Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Next Party Be Full o' Blarney

Darby O'Gill Shares A Pint with A Half-Pint

If you've suddenly run short of Irish cliches, hold on until Cokesbury brings you the St. Patricks Day Party, wherein you'll hear the old favorites trotted out: drink, potatoes, the Blarney Stone, potatoes, pigs, potatoes, snakes, St. Patrick, the Blarney Stone, potatoes and potatoes.

No leprechauns, however. Very surprising. It's like Cokesbury has a blind spot for the Little People. Gool Ol' King Brian won't like hearin' that.

And you'll learn something new, though, if you're like me. You'll learn blarney is not only a noun, it's also a verb. You'll have to decide, however, what nounish meaning of blarney to choose form as you blarney:

1) Ability to talk constantly
2) Mindless chatter
3) Persuasive flattery or kind speech.

But you'll like hearing this: After a brief hiatus, the whistle is back.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Week Nine: The Newspaper Party

If there's any industry in the United States that could use a party right now, it's the newspaper industry. Nobody's reading them any more. Nobody's lining up to offer them a federal bailout. And there are more than a few folks out there who are commenting on the fact that a new media website broke the news on the death of Michael Jackson, rather than a traditional dead tree news outlet.

Cokesbury is with you. Leave it up to a party book published in 1932 to bring a bit of joy to this 19th century industry. Of course, back in 1932, there was a lot to be joyful about in the newspaper industry. Papers were at their heyday, with the largest cities in the nation enjoying three or four daily papers -- mostly published in the afternoon. Even small towns had their weeklies, published by folks who wandered out of the cities looking for a niche to carve out in an industry ripe for the plucking.

So snap open that broadsheet, savor the ink on your fingers and join us at The Newspaper Party.

1931 Headline with A Familiar Ring

Cokesbury's introduction to its Newspaper Party is a bit prescient of the industry today, with one exception. OK, maybe more than one:

A novel idea for an evening of fun is a Newspaper Party. Very little preparation is necessary, and the expense will be negligible. Still there is an opportunity to have a jolly good time.

I've worked at a newspaper. There's preparation. There's expense. And occasional jolly good times. But . . . uh. Forget it. It's all bringing back memories of ritual abuse.

On to the invitation:

In Gasoline Alley on next Friday night
Our crowd will all assemble.
If you're not there, you'll miss a sight,
For we will all resemble,
Rosie's Beau or Miss Boots and her Buddies,
Or Min or Andy Gump perchance.
At least we'll be their understudies,
And let them brighten up the manse.

Anachronism upon anachronism. To the modern ear, this invitation may as well be written in Greek. But thanks to Mr. Internet, this is what we've been able to find out:

Gasoline Alley. An inordinately popular comic strip first penned in 1918 by Frank King; noted for the fact its human characters aged, rather than remaining ageless. Indeed, the baby Skeezix in the strip is still alive and well in newsprint today, as an octogenarian angrily demanding that people stop reading the strip and get off his lawn.

Rosie's Beau. A character from yet another comic strip, cleverly called Rosie's Beau, by George McManus, artist of the more widely-known strip Bringing Up Father. Can't find much out on this one. But apparently it's about Rosie, or Rosie's Beau, or something.

Miss Boots and Her Buddies. I can't say it any better than the site linked here: "A strip about a witty, but sexy girl who ended up starting a family. The strip was especially loved for displaying the latest fashions and the Sunday page cut-out dolls of 'Boots - best dressed girl in the comics.'" By Abe Martin.

Min and Andy Gump. Eponymous characters in yet another comic strip, The Gumps, by Sidney Smith. The strip follows the adventures of the Gumps, obviously. They're a middle-class family that turned Smith into a wealthy man through merchandising of toys, books, et cetera, plus a series of films and a radio show. the Gumps was noted as the first comic strip to kill off a character, and also is credited with spawning the Amos 'n' Andy comedy radio show.

