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.
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Best of 2016: How To Talk To A Man Who Is Talking To You When You Are Wearing Headphones

As much as we talk about 2016 being a dumpster fire of a year, one thing I’ve been struck by as we’ve looked over our old posts is how much simpler the news cycle was before the last few months of the year. Like, remember that guy who wrote an ill-advised guide on how to talk to a girl who is wearing headphones? And then we all had to be like “buddy, no. That is WHY we are wearing the headphones?” We decided to flip his advice column on its head and write a guide to how to talk to a man who is talking to you when you are wearing headphones:


How To Talk To A Man Who Is Talking To You When You Are Wearing Headphones

Hey gals! How’s it going? Anyone commute on public transit today? Me too! When I’m on a bus or train I enjoy avoiding eye contact, reading books, looking out the window so I get out at the right location, and wearing decoy headphones so that men don’t talk to me.

It doesn’t work very well!

When men interrupt my reading and music, my favorite responses are terse and monosyllabic. However, I get a bit more effusive and a lot more fake laugh-y when a man gets grouchy that I’m not paying attention to him. We laugh and we laugh! Oh, it’s a hoot. I do it because I’m scared, a little! I also enjoy pointing to my headphones and shrugging. Girls just want to have fun, am I right? When a bus man has proven himself particularly sketchy, I’ve even altered my commute time a bit so we don’t run into each other. Keeps me on my toes! Besides, experts say that changing your routine now and then helps prevent Alzheimers, right?

That was a joke. Women don’t get old. Gross!

But ladies, I have some bad news for you. WE’VE BEEN FOUND OUT.  In a recent article, a pickup artist – or artiste, truly – has created a handy guide on talking to women who are wearing headphones. The jig is up. Men have learned that we can still speak when our ears are covered. It’s time to change tactics. Here are a few tips and tricks to live your best life while wearing headphones AND talking to a fella who demands to be acknowledged:

Say Nothing

A million dating guides and networking seminars can’t be wrong: people love to talk, especially about themselves. All you really have to do when a man talks to you when you are wearing headphones is look at him, occasionally nod or make a listening-y facial expression, and keep your music on. This is also the best way to have someone fall in love with you according to The Little Mermaid, one of my top 5 Disney movies.

Make A Lot Of Eye Contact

Sometimes if you are wearing headphones and not talking to men, they get scared that you could have died or fallen asleep by accident. You can let them know you’re okay by making a lot of eye contact with them. It would be nice to make your eyes look really big. Big eyes are prettier since they remind people of babies, the most attractive form of humans. This is according to science. If you have small eyes that’s fine, someone might still love you.

See the rest of the post here.

Matilda: The Book For Book Lovers

Roald Dahl was born 100 years ago today. He delighted so much in absolutes and extremes, I think he would have loved reaching such a nice, round, very-old age. Or maybe he just knew how delightful children find absolutes and extremes: so many of his characters are the worst (like Miss Trunchbull) or the best (Miss Honey) or otherwise the tallest or luckiest or poorest or … I don’t know, adrift in a giant peach, for example. Point is, nobody is ordinary or middling in the world of Roald Dahl. One of Dahl’s most extraordinary creations is Matilda Wormwood, the mischievous, telekinetic child genius of Matilda.

It’s funny: Matilda is unlike any child or adult I’ve encountered, but among my closest friends and favorite people I count a disproportionate number who once felt that they were just like her. I longed to be acknowledged as a kindergarten super-genius like Matilda, but something about her character made me feel seen.  If you identified with Matilda too, then you can already guess what I loved about her: not the mischief or the magic, but the transformative power of reading. Matilda is about belonging and overcoming, but it is above all a book for book lovers.

Matilda was the only character I remember putting voice to that frustration most child bookworms have: not being allowed to read enough. Matilda’s parents don’t think reading is important, but they also don’t think that Matilda is important; Matilda’s trips to the library are the largesse of their negligence. Mrs. Phelps, an elderly librarian who is just trying her best, directs Matilda to the children’s books then is astonished when Matilda makes her way through all of them in weeks.

When I was 7, I saw this as evidence that I was just as special as Matilda. I despaired during every second grade library trip. We were only supposed to get books from the picture book area, yet outside of school I had already blown through the Baby-Sitters Club and Nancy Drew and was on to Charles Dickens and Shakespeare. Now I realize that Matilda’s frustration is common to a certain type of kid. Almost every child who loves to read feels dismissed by teachers or parents who confine them to the “baby” books that are appropriate to their grade. I still remember my grandmother telling me that she used to check out so many books from the library that the librarian confronted her mother, insisting no child that small could be reading that much. This was in the early 1930s. Matilda was singular, but there sure are a lot of Matildas.

If you identified with Matilda as a young book lover, you probably related to her take on material that was a little out of her grasp. Look at her opinion of Hemingway:

Mr. Hemingway says a lot of things I don’t understand, especially about men and women. But I loved it all the same. The way he tells it I feel I am right there on the spot watching it all happen.

