Hot Takes: Anthony Scaramucci Be Lookin’ Like…

Well. Sean Spicer managed to last a whole six months before callin’ quits  on the Press Secretary gig. And was it the constant lying he had to do in front of reporters that was the straw that broke the gum-chewing camel’s back? No. It was (allegedly) the hiring of New York businessman Anthony Scaramucci that caused Spicey to step down.

What is it about Scaramucci that Spicer doesn’t like? This is what we know about him:

  • Has degrees from both Tufts & Harvard Law School
  • Worked at Goldman Sachs (alert alert) as the VP of private wealth management
  • Also worked at Lehman Brothers (alert alert alert)
  • Started his own hedge fund investment firm, SkyBridge Capital in 2015
  • Sold his stake in the company to a Chinese billionaire in January (questionable) in order to get a job at the WH
  • Served on Trump’s transition team & was a surrogate on various TV appearances (like the time he compared Jared Kushner to Alexander Hamilton)
  • He’s super into being fully transparent
  • He loves quotes

But of course, as soon as it was announced that Scaramucci was named communications director, Twitter didn’t necessarily look up all his qualifications at first – they saw the guy on TV and gave some hot takes on the new guy. Of course we don’t condone judging anyone solely by their appearances, but when it comes to this administration, all bets are off. Here are some of our favorite hot takes on Scaramouche, Scaramouche (will he do the Fandango?).

My favorite of them all:

*There’s more to this. It’s great*

Checking In On The Obamas Six Months After The Goodbye

It’s been six very long months since we watched Our President wave goodbye and fly off into the sky on Marine One one last time.

Since then… well, you know what’s happened since then. I’m not going to focus on that. Instead, I’m going to highlight the things Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha have been up to since moving out of the White House and into a regular (yet still bougie) house as private citizens. For a few minutes, let’s just forget what’s happening at 1600 Penn and pretend this family is still First.

January

To The Desert

Immediately after the inauguration, Barack and Michelle travelled to Palm Springs, California, the first stop on their world tour.

Despite the fact they were delayed by rain, B & M enjoyed some R & R at the homes of the ambassador to Spain and Angora, James Costos,  and Michael S. Smith, who was their WH interior designer.

Like a Virgin

Soon after, the Obamas headed to the British Virgin Islands to stay at Sir Richard Branson’s private resort. Judging by the way they dressed, it was clear they were enjoying the time off.

February

And then came the now iconic photos of Barry living his BEST LIFE kitesurfing with a billionaire.

Perhaps the only time I’ll say this, but WHO’S GOT TICKETS TO THE GUN SHOW???? Barry O, that’s who. Like any good friend, Richard blogged about their day out on the waves, and even included a video of their kitesurfing challenge for good measure.

#CoupleGoals

Happy Valentine's Day to the love of my life and favorite island mate, @barackobama. #valentines 💕💕

A post shared by Michelle Obama (@michelleobama) on

Serious couple goals. Always and forever.

Malia in Manhattan

Meanwhile, Malia’s off on her gap year before heading off to Harvard, and she’s been busy being photographed walking into her internship at big shot Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s film company. The 18 year old reportedly landed a gig in the development department, reading and pitching scripts to be made into potential movies. She started at the beginning of February, and just a few weeks in, proud dad Barack went to visit her for some dad/daughter time. They were spotted having dinner, and hanging out with Danny DeVito backstage at his Broadway show. Hand holding included.

March

When you gotta look fly just to go to the National Art Gallery.

Michelle, still acting more First Lady than the current one, surprised young ladies at Francis L. Cardozo Education Campus in honor of International Women’s Day. The school has an international program for recent immigrants, and she spoke with a group of girls on the importance of education.

Barack and Michelle were quite the jetsetters in March – after DC, they went back to NYC to visit Malia again (and also dine with Bono and get a standing ovation on the way out), stopped in California again to meet with some tech bosses, and then back home to Hawaii to visit family and hit the links, and get his fave shaved ice (I’m assuming).

By the end of the month, Barack was reportedly in the small French Polynesian island of Tetiaroa (once owned by Marlon Brando), where rumor has it he spent time writing their memoirs. Oh, BTW, in February, Barack and Michelle inked a reported $65 MILLION deal for separate books with Crown Publishing.

And because B continues to be more presidential than say, other presidents out there, he tweeted this out the day of the (first) terror attacks in London:

April

Michelle joined her boo and continued their tour of French Polynesia, as they were spotted in the island of Moorea paddleboarding (#LetsMove) and swimming, and snorkeling. But the best part? They weren’t alone. They lived that yacht life with a few nobodies – Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen and Oprah. !!!! It was on that boat that Barry proved he was the ultimate Instagram Husband (we’ll just pretend he’s not taking the pix with an iPad – or maybe we won’t)

Apparently the ultimate squad island hopped, visiting Vanilla Island, Le Taha’a Island and Bora Bora. BUT WHAT HAPPENED ON THIS VACATION?! ARE THEY PLANNING ON FORMING A NEW COUNTRY? BUYING A BUNCH OF THE FRENCH POLYNESIAN ISLANDS? WE NEED TO KNOW JIC AMERICA BURNS TO THE GROUND.

