#ThrowbackThursday: Austin Travel Guide for Dillion Panthers Fans

Howdy, y’all! If you’re currently in Austin, Texas you’re either loving South By Southwest or completely hating every single second of the week-long event. If you’re an SXSWInteractive person, congrats nerds, you made it through the whole thing. If you’re a SXSWFilm person, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to talk to Robert Rodriguez at the next secret industry party on 6th street. If you’re a SXSWMusic person, remember Uber isn’t going to be easy to take home after the outdoor stage concerts.

But if you’re in Austin and have some extra time before or after all your activities, and can easily answer the question: “What Friday Night Lights season two plot line do all fans consider to never have happened?”, then may I suggest taking this tour.

In 2013, I went to Austin for the first time and loved it. I didn’t go for SXSW, but rather the ATX Television Festival, which I’ve since gone to three times, including last year, when both of us went and lived in a weird dream world of Dillon, Texas and Stars Hollow, Connecticut combined.

FNL was shot entirely in Austin, which is why the series has that true Texas feel, despite Austin not being a small town. Luckily for you Panthers/East Dillon Lions fans out there, there are still a number of real filming locations available to visit and snap a picture in front of. So have fun SXSW-ers, and remember if you’re stuck in the middle of a mosh pit and need to go to the bathroom during Coheed and Cambria’s set – Clear Eyes, Full Bladders Hearts, Can’t Pee Lose.

A Stalker’s Guide to Dillon, Texas

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Howdy y’all! I recently went to Austin, Texas for a brief weekend getaway, for a few reasons. One: I always wanted to go to Austin, since I heard it was the most un-Texas Texas city in the state. During my road trip across the country in 2009, Austin was on the list of possible cities to go, but we due to time constraints (and the fact we wanted to not drive across desert for another 10 hours), we opted to skip Austin, and I’ve put the city on the top of my bucket list ever since. Two: I attended the ATX Television Festival, which is a new festival for TV fans and those who want to break into the industry, and it was full of screenings, panels, and reunions from fave shows. You may have heard about the Boy Meets World bonanza, and I also attended the American Dreams and Party of Five reunions, and sat in on Parenthood and Veronica Mars panels! Not to mention Friday Night Lights. Which brings me to reason three: Friday Night Lights. The show was set in the fictional town of Dillion, Texas, but was shot entirely in Austin. Ever since I marathoned (and obsessed over) the series in 2010, I made it my goal to go to Austin and find all the filming locations.

So, if you’re a superfan stalker like me, and find yourself in Austin, here’s a guide to Dillon by way of Austin.

The Taylor House

6805 De Paul Cove, Austin TX 78723

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The house were the greatest TV couple/parents lived. They should make this place a national landmark. PS: The Taylor, Riggins, and Alamo Freeze are all close to each other, so you can do it all in one fell swoop!

The Riggins House

2604 Lehigh Dr. Austin, TX 78723

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No sign of Riggs 😦

Alamo Freeze

5900 Manor Rd. Austin, TX 78723

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Fun fact: the Alamo Freeze is actually a Dairy Queen. So you can reenact Matt’s proposal to Julie and then grab an oreo blizzard.

Saracen House

3009 Kuhlman Ave. Austin, TX 78702

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Grandma Saracen and her tiara not included.

Del Valle Field

2404 Shapard Lane, Del Valle, TX

The FNL fieldhouse is still in tact and on a random street near the Austin airport. The only thing still up and running nearby are a few trailers – like trailer park trailers. But you could clearly see the football field and the stands, which is pretty cool. The area was actually used for two ‘sets’, with the Panthers on the left, and when East Dillion needed a field, they built the Lions homefield on the other side of the Panthers’ bleachers!

Here’s me and my friend Suz hanging with Riggins at the fieldhouse…

riggs and us

PS: I didn’t just come up with these locations, it’s easily found on the internet – including here!!!

And to round out my tour of FNL filming locations, the ATX Festival also had a couple of FNL events, including an outdoor screening of State (Season 1 finale) and a panel with the cast! The screening, which appropriately took place on Friday night, was great because a lot of the cast members were there to meet with fans and introduce the ep. I got to meet most of them, and I still can’t believe it happened!

AND THEN, the next morning was the FNL panel, where we were surprised by a couple guests:

COACH AND MRS. COACH, Y’ALL!!!!!! I think I may have started crying.Who knows. But you can always bet on me crying. I shared the same air as the greatest couple ever.

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Thanks for the great time, Austin/Dillon! See y’all next time!

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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.

 

No Vacancy: A Guide to The World’s Quirkiest Hotels

There’s a hotel in Tokyo called the Mitsui Garden Yotsuya, which is offering women special “crying rooms” to help them handle stress. The rooms include tissues, warm sheets, eye masks, sad movies, and even super-sad manga. All this for just 10,000 yen per day ($85) so you can let your tears fall on their clean cotton sheets.

Let’s put aside the fact that these rooms are only for women (for now) and focus on how brilliant this idea is. We previously have talked about being open with our feelings, hell, we did an entire week about crying, so clearly, this speaks to us on a deep level. Now if only that idea can come to the States, that would be great.

When we went to Austin, our hotel room was not quite suitable for a hearty cry, it also did not have any quirky theme (unless comfort and business friendly is a theme). But if you have the dollar bills to travel the world and stay at weird and odd hotels, here are a few suggestions that don’t necessarily involve a plethora of tissues.

Poseidon Undersea Resort

Location: Fiji

Price: $15,000 per person for one-week package, including transportation, two nights in an underwater suite, scuba diving and wine tasting

Why It’s Worth Going: It’s a five-star hotel that’s conveniently located 40 feet below the Fijian Lagoon. You get there by elevator and most of the 24 suites are surrounded by clear (super thick acrylic) walls that offer you a view into the ocean. There’s even a button in the room that you can push and the food is put out for the fish and another switch turns on sparkling underwater lights.

Panda Inn

Location: Emeishan, China

Price: $112/night to $386/night

Why It’s Worth Going: Located at the bottom of the Emei Mountain, the hotel is located near the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, home to the most captive-born giant pandas in the world, hence the panda theme. But they take it once step further, because the rooms are filled with panda pictures, panda slippers, panda towels, one room even has a mural recreating Jack and Rose’s iconic I’m Flying scene with two pandas. And if you noticed in the picture above, there’s also a person in a panda suit hanging out around the hotel. Not creepy at all.

Attrap’Reves Bubble Hotel

Location: Multiple Locations, France

Price: $172/night to $567/night

Why It’s Worth Going: Book a bed in a bubble! You can stay in a transparent and fully furnished pod in the middle of the forrest, basically next level glamping, and all the bubbles are made from recyclable materials. You’ll have to exit your pod to go to the main building which houses bathrooms, meals an outer jacuzzi and even provides telescopes with star charts so you can follow along whilst dozing off in a deep slumber.

Jumbo Stay Hostel

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Price: $85/night to $280/night

Why It’s Worth Going: Forget the Marriott by the airport, just continue your flight path to the Jumbo Stay Hostel, located on an unused part of Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. The Boeing 747 was originally built for Singapore Airlines in 1976, but when this opened in 2008, it became the world’s only jet of its kind to be transformed into a hostel. There are 27 rooms, and if you want to splurge, you can stay in the “cockpit suite” located in – you guessed it – the cockpit.