So we have here a newspaper party from 1932 spurred pretty much by the same reason people read paper today: The funnies.

But let's get on to that "jolly good time" Cokesbury promises us, in which we get to use the word bosom in a non-snickering manner.
Opening Mixer: Making Sentences. Pin on the bosom of each guest a word. These words should be selected so that it is possible to make a lot of sentences from them. For the idea is to have the guests, by grouping together, make sentences. When a complete sentence has been formed, all those who take part in forming it have the privilege of writing it down. The following is an example of some sentences that may be cut up into words and distributed: "A handsome young man took his beautiful sister and mother out riding one afternoon in his snappy roadster. The car stopped. It was found that the engine was broke. A beautiful girl came by in her car ad picked them up." It can easily be seen that a number of sentences may be formed by those having these words. For example: "A handsome young man was broke," "A beautiful girl picked up an engine," "A snappy girl picked up a handsome young man," et cetera. Continue this game for about five or ten minutes. Give a prize to the one who has the largest number of sentences.
You know, this game kinda describes some of the edtiorial meetings I've been to. Disparate bits of news are assembled together to form the unified whole of a newspaper, forgetting that the bits can be rearranged in any old way and the readers might not notice the difference. I also like the payoff. When a sentence is done, all of those who take part in forming it have the privilege of writing it down. Add that to the decorations - black and white crepe paper - and you've got a party your friends won't soon forget: Wow! And you usually give boring parties, Rob!

Okay, on to a fun game to show that newspapers are still pertinent news sources in this Internet age:
Current Events. Have each guest write down some bit of news he has read inthe newspaper recently. Have the longest list read. Have other items read that are on other lists. This will be both interesting and instructive.
Okay! Let's go! Michael Jackson died this week, of course. But wait. That was from TMZ.com. But what about that Iran election, that Ahmadinejad is just a psycho. Uh, that was from Twitter. Well, we could talk about Obama's speech on health care. I read the transcript at CNN.com, and he said . . . wait a minute. (Sound of crickets chirping . . . psst! Move on to the next game!) My, that certainly was interesting and instructive.

Okay! Back to the invitation, and the funnies it brought to mind! That's why we read papers, after all.
Funny Paper Charades. give to each group an envelope cotaining a funny paper. There should be two or three suggestions for charades in each envelope. The group is then to arrange to act out their chraces and let the other guests guess what funny strip they represent. Let each one have one or two trials according to the time.
The event, of course, contains a list of long-dead comics, though, as noted, a few of them are still alive. Kind of like the zombie comics we have today, where artists are either recycling material from years past or other artists entirely are drawing and writing the strips after the original creator has passed on. Personally, I'd mime a funnies syndicator revealing to the deceased artist's family that his or her style and voice were, as Berkely Breathed once put it, "jewels to be plundered from the grave."

But let's not dwell on that. You're throwing a party, after all.
List of Newspapers. Have each guest write the names of all the newspapers he can think of. Give a prize to the one who has the largest list.
This game, of course, can be used to turn the table on newspaper nay-sayers, because it's one that'll also stymie the media, including newspapers, who have reported on the debacle that is the industry as of late. Change the game to ask partiers to write the names of all the newspapers that have gone under they can think of. The way the media today talks, you'd think newspapers were collapsing like so many Oregon nuclear power plant cooling towers, but no. Oh, they'll get the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News and maybe the Christian Science Monitor. But since two of those have gone on to survive as Internet news sites, they're not really dead, are they? Go on. Name more. Bet you don't ge more than a dozen.