Oprah will never tell. “I can’t talk about it, I can’t talk about it!” Thanks for nothing, O.

So, Uh, What’s Been Going On While I’ve Been Gone?

The Obamas headed back to the States and home to Chicago, where Barry made his first public appearance since that gloomy day in January. Naturally, the event was a discussion with students about civic engagement and leadership at the University of Chicago, where he taught constitutional law. You remember the Constitution, right?

May

Barack shipped up to Boston, where he was awarded the 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, where he was reunited with some familiar faces – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, former Secretary of State John Kerry, and of course, “the best vice president the country has ever known, Mr. Joe Biden.”

During his speech, B reflected on JFK and the basis of the award, urging members of Congress to exhibit similar bravery in the current battle over health care. Tell ’em Barry.

Oh also, he said this of Mich: “I also want to thank Michelle Obama for after the presidency sticking with me because I think she felt an obligation to the country to stay on. But once her official duties were over, it wasn’t clear. I love my wife. And I’m grateful for her. And I do believe that it was America’s great good fortune to have her as first lady.” SWOON.

Speaking of Michelle, there was a report that the Trump administration was going to immediately halt her Let Girls Learn initiative, and while the WH denied the allegations, Michelle still threw the best shade on Inta.

Obama Presidential Center and Library, you say?

Barack then made his way over to Europe, where he was probably sweeping up all the debris Trump left in his wake and giving handshakes that are normal. During his time there, Barack visited friends in Scotland, London (hello Prince Harry), and Germany, where he noted, “In this new world we live in, we can’t isolate ourselves. We can’t hide behind a wall.”

And because he can now, Barack and Michelle also went to Tuscany, where he proudly sported a dress shirt sans tie, while Mich continued to slay with an off the shoulder number. Ironically, Trump was on his first European trip during this time, so I can’t help but image the Obamas sitting in their luxurious villa and clinking their glasses of red wine while giving each other a knowing look.

June

Back in the U.S. DT announced plans to pull out of the Paris Agreement, which Barack and his administration worked hard to put in place. Barry was NOT happy about it [See his statement here].

THE BROMANCE WAS ALIVE

If you’re wondering where Sasha has been, she’s been at school in DC, and since she’s only going to be a junior in September, Barack and Michelle decided to stay in the ‘hood at least until she graduates. Since January, the Obamas were renting out an 8,200-square-foot home in the Kalorama neighborhood,  which is basically where the rich people live. In June, they decided to make the home permanent and purchased the house for a sensible $8.1 million.

But also, she’s been busy throwing a LIT AF Sweet Sixteen birthday party.

#SashaObama with her parents at her 16th birthday party #BarackObama #MichelleObama ❤️ @mint2b_brittney

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on

Kids grow up so fast. Also, we were reminded that Sasha’s full name is Natasha. So that’s a thing that blew up Twitter.

Reminder that Barack and Michelle are actually friends with Jay Z and Beyonce. Here’s Barack sending a video message congratulating Jay on his induction to the Songwriters Hall of Fame – a ceremony he didn’t even attend. Come to find out, Rumi and Sir Carter blessed us with their presence just three days before.

And then he had to released ANOTHER statement on health care and the shitshow that is the ACHA.

With Sasha out of school for the summer, it was time for a family trip, and the Obamas headed to Indonesia, where where Barack lived as a kid since his beloved mom did anthropological research there. They went whitewater rafting, and visited the Tirtha Empul temple in Bali wearing matching sarongs.

July

Barack also gave a speech in front of thousands of people at the Fourth Congress of Indonesian Diaspora in Jakarta, and in addition to speaking Indonesian, he totally shaded DT yet again, not exactly calling him out on the Muslim travel ban, but basically doing it.

Then Michelle stopped in Los Angeles for a surprise appearance at the ESPYs.

While Barack was busy meeting babies in Alaskan airports

Yesterday, it was revealed that Sen. John McCain (and Barack’s former 2008 opponent) was diagnosed with brain cancer. Instead of wishing any ill will, he showed all class and subtle shade at the same time:

We miss you Obamas. It’s been six months but it feels like six decades.

Way Too Timely Quotes From Alexander Hamilton on His 213th Death Anniversary

Legacy? What is legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see. Or for some folks, it’s a transparent series of fuck-ups involving collusion, sexual assault, misogyny, racism, and lies that will live on forever in the Fake News. But hey, to each his own, right?