When I was re-reading Matilda I had to stop and go back over that sentence, because that was it. That was exactly how it was reading adult books as a small child. Sure, I followed the basic plot of Emma and Jane Eyre in fourth grade, but sometimes the adult’s motives and experiences were beyond my reach. I was good at reading, but I still hadn’t lived more than nine years. Still, isn’t that also how LIFE was when you were a small child? You couldn’t make sense of adults’ actions all of the time, but you still observed them.  It was so validating to read about another kid who could comprehend all of the words on a page, but not really get the subtext – yet still love what she was reading.  Plenty of A Midsummer Night’s Dream didn’t make sense when I was very young, but I knew enough to know that it was beautiful. It’s why Matilda whispered “it’s like music” after Miss Honey recited Dylan Thomas.

In the film adaptation of Matilda, the narrator says that authors cast out their books “like ships onto the sea.” I love that simile – authors work and dream and agonize, but they have little say over the fate of their books once they’re published. But like Matilda – and THROUGH Matilda – sometimes the right one drifts to you and takes you along:

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.

Miss Honey Is Wonderful

We want to welcome you all to Matilda Week, and nobody is more welcoming than Miss Jennifer Honey. As children we adored this kind-hearted teacher who recognized each child as a full, complex and important person. As adults, we are even more touched by Miss Honey as a survivor of a traumatic childhood who keeps her soft heart after years of abuse. She is a lesson in tenacity, warmth and loveliness. Miss Honey is wonderful.

Miss Honey Is Kind And Soft
Miss Honey: so softspoken, she sits to speak to the class.

Miss Honey: so softspoken, she sits to speak to the class.

 

Fact: I adored my third grade teacher Ms. Cuthbert so much that when she invited her students to go to her wedding ceremony, I actually showed up. I sat near the back of the church with my parents and saw my teacher become Mrs. Hibbard. I watched in awe as one of my favorite teachers walked down the aisle in a gorgeous, puffy, 1993 gown, and wasn’t embarrassed at all to be there. Mrs. Hibbard was delightful, fun, and kind, but strict when she needed to be, and that’s exactly what you want in a teacher, and a teacher who will impact your life forever.

That’s what Miss Honey is. She truly cares about her kids as if they were her own, when she definitely doesn’t have to, especially given the environment of Crunchem Hall. She is so invested in her students and makes sure they are actually learning not only what was in their textbooks but about life itself. And she does it in a way that makes you feel like she’s more of an older sister, rather than an authoritative figure, making you more prone to listen and heed her instructions. She’s the kind of person that gave so much of herself to her class that she, too, would invite you to her wedding, and would give you a wink as she passed you while walking down the aisle.

Miss Honey Is Lovely

One day this summer I woke up from a dead sleep, thought “Miss Honey is my summer style inspiration,” wrote it down and went back to bed. I was right to think that. Miss Honey wears classic pastel dresses, understated makeup and has a non-dated hairstyle. Miss Honey is the teacher who keeps a tissue under her watch and that is so wonderfully specific. At one point in the movie she wears the best tortoiseshell glasses, although Book Miss Honey wears them all the time. Dahl never gets detailed about Miss Honey’s wardrobe, but I think the movie nailed it: she’s the kind of person who looks lovely first because it makes her happy to look nice, and second so that the children see that coming to school and teaching them matters to her.  Miss Honey has a “lovely pale oval madonna face with blue eyes and her hair was light brown.” It’s not so much important that she’s objectively pretty, but that the kids think she is — don’t you remember being 5 or 6 and thinking your favorite teacher was just the prettiest person in the world?

During the blog meeting where we discussed Matilda Week, we watched a clip of toddler Matilda making her own breakfast and pouring a glass of juice. Then they got to the moment when Matilda places a tiny flower in a vase and I think a scientist could have pinpointed the exact moment when both of our hearts broke (that’s what scientists do, right?). There was something so poignant about this little forgotten child not just surviving without help, but also making space for the little things that make life beautiful. I feel the same way when you learn about Miss Honey’s cottage: she has less than she deserves, but the lengths she goes to to make it neat and pleasant tell you a lot about her character.

Miss Honey’s house is “like an illustration in Grimm or Hans Anderson.” It is incredibly tiny and the water comes from a well outside. There are overturned boxes for chairs and a little camping stove to cook on. I used to imagine it would be like living in a child’s play fort. The cottage is less bleak in the movie, but both versions show that Miss Honey knows how important it is to find bits of loveliness in an ugly world. She also decorates her classroom with students’ artwork and bright colors, even though she has to hide it when the Trunchbull comes into the room – it’s that important for her class to be surrounded by loveliness.

More about Miss Honey's cottage here.

More about Miss Honey’s cottage here.