Now it's time for every journalist's favorite game, for which you've prepared by dividing your guests into five groups: Editorials, Society, Jokes, Sports, and Local Editors. Here's the game:
Getting Out the Paper. Now the time has come to get out the paper. The five groups assemble, and the Editorials must produce an editorial on any subject. The Society group must write up a society column. The Jokes editors must produce some spice, and the Sports group must write up all the sport news available, and the Local Editors must assemble all the local news. While this is being done, reporters may go about from group to group trying to get news, and what is learned may be put in the paper. Allow about ten minutes for the writing of the parts.
The savvy newspaper publisher quickly realizes that more money could be saved, thus enhancing stockholder value, by firing all employees but brainwashing them into believing they really want to attend a newspaper party every day, seven days a week. This way, the paper is put out and the publisher doesn't have to pay a penny! There! I've just saved the newspaper industry!

Of course, putting out the paper is only half the battle. Now people have to read it. Again, Cokesbury is there:
Reading the Paper. Wen the paper has been finished, it is then assembled and read. There probably wil be a comfortable amount of humor in it, and the group will enjoy very much reading it.
There you go! One industry saved! Who's next?

Oh yeah. Refreshments. Serve what's convenient, as this party isn't tied to any particular time or season, Cokesbury says. So I'd offer typical newspaper breakroom fare. Have everyone bring a bag lunch and then, one by one, let them steal something from someone else's goodie bag. Last guy gets the lima bean sandwich.

And that's it. Be sure to tune in next week when Cokesbury brings you the scintillating, exasperating St. Patrick's Day Party, sure to invite every Irish cliche in the book. Best yet, it's a costume party!

Delays, Delays . . .

Once again, Cokesbury Party Blog International Headquarters is in a complete state of disarray. It, fortunately, has nothing to do with recent celebrity deaths, but more to the fact that International Headquarters is still displaced by remodeling. Carpet-layers are coming tomorrow, however, and that signals the end of the remodeling project. We should be back in full operation by next weekend. We'll see you on or after the Fourth of July.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week Eight: The World Tour Party

Have you ever been to Ireland,
Where the River Shannon flows?
Or experienced the spell of the Yukon,
in Alaska, the land of snows?
Then come to our World-Tour Party,
which next Friday evening brings;
We'll have a good time together,
going places and seeing things.

I admit I have a soft spot for immigrants. My father came to the United States from the Netherlands in 1950, so I enjoy bragging that I'm a first-generation American. In showing this Schoolhouse Rock video to our children (yes, I am a child of the 70s, live with it) I've been able to explain a little bit of what it means for many who came and who come to America:

Then there's Cokesbury and its World Tour Party. It tries. Oh, how it tries. But I'll let you judge. First, flag identification. For this, you'd better hope yours is a well-stocked Rotary Club:
Flag Identification. Give paper and pencil to the guests and let them identify the pictures of the flags that have been placed about the room. Those flags may be true pictures of the glags cut from a book or reproduction by hand. Only the more familiar flags should be used, or rather the flags of the larger countriesl. A number of flags may be borrowed from the local Rotary Club, as they use a number of small flags on their tables at their luncheons.
Funny how Cokesbury doesn't mention this when you're decorating, because they recommend festooning the place with flags you've etierh cut out of a magazine or drawn from hand. Maybe they're nervous somethign untoward will happen to the decorations and they want to save you from the wrath of your local Rotarians. If any exist these days.

But let's get this World Tour underway! First stop: Ireland and Irish cliches.
Ireland: Poison Snake. When we think of Ireland, we thingk of snakes, as St. Patrick is supposed to have driven the snakes out of Ireland. Posion Snake is a lively game and quite active. The players all join hands and form a circle. A dozen or more Indian clubs or milk bottles are set around in a smaller circle. The object is to make your comrades knock over the bottles by pulling their hands. Anyone who knocks over a bottle or unclasps hands must leave the circle. The club or bottle is then replaced, and the game continues. The person who is disqualified from the original circle may start another circle with disqualified players, the players disqualified from that circle may start anotyher, and so on. The player who remains longest in the original circle should receive a prize. Take care that the game does not get too rough. The more bottles or clubs used, the less rough the game will be.
Note there is no beer involved. Of course, its use is implied as those who are disqualified are encouraged to start a new circle, and so on, until everyone in the room is supposedly spinning around in a circle with just one other person, madly attempting to knock over bottles or indian clubs -- I have no idea what they're talking about, indian clubs. Let's see if Mr. Internet can help:

Indeed it can. These lovelies are wielding indian clubs used, apparently, in a wide variety of exercises of the day. One wonders how they did so, with those onions hanging on their belts. But their ubiquity explains why Cokesbury talks about them with such abandon.