IceHotel

Location: Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

Price:  $187/night to $850/night during peak season

Why It’s Worth Going: The “original ice hotel” is located in a small town just north of the Arctic Circle, and for the past 25 years, workers cut ice from the Torne River every winter to sculpt the hotel used huge-ass (scientific name) ice blocks to construct the building. Obviously because of weather, it’s only open from December to mid-April, and your stay includes a hot/cold breakfast, access to their sauna, and they’ll even loan you warm clothing! The IceHotel is also a popular destination for couples who want to get married in a magical ice palace. Black tie parkas required.

The Giraffe Manor

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Price: $770/night to $2000/night during peak season

Why It’s Worth Going: The Giraffe Manor is located in suburban Nairobi, and was modeled after a Scottish hunting lodge, reminiscent of the 1930s when European travelers flocked to East Africa to go on safaris. Many say their visit reminds them of Meryl Streep classic Out of Africa, and one of the suites is even named after the author of the book, Karen Blixen. But let’s get to the point here – it’s not every day you can have breakfast with scones and casually share it with a giraffe. The resident herd of giraffes poke their heads into the building mornings and evenings for some foods, then go back to their homes in the nearby forest. Livin’ the life.

Madonna Inn

Location: San Luis Obispo, California

Price:  $200/night to $609/night

Why It’s Worth Going: This place is known for having outlandish and weird theme rooms. It’s as if Fran’s mom from The Nanny had no limits as an interior decorator and the hotel became an international tourist destination. The 110 rooms each have names based on the unique decor, such as Love Nest, Old Mills, Rock Bottom, Cloud Nine, Caveman Room and Safari Room, as seen above. I mean, it’s so loud in there, how is it even possible to sleep?

Das Park Hotel

Location: Linz, Austria

Price:  I shouldn’t be surprised, but the Das Park Hotel operates on a “pay as you wish” system.

Why It’s Worth Going: Who doesn’t want to spend their vacation in a repurposed cement drain pipe? What’s not to love – a double bed, power, a light cotton sleeping bag and a skylight at the top of the pipe to let natural light in. Don’t worry the bathrooms and a minibar (because you’ll need it) are nearby.

La Villa Hamster

Location: Nantes, France

Price: Starts at $112/night

Why It’s Worth Going: In 4th Grade, I wanted a hamster so bad that I borrowed one of those educational learning discovery books about hamsters from the library and photocopied it and put it in a pink binder to show my parents I was responsible and meant business about having a pet hamster. I never got one. But I’m not about to live out my dreams and pretend I’m a hamster in a hotel, but apparently you can do that. This hotel has a hamster wheel for two to make you feel like a rodent. It comes complete with haystack beds, a giant foot-operated water bottle and woodchip-lined bathroom. Not clear on whether you actually ‘go to the bathroom’ on the woodchips or an actual toilet. You also get hamster masks when you check in.

 

Propeller Island City Lodge

Location: Berlin, Germany

PriceStarts at $112/night

Why It’s Worth Going: Like the Madonna Inn, the Propeller Island City Lodge boasts unique and maybe even weirder themed rooms, like this coffin where you and your significant other can spend the night dead, or a padded cell room where you can recreate ‘N Sync’s I Drive Myself Crazy music video.

Palacio de Sal

Location: Potosí, Bolivia

Price: Starting at $96/night

Why It’s Worth Going: If ice isn’t your steeze, maybe salt is? The entire hotel is made out of salt – the floors, the walls, even the furniture. If you’re wondering where all the salt comes from, it’s because the hotel is located at the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat. There’s also a sauna, steam room, and saltwater pool JIC you want more salt in your life. And one rule: don’t lick the walls.

CasAnus

Location: Stekene, Belgium

Price: Too much for this shit ($165/night)

Why It’s Worth Going: This is a hotel in the middle of a Belgian field and shaped like an anus. The end.

Silver White Winters & Crisp Apple Streudels: The Sound of Music Tour

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the release of one of the world’s most beloved movies, Sound of Music. In honor of the milestone, the movie is being re-released in theaters, a special DVD edition is being sold, the cast (yes, even all the kids!) got together for a Vanity Fair feature, and as you probably saw at the Oscars, Lady Gaga slayyyed a medley of songs just before Dame Julie Andrews came out and the tears poured out of my eyes faster than you can say Edelweiss.

Like many people, Sound of Music has a special place in my heart. I grew up watching the two tape VHS version of the movie, and for some reason our copy got messed up at the end of the tape so the party always ended abruptly. It’s clearly stuck with me all these years.

Years later, I was cast in a production of Sound of Music as Sister Maragretta – no you shouldn’t really know who she is unless you’re a hardcore fan or have been in the show – basically my claim to fame was “Maria – makes me – LAUGH!! heheheeeheeeheeeee” *fakest laugh ever. For anyone that’s been part of a production, you know how much of an impact every show makes on you (good or bad, I suppose), and luckily for me this one was pleasant experience that I’ll always remember.

Then, when I was studying abroad in college, my friends and I spent the weekend in Austria, first in Vienna and then over to Salzburg, where they filmed a lot of scenes from the film. I’m not sure if everyone was 100 percent into it, but I feel like I basically conned my travel buds into going on the Sound of Music tour with me. Turns out, it was actually a fantastic four hour tour of not only SoM filming locations, but the ‘countryside’ of Austria as well.

So in honor of SoM’s 50th anniversary (and the nine year anniversary of us going on this tour this week!), here’s a guide to some of the stops we made on the tour, whether you’re thinking of going or just want to live vicariously through these pictures!

Mirabell Gardens

To preface, we went to Austria (as previously mentioned) in March. It is still winter there at this time. Because of that, it was cold and there was snow, but it didn’t deter (most of our tour). So, below are the gardens featured in the Do-Re-Mi scene, where Maria takes the kids running through Salzburg learning Solfège.

In the background on the hill, you can see the Hohensalzburg Castle, probably the biggest landmark in the city that served as a fortress dating back to 1077. During World War I, it was as a prison to hold Italian POWs and and Nazi activists. You can also see it in the background in the beginning of the Do-Re-Mi scene.

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A view of the Salzach River. I don’t think anything was filmed here, but it was pretty.

Leopoldskron Palace

The grounds of this palace was used as Captain Von Trapp’s backyard, more specifically the lake, that you can obviously see so clearly here (it’s the giant patch of snow frozen over). This lake is the one Maria and the kids fell into when they were out rowing the boat in their curtain gear.

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Hellbrunn Palace, Gazebo

The famous gazebo, or pavilion, was originally located at Leopoldskron Palace. As the movie became popular, tourists went to visit it, so they moved the gazebo to Hellbrunn. Also, neither the 16 Going on 17 scene or Something Good scene were filmed inside the actual gazebo, those were filmed on a Hollywood soundstage *MOVIE MAGIC*. However, the exteriors of the gazebo were shot in Austria.

Miscellaneous Austrian village shot, because this is pretty and could also have been in the movie.

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My eyes are closed because I’m trying to get into character.

A bunch of tourists, I tells ya. *these are my friends. the people in the background are not.

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REMINDER that Something Good is one of the best songs from the movie.

I want to say these were the trees the kids were hiding in, but who knows, I went on this tour nine years ago. Just pretend it is.

Salzburg Lake District Area

Again, I’d like to reiterate that it was winter and the quaint lake that was used for panorama shots in the film, and also where they had their picnic, was completely covered in snow. This is us in said snow.

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There’s a lake in there.

 Mondsee – Wedding Chapel

SPOILER ALERT: The Captain and Maria get married!!! And this is the church it all went down. It’s in the cute little super Austrian village.

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I’m sure God is totally down with all these tourists taking pix, right?

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Dancing around like the Von Trapp children. Also, perhaps more importantly, there was a restaurant behind us that had the BEST apple strudel. nomm

And that concludes our tour! Here’s a rando pic of Salzburg, because I don’t remember what it is, but it’s sah cuhyte.