Miss Honey Treats People Like They’re Important

When I was 8 years old, I read Matilda and wanted to be the main character. Not so much levitating objects, I just felt positive that I was special and there was simply no Miss Honey to notice it. I devoured adult classics like Matilda did, but in hindsight I was, admittedly, ordinary. Except, of course, no child, no person, is ordinary. Miss Honey knew that intuitively and it influenced the way she treated every child in her classroom. If you look back and think of your very best teachers as a child (or your favorite babysitter or aunt or librarian), that is probably a quality they had: they looked you in the eye and saw a light that might not have been brighter or more beautiful than anybody else’s, but it was yours. Miss Honey notices that Matilda is unusually intelligent almost instantly. But she isn’t that teacher who only cares about the smartest or the most challenging pupils. Miss Honey writes easy words on the board for the more “average” kids and warns the whole class about the upcoming weekly test with Trunchbull. As they say in the movie, she “appreciates each child for who he or she is.” Miss Honey recognizes Matilda’s strengths not just as supernatural abilities, but as character traits that will help her throughout life: “It’s wonderful you feel so powerful. Many people don’t feel powerful at all.”

 

Miss Honey Is Stronger Than Her Past

Miss Honey is a survivor of trauma and lifelong abuse, and against the odds, she is much bigger than the worst things that have happened to her. After the deaths of her parents, Miss Honey lives under the control of her cruel aunt – the Trunchbull. It’s chilling how perfectly Dahl describes the invisible chains of an abusive relationship: “I became so scared of her I used to start shaking when she came into the room.” “Over the years I became so cowed and dominated by this monster of an aunt that when she gave an order, no matter what it was, I obeyed it instantly.” “I was by then so dominated by my aunt to such an extent that I wouldn’t have dared [leave.]. You can’t imagine what it’s like to be completely controlled like that by a very strong personality.”

Here’s where I get amazed. Miss Honey wanted to go to university and was only allowed to go on the condition that she come home early every day to work for her aunt. When she graduated, Trunchbill docked her pay because Miss Honey “owed” her for the expenses of her childhood. Miss Honey finds a house and rents it on 10p a week and leaves, while still working in her aunt’s school because she loves to teach. Her past makes Miss Honey’s smaller moments of bravery, like confronting Trunchbull about Matilda’s grade level or approaching Matilda’s parents, nothing less than astonishing. It frames all of her qualities – kindness, appreciation of beauty, empathy for her students – not as traits, but as CHOICES that she has made and worked for and cultivated. Most of us aren’t born with extraordinary gifts like Matilda, but the idea that anybody can live a life of kindness and beauty after surviving such darkness — that is the real magic in Matilda.

 

How To Talk To A Man Who Is Talking To You When You Are Wearing Headphones

Hey gals! How’s it going? Anyone commute on public transit today? Me too! When I’m on a bus or train I enjoy avoiding eye contact, reading books, looking out the window so I get out at the right location, and wearing decoy headphones so that men don’t talk to me.

It doesn’t work very well!

When men interrupt my reading and music, my favorite responses are terse and monosyllabic. However, I get a bit more effusive and a lot more fake laugh-y when a man gets grouchy that I’m not paying attention to him. We laugh and we laugh! Oh, it’s a hoot. I do it because I’m scared, a little! I also enjoy pointing to my headphones and shrugging. Girls just want to have fun, am I right? When a bus man has proven himself particularly sketchy, I’ve even altered my commute time a bit so we don’t run into each other. Keeps me on my toes! Besides, experts say that changing your routine now and then helps prevent Alzheimers, right?

That was a joke. Women don’t get old. Gross!

But ladies, I have some bad news for you. WE’VE BEEN FOUND OUT.  In a recent article, a pickup artist – or artiste, truly – has created a handy guide on talking to women who are wearing headphones. The jig is up. Men have learned that we can still speak when our ears are covered. It’s time to change tactics. Here are a few tips and tricks to live your best life while wearing headphones AND talking to a fella who demands to be acknowledged:

Say Nothing

A million dating guides and networking seminars can’t be wrong: people love to talk, especially about themselves. All you really have to do when a man talks to you when you are wearing headphones is look at him, occasionally nod or make a listening-y facial expression, and keep your music on. This is also the best way to have someone fall in love with you according to The Little Mermaid, one of my top 5 Disney movies.

Make A Lot Of Eye Contact

Sometimes if you are wearing headphones and not talking to men, they get scared that you could have died or fallen asleep by accident. You can let them know you’re okay by making a lot of eye contact with them. It would be nice to make your eyes look really big. Big eyes are prettier since they remind people of babies, the most attractive form of humans. This is according to science. If you have small eyes that’s fine, someone might still love you.

Use Emphatic Gestures

Most men notice when you’re wearing headphones and only talk to you if they know you or need directions, so maybe the others just don’t see the headphones. If so, emphatic gestures can help him understand. This is a silent, secret way to correct him so that he doesn’t get embarrassed! Some men hate humiliation the most out of everything, which is why you’re going to be emphatic but silent! Shhhh!

Here are some hot tips: point to your ears with both hands. Cover your ears then bop your head to and fro to the music like you’re in a Beatz By Dre commercial. Hold your fingertips to your ears and raise your eyebrows in alarm, inhaling sharply. Impishly press a finger to your lips in a “shush” gesture while tapping your electronic device. Wag a finger in a classic “no, no, no” sign then point to your headphones. Cross both arms in an X over your face. Really have fun with it!

Let Your Body Talk

Emphatic gestures a bit OTT for you? Try some simple body language! Raise your shoulders up towards your ears in a heavy cringe. Cross your arms over your chest. Let your head sink way down, raising your eyes in a Princess Diana pose. Curl up into full fetal position. Rock.

