Friday, December 15, 2017

Presidentress Christmas Carol 2017: Taft Edition!

After a one-year hiatus, my annual Presidential Christmas Carol has returned! This year features a (brief, but important) song about William Howard Taft set to the tune of Good King Wenceslas.



You can also view my previous songs about Warren G. Harding and Grover Cleveland:




If you're wondering why all their voices sound the same, it's because all presidents sounded alike until Franklin Roosevelt came along! Not many people know that.

From the Presidentress Family to yours, have a marvelous holiday season!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: My Search for Warren Harding

Avid readers will know that I have a wee bit of an obsession with Warren G. Harding. I mean, how can one not, right? (Right?)

Anyway.

Every now and then I see reference to a novel called My Search for Warren Harding by Robert Plunket. I was intrigued enough to put it on my Amazon wishlist at some point, but never motivated enough to buy it. Then a few weeks ago, someone on Twitter asked for funny book recommendations. Someone responded that Assassination Vacation and My Search for Warren Harding were the funniest books they'd ever read.

Now, avid readers will also know that I have a wee bit of an obsession with Assassination Vacation, so having someone equate the two was the shove I needed....almost. I didn't buy it right away, but a few days later, I was stuck at the Atlanta airport for five hours and had run out of things to do, so I went ahead and purchased the Kindle version.

The novel is written from the point of view of Elliot, a graduate student in the 1980s who is trying to get his hands on love letters from Harding that are in the possession of his now-elderly mistress, living in Hollywood. He hatches a plan to rent the woman's pool house and uses various schemes to try to obtain the letters. The premise itself is fairly amusing, even if some of the plot points are rather unrealistic.

Most of the characters are fictitious, although there are some cameo appearances from real people, historical and contemporary ("contemporary" in this case meaning "early 1980s," when the book was written).

The former mistress, Rebekah Kinney, is largely a characterization of Nan Britton, Harding's actual young lover with whom we now know he had a child. In this novel, Kinney (like Britton) had been a young woman from Harding's hometown, they had had an affair and a child, and she had written a tell-all book (called The Price of Love, as opposed to the actual The President's Daughter).  But Rebekah Kinney led a more glamorous life than Nan Britton, hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities and dabbling in acting herself. As this book opens, she now lives a largely solitary life in a rundown Hollywood mansion.

The existence of a trove of love letters is more reminiscent of Carrie Phillips, Harding's other well-known mistress. Her letters were the basis of the nonfiction book The Harding Affair, and were recently released by the Library of Congress. Nan Britton, on the other hand, held onto only a couple correspondences from Harding, none of which were intimate in nature, which is part of the reason she had a hard time establishing her story as truth.

Okay, so, grad student plots to obtain Warren G. Harding's love letters from a Nan Britton-Carrie Phillips mashup. So far, so good. The first couple chapters were amusing. Not laugh-out-loud funny, or even chuckle-worthy, but interesting enough.

Things start to take a turn when the main character meets Kinney's Mexican housekeeper. Queue the negative ethnic stereotypes. It was cringey, but I reminded myself this was written a long time ago ("a long time ago" meaning "in the early 1980s," which really isn't that long ago at all, but I tried to keep things in "historical" perspective.)

Then comes the chapter where the Elliot's friend brings a gay guy to dinner. Throughout the entire chapter (and the rest of the book), this man is referred to as "the faggot."

Remember when Donald Trump made fun of the disabled journalist and we all thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, and then it continued to? That's basically what this book was like.

The rest of the book basically turns into one giant fat joke about Rebekah Kinney's 20-something granddaughter, Jonica. An example: "Now the inevitable question: how fat was she? I would guess that she tipped the scales at around two hundred pounds. She was fat. She was what you mean by a fat person. She was so fat you wondered how she found pants in that size." Okay, so that paints a picture, and if that had been it, maybe it would have been bearable. But that wasn't it.

The comments like that go on throughout the book. Without exaggeration, probably a good 30% of the book is just a discussion of this character's weight. Also, some major plot points hinge on it. And I guess it's supposed to be funny, but it isn't. I don't just say that because it's insensitive or politically incorrect. I mean that even setting that aside, it just isn't funny.