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Also, I wanted to include this picture because this is how we managed to keep our grades up while also travelling Europe. Unless you’re my friend Caitlin who apparently was doing sudoku. It was a really cool thing back then.

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Expectations vs. Reality: Friends IRL

It’s been nearly two weeks since all 236 episodes of Friends were made available for streaming on Netflix instant, something that many fans have been looking forward to for years. And while I have seen some folks on the interwebz talking about how they’re binging on the entire series for the first time, we here at Cookies + Sangria have been fans of the show for about half of our lives (as evidenced by this entire week we dedicated to Friends last year). So naturally, when we went to New York City together in September, we had to pay homage to one of the greatest sitcoms of all time by hitting up a couple of the gang’s hot spots. But it’s important to remember that Friends is a TV show.

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe sometimes that these six friends aren’t actually our real friends at all – or even real for that matter (in our hearts and minds 4evr, of course). That being said, sometimes, if you have a certain image of something in your head, or expectations about something you’re looking forward to, it doesn’t always turn out to be what you hoped for, for better or for worse. That kind of happened to us on this trip.

First off, we needed some assistance on getting around parts of the Big Apple, so we consulted with a map. Joey tells us that you have to go into the map to understand it.

Natch, we tried it expecting to get a clear lay of the land:

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But believe it or not, in reality – it didn’t work.

You know what’s a much more efficient way to getting around these days? Your phone’s map app. Too bad Joe didn’t have this back in London (Baby).

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Using our trusty iPhones, we made it to what we had seen on the internet was the exterior of the friends’ apartment building in Greenwich Village, listed at 12 Bedford Street. However, we got there and found this:

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Luckily, we were just a few buildings away – for those who want to head to the mecca, it’s actually at 90 Bedford Street, at the corner of Grove and Bedford. It was glorious.

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Excited we actually made it!

Finally, when we were in NYC, we just happened to be there at the time the Central Perk pop-up shop was happening. It was still the first week of its opening, and we planned on meeting my friend Scott (fellow Friends freak) there. We expected to go in, take pix, go out and grab brunch. Alas, we did not anticipate a line going around the block. And then down the block. And then across the street. Down that block. We waited 20-30 minutes before it even opened, and decided it wasn’t worth it and got food instead. Didn’t get a pic of us waiting in the long-ass line, but I’m sure you seen a line full of insane Friends fans waiting to go into a fake coffee shop before. We did however take a pic in front of Central Perk without having to wait in line:

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For those parties interested, the real Central Perk is permanently located on the Warner Brothers lot, where they filmed Friends. I have been on the studio tour thrice (and not even ashamed), so here are a few photos of the real deal – Gunther not included.

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Visit #1 of 3. Only the second time were we allowed to take pictures actually SITTING on the couch!

So there you have it Friends fanatics. If you find yourself in NYC, just know what you’re getting in to. And expect to lower your expectations, because either way you won’t be disappointed.

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: The Getaway

I feel like with all the Kadrashians and Housewives and Honey Boo Boos of the world, reality TV has gotten a negative stigma, where as soon as you label a show as such, most people are keen to brush it off. But believe it or not, there are plenty of great reality TV – ahem, unscripted docu-series – shows out there that deserved to be watched. One of them is a show called The Getaway on the Esquire network.

What It’s About

If you have the desire to feed your wanderlust, this show’s for you. Each episode features one celebrity who picks one city anywhere in the world, and they get to explore it for a few days. They take in the culture, eat the food, get to know the locals, etc. Also, the show is executive produced by Anthony Bourdain, so you know you’re getting the real deal.

Street Cred

The first season of The Getaway premiered last year, and after the first episode featuring Joel McHale, I was hooked. Other celebs who took the plunge in the first season included Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Seth & Josh Meyers, Eve, and Josh Gad. Here are just a few highlights that will give you a taste of what to expect.

Shopping

Rashida’s episode in London is my favorite out of the bunch, not only because I adore her, but because London in like another home to her and when she takes us to various places around the city, it’s as if she’s our personal tour guide. And thanks to the help of special guests like Chris O’Dowd and Adam Scott, it makes for a truly hilarious episode. In the scene above, Chris takes her to a super odd shop that’s part boutique and part weird museum that you see in the don’t go here but go here section of travel guide books.

Eating

Naturally, eating is a big part of traveling a foreign city, and the same goes for The Getaway. When Seth & Josh Meyers visit their old home of Amsterdam, they are treated to a special pig cuisine – stop the vid when the waiter explains the type of meat he puts on their table. And then there’s Broadway star/Olaf Josh Gad who opts to return to New York City and go to Carnegie’s Deli where he attempts to eat a sandwich that weighs more than some newborn babies. But hey, when in Rome, right?

Drinking

Because The Getaway is on the Esquire network, there has to be some classy drinking involved. Another episode I’m partial to is Bridesmaids director Paul Feig’s visit to Boston, where he pays a visit to one of the classiest drinking joints there is in the 617. Like the bartender uses items such a blowtorches and centerfuge. Yeah, exactly.

Activities

Rashida’s Parks and Rec pal Aziz Ansari opts to go to Hong Kong. If you are a fan of his or stalk his Insta, you know he’s a giant foodie, which is part of the reason he goes there. However, he has to do something besides eat, so his tour guide Denny (the best) takes him to the pony races. Who knew it was a thing there?

Culture

The great thing about The Getaway is that they don’t just show you the local hotspots, but they delve into the local culture and language too, all from the mouths of locals. When Joel McHale goes to Dublin, he gets a lesson on food slang. Albeit he doesn’t understand at first, the actual food looked really good.

 What to Expect

For the upcoming second season, a new slew of celebs get to pick the getaway of their choosing, including Chrissy Teigen who goes to roots in Bangkok, Thailand, Jack McBrayer stands out as a white dude in Hawaii and Adam Pally stays home in the U.S. for a wild trip to Las Vegas with his pals (In fact you can watch that episode now!). So fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a trip around the world from the comfort of your own home and enjoy getting away.

Season 2 of The Getaway premieres on Wednesday, October 15th on the Esquire at 9pm 

Class of ’04: Traci & Molly’s High School Reunion

As Class of ’04 Week comes to a close, we’re taking today to look back at our own personal experience in high school. Like everyone else who spent four years trapped inside a building with pubescent teens and seemingly endless piles of homework (that we may or may not have done), we have fond memories of our time together in those hallowed halls. From being theatre nerds to drama with friends and a trip that took us to meet our very first (gay) boyfriend in Europe, the anecdotes are endless. Since the odds of us attending our upcoming (official) 10 year reunion are the same as, say, Britney and Justin getting back together or my Beanie Babies collection being worth $1 mil, or ever knowing the real way to pronounce ‘Xanga’, we now share with you reflections on our teen selves as adults 10 years later – in lieu of a real reunion.

Introduction to Theater

M: We sort of had a weirdly politicized high school theater department, which I think is such a normal thing. Like, the same kids got all the roles even if they weren’t great, and it was impossible to edge your way in there. Both of us came in with more “experience” (whatever) than a lot of kids, but since we started sophomore or junior year it was like “nope, sorry.” And I was like BITCH I WAS IN AN EDUCATIONAL VIDEO ALREADY.