Speak Loudly, Slowly and Clearly

A man who doesn’t know what headphones are might have problems understanding things. So leave your headphones on, keep your music or podcast at your favorite volume, and loudly, slowly and clearly tell him “I am listening to my headphones.” If he persists, then loudly, slowly and clearly ask him if he needs help. Us gals love our Walkmen, but that’s no excuse to ignore a person in need!

If the man who is talking to you when you are wearing headphones still doesn’t understand, you could try one of the other languages you speak. American Sign Language might be nice to add to the mix.

If the man understands that you are listening to your headphones and he doesn’t need help, you can always keep the convo going – with your headphones still in your ears and with your loud, slow and clear speech projecting across your sidewalk or subway car. Other people might notice. They’ll think it’s great that you’re being so polite to a person who is bad at understanding things! I think you would be very inspirational to very many people!

Laugh Nervously

Men are the most funny kind of people, which is why when you’re a little apprehensive around one you might laugh nervously. Then THEY know that YOU know how funny they are! It’s great for social situations (like commuting to work, or walking to the cafe on your lunch break, or waiting for new photo at the DMV)!  So when a man talks to you when you are wearing your headphones, just laugh nervously and maybe they’ll like you better.

This might be a good time to take a new laugh for a test drive. How about a Southern Belle-style titter? A bawdy belly laugh like you’re in an old-time saloon with those swinging doors? A North Pole-ian ho-ho-ho? A witch’s cackle? The only limit is your imagination!

Make It A Singalong

The man who is talking to you when you are wearing headphones might be bored because HE doesn’t have headphones. So why not share? You can crank your volume way up, or hand him an earbud. Start singing along with your whole heart and maybe he’ll follow suit! If you’re good at singing, try to sing a tiny bit less well than he does.

 

And Now For A Shameless Plug

I’d like to indulge in a little cross-promotion here – partly because I’m an only child who needs attention and partly because I can.

Guys, I started a podcast!

What’s that? A podcast, you say? You mean that audio thing every other person on the planet* has about every possible subject available? Yes, reader. That kind of podcast.

It’s called That’s Our Jam and I’m doing it with my friend and another fellow blogger, Jennie from Garlic, My Soul. It’s a mix of all the pop culture stuff I talk about here, what Jennie talks about over on her blog (food), plus anything and everything else like history and current events and music, etc. Our first episode – our pilot episode, if you will – premieres today so check it out and subscribe here: That’s Our Jam Podcast!

We’re also posting links and stuff of all the things we talk about on the episode on our website, ThatsOurJamPodcast.com – and to make it easier for you, I’ve also posted it below!

I promise I won’t post about it annoyingly on the blog, but if you like what we do here, give the pilot a try! We’d loved to be picked up to series. Thanks, friends!

*Not a real stat


Episode 1: We Started The Podcast Movement

Podcasting Revolution

Emerson newsrooms go portable with podcasts, October 19th, 2005 (written by NOT Jennie)

History With Jennie

(Tony Winner) ANGELICA!

REG_Rent

The Video Traci Took In The Bathroom At A Wedding

Traci’s iPod Roulette

That’s Our Jam

Traci’s Jam: Gilmore Guys Podcast

Jennie’s Jam: First Bite by Bee Wilson

Make Your Own Dyngus Day!

For those of you who fall into a post-Easter slump this Monday (part sugar coma, part basket-hiding fatigue), there’s an antidote to your ennui: Dyngus Day! The day after Easter, people of Slavic backgrounds, especially Polish and Ukrainian, celebrate the holiday by hitting each other with pussy willows and throwing water. Not Polish? No problem! Everybody is Polish on Dyngus Day.

Let’s backtrack a bit. I grew up hearing my Slavic grandma talk about Dyngus Day, but never experienced it myself until I moved to Buffalo, NY. Buffalo throws an enormous Dyngus Day celebration every year; you can also celebrate in Cleveland, Ohio and South Bend, Indiana. If you can’t make it to any of those cities, we have a little guide to throw your own Dyngus Day party and break through those after-Easter blahs.

Know Your History, Ya Dyngus

First of all, Dyngus sounds like an insult from the 1930s, right? But it actually means … the eggs that are owed. Or “ransom.” You guessed it: the origins of the holiday, and the word, are fairly obscure. Suffice to say, Dyngus day originated sometime around the Middle Ages in the western Slav countries. One story claims that the holiday celebrates the baptism of Mieszko I, who unified Poland in the 10th century. By the 20th century, Dyngus Day was celebrated in Polish and Ukrainian immigrant communities worldwide. The largest party is in Buffalo, and the celebration as it exists today began in the 1960s. There are parties across the city, a parade, and as much polka as you can handle (or more, depending on your polka threshold).

Just A Good Old-Fashioned Fertility Festival

There’s a theory that Dyngus Day began as one of those pre-Christian Spring fertility rituals, and when you look at the elements of a traditional Dyngus celebration, it seriously adds up. For the essential part of any Dyngus Day, you must have the following:

  • Boys throwing water on girls. The more attractive you are, the more water will be thrown at you.
  • Girls paying off the boys to stop. With EGGS. Hey, symbolism.
  • Boys also hit girls with pussy willows, so there’s that.