Besides repeatedly explaining in great detail Jonica's appearance, Elliot also verbally, physically, and emotionally abuses her in an attempt to get his hands on the letters.

Oh, and keep in mind, interspersed with the fat jokes are plenty more comments about Mexicans, Blacks, Jews, and "Orientals," plus additional references to "the faggot."

At one point I decided I just couldn't take it anymore. The book was so despicable---it sounded like something that would have been written by an alt-right internet troll sitting in his mom's basement, if such people knew anything about Warren G. Harding---I just couldn't go on. But I'm also kind of anal about finishing books I start, and I felt a duty to review it here, which I couldn't do if I didn't read the whole thing. Plus I figured I had to be almost done. I checked: 42%. Ugh.

I forged on, though.

Our protagonist doesn't get any less deplorable...in fact, he only grows moreso. Another problem is that, with the possible exception of Jonica, all the characters are unlikable, and even Jonica is sympathetic only because everyone else is so awful to her, not because of any particular redeeming qualities of her own.

Then I got to the end of the book, which I will admit was spectacular. I don't want to spoil things too much in case, for some reason, you decide to read it, but it basically involves a heavy dose of schadenfreude. It felt so good. That's when I realized that we were, indeed, supposed to hate Elliot. (At least I sincerely hope that was the point.)

Now, there were some funny parts. The overall absurdity is pretty amusing. There are some good lines, like when Jonica (who doesn't know her grandfather was a president) says he was "somehow mixed up in oil." The footnotes contain recipes. The acknowledgements become funny once you've reached a certain part of the book and realize who some people are. And like I said, the ending is immensely satisfying in the sense that you might give an evil laugh.

Yet the marvelous ending really isn't enough to justify how painful the rest of the book is. Even if the novel's intent is to make fun of academia, or to serve as a commentary on L.A. culture, or to be an ironic statement about terrible people, or...whatever else, it's not worth wading through the unpleasant, depressing horror needed to get to the ultimate satisfaction. In this case, the end wasn't enough to justify the means.

I'll just stick with Assassination Vacation.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Presidentress Gift Guide 2017

'Tis that season again! To help you find the perfect gift for the slightly-off presidential history nut in your life, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite things.

Some of these items contain Amazon affiliate links. Shopping through them doesn't add any cost for you, but it does mean that I earn a pittance so I can keep bringing you high-quality Sean Spicer fan fiction. The non-Amazon links provide me no benefit other than sharing in the feeling of happiness you'll get from knowing you've selected a perfect gift. (It should also be noted that I have not received any compensation from any of the entities mentioned here.)

Presidential Ugly Christmas Sweaters

You guys... Seriously...I don't think I've ever been this excited about a presidential Christmas item: President-themed ugly Christmas sweater-shirts.

Do I need to repeat that?

President. Themed. Ugly. Christmas. Sweater. Shirts.

Election College has a podcast that I haven't listened to yet (but you bet I will!) and they've also created this line of shirts.

Sure, there are some people you might expect: Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan.



But there's also James Garfield, Abigail Adams, and...get ready for this...Eleanor Roosevelt.


Collect them all!

Candles...and a Book!

Back for the third year in a row is JD and Kate Industries/Hottest Heads of State. Last year I told you about their amazing president- and president-adjacent-scented candles. Now they've added some new ones, including Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.


Look at those jelly beans! If you like eating wax, they look almost good enough to eat!

I have a few of their candles already and will inevitably buy more, even though I don't burn candles. Just sniffing them and reading the hilarious labels (don't read them while the candles are lit) is enough for me. I've been bugging them to create a smoke-, whiskey-, and waffle-scented Warren G. Harding candle, but for some reason they feel it wouldn't sell well. If you're so inclined, drop them a note to let them know how much you want one, too.

JD and Kate also have an upcoming book: Hottest Heads of State: Volume One: The American Presidents. It won't be out until the end of January, but if you get it as a gift for someone, the anticipation will make it that much more rewarding when it finally arrives. The book is sort-of a mashup of presidential trivia and Teen Beat magazine. You'll learn presidential pick-up lines and can take a quiz to find out which president has a crush on you. Plus there's a Dwight Eisenhower mask! I can't wait!