T: And I was all BITCH I’VE BEEN IN ALL THE PRODUCTIONS OF MY CHURCH MUSICALS DAMNNNN. But really. I think I went into the freshman year audition of Cinderella thinking I was the shit and ended up not even getting into the chorus. It wasn’t until junior year when both Molly & I got into Crazy For You – and I got in only because I was good at tap dancing and somehow made the “dance troupe/Follies Girls”. I felt like I finally had an in but senior year, I was determined to get a good role for the musical, My Fair Lady. I started taking voice lessons from a local music school just so I could properly prepare for my audition. I guess it worked because I played Mrs. Pearce, the head housekeeper. CATCH YOUR DREAMS, KIDS. SHACKLE THEM TO YOUR HEART.

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M: But the most memorable theater experience by far was The Theater Bandit. During the spring musical, stuff kept disappearing from kids’ backpacks during rehearsals. After a while it became clear it was someone involved in the play. THEN a big sum of money went missing the day of our dress rehearsal, and the play was going to be cancelled – cancelled! – if the person didn’t fess up or turn in the money. The directors called everyone up onto the stage, one by one, and went through their bookbags to look for it. Girls were crying.

Honestly, even for the theater department, calling each kid up to be searched right at center stage was a liiiiitle dramatic. There were three chairs – one for the kid and one for each director – and in my imagination, a spotlight. Maybe some suspenseful piano music.

T: But really, in my head it looked like the “green mile” on So You Think You Can Dance right before they find out if they make the top 20 or not.

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Turns out that the girl who did it finally got caught and mystery of The Theater Bandit was solved. I still don’t know if she ‘fessed up or you know, our director found a huge wad of cash in her bookbag, but to this day, we still call this girl The Theater Bandit. Also I think I remember someone else claiming they had something stolen, and during the interrogation, she came crying back into the theater saying her mom found whatever it is she thought was stolen – at home.

M: I don’t know if she was officially caught, because I found out later when our friend Sarah went to college with someone knew The Theater Bandit. If our lives were Pretty Little Liars, that was the moment I found out who A was.

Recess/Lunch (You Can’t Sit With Us)

M: I could still draw the social geography of our high school cafeteria from memory. Having multiple groups you sit with depending on the day was okay – I floated a bit – but going to a table that wasn’t part of your usual scene just wasn’t done. To the extent that freshman year when I went to the senior boy table to give my brother my leftover lunch money and stayed there a while, THAT was the moment he decided I was sort-of cool. One time they tried to start this Change Your Seat Day, and we were all like “this is some kind of crazy bullshit.”

T: I weirdly remember the geography too. In fact freshman year, I almost sat with the girls who played sports – because my friends from middle school played volleyball, not because I did HAHA – but I decided to sit somewhere else instead. That somewhere else was the theater/band/chorus section, where I usually sat. Although, like Molly, I think I floated a bit, between that table, the table that our group of friends started that was kind of a mish mosh of folks, and when I felt daring, the minority table (read: black table). I used to sit at the black table all throughout middle school, but that’s because we were all friends. In high school, it was like two of them were my friends and the rest were the guys who played football. Nope.

This was not in our school’s cafeteria, this was at the annual theatre banquet our senior year.

M: The volleyball thing reminds me of that period right at the beginning of freshman year when you’re trying to get your bearings, and you hang out with people that you end up not even saying hi to in the hall four years later. The same thing happened in college, too. You befriended some random group of people, figured out who you really want to spend time with within a few months, and by graduation you didn’t even know their names.

T: And I’m still friends with those people on Facebook. Still trying to get myself to unfriend them, but stalking is just so satisfying on the internetz.

Dramatics

M: I was never properly at the center of any actual teen drama. I did have a few of those random girls who seemed to dislike me for no reason though. One girl from my tennis team hated me. She was sort of a poor student/bad girl type. I think she took my “Exceeds Expectations” personality type as a personal indictment, when in reality I couldn’t have given less of a shit about her. Also this one girl who used a lot of hairspray was always kind of snide and I was like “get over yourself, you leave the girls’ bathroom under a heavy fog of Aquanet.” If there is a tiny ozone hole directly above the science wing of our high school, she is the reason.

I did talk a lot of shit, though. I’ll own up to that. But I was always joking! I felt like it was okay to rip on people as long as it was funny. I hope I’ve gotten better, but that might be a lifelong journey.

T: I mean, we’ve gotten better to the extent that we know when it’s warranted because people are jackasses. Yeah, I don’t really remember any real teen drama happening, besides the normal secret romances, secret (not so secret) pregnancies… but senior year is when the real shit happened. One of my friends decided she was just going to stop talking to us – I honestly don’t even remember why – and as a last “olive branch/I’m going off to college peace offering” I sent her a copy of that video I made for everyone (see yesterday’s post re: Closing Time by Semisonic), and never got a response back. Until like 2 years ago when we met up when I was home and we made up, I guess? IDK I don’t have a problem with her anymore, I just think it’s funny that I still have no idea why there was a rift in the first place.

M: I was waiting for you to tell that story because I couldn’t figure out what had actually happened and figured I either forgot or wasn’t in the loop! It turns out it was just legitimately for no reason?

T: No reason. If there was a reason, I’ve clearly forgotten it with my old age.

Global Studies

M: Junior year, we went on a school trip to Spain. We brought along computer print-outs of Friends episodes and read them aloud in our hotel room. I feel like this is an important thing to know about us as friends and just people in general.

T: I clearly remember us in our hotel room in Valencia, maybe (?) sitting on the bed and reading the scripts between the two of us and our two friends. This was also the trip where we tried to convince one of our friends that Cups was a real game during the flight.

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“Gotcha suckaaa! Cups isn’t real!”

M: We totally did, too. I remember her being like “I think I’m getting it!”

I’d like to take this moment to publicly apologize to all of the other people on our flights, in our hotels, in restaurants, etc. We were probably all so loud and annoying.  A German couple did ask us to quiet down one morning when we were watching “That’s English!”, which was like the Spanish-to-English version of Destinos. Sample dialogue: A: Do you like ham? B: I like ham. A: Here’s a ham! Have some ham.

T: oh my GOD I forgot about That’s English! We also did a lot of ‘staring at European children and promising we would dress our kids like that one day’ too. The friggin tots looked straight out of Zara.

M: I’m still trying to work out how my future children can wear school smocks (is that even the right English term? IDK. Babis.) and speak French.

I believe this was post-churros con chocolate. My life has never been the same.

T: Since we went through the school, we were on one of those EF organized tours that give you a free backpack and a tour guide to join you the entire trip. Our tour guide’s name was Pablo *sigh*. I was pretty much obsessed/in love with him and his Spanish accent and knowledge of so much about his country. I even bought one of those novelty name plates that said PABLO on it, which still sits in my bedroom at home to this day. Looking back… he was absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it, homosexual. FORESHADOWING OF MY LIFE WITH THE GAYS.

Fun fact: the Theater Bandit is in this picture.

M: I remember debating whether he was gay or straight, and then he walked into the hotel lobby in a rainbow-print Dolce & Gabbana sweater. We were like “maybe he’s just European?” But Europe has gay people, too. And he was one of them.

❤ PABLO ❤

Photography Class

T: Kids these days don’t know just how good they have it. Someone was recently telling me that they saw a group of like 15 year old girls at the airport who kept taking selfies for 20 minutes while waiting for their flight. When we were 15, we had to take pictures on either our disposable KODAK cameras or actual point and shoots with real film (do kids know how to put film in cameras even?). When you got pix back after they were developed and you looked horrible in a picture, too bad. That’s why when there was a picture where everyone looked great, it was like the holy grail.

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And for big events – such as prom – I remember the agony of waiting a couple days to get the photos back. And then we would scour over them during lunch.

Junior prom.

Senior prom.

Post-Senior prom at our friend’s cottage and clearly taken on an old school camera since it’s not even in focus or centered.