Now, how does this play out in modern times? A free-for-all water fight, basically. Everyone hits everyone with pussy willows. It’s fun! It also sounds 100% like a holiday that Dwight Schrute would celebrate.

Ready Your Traditional Polish Easter Foods

I’ve never been anywhere where Easter was a bigger deal than in Buffalo, and the traditional Polish Easter food is a huge part of it. (I feel like Buffalo should capitalize on both that, and also that they are almost indisputably the Mustache Capitol of America).

Obviously, all of these items are still popular the day after Easter. You can expect to find:

  • Butter lambs
  • Lamb cakes
  • Pirogi
  • Kielbasa
  • Kouign, a ring-shaped filled pastry which isn’t the same as kouign-amann, and isn’t the same as kuchen, and doesn’t seem to exist on the internet … but I’ve already had it twice this Easter season and it’s only Monday morning.
  • Kapusta, which is like if sauerkraut grew up and became more than just a garnish.
  • Placek AKA Easter Cake AKA begin your spring workout regimen tomorrow
  • Golabki, the Polish take on the burrito, which is probably destined to become a low-carb, low-gluten trend because it’s wrapped in cabbage.
  • Chalka (yep, obviously related to Challah), a braided bread with eggs in it. It’s pretty.
  • This red cabbage thing that I never tried.

Polka? I Don’t Even Know Her

Polka is to music as dad jokes are to jokes, so that heading was appropriate. While I can’t deny that polka music is peppy, and that the musicians are very skilled, I do have to say that it’s not for everyone. I grew up on Irish folk music, and it’s similar in a way: some people love it, others find that it sounds like those children’s albums they put out about, like, why it’s good to brush your teeth. But at least this one day every year, you should be ready to listen to all the accordion music your ears can take. And lest you think it all sounds the same, at least one young Cleveland polka DJ is calling attention to the different forms of polka.

If you really hate Polka, there are also Polish-American rappers – and bonus! This video was filmed in the Ruff Buff on Dyngus Day:

Red And White or GTFO

Just like crowds on St. Patrick’s Day are decked out in green, everyone wears red and white on Dyngus Day. And since everyone is Polish on Dyngus Day, it doesn’t matter if those aren’t really your colors.

Shoutout To The Children In Traditional Garb

 If red isn’t your color, how about some beautifully embroidered traditional outfits, instead? There’s nothing cuter than a child dressed as one of those Madame Alexander Children Of The World dolls, right?

Take Monday Off. And Maybe Tuesday.

Above all, Dyngus Day is a huge party – so big that festivities take place throughout the day in Buffalo, so you may as well take the day off. It’s also possibly as big a drinking day as St. Patrick’s Day, so maybe you’ll want to take Tuesday off as well. Happy Dyngus Day!

#MotivationMonday – Spring Cleaning

It’s hard to believe with some people walking through snow today, but yesterday was the first day of spring! And what better way to welcome the vernal equinox than by getting rid of all the clutter in your life for some spring cleaning? Here’s a guide I wrote a couple of years ago, but it still rings true until today. Start your spring off right and make your life more simple and stress free!

Spring Cleaning Your Life

Happy first day of spring, y’all! The sun shows its face a little longer (12 hours to be exact), the weather (usually) gets warmer and we can finally put the nasty winter behind us. The coming of spring is also a time for rebirth and regrowth, a marker for us to start anew. And that includes getting rid of anything in our lives that feels old or unused – aka it’s spring cleaning time.

I’m not talking about doing a thorough sweep of your house/apartment and getting rid of old items in your pantry or clothes that you haven’t worn in a year (although you should probs do that too). No, I’m talking about cleaning up your life. Things that effect you every day that you keep putting off but know you should do something about. Here are a few suggestions for making your life a little less messy and a little more bearable than ever before.

DVR

I am probably not the best example for this, but I’m hoping this will help some of you out there. The problem with television today is that there are too many good shows on right now. That means there are probably a lot of shows on your list that you have to go through every week. I’m not even going to tell you how many shows I actively watch, because it’s stupidly embarrassing. But there are also shows that are on my list that I just watch out of habit, that I should probably just delete from my DVR because it’s not adding anything to my life. Example: Heart of Dixie. Why did I start watching it? Jason Street and Summer Roberts (Scott Porter and Rachel Bilson). Why am I still watching it? No idea. I put it on and I only half pay attention to what is happening. If you asked me what’s going on this season, I could tell you that Zoe is still dating that Jewish boyfriend from NY and not with Wade, and Jamie King’s character is MIA because she had a baby IRL. Case in point: it’s time to clean out my series recordings.

Hard Drive

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Is your computer running slow? Maybe it’s because you have too many extemporaneous files and pictures and songs your never listen to stored in the nooks and crannies of your hard drive. It’s time to clean up those cookies and get rid of those songs you downloaded in college just to create some kind of party mix, because honestly, are you listening to SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS on the daily while relaxing or browsing the internet?