That aside aside, let's continue. Next world tour destination: England.
First Visit to England: Steeple Chase. Use about six small horses for each group. If you do not want to go to the expense of buying toy horses at the five-and-ten-cent-store, use something to represent a horse, as a bean bag or a ball. All the [groups] form a line. Six horses are placed on a chair at the head of each line. When the leader's whistle blows, the horses start moving down the lines. The players must pass them behind their backs, and all horses must be passed down and laid on a chair at the other end of the line before the first one starts back, and they must be passed back in the same way. The second time they go down the line, each one must stoop over and pass the horse around his right leg, and when all ahve gone down they must be passed back in the same way. The third time they go down the must be passed around the left leg and back the same way. The fourth time thye are passed down one at a time in the regular way. This is the home stretch. The group that gets all six horses back on the original chair first wins.
Got that? Because Cokesbury makes it plain they do not want any mistakes made in this game, probably due to the amount of beer consumed in Ireland. And you indeed did read right. This is only your first visit to England on this World Tour. Here's the next:
Scotland: Golf. Golf is a Scotch game, and when we visit Scotland we should take our golf clubs. Have a golf game. This may be done in a group competition or just with individuals. Get for the group competition three putting practice boards. These can be purchased or borrowed from any sporting goods store. Also cheap boards with a golf hole in them may be purchased from the five-and-ten cent stores. If the groups compete, give each one three trials, and the group that gets the most balls in the hole wins. Provide three golf balls for each group and a putter.
When you go to the sporting goods store to borrow three putting greens, let me know. I want to come and watch current American customer service and trust inaction. That is not a typo. Inaction is the bets you could likely assume you'd get from such a request. Eye-rolling, smirks and outright incredulous laughter would likely follow. Better stick to the cheap putting greens which you can't get from the five-and-ten-cent-stores these days because there aren't any. Maybe you'd better skip golf altogether.

And I've got to say this: I've been to Scotland. Spent more than a day there (yes, I am a true international traveler) and I never once saw a golf club. Must be one of those cliches we've heard so much about. Don't despair. The cliches get better.

Before we leave England, I feel it pertinent to share the kind of game I'd enjoy playing at a World Tour-themed party to celebrate true English heritage. Witness Monty Python's Upper Class Twit of the Year competition:

Now it's time to hop across the English Channel, or as the French call it, La Manche, and head to France for another cliche.
France: Style Show. As France is supposed to set the fashions for the world, a fashion show would be appropriate to represent this country. Have some of the girls bring an extra sport dress, a pair of beach pajamas, or an evening dress, and they pass and exhibit these. If may be made humorous by having some of the boys dress up in girls' clothing, and appear in the fashion show. Some crazy costume, like a bathing suit, rubber boots, and a high silk hat and walking cane, will create a lot of merriment. This stunt can be a very entertaining feature.
I lived in France for a while, too, and support the supposition that France leads the world in fashion. I was so inspired by the French bleu -- the workingman's typical costume, a one-piece affair that basically looks like pajamas -- that I have risen to new levels of slobdom thanks to their inspiration. As for all the haute couture and stuff like that, I can pass.