M: But in a way, that was better. Because you kept your pictures, and if you looked bad, you either got rid of it or just didn’t show it to anybody. And if you looked bad in someone else’s pictures, only a finite group of people would ever see it. The downside was that if your pictures didn’t turn out you wouldn’t know til weeks later, and by then the moment was gone. I like how pictures used to be separate from events. Like you said, we’d all pour over them at lunch or study hall after they were developed. Now you’re expected to show everyone what you’re doing, while you’re doing it.

iPhones would’ve been the best for our band/chorus trip to Hershey Park. WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE!

T: Are senior pictures still a big thing with high schoolers? I think mine actually came out pretty good, but can someone explain to me why I was wearing a jersey like shirt in this one? I never played sports. But we did use these pictures like trading cards.

you’re welcome, internet.

M: Gotta catch ‘em all! You’d have people you weren’t even really friends with ask for your picture.

They’re still a thing some places at least – my little cousin is a senior now and she has like a hundred different poses that keep showing up on Facebook. When I got to college I learned that in other regions people only got that one picture that went in the yearbook, often where girls had to wear that weird off-the-shoulder black thing. We got straight-up glamour shots with three outfit changes, multiple settings, filters, etc. You had your yearbook pic and then like your sassy outdoor pic, your “wearing a prom dress on a swing” pic, etc. My wearing a prom dress on a swing pic was actually in SUCH demand that I ran out. My mom ordered more but, alas, she got extra prints of the wrong one. I was so ticked in the way only a seventeen-year-old whose mom is just trying to help can be ticked.

T: Um, I’m pretty sure I never got the one of you in a dress on a swing. That’s it. Friendship over.

M: Yeah, I’d love to give you one, but I still only have a giant stack of the wrong pose. THANKS MOM.

AP Life Class

M: While I think you really have to learn things by experience, there are still some things I wish I’d known:

♦ Straighten your hair or wear it curly, but please do not just blow-dry it and leave it sort of puffy and lumpy and sad.

♦ Being as young and enthusiastic and optimistic as you are at 17 is attractive no matter what you look like. But also, looking back at pictures I can’t believe I didn’t realize that I looked perfectly normal, not the ugly sewer-troll I thought I was. Besides, nobody cares what you look like; they’re all too busy with their own lives. Maybe that’s the biggest lesson: nobody else really cares what you look like, so you shouldn’t either.

♦ You really AREN’T going to use calculus.

♦ A high school teacher said this once, but I had to live it to know if was true: a lot of your best friends and people you’ll love most in your life are people you haven’t met yet.  It’s easy to be myopic when you’re a teenager but your relationships when you’re 16 aren’t IT. Or at 27, for that matter.

T: Like Tim Riggins, I also have no regrets, but here we go:

♦ Pay attention during instructions for school picture day. I came from a middle school where you could dress up (aka not wear the required uniform) for picture day, and assumed it was the same in high school. So freshman year, I showed up in a long black skirt, white shirt, with a black button up short sleeve shirt that wasn’t buttoned up. I got pulled over by one of the vice principals who asked why I wasn’t in dress code. I blamed it on my stupidity. Probs my most embarrassing moment in my high school career.

♦ Hang out with your friends outside of school more. Because our school was a private school with kids from all over the greater Rochester area, my friends lived all over the city, not down the street. In fact I had no friends that lived down the street from me. Anyways, I didn’t really hang out with my friends on weekends for real until late junior year. I wish we had more nights together.

♦ Take that journalism class. Because it will help you for your future job, probably (aka the job I have now).

♦ Don’t be afraid to do more extracurriculars. I wish I could’ve done choir all four years, been involved in theatre somehow even when I wasn’t cast in the show, and I totally could’ve made the yearbook much better than it was our senior year.

♦ Don’t be afraid. Period. I think I was trying too hard to be “adult” by the time I was a senior that I forgot how to be a teenager and just not think about the possible consequences. I mean, it’s not like I was breaking any laws, I just mean I shouldn’t have have been so uptight about life in general.

 

Camp Cookies + Sangria: Field Trip to Austin, Texas

Last week, we introduced you to our new summer series, Camp Cookies + Sangria, which will give all those adults who are jonesing for a fix of that magic that is summer camp, whether you went as a kid or not. Today, we’re taking a field trip down south to Austin, Texas, so get your cowboy boots and be prepared for a lot of “y’alls” as we venture out of the camp walls to the “weirdest” city in the Lone Star state.

Over the weekend, I went to Austin to attend the ATX Television Festival – think of it as a way smaller version of Comic Con but specifically for TV nerds, less lines, and more humidity and BBQ. This was my second year attending the fest (which I strongly recommend to all TV fans), but last year I didn’t get to do as much wandering about the city as I wanted to. This year, my friend came with a list of suggestions from locals and let me tell you – the entire weekend, we (modestly) kept saying we were KILLING IT in Texas, because we got so much done in a small amount of time, but everything we did was spot on. Here are some of a few items on our itinerary, for your own field trip to Austin!

To Do

Texas State Capitol

{1100 Congress Avenue}

Even if you’re not into going to visit historical places, the building itself is gorgeous. It’s located in Downtown Austin, and takes over a massive 51 acres. You can go in and look around for free, and there are even tours to learn about the history of the building, and you know, Texas.

Alamo Drafthouse

{320 East 6th Street}

The ATX Fest has screenings at this awesome movie theater which also serves as a bar/restaurant. You can order food and drinks directly to your seat, and not just popcorn. I’m talking like burgs and beer. I’ve never been for a regular movie, but they also have cool events like sing-a-longs and showings of older movies, which sounds awesome.

South Congress Bridge Bats

{100 South Congress Avenue}

Listen, I’m not usually one with nature. But if there’s something that’s super unique to a city, I am into it. The city itself is the spring and summer home to about 750,000 bats – with up to 1.5 million at the peak of the season, making it the largest bat colony in North America. WUT. Well in the summer around sunset, the bats come out from their homes underneath the bridge to search for food (bugs) and they come out like a freaking black tunnel of rabies. When my friend and I went, we kind of stumbled upon it and did not come prepared – as in bring bug spray because those little shits are everywhere. You can stand by the bank of the Colorado River or on the bridge itself to view the bats, or even go to a nearby restaurant or bat cruise. And if you’re lucky (we weren’t) you’ll see something akin to this:

Good lord.

Hope Outdoor Gallery

{1008 Baylor Street}

Austin is known for being the cultural capital of the state, with large music, theater, film and art scenes. The latter of which is awesomely display at the Hope Outdoor Gallery, which is basically an abandoned cement construction site which graffiti artists use as their canvas. It’s legit one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and we even got to witness one artist at work! Definitely a must-see if you’re into checking out something off the beaten path.