Octopuses

Also making a return appearance in my gift guide is Veeptopus, the sublime union of octopuses and vice presidents we never knew we needed. Veeptopus has a lovely new hardcover book featuring all of the vice presidents with octopuses on (or emerging from) their heads. I bought one as part of a Kickstarter campaign, and I can honestly say it is the finest volume of cephalopod artwork I own. And you can own one, too.


To whet your appetite for octopus, Veeptopus has created a quiz to help you determine which Vice President you are. I'm Henry Wallace.

A Probably Not-Good Movie

The other day when I decided to find out how much the entire season of The Brady Bunch is (spoiler: $34.99), I discovered there's a movie called The Brady Bunch in the White House. The description confuses me:

"In The Brady Bunch in the White House," the Brady Bunch are moving to Washington when Mike Brady gets elected President of the United States. When he returns a $67 million lottery ticket to its rightful owner, he is invited to the White House to meet the president and finds himself being sworn in as Chief Executive of the United States. Now effectively acknowledged as the first family, the Brady clan manages to save the government from a devastating scandal.

At first I thought it meant that they were moving to Washington because Mike was elected president, but then I realized...no...I think he wasn't elected at all? He just accidentally got sworn in?

Frankly, it sounds terrible, but it might just be so terrible it's great. And for only $7.77, we can't afford not to find out. I'll have a full review soon, but buy it now if you need to mix up your holiday movie routine a little.

Ornament

If you want to support some non-profits, one option is to buy this year's Christmas ornament from the White House Historical Association. The 2017 ornament commemorates Franklin Roosevelt. The shape is meant to be reminiscent of a table-top radio, and the back features his beloved dog Fala sitting next to a Christmas tree.


Do Some Actual Good

You could also make a tax-deductible donation to One America Appeal, the joint effort created by the five living former presidents to aid in hurricane relief efforts. There's still a lot of work to be done.

Go forth: Shop, donate, and have a joyous holiday season!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Cooking with the Presidents: Mount Vernon Pumpkin Pie



A couple weeks ago, the Mount Vernon Facebook page posted a tutorial for making 18th Century Pumpkin Pie:



What intrigued me right away was the use of rosewater. Rosewater was a common flavoring before vanilla became a thing, and you might remember it from such posts as Dolley Madison Cake and Shaker Apple Pie. Now, I'll admit I was a bit skeptical. I don't even put vanilla in pumpkin pie, so putting rosewater in it seemed especially unusual. But it's probably historically accurate, and I'm always up for a presidential baking challenge, so game on!

Besides rosewater, the other unusual thing about this pie is the lack of eggs. You might notice a bowl of eggs sitting there, as did several people who commented on Facebook that the Mount Vernon cook forgot to add them. But apparently the eggs are for the crust (go figure) not the pie, and apparently the pie sets up just fine without them.

Now, this recipe calls for the use of an actual pumpkin. Mr. Presidentressor asked why I didn't just use one of the many cans of pumpkin puree we stockpiled last fall when the country was supposedly on the verge of a pumpkin shortage that never materialized, but I explained that I needed to be as authentic as possible in making this recipe.

And then I got historically inauthentic. This recipe wants you to cut, peel, and chunk the pumpkin, and then boil it. Peeling a raw pumpkin seems like a great way to lose a finger, so I decided to use my Instant Pot instead. Sorry, but it was way easier and quicker. I added a cup of water to the pot, put in the trivet, set the pumpkin in whole (sideways---the stem made it too tall otherwise), and cooked it on Manual for 10 minutes. When it was done, I let it sit for about 20 minutes, then took it out and easily sliced it open with a knife. The seeds practically fell out in one clump, and I was able to peel the pulp away from the skin with just my fingers and a spoon. Then I used my immersion blender to puree the pumpkin.



But look, the end result was the same, so I'm not going to apologize.

Per the recipe, I added to the pumpkin puree 1 tbsp of rosewater. Then I needed to add the spices "to taste." I decided upon 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp each of ginger and nutmeg. I skipped the mace because I don't have any (and if I'm being honest, I've never understood the difference between nutmeg and mace anyway). I was tempted to add some cloves because it felt like I should, but I also didn't want to deviate too much from the recipe, so no cloves.