E-mail Subscriptions

I admit it: I’m the worst at e-mails. Replying, sending, deleting from my inbox. I also sign up for things and forget how I signed up in the first place. Like all those Groupon/LivingSocial/OneSaleADay shit is too much. Literally ‘Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That’. I went to the Tribeca Film Festival once in 2005 and I am still on their mailing list. Unless they’re going to personally fly me out to New York, I’m probably never going again. So why am I still receiving their e-mails?? BECAUSE I’M LAZY AND DELETE THEM INSTEAD OF JUST UNSUBSCRIBING.

Facebook Friends

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You know when you’re going through your Facebook feed and you say “UGH” outloud when you see someone’s status of “going to the gym” or 500 pictures of the same baby just in different angles or those people who make politically incorrect and/or slightly racist comments  on your wall? Yeah, time to go through your list and unfriend those folks. You’re not in college anymore where the whole goal of Facebook was to be friends with every single person you had a class with. Use Facebook to stay connected with the people you actually care about. Maybe you’ll even find yourself complaining less about Facebook in general.

Actual Friends

girl bye nene

Let’s be real. There are people in your life that you should just cut off. If there’s anything I’ve learned being in my “late 20s” it’s that I don’t have patience or time to deal with people that don’t add to my life in any way. They might be the type of friends that add more drama to your life than is necessary as an adult or perhaps they are the type that are just… there, but either way, why are you wasting your time on people who aren’t a positive influence in your life when you could be hanging out with those who enrich your entire being? It may seem harsh, but you gonna do what you gotta do.

Success or Fail? A 30 Before 30 Update

Hi team. Last year, I wrote about making a 30 Before 30 bucket list, which was comprised of a whole bunch of goals, activities, etc. I wanted to do before I turned 30. Well, I turned 30 in January, and I’m proud to report I checked off 22 out of 30 items on my list! Not too bad, and to be honest, I’m not even upset I didn’t finish them all. By even making the list in the first place, it forced me to do things I don’t think I would have otherwise, so getting any of them done is an accomplishment in itself.

In my post from last year, I highlighted some of the tasks on the 30 Before 30 list, so I’m revisiting them and seeing how I did. Obviously, I don’t have all 30 of them listed, but just imagine they’re all here.

Learn to make 3 new dishes

2015: When I cook dinner, it’s not really anything special. The less ingredients the better. I blame this on account of my frugality and laziness, but I’m hoping to change that (the laziness, at least I can control). I figure if I master at least 3 good dishes, it can be my go to for parties and what not. Sushi is probs my favorite food, so another one of the things on my list is learn how to make sushi. And conveniently, I would also like to have a dinner party, so all this just fits right together.

Status: Accomplished! While sushi making was fun and I didn’t die from eating the raw fish, I think I’ll leave it to the professional sushi chefs to provide me with much better rolls.

Go somewhere I’ve never gone before

2015: If I won the lottery today, I would use it to pay off all my debts, do some other things with it, and then travel. Anywhere my heart desires – possibly even in first class! Living in LA, you kind of get stuck in the… LA-ness of it, and it’s good for your sanity to get out every once in a while. I usually spend my vacation time in the same places, mainly back home on the east coast. But there are so many other places to go that won’t break the bank. Although I said I would start this thing on my birthday, I’ve cheated on a few things already, this being one of them. A few of my friends and I recently went up to Napa Valley for a brief, yet completely successful and fulfilling weekend, and it was glorious. It was my first time in that area, and let me tell you – Napa is everything it’s cracked up to be, folks.

Status: Accomplished! I went to multiple new places in 2015, including the Temecula wine country and Grand Cayman Island and Castaway Cay (thanks to a cruise I went on). However, I tripled up on a trip by driving down to La Jolla, about two hours south of LA. The city is right on the edge of the Pacific and is exactly what you picture when you think picturesque California coast. Also, they’re known for seals, as seen below. They had cute stores and great food and highly recommend – 10/10.

Travel somewhere by myself

2015: Speaking of which, I feel all Eat Pray Love/Wild about this, in that going on a trip by yourself is necessary in life. I’m an only child and independent by nature, so the thought of this doesn’t sound scary or intimidating, as I imagine it would be to some people. This sounds delightful to me and I have yet to figure out where said trip will be.

Status: Accomplished! Like I said, I tripled up on La Jolla by going solo bolo to a pimp ass resort called Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. I got free champagne when I arrived, had a huge bed to myself, a bathroom with marble floors and a complimentary bottle of wine. Again, highly recommend – 10/10.

Get a massage

2015: I’m gonna be real with y’all – I don’t necessarily find it appealing when complete strangers touch me, especially if I’m half naked. Is that completely unreasonable? But I’m going to try to let that go in favor of comfort and relaxation.

Status: Accomplished. And my gut was right. The final triple threat of that La Jolla trip was getting a massage at the resort. While it was luxurious and I got free cucumber water, I don’t think I would ever do it again. I didn’t feel as relaxed as I thought it was going to be, and that’s all my fault, not the fault of my masseuse, who was lovely. I didn’t take a pic of that, so here’s the view I had while sitting near the saltwater whirlpool and reading a Dawson’s Creek novel at the spa.