Austin Live Music

{all over Austin!}

With annual events like South by Southwest and Austin City Limits, the city’s music reputation precedes it. You’re not doing Austin right if you don’t check out at least one live music show. One day, I was walking down one of the main streets with all the bars (7th Street), and all you could hear was the cacophony of live bands playing from every direction. It was amazing. You can simply stumble into a bar and take in a show, or find out more into your personal interests. We used this site, AustinLiveMusic.com, to see what was going on, and we found a band called Foot Patrol, a local funk group that played Prince’s entire Purple Rain album in honor of his birthday on Saturday. I mean, come on, where else would you be able to go something like that in a place like this:

To Eat

24 Diner

{600 North Lamar}

Besides being the cultural mecca of Texas, Austin is known for its out-of-this-world food. I highly suggest you take a brief pause on whatever diet you’re on when you visit this city (sidenote: I didn’t get to have BBQ on this trip, but I had it last time at the Salt Lick and … drooolll all the meat. Gimme all the meat). 24 Diner was recommended to us by an Uber driver, and we will forever be in his debt. This place is everything you love about all-American diners except without the negative connotations. The decor is like an “upscale” diner, and the chef is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America, not like, Homeland) trained cook, and has taken all the diner faves and kicked it up 10 notches. The cocktails were insane – I had something called Dad’s Cider – idek what was in it but it was good and there was a lot of alcohol. We also had bomb deviled eggs and for the main course – chicken and waffles. A second Uber driver suggested we try it, and our amazingly awesome waitress Jayme supported the decision. Actually, not only did she support the decision, she showed me how the locals eat it – drizzle Cholula hot sauce and then their super light and non Aunt Jemima-y syrup on top and it is NEXT LEVEL. I’ve only had chickwaff twice before (and from the same establishment) but I can say this was by far the best chickwaff I’ve ever had in my life. I could not recommend this place more!!

Home Slice Pizza

{1415 South Congress Street}

Let’s be real – pizza in Los Angeles is just not the same as pizza on the east coast. Any transplant can tell you that. So imagine my surprise when I go all the way to Austin to find on point pizza. We ordered the Margherita pizza and I wish computers had smell-o-vision because the basil wafting off this? Oooooo chile. It was thin enough that it didn’t feel like you were eating a loaf of bread and the dough itself was to die. Also check out the back patio – there’s a bar, a ping pong table, and those hanging lights that I love that are apparently everywhere in Austin. Oh and they give out Smarties as an “after-dinner mint”.

Magnolia Cafe

{1920 South Congress Avenue}

Down the street from Home Slice, Magnolia is like the diner version of 24 Diner. As in, it’s a real diner. This place was packed and we had to wait to get a table even at like 10pm on aThursday. But it was totally worth the wait, if only for the queso. Guys. Texas does queso right. The queso from Chilli’s is legit garbage next to this. I mean this queso comes with avocado! And it comes in a huge bowl, so get ready for a huge queso brick in your stomach afterwards. Worth it.

The Hideout

{617 Congress Avenue}

I came across The Hideout while I was wandering around for 30 minutes in between panels during the festival, and it was a such a great find on my part (again, very humble). The outside is very inconspicuous, as it’s just wood paneling, glass windows, and just a chalk board luring you in with drinks and breakfast tacos. Now I love a good coffee shop, and this place became my go-to over the weekend. The coffee is fantastic and even their pressed sandwiches are delish. They also serve alcohol, which is awesome but it was too early for me to be drinking anything other than coffee. Apparently it’s also a theater towards the back of the building, so that’s cool. The only weird thing was that they were playing weird music both times I was there – including something that sounded like the Sci-Fi ringtone on iPhones.

To Drink

Garage

{503 W Colorado Street}

STEFON VOICE: THIS PLACE HAS EVERYTHING – A flashing neon light sign signifying where you enter, egg whites in drinks and cars passing by the window since you’re in an actual parking garage. We definitely felt not cool enough to be at this bar, but the kissing couple sitting next to us was high as a kite, so we felt better about ourselves. The cocktails are a little bit on the more expensive side ($8 to $15) but tasty and worth every dollar. I just want to know how the owner came up with putting a bar in a fully functioning parking garage.

Key Bar

{617 West 6th Street}

Going back to our fave 24 Diner and our girl Jayme the waitress, she gave us so many suggestions for bars in the area, and Key Bar was one of them. The sign is a little inconspicuous, it’s basically a picture of an old key, so just look for that. It’s mostly an open air bar, and there are even fire pits, I’m assuming they turn on when it’s a little cooler than the hot days of June. The most unique thing on their menu are the shakers, which is basically a shaker of alcohol, and you’re given a glass with a popsicle of your choice and you pour the alc into the glass, so when the popsicle melts, the drink becomes the flavor flav of the popsicle. The one I procured was the All Good, which comes with a raspberry/mint popsicle and it was really tasty and refreshing. It was also a great place for people watching, and we made a drinking game by taking a sip anytime a Prius drove by (didn’t end up drinking a lot with that game).

Random Suggestions

Food Trailers: In L.A., we have a shit ton of food trucks (as our friend Eva used to work on one), but in Austin, it’s all about food trailers. They’re everywhere downtown, some are mobile, some are not, but they usually set up shop and have seating outside, like this fried chicken place on South Congress. Again with the lights! Obsessed.

Heat: Y’all – the heat in Texas is NO JOKE. Coming from a California resident, I’ve never encountered this kind of heat. Or rather, the humidity. I can sort of handle Vegas at 110 degrees, but Austin at 95 degrees is horrible – you walk 2 blocks and you’re already doused in sweat. So in saying this, plan your days carefully. No one’s judging if you take a little siesta in the middle of the day before you go out at night.

Mecca for Friday Night Lights fans : Last year, we embarked on our own FNL tour of faux Dillon, which was actually all shot in Austin. If you love Coach, Mrs. Coach, Riggins, and/or have a penchant for blocking season two out of your brain, here’s my guide to visiting the home of the Panthers. Lions.

TV Nerds Unite: Okay, one last plug for the ATX TV Festival – if you have a hard time keeping track of all your shows, ship at least one fictional couple or like hearing behind the scenes stories from cast and crew members of your favorite shows, this fest is for you. Over the course of a weekend, celebs gather in Austin to talk about their shows and meet fans. There are past shows (Hey Dude reunion), current shows (Orange is the New Black) and upcoming shows (that scary ass show The Strain) featured, and there are also panels with some of TV’s most influential people talking about their craft in a non-douchey way.

Alright, campers, hope this is a handy guide on your own field trip to Austin. Enjoy, y’all!

What’s In Shailene Woodley’s Bag?

According to Shailene Woodley, Shailene Woodley is a clay-eating, toothpaste-making, showtune-in-the-morning singing not-feminist who talks about “Gaia” and gathers spring water from a mountain brook. She’s also slightly homeless. Does this surprise anyone?

Woodley’s not homeless in the “not having a home” sense: she owns one, but her grandma lives there (because, if it doesn’t come through enough here: Shailene Woodley seems really, really nice). She’s more homeless in the “sleeping on my friends’ sofas, clogging the sink drain with lumps of clay, encouraging them to use those salt crystal sticks that, no, do NOT work just as well as deodorant, thank you very much” sense. (While we’re at it, I feel bad that regular deodorant is going to give me Alzheimers/cancer and if anyone could point me to a natural alternative that doesn’t make me smell, it’s probably Shailene).

Well, let’s let Shailene explain it, actually:

So … is Shailene Woodley magic? (Probably, yeah; wouldn’t be surprised.) Jimmy Kimmel examines her assertion that all of her possessions can fit in one carry-on sized bag, but Shai’s not really helping. Is this a normal bag or is it a mystical bottomless bag, a la Mary Poppins or The Barney Bag? I can only assume that it’s the latter, maybe given to her on a moonlit mountain sojourn by an enchanted forest crone.

Let’s inventory Shailene Woodley’s bag. On Kimmel she lists the following items: (1) computer; (1) hoodie situation; (1) pair jeans; (some) basic tees and tanks; (1) temporary cell phone because the studio got annoyed that she kept disappearing into the wilderness to worship the moon goddess; and (indeterminate) leggings.

Okay, let’s all picture all of those items. They’d totally fit into an airplane-standard carry-on, I think we can all agree. But that can’t be it, right? Based on my research, here are some other things that Shailene Woodley owns:

  • Vibram Five-Finger Shoes: Those glove-shoes that seem like they were invented by the guy who has the patent on those little round blister band-aids, in order to drum up business.