Then I mixed in 1/4 cup of molasses, then a pint of heavy cream, which seemed like a lot, but I trust the Mount Vernon people.

Then I poured it all into my crust. (A word on the crust: I did not make the crust that accompanies this pie on the Mount Vernon Facebook page. Making pie crust is already my most despised culinary task---despite my undying love of pie---and theirs seemed like too much work, even though it probably wasn't. The fact that I made crust at all is an accomplishment.)

Thanks to the molasses, at this point it looked and smelled more like a gingerbread pie than a pumpkin pie, but I'm not sure that's anything to complain about.

Into the 350-degree oven it went for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, it still looked very jiggly, so I gave it another 15. After that it still looked pretty jiggly, but reasonably so, so I took it out and let it cool at room temperature for a couple hours, then in the fridge for a couple more.

I was impressed that the pie did set up, although it was very soft.

Mr. Presidentressor and I wound up being the only ones to eat the pie. (The kids opted for cupcakes instead. Sometimes their intuition is good.)


This pie is...different. The molasses was pretty overpowering, so it didn't even really taste like gingerbread---just molasses. There was absolutely no pumpkin flavor whatsoever, and also no rosewater flavor, which is probably for the best. It was also, as I mentioned, very soft and mushy, and sort of grainy. Whipped cream helped, and I'll admit that it sort of grew on me as I continued eating.

Even so, I probably won't make this again unless I need to bring a George Washington-themed dish to a party, but it was worth a try. I can definitely see how this would have been a big hit back in the 18th century, but today I'd probably take a cupcake instead. On the plus side, my crust was excellent!

Friday, October 6, 2017

First Ladies' Séance in a Box

Several First Ladies have dabbled in the supernatural, perhaps none more than Florence Harding. In fact, one of the coolest objects I've seen at a presidential site was Florence's séance chair: high-backed and elaborately carved with celestial symbolism. That chair is in Marion, Ohio, but Florence's forays into the supernatural extended to Washington, D.C., as well.

Florence first met a woman named Madame Marcia Champney in 1920 while Warren Harding was seeking the Republican nomination. Madame Marcia was a well known fortuneteller in D.C., and in fact served as Edith Wilson's go-to astrologer. Madame Marcia was able to see that Warren had many affairs (but who wasn't, amirite?), and predicted that if he became president, he would die a sudden death before the end of his term. Despite this ominous forecast, Florence vowed that if Warren won, she would make Madame Marcia the official White House astrologer. As we know, Warren did win, and Florence continued to consult frequently, even obsessively, with Madame Marcia throughout his (brief) presidency.

Many other First Ladies held séances, referred to horoscopes, or believed in other supernatural phenomena. For example, Julia Tyler claimed to have ESP. Jane Pierce and Mary Todd Lincoln held séances to try to communicate with their dead children. Nancy Reagan famously consulted with astrologers in the White House. Hillary Clinton seemed to have taken the "First Lady Occult Club" to another level when she was rumored to have communicated with a long-dead Eleanor Roosevelt. (Upon clarification, it turned out that she just imagined what it would be like to talk to Eleanor, like asking WWERD?...which is something we should all be doing.)

Hillary and Eleanor might not have communicated with each other, but there was another supposed instance of First Ladies picking up vibes from one another: One night Edith Wilson went to bed with an ominous feeling. She awoke to newsboys spreading word of President Harding's death. Ooooo! Coincidence, or something supernatural?

Anyway...in honor of all of our spooky First Ladies and just in time for Halloween, I present a DIY Séance in a Box. Depending on what materials you use, it's actually really fast and easy to make. (Or it can be really complicated and take more than a week. It's up to you.)

Here's what you'll need:

  • Empty mint tin (I used a Trader Joe's Gingermint tin)
  • Printed ouija board
  • Glue
  • Velvet or velvety paper
  • Tiny printable tarot cards
  • Glass marble
  • Tiny picture frame
  • Resin (optional) and resin molds (also optional)
  • Other tiny spooky things

My project was inspired by these instructions. That kit uses a very cool Ouija mint tin, but I didn't have one. What I did have was a lovely tin that had previously contained Trader Joe's Gingermints, so I decided to make that work. You could use any mint tin, really, but it probably helps if it's one with a flat top, rather than one with embossed writing or details.

I searched for some Ouija board images and needed to go through a few before I found one with the right proportions for my tin. I just resized them in a document until I had one that worked, then printed it out on cardstock, trimmed it with scissors, and rounded the corners with a 1" corner punch. (But you can use scissors, too. Or leave them pointy. Whatever.)

I glued the board onto the lid with Tacky Glue, and then brushed on a coat of resin. Now, I realize not everyone has resin lying around. I love how it gave my board a hard, shiny finish, but obviously you can skip this step. I would recommend at least using some kind of top coat or varnish to seal it and give it a little more heft, but that's up to you. (If you want to give resin a try, though, it's really very easy and fun. I use Little Windows resin, but you can find other brands on Amazon or at your local craft store, too.)

The resin did make my board a bit translucent, so if you look carefully you can see some of the writing from the gingermint tin, but I think that gives it extra character. Next time I might add a basecoat or add an extra piece of paper or cardstock underneath, but I might not.

For the planchette, I used resin (colored with a bit of glow-in-the-dark paint) in a mold I got from Etsy. If you don't have resin, you could try forming a planchette out of polymer clay, or you could use a guitar pick like in that other tutorial I linked to. Or maybe carve one out of bone like they did in the old days. (I jest!)

Instead of using real velvet to line my tin, I found some velvet-ish paper in the scrapbooking section of my craft store. It's very thin and more sturdy than fabric, so it was really easy to cut. Then I glued that into the tin with more tacky glue.

There are tons of printable tarot cards online, but I used ones from this site because it doesn't require a ton of paper (just one piece!) and because you can print a back to them! I printed that out on cardstock and spent about five minutes cutting out the tiny cards.

I tried making a crystal ball by gluing a marble to an overturned teacup charm, but I couldn't get anything to adhere to the marble, even after sanding it. So instead I have a "standalone" crystal ball, although I found that it fits nicely inside the planchette hole, so there's that.


I also added a little skull charm for some extra creepiness (I cut off the charm-nubbin with wire cutters and filed the little bits down).

And of course, I needed a picture frame (another charm) to help commemorate the dead. (Yes, that's a tiny photo of Florence Harding. I also printed out Edgar Allan Poe and a raven, because of course.) The photos are just printed on regular paper and then sealed with some packing tape. They slide in and out of the top of the charm, so it's easy to change them depending on what you're going for.

I had planned on adding a candle, too, but decided against it when I realized my interest in fire safety outweighs my interest in necromancy. A birthday candle would fit just fine, but be careful when burning it.

You can add anything else you want: Throw in some tiny runes, a few little crystals, a miniature pendulum, whatever floats your ghost ship.

And there you have it: A portable supernatural kit for all your conjuring needs! (This would also be useful if you have an American Girl doll who starts to show an interest in the occult.)

If you make one of these, let me know how it goes. And tell Florence I say hello.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sean Spicer Fan Fiction: Chapter 3

(If you haven't read Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, make sure to do that first!)

Among the Bushes

Things are About to Get Spicey


Chapter 3


Caroline flipped through the dresses in her closet, searching in vain for just the right one. She didn't understand why she was so nervous. She was used to dating powerful, successful men: stockbrokers, hedge fund managers, CEOs of multinational oil corporations…the kind of people found throughout the current administration. So why was she intimidated by this Press Secretary-turned-gardener? 

Caroline paused and closed her eyes, remembering how dreamy Sean Spicer had looked in his suit and safari hat. She imagined him standing behind the podium in the White House briefing room, ignoring the questions being thrown at him as he pointed right at her, his beady eyes sparkling. She’d stand up and walk to the podium, where he would sweep her into his arms and give her a passionate kiss in front of the whole White House press corps, stopping only when Jim Acosta started yelling that there were no cameras.

She shook herself out of her reverie when she realized she needed to meet Sean at the restaurant in an hour. (Caroline always insisted on driving separately for first dates in case things didn't work out. One could never be too careful with former White House employees, as she had learned during a disastrous date with Rahm Emanuel.)

After settling on a simple but stylish black dress and rushing to get ready, Caroline arrived at the steakhouse right on time and waited for Sean outside. A few minutes later he pulled up in a Hyundai Elantra and tossed his keys to the valet. Caroline was excited to see him but was surprised to see what he was driving. Sean must have sensed her disappointment. 

“I had an Escalade, but Seb Gorka asked to borrow it and never gave it back,” he explained. 

“Why didn't you demand it back?” 

“Are you kidding?” he asked, holding the restaurant door open. “That guy is terrifying! Plus I kind of got out of there in a hurry. Some things had to be sacrificed.”

Once they were seated and had ordered a bottle of wine, Caroline took a good long look at Sean Spicer. His surprisingly well tailored blue suit enhanced his muscular and/or chubby arms, and she was pleased to see his American flag pin was right-side up, but she realized she didn't know much about him, despite what she'd seen on TV. She decided it was time to get to know him better.

“So, Sean,” she began, “Tell me more about yourself. What was it like being the White House Press Secretary?”

“Oh, you know…It was a real privilege,” he said flatly. “Phenomenal.” 

“Did you like it?” she asked. “You always seemed…kind of angry.”

“No, I wasn't angry,” he said. “It's just that I hate the media so much.”

“Don't you think maybe a Press Secretary shouldn't have such disdain for the press?”

He looked at her with a puzzled expression. Thankfully just then the waiter arrived to take their orders.

As usual, Caroline ordered lobster. She always did that as a test to see how her date would react. If he balked, he wasn't worth it. Sean smiled at her, then ordered steak—medium-rare. She was glad to see he wasn't like the president in that regard. 

“Would you like a baked potato or sweet potato?” the waiter asked. 

Sean started breathing quickly and closed his eyes tight. He was quiet for a few awkward moments before snapping, “A baked potato! A regular baked potato! Period!”

The waiter exchanged a nervous glance with Caroline.

“What was that about?” she asked as the waiter scurried away.

“I'm sorry, I don't want to get into it,” Sean answered. 

Why was he so angry about a potato? Caroline started to wonder if this whole thing had been a big mistake. They sat uncomfortably for a minute while Caroline tried to devise an escape plan. Instead, she decided to give Sean another chance. She couldn’t give up on him that easily.

“Um…so why gardening?” she asked, breaking the silence.

Sean visibly relaxed, the crease between his eyes almost disappearing. 

“It's something I've wanted to do for a long time,” he explained. “I’d been in politics for so long, and a couple years ago I had this epiphany that made me realize I really wanted to reconnect with nature.”

“What was the epiphany?” Caroline asked.

“Well, let's just say it was an experience that allowed me to tap into my inner animal.”

Caroline raised her eyebrows and smiled. “Your inner animal, huh? What was it?”

Sean glanced around the room. “Don't laugh.” 

“I won't, I promise,” she said, taking a sip of wine. 

Sean looked around the room again. “It was when I dressed up as the Easter Bunny.”

Caroline shot wine out of her mouth. 

“I'm so sorry,” she said, blotting wine from the tablecloth and desperately trying to stifle her laughter. Sean’s face turned red, and Caroline wasn't sure if it was from anger or embarrassment.

“I'm really sorry,” Caroline sputtered. “Please, tell me more.”

Sean hesitated but continued, “I mean, really, it made me start thinking about how nice it would be to have a less stressful life, away from the 24/7 news cycle and talking points and all that. But then I had the opportunity to work for the president, and even though he's clearly a deranged lunatic, it wasn't an opportunity I could pass up.”

“I suppose not,” Caroline agreed. 

“But it was awful. Every day I'd go to work and I'd have to find creative ways to spin the news. Believe it or not, sometimes I'd even have to—” he stopped and looked around again to make sure no one was listening, then leaned over the table and whispered, “lie. Tell alternative facts!” He looked at Caroline wide-eyed. She pretended to seem surprised.

“Eventually it got to be too much,” Sean said. “People think Scaramucci was the final straw, but I was done long before that. I just wanted to put it all behind me, find a job where I could work in the sun and feel the warm earth on my hands.”

Sean’s beaming smile was so endearing that Caroline decided to ignore the earlier potato incident. 

They wound up having an enjoyable dinner. Sean regaled Caroline with secrets about the White House, like the true meaning of “covfefe” and how Sandra Huckabee Sanders has a penchant for knitting with human hair.

Caroline found herself giggling like a schoolgirl. She realized that Sean Spicer was very funny, and not nearly as dumb as she'd thought. Before long, she was gazing into his eyes, admiring the flock of crows feet that formed around them when he smiled. Sean had just started to reach across the table to take her hand when the waiter dropped off the dessert menu. 

“Ooo! Pumpkin cheesecake!” Caroline exclaimed. 

“No. Please don't get that.” Sean looked concerned.

“Why not? Are you allergic?”

“No, just…please. Please don't get the pumpkin cheesecake.”

“I don't understand.” Caroline shook her head. 

“Stop shaking your head!” Sean demanded, brow furrowed. “Just please order anything other than the cheesecake.”

“I don't get it. You didn't mind the lobster but suddenly cheesecake is a problem?”

“Just not the cheesecake!” Sean repeated.

“This is unbelievable,” Caroline hissed. “I don't care how hot you are, or what a great spokesman or talented topiarist you are, no man will tell me what I can or can't order for dessert!” 

Caroline stood up and slammed her napkin onto the table. “Thank you for dinner, Sean, but this date is over.”

***
Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion of Among the Bushes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Presidentress' Summer Highlights

Although most of my summer was filled with non-presidential stuff like taking the kids to swimming lessons, taking the kids mini-golfing, trying not to get killed by mosquitos, and writing Sean Spicer Fan Fiction, I did manage some presidential fun, too. With summer "officially" over, I wanted to take a few minutes to write a "What I Did This Summer" eassay...Presidentress-style.

In no particular order, here are the presidential highlights from my summer:

The Presidential Fight Club Tournament (PFCT)

A few months ago, Howard from Plodding Through the Presidents invited me to join a Facebook group for American history fanatics. There's the typical link-sharing and conversation, but the owner of the group also runs a daily quiz of some sort. Over the summer, he decided to mix things up and instead of a quiz each day, he presented the Presidential Fight Club Tournament, a series of polls to determine which president would dominate in hand-to-hand combat.

He created four regional brackets and matched up two presidents per day, which we then voted on. Winners advanced tournament-style. Unlike the famous "Presidential Knife-Fight-to-the Death," this contest allowed no weapons, and it assumed that the presidents were in the physical (and mental) condition they were in around age 35. (Side note: I just learned there's a Presidential Knife-Fight Game. This is very important information.)

Anyway, the Presidential Fight Club Tournament wound up being a highlight of my summer...which might say a lot about me and my summer. Some of the matchups were painfully dull, like James Buchanan vs. Woodrow Wilson. Some were painfully difficult to decide, like Teddy Roosevelt vs. Abraham Lincoln. My choices didn't always win (I would have bet on Taft going much farther than he did, although he did beat Obama in the first round), but it was thrilling nonetheless.

The final match came down to George Washington vs. TR, with Teddy ultimately taking home the prize. One of those final matches against Washington also produced this remarkable conversation between two of the group members:


Meeting Hottest Heads of State

As soon as the kids were done with school, we took off on a Disney World vacation. Toward the end of that trip, after an unbelievably sweaty day at the Magic Kingdom, we were having dinner at 'Ohana at the Polynesian Resort when I saw that JD and Kate of Hottest Heads of State had posted on Facebook that they, too, were at the Polynesian Resort.

Frantic Facebook messaging and texting ensued, and before I knew it, Kate was standing at our table asking if I was Jennie. (My mermaid mouse ears served an important role in my cosplay as Ariel, and also as a way to identify me in a huge crowd.)


Kate couldn't stay long because JD and their kids were waiting for their table at another restaurant, but I was super excited that serendipity put us in the same place at the same time, like when Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey wound up having dinner in the same New York restaurant (except that Kate and I like each other).

The Truman Trip

Speaking of Truman... If you missed my recent post about our trip to Independence to see the Truman Home and Library, you can read that here.

Patriotic Jello

You can also read about my highly successful patriotic jello experiment (which could easily be altered for different holidays!). It's much easier to make than you'd think, so get on it.

So, that's my presidential summer in a nutshell. Stay tuned throughout the fall for more presidential insights, and maybe a giveaway! And also definitely more Sean Spicer fanfic.