213 years ago today, Alexander Hamilton died after his duel with Aaron Burr. Five years ago, this post would’ve been moo (it’s like a cow’s opinion). But 2017’s hottest founding father is relevant to our interests again, which is why I’m writing this at all. But what’s even more interesting is that the trials, tribulations, and non-stop essays (including all the other 51) Ham & Co. went through all those years ago, is perhaps annoyingly prescient now, thanks to the state of our Union. So, to honor (I guess?) A. Ham and the legacy seeds he left behind, here are a few quotes from the decorated war vet that remind us that even two centuries later, passionate essays written on parchment aren’t exclusive to topics relating to separating from a harmful demagogue.

From Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration , August 1792. A letter in which Ham calls out the nasty folks who alleged that he was working to reinstitute a monarchy in the States.

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion. Tired at length of anarchy, or want of government, they may take shelter in the arms of monarchy for repose and security.

Those then, who resist a confirmation of public order, are the true Artificers of monarchy—not that this is the intention of the generality of them. Yet it would not be difficult to lay the finger upon some of their party who may justly be suspected. When a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents, having the advantage of military habits—despotic in his ordinary demeanour—known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty—when such a man is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty—to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion—to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day—It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may “ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.

A letter from A. Ham to Theodore Sedgwick, Massachusetts Senator & Continental Congress delegate, re: the Election of 1800 between Adams and Jefferson (who we know Ham did not like much)

“For my individual part my mind is made up. I will never more be responsible for him [Adams] by my direct support—even though the consequence should be the election of Jefferson. If we must have an enemy at the head of the Government, let it be one whom we can oppose & for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures. Under Adams as under Jefferson the government will sink. The party in the hands of whose chief it shall sink will sink with it and the advantage will all be on the side of his adversaries.”

Federalist Paper No. 1: 

“… of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.”

Elliot’s Debates

“Unless your government is respectable, foreigners will invade your rights; and to maintain tranquillity you must be respectable; even to observe neutrality you must have a strong government.”

(He was chosen to be part of the) Constitutional Convention, 1787:

All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well-born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and, however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give, therefore, to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and, as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government. Can a democratic Assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontrolling disposition requires checks.

From the New York Ratifying Convention, 1788

“As riches increase and accumulate in few hands . . . the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard.”

Federalist Paper No. 10:

“Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.”

Federalist Paper No. 25:

“It is a truth which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”

Federalist Paper No. 70

“Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.”

 

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 **

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The Man Behind the Meme: White Guy Blinking

Memes come and go into our lives. Some may be fleeting and some stick around for years. But how often do we know their origin story? Where did it start? Why has it become so popular? If there’s a person in the meme, what do they think of becoming an (internet) household face? Well I can help solve the mystery of one meme – this guy:

Here’s White Guy Blinking, a GIF used to express disbelief, and in most cases a well-known fact or relatable situation.

But who exactly is this guy? Well his name is Drew Scanlon and for certain types, he was already a well-known dude on the internet. He’s a video producer at Giant Bomb, a popular gaming website, and stars in multiple videos and podcasts for the site. So Drew was already used to fans clipping out GIFs of himself from the site, but never as fervent as this.

In fact, the blinking GIF is from a 2013 Giant Bomb show called Unprofessional Fridays. In the video, Drew is watching a co-worker Jeff Gerstmann play a game called Starbound, and while he’s playing, Jeff says, “I’ve been doing some farming with my hoe here…”

Drew’s reaction is naturally the one anyone with a dirty/comical mind would have, and if you’re a GIF maker, you know it’s a perfect reaction shot. But Drew told UK’s The Guardian that he doesn’t really remember shooting this particular video.

“I think a lot of our effort in these videos is spent on getting each other to laugh, to provide things for other people to react to or riff off. My reaction was, I think, part of that.”

And of course, he had no idea that this GIF would resurface four years later. “People have passed around gifs of us for as long as I’ve worked at Giant Bomb,” he told the Guardian. “It’s certainly a first for me.”

And it first recirculated earlier this year with a tweet that has nothing to do with video games, but rather biology class:

A fan sent Drew the biology meme to let him know his GIF lives on, and from that point forward, the RTs were endless and he soon became an international meme.

So how does Drew feel about being right-click saved all around the interwebs? He’s totally cool with it. “I like what memes can do for people. They’re such fun, throwaway things I see. These memes have been generally positive. It’s a little scary because there’s always the danger someone could change it to something different. It’s not like I’ve a say in what the internet does with a gif of my face. But I’m pleased to see people are enjoying it.”

Oh, they are.

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Meet Speller 115: Inside The Scripps National Spelling Bee with ‘Spellebrity’ Amber Born

Happy Bee Day! Every year we are blown away by the amazing kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and in 2014 a (hilarious) Bee contestant buzzed in to let us know what the Bee is really like. Read on below to get the behind-the-scenes scoop, then tune in to ESPN tonight for the 2017 finals.