  • Water jugs: Specifically, “5-gallon carboy situations”. Girl. You know this isn’t fitting in a carry-on – wheeled or duffel. Maybe it’s her personal item.

  • Makeup and makeup remover: You can read all about Shailene’s favorite products here. You could make an argument that she doesn’t own the makeup and only wears it for appearances, but at least the remover sort of has to live with her.
  • Just a little bit of shampoo: Because she only shampoos about once a month. See article, above. (I tried this for a while and it worked until it didn’t. Some people swear by it. Probably depends on your hair type.)
  • Some clay: She eats about a teaspoon of clay every day, and makes toothpaste out of it as well. I’d say conservative estimate, you can count on at least two cups of clay so she doesn’t have to keep buying clay all the time. But if you are extra crazy and go to the website of Woodley’s recommended clay vendor, you would see that the smallest size clay-ball is 1 pound. So there you have it. A one-pound bag of clay, chipped away a teaspoon at a time.
  • This horseradish root:

See, she has a sense of humor about her hippie-neo-witch vibe, and that’s why I like her.

  • A mason jar: She carries one everywhere. Says co-star Miles Teller, “she always has a mason jar and 100% of the time it smells like crap.” Well, there’s that, then.

  • Presumably some kind of reusable menstrual product deal:  She follows DivaCup and New Moon pads on Twitter, and I can’t imagine you follow those companies because of all their awesome 140-character jokes, right? Also, this tweet:

I’ve now spent enough time in Woodley’s twitter feed to know that she calls her period “moon time.” New product idea: that one puberty class you had to go to in fifth grade, rewritten by Shailene Woodley to be 100% more earthy. 10/10, would attend.

  • Mushroom tea: I can’t imagine this tasting like anything but diluted, terrible mushroom soup. I’m only including the tea here because I’m pretty sure that the kind of people who host Shailene Woodley on their guest futon also are the type of people who own a tea kettle.
  • Chinese herbal supplements: the better to make her breath smell of dirt and creeks and forests before kissing scenes. Her costar literally used the word “musty.”

HOLY SHIT THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF.

I’m not trying to put bad vibes into the universe towards Shailene Woodley (because you know who puts good vibes into the universe? Probably Shailene Woodley). She seems really earnest and well-intentioned, and people who know her (John Green; George Clooney; etc) all seem to like her a whole lot. She was also Felicity Merriman in an adaptation of the American Girl series, and Marissa Cooper’s little sister in The O.C., so that’s cool.

It’s just that, for those of us who have ever struggled to fit two weeks worth of possessions into a carry-on tote so we don’t have to pay a checked bag fee … this is a lot to take. A lot. I can forgive Shailene for making clay-eating sound like a good idea even though it’s actually a certifiable medical disorder.  I’m not even jealous that she manages to look pretty in that 1997 soccer mom haircut in The Fault In Our Stars. But going on national television, bragging about a magical carry-on bag that could fit all of these possessions, and not even directing us up the woodland path to the kindly mountain witch who peddles them? Not cool.

I hope there’s room for my disappointment in Shailene’s bag, because she carries it with her wherever she goes.

 

How To Throw An American-Themed Party

Nobody does a themed party like American college kids — except, that is, for Europeans parodying American college kids. Somehow I’d never heard of these star-spangled fetes until Buzzfeed featured them last week, but they’re pretty darn awesome:

They’re not just using solo cups, they ARE the solo cups:

For some reason, there are always buckets of popcorn, although I’ve only ever seen those at a movie theater:

And marshmallows on toothpicks because… actually, I have no idea here. Maybe they’ve heard of s’mores and are just getting the “marshmallow on a stick” interpretation a little wrong:

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#americanparty #altmanparty #redcup

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Finally, this bash from Poland is by far the best of all. Gold star, Poland. This is brilliant:

american party

So, you want to throw an American-themed party yourself? We can help! Whether you’ve never stepped foot in “the colonies” or whether you’ve lived here your whole life (which adds a whole other layer of hilarity to the proceedings), we have some tips:

Solo Cups

When people think American party, they think red plastic cups – typically called “Solo cups” stateside, after the most popular brand. There’s actually a reason for this: tv shows and movies avoid showing teens consuming alcohol, and even for adult parties, filmmakers may not want to show specific brands. Boom. Plastic cups – there could be anything in there! It doesn’t even have to be alcohol! (But it’s alcohol.)

In real life, these cups are pretty ubiquitous. There is an American country ode to the Red Solo Cup, so they’re as much a cultural institution as pickup trucks and barbeques. However, the cups also come in blue and yellow, so feel free to branch out a bit. If you have a keg or mixed drinks, you aren’t going to pour the bevs into a proper glass, at least not at a raging party where you’re going to drop it. But there’s an even more important reason that we all used these plastic cups in college….

Games

Drinking games. They have them everywhere, but some of them are as American as Uncle Sam eating a rocket pop on the Fourth of July. Play these responsibly – for liability purposes I should advise you to use water, juice, soda, or iced tea for these games. And plenty of them require solo cups:

  • Flip cup: Form two teams. The teams make lines facing each other. Everyone has an equal, small amount of “beverage” in their plastic cups. The first person in each line consumes the bev, places their cup upside down at the edge of the table, then must tip the cup up from the rim, flipping it over. The next person in line can’t go until the person before them has successfully flipped their cup, with it landing squarely back on its rim. First team to finish wins.
  • Knockout flip cup: same as above, but the losing team must vote to eliminate a member. (THOSE WHO FALL BEHIND GET LEFT BEHIND. AMERICA.  RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM. CAPITALISM. AYN RAND. Et cetera.)  The teams then face off again, and the losing team of that round eliminates a member as well. You keep going until one of the teams – the loser – has no members left.
  • Beer Pong: I’m not going to explain this. Just watch an American college movie. As with all of these games, this is played internationally as well, but your exposure to it will depend on where you live.
  • Civil War: Like beer pong, but with three 10-cup triangles across on each side, three balls in play, and three players on each team.  Any person with a ball can shoot at any time, except when there is a ball in a cup in the triangle in front of you – then you must drink the offending …. soda, or whatever … first. A person is “out” when all of the cups in front of them are gone. The first team to have all of their cups eliminated loses. If a ball falls alongside the table, the players can run for it and, if need be, fight for it. It gets hairy. [I went to college in New York, so I wonder if Southern college kids play this, but call it Beer Pong of Northern Aggression.]

There are also games that don’t require red plastic cups – instructions available online:

  • Kings
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Quarters

Name Tags

Okay, we don’t really wear name tags at parties in the U.S., but why not have name tags and let everyone pick an “American” name? If you are in your 20s or 30s, I suggest these common monickers:

  • Ladies: Jessica, Ashley, Katie, Sarah, Stephanie, Jenny, Nicole, Danielle, Melissa, Megan
  • Gentlemen: Jason, Matt, Mike, Nick, Chris, Dave, Dan, Ryan, Andrew, Jim

You can also pick names of patriotic figures from American history and culture of yesteryear:

  • Ladies: Betsy Ross, Martha Washington, Annie Oakley, Laura Ingalls, sorry we don’t have more ladies but we didn’t let them do stuff for those first few centuries, really.
  • Gentlemen: Uncle Sam, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, Paul Revere, Davy Crockett

Patriotic Recitation Contests or Mad Libs

There are some American songs and speeches that are known world-wide. You could have a contest to see who can come the closest to singing or reciting the correct words to the following. I guarantee that people’s misheard lyrics and wrong guesses will be hilarious:

  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • God Bless America
  • The Pledge of Allegiance
  • The Gettysburg Address
  • America The Beautiful
  • America (also known as My Country ‘Tis Of Thee, this song cribs the melody of God Save The Queen. When I was trying to figure out what song was called “America”, my brain went to “A-mer-i-ca, my home and native land.” That was wrong. That is Canada’s national anthem, with the word America stuck in front. Sorry, Canada. Sorry, America.)

Or, you could try these super-American children’s and folk songs:

  • Yankee Doodle
  • Take Me Out To The Ballgame
  • I’ve Been Working On The Railroad
  • Oh My Darling Clementine
  • Skip To My Lou
  • Oh, Susannah
  • She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain
  • Polly Wolly Doodle

Yes, those are all real songs.

You could also do  “mad libs.” Print out a sheet with the lyrics to these songs, but with blanks in the place of some of the words. Then see what people come up with. The funniest entry wins.

Food

Here’s your big chance to find out why we Americans are so fat. We don’t actually eat most of these things at parties … but isn’t that exactly what you’d expect an American to say because we’re sensitive about being so fat? Here are some treats that just scream “USA! USA!”:

  • Hot dogs (or miniature hot dogs)
  • Hamburgers
  • Potato Chips
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Peanut Butter (any American who’s lived abroad and tried to get their hands on peanut butter knows how hard this can be to find! You could make small, party-sized PB&J sandwiches. The PB is peanut butter, and the J is jelly, by which we mean jam. The seedless grape variety is both the most traditional and, in my eyes, the most disgusting.)
  • Oreos and Milk
  • Rocket Pops (red, white and blue Popsicles. It’s not that we eat them often, but they always remind me of summer and Independence Day.)
  • Chili
  • Apple Pie (I don’t even like Apple Pie, and Americans eat far less apple pie than the phrase “American as apple pie” would suggest, but I’d be remiss to leave it off the list.)
  • Boxed Macaroni & Cheese
  • S’mores, if you have some sort of fire situation handy. You can make them in the microwave, but it’s not the same.

Movies

SO MAJESTIC.

I think we should all give a big round of applause to our pals in Poland for their selection, Pocahontas. Truly inspired. Here are some other red, white, and blue gems to play in the background of your party:

  • Baseball Movies: A League Of Their Own, Field Of Dreams, The Sandlot, Bull Durham, Bad News Bears, Angels In The Outfield
  • Iconic American Childhood films: Stand By Me, Now And Then, Little Women, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Little Rascals, Matilda (YES. YES, WE KNOW. But the movie was set in the ol’ U.S. of A.), My Girl, The Parent Trap (because maybe you’d feel more comfortable if half of the action is in London), Space Jam, Home Alone
  • Teen Fare: Grease, Clueless, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Patriotic Stuff With Wars In It: The Patriot, 1776, Gettysburg, Glory, Gone With The Wind, Saving Private Ryan, Flags Of Our Fathers
  • The Most American Movie of all: Forrest Gump, obviously. Or basically anything with Tom Hanks in it. Tom Hanks freakin’ loves America.
  • Tom Cruise movies: Top Gun, Mission: Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Risky Business
  • Will Smith movies: Men In Black, Independence Day
  • Westerns: The only person I know who watches Westerns in earnest is my dad, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there. He’d probably recommend stuff with John Wayne in it.

Drink

If it’s supposed to be like an American college party, you can try to get your hands on these cold, brewed fonts of liquid disappointment:

  • Keystone Lite
  • Milwaukee’s Best – The beer so bad that you’re like “Milwaukee. What the heck are you doing?” And the name of the beer, itself, responds “Ugh… My best.” Milwaukee is just doing its best, guys.
  • Busch Light
  • Natty Ice – I think the full name is Natural Ice but I don’t even know.
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon

Or, you could try these non-alcoholic American favorites:

  • Kool-Aid
  • Lemonade (it’s different from European lemonade!)
  • Iced tea
  • Sweet tea
  • Actual tea, but made incorrectly, according to everyone in the UK.
  • Soda (BECAUSE WE’RE FAT. We understand.)

You could also look up American mixed drink recipes, of course.

Wardrobe

Okay, a lot of you are onto it, in a stereotypical way anyway: plaid, jerseys, baseball caps. But let’s get a little more particular:

  • The American Hipster: Facial hair (for men), bangs (for women), skinny jeans, an undersized plaid shirt, Converse
  • The Super-Fan: T-shirt, sweatshirt, and hat for various professional or college sports teams
  • The South-Western Classic: Plaid shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy hat. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone wear this in real life. Maybe at a country concert?
  • The Duggar: A long denim skirt or jumper, very buttoned-up top, clunky ugly shoes, permed hair.
  • The Person Of Wal-Mart: Pajama pants as pants, a large t-shirt featuring a cartoon character (ideally Tweety or Betty Boop) saying something “sassy”, or emblazoned with some other sort of “sassy” saying that’s not all-the-way funny, like “My Boyfriend’s Out of Town!” and then a picture of a kitten, sneakers.
  • The American Tourist: a camera, a fanny pack (yes, we know about that also), oversized sneakers
  • The Face of Yesteryear: Dress like a pilgrim, or an old-timey pioneer
  • The Jingoist: Wear a lot of red, white, and blue. Like, a whole lot.

The Decor

Well, Red, White and Blue, obviously. Because America. But you could make the decor into a game, too!

  • Print out pictures of the American presidents, number them, and tape them to the walls. Each person has a sheet of paper and they write the name of the president that corresponds with each numbered picture. The person with the most correct wins.
  • Same as above, but print out pictures of different American figures, landmarks, and items. For example, things like sports team logos, professional actors, the Statue of Liberty, covered wagons, the St. Louis Arch, Lucille Ball … Google is your friend, here.
  • Print multiple large non-labelled maps of the United States – or one very big map. Provide markers. Let guests label the different states or regions of the U.S. as best they can. Evidence shows that this will be very funny:

    SQUARESIES.

    MIDDLESHIRE. GUNS. Europe’s got jokes. Honestly just go look at all of these.

You can make Americans label maps of other lands. They won’t be good at it. For instance, Just last week my nephew and I were looking at a map of Canada, and he asked me where New Mexico was.  I said “Charley, New Mexico’s part of the United States.”

“Yeah,” the kid deadpanned, “But so’s Canada.”

American Party Archetypes

The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party – Cecily Strong. Look up the vids, non-Americans!

Most American college parties have the following people present. Please do try to invite them:

  • One drunk girl who is crying, accompanied by one friend who is trying to find out what the problem is.
  • Another friend of those girls who is saying something like “enough of this drama, I just want to dance.”
  • A guy who corners you with his “wit” and “sense of humor,” which actually means that he is quoting lines from comedy films of the past 10 years.
  • The couple who only talks to each other so why did they even bother leaving their house.
  • A person who is looking at or typing into their phone the entire time, even when speaking with you.
  • The person who takes unflattering photos of everyone and threatens to post them on social media.

Music

We already made a playlist of Fourth of July tunes, but there are some genres to consider:

  • Country. Of course. Just be aware that back in the Myspace days, when people used to write what genre of music they were interested in, about 50% of people simply wrote “anything but country” – so it’s not a clear-cut American favorite.
  • Rap. Yes, we know that other countries have rappers. It’s very cute.
  • Old-school 60s Doo-Wop and Motown.
  • Modern indie-folk-country.
  • American icons: James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, etc.
  • Jazz. Not your typical party music, but it started here first.

Have a great American-themed party! If it goes well – or very, very poorly – send us a link to the pictures. AMERICA FOREVER.