Now we leave Europe to continue on our World Cliche Tour. Next stop: Japan.
Japanese Crab Race: Boys. Pick about six boys for each of two groups, adn have them run a Japanese Crab Race. Or this can be done by having all the boys, or at least en even number of boys from each group, run. A goal is marked off on the floor about twenty or twenty-five feet away. The player stands on all fours with his heels toward the goal. when the whistle blows, first one starts running backward on all fours like a crab. When he has reached the goal the next one starts, and so on until all have run. The group that finished first wins.
I have no experience with Japan, so I'm not certain that crabs, or crab racing, plays a strong role in Japanese culture. Maybe someone out there can help educate me. Given how well Cokesbury has portrayed other nations, however, I'm fairly sure the representation is skewed.

Now, I promised last week a bit of geographical confusion. Here it comes in the next game.
Charades of Different Countries. Have the [group] again segregate themselves and form a charace to represent their country. Those form England might let London Bridge fall; those from India might dress up someone to represent Mahatma Gandhi; Alaska might drive a dog sled, using others to represent the dogs; Ireland might sing an Irish song, etc.
It is true. Alaska is indeed a foreign country.

Now it's time for refreshments. Try tea and cakes, Cokesbury suggests, because "this will represent both Japan and England as well as many other countries of the world." Could also have tried water, which would have introduced even more countries. But you don't want to be cheap, do you?

That's it until next week, when we celebrate what may be an anachronism in a few years: The Newspaper Party. This will likely involve the Democrats somehow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pardon our *Cough* Dust

I know there are millions of Cokesbury Party Blog fans out there on tenterhooks (they used to be available at those five-and-dime stores Cokesbury recalls with fondness) for the next party update. It may happen today, and then again it may not. I apologize for the confusion. The problem is Cokesbury Party Blog International Headquarters is being remodeled, and we might have to shut everything down this afternoon to move out so the carpet-layers can come. I will do my darndest, however, to get the update done tonight. Unless the four-year-old asserts his computer demands.

Friday, June 19, 2009

See Russia from A Foreign Country: Alaska

Ah, the days when Alaska was its own country, not a dismembered appendage to the United States.

That's the perspective, at least, of this weekend's party, the World Tour Party, in which revelers will visit rich foreign lands like Russia, China, England, Scotland, England, Ireland, England, and Alaska. Alaska? Certainly. Of course you have to remember that back in 1932 there were only 48 states. Alaska was there as some kind of odd United States possession that people had heard about in the context of sled dogs, snow, Mt. McKinley, sled dogs, "Anchorage," "Nome,' "Nome," and sled dogs. So pretty much like today except for Sarah Palin and that whole statehood thing.

See you Sunday.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Week Seven: Washington's Birthday Party

I’ve got to admit, I’m still having a hard time with Cokesbury’s suggestion that “In many places, [the celebration of George Washington’s Birthday] marks the height of the social season.” So much a hard time that I’m actually going to include a photo of the quote from the page, just to share it with the rest of you to ensure that I’m not delusional.

There are, frighteningly, however, many hints throughout the chapter detailing the intricacies of this party to imply that, indeed, ol’ George’s birthday is indeed a big celebration. Or at least a day around which hatchet- and hatchet-themed items do a brisk business. Behold:

Invitations. [Note: No invitational rhyme this time around. Strange.] Get from the five-and-ten cent store or from the bookstore small cards in the shape of a hatchet. These can be cut out of red cardboard. Write the invitation on these, stating the time and place, and by all means that it will be a costume party.

You read right. A costume party. And you read righter. You’re supposed to go to the five-and-ten or bookstore and, bold as brass, ask for cards in the shape of a hatchet. In an odd way, I suppose, this makes sense, Back then, you couldn’t buy booze at your neighborhood store due to Prohibition, so it made sense that little hatchet-shaped cards would be available at your five-and-ten or bookstore. What else would be a better shape to write out a Valentine to Carrie Nation and her ilk?

Now, on to the costumes:

The ladies will wear kerchiefs and dresses made with tight bodice and full skirts. The skirts should be to the ankles. Hair should be powdered, and the face decorated with black court-plaster patches. Find a picture of a Martha Washington costume and copy it.