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Volunteer 20 hours

2015: I used to volunteer a lot growing up. Forgetting the fact that in high school a lot of it was required, I actually enjoyed volunteering, and did it throughout college. For a while there I even wanted to work for a non-profit. I really want to get back into it, and I’ve had some attempts in the past couple of years, but I’m actually making a goal of 20 hours to fill, which is really not even that much.

Status: Big Fail. This was one of the items I was most bummed about not accomplishing. I wanted to find one organization that I cared deeply about, then exclusively volunteer for them, but I just kept putting it off. It’s still on my list!

Go see at least 5 movies in the theater

2015: I am a TV person. I watch all the TV. And like I mentioned earlier, I am a frugal person. Unless it’s a movie I really want to see in the theater, I will wait until it comes to Netflix and I receive it as part of my subscription. However, working in entertainment news, it’s usually helpful to know what I’m writing about, and not just basic facts about them. I’m not gonna lie to you – I already have my first movie lined up. And it’s the Backstreet Boys documentary, which comes out on Friday.

Status: Accomplished! I ended up seeing MORE than 5 movies!!! Ironically the BSB movie I ended up buying on iTunes it was released in the theater, so I cried in the privacy of my own bedroom. The other films include but are not limited to: The Last Five Years, Spy, Inside Out, Magic Mike XXL and Trainwreck. All movies that were A+++

Watch 5 “classic” movies

2015: To go along with that, I’ve written about my Pop Culture Blind Spots before, and I’m going to make an effort to actually sit down and watch some of them. We’ll start with the black and white classics… Star Wars will have to wait.

Status: Accomplished! Again, I was an overachiever on this one and did way more than five, some which which I did as a Pop Culture Blind Spot for this very blog (Star Wars or Dirty Dancing, anyone?). Some other faves include Bridget Jones’ Diary, Top Gun and Back to the Future.

Donate clothes I haven’t worn in a year

2015: I have been meaning to do this for years, and now’s a better time than any to actually follow through. Part of this involves re-organizing my closet, which I’ve already done and am super excited about. But this whole – I’m saving this just in case I need it for a Halloween costume – thing, isn’t working.

Status: Accomplished! And I’ve donated twice!

Read 3 new books

2015: Again, I am a TV person. I watch all the TV. Thus leaving me with little time to sit and read. Hell, I barely have time to catch up on my Entertainment Weekly issues. As for reading actual books, I find that I read the most when I’m traveling, since there’s nothing else to do. I used to read all the time when I rode the subway in Boston, but now, I have to like pay attention to the road when I’m driving and stuff. Also, I have a tendency to just re-read books – I don’t need to read Harry Potter again (I mean I could and should, but I shan’t). But I’ve set a realistic goal for myself and hopefully I can finish three new books by 2016.

Status: Accomplished! Luckily, I know myself well enough that a total of three was risky, but I read FOUR! Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham, Dawson’s Creek: A Capeside Christmas (that novel I was reading in La Jolla) and two books by fellow Emerson alum and one of my friend’s BFFs, Katie Cotugno, whose two YA books, How to Love and 99 Days, I devoured.

Go to 10 new restaurants

2015: Like my go-to books, I have go to restaurants, and it’s time to change that. I’ve been compiling a list of eateries in LA that I’ve been wanting to go to, and 10 seems like a reasonable number. I will just have to force my friends into going to all new venues.

Status: Accomplished! After I hit 15 I stopped counting, but one that is an LA staple that everyone needs to go to is Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. Ugh I dream about it still.

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Explore 5 new places in LA

2015: LA’s a big city, and while I’ve lived here for just over five years now, there’s still plenty more to see. You get stuck living in the bubble of your home neighborhood and work neighborhood, and any little pockets that your frequent. I never make it down to the West side or like Venice (as seen above) or Santa Monica or anything over there, mainly because there’s no reason for me to. Sans Dunkin Donuts, of course. But it’s time I start taking advantage of what’s around me.

Status: Accomplished! I’m not a big sports fan but it was still exciting to go to my first Dodgers game with a real Dodgers fan who could explain pretty much everything to me. Plus I got a Dodger (hot) Dog which was as good as everyone says it is.

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Clean out email

2015: I’m at 19% of 15 GB used on my Gmail, which I’ve had since 2006. That number may seem low, but you should see my inbox (don’t). It’s time I start cleaning shit out.

Status: Accomplished! Plus I have all the tabs now and the Gmail app on my phone, which I didn’t have before. God bless.

Pay for someone’s coffee 5 times

2015: Pay it forward. Be kind to one another. All that jazz.

Status: Fail to humans everywhere and to Ellen DeGeneres. Let’s be real, if anyone’s buying coffee, it’s for myself.

Take a photo or video each day

2015: This is not a new thing. I’m going to see if I can keep it up. Instead of posting it every day, I’ll hopefully keep it up and compile everything into a handy video/slideshow on my 30th.

Status: Accomplished! And I just finished putting it all together in one 13 minute long video! You’ve been warned.