For some, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer; for others, the unofficial start of Bee Week. Yes, the Scripps National Spelling Bee is here again, or as I affectionately call it, Nerd Superbowl.

In case you’ve missed it, I love the Bee. Judging by the response to coverage on ESPN and NPR, and the popularity of Akeelah and the Bee, Bee Season, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, I’m not the only one. I mean, for two days a major sports network is taken over by a celebration of words, languages, tenacity, and …. middle schoolers. Lots and lots of middle schoolers.

The kids are by far the best part of the Bee. They’ve already figured out the trick that many of the coolest adults take decades to discover: how to find a field that interests them, apply themselves – without apology – to becoming the best, and find other people who share their interests. While I have a lot of admiration for any kid who can work so hard and retain so much information, last year we especially loved Amber Born. In case you’ve forgotten, she was the teenaged comedy fan who brought a little levity to the proceedings and proved that smart doesn’t have to mean serious.

Needless to say, we are elated to present a post from Amber herself. Ever wanted to know what it’s really like to compete at the Bee? Or what the 2013 contestants thought of that weird Matilda: The Musical promotional tie-in? She has your answers right here!

Amber, spelling a word that you can’t spell. I mean, probably.


 

Hi! My name is Amber Born. You may know me from my famous Twitter account (I recently hit 13 followers), but maybe it’s more likely that you saw me on ESPN last year, when I was in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Anyway, I think ESPN doesn’t necessarily do a good job of portraying how the National Spelling Bee looks to spellers on the inside, so I figured I’d answer some of the more frequently asked questions that people have asked me about the spelling bee.

But you’re normal! I thought spellers were all nerdy and socially awkward losers who do nothing but spell?

My answer: Okay, some of us (who shall remain nameless) are. But in general, spellers are pretty normal people who just happen to be devoting a zillion hours of their lives to learning to spell the names of African antelopes and German philosophies. Seriously, though, if you look at the biographies of the spellers on the Bee website, you’ll see that the interests range from sports to art to comedy writing.

Did you see this thing online media where they made fun of the Bee and all the spellers?

My answer: Probably. I would like to say that pretty much every single speller looks themselves up online during or after the Bee is over, so it would be nice if the internet could keep its crueler comments about the spellers to itself (that applies to a lot of things, actually). Spellers work really hard, and you know nothing about them in real life, so you should just shut up. Just so you know, I’m not talking about Cookies + Sangria or the blogs that treat spellers like the awesome spellebrities that they generally are. I’m referring to the weird people who make racist and/or anti-nerd jokes and have no conscience about the fact that they’re dissing twelve year olds online, which is pretty much the stupidest thing you could do, along with putting paper clips in electrical outlets and thinking The Colbert Report is serious. Anyway, my point is this: spellers are cool. They have friends. They may be nerds, but they also have a lot of other stuff going on.

Is everyone really competitive? Are you happy when people get eliminated?

My answer: Anyone who asks this hasn’t watched the Bee for more than two minutes, because if they had, they’d note that every time a kid gets a word right, they are met with a dozen high-fives (or less, if they’re far into the finals) as they make their way back to their seat. Almost all of the finalists get standing ovations upon elimination, though the first few sometimes don’t because everyone is too stunned at the elimination to stand up. Sure, people are competitive, but they aren’t trying to bring everyone else down, as far as I know. The Bee encourages friendship; everyone gets an autograph book when they get to National Harbor (where the Bee takes place), and it has pictures and information on everyone, so you can go up to someone, ask for their autograph, and leave two minutes later with a friend. There’s a barbecue the day before the actual spelling starts, and it’s a great time for everyone to hang out and meet like-minded people. If there’s any animosity at the barbecue, it’s because the snow cones ran out. Everyone is really supportive leading up to the finals and semifinals, because, regardless of how well you did, there’s always someone who made it farther (unless you win), and someone else who placed lower. In the 2013 Bee, ESPN made the somewhat strange decision to periodically run a clip involving Matilda the Musical that made the Bee seem very competitive and scary. Thankfully, the sound on stage is terrible, so none of the spellers could actually hear the video until they were offstage.

Do you just ask questions about the words just to show off? Does it help you at all?

My answer: Yes, it does help. Please Google “linguistics.”

What word did you get out on?

My answer: For me personally, it was “hallali” in 2013, but the vast majority of people aren’t eliminated on a single word; they don’t advance because they made too many mistakes on a computerized test. So if you’re a speller that got eliminated on the computer test, just pick the most esoteric word and tell everyone that it’s what you got out on.

So do you never spell anything wrong now? Does it bother you when other people misspell?

My answer: Yeah, mispellings bothur me.