The men should wear knee breeches, hose, and slippers with buckles on them. There should be lace ruffles at the coat sleeves.

These costumes need not be elaborate but may be easily improvised.

At first when I read this, I envisioned a piratey eye-patch of the arrr matey variety. But I knew that couldn’t be right, though a certain amount of wishing had me fervently believing our first First Lady was of the Caribbean persuasion. Alas, I discovered, a court plaster patch is something different. According to Infoplease, a court plaster patch is a patch made of silk and “cut into the shape of crescents, stars, circles, diamonds, hearts, crosses; and some even went so far as to patch their face with a coach-and-four, a ship in full sail, a chateau, et cetera.” The patches were made of silk and applied to the face, using a mixture of glycerin and isinglass to do the sticking. Isinglass, for the unaware, is a collagen extract from the swim bladders of Beluga sturgeon. Yes, they used fish snot to stick bits of colored silk to their faces.

If there is an historical connection between Martha Washington and court-plasters, I couldn’t find it. Infoplease tells us the patches were in style during the reigns of Charles I and Queen Anne of England, who ruled in 1625 to 1649 and 1702 to 1714 respectively. Martha Washington wasn’t born until 1731 and reigned as First Lady from 1789 to 1797, so they were hardly contemporaries.

Still, it’s fun to think of forcing your lady acquaintances to attend a party with bits of cloth stuck to their faces with fish goo. Be sure to insist that the patches be historically accurate.

But now that we’re all dressed as either George or Martha, it’s on to another game:

Hatchet Snatch. Line up so that the boys will face the girls. It is better to do this on a floor that is carpeted or at lease have a small rug in the center. A hatchet is made of wood or cardboard (This may be purchased at the five-and-ten-cent store or the bookstore.) Fasten it in something for a base so that it will stand up. The boys are numbered from one to eight or nine. A similar number of girls play. In this game the numbering is from opposite ends, so that the number one would stand opposite to number nine. The leader calls out the number, as “Number Three,” and both numbers three, the boy and the girl, are to try to snatch the hatchet. The leader keeps score – that is, gives a point to the girls every time they snatch the hatchet and a point to the boys every time they get it.
If you think this is the end of hatchet-related hilarity, you’re wrong.
Hatchet Hunt. Have hatchets hidden about the room and the guests look for them. Give a prize to the one who finds the largest number.
Prize suggestion: A hatchet. You seem to have plenty of them.
Chopping Down the Cherry Tree. Players stand in a circle, and the leader stands in the center. The leader has a stick and a hatchet in her hand. She tells the story of the hatchet and of the chopping down of the cherry tree, and as she tells the story each time she says “cherry tree” all players must drop to one knee before the leader can chop three times. The last one down must take the hostess’ place.
Be sure the hatchet-wielder isn’t one of the embittered feminists from the Valentine Party, or it’s likely you’ll have some Lizzie Borden-themed trouble.

To prove to your guests that you’re not completely, hatchetedly insane, suggest at the end that they angage in a lively Virginia Reel. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, I don’t have to launch into the lengthy explanation Cokesbury gives for this dance – though I do like their suggestion you dance to the tune of “Turkey in the Straw,” or some other similar lively number. Perhaps something by “Men at Work.” Who could it beeee now?

And that’s it. Except for the refreshments, which include cherry pie and coffee. Or, inexplicably, Waldorf salad with mayonnaise and hot chocolate. That makes less sense than the court-plasters.

Tune in next week for the World Tour Party, which is bound to be better than this one. Of course, anything would be better than this one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

He's Smiling at Me

Not that I think George Washington was a dour old soul, but something deep inside me says that the paintings and engravings we see of the Father of our Country are a lot less disconcerting when, as my father was wont to say, "he's not showing any teet[h]."

I'm sure Washington would smile at Cokesbury's odd admonition as it introduces the Washington's Birthday Party, by saying "Washington's Birthday is celebrated in all parts of the nation. In many places it marks the height of the social season."