 

It’s the 90s: Let’s All Decorate For Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day season, I guess!  Valentine’s Day falls into one of my favorite holiday subcategories: a Snack Holiday. A Snack Holiday is almost a normal day, except there are themed snack foods. Snack Holidays don’t require gift exchanges or elaborate meals, which are entirely optional. Other Snack Holidays include Halloween, Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, and maybe Lincoln’s Birthday if you swing it right. Snack Holidays are closely related to, and sometimes overlap with, drinking holidays: Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday + booze), Independence Day, St. Patrick’s Day. I love them all!

You may be thinking that Valentine’s Day is NOT a Snack Holiday because presents and fancy meals are obligatory. However, except for a few couples I know, most people leave these big celebrations behind in their early twenties. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s actually pretty great being single on Valentine’s Day in your late 20s. Most of your friends who are dating, engaged, or married have been together so long that they aren’t into big, amateurish displays of affection. Most of them are spending the holiday ordering a pizza and seeing if there’s anything good on Netflix. Yes, except for a brief interlude from the ages of, say, 15 to 25, V-Day is a Snack Holiday we can all enjoy.

For those of us who grew up in the 90s, our concept of Valentine’s Day as a Snack Holiday was established in our classroom parties. So in this holiday edition of Let’s All Decorate, let’s take it back and decorate that classroom, why don’t we?

Beanie Babies

In the height of the Beanie Baby craze, there’s a good chance your teacher displayed seasonal Beanies on her crowded desk, probably next to the cold cup of teacher’s lounge coffee. It was one of the few attempts at teacher coolness that actually sort of worked, except that you gave her a bit of side-eye for displaying a “rare” holiday Beanie Baby on her desk without a tag protector or clear plastic coffin.

Shoebox Mailboxes

I’m going to go ahead and call this the most highly-anticipated busywork of the year. Sometime before your Valentine party, the teacher would bust out a stash of shoeboxes she had saved from every pair of sneakers, loafers and boots that she, her husband, and her children had bought for the past year. “Wasn’t it nice of her to save those JUST FOR YOU?”…  Is a thought that never occurred to me as a child because children are selfish little dirtbags. You would cover the shoebox in plain paper, then decorate with stickers, crayons, and if your teacher was exceptionally chill about classroom mess, some glitter.

The mailboxes served a triple purpose of keeping the Valentines neater than they’d have been in a pile on your desk, concealing who received which Valentine (although you had to give one to every kid, so whatever), and filling up a solid half hour of post-lunch time on a day when kids are bouncing off the walls.

Note: if your teacher’s children didn’t go through as many shoes that year, you may have decorated manila envelopes that you taped off the edge of your desk, instead.

A Bulletin Board Or Door Display Where Every Kid’s Name Appears On A Heart

Sounds really specific, right? But these were actually universal as chicken pox (Stuff 90s Kids Remember: Chicken Pox). Things have gone more high-tech now, but back in the day teachers used to spend a ton of time cutting out construction paper shapes and writing all of the kids’ names on them. How do I know? My mom was a teacher in my school… and she outsourced a lot of it to me. I stapled a whole lot of solid construction paper backgrounds and bulletin board borders in my youth.

For teachers’ sake, I shudder to think what the Pinterest Industrial Complex has done to V-Day bulletin boards.

For a true 90s experience, names should be: Justin, Ashley L., Ashley B., Matthew, Jessica, Sarah, Dave, Katie, Chris, Kristin, and Kevin.

An Art Project Where Things Are Made Out Of Hearts

A tree made out of hearts, a bee made out of hearts; a dog made out of hearts, a frog made out of hearts; a wiggly heart-shaped creature made out of hearts. The heart is a versatile shape, and nobody knew that quite like the elementary school teachers of the 90s. There was probably a wall somewhere during that party that was decorated with the childrens’ heart-shaped crafts. Gotta develop those fine motor skills!

Tissue Paper Suncatchers

Yet another example of letting the kids decorate for their own darn party, if it was Valentine’s Day, and it was 1993, and you were 7, there’s an excellent possibility that these were hanging in your window filtering those February afternoon sunbeams.

TREATS TREATS TREATS TREATS

The above “treats” should be read like the thumping bass of EDM music, because when we were children, Valentine’s Day treats were our molly (although I’ve always really been my own Molly). Favorite V-Day treats in the 90s included, but were not limited to:

  • Rice Krispy Treats with heart-shaped sprinkles in them – OR cut into the shape of hearts if the mom making them didn’t’ mind waste.
  • Jell-o Jigglers shaped like hearts, because Bill Cosby meant something different to us then.
  • Heart-shaped Little Debbie “snack cakes” which were the same as the Christmas-tree shaped ones you had two months before, except that I always suspected that the heart ones were a tad bigger.
  • Sticky, gummy heart-shaped brownies, also from your friends at Little Debbie, courtesy of a kid whose parents didn’t have time to make anything.
  • Punch made with fruit juice, Sprite, and sherbet, especially if the party was right at the end of the day and the teacher wouldn’t have to deal with you much longer.
  • Candy Hearts. Obviously.
Valentines!

 

 

This is where you let your interests fly – and Kid Code required that you act cool about what the other kids handed out, not making fun of the kid who picked a movie nobody had liked for two years. A few favorites: