims, made the rounds last week. They performed beautifully at One Love Manchester, and were joined by Ariana herself. 12-year-old soloist Natasha Seth’s reaction was precious, and Ariana’s reaction to Natasha absolutely made me cry.

Olivia Campbell And Her Mum

15-year-old Olivia Campbell was one of the 22 murdered in Manchester, and Olivia’s mother had some words for Ariana. In her intro to Side to Side, Ariana said “I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia’s mommy a few days ago, and as soon as I met her I started crying, and I gave her a big hug. And she said that I should stop crying because Olivia wouldn’t have wanted me to cry. And then she told me that Olivia would have wanted to hear the hits. So that means that we had a totally different show planned. We had a rehearsal yesterday where we changed everything.”

Suddenly, Side To Side was a touching tribute to a teenage girl who just wanted to go out and listen to pop music on a school night.

Don’t Look Back In Anger

Oasis is as associated with Manchester as Man United (at least for those of us living across the ocean). Don’t Look Back In Anger is one of their most recognizable songs and one that has made me well up even during good times. After the attack, a crowd at a vigil even broke out into the chorus after a moment of silence. Chris Martin of Coldplay did an admirable cover. You could feel that all 50,000 audience members, at least at that moment, believed that the best way forward was not to look back in anger – at least not today.

Take That and Robbie Williams

It’s probably a pop culture personality test: do you associate Manchester with Oasis or Take That? Or are you more of a solo Robbie Williams fan? At One Love Manchester, you didn’t have to choose: crowds were treated to both Take That and solo Robbie. My ’90s heart will always love Robbie Williams singing Angels.

Niall Horan’s Crowd-Talk

Niall has the sweetest, humblest variety of boy band polish. He didn’t say anything groundbreaking, it was more the way he just sounded like a boy… standing in front of a city… telling it that he loves it, instead of like a schmoozy musician.

This Finale

Ariana ended the concert with Somewhere Over The Rainbow. She cried, I cried, we all cried. It – like the night as a whole – was a beautiful tribute to the Manchester victims, survivors, and to a city that sings and dances in the face of terrorism.