Now, we don't need Cokesbury to tell us that the difference between 1932 and 2009 is more than a mere span of years, but as Washington's Birthday today is considered the height of the used car and furniture sales industries, that offers us a little hint of the magnitute of the change the nation has witnessed. And perhaps such a leap of change will be witnessed between 2009 and, say, 2132, when, among other questions asked of our times, one will be "What's a car dealership?"

In the meantime, get ready to celebrate Washington's Birthday Party. Guaranteed hilarity. And hatchets.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Week Six: Famous Lovers Party

First of all, folks, be glad this isn't a costume party, or you'd be asking friends of yours to come dressed as nattily as this pair. Punch and Judy. Famed worldwide for beating each other with sticks. Did you know they are famous lovers? And that Jack and Jill, of fetch-a-pail-of-water fame, are also famous lovers? I didn't either. But according to Cokesbury, they are, as they're included on the list of famous lovers included with this party. Welcome to the Famous Lovers Party.

On with the invitation, for which you'd better hope you have a monosyllabic last name or else you'll absolutely ruin the cadence:

Have you ever met Miss Juliet,
or the charming Romeo?
Do you know Rowena,
or the brave knight Ivanhoe?
Then come to Smith's on Friday night
to our Famous Lovers Party;
You'll meet them every one all right,
and receive a welcome hearty.

When I started this blog, I started it on the assertion that my wife and I are not the best host and hostess in the world. We give extremely boring parties, the kinds of parties people are anxious to leave only 45 minutes after they've arrived. My tank of small talk is miniscule. We're both slightly agoraphobic. Our idea of an exciting time is having the kids to be at time at 9 pm so she can scrapbook and I can read, most of the time in seperate rooms. But after reading the text for the Famous Lovers Party, I feel that our parties, in comparison, are real humdingers. Observe:
Opening Mixer: Color Eyes and Hair. Give each quest a piece of paper and pencil. They are, at a signal from the leader, to go to every other guest and write each name, the color of the hair, and the color of the eyes. When this game has been in progress long enough for the fastest ones to be through, the leader should blow the whistle and give a prize to the one having the longest list. One or two of these lists may be read, and it will probably be found to have some mistakes on it.
Wow! Doesn't that sound exciting! Maybe the next game could be writing down the color of each others' socks and shoes! For added complexity, reward prizes to those who can collect the most sock swatches. And folks, the games only get better here on out.
Progressive Proposals. Give each boy a number of paper hands and a number of paper mittens. There should be as many or more of these given to each boy as there are girls in the party. Give the boy also a fan behind which to hide when he blushes. The girls go around the circle, kneeling before each boy and pleading their cause. When this is completed, they are given either a hand which means acceptance, or a mitten which means refusal. The girl who has the largest number of hands receives a prize and is crowned the most popular girl at the party.
For extra fun, make sure there are at least three or four feminists on hand for this game. If you're short on leftover refreshments from your Valentines Party, this is a good way to weed out those less committed to your style of mirth and hilarity before the feed arrives. For extra, extra fun, invite a few people who are jilted lovers of others in the room, and award an extra prize to the suitor who can make the suitee not only blush behind his fan, but openly cry in pain.
Lest the boys feel left out of the general air of hilarity, this enxt relay more than makes up for it. Or something.
Needle and Thread Relay. The leader should explain that every man who will make a good husband should be able to sew. The boys line up in groups of equal number as for a relay race, the groups facing two talbes on which have been placed needles and thread. Each boy must run to the table, pick up a needle, break off a thread, thread the needle and lay it back on the table. He then runs back and touches off the next one in front and takes his place at the back of the line. The group that finishes first wins. Let them give a yell.
Personally, I should have followed this advice, because on my wedding day one of my top concerns was a pair of tuxedo trousers -- beltless -- that were a bit loose. What many in the audience took for nervous twitching on my part was in actuality a ferverous effort to keep my pants from going south. I have since learned that knowing how to sew is fraught with risk. First, the ability to successfully thread a needle does not imbue the threader with the innate ability to sew. I have been caught, for example, darning socks, only to be told that if the socks have more than fifteen holes each, they're not worth the darning. Additionally, I've also been advised that while it was kind of me to sew curtains for the study, sewing two black garbage bags together was not at all appropriate. I think, then, that the most effective yell the young men could give at the successful conclusion of this relay would be "I've got your needle threaded for you, dear." (And, as you've got feminists at the party, such a yell will keep their synapses exploding at full force, adding to the overall genial ambiance of the evening.)
Now for an activity that will completely short-circuit any feminists remaining:
Impromptu Wedding. Write on slips of paper the names of the principals of a wedding party. Give out to some of the male guests the male parts, as, preacher, groom, best man, bride's father, rejected suitor, and ring bearer. Give to some of the ladies the names of the feminine participants, as, bride, maid of honor, two flower girls, bridesmaid, bride's mother.Let the wedding party retire and arrange for the ceremony. There should be a processional, as follows: The preacher, bridesmaid, maid of honor, ring bearer (holds large ring or bracelet on large pillow), flower girls
(Scatter some kind of leaves or torn-up paper). Bride and father enter at the same time as groom and best man, the groom meeting the bride at the improvised altar. The rejected suitor and the bride's mother follow the bride. (Both should be weeping.) The bride's father stands between the bride and groom until the bride is given away.As the procession enters the wedding march may be played, or some song such as "The Fight Is On" may be sung.The preacher may use the alphabet as a ceremony, merely repeating the letter of the alphabet in an oratorical manner. First the preacher should address the audience and repeat the letter of the alphabet. He should next address the bride and groom, repeating some of the letter of the alphabet. Next the bride's father should be addressed and should give away the bride, and in doing so should himself repeat some of the letter of the alphabet. Next should come the ring ceremony, in which the preacher addresses the groom and requires him to repeat soe of the letters of the alphabet after him. Next they join right hands, and the preacher addresses first the groom and then the bride, and they respond by repeating some of the letter of the alphabet when he has finished with each of them. The preacher should again address the audience, repeating in an impressive manner some of the letter of the alphabet. His conclusion should be: W, X, Y, Z, &, $3.95.The rejected suitor and the bride's mother should then weep, and the preacher should kiss the groom, and any other exaggerated actions that may be thought of may be introduced.
Wasn't that fun? From the homoerotic preacher to the endless repeating of random letters of the alphabet! This will have your guests screaming for more. Or likely scratching at the doors and windows, which you thoughtfully nailed shut prior to beginning this ritual. For added entertainment, it might be wise to have among your attendees a real preacher who could secretly marry a random couple in attendance that night, using latin rather than words from the alphabet. Imagine the joy of the "bride" and "groom" once they realize they've really been married (try to use feminists or jilted lovers for this for added hilarity). Or find someone to imitate the Very Impressive Clergyman from The Princess Bride, in performing a real ceremony, just to throw off any suspicions.

I don't know about you, but I've had enough of lovers and loving. It's time to move on to a party that really rocks . . . like Washington's Birthday Party, in which you get to revisit the five-and-ten cent store, encourage your friends to arrive in powdered wigs and answer that question of the ages: In how many ways can we have fun with hatchets at a party?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Worst. Party. Ever.

I'm not one for absolutes -- especially this early on into a project. But I think it's fair to say that this time 'round, Cokesbury has produced a real stinkeroo of a party. Thus far, the parties presented at the Cokesbury Party Blog have had some redeeming quality, some game or stunt you wouldn't actually mind re-creating at a party of your own. Not so with the Famous Lovers Party, as we'll soon see. Yes, you do get to use your whistle. Yes, you do get to re-use your decorations from the Valentine Party. Yes, the refreshments are repeats.

But this party is even lamer than that. So